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5 signs it's time for a new mattress

Is your mattress like a cactus? Here's how to tell.

Last updated: 12 November 2019

Getting up on the wrong side of the bed? It could be time for a new mattress. But how do you know whether it's time to trade in your Tempur or scrap your Sealy?

"It's not an exact science," says CHOICE's mattress master Peter Zaluzny. But there are some clues that are good indicators that it's time for your mattress to move on.

If you've been thinking about buying a new mattress in the sales but you're not sure whether your mattress is cactus or not, here are five signs it could be time to upgrade.

1. It's getting uncomfortable

If you're tossing and turning at night because you can't get comfortable, it could be time for a new bed. Since you spend so much time getting up close and personal with your mattress, you're the expert when it comes to whether it's still comfortable or not.

"Comfort is subjective," Peter says. "Trust your body."

If you feel like your mattress isn't giving you the support it used to, it may be time to spring into action. Some mattresses get softer with age, while others get firmer. (A bit like people!)

We assess mattresses for comfort before they've been used, and then again after simulating eight years' use. To find out which mattresses stood the test of time, read our mattress reviews.

"But you should see your GP if discomfort persists," says Peter. "It may be a health issue and it's worth finding out before you spring for a new mattress."

2. It's hard on the nose

Once that new-mattress smell fades, your mattress probably won't smell like much. (We don't tend to be able to detect our own scent.) But if you're finding your mattress a bit whiffy, it could be time to turf it.

One of the many tests we subject mattresses to is the sweat repellent test. Think that sounds gross? Well, it kind of is. First, we put a volunteer on the mattress in a warm room for two hours and measure the relative humidity between the volunteer and the mattress. Then we pour liquid onto the mattress and measure how much comes out.

The point is this: you don't want any sweat or other icky bodily fluids to stay inside your mattress. If it flows through the mattress – great. If not, it can hang around and create all kinds of unpleasant smells.

If the thought of sleeping on eight years of accumulated bodily fluid keeps you awake at night, look for the mattresses with the highest sweat repellent score in our mattress reviews.

Man reaches for alarm clock covering his face

If you're losing sleep because of a saggy mattress, it's time to spring for a new one.

3. It's getting saggy

Finding it hard to get out of bed? Well, we're not saying that's entirely your mattress's fault, but if you're struggling to get vertical in the mornings it could be due to your mattress sagging in the middle or at the edges. 

If it feels like you're falling into a valley each time you get into bed, it's a pretty good indication that you're in sag city. Check the sagging score in our mattress reviews to find out which mattresses stand the test of time. A high sagging score means the mattress held its shape well after eight years of simulated use.

4. You're disturbing your partner

If your partner gets bounced around every time you roll over in bed, you'll probably want to start researching new mattresses pronto, and not just to keep the peace at home. 

If you tend to sleep alone, the same thing goes. A mattress that makes waves whenever you move is a mattress that's past its use-by date. "If you roll over in the night and then bounce around, that could be a sign of mattress wear," says Peter.

We give each mattress we test a stabilisation score based on how much it bounces when someone moves on the mattress. Higher-scoring mattresses bounce less, which means a better night's sleep for everyone. 

5. It's getting old

The average lifespan of a mattress is eight years. How old is yours? Some mattresses age better than others. When we test mattresses, we simulate eight years of use, assessing things such as: 

  • Comfort, unused 
  • Comfort, after eight years 
  • Stabilisation 
  • Sagging 
  • Sweat repellence 
  • Usage wear/damage 
  • Odour.
We also asked 7000 people about their mattress performance. Find out the results of our mattress reliability survey