The Astonishing Ways Your Mattress May Be Ruining Your Back — and Your Sleep

We make all sorts of excuses for why we don’t sleep well. Too stressed, not tired enough … things of that nature. But have you considered that maybe your mattress is to blame? It’s possible that your old, worn-out bed top is causing you all sorts of trouble. From back pain to sleep deprivation, here’s what happens when you don’t upgrade your mattress.

For starters, how long should you keep a mattress?

A woman sleeps in her comfy bed.

Your mattress will not last a lifetime. | Andrey Popov/iStock/Getty Images

It is recommended that you change your mattress every seven years or so. It’s important to keep that number in mind since your mattress and boxspring wear down slowly and don’t always show change. “A mattress is like an old armchair or pair of shoes,” The Better Sleep Council explains. “It isn’t always obvious that a mattress has outlived its lifespan just by looking at it.”

When the mattress breaks down

Bedroom in white color.

Sorry, but it may be time to invest in a new mattress. | JZhuk/iStock/Getty Images

If your mattress is showing visible signs of wear, it might start tearing or appear stained. Or perhaps the indentation from your body is so pronounced that you can’t sleep on any other part of your bed. This can either limit how much you are able to move around in your sleep, or keep you tossing and turning all night long. And both of these problems lead to a whole mess of health issues.

How the mattress affects your back …

A young woman has back pain while sitting down.

Your old mattress could be causing those back problems. | AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

Of course, an aching back is a surefire sign that your mattress is too old. If the mattress is too worn down and too soft, it can cause you to have bad posture while you sleep. This can result in waking up with stiffness in both your lower back and in your shoulders.

… and your neck

Senior woman with neck pain.

Bad mattress support can lead to a strained neck. | Doo_yikyik/iStock/Getty Images

A lack of back support also means that your mattress can negatively impact your neck. Putting the body in an unnatural position can make your neck stiff and sore. In more severe cases, you can end up with a pinched nerve that can lead to headaches, or a tingling feeling down your arms.

… and your head

A woman has a headache during work.

That bad headache could be caused by bad sleep. | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

If your body is uncomfortable in your bed, chances are you will have a difficult time getting to sleep. This can mess with your sleep cycle, and possibly leave you up tossing and turning because you can’t get your Zs. To make matters worse, the cortisol levels in your brain that deal with stress can spike when you haven’t slept properly.

The side effects of getting too little sleep

A woman sleeping on her side.

A lack of proper sleep could lead to other health issues. | Marjot/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

A bed that causes you to lose sleep and stress can start a chain reaction that affects your overall health, Cleveland Clinic says. Higher stress levels and no sleep can lead to high blood pressure, and can compound into more severe heart problems and increase your chance of a stroke.

Consider this when choosing a new mattress

A young woman enjoying a sunny morning.

A new mattress can make you feel good as new. | Choreograph/iStock/Getty Images

There are many factors that go into choosing a new mattress. If you already have bad low back pain, you might want to consider a firmer mattress. If you need something a bit softer that won’t hit the pressure points on your body, memory foam might be a better option. Don’t be afraid to test out different beds to find the right one for you — your health could greatly depend on it.

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