A mattress that’s worn out can do more than leave you tossing and turning at night. Like batteries or light bulbs, mattresses tend to be the kind of thing that we don’t give much thought to as long as they’re doing their job. However, when the light or battery stops working, you know that it’s time to replace it.
Nevertheless, unless a mattress breaks somehow, most of us will keep using it long after it probably should have been replaced. This can spell bad news for your health and your chances of getting a good night’s rest.
Below are 6 things that could happen if you sleep on an old mattress.
There is a chance that dust mites could be an issue if you sleep on an old mattress. Bill Fish, a certified sleep coach, says that “our goal should be to spend one-third of our lives on our mattress, as that means that we are getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep on a nightly basis. In doing so, however, our bodies give off dead skin and natural oils that can be appealing to dust mites.
Now, dust mites can be an issue for any mattress, but the older the mattress, the more mites you can assume there are. This could be a real issue for allergy sufferers and those with asthma. They are also a potential hazard to people with skin conditions such as eczema.
2. Your Asthma Could Get Worse
Noah Siegel, M.D, a board-certified sleep physician at Harvard, says that people suffering from dust allergies or allergic asthma could experience nasal congestion and airway breathing issues while sleeping on an old mattress. Dr. Siegel says that “plain old asthma has what we call circadian rhythm, and it tends to work in the evening and at night. Then you add on top of that environmental exposure related to the mattress and you kind of add insult to injury.
After eight years, your mattress becomes heavier after collecting dead skin cells, dust, and gallons of sweat. The moisture from your body could cause mold within your mattress, and thus potential allergies. Dr. Siegel says that “mold is a possibility of something that, as the result of an old mattress, can potentially impact your breathing and your health. Mold is a difficult allergy to identify clearly as there are lots of different types, but somebody can be truly allergic to it, or they could just be sensitive.”
4. You Could Experience Back or Neck Pain
Todd Goldman, who has been a chiropractor for 22 years, says that “neck and low back pain is a common complaint due to the lack of support from an old mattress.” Sleeping on an old and unsupportive mattress stresses the tendons, ligaments, and joints of the spine. As the mattress gets older, it becomes softer and less supportive, meaning that it will be very difficult to maintain a proper posture at night.
A study compared the sleep quality and stress-related symptoms between people sleeping in older beds versus newer ones. They found that new bedding systems increased sleep quality and reduced back discomfort – factors that can help decreases stress-related symptoms. Stress keeps many adults from getting the sleep that they need, and a lack of sleep could contribute to stress. So, if your old mattress makes it hard for you to sleep, your stress levels could increase.
6. Your Memory Could Suffer
If you sleep on an old mattress, your memory could also suffer. One of the functions of sleep is memory consolidation, and if you’re uncomfortable at night due to an old mattress, that isn’t happening. The REM sleep stage is specifically known to help us retain information. One study had two groups of people perform the same task – half of the group was then allowed to sleep before completing the task again. Those who slept were able to complete the task better the second time since they retained the prior information better.