Snuggling down under our duvet after a hard day’s work is something many of us live for, but sometimes sleepless nights can be a huge problem, and identifying the cause can be a little tricky.

Often, it's easy to write it off as just “one of those things”, or that the stresses of life are keeping you from drifting off into a peaceful slumber. While these can be contributing factors, our bed itself plays a fundamental role in the quality of our sleep.

Buying the right mattress is an investment worth making, but knowing when it’s time to buy a new mattress is equally important. With that in mind, recognising when it’s time to change your mattress can be hugely beneficial to both your physical health and mental wellbeing.

If you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, our tips on pinpointing when a mattress is past its best and needs replacing will help you get the rest you need.

Your mattress needs replacing if...

You Wake Up In Pain
If you wake in the morning to find you’re stiff or sore, it’s easy to put it down to just getting older or over exertion, but often the pain can be caused by your mattress.

Lower-back pain is commonly the first sign something isn't right and if you find the pain eases after stretching, it’s likely your mattress is to blame.

It's important to ensure your spine is correctly aligned while sleeping. If you sleep on your front or back, your body should maintain the natural S shape. If however you're a side sleeper, your spine should be straight from your neck to your bottom.

It's a myth that a firm mattress will resolve back pain. We're all unique in how we sleep and a mattress that’s too firm for you can cause your spine to straighten (or bend if you're a side sleeper), leaving you with lingering aches and pains. On the other hand, a mattress that’s too soft can mean your spine isn’t supported enough, so it overstretches.

Most mattresses are topped with numerous comfort layers. These are designed to support your body in a natural position and alleviate pressure in key areas, such as the shoulders, hips and lower back. Choosing a mattress that properly supports your spine and offers pressure relief in the right areas for you is key to ensuring a pain free morning.

Your Allergies Are Getting Worse
If you struggle with allergies or suffer from asthma and find there's no reasonable explanation for worsening symptoms, your mattress may be the problem.

Some mattresses are designed with hypoallergenic layers, however over time there's only so much protection these will offer. One of the biggest culprits for allergies getting worse is dust mites. Unfortunately, dust mites are an inevitable part of mattress ownership and the older your mattress, the more dust mites will be present (a disturbing thought - we know!)

Worse yet, it's possible for dust mite faeces to cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks, and the amount of dust that accumulates in your mattress can contribute to allergies. There are however a few things you can do to reduce the amount of dust and mites present; vacuuming, steaming, using protectors, and flipping your mattress regularly may help to relieve symptoms.

If you find this doesn't help, a new mattress is probably the best solution.

Your Mattress is Sagging
If you find there’s a dent in your mattress, it's clear it’s no longer offering the support you need and may be a contributing factor in any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing.

With repetitive use, it stands to reason that the condition of the mattress will change as the materials it's made from start to break down. No mattress is designed to last forever and every mattress has a lifespan. This lifespan is determined by a number of factors, such as: quality, your weight, and regularity of use.

A quality mattress will be made from more substantial materials and will likely offer a longer lifespan than a cheaper mattress. Most mattresses are put through rigorous tests by the manufacturer who will often suggest a maximum lifespan, which will typically influence the length of guarantee.

As mentioned, weight and how regularly the mattress is used play key roles. Heavier body types will put more stress on springs, foam, cushioning and other components within the mattress, meaning they will age more quickly. Also, if you were once sleeping solo but now share your bed with a partner, your mattress might not offer adequate support for the extra weight, meaning it’s time for a new mattress.

Your Mattress is Uncomfortable
You'd assume you'd notice when your mattress is uncomfortable, right? It might sound like common sense, but it’s easy to adjust to discomfort over time. If you find yourself waking in the night or you struggle to “find your spot” when drifting off, these are key indicators that your mattress might not be as comfortable as you thought. If you find you have a more restful night's sleep in another bed, it might be worth considering just how comfortable your bed at home really is.

This doesn't mean a new mattress can't be uncomfortable, though. A bed may seem comfortable in a showroom, but then doesn't perform well at home. Comfort is subjective and as such, when buying a new mattress it's really important to thoroughly test it before committing. Spend at least 20-30 minutes lying on a mattress in the positions you most commonly sleep, letting your body relax into it - this will allow you to gauge how it works for you.

Some manufacturers and suppliers will also offer a money back guarantee, which will allow you to really give a mattress a proper test run. It’s definitely worth enquiring about this when shopping.

Uncomfortable Mattress, But Can’t Afford a New One?
If you're not in a position to buy a new mattress, there are a few temporary steps you can take.

Firstly, consider buying a mattress topper. If your mattress is too firm for you, or you can feel the springs, this will add an additional comfort layer.

What's more, the pillows you use can make a considerable difference to how easily you settle. Shop around for pillows that are suited to your sleeping style - what works for a side sleeper won’t necessarily work for someone that sleeps on their front, for example.

How Often Should You Replace a Mattress?
This can vary dramatically depending on a number of factors, some of which we've already mentioned. A quality mattress should last anywhere from 5 to 10 years, or more, depending on use and how well it’s looked after. This time frame can be much longer if the mattress only gets moderate use (such as those in a guest bedroom).

Factors that can determine how regularly you should replace a mattress include:
  • The quality of the mattress
  • How often it’s used
  • Whether it’s being used by one or two people
  • The weight of the people using it
Most mattresses need regular turning or flipping to maintain their support and comfort; doing this will mean that wear and tear is distributed evenly across the surface of the mattress. Not doing this will mean that only one area is responsible for supporting your body.

Knowing when it's time to change your mattress can be confusing. It's easy to just let it slide when it comes to the comfort your mattress offers you, but determining when you should change your mattress can mean you'll not only get a better night's sleep, but you'll feel better while you're awake too!

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