Your old mattress might not be beyond hope. In some cases, replacement is the only prudent option, but we have a few things you can try first. Familiarize yourself with the top five ways to make an old, uncomfortable mattress sleepable for at least another year or so.
1. Add a topper
Mattress toppers have really jumped into popularity over the last few years. Recent advancements in memory foam technology have driven the prices of toppers down while their quality has gone up, making it more affordable to make an old mattress almost as good as new.
How do toppers help?
Creating a barrier between your body and your mattress, toppers provide a cushier sleeping experience that might mask the more uncomfortable attributes of an older mattress.
Should I buy a topper?
Here are some of the things you should consider when buying a new topper:
- Do you already have a mattress topper?
- If so, how old is it?
- How old is your mattress?
- What type of mattress do you have?
- What sleeping position do you prefer?
- Do you like firm or soft beds?
If you already have a topper with your mattress, it would make more sense to replace both at the same time if it’s more than 1-2 years old. If your mattress is more than five years old, carefully consider whether replacing your entire mattress might be a better call.
Memory foam mattresses are often soft enough already without toppers. Latex, hybrid, and innerspring mattresses, however, can all do with the boosted softness memory foam toppers bring.
Since toppers are so soft, they might make stomach sleepers feel like they’re sinking. Only add a memory foam topper if you’re a fan of extra-soft beds.
Are there any problems with toppers?
When used to make an old mattress more comfortable, a topper is like a band-aid. While it will take some of the strain off your mattress, the damage has been done — you can't unsleep all those nights your body pressed down on the materials in your mattress.
Even if you buy the best or most expensive topper in the world, there will inevitably come a time when you have to replace your mattress anyway. Toppers are best used to extend the lives of new mattresses, not drag on the lives of mattresses that are all slept-out.
2. Flip it (maybe)
It’s common sense that flipping a mattress extends its life. Does this adage of yesteryear still apply to today’s memory foam technologies, though?
In the case of innerspring mattresses, flipping might help. Many innerspring mattresses made in the last 10 years, however, have built-in memory foam cushioning on top, eliminating the usefulness of flipping.
Latex or memory foam beds composed of solid chunks of material are flippable. These beds are extremely low-quality, though.
How does flipping help?
By flipping the side on which you lay on your mattress, the common wisdom is that you’ll simultaneously “undo” the impact on the other side of the mattress while providing yourself with an essentially new, unimpacted sleeping surface.
Should I flip my mattress?
Only if you have a conventional innerspring mattress. The following types of mattresses should never be flipped:
- Multi-layer memory foam or latex mattresses
- Innerspring mattresses with built-in memory foam toppers
- Old mattresses that have reached the limit of their usable lives
Are there alternatives to mattress flipping?
Yes, there’s a very simple one — rotate, don’t flip your mattress. By switching the positions of your head and feet, you’ll change the way your mattress molds to your body’s contours. You can also simply sleep on another part of your bed if you start to feel it indenting.
3. Replace your bed frame
Bed frames can appear optional. It seems like everyone is espousing the benefits of floor sleeping these days, but your bed frame serves an essential function you shouldn’t forget — ventilation.
How does replacing my bed frame help?
By lifting your mattress up off the ground, your bed frame creates space between the bottom of your mattress and the floor. Your mattress carries heat downward toward the floor, and this space allows that heat to dissipate more efficiently.
Bed frames also provide your mattress with proper support. Carpet or hard flooring was never really designed to hold a bed, but bed frames are.
Should I replace my bed frame?
Investing in a new bed frame is always a good idea if you want to improve your sleep. Even the best bed frame, however, won’t make an old mattress learn new tricks. Go ahead and replace your bed frame if you think it’s time — just don’t expect it to work any miracles on your 10-year-old innerspring.
4. New bedding
To you, bedding might be an afterthought. To sleep experts, however, bedding can make all the difference.
The way your body feels in your bed is dependent on the interaction between your skin and your sheets. If you feel like you have to wear clothes to bed just to be comfortable, there might be something wrong with your sheets.
Should I get new bedding?
Upgrading your bedding never hurts. There are some basic tips you should keep in mind:
- Choose the right type of bedding for the season — flannel for winter, conventional for summer
- Thread count matters — don’t be afraid to splurge of soft bedding if you’re serious about your health
- Some materials are better than others — when it comes to sheets, natural fabric just feels best
Never forget that even the best sheets can’t cover up a mattress that has passed its prime. But, new sheets will definitely make your sleep more comfortable in the meantime, and you can transfer your investment over to a new mattress once you take the plunge.
5. Replace it
It’s what you’ve been hoping to avoid. We know.
But, it’s time to face facts. No mattress lasts forever. Even the new one you buy today will only last around a decade before it’s time for a replacement.
That’s just reality, though. You can’t fight it — the best you can do is adapt.
The best way to adapt to an old mattress is to replace it. Sure, toppers, bedding, and the other options we listed can provide temporary relief, but it’s better to address the root cause than the symptom.
How to know when to replace a mattress
It’s pretty easy to find out if your mattress is in need of replacement:
- Do you wake up feeling in pain?
- Is your mattress between 5-10 years old?
- Have you slept on your mattress more than 10 years?
If your mattress is physically damaged, you need to replace it right away.
The best solution
A mattress can seem like a big investment, but it’s all a matter of perspective. How much is your reduced sleep costing you in your professional, interpersonal, and personal lives?
New mattresses also aren’t as expensive as they used to be. You can get last decade’s top-of-the-line quality for a fraction of the price — and memory foam is more eco-friendly now, too.
If your sleep isn't the best, don’t wait — a new mattress might be the solution.