- The standard lifetime of a typical mattress is between 7-10 years.
- How long your mattress lasts depends on several factors including how often you sleep on it, how much weight you apply to it, and what type of mattress it is.
- Latex, polyfoam, and memory foam mattresses typically last longer than innerspring mattresses and waterbeds.
- This article was medically reviewed by Raj Dasgupta, MD, an associate professor of clinical medicine in the division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide to How to get better sleep.
A mattress is an important investment, as most people spend between a quarter and a third of their life in bed. However, purchasing a mattress can be daunting.
While most mattresses are advertised to last for 7 to 10 years, lifespan can vary, says Santhosh Thomas, DO, MBA the medical co-director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Centre for Spine Health.
The following three factors are key to determining how long your mattress will likely last.
1. How often you sleep on the mattress
Do you sleep on your mattress every night or is it a bed in the guest room? The American Sleep Association (ASA) says that most mattresses will begin to break down once you’ve slept on them for about 9 years. However, a mattress may last longer if it’s in a guest room or being used by a child.
2. How much weight your mattress supports
If you’re placing 250 pounds or more on your mattress each night, it may wear out faster than the standard 7 to 10 years, says Jonathan S. Kirschner, MD, RMSK, a physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
If possible, people in these scenarios should look for beds with higher foam densities or those made with latex.
3. What type of mattress you have
The ASA says the type of mattress matters when it comes to how long a bed will last.
- Mattresses made with latex, as well as those made with polyfoam or memory foam, are more likely to last for 10 years.
- Innerspring beds tend to break down before the 10-year mark because the springs may lose their elasticity sooner. Innerspring mattresses typically last 4-6 years.
- Waterbeds and air mattresses are prone to popping, especially if you’re applying 200 pounds or more to them each night. These mattress types generally last the least amount of time, just a few years.
Warning signs it’s time to replace your mattress
An old mattress isn’t just uncomfortable. It can lead to health issues as well. Here are four clear signs that it’s time to replace your mattress.
1. Your mattress sags
You should consider upgrading if your mattress sags, or if there are springs poking out. Sagging often appears as an imprint in the shape of your body and is a sign that the mattress materials, like springs or foam, are breaking down and no longer provide the necessary support.
If you regularly wake up with pain, especially in your neck, shoulders, hips, or back, your mattress may not be supporting you properly anymore, says Kirschner.
Sleeping on a sagging mattress can cause poor spinal alignment so if your bed feels “hammock-y,” it’s likely not supporting your spine or your core. You should look for a replacement.
2. Your mattress is causing allergy or asthma flare-ups
Every night, you sweat and deposit millions of skin cells onto your bed, which is a feast for bacteria and dust mites. So, over time, mattresses can easily become a breeding ground for these little pests. And for people who struggle with asthma, dust mites can be a major trigger for asthma attacks.
You can keep these uninvited guests under control if you wash your sheets regularly and use a mattress cover. In fact, for one study, published in 2002 in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and conducted in Northern Norway, researchers found mite faeces in 40.5% of foam mattresses that didn’t have covers.
But if you find your asthma flaring up every time you go to sleep, that’s a sign that it’s time to either wash your sheets or replace your mattress.
3. Your mattress has mould
In addition to harbouring bacteria and dust mites, your mattress may also be ready to replace if you see black spots on it, which is a sign of mould. Mould may also trigger an allergic reaction.
4. Your mattress is infested with bed bugs
Bed bugs are also an issue in mattresses, and they can be difficult to get rid of. If they make a home in your mattress, the ASA says it’s time for a replacement.
Old mattresses can disrupt your sleep
Quality sleep is incredibly important for maintaining proper physical and mental health. Here are some of the many health benefits of good sleep:
- Reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
- Improved memory due to proper brain function.
- Emotional well-being and ultimately a better quality of life.
Mattresses play a key role in proper sleep in part by supporting neutral spinal alignment. Neutral spine alignment is when your pelvis, rib cage, and skull are all aligned with each other.
Kirschner says that most people, whether they sleep on their side, back, or stomach, should attempt to maintain neutral spine alignment when they sleep. Waking up with aches and pains, or complaints about patchy sleep, are signs that you’re out of alignment in the night.
In a small 2009 study, published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 59 people with mattresses that were 7 years or older received new bedding systems. After a month, they all showed significant improvements in sleep quality. They also reported being less stressed.
What to look for in a new mattress
Your preferred sleeping position will determine what type of mattress is best for you.
Many side sleepers will find a firmer surface to be more uncomfortable, since the mattress should give a bit to allow the shoulders to sink in, encouraging neutral spine alignment, says Kirschner.
Stomach and back sleepers generally prefer firmer mattresses. “But this is by no means set in stone and is highly personalised,” he says.
To figure out which option is best for you, try a mattress at the store that offers a guaranteed return policy. That way, if you bring it home and it’s not right, you can replace it for something that suits you more.
In the end, it’s about getting the right support for your spine. For a small 2011 study published in Biological Rhythm Research, researchers tested sleep quality among 32 participants – half slept on a new spring mattress and the other half on a new latex mattress. Both groups of participants showed a significant improvement in overall sleep, leading the researchers to conclude that the type of mattress may not matter as much as whether or not the mattress was new and supportive.
You can prolong the life of your mattress
To keep your mattress supportive and prevent sagging for at least 8 years, the ASA recommends rotating your bed from head-to-toe at least every few months.
“You should consider rotating the mattress when you find some disruption in your sleep or some discomfort or pain upon waking in your joints or back,” Thomas says.
You might also consider using a mattress protector to keep your mattress clean and reduce dust mites. The ASA says to pay special attention to preventing wetness in your mattress, which can lead to mould or mildew. Look for a mattress protector that is waterproof and also prevents bed bugs.
Thomas cautions that these symptoms can also be signs of a progression of degenerative disease. If mattress rotation doesn’t solve the issue, you should consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor.
It’s also worth noting that waking up with increasing stiffness is common as you age, Kirschner says, and not always a sign that you need a new mattress. “This is normal for most people until the body loosens up,” he says. “A new mattress may not change that stiffness, unless it is very worn and has lost its support and cushioning.”