The Possible Health Risks of Sleeping on Old Mattresses

Mattresses get old and worn out over time. And it’s difficult to know when precisely it’s time to change the mattress. What we do know is that there is an impact on our quality of sleep when using a mattress far past its prime.

It’s no secret that sleeping is a key factor in a person’s health, mental, and emotional well-being. So what if we keep losing sleep over an old, worn out mattress? Is it really worth it?

Health Risks: The Possible Negative Consequences of Sleeping on an Old Mattress

Feeling sore: Body aches and pain are one of the first noticeable signs of an old mattress. The lack of support, terrible sagging, and discomfort can cause a wide range of pain, but are most commonly on the back, shoulders, and neck.

Poor posture and back pain: Since there lacks proper support, your sleep posture can become poor and cause physical health problems. The deformation of your mattress’s sleeping surface means placing your body in awkward sleeping positions throughout the night. What was once a comfortable sleeping position for you now causes you to curve and sink into awkward angles. We need a flat sleeping surface if not for our quality rest, than for our body’s posture and back.

Questionable cleanliness: Hygienic issues also plague old mattresses. An inevitable part of using the same bed over and over again is the build up of dead skin cells and body oils within our mattress. Unfortunately, this makes your mattress a suitable home for little critters that cause a range of health problems: Dust mites. Ew!

Common symptoms of dust mites include sneezing, runny noses, itchiness, watery eyes, coughing, and sinus pressure. All of which these symptoms can cause a lot of problems during and after sleep. Sleepers with any types of asthma can have their condition exacerbated because of dust mites.

Your old mattress can also become susceptible to other organisms such as bed bugs and mold as your bed materials age. And if you know the two, both of these can cause a world of headaches. Don’t forget about other bacteria building up over the years from climbing into bed with them.

Long-Term: What If You Kept Sleeping On An Old Mattress?

Sometimes money isn’t there. Other times, forgetfulness. Whichever the reason that might cause you to keep using your old mattress, it’s worth noting the long-term impacts of continuing to sleep on a mattress that’s past its prime.

Constant fatigue: Waking up exhausted is another sign of an old mattress. You might find yourself having trouble falling asleep, waking up abruptly in the middle of the night, and feeling exhausted in the morning after a full night of tossing and turning. And this is all due to not being able to find adequate support and comfort on your bed.

Cravings and weight gain: Another side effect of sleep deprivation caused by an old mattress is the desire to eat more junk than usual. If you’re grabbing an extra donut in the morning, snacking twice as much, or eating an extra meal at night, it might be because sleep isn’t good because your mattress isn’t helping.

Irritation and frustration: Part of sleep deprivation is the inability to regulate our emotions. Individuals who lack quality hours of sleep might find themselves a little more irritated than usual. If you come face to face with a challenge, you might frustrate easily and quit.

Cognitive impairment: The brain begins to have trouble doing what it does best after a few nights of inadequate quality of rest. Troubles remembering things that have happened or need to be remembered, trouble staying focused on work for long periods of time, and slower reaction time are some challenges that come with sleeping on uncomfortable, worn out beds.

Difficulty performing: An old mattress can make sex difficult with an uneven surface. Post-coital cuddling can also be tough. But the detrimental effects on sexual arousal and performance might noticeably plummet after a few days of poor rest.

Prone to sickness: This one is a double whammy. Not only does poor sleep weaken your immune system, which needs rest time to strengthen, but you might be more susceptible to dust mites and bacteria build up might cause you to become sicker and for longer.

Anxiety: Tension from stress can grow as each night you climb into bed knowing you won’t sleep well. The irritation and frustration from poor quality of sleep, and the confusion, adds up to become anxiety. It becomes difficult to regulate your stress levels because proper and sound sleep is supposed to be responsible for that.

An old mattress can do a lot of damage to your overall health. Your physical recovery, emotional regulations, and mental wellbeing all rely on good nights of sound sleep. But that can only come from using the right mattress that’s still useful for you to continue using.

The Useful Lifespan Of Different Types of Mattresses

It’s easy to forget we need to check if our mattress is still good for us to sleep on. But if you need a timeline on when to expect your mattress to start working against you, we got you covered.

Life expectancy of different mattresses vary between brands and types. This is due to the nature and quality of materials used. Here is a quick rundown of the useful lifespan expectancy of the major types of mattresses:

  • Memory foam mattresses: 6 to 7 years. One of the most popular types of mattresses on the market. This material is susceptible to indentations and become soft over time because it is easy to compress.
  • Latex mattresses: 7 to 9 years. Latex is an excellent alternative to memory foam. Impressions can still form on this type of material, but the structural integrity of latex, especially all-natural latex, is very reliable. (Do keep in mind some beds might have layers in its construction that aren’t made of latex.)
  • Innerspring mattresses: 5 to 6 years. Individually wrapped coils (a.k.a. pocketed coils) are the most popular sub-type of innerspring beds. However, coils wear over time and become weak. The metal wires that are the coils eventually have trouble rebounding and become compressed over time.
  • Air beds: 3 to 5 years. Although we wouldn’t consider air beds suitable for long-term sleep, there are mattresses that use a combination of air chambers with foam for a bed that can be slept on every night. Results are up in the air on how long they might last so its useful lifespan can vary drastically. Tears can occur at any time, and there will come a point when we can no longer repair an air bed any further.

Do note that we are talking about the usefulness, and not overall lifespan. Most mattresses can be used for as long as 10 years (although we would never recommend it).

Each type of mattress begins to deteriorate very quickly after a certain point, and cause immediate problems for your sleep. It’s better to switch to a new one before the old mattress begins to affect your sleep, then your day-to-day life.

When Is A Bed Too Old? Signs of An Old (and Bad) Mattress

Although the obvious signs of an old mattress are easy to see, like body soreness, problems sleeping, and sleeping terrible, there are also other indications that can clue you in on when it’s time to shop for a new mattress.

Age of mattress: A practical indicator of when it might be time to change your mattress is when it’s been more than 4 or 5 years since you bought it. We mentioned in the section above the expected useful life of different types of mattresses. Some mattresses like latex might last a little longer in its usefulness. Others like memory foam may need to be changed up.

Serious sagging: Sagging occurs when dips in your mattress begin to form that won’t go away. Minor sagging is expected after a few months of use, and shouldn’t cause any problems with sleep posture. When the sagging is 2 inches or great, they cause your body to bend uncomfortably that can cause aches and pain. You’ll also notice sagging when a spot on your mattress isn’t as responsive as before or like other parts of the sleeping surface.

Side note: If you find sagging, but only within recent months purchased your new bed, it might not be because it is old and worn out. Although manufacturing defects occur in a very small number of mattresses, they do happen. Many mattress warranties cover premature sagging after a certain period of 1.5 inches or greater. So if you find our your mattress is sagging, be sure to check out your mattress warranty to see if you can claim a replacement at a low cost.

Softer than usual: As you sleep on your mattress, the materials that make up each layer become compressed. The sleeping surface then becomes softer than the comfort level the mattress started out as. A period of break-in for a new mattress is necessary to soften a bed, but when the mattress becomes more plush than expected

Finding The Right New Mattress

Once you’re ready to replace your mattress, it’s time to do a little research! Head over to our buyer’s guide section for all of our posts on the best mattresses available for your specific need. Here are a few important points to consider when you start looking around:

  • Right material type: There are four main types of mattresses to choose from: innerspring, memory foam, latex, and airbeds. Hybrid mattresses that use innerspring with either memory foam and/or latex are also available. Adjustable beds can be suitable for your specific need as well. All of them have their pros and cons. Pick the material you sleep best on.
  • Sleep trial: 90 to 120 days is the norm, and for good reason. You’ll want time to break in the mattress. Your body will need time to adapt to a new sleeping surface and the mattress needs time to soften to the way it will be slept for the next few years. You will also want time to return the mattress if it isn’t right for you.
  • Fits your budget: Not everyone has infinite money to spend, so being considerate and flexible with your budget will make decisions a lot easier and affordable to your lifestyle.

Saying Goodbye To Your Old Mattress

When you’ve decided it’s time to say goodbye to your old mattress, then it’s time to get rid of it. There are a few options available to do so:

  • Recycle or repurpose: Recycling companies are happy to take your mattress to reuse old parts, like the foam, springs, or cotton. Or hop onto the repurposing-old-things bandwagon!
  • Donate it: Some charities such as the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and homeless shelters might be willing to come pick up your mattress. However, they must still be in good, usable shape.
  • Toss it away: A phone call to the local junk removal service or landfill will give you an opportunity to dispose of your old mattress. Alternatively, if you are ordering your mew mattress from a reputable company, they might be able to offer to take care of it for you.

Prolonging Your Mattress Lifespan So It Doesn’t Get Old Quickly

We know how an old mattress can negatively affect our health and sleep. Doing what we can to extend the longevity of our mattress won’t also help us continue to sleep better for more nights, but also save us from having to spend on a new mattress prematurely. Here are a few tips on the do’s and don’ts on mattress care:

  • Rotate it once in a while: Lying on your mattress might help evenly distribute your body weight, but it’s not entirely even. Your upper body tends to be heavier and one end of the bed might be used more often than the other. A quick rotation (and flipping, if possible) every few months will guarantee your mattress live up to its fullest potential.
  • No jumping or sitting: That includes letting kids play on it. Concentration of weight in one spot can lead to premature sagging and indentation. Your bed should be for sleep and sex only. No sitting upright to do work or reading or for throwing parties!!
  • Choose a proper bed frame: Ideally with adequate center support. Box springs and foundations are great for absorbing impact and offering give for your mattress to bend. If you place your mattress on the floor, there is no give available and that leads to the layers of your mattress prematurely compressing (and also void most mattress warranties).


There are many negative effects of poor quality of sleep that comes from using an old mattress. There are also health risks that come with using old beds that are past their prime. Knowing what these risks and effects are can help educate and, hopefully, persuade you in changing your mattress to a new one. Your well-being is at stake, and you deserve to have the best sleep possible so you can spend your wakeful day doing what you want.