But The Mattress Looks New

Its the million dollar question – when do I replace my mattress?

Let me start by giving you a simple analogy. If your car stops running, or is breaking down often, would you not strongly consider replacing it? Especially if fixing it was not possible, or it was cost prohibitive, right? If you can’t depend on your vehicle, and you’re spending more on tow trucks, repairs, rental cars, and missing meetings and work that costs you money, its time to replace the vehicle.

Now let’s look at your mattress. If you are waking up sore, spending dollars on doctors and chiropractors, sleeping better on the road or vacation, its probably time to change. But here are some other things to consider.

AGE – There is no set age a mattress should be replaced. HOWEVER, whether its 1 year old, or 20 years old, if your quality of sleep is suffering, replace it immediately. An older mattress is more likely to cause problems, but there are many other factors to consider besides age. My rule of thumb for comfort life (the amount of time you can sleep comfortably on the mattress) for a decent quality mattress by type: innerspring – 5-7 years; air – 6-8; visco foam – 8-12. It is possible each of these types could last longer. Plus, you must consider your changes in body shape, sleep position, weight, and changing comfort needs, especially a decade out. Also note the warranty life may last much longer than the comfort life. Warranties do not cover comfort. For someone with a sensitive spine, even the slightest alignment issue may be problematic.

ALLERGIES – A sudden increase in allergy issues, or asthma at night, is probably a good sign that the mattress needs to go. Dust mites, bacteria and all sorts of things grow and thrive in mattresses and linens. A mattress that has not been properly protected could be a very hazardous environment for anyone. Good quality protectors are a relatively recent invention. A mattress more than 8 years old, especially a traditional innerspring mattress, should be sent packing. You would be shocked at how filthy an unprotected mattress can get after a few years.

ALIGNMENT – This is the most under-appreciated reason to exchange a mattress. Imagine a traditional innerspring mattress with their fluffy soft comfort layers. As time passes, these settle under your weight. As a side sleeper, you place 5 times more pressure every night  in a very limited area, which increases the likelihood of body impressions. BTW – most people sleep on their side at least part of the night. With couples, they usually find the same spot on the mattress every night on their side. As the valley deepens, the body naturally rolls to the deepest spot. Now, the hip is 1/2″ deeper than it needs to be. That does not sound like much, and its still within the acceptable range as far as warranty goes. But when you are actually on the mattress, the hip may sink in another 1/2″ (as the foam/fiber settles over time), now your spine has a problem. The body is out of alignment, the muscles are not relaxed, and you wake up each morning with a sore back, or feeling like a gorilla slapped you around all night.

This situation tends to sneak up on you. I’ve noticed that it usually takes a night in a hotel on a newer mattress, or an overnight visit to a friend’s house on a better mattress, for people to really notice how bad their mattress really is. Monitor your alignment. When in bed, trace your spine in your mind down the length of your body. All muscles should be relaxed. If you are married, check each other’s alignment periodically, especially if there is any morning soreness, or a feeling a fatigue during the day. Either could be a sign of a poor mattress.

COMFORT – This is a simple one. If you are restless, tossing, uncomfortable, its time to replace. You should not have to fight your mattress. Bedtime should be an enjoyable moment, an opportunity to recharge and relax. If the mattress is uncomfortable, go shopping immediately.

Comments from the front lines regarding current mattress:

But It Looks Brand New! – Looks can be very deceiving. How is it supporting you? Are you aligned properly? How is the quality of sleep?

Its only XX years old? – Age is irrelevant. What is the quality of sleep?

I paid $X,XXX for it! – Price is irrelevant. Was it the right mattress for you? Has anything changed – sleep position, body impressions, weight gain, health issues etc?

Nobody likes to spend money. Unfortunately, sleep is very important and it is impossible to fix, or upgrade a bad mattress. If you take your time and spend your time and money wisely, you can find a mattress that will give you several years of quality sleep. Find a competent mattress professional that will FIT you properly. Don’t shop for price, shop for SLEEP.

Happy Sleeping!

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