5 signs that you need to break up with your current mattress, for sleep’s sake

A woman sits on a mattress holding a hand to her lower back
(Image credit: Getty)

Break-ups are hard. They can be messy. But sometimes they’re the only way you can move forward… to better sleep. The older we get the more our physical needs change, so the best mattress for you several years ago may not be right for you now. 

If your relationship with sleep isn’t as harmonious as it could be, you don’t have to just lie there and put up with it. And we’re not talking about the odd bad night’s sleep here – we’re talking about night after night of sub-par snoozing. 

As we explain in our feature on how often should you replace your mattress, what you lie on makes a big difference to your relationship with sleep. Overheating can be a surprise problem for back pain, as we learn in our feature where a sleep expert reveals the best type of mattresses for back pain - and what to avoid. 

Here’s how to tell if it’s time to break up with your current mattress and move on with something much more you.

1. Your mattress is causing you pain

No mattress ever sets out to cause discomfort, but over time some just do. And older models that are sagging can lead to neck and back ache – or make existing pain and stiffness worse. 

There are many causes of physical aches and pain, and if you have concerns you should speak to your doctor. But if the only time you experience aches and stiffness is when lying in your bed, or in the morning after a night’s sleep, you and your current mattress need to part ways.

We’d recommend partnering with a model that offers good pressure relief. A quality memory foam mattress could be your dream come true, and if we were playing mattress matchmaker we’d send you off with Nectar’s all-foam model (read our Nectar Memory Foam Mattress review to learn all about it).

Nectar Mattress sale: up to $499 off with free giftsFrom $499

Nectar Mattress sale: up to $499 off with free gifts
From $499 - The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is fantastic value for money and offers high levels of sleep comfort for less. We recommend it for all sleepers as it delivers great pressure relief regardless of the position you drift off in. Not only will you save money on the mattress itself here (up to $499 off the Cal King size), you'll get $399 of free accessories (a cooling pillow, sheets and a mattress protector). A queen costs $799 (was $1,298) in the sale, and with those free gifts it's hard to beat.

A woman with dark curly hair sleeps on a plush mattress and pillows

(Image credit: Getty)

2. You sleep better in any other bed

While your mattress might accuse you of cheating, sleeping way better in another bed is a red flag that yours is no longer right for you. But, considering how long you and your current mattress have been together, let’s make sure there aren’t any other issues at play...

That means we need to rule out noise and light pollution, plus fidgety bed buddies. What went on in that other room where you had this magical night’s sleep? Was it dark, quiet and cool, whereas your bedroom is normally hot, noisy and bright? If so, your mattress might not be the sole culprit. Read our feature on how to optimize your bedroom for better sleep to see if smaller changes might help.

That said, if it’s your sleeping environment and you wake up in pain after a night on your mattress, then no amount of bedroom optimization will save your sleep. For sheer hotel luxury and comfort at home, we’d recommend the Saatva Classic (our Saatva Classic Mattress review has the full low-down on why it’s one of our major mattress crushes).

Saatva Classic mattress: save $200 on orders worth $950+From $887

Saatva Classic mattress: save $200 on orders worth $950+
From $887 - If you want to be swept off your feet by a mattress that has a luxe hotel feel, Saatva is your dream match. The Classic comes in soft, medium and firm, depending on the support you need. As it’s approved by the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations, it's good for back pain too.  

3. Your mattress is so warm, it’s stifling you

We all love to feel cozy and cuddled in bed, but there’s a point where it all gets a bit too much. Feeling hot in bed is tricky to pin entirely on your current mattress though, so we need to do some detective work. Is your bedroom set to a sleep friendly temperature (65 degrees fahrenheit / 18.3 degrees celsius)? Do you feel cooler in bed if you open a window or use a fan? If none of those work and you’re still too hot, ask yourself: “Is it me?”

Certain types of medication make you ‘run hot’, and menopause and pregnancy cause hot flashes and sweats. In any of those circumstances you’d benefit from a cooling mattress. Feeling too hot in bed is frustrating because it interrupts your sleep, so you wake up more, which has a knock-on effect on your health. 

A cooling mattress could be a game-changer, but proper ones, like the Eight Sleep Pro or Tempur-Breeze are expensive. We’ve highlighted a more affordable one below, but we’d also recommend looking at your bedding too. Sometimes, switching to breathable sheets and bed pillows helps.

Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress: save 35% + free gifts
From $499

Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress: save 35% + free gifts
From $499
- Keep your cool in bed with the Cocoon Chill. This 10-inch deep memory foam mattress is made with phase-change material that absorbs then dissipates body heat, helping you to feel cooler and comfier. You can get a queen size for $799 (was $1,239), plus you’ll be gifted free sheets and free pillows. 

A woman lies on a bed with her arm covering her face

(Image credit: Getty)

4. It's no longer meeting your (comfort) needs

Stress and other mental health issues can make us restless in bed, so check in with yourself to see if there isn’t something else at play here. Tossing and turning can also be a sign that your current mattress isn’t supportive or comfy enough for how you like to sleep. Changes in our body weight can also make our mattress feel very different to how it used to feel.

For example, your mattress may have offered all the support you needed when you had a higher body weight, but if you have lost weight it could now feel too firm and uncomfortable. It works the other way too: if you have gained weight, your previously soft mattress might not offer the support you need for proper spinal alignment.

So ask yourself, has my body changed? Have my posture needs changed? Helix is a good option if you’re unsure what level of firmness you need, as it can be customized to your sleep style and body. If that sounds like the kind of mattress you’d like to know better, read our Helix Midnight Mattress review.

Helix Midnight mattress: save up to $200 + 2 free pillows
From $599

Helix Midnight mattress: save up to $200 + 2 free pillows
From $599
- If you don’t know what you want any more, Helix is a great brand to build up your mattress confidence again as it offers a range of customizable models. Answer a quiz about your sleep style and you’ll be guided towards a good match for you. You’ll also get two free pillows with your mattress order.

5. Your mattress is older than your nan

Sometimes an age gap can be a wonderful thing in an adult relationship, but not so much when it comes to mattresses. While top latex models come with 25-year warranties, and some plucky mattress in a box brands offer a lifetime warranty, the average mattress lasts around eight years.

If yours is older, get real about whether it’s supporting you properly. How do you feel when lying on it? Is there sagging you can’t fix by rotating the mattress, or do you feel springs pushing through? Does it have more staining than a wooden sideboard? All of these are signs that you need something fresh and new in your life. 

For a popular mattress that comes with a lifetime warranty, the DreamCloud Mattress could have everything you’ve been looking for. This head-turning mattress is available on a 365 night trial too, so you’ll have plenty of time to see if it’s a good partner for your sleep relationship.

The DreamCloud mattress: $200 off + $399 of free gifts
From $699

The DreamCloud mattress: $200 off + $399 of free gifts
From $699
- This plush hybrid mattress is more breathable than the all-foam Nectar because it uses foam and coils, and with a 365-night trial, it’s in it for the long-haul. Buy it in the sale and you’ll get a queen for $999 (was $1,598), plus you’ll walk away with $399 of gifts to transform your bed into a den of zen.

A man and a woman move a mattress

(Image credit: Getty)

Remember: put your sleep needs first

When deciding whether or not to break up with your current mattress, you must put your own needs first. Ok so you’ve been together for several years or longer, but don’t feel obligated to remain in this mattress relationship if it no longer makes you happy. Your sleep is the most important thing and you deserve the best night’s rest you can get. 

If you’re wondering whether to give your old mattress one last chance, see whether a good mattress topper can reignite some of that lost comfort and support. You can also freshen up its appearance with a pristine mattress protector, or by learning how to clean a mattress properly. Whatever you decide, do it for the sake of your sleep and you’ll soon feel confident in your decision.

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Claire Davies
Senior Sleep Editor, Certified Sleep Science Coach

Claire Davies is Tom's Guide's mattress expert and main sleep product tester with over 15 years' product review experience, and she is responsible for all mattress and sleep coverage on the site. A qualified journalist, Sleep Editor and Certified Sleep Science Coach, Claire writes about all things related to sleep, from mattress reviews to the latest sleep techniques and research. Claire has interviewed a wealth of experts, from mattress designers and innovators to neuroscientists and doctors of sleep medicine. Before taking on the role of Sleep Editor, Claire worked as Health & Wellness Editor at Top Ten Reviews, and before that was a Senior Content Editor at T3. Claire is super-passionate about how consistent, good quality sleep can boost our physical and mental wellbeing, and would love to hear from PRs and brands regarding sleep products, services and research that can help our readers sleep better than ever.