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How do you recognise a worn-out mattress?

A woman sits on a bed, holding her neck and grimacing in pain, with a pained expression on her face, in a room with framed pictures on the wall.

A used mattress no longer gives us peace of mind and can even be harmful to our health. How do you know when a mattress needs to be replaced? What are the symptoms of mattress wear and tear?

If for several years we have been facing the problem of how to choose a mattress, another problem may be on the horizon. How can we tell that a mattress is no longer worn out? When this problem needs to be addressed depends, of course, on the quality of the mattress we have purchased. Unfortunately, some mattresses wear out very quickly, even though many of them were not designed to be used. How can we check the degree of mattress wear?

How can one check whether the mattress is still suitable for sleeping?

In the good old days, if the mattress was well chosen, it ensured the right posture during sleep. In the morning, one woke up refreshed. Lying down in the morning was pleasant, sometimes one did not even want to get up. Now it starts to be different. In the morning you feel ‘wrecked’, something hurts, an arm or a leg is numb, and if you sleep too long you can no longer lie down and get up so that… it doesn’t hurt any more. This is a rather drastic description, of course, and if it corresponds to your reality, it means that the mattress wear is already very advanced. Pain after a night’s rest is related to the fact that the mattress does not provide the body with firm and even support. The symptoms are similar to those felt when sleeping on a new, but inferior or ill-fitting mattress. We sometimes say: ‘This bed is uncomfortable’, but it is usually the mattresses that are uncomfortable and the beds have little to do with this.

How do you recognise a used mattress?

In many cases, sleeping on a used mattress is not as good as described below and we do not think about replacing it. It can even be worse, because sleeping for a long time on a used mattress can slowly ruin our health. Another difficulty is that the human body adapts easily to problems and discomfort. Even if we start to feel the discomfort of using a worn-out mattress, after some time the discomfort may subside. It is a bit like unpleasant smells that we only smell for a while, then we get used to them and our nose no longer reacts.

Sometimes the exploitation of the mattress is simply visible. For example, there are foam deformations, different types of indentations and hills and deformations. But sometimes it is not so obvious.

To determine whether the mattress is worn, carry out the following tests and observations.

  • Lie on the mattress, roll from side to side and then rise from the lying position to sit up. Does the mattress creak or squeak? (Of course, pay attention to the condition of the bed: it may creak). If the mattress makes noise: creaking, squeaking or creaking, it is most likely worn out.
  • Make sure that the places where you sleep most often have not become depressions.
  • Run your hand over the surface of the mattress and press lightly. If you feel bumps, small dimples or lumps of material under your hand, this indicates heavy wear.

Sweat, mites and tears… or how history leaves its mark on the mattress

In addition to mechanical wear, most mattresses collect dirt day after day. This is the sweat and epidermis of family members, but also the ubiquitous mites and, in poor conditions, even fungi. It all depends on the construction and materials used to ensure that the mattress is ventilated and dries quickly. Mattresses with a layer of highly elastic foam have these good properties (Sovea mattresses have such a layer). However, unimaginable amounts of dust, microorganisms and sweat accumulate in most old mattresses, which were produced a few years ago with standard technologies. A mattress that is several years old and has been used without changing the cover can contain up to half a kilo of this organic waste and micro-organisms.

Some experts recommend replacing the mattress at least every 6 years, others every 7 or 8 years. This belief applies to most mattresses, but not necessarily to thermo-elastic mattresses with a thermo-active layer and high-quality coverings. These products can serve much longer because they dry quickly and do not accumulate sweat. Specialised layers in mattresses, such as thermo-active or thermo-elastic, are the future of the mattress industry.


The lifespan of a mattress, at least one made with one of the traditional technologies, is estimated at several years. Modern thermo-elastic mattresses with thermo-active layers are likely to change this old rule. However, this is only possible with top-quality products.

The durability of a mattress is not only influenced by the quality of workmanship and materials used, but also by the way it is used and cared for. Mattresses that are exposed to a lot of mechanical damage and stress risk wearing out much faster than well-cared-for ones. This is why it is worth taking care of the mattress and making it easier to work with by purchasing a model that is ideal for renovation.


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