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What Are The Signs Of A Bad Mattress?

What Are The Signs Of A Bad Mattress? UK Guide (2023)

Last updated: 31.10.2023 Reading time: 5 Min.

How old is your mattress? Unfortunately, there are not many people who can accurately answer that question. We often don’t even think about the lifespan of our mattress - even though we spend thousands of hours on it!

A good night’s rest is mandatory if you want to have a good day - and, for this, you need to have a good mattress. But sleeping on an old, worn-out, or poor-quality mattress can have negative side effects.

Indeed, the effects of sleeping on a bad mattress go beyond your sleeping time, influencing your breath and mental health!

In this article, we describe the signs of a bad mattress. Look out for these and you’ll know when you need to replace yours.

Signs of a bad mattress

Life expectancy of a mattress

The lifespan of a mattress depends largely on the quality of your mattress, how often it is used, your body size, and the materials the mattress is composed of. On average, we’d suggest changing your mattress every 8 years.

That said, a good mattress will last up to 10 years, while a lower quality mattress may need to be changed every 5 years.

For example, a natural latex mattress or a very high-density memory foam mattress will last much longer than a standard spring or cold foam mattress.

Heavier-weight people will also need to change their mattress more regularly. This is because the mattress will wear out more quickly and won’t be able to support the body as well. To avoid back pain, we recommend larger-built people change their mattress every 7 years.

Signs of a bad mattress

A worn mattress tends to sag in the centre. When you lie down, you’ll feel dents in your hip and back areas.

You may also wake up with lower back pain or stiff muscles. It is likely that your mattress no longer provides enough support to keep your spine aligned. A good mattress should help maintain healthy alignment of the spine by keeping it in a relatively straight, natural line. When your mattress ages, the material will sag and you’ll sink in more deeply, which misaligns your spine. If you’re feeling this so-called hammock effect, then it’s time to change your mattress to avoid pains and sleepless nights.

Another sign of a bad mattress is visible distortion. To find out if your mattress has lost its shape, you can use a measuring tape to check for visible sagging areas.

Older mattresses also cause more severe allergies. Dust, dust mites, pollen, and mould accumulate in your mattress over the years, and this is more pronounced in older mattresses. As a result, you may experience itchy eyes, rashes, and even difficulty breathing. Even if you have a mattress that’s specifically designed for allergy sufferers, you’ll risk reacting if the mattress is too old.

Checklist of the top signs indicating a bad mattress

Here are the six top signs indicating that you’re sleeping on a bad mattress that needs to be replaced:

  1. You have trouble falling asleep or struggle with restless sleep.
  2. You wake up tired.
  3. You have trouble breathing at night (a bad mattress can cause sleep apnea).
  4. You wake up with a stuffy nose and red eyes (unless you’re ill, it’s highly likely that you’re reacting to dust mites).
  5. You’re struggling with your skin (lack of restful sleep increases stress levels, which leads to acne or wrinkles).
  6. You suffer from back and neck pain (your mattress no longer supports you properly).

Why and when should you change your mattress?

A new mattress can do wonders for your sleep. A high-quality mattress will be comfortable to lie on but firm enough to support your body, keep your spine straight, and release pressure points. You’ll get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

If you’ve noticed any of the previously mentioned signs of a bad mattress, then it may be time to invest in a new one. Also, pay attention to the following:

  • Do you feel the springs of your spring mattress?
  • Do you feel the slats of your box spring?
  • Does your mattress contain bumps and dents?
  • Is your mattress squeaky?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then your mattress (and possibly box spring) are worn out.

Need another way of telling if it’s your box spring? Press down on a part of the box spring that is normally under pressure (like where your hips or shoulders lie). Then press down on another part that is usually under less pressure (like where your feet are). If there is a difference in flexibility and resistance, then you need to change your box spring.

Can you fix a bad mattress?

It is not really possible to fix or repair a bad mattress. The simplest solution is to buy a new mattress.

But if you can’t buy a mattress immediately, for whatever reason, then you can opt for sleep accessories as a temporary solution. We’d suggest mattress toppers and mattress protectors.

Mattress topper

If you can’t afford or don’t want to invest in a new mattress at this time, then you can opt for a mattress topper. A topper can extend the life of a mattress by about a year. It smooths out the hollows and dents, while providing additional support.

Note, though, that a mattress topper cannot be a long-term solution. It won’t fix your old mattress, and you will have to invest in a new one eventually.

Mattress protector

If you’re struggling with allergies, then you can also purchase a mattress protector. This will help reduce the risk of allergies and mites. Make sure that your mattress protector is waterproof to further protect from moisture and mould.

Can a bad mattress cause sciatica?

Sciatica is very painful. You’ll experience tingling and numbness on the side or back of your legs, which moves down the sciatic nerve from the lower back to the feet.

Sleeping on the wrong mattress can worsen the symptoms of sciatica but it cannot in and of itself cause sciatica.

Is it time to change your mattress?

If you’ve recognised any of the above signs of a bad mattress, then it’s high time you change your mattress and purchase a new one. We’ve selected and reviewed the best mattresses for you.

What to pay attention to when buying a new mattress

Buying a new mattress is not an easy task. Before making a choice, we strongly advise that you consider your needs, sleeping preferences, and your budget. Not all mattresses are created equal, and mattresses of different materials will have vastly different properties.

One of the most important aspects when buying a new mattress is your budget. The price of a mattress can vary greatly, and a high-quality mattress can be a costly investment. The price of a mattress will depend on the brand, materials it is made of, and the size of the mattress. But if you’re sleeping on a bad mattress, then you have to make that investment. We can help you choose the right mattress. You can also read all our mattress reviews, where we feature the best mattresses available online.

Don’t forget that you can visit our discounts page to get special offers.



Content Director & Partner Relations

My mum calls me "bear" because I like to sleep so much. I never thought that, one day, I'd be a certified sleep coach and apply my skills more widely. Can you tell that I've found my calling? 

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