Your mattress is one of the most important variables in the quality of your sleep. If your mattress isn’t in good condition, or if it isn’t high-quality, it could result in an inconsistent night of sleep—which will ultimately wreak havoc on your physical and mental health.

You can greatly improve this variable by investing in a good mattress; but as that mattress ages, it’s going to decline in support and performance. If you want to get the best night of sleep possible, you’ll need to take good care of that mattress, prolonging its lifespan, and you’ll need to know when it’s time to replace it.

Investing in a Good Mattress

High-quality mattresses almost always have longer lifespans than lower-quality ones. This is one of the most important investments you can make for your health and wellness, so make sure you’re buying the best mattress you can afford.

Box spring mattresses are a traditional choice, but the mechanical nature of springs makes them capable of wearing out faster. A memory foam mattress or hybrid mattress will likely last longer. Be sure to pay attention to the quality of the brand you’re buying, and the average reviews of other users; good companies and products usually have a great reputation.

While you’re at it, invest in a high-quality frame for that mattress; this will help prevent the onset of lumps or divots that can interfere with your sleeping comfort.

How to Care for a Mattress

Once you’ve acquired a mattress, you can use these steps to make sure it stays in like-new condition for as long as possible:

  • Use a mattress protector. Some mattresses come with a protected cover. If yours doesn’t, you’ll want to invest in a mattress protector. This will shield your mattress from sweat, skin flakes, dust, and microorganisms that would otherwise accumulate. They’ll still accumulate in your mattress over time, but the process will be much slower.
  • Use sheets and change them regularly. It’s wise to invest in good sheets as well, which serve as an additional barrier of protection. Wash those sheets regularly; depending on your habits, once every week or two is ideal.
  • Rotate and flip your mattress every six months. Your mattress suffers wear and tear over time, but you can reduce these effects by rotating and flipping your mattress regularly. These actions ensure that your mattress wears evenly.
  • Vacuum the mattress occasionally. Even with a mattress protector and sheets, your mattress will accumulate dust and debris over time. At peak levels, these elements can aggravate your allergies and interfere with your ability to sleep, but you can prevent this by vacuuming your mattress occasionally.

When to Replace a Mattress

There are several signs you should consider replacing your mattress:

  • Creaking or noises. If you have a mattress with springs or a similar supportive mechanism, you should pay close attention to any noises it makes. If it’s exceptionally creaky or if it makes other noises, it could be a sign that your mattress needs replaced.
  • Diminished support. This factor is subjective, and somewhat difficult to gauge. Mattresses will, over time, become less supportive. Because this process is gradual, you may not notice it as it evolves. However, at some point, your mattress will feel like it isn’t new anymore. You may wake up during the night or in the morning with head, neck, shoulder, and back soreness, or you may toss and turn during the night. You may also notice sagging, or lumps in your bed.
  • Rips or tears. If your mattress has any rips or tears, even if they’re small, it could be a sign to replace your mattress. Rips can be easily worsened over time; if you accidentally catch the edge of the rip, you can make it more severe. Rips and tears also make good habitats for microorganisms that decrease the hygiene of your sleeping environment.
  • Pure age. Even if you take perfect care of your mattress, there’s a limit to how long it can last. It will accumulate dust, dirt, and debris, and will gradually lose its ability to support your body. If you’ve held a mattress for more than 5 years, pay close attention to its supportive and hygienic qualities. If you’ve held it for more than 7 years, you may consider replacing it even if it seems in decent shape.

If you pay close attention to your mattress and do your best to keep it in good condition, you should be able to get several years of good sleep out of it. From there, it’s on you to replace your mattress when it’s appropriate to do so—and buy the best mattress you can afford.