It’s easy to take your bed for granted. When you have the comfort and support you need, you don’t think about the hard work your mattress is doing to align your spine, cushion your joints, and distribute your weight for pressure point relief. But when there’s a problem with your mattress, and it doesn’t perform these duties, your sleep suffers. And when your sleep suffers, so does your physical and mental well-being.
However, buying a new bed is a significant investment, so deciding to replace your mattress isn’t a decision to make lightly. To help you determine if it’s time to say goodbye, we’ve put together a list of signs that your mattress has reached its expiration date or no longer serves your unique needs for quality sleep.
How Do You Know When You Need a New Mattress?
1. Your Body Is Complaining
Waking up with stiffness, soreness, or pain may signify that your mattress has lost its support. When mattresses wear out, they lose their pressure-relieving qualities and ability to keep your spine properly aligned. As a result, you may experience tension around joints, or your spine may curve unnaturally. If you stay in a strained, unsupported position all night, you'll surely wake up with aches and pain.
Listen to your body. If morning pain is a recurring issue, it's likely time to replace your mattress.
2. You Can’t Fall Asleep
There’s a long list of underlying causes for insomnia, including stress, poor sleep hygiene, hormone changes, and medical conditions. So, insomnia alone isn’t a sure sign that you need a new bed. But if you toss and turn at night and physical discomfort is what's keeping you awake, your mattress could be the problem—or at least a contributing factor.
Your mattress should make falling asleep easier by relieving tension in high-pressure areas. But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for sleep comfort and support. The firmness level and features that sleepers need vary based on body type and sleep position. A mattress doesn’t have to be old or worn out to cause discomfort—it may just be the wrong fit for your physique. That’s why at-home sleep trials are so important when you buy a new bed.
3. You Don’t Wake Up Feeling Rested
Consistently waking up tired could indicate a number of health issues. For example, you may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder preventing you from getting the rest you need. Sleep deprivation can be a serious health risk, so it’s important to see your doctor if it’s a chronic issue.
If you struggle to get quality sleep, you want to do everything in your power to eliminate the obstacles that keep you from getting the restorative rest you need. Your current mattress may be one of those obstacles. If physical discomfort often wakes you from sleep, it may be time to refresh your sleep setup.
4. Your Body Has Changed
As previously mentioned, mattresses aren’t one-size-fits-all. You may have particular needs based on your weight, sleep position, and health conditions like sleep apnea, arthritis, osteoporosis, and sciatica. If there’s been a significant change in your physical health or sleep habits, you may need a new mattress that better fits your current circumstances.
For example, you may want a firmer mattress with more support if you've gained weight. Or, you may benefit from a bed with more contouring and pressure relief if you've developed a joint pain condition. If you now have limited mobility, you may need a mattress with reinforced edges to make getting in and out of bed easier.
5. You Sleep Better On Another Bed
Have you ever stayed at a hotel or visited a friend and felt better rested than ever? Usually, it’s harder to fall asleep in a new environment. If you sleep better away from home, it’s a telltale sign that you don’t have the right mattress for your needs.
6. Your Current Mattress Is 8+ Years Old
How long should a mattress last? It depends on the make and materials. For example, natural latex mattresses are particularly durable, lasting over a decade with proper care. But the average mattress doesn’t last that long. If your mattress is eight years old or older, it’s likely time for a replacement. No matter how well you care for your mattress, wear and tear from regular use, humidity, sweat, dust mites, and more will eventually take their toll.
7. Sagging or Hammocking
Sagging is one of the most common signs of a worn-out mattress. Your bed may bow in the middle, the foam may soften, or the springs may lose their tension. Whatever the cause, mattress sagging sacrifices support, which can lead to misalignment, soreness, and pain. If your mattress hammocks in the middle, your spine will follow this unnatural curve.
8. Impressions, Lumps, or Indentations
You need a mattress with a flat, even surface for proper sleep support and weight distribution. If your mattress has noticeable dips or "potholes," it's time for a replacement.
Budget memory foam mattresses are particularly susceptible to impressions. As the foam wears out, it loses its elasticity and won't reform its shape when you remove pressure. With innerspring mattresses, broken springs often cause indentations.
9. Your Mattress Squeaks
As innerspring and hybrid mattresses wear out, the coils start to squeak. When the springs lose their tension and strength, they rub together as they compress under a sleeper’s weight. The contact can make an unpleasant screeching sound when you shift positions, disrupting sleep.
10. You Sleep Hot
Overheating and sweating make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. The culprit may not be your mattress; it could be a medical condition, hormonal changes, or a thermostat you can't control. But your mattress may be making matters worse.
Unfortunately, many mattresses are made with heat-sensitive materials like viscoelastic polyurethane foam, also known as memory foam. Viscoelastic chemicals give memory foam its elasticity, but they have the uncomfortable side effect of trapping heat. If you tend to sleep hot, consider a mattress with more breathable, heat-dissipating materials.
If it's been a long time since you bought a new mattress, you'll be happy to find that cooling technology has come a long way in recent years. For example, Nolah offers a temperature-neutral alternative to memory foam, Nolah AirFoam™. It's free from viscoelastic chemicals and dissipates heat 20 percent faster. We also have the Nolah Evolution hybrid mattress made with graphite-infused AirFoamICE™ for those who want more active cooling.
11. You Need More Room
When your circumstances change, so do your sleep needs. Maybe you moved into a new space and have more bedroom real estate for a bigger mattress size. Or perhaps you're sharing a bed for the first time, and your full-size mattress isn't cutting in. If feeling confined keeps you from getting a good night's rest, it's time to upgrade mattress sizes.
12. Your Partner Disrupts Your Sleep or Vice Versa
Even if you’re happy with the size of your mattress, you may not be content with its motion isolation capabilities. A quality mattress will dampen movement, ensuring the motion doesn’t transfer across the bed and disturb the other sleeper. If you feel a wave every time your partner shifts positions, it may be a sign you need a new bed with better motion isolation. Foam and foam hybrid mattresses with individually-wrapped coils perform particularly well in this area.
13. Unsightly Stains or Discoloration
Mattress stains may not seem like a big deal. After all, you dress your bed with sheets and blankets, so you only see your bare mattress when you change the bedding. But some stains aren't so innocuous. With liquid spills that never dry, sweat, and humidity, the stain itself isn't the main issue— it's what grows in moist environments. Mattress stains and discoloration may indicate a bigger problem: an unsanitary bed with mold, mildew, and other allergens that are bad for your health.
14. Your Mattress Smells
For the same reason, unpleasant odors are another sign you need to replace your mattress. A smelly mattress could indicate build up of mold and mildew. This is especially common in humid climates. If you think your mattress needs refreshing, not replacing, check out our guide How to Clean and Disinfect Your Mattress.
15. Your Allergies Are Worse at Night
Discoloration and offensive odors are clear giveaways that your mattress has a mold or mildew problem, but signs may be more subtle. If you notice that your allergies act up at night, your mattress could be the source. And it's not just mold and mildew that cause nighttime allergies. Dust mites thrive in and on mattresses, causing allergy symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. They're also common asthma triggers.
When to Get a New Mattress: Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Tell If My Memory Foam Mattress Is Worn Out?
Sagging, impressions, and loss of firmness are the most noticeable signs of a memory foam mattress wearing out. Memory foam mattresses soften over time, losing their support and structure. If you can’t see the change, you’ll likely feel it. Sleeping on an unsupportive mattress can cause stiffness, soreness, back pain, and joint pain.
How Do I Tell If My Box Spring Is Worn Out?
Worn-out box springs tend to make a lot of noise when you put pressure on your bed or shift positions. If you lift your mattress, you can also inspect the box spring for sagging, bowing, indentations, broken springs, or damage to the frame.
Can You Fix a Sagging Mattress?
There’s no DIY fix to make a sagging mattress as good as new. However, there are tricks you can use to improve your mattress’s support until you’re able to buy a replacement. Check out our article How to Fix Mattress Indentations and Sagging for more information.
Can a Mattress Topper Fix My Mattress?
A mattress topper won’t “fix” a worn-out or unsupportive mattress, but it can add much-needed pressure relief and support. Using a mattress topper is also a great solution if your mattress is slightly too soft or too firm for your liking. Our article Mattress Toppers: When to Buy and What to Look For discusses when it’s best to try a mattress topper and when it’s best to buy a new mattress altogether.
Symptoms of Sleeping on a Bad Mattress
Anything that affects your sleep can have a ripple effect on your physical and mental health. If you don’t sleep well, you can’t perform your best. Here are just a few of the more immediate side effects of sleeping on a bad mattress:
- Back Pain– Sleeping on an uneven or unsupportive mattress can curve and misalign your spine. Spending hours in an unnatural position can leave you feeling stiff and sore in the morning.
- Joint Pain– Worn-out mattresses don’t provide the necessary pressure relief to offset tension around sensitive joints like your shoulders, hips, and knees.
- Restlessness and Poor Sleep– If you can’t get comfortable, you can’t fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. When it becomes a chronic issue, inadequate or low-quality sleep can lead to a host of issues like fatigue, weight gain, poor concentration, stress, mood changes, and more.
- Allergies– Sleeping on an old, musty mattress can trigger asthma or cause allergy flare-ups.
How to Make Your Mattress Last Longer
Even the highest quality mattresses eventually show signs of age and need replacing. Thankfully, there are proactive steps you can take to protect your mattress and lengthen its lifespan. Aside from regular maintenance, like washing your bedding every week, here’s what you can do to help your mattress last for the long haul.
Invest in a Mattress Protector– Mattress protectors prevent damage from everyday wear and tear while keeping them clean from dust mites and other allergens. If you choose a waterproof option, you can also defend your bed from the spills, sweat, and moisture that lead to mold and mildew build-up. Nolah offers two soft, durable, and waterproof options, our Bamboo Mattress Protector and Organic Cotton Mattress Protector.
- Rotate Your Mattress Every 6 Months– Rotating your mattress ensures you use every inch of the bed and spreads out regular wear and tear. Regular rotation helps even out the mattress surface and prevents the formation of impressions and lumps.
What to Look for in a New Mattress
If you identify with one or more of these 15 signs, it may be time to part ways with your mattress. Shopping for a new bed may sound daunting, but with online mattress brands like Nolah, it’s now easier than ever.
It’s also an opportunity to try something new if you were dissatisfied with your last bed's firmness, feel, or features. We encourage shoppers to think about their individual sleep needs before choosing a new mattress. Our Mattress Buying Guide provides in-depth advice for choosing a mattress size, type, and firmness level that suits your sleep position and weight.
For all sleepers, we recommend investing in a supportive, pressure-relieving mattress with proven durability. Whether you prefer all-foam, advanced hybrids, or natural latex, Nolah has a comfortable sleep solution for you. Plus, all of our mattresses include free shipping, a 120-night at-home sleep trial, and our lifetime warranty.