Signs and Effects of a Bad Mattress


Written by Brittany Patterson

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Adequate sleep is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health. Restful sleep allows your body to recover from daily life and allows your mind to process memories.

Sleeping on a comfortable mattress is a critical component of obtaining proper sleep. If your mattress lacks support or comfort, it can be difficult to get a restful night’s sleep. Getting consistent good sleep is especially important since poor quality sleep can lead to negative health effects.

It’s important to purchase a mattress that contributes to restorative sleep. While higher-quality mattresses tend to have longer lifespans, all mattresses eventually lose their support. We’ll cover the signs and effects of a bad mattress so you can recognize when it’s time to invest in a replacement.

How to Tell if You Have a Bad Mattress

A mattress is designed to offer you a supportive sleep surface. A bad mattress is unable to provide adequate support. Old, defective, or low-quality mattresses can cause discomfort and leave sleepers feeling unrested. 

While you can often feel when your mattress is no longer supportive, there are other signs that it’s time for a new mattress. For example, loud squeaking and waking up with new pain are indicators of a bad mattress. If your mattress is sagging heavily, accumulating allergens, or showing obvious signs of wear and tear, it should be replaced

Signs From the Mattress

There are several ways to determine if your mattress is past its prime. The following signs are clear indicators that your mattress is in disrepair.

Sagging or Squeaking

When you sleep on your mattress nightly, your body weight creates indentions on its surface. Once the mattress begins sagging, it’s unable to provide you with even support or proper spinal alignment. Similarly, a squeaking innerspring mattress is a sign of worn out springs and that the mattress can no longer support you. Additionally, sleeping on a sagging or squeaking mattress can lead to pressure buildup and pain.

Improper Support

If you feel unsupported by your mattress, it may be due to one or more of the mattress’ layers not providing adequate support. Most modern mattresses contain multiple layers designed to support you and keep you comfortable while you sleep. If you wake up in the morning feeling sore, it might be because the mattress structure is worn out.

Dust Mites or Mold

Dust, dust mites, and allergens can build up on mattresses overtime. Allergens like mold and mildew also collect on old mattresses with little airflow. The older a mattress is, the more likely it is to have a greater accumulation of irritants, which can lead to poor sleep quality.

Age and Lifespan

The average lifespan of a mattress is between 7 and 10 years. Proper mattress care and maintenance can extend a mattress’ lifespan, though every mattress needs to be replaced eventually. 

Effects on Your Body

A bad mattress can have negative effects on your body. If you’re experiencing the following signs, your mattress may be the reason.

Waking Up With Aches and Pains

Frequently waking up with aches and pains may be a sign of an unsupportive mattress. Your mattress’ comfort layers should conform to your body to keep your spine aligned while you sleep. Beneath those, the support core should provide a stable sleep surface. Without this support, you can experience stiff, achy joints upon waking each day.

Frequent Sleep Disruptions

If you have difficulty finding a comfortable position on your mattress, you may toss and turn frequently throughout the night. Waking up to reposition yourself prevents you from getting adequate sleep. Additionally, older mattresses that sag can lead to excessive heat retention, which can cause sleepers to overheat and wake up throughout the night.  

Allergy Irritations

Sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes are common symptoms of allergen exposure. When your mattress collects excessive buildup of irritants like dust, mildew, or mold, you’re more likely to experience these effects. While the use of a mattress protector and frequent cleaning can help prevent allergen buildup, you should replace your mattress if you notice your allergy symptoms worsening.

Sleeping Better on Other Beds

You may find yourself feeling more refreshed after a night away from home, such as in a family’s guest bed or during a hotel stay. If you sleep better on other beds, it’s a sign that your mattress is not providing you the adequate comfort and support you need.

Can Your Mattress Cause Health Problems?

Because sleep is so crucial to your overall well-being, a bad mattress can affect your physical and mental health. Poor sleep quality influences the body’s ability to recover from illness and injury.

Potential physical effects of poor sleep include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and the exacerbation of chronic pain. A bad mattress can also lead to mental fatigue, which makes it harder to concentrate and retain memories and can lead to anxiety and depression.

The right mattress is extremely important when it comes to obtaining restorative sleep. If you have any concerns about your health, consult with your physician for any diagnosis or treatment.

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How Long Does a Mattress Last?

All mattresses eventually wear out after years of regular use. However, the average lifespan of a mattress is between 7 and 10 years. Different mattress types last longer than others. Factors like mattress quality, usage, and maintenance play a role in how long each mattress lasts. Mattress protectors and frequent cleaning can keep a mattress performing well for many years.

Latex mattresses typically have the longest lifespan, lasting 8 to 10 years. The highest-quality latex mattresses can last even longer. Foam mattresses tend to last between 7 and 8 years. Hybrid mattresses also have an average lifespan of 7 to 8 years, while innerspring mattresses  last 6 to 7 years on average. 

Is It Time to Replace Your Mattress?

You should replace your mattress if:

  • The coils are squeaking
  • It is accumulating mold, mildew, or dust mites
  • Deep, sagging indentions have formed
  • The structure is failing
  • You are no longer obtaining restful sleep

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Can a Mattress Be Fixed?

A new mattress is not in everyone’s budget. While it’s best to replace a bad mattress as soon as possible, there are some cases in which a mattress can be temporarily repaired until a new one can be purchased.

If your mattress is sagging, try rotating it 180 degrees. By switching the head and foot of the bed, you can sleep where indentations have not yet formed. You can also add a mattress topper for additional plushness or firmness on top of your current mattress.

These solutions, however, are only temporary since a bad mattress cannot be repaired. A quality mattress that allows you to sleep comfortably is essential for a good night’s rest. It’s also a good idea to check your mattress warranty to see if you qualify for a replacement.

Tips for Prolonging the Lifespan of Your Mattress

Properly caring for your mattress from the initial purchase greatly extends its lifespan. Investing in a good mattress suitable for your sleep needs and maintaining it ensures your mattress lasts as long as possible.

Flip or Rotate It

Rotate your mattress once or twice each year to evenly distribute wear and tear. Some mattresses are designed to be flipped, but check your specific mattress before flipping it. Be sure to keep your rotation schedule consistent to prevent premature sagging.

Protect Your Mattress

The right mattress protector can safeguard your mattress from bodily fluids and allergens that accumulate over time, making it easier to clean your mattress.

Try a Mattress Topper

A mattress topper is helpful for mattresses that are too soft or too firm. Mattress toppers are usually 1 to 3 inches thick and provide additional comfort.

About The Author

Brittany Patterson

Staff Writer, Sleep Products

Brittany is a professional copywriter and editor who has struggled with insomnia since childhood. She understands the importance of adequate sleep and the resources that improve its quality. In her free time, she can be found binging a television series, reading a book, laughing at her own jokes, or spoiling her cat.

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