It’s not always obvious when a mattress has outlived its usefulness. Below are telltale clues that it’s time to say goodbye—and advice on getting the most life from your mattress.

It’s a little lumpy. Lumps or deep indentations can happen over time, no matter which materials a mattress is made of. It may also sag, causing you to roll to the center.

The foam is failing. Spilling water on certain types of foam may cause damage to the adhesive between the layers, causing them to shift. The foam may also just degrade over time.


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You’re waking up sore. A worn-out mattress might no longer support your spine’s natural curve, causing stress to other parts of your body as you sleep. If you’re suddenly waking up with unexplained soreness, your mattress might no longer be giving you the support you need.

You can feel the foundation. Sleeping in the same spot every night can compress the layers so much over time that you can begin to feel the bed slats or whatever else the mattress is placed on.

The springs are poking you. Ouch! If you’ve moved your mattress often or sat in the same spot for extended periods of time (such as when watching TV in bed), you’ve probably pushed its innards out of alignment and a spring might have been pushed out of place.

How to Make a Mattress Last

The first rule is to rotate it at least twice a year or as directed by the manufacturer. (You might also be able to flip it, per the manufacturer’s instructions.) This prevents excessive strain on any one area for an extended period of time, which can degrade a mattress faster.

Remember that a mattress is designed for sleeping. Sitting on the edge to put on shoes or to lift weights can cause premature sagging or indentation, as can plopping down in the middle every night to watch TV or check your email.

Adding a cushy mattress topper might seem like an easy fix to cover up flaws, but chances are it will offer little relief.

“If your mattress is worn and saggy, a topper isn’t going to help,” says Linda Klein, president of Charles P. Rogers. “It will just reflect what’s underneath it.” And while putting a topper on a fresh mattress might reduce the wear somewhat, it will also change the way the mattress supports your body.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the March 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.