We recently found this question on Quora where reader Michael Rasmussen contemplated the question and added: “The only references I find are tied to mattress manufactures and sellers. Their interests and mine are not aligned.”
We wanted to help him out:
We understand your reservations, but how is this for an independent opinion:
The University of Oklahoma conducted a study back in 2006 that compared the perceived sleep quality of 69 test subjects before and after replacing their own personal bedding system with a new medium-firm mattress.
There were two parts to the study: Phase one – the baseline phase – had subjects rate their individual perceived back pain, stiffness and sleep quality for each of 28 consecutive days while sleeping in their own bed. The mean ago of the personal bedding used was 9.73 years.
Phase two had people rate the same three markers each night after sleeping on new medium-firm bedding for 28 days.
The result, in a nutshell, was that all participants — whether they had rated their baseline sleep quality as good or poor — described their sleep quality as significantly improved during phase two. They also reported significant improvements in regard to back pain and stiffness.
Now, as to the exact time frame for change: This study shows that sleepers saw significant improvements replacing mattresses with an average mattress age of under ten years; from that you can deduct that you will reap plenty of benefits if you replace your mattress before ever reaching that benchmark.
My two cents: It is, of course, easy to assume that mattress manufactures only have their own interest at heart when they recommend to replace your bedding at certain intervals. But you could also conclude that some of us simply want to give you an honest answer and the best recommendation for your health and well-being when we suggest five to seven years as an ideal replacement time frame (as I do when I am asked). We do that in the same vein as the manufacturer of my running shoe wants me to replace them well before the shoe has a hole in it, to make sure I always get good support and the necessary cushioning.
We all warranty our mattresses for longer than five to seven years, but please remember that there are plenty of reasons to break with the longstanding, ridiculous mattress industry habit of offering 25-year or even lifetime warranties on a product that gets used more than your car, your shoes, your couch, your washing machine or really most anything else in your life.
Mattresses aren’t heirloom items – even though they used to be thought of as such in the old days; instead they are a piece of performance equipment with a huge impact on your daily life and thus the same rules apply:
Buy the best you can afford and replace when you feel it is time.
Read our original reply to the question on Quora