Here's an icky stat for you: According to a survey completed by UK mattress company, Dreams, an estimated tens of thousands of people sleep on a mattress that's over 40 years old—meanwhile, it's recommended a new mattress be purchased every eight years. (Cue "Psycho Strings".)
The survey estimates that 8 million mattresses in the country need to be replaced, and it's likely America's not far behind. Surveys from the Better Sleep Council have found that even though 97 percent of Americans consider sleep essential to quality of life, the role a mattress plays in that equation is not top of mind.
You're less likely to buy a new mattress if your current one "seems fine," but what you should actually be concerned about are the mattress issues you can't see—starting with how dirty it is. According to Dreams, the average eight-year-old mattress contains more than 10 pounds of dead skin cells. Just imagine the nastiness that's lurking in the 40-year-old ones!
If it's been a while since you've upgraded to a new mattress, here are just some of the gross things you could be sharing a bed with (you know, besides your husband's feet, ha!):
1. Creepy critters
Dust mites lurv old mattresses and feasting on the dead skin cells they contain, with a typical mattress containing up to 10 million mites. (Shudders.) For some, this can cause hardcore allergy flare-ups. To lower your risk, vacuum your mattress on a weekly basis.
Bed bugs are another creepy crawly to watch out for, especially if your mattress is old. If you wake up with mosquito-like bites, rust-colored stains on your sheets, or you spot them in your mattress seams, throw out the mattress and buy a new one, stat.
2. Bacteria and mould
Over time, your mattress can become a breeding ground for various bacteria and fungi, some of which can cause serious, antibiotic-resistant infections. If your bedroom is perpetually damp, mold spores can also accumulate, which can cause allergic reactions. You may want to air out and vacuum your mattress on the reg, as well as invest in a dehumidifier.
3. Sketchy chemicals
It's not yet confirmed whether certain chemicals used in mattress manufacturing are harmful to your health: Some feel the chemicals slowly release toxins over time, while others feel the tiny amounts used may not be a cause for concern. But really, why take the chance? When shopping for a new mattress, invest in an organic wool or cotton mattress for that extra peace of mind.
4. Lost support
Sometimes mattresses lose their oomph in obvious ways, like squeaky springs or cavernous dents, but other times the changes might not be so obvious. This can lead to uncomfortable, sleepless nights, not to mention hardcore neck and back pain. If you find your wellbeing is taking a nosedive, it's time to say sayonara.
When looking for a new mattress, take note:
- Define the mattress of your dreams. Is the bed you crash on at your sister's like sleeping on a cloud? Did you wake up so refreshed at the hotel last weekend you skipped out of the room? Find out the types and brands of mattresses you've loved in the past, and use this info as the criteria for buying your new one.
- Set a budget. Look into mattress prices online so you're more prepared when you head to the mattress store. Also, find out when each store tends to bust out their best sale and clearance promotions to get the most bang for your buck.
- Bring your sig-o. Since the pressure of the mattress changes when you're both lying on it, mattress shopping is definitely a team sport.
- Don't pay attention to the firmness labels. One brand's extra-firm won't be the same as another's. And just because a mattress is known as the best on the market doesn't mean it will be the best for you.
- Spend at least 15 minutes on each mattress. Once you've chosen your finalists, spend at least 15 minutes on each mattress, testing them with your go-to sleep positions and taking note of how you feel.
Related on Organic Authority
Tired woman image via Shutterstock