8 signs it's time to replace your mattress

A spring poking out of an old, damaged mattress
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Our mattresses play a crucial part in helping us to get a good night’s sleep, and an uncomfortable or old mattress is going to prevent that good sleep from happening. But how do you know when you need a new mattress? In this guide we’ll run down the seven key signs that your mattress needs replacing, so you know what to look out for.

After reading, if it’s definitely time to get out your credit card, check out our guide to the best mattresses on the market to help you pick a new one. If, however, your mattress is less than five years old, or just a little too firm or soft, you might be able to get away with one of the best mattress toppers instead. 

Now is a good time of the year to invest in a new mattress, with many brands offering early Christmas holiday deals. Take a look at our mattress sales page to see all the latest discounts. 

8 signs that it's time for a new mattress

1. Your mattress is 10 years old, or older

From the cheapest to the most expensive, all mattresses have a lifespan. Some premium latex models will last for around 20 years, but others need replacing more often. Innerspring models have the shortest lifespan, at around five to seven years, whereas hybrid and memory foam models can last up to 10 years. Knowing how often you should change your mattress means that you can make sure to replace yours before it’s completely ready for retirement.

2. You’re waking up with aches and pains

If you wake up with aches and pains every day, your mattress could be the culprit. An old mattress is no longer supporting your spine and pressure points, putting your joints under constant stress. This leads to pain on waking up.

A man sits with his back to the camera on an old, sagging mattress

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Before you blame your mattress though, think about whether the pain eases off within a short while of waking or whether it lasts all day. If it’s lasting all day, the pain could be down to something else, and you should seek medical advice. If it turns out that there’s another reason for your pain, one of our best mattresses for back pain selections should help you to sleep better through the night.

3. Your mattress is lumpy or sagging

Image shows an unmade bed with a mattress that's sagging slightly in places

(Image credit: Getty)

As your mattress gets older, it will be subject to wear and tear. But eventually this leads to lumps forming and sagging in the mattress, leaving sleepers with an uncomfortable surface to try and drift off on. You can’t fix a sagging mattress, but you can reduce the sag for a period of time. However if tips such as rotating your mattress aren’t working, it’s time to bite the bullet and order a new mattress. 

4. You keep waking up in the night and can’t get comfy

A woman lying awake in bed at night

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Waking in the night isn’t uncommon, with around 35% of people waking up in the night several times a week. But if you’re waking up multiple times every night and struggling to find a position that’s comfortable to allow you to get back to sleep, your mattress could need replacing. Bear in mind though that if you have a newer mattress it could simply be that it’s too firm or soft for your sleeping style, throwing your spine out of alignment. If this is the case, try a mattress topper before you buy a whole new mattress.

5. Your mattress has turned yellow

Once your mattress has turned yellow, we’re afraid that there’s no way back. As mattresses age they start to decay due to oxidation. This is a natural process caused by the oxygen in the air, but this process will eventually turn your mattress yellow. The oxidation stains don’t smell, but they won’t be removed by cleaning either. 

A big yellow mattress stain on a white mattress

(Image credit: Getty)

Before you replace your mattress though, it’s worth checking that the stains haven’t been caused by other factors, such as sweat, bacteria, mold, or dust mites. Try cleaning your mattress first and, if this removes the stains, invest in one of best mattress protector recommendations to minimize future marks.

6. You can feel the mattress’ springs poking through

This problem is most commonly seen in innerspring mattresses, where the coils are covered by a layer of foam. This foam wears down faster than in other types of mattresses, and this puts pressure on the coils. You may even see this problem eventually with the best hybrid mattresses, but it will take a lot longer to happen. If you can feel springs poking through when you lie on the bed, or can see their outline, the mattress is past saving and needs to be replaced.

7. You sleep better anywhere but home

If you go away to a hotel, or crash at a friend’s house and have a blissful night’s sleep, but can’t get comfortable at home, the chances are that your mattress is the culprit. Our sleeping requirements change as we get older, as do our bodies and comfort needs. So, the mattress that you bought five years ago may no longer be giving you the comfort levels you need. If your sleeping patterns and body have altered, think about buying a new mattress more suited to your current age.

8. Your allergies are getting worse

Woman lying in bed, blowing her nose

(Image credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels)

If you’re an allergy sufferer, you’ll be used to suffering through allergy season. But if you find that your allergies are getting worse outside of these times, and particularly when you lie down in bed, it could be that your mattress needs replacing.

Why is this? Well, older mattresses can harbor house mold and bacteria, particularly if they haven’t been cared for. So, before you rush out to buy a new mattress, we’d suggest doing a deep clean to remove dust, mites, dead skin, and other allergens. Next, cover your mattress with an anti-allergen mattress protector. 

You also need to consider whether your pillow could be the culprit, as all the dead skin and oils from your face and scalp will sink into the pillow overnight. Many pillows are washable so try to clean it first and then put a new pillow protector on or swap it out for a different pillow. If this is the issue and cleaning doesn’t work, invest in one of our best pillow picks. If cleaning doesn’t work and the pillow isn’t to blame, it’s time to consider a new mattress.

Jo Plumridge

Jo Plumridge is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of magazines, books and websites. She writes, perhaps unsurprisingly, about photography but also extensively on all things sleep and interior design related, alongside home and tech product reviews. She’s lived in the middle of a nature reserve in Botswana and written a guidebook to New Zealand, but now spends a lot of time trying to photograph the cats she and her husband foster for a local charity - without a doubt the most challenging subjects on earth!