Whether you’re an early bird, night owl, sleepyhead or short sleeper, one thing is for sure: your mattress has a shelf life. According to expert opinion, the magic figure is seven years before you need to replace it, although memory foam mattresses are known to last a little longer.
But why would you need to replace a mattress that may still look perfectly usable? Here’s why. A mattress will accumulate dead skin cells from the first time you sleep in it. And over its lifetime, the mattress will amass vast quantities of dust mites, whose preferred food source is, yes you’ve guessed it, dead skin cells.
The squeamish may wish to look away now. A standard mattress will collect up to 454 grams of dead skin cells a year, which is the equivalent of a loaf of bread. Over five years, a mattress will house 2,270 grams of shed skin cells – this is equal to three large packs of salt sprinkled all over your mattress. With this in mind, the seven-year rule certainly looks like a sensible idea.
It gets worse. Where there are skin cells, there are dust mites. Between 100,000 and 10 million mites to be precise in a typical used mattress, according to Ohio State University. Have you ever noticed how pillows and duvets lose their lustre and become heavier over the years? Well, the answer is simple but unpleasant. The university researchers calculated up to 10% of the weight of a two-year-old pillow is made up of dead mites and their droppings.
When it comes to sweat things are equally as shocking. The body deposits the equivalent of half a pint of sweat and fluid onto a mattress every night, which works out as over 880 pints of sweat over the course of five years. That’s astonishing.
So exactly how does a mattress manage to store so much debris. Through gravity according to Dr Philip M. Tierno, Jnr, Professor of Microbiology at the NYU School of Medicine. “This debris finds its way into the core of the mattress over the years. This environment becomes akin to a zoological and botanical park and people breathe in these accumulated potential allergens eight hours of every day.”
Breathing in allergens aside, there’s also the prospect of bed bug infestations and the proliferation of bacteria, as revealed by a Sleep Council study. It revealed that older mattresses can contain higher instances of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, norovirus and even MRSA, which can cause serious, antibiotic-resistant infections. Furthermore, an old mattress is more likely to sag causing a loss of support where you need it, which can cause or aggravate back pain and injury.
With this knowledge in mind, Fishpools has devised a few easy steps for keeping your mattress in tip-top shape:
- Flip a mattress, as recommended by the manufacturer, to ensure it maintains its shape and support.
- When it comes to purchasing a new mattress, Fishpools has a dedicated Sleep Centre where experts can guide you through the process of choosing a new one. This includes advising on the best type of mattress to suit your requirements.
- Your mum was always right about making the bed in the morning. But try folding the sheets halfway down the bed – so it can air – helping to dry out the moisture that dust mites thrive on.
- Wash your bedding at least once a week, and vacuum your mattress once a month using the brush attachment paying particular attention to the edges and crevices.