How to know when it’s time to break up with your mattress

Knowing when to replace your mattress isn’t an exact science but there are some key indicators that it’s time to move on.

Here are the warning signs to look out for.


The age of the mattress is one of the first things to take into account.

It can be tempting to believe that you and your mattress will be together forever. Unfortunately, this is one relationship that must come to an end.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE says the average lifespan of a mattress is eight years. Can you remember when you purchased your mattress? If not, it may be time to consider replacing it.

If you’re not good at keeping receipts, write the date on the mattress label on the day of purchase, that way there’s no confusion.


Comfort is subjective, of course, but if you’re tossing and turning all night trying to find a suitable sleeping position it may be time to be on the lookout for a new mattress.

“Comfort levels can drop significantly as the mattress starts to wear and loses its support and shape,” says CHOICE mattress expert Peter Zaluzny.

If you find yourself sleeping better in hotels or on the couch than in your own bed, it’s usually a good indication that you should consider buying a new mattress.

Not feeling well rested in the morning may be a sign you need to replace your mattress.

Aches and pains

A stiff or aching body in the morning is a common indicator that your mattress has passed its use-by date. If you regularly wake with hip, lower back or neck pain that gets better throughout the day, your mattress may be the problem.

Some mattresses naturally become softer and less supportive with age, whereas some get firmer. Either way, over time they lose their ability to support your body’s natural alignment.

All too often we fail to notice this gradual deterioration, which can develop long before you see any outward signs of wear and tear on your mattress.

Smells and stains

Your mattress shouldn’t really smell like anything once that ‘new’ smell has faded. If you find yourself wondering what that smell is when you slip into bed, it may be time to switch things up.

Mattresses are porous and, even if you use a protector, over time it will absorb moisture such as sweat and spills. Together with accumulations of dust, hair and skin, this can make older mattresses the perfect breeding ground for mould, mildew, bacteria and dust mites.

A damp, musty or unpleasant smell or visible stains and discolouration can be warning signs that you need to replace your mattress.

Clean your mattress to keep it fresh.

Sags, lumps and tears

If you’re struggling to get vertical in the mornings, your mattress may be sagging in the middle or at the edges.

Mattresses tend to disintegrate under the most heavily used areas, layers of foam compress and springs lose their elasticity with consistent use. The result is a loss of firmness and support in your favourite spot.

Mr Zaluzny advises rotating your mattress regularly to minimise this happening. “Most manufacturers recommend you rotate a spring mattress every three to six months,” he says. “Foam mattresses only need to be rotated once every six months.”

The internal padding can also tear and shift around, causing uncomfortable lumps and craters. Problems like this typically mean your mattress has reached the end of its useful life.

You’re disturbing your partner

If your other half gets jolted awake every time you shift position, it’s probably time to invest in a new mattress. This issue can apply if you sleep alone, too. A mattress that bounces considerably whenever you roll over is probably better at the recycling centre.

Firmer mattresses with less bounce mean a better night’s sleep for everyone.

It can be a tough call to make; a mattress is a big purchase and sometimes a confusing one. It often takes a lot of research before you’re ready to commit to something you’ll spend eight hours a day on. But if you found yourself nodding along as you were reading, it may be time to take the plunge.

Do you know how old your mattress is? Have you found the perfect mattress for you? What mattress do you use?

Read: Should you spin your mattress?

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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