When should you buy a new mattress? 5 signs it's time for an upgrade

Experts share the reasons why you should break up with your current bed

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Wondering when to buy a new mattress? You might think it's only time for a replacement when it looks old and busted, but there are more insidious signs that you may not notice until it’s too late. 

Good sleep is vital for your health and well-being, so it’s important to know when you need to replace your bed with something that’s a better fit for your needs. To make sure you're always getting your best sleep, we’ll explore the top five signs it's time to invest in a new mattress and divulge their average lifespan (hint: it’ll vary by the type you have and how well you care for it).

We didn’t just rely on our own research and experience here – we also tapped a couple of experts for their input: Chester Wu, MD, a double-board certified psychiatrist and sleep specialist, and Grant Radermacher, DC, owner of Ascent Chiropractic. Get ready to kick restless nights and groggy mornings to the curb and find out if it’s time to buy yourself a brand-new bed

When should you change your mattress?

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Apart from the obvious wear and tear, how do you know when it’s time to get a new mattress? 'There aren't any one-size-fits-all guidelines as to when you should replace your mattress,' explains Dr. Radermacher. 'But generally, if you're waking up with stiff and sore joints and muscles, or struggling to get a comfortable night's sleep and/or waking you up during the night, you should be thinking about buying a new bed.' 

That being said, there are some things to look out for, and keeping them in mind could prevent you from developing any potential aches and pains. 

Dr. Grant Radermacher
Dr. Grant Radermacher

Dr. Grant Radermacher specializes in providing safe, gentle and effective chiropractic treatment for a wide variety of conditions. With many years of chiropractic training and myofascial therapy education under his belt, Brookfield chiropractor Dr. Grant Radermacher has treated thousands of patients with conditions ranging from whiplash to scoliosis, sciatica, herniated discs, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

5 signs you need a new mattress 

1. You see obvious signs of aging

The clearest sign you need a new mattress is if it's sagging or lumpy. An uneven sleep surface can lead to aches and pains, and unsupportive edges will make it more difficult to safely get in or out of bed. If you have an innerspring mattress and it starts becoming increasingly noisy, it's time to shop around for something else.

Also watch out for any yellowing, as this is often a sign that a mattress is nearing the end of its lifespan. However, discoloration can also be the result of bacteria, mold, or dust mites settling into the mattress. If you’re waking up to coughing fits or watery eyes, this could be the effect of such build-up.  

Knowing how to clean your mattress and using the best mattress protector are key to helping your mattress last longer – and don't underestimate the importance of rotating your mattress to keep it in sleep-worthy shape, either. 'Make sure you're rotating your mattress (and flipping it if it’s dual-sided) every six months,' advises Dr. Radermacher.

2. You wake up with frequent aches and pains

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Waking up to a sore back or tender joints every morning could be your body’s way of telling you to find a new mattress – but before casting the blame on your bed, evaluate your level of physical activity first. If you engage in regular workouts or have a physically taxing job, you could be dealing with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you have pain in the morning regardless of your level of physical activity, this may indicate the need for a mattress that can better support you.

Don’t try to self-diagnose your condition – consult with your primary care physician or another medical professional. They’ll be able to pinpoint the root of your pain and offer recommendations for a mattress that best suits your needs.

3. You can’t sleep without sweating

Dr. Wu says that if 'you’re getting too hot while you sleep despite other efforts at temperature control, you may need a new mattress.' Full-foam mattresses tend to trap heat more than innerspring or hybrid models, which have coils that allow for better airflow. Specialty cooling mattresses are designed with infused or perforated foams to pull heat away from your body, as well as covers woven with breathable fibers that wick away sweat.

Of course, frequent hot flashes may signal a health issue. Talk to your doctor to find out what’s going on so you can treat the cause accordingly.

Dr Chester Wu
Dr Chester Wu

Dr. Chester Wu is a psychiatrist and sleep specialist and board certified in both Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine. He currently provides care at his private practice in Houston, where he provides evaluations, medication management, and therapy for psychiatric and sleep medicine conditions.

4. Your sleeping arrangements are changing

If you sleep alone but are now planning to share your living space with a partner, you’ll want to ensure your bed can accommodate both of you. You’ll definitely need to change your mattress size if you have a twin or full-sized bed. Consider swapping to a queen or a king, depending on your budget and how much room each of you needs to sleep comfortably. 

Even if you already sleep in a queen bed solo, make sure it has top-notch motion isolation. Otherwise, you and your co-sleeper risk waking each other up during the night with your movements.

Meanwhile, if you’re moving, check whether your current bed will fit in your new home. If the bed is too big, it’ll feel crowded and you’ll have little flexibility to walk around your bedroom. 

5. You just can’t get comfortable

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(Image credit: Future/Mary Wadsworth)

Can't get comfy and find yourself tossing and turning all night? 'If you find you sleep better on different mattresses, like when you’re at a hotel or staying with friends, it might be time to think about getting a new mattress,' says Dr. Wu.

Don't rush into buying just any mattress, though. Learn how to pick one that suits your body type and sleep style. Of course, keep in mind that physical changes like pregnancy or developing injuries can influence what kind of mattress you need to feel comfortable, and your existing bed may not be up to the task. Pay attention to your sleep habits and how you feel in the morning. A sleep tracker can monitor how much quality sleep you’re getting (or losing) each night.

However, if your mattress isn't old and is still in pretty good shape, you might not need to buy a replacement. Dr. Wu explains, 'A mattress topper can be a cost-effective way to enhance the comfort and lifespan of your existing mattress, providing additional support, comfort, or cooling properties without the need for a full replacement.'

Time to buy a new mattress? Here's our pick of the best

Buying a new mattress FAQs

How long should a mattress last?

'There are no hard and fast rules regarding the lifespan of mattresses, and how long they last can vary depending on the type of mattress, frequency of use, and how well you care for it.' says Dr. Radermacher. That said, if you can’t recall the last time you replaced your mattress, chances are you’re long overdue for something new.

Here’s a brief rundown of how long a mattress lasts on average according to mattress type:

Innerspring mattresses: 5-7 years
Memory foam mattresses: 8-10 years
Hybrid mattresses: 7-10 years
Latex mattresses: 15-25 years

The warranty that comes with your mattress can give you a rough idea of how long it might last, but you’ll likely need to get a replacement before the warranty ends. Taking proper care of your mattress and adding a mattress protector (plus an optional mattress topper) can help it last longer and keep it in good shape for the years you use it.

How can you make your mattress last longer?

If you want your mattress to last longer, the simple answer is to take care of your mattress. Make sure it has the right support (if it needs it) with a foundation or a box spring as this will not only provide better support for you but better preserve your mattress. And get a mattress topper asap, this will protect it against any potential spills and stains. Rotating your mattress can help prolong its life span too – just ensure your mattress type is one you can flip. 

Let's be real, you probably know when it's time to buy a new mattress. If you've had it for longer than you can remember, or inherited so no clue of its life span, it's probably time to replace. Mattresses of course are an investment purchase, but pick a good quality option, that suits your sleep style and set up and it could last you a decade. Be sure to make the most of sleep trials too so you can test out your new mattress before you commit. 

Alison Barretta

Alison Barretta is a freelance writer and editor from Philadelphia, USA. She's been covering retail news and sales for well over a decade, but since 2020 she's dedicated much of her time to all things sleep. No, she's not in a perpetual state of rest (quite the contrary) – she tests mattresses and pillows from brands like Saatva, Sleep Number, and Nectar and also talks with experts about the little things we can do to wake up feeling our best each day.

In her freelance career, Alison has written for several other Future outlets including Tom's Guide, TechRadar, Creative Bloq, and Woman & Home. You can also find her work at Forbes, Insider, and Mashable. 

When she isn't dropping 50-lb. weights onto mattresses or hunched over her laptop scoping out the best deals, you can find Alison practicing martial arts, trying new recipes, scoping out new cafes, or going for a long walk in the park.