Should Mattresses be Replaced Every 10 Years?

Consumer Reports says there’s no time limit on when to replace a mattress

By Deanna Dewberry
|  Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013  |  Updated 4:31 PM CDT
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While the mattress industry suggests replacing your mattress every five-to-10 years, Consumer Reports says there’s no time limit.

Deanna Dewberry, NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit

While the mattress industry suggests replacing your mattress every five-to-10 years, Consumer Reports says there’s no time limit.

While many in the mattress industry suggest consumers replace their mattresses every five-to-10 years, Consumer Reports said there is no time limit.

 “The mattress is quite literally the foundation of a good night’s rest,” said Karin Mahoney, spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council, a non-profit organization supported by the mattress industry with a mission to help consumers sleep better.

“We recommend evaluating your mattress every five-to-seven years for replacement.  So if you are waking up with aches and pains, if you’re not sleeping through the night, those are some good indications it’s time for a new mattress,” said Karin Mahoney, spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council.

Mahoney said the five-to-seven year mark is a good time to pay attention to a mattress to see if it’s time for a new one.  Many retailers and manufacturers recommend replacing mattresses every five-to-10 years.  Along with wear and tear issues, some said over time mattresses may become a haven for allergens and dirt.

But Consumer Reports said there is nothing wrong with consumers who want to hang on to their mattresses.

“There is no time limit,” said Bob Markovich, Consumer Reports Home and Appliance Editor. “It’s not like replacing tires after, say, six years, because the rubber hardens. It’s a different deal.  So if your mattress is still comfortable after 12 years, keep it.”

“Mattresses are a big-profit industry.  Mattresses also have huge markups, so you’re talking about an awful lot of money at stake.  So it certainly suits their purposes to get people to replace them often,” Markovich said.

Consumer Reports conducted tests which simulated eight years of use on mattresses.

“Our durability tests found that even after the equivalent of eight years all of them still really had kept their shape, kept their firmness and were doing quite well,” Markovich said.

On the flip side, the Mahoney pointed to research from Oklahoma State University professor Bert Jacobson that was funded in part by the Better Sleep Council.

“We find that a lot of the springs and a lot of the support systems will start failing after about five or six years, depending on the size of the individual and the activity you might sustain in that bed,” said Jacobson, a professor of health and human performance at OSU who also once served as a Sleep Council spokesman.

In one of his studies, 59 participants, who all had their mattresses an average of 9.5 years, and reported minor back pain and a little trouble sleeping, tracked their sleep habits on their own mattresses for one month.  After that time, all participants got a new mattress.

“We saw drastic improvement almost immediately,” he said. 

Jacobson said the improvement was sustained.

“Rather than going to a physician or a chiropractor because you have back stiffness or back pain maybe the first thing you should look at is to reevaluate your mattress,” Jacobson said.

A good night’s sleep is important, especially since we spend one-third of our lives asleep.  Sleep problems can have a snowball effect into other aspects of our lives causing health, lifestyle and productivity issues. On average consumers replace their mattresses every 10.2 years, according to the Sleep Council.  

Dan Underhill, an Arlington resident, told NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit he’s had his mattress about 10 years.

“I hate mine,” admitted Underhill.  

But Underhill said he’s not switching any time soon, because his wife is happy with it.

“She likes it,” he said.

So for many consumers, when to replace a mattress depends on sleep quality.

“Some people just don’t like to replace their mattress.  You know they get used to that feeling then they try to do something different it just doesn’t work out,” said Arlington resident Aaron Gordon, who replaced his mattress four years ago.

“If you wake up in the middle of the night, or if your back hurts when you wake up, it’s no good. So it’s got to be comfortable,” said Fort Worth resident Dana Oakes.  

That’s one reason she got a new mattress recently.

Consumer Reports’ Markovich said for those with sleep issues it may be best to try a new pillow first before replacing a mattress.  However he said if a mattress is sagging or lumpy it’s time to look for a new one.

If you are in the market for a new mattress:

  • Test it for at least 15 minutes.
  • Bring your significant other.
  • When testing, lie on your back, if you can put two fingers between the small of your back and the mattress, it’s not providing enough support.
  • Ideally your mattress and your pillow should have your neck and spine in straight alignment just as if you were standing with correct posture.
  • Check the return policy, restocking and deliver fees.
  • Haggle for a better buy.
  • Look for sales.
  • Don’t go by price.  Expensive doesn’t always mean better.

“You can buy some great mattresses for $1,000 or less,” Markovich said.

Fort Worth resident Judi Daniel splurged and spent $3,000 on her new mattress a year ago.  She spent a year shopping for one and said she loves it so much it makes it’s difficult to sleep anywhere else now.

“It makes it hard to go on vacation,” Daniel said.

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