Effects of a Bad Mattress

Sleep impacts about every aspect of our health and wellbeing. Without a good night’s sleep, our bodies won’t have the needed resources to function correctly. From headaches to drowsiness, the short-term effects of poor sleep are often easy to notice immediately when you wake up. On the other hand, long-term effects can take time to develop. From respiratory issues to less effective immune systems, low-quality sleep can cause various adverse health effects.

One of the most straightforward and viable fixes for a good night’s sleep is using a comfortable and supportive mattress. If your bed fails to offer the comfort and support you deserve, it may be time for an upgrade. Many factors influence the performance and durability of a mattress. While all mattresses degrade over time, those designed with top-quality usually hold out for much longer before they start to sag and develop permanent body indentations. Once these issues occur, your mattress will no longer be able to offer adequate pressure relief and spinal support.

Are you concerned about the impact of your old mattress on your health? This post will discuss the health side effects of lying on a bad mattress in great detail. We’ll also discuss common signs of a bad mattress to help you avoid the uncomfortable side effects of using one.

Signs of a Bad Mattress

Not sure whether or not your old mattress is negatively affecting your physical and mental health? There are several warning signs that you should pay close attention to - some you can only feel while others are visible just by looking at the sleeping surface. If you’re experiencing any of the following signs, it might be time to invest in a new mattress.

Body Aches and Pains

Can your mattress cause body pain? You bet! If you usually wake up to nagging neck and back pain, your mattress might be showing signs of age. Over time, your mattress may gradually start to lose its firmness, structure, and supportive qualities that grant sleepers the good night’s sleep they so deserve.

Or, maybe you’ve mismatched your mattress firmness and sleep habits from the start. If your sleeping is too firm, too firm, or lacks zoned support, it might be time to upgrade to a more ergonomic design that promotes quality sleep from the foundation up. One of the best ways to determine whether a firm or plush mattress will give you the comfort and support you need is by figuring out your unique sleep needs. From there, you'll want to look for a bed that has zoned support. We cover these signs and symptoms in great detail in our signs your bed is causing back pain post.

Poor Sleep

You've tried every trick in the book but despite your efforts, falling asleep and staying asleep seems quite more challenging than it should. No matter how many sleeping techniques you master, if your current mattress isn't offering proper spinal alignment or giving your body the degree of firmness it needs, falling asleep can become a seemingly impossible feat.

And remember, tossing and turning on your uncomfortable mattress can result in poor sleep quality. The average person generally falls asleep in about 10 to 20 minutes at night. If you usually take more time to doze off, you may want to conduct a more detailed evaluation of your mattress.


Nearly all mattresses eventually start to sag as a result of supporting your body weight night after night. A sagging bed can cause uneven spinal alignment, which may lead to pressure build-up in your neck and back as you sleep. Permanent body indentations on your sleeping surface are clear indications that you need a new mattress. However, there are ways to fix a sagging mattress if it's not that badly off. Sagging can be caused by many things including using the wrong bed frame and jumping on your mattress constantly. If the mattress is sagging on the edges, maybe it's because its larger than your bed frame, hence in need of a mattress resize.

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Your Mattress is Making Noise

If you can't feel or see any obvious signs of sleeping on a bad mattress, you might hear them instead. Creaks, squeaks, and whines could indicate a problem with the bed frame. Bed springs often lose their tension over time, and this can cause your mattress to produce annoying sounds.

Remember, this is more than just a disturbing sound that gives you sleepless nights. As one of the most obvious signs of a bad mattress, it's an audible sign that your mattress isn't supporting your spine. Consider going for a durable memory foam mattress or a hybrid model designed with springs and comfort foam layers that will support you and won't be as vulnerable to sagging and squeaking over time.


Your bed's temperature regulation abilities mostly rely on its materials. For instance, mattresses with coil support cores usually sleep cooler, while memory foam mattresses tend to trap more body heat because of their solid construction.

To prevent heat retention, many manufacturers use phase change materials and gel infusions to construct foam mattresses. Unfortunately, these materials can eventually wear out, leading to uncomfortably warm sleep surfaces. Plus, the comfort layers could become soft, allowing you to sink deeply into the mattress, which leaves less room for airflow around your body.

Dust Mites

Older mattresses usually accumulate dead skin cells that can attract dust mites. If you have allergies, dust mites can cause sinus pressure, runny noses, watery eyes and sneezing.

Generally, innerspring mattresses are highly likely to harbor these pests, whereas foam mattresses and those with natural latex have fewer open spaces for dust mites to live. Using a mattress protector or periodically vacuuming your bed can help keep out these tiny bugs. You can also opt to disinfect used mattress.

Allergen Buildup

Allergen buildup is a common issue in worn mattresses, which have collected mildew, mold, pet dander, and other allergens over time. If you're struggling with allergies at home, your poor-quality mattress may be one of the main culprits. You can minimize allergen buildup by using machine-washable mattress protectors and mattress foundations that leave enough room for airflow beneath your mattress.

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Mattress Age

While high-end mattresses built with top-quality materials tend to last much longer than others, sooner or later, your mattress will start to lose its pressure-relieving and supportive capabilities. Added weight, improper care and failure to use the right foundation can shorten your bed's lifespan. All in all, if it has been decades since you upgraded your mattress, it might be time to swap it out for a new mattress that's more supportive.

Is it Unhealthy to Sleep on an Old Mattress?

A poor-quality mattress can cause great discomfort, leading to multiple nighttime awakenings and making it even more challenging to fall asleep. This, in turn, leads to poor sleep quality, negatively affecting a sleeper's physical and mental health.

The benefits of having restorative sleep are unparalleled. As you sleep, your body system is at work removing toxins, repairing body tissues, and building new mental pathways. All these processes promote healthy emotional regulation and enable the brain to process information efficiently. On the other hand, going short on sleep can not only lead to daytime fatigue, but may also contribute to various health problems.

Here are some of the long-term effects of sleep deprivation.

Heart Health

If your old and noisy mattress disrupts your sleep, it could cost you more than the restorative rest you need to wake up well-rested and pain-free. According to a 2011 European Heart Journal, the chances of developing coronary heart disease are about 48% higher for a sleep-deprived individual than for someone who gets enough sleep every night. Coronary heart disease and hypertension have also been associated with sleep deprivation.

Low Libido

Is your sex drive lower than what it used to be? Poor sleep quality might be the root cause of this issue. Men, in particular, are highly likely to have a low sex drive if their mattresses get between them and proper sleep.

Memory Loss

Whether you're having a hard time recalling information from your day-to-day life or remembering details from the past, sleeping on a bad mattress may be taking its toll on your memory. Sleep plays a pivotal role in helping your brain process information and solidifies it to recall later on. If your bad bed is cutting into your quality sleep, it might affect more than just your mental sharpness during the day.

Other potential effects of sleep deprivation include:

  • Weak immune system
  • Chronic lung illness
  • Weight gain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced coordination and balance

Nothing can be compared to experiencing a restorative REM sleep cycle. The long-term benefits it has on your body and mind can help improve your overall health. That said, it's totally worth protecting your sleep cycle by investing in a quality mattress.

How to Fix a Bad Mattress

The most practical way to fix your outdated mattress is to purchase a new one that's well-suited to your physical characteristics, body weight, dominant sleep position, and considers any specific medical needs that you may have.

However, if you're not quite ready to buy a whole new mattress, some methods can help you improve the performance of your current bed and extend its useful lifespan.

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Rotate Your Mattress

When you lie in the same spot each night, your body will eventually leave a lasting impression on the sleep surface. By rotating your bed head-to-foot, you'll be able to access a more responsive and comfortable surface in a different section of the mattress. This can greatly help in extending the life of your mattress.

A good rule of thumb is to rotate your bed every 3 to 6 months to prevent uneven wear, even before you notice sagging. Some mattress models, such as innerspring beds, can also be flipped to further promote even wear and extend their lifespan. However, most modern mattresses are constructed only to be used right-side up.

Add a Mattress Topper

A high-quality mattress that's not ideally suited to your sleeping position and body type can just perform as dismal as a poor-quality one. If your bed is too soft, too firm, indented, or sagging, and you're not yet ready to invest in a new one, a mattress topper can help you adjust its qualities and improve its feel.

Mattress toppers are generally 1 to 3 inches thick, and they come with cushioning materials like polyfoam, wool, latex, and memory foam. While they're specially designed to improve the firmness level of your mattress, they're temporary solutions that can't fix a sagging bed.

Change Your Pillow

Changing your pillows or adding extra ones can help compensate for uncomfortable mattresses before you have the chance to buy a new bed. You may also consider fluffing your pillow to restore it to its original form. Remember to check your bed frame to ensure the issue isn't coming from the foundation.

Invest in a Hypoallergenic Mattress Cover

If you're experiencing allergic reactions with your current bed, you should consider buying a hypoallergenic mattress cover to help you reduce any reactions. However, if you experience new symptoms of allergic reactions even after changing your cover, it's wise to talk to your doctor to determine the real cause of your condition and treat it effectively.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, sleeping in a bad bed can be detrimental to your health. Whether you've experienced just one or multiple of the above-mentioned bad mattress symptoms, it's wise to invest in a new mattress designed with state-of-the-art materials. Make sure you choose a bed that supports your preferred sleeping position and unique body type. Once you've changed your mattress, take precautionary steps to protect it and keep it in top condition for years.

A mattress topper and a waterproof cover are just but a few of the things you may want to consider adding to your purchase. Remember to wash your linens weekly and change your bed sheets and pillows regularly to prevent bed bugs and mites from invading your sleep environment.