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Is It Time for a New Mattress?
last updated:
Tue, 9/18/2012 4:05 PM

Experts from WebMD share insight as to when it’s time to reinvest in your sleep.

To get a good night's sleep you've got to start with the basics and your mattress is the first building block to a restful slumber.

When to Part With Your Old Mattress

"Today's mattresses are made to last a lifetime. But you probably shouldn't plan on keeping yours for that long. Our bodies change over time, so the mattress that was once a joy to sleep on may no longer feel comfortable a few years down the road," says Michael Breus, PhD, a WebMD sleep expert and author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.

In addition, mattresses collect dust mites, fungus, and other germs that can exacerbate allergies and impact your sleep patterns. After 10 to 15 years, it's time to think about buying a new bed.

Ultimately, the experts say that the best bed for you is the one that feels most comfortable. "There's no mattress that's going to save your body when you get only five hours of sleep," says Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. In order to feel your best, you need to get enough rest… no matter what type of mattress you're sleeping on.

How do you know if the bed you're sleeping on is the right one?

"If you wake up in the morning and have some low back pain and can stretch and get rid of it in 15 or 30 minutes, that means you're on an inappropriate mattress for you," said Breus. “The right mattress, on the other hand, is one on which you feel no pressure, almost like you're floating in air.”

If you're looking for a new mattress, experts suggest testing it in the store and lying down on each mattress in the position in which you normally sleep. Breus suggests spending at least 10 to 15 minutes on the bed. And, bring your own pillow! The more you can replicate the way you'll be sleeping on the mattress once you get it home, the better your chances of picking the right one.

Tips & Warnings on purchasing a new mattress:

  • Beds come in six different sizes:
    King (sometimes called eastern king), 76 inches wide by 80 inches long;
    California king, 72 inches wide by 84 inches long;
    Queen, 60 inches wide by 80 inches long;
    Full (or double), 54 inches wide by 75 inches long;
    Twin (or single), 39 inches wide by 75 inches long; and
    Twin Extra-Long, 39 inches wide by 80 inches long
  • Try to bargain for the best price. Shopping for a mattress is similar to buying a car in that there is often room for negotiation.
  • Pillow tops add an extra layer of padding to the top of the mattress but tend to sag more quickly than thinner padding on mattresses.
  • Hard mattresses don't necessarily offer the best support. If a mattress is too hard, it may add uncomfortable pressure to your hips and shoulders.

To ease the confusion of buying a mattress, the Better Sleep Council has developed guidelines that walk you through the process and help you make the purchase of your dreams. Click here to access the guide.

If you have a proper mattress and still struggle with sleep, you may have a sleep disorder that should be discussed with your physician. To find out more about disorders that may be impacting your sleep, visit our website at

This information is provided by Methodist Healthcare and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

References: By Lisa Zamosky/ Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Better Sleep Council


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000