- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
The average mattress – regardless of firmness, thickness, or material composition – will perform for approximately seven years before a replacement is needed. However, a wide range of factors can affect the expected lifespan of an individual mattress model, making some much more durable than others.
This guide will look at how lifespans vary by mattress type, and also discuss ways to determine a bed’s longevity based on different variables.
When evaluating the longevity of a specific mattress, two key terms are ‘durability’ and ‘lifespan.’
Because durability and lifespan are technically different terms, they may not necessarily be linked. A mattress made from durable materials may not have a very long lifespan due to the way it is designed or configured. Likewise, a mattress with less durable materials may have a reasonable lifespan if it is constructed in a way that promotes longevity. However, in most cases, durability and lifespan are directly correlated.
Mattress deterioration, otherwise known as wear and tear, comes in several forms. These include:
Sagging: Sagging normally occurs along the surface of the bed in areas that support the heaviest parts of the sleeper’s body, such as the shoulders/chest and hips. Excessive sagging causes the surface to become uneven. This can lead to aches and pains for sleepers. Sagging is particularly common with couples, since the bodies of both sleepers are usually aligned.
Body Impressions: Body impressions are a common issue with mattresses featuring foam and/or latex comfort layers and support cores. Over time, the surface will develop a semi-permanent imprint of the sleeper’s body. This may limit the sleeper to one position, since switching to a new position can cause the surface to feel uneven.
Softening: All mattresses soften to some extent after regular, nightly use. Normal softening will not affect the bed’s comfort levels or pressure-relieving abilities. Excessive softening, however, can cause the materials to sag and develop indentations more quickly. Softening is most noticeable on mattresses that feel ‘Medium Firm,’ ‘Firm,’ or ‘Extra Firm.’
Mechanical malfunctions: Mechanical malfunctions are an issue limited to airbeds, smart beds, and other mattresses with electrical components. These include issues with air pumps, manual and/or remote controls, and outlet connectivity.
Material composition is usually the most telling factor when it comes to determining the durability and expected lifespan of a mattress. The vast majority of mattresses sold today fall into one of the following categories:
Most innersprings are constructed with foam-based comfort layers and steel, non-pocketed coils in the support core. These mattresses have the lowest projected lifespan among all mattress types because they are most susceptible to sagging – sometimes after only two to three years of use. The average innerspring has a lifespan of six to six and a half years.
For all-foam mattresses, longevity is often tied to foam density; low-density foams are considerably less durable than high-density, and even medium-density, foams. Memory foam also has better longevity than polyfoam, but both materials will eventually develop prominent body indentations that restrict movement or position changes for sleepers. The average polyfoam/memory foam mattress has a lifespan of six and a half to seven years.
Natural latex – derived from the sap of rubber trees – is one of the most durable mattress materials available. Some latex mattresses use synthetic latex instead; this material is not as durable as natural latex, but tends to perform longer than mattress foams. The chief issue with latex is softening, and some sleepers also report body indentations, but these issues normally do not affect the bed until after years of use. The average all-latex mattress has a lifespan of seven and a half to eight years, with most natural latex beds outlasting mattresses with synthetic latex layers.
A hybrid, by definition, has memory foam and/or latex comfort layers and pocketed coils in the support core. Like innersprings, hybrids are particularly vulnerable to sagging and body impressions. They may also soften rather quickly, depending on how thick the comfort layers are and which materials are used. The average hybrid has a lifespan of six and a half to seven years, with latex hybrids typically outlasting memory foam hybrids.
Airbeds, when properly maintained, have longer-than-average expected lifespans. Most are constructed from durable materials that withstand sagging, body impressions, and other forms of wear and tear. However, airbed are uniquely vulnerable to mechanical malfunctions; if addressed, these malfunctions may not impact the lifespan too much. Airbeds may also sag and develop body impressions if they have thick comfort layers. The average airbed has a lifespan of eight to nine years.
The table below breaks down durability and lifespan expectations for these five mattress types.
|Avg. lifespan||6-6.5 years||6.5-7 years||7.5-8 years||6.5-7 years||8-9 years|
|Durability rating||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Very Good|
|Sagging||Poor to Fair||Fair||Good||Fair||Fair to Good|
|Body impressions||Good||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Good|
|Early softening||Good||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Good|
|Mechanical malfunctions||Excellent||Excellent||Excellent||Excellent||Poor to Fair|
|Overall longevity score||Fair||Good||Very Good||Good||Very Good|
All mattresses come with a manufacturer’s warranty that protects the bed against early deterioration and ensures owners will not have to pay hefty fees if a defect develops. Most mattress warranty coverage period begin on the date of purchase or delivery, but will not fully kick in until the bed’s sleep trial has ended. The sleep trial – a period during which customers can test out the mattress and return it for a full/partial refund if they are not satisfied – typically lasts 90 to 120 nights, though some span one year or longer.
A standard mattress warranty covers the product for 10 years, but 15-, 20-, and 25-year – as well as lifetime – warranties are fairly common. The warranty length is not necessarily tied to the bed’s durability or expected lifespan. In fact, because most mattresses need to be replaced within six to nine years, a warranty exceeding 10 years in length will likely be unnecessary. This is important to keep in mind because lengthy warranties can drive up the mattress price by a significant margin.
Additional warranty details to consider include the following:
Nearly all mattress warranties specify a sagging and impression depth that is considered a defect and warrants repair or replacement. Though this varies by model, the depth usually falls between half an inch (1/2″) and one and a half inches (1 1/2″).
One thing to note: sagging and impressions that measure one inch (1″) or less are not associated with as much sleeper discomfort as those that exceed one inch in depth. Therefore, mattress buyers may want to think twice about models with warranties that only recognize sagging and indentations that measure at least one and a half inches deep.
In addition to sagging and body impressions, a mattress warranty may also consider the following issues defects that warranty repairs or replacements:
Most warranties do not consider the following issues to be defects that justify repairs or replacements:
In most cases, a mattress warranty will guarantee that the manufacturer will replace or repair a defective mattress for at least 10 years. The brand will cover the repair/replacement costs. However, owners may face the following charges for these services:
Some warranties promise the manufacturer will repair or replace a defective mattress for a long as the warranty is valid; others offer a one-time repair or replacement. Always read the warranty’s fine-print carefully to minimize costs associated with repairs or replacements.
Customers should read the warranty carefully to see if it is entirely nonprorated or divided into nonprorated and prorated periods.
During nonprorated coverage, the manufacturer will repair or replace a defective mattress at no additional charge to the owner apart from the costs listed in the previous box. Nearly all 10-year warranties are completely nonprorated; longer warranties usually include at least 10 years of nonprorated coverage, as well.
During prorated coverage, owners must pay for mattress replacements – and in some cases, repairs too. Prorated charges vary by warranty. In most cases, they are calculated by multiplying a certain percentage of the original product price by the number of years of ownership.
For instance, let’s say a mattress comes with a 20-year warranty that includes 10 years of nonprorated coverage and 10 years of prorated coverage. Once prorated coverage kicks in, the owner must pay 5% of the original price multiplied by the number of years they have owned the mattress. This means that, in Year 11, they must pay 55% of the original mattress price for a replacement; in Year 12, they pay 60%; and so on until the 20th year, when the warranty expires. Some prorated warranties max out the prorated charges at 90% to 95%.
Prorated coverage is primarily used for warranties that span 15 years or longer. Most include at least 10 years of nonprorated coverage before the prorated charges begin, but some only feature two to three years of nonprorated coverage. Customers should carefully read the mattress warranty before purchasing in order to determine if the coverage guidelines meet their needs.
All mattress warranties are non-transferable, making them exclusively available to original purchasers who buy their bed from the original manufacturer or an authorized retailer. Those who buy the bed from a non-authorized retailer – or buy/acquire it from the original owner – do not receive warranty coverage.
Based on the information above, you may decide it’s time to ditch your current mattress and buy a new one. Use the following checklist to determine if a replacement is necessary; more than one ‘yes’ response probably means it’s time for a new bed.