When It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Your Old Mattress
While a good mattress can provide years of comfortable sleep, there is no accurate way to determine exactly how long your mattress will last. The estimated life span of a good mattress is approximately 8 years, but many factors can have an effect on how well your mattress performs over time.
The first thing to consider when evaluating your mattress is how long you’ve had it. Was is a really good mattress when you bought it, or was it just something to get you through until you could afford better? The better the quality, the longer the life expectancy.
Next, how has your mattress been cared for? Have you rotated your mattress regularly? Has your mattress been covered with an absorbent, breathable pad to protect it from sweat and other bodily fluids? Did you vacuum your mattress regularly to remove dust mites and dirt?
If not, it is probably time for a new mattress.
Finally, are you comfortable and rested after a night on your current mattress? Restless sleep, lumps or unevenness on the mattress, back and neck pain when you wake, all of these are signs that it’s time for your mattress to go.
Choosing Your New Mattress
You’ve come to the conclusion that a new mattress is in order. What now? How do you choose the perfect mattress – one that will give you the comfort and support that was so lacking in the mattress that you’ve decided to replace?
Let’s begin at the beginning. When shopping for that new mattress, you generally have three types of mattresses to choose from – innerspring, memory foam, and latex.
The innerspring mattress has been around the longest and is the most well-known of the three. This mattress consists of a system of coil springs, either attached together inside a cover material or individually wrapped.
Pros for choosing an innerspring mattress include
- familiarity – innerspring mattresses have been available much longer than the newer mattress types, making them a comfortable choice for consumers.
- lower price tag – a large consumer base has made the innerspring mattress a very cost-effective choice.
- durability – the innerspring mattress maintains its comfort over many years due to its heavy-duty construction.
- air circulation – the wide spaces in the innerspring construction allow for better ventilation, thus reducing body heat accumulation.
- recent improvements – many innerspring mattresses now have a topper (pillow top, foam, or latex) for added comfort.
- breakdown of the coil system – as springs age they lose support, causing pressure point pain, and lack of sufficient firmness.
- hard to manage for set-up and cleaning – innerspring mattresses can be very heavy and awkward to move.
- need frequent cleaning –the materials used for underlying layers, like wool, provide a hospitable environment for dust mites.
- motion transfer – attached coils allow for any movement to be transferred over the entire span. Individual coil mattresses reduce this problem somewhat, but not completely.
The memory foam mattress has become a popular choice for many because of its cushiony foam construction. Memory foam is made from an energy absorbent, soft substance called viscoelastic, a petroleum product.
Pros of a memory foam mattress include
- layers of foam respond to body weight and temperature – by molding to body shape, the memory foam mattress reduces pressure points and back pain.
- conformation to body shape – by conforming to your body shape, a memory foam mattress reduces tossing and turning, resulting in more restful sleep.
- reduction of motion transfer – memory foam construction eliminates transfer of movement between bedpartners.
- heat retention – a memory foam mattress retains body heat, often making it uncomfortable, especially in warm weather.
- odd smell – because memory foam is a petroleum product, it produces an odd chemical smell called off-gassing. To eliminate this smell, a 24-hour airing out period is necessary before covering the mattress with a protective pad and sheets.
- not suitable for young children – due to the soft, body hugging nature of memory foam, this type of mattress is not recommended for small children due to an increased risk of suffocation.
The latex mattress has become a popular choice among consumers. Latex foam may be natural (derived from the sap of the rubber tree) or synthetic (a petroleum product). A latex mattress may be one or the other or a combination of both.
Pros of a latex mattress include
- durability – the materials and construction of the latex mattress are designed for longevity, adding years of use to your investment.
- responsivity – the latex mattress responds quickly to pressure, conforming evenly to the contours of your body, reducing pressure points.
- support – the three defining factors of support are conformability, responsiveness, and firmness. The latex mattress rates well in all three categories by creating back and joint support and maintaining natural spinal alignment.
- motion isolation – any movement is contained, eliminating disruption of a bedpartner’s sleep.
- reduction in off-gassing – while latex mattresses may have an initial rubbery smell, toxic off-gassing is significantly reduced.
- hygienic – latex is naturally, bacteria, insect, mold, and mildew resistant, eliminating the need for harsh chemical treatments.
- flame resistant – latex is inherently flame resistant, eliminating the need for harsh, often toxic, flame-retardant chemicals.
- environmentally friendly – eco-friendly natural latex leaves a smaller carbon footprint than the environmental damage caused by the production, use, and disposal of petroleum products.
- hard to move – a latex mattress should be flipped or rotated regularly to prevent sagging. Since the mattress is quite heavy, it is difficult to perform necessary adjustments.
- limited availability – while combination latex mattresses are easily obtainable, the all-latex variety takes some research to locate and may be expensive.
- heat retention – although less heat-retentive than memory foam, a latex mattress can cause discomfort from body heat retention.
- limitations – latex is heat sensitive and will dry out from direct heat or sunlight, so use should be limited to normal bedroom conditions. Use of an electric blanket on a latex mattress is not encouraged. If used, set on the lowest setting and keep a sheet or other barrier between the blanket and the mattress.
Finally, determine the firmness and comfort of any mattress by “test-driving” it for at least ten minutes before you make your decision. Never depend upon labels. Firmness is a very subjective term. What may seem firm to a smaller woman may not be nearly firm enough for a larger man.
Making That Final New Mattress Decision
Well, are you now sufficiently confused about how to choose a new mattress. With so many options available and so much to consider, let’s throw one more thing into the mix. Price! Don’t be fooled by price. Just because a mattress is expensive doesn’t mean it will be the best mattress for you. Breaking the bank to purchase a particular mattress because the advertising guys tell you it’s the best is foolish. Take your time, test several mattresses, find the most comfortable one for you at price that is also comfortable. Then make your decision.