Your mattress is starting to sag
While visible rips and tears might tip anyone off, a totally intact—yet still sagging—foundation is at risk for replacement too. Drooping brought on by an uneven wear of the innerspring could be enough for you to need a new mattress. "Mattresses should not have visible sagging of more than one inch at any point on their surface," says Neil Kline, MD, of the American Sleep Association. While flipping your mattress might help initially, there's no coming back from body impressions or center sinking. Aim to maximize the life of your mattress by sleeping in different positions and places so that the entire surface compresses evenly. Rotating your mattress monthly for the first six months and quarterly thereafter could also help. Here's how to have the best night's sleep ever.
You fall asleep to squeaks
When it's time to hit the hay, all should be silent—even when you're tossing and turning. "When you're shifting from side to side, your mattress shouldn't make 'squeaking' noises," says Dr. Kline. The creaking of grinding metal, loose bolts and screws, or displaced springs could all be signs that you should go mattress shopping and trade in your old mattress in for a stronger foundation. (Find out the secrets to better sleep that doctors want you to know.)
It's been more than seven years
Like people, mattresses age. According to the Better Sleep Council, you should replace your mattress every seven to 10 years, depending on comfort and support. The accumulation of oil and moisture, as well as dead skin, should be enough to motivate you to retire your old mattress. While there's no one-size-fits-all prescription, it's important to remember that bodies change over time and the need for comfort and support increases with age. Even if your current mattress isn't totally worn out, having to go from soft to firm or vice versa could be enough of a reason to spring for a new mattress. Here are the best sleep positions for you.
You're nuzzling against something sharp or uneven
Your mattress shouldn't have any uneven spots that make you feel bumps in the night. "Mattresses should be constructed of coil spring, memory foam, or equivalent," Dr. Klein says. "They shouldn't have sharp palpable springs that can be felt in the top layer of foam." Lumps can also be an issue and happen when the padding inside the mattress shifts around and leads to an uneven density. If you're falling sleep on what feels more like a bag of stones than a pile of feathers, it could be time to mattress shop.
You see signs of creepy crawlies
While it might seem obvious, it needs to be said: "Mattresses should not have any evidence of bug infestation," says Dr. Kline. There are more than bed bugs to worry about. Older mattresses are ideal habitats for dust mites, microscopic critters that feed on dead skin cells. The average person sheds a whopping 450 grams of dead skin cells a year, many of which end up in the mattress. The house dust mite's favorite food is human dander, which is shed at an approximate rate of .20 ounces per week, and, according to a study published by Ohio State University, a typical used mattress may have 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. Dust mites can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, runny nose, and itchy nose, mouth, or throat. (Discover the truth behind these allergy myths.)
It smells funny
"Mattresses should not have unpleasant odors," Dr. Klein says. Over time, your mattress can provide the perfect breeding ground for a whole host of unpleasant bacteria and fungi. If you're bedroom's damp, mold could be an issue. While most common mold spores don't affect the majority of people, a select few can experience coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, and eczema. Studies suggest older, poorly looked-after mattresses can contain dubious levels of staphylococcus, enterococcus, norovirus, and even MRSA, which can cause serious, antibiotic-resistant infections.
You wake up with stiffness and aches
According to the Better Sleep Council, it's important to consider personal comfort levels when considering giving your old mattress the heave-ho. Before you consider sticking it out with a sub-par mattress, ask yourself if you're sleeping better or worse than you did a year ago and if you're waking up feeling stiff and sore. If the answers yes, it could be time to shell out for a new mattress.