How To Tell If A Mattress Is Worn Out: Two Examples From Personal Experience

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how to tell if a mattress is worn out
Dunedin: where we went for our trip

How To Tell If A Mattress Is Worn Out

This article is a bit of a story of personal experiences along the way of a recent trip my family had to take recently. Always on the look out for articles to write that are helpful for you, I decided I’d pay special attention to the beds I slept in on my trip.

I have to say, the beds have been pretty terrible, which is not good for me, but it’s great for you because it means I can give you two really obvious ways of how to tell if a mattress is worn out and exactly what that felt like, based on the two mattresses I have had to sleep on this trip.

We did replace our own mattress recently (you can read about that on the blog section of the site), because our old mattress was starting to sag. I’ve been having a few mixed feelings about our new mattress. I can tell you, the beds I’ve slept on during this trip have helped me make up my mind for what we’re going to do at the end of our 100 night sleep trial. I’ll let you know at the end.

The Story

Due to a health emergency in my husband’s family, we had to make an unexpected trip to Dunedin, which is five hours south of our home city of Christchurch. We had to leave at quite short notice, so scrabbled a bit for booking a place to stay (not the easiest task when you’ve got two small children who sleep in cots to take along with you).

We booked into a holiday house via AirBnB, which sounded fabulous: it was freshly renovated, had five star reviews, a very friendly owner, and was a five minute drive from the hospital we needed to visit. There was only one bed for us, naturally I was curious to see what it was going to feel like. I’ll describe this mattress in example one.

As we drove out of Christchurch, we learnt that Andrew’s mother was actually going to need surgery, and we needed to extend our trip! The AirBnB we booked for the first two nights was already booked so it was not an option to extend our stay there. We luckily found a holiday house to book through a local website, where we relocated for the remainder of the trip. I’ll describe the mattresses there in example two.

Before we get into the mattresses: his mom is doing fine now. Phew!

Example One: Saggy Sag Sag Sag!

This mattress was so saggy.  It was like sleeping in a pit. Quite a comfortable pit, but very deep. I could tell the owners had been rotating the mattress, as my feet found themselves in their own little hollow, right in the point where someones head would go if the mattress were the other way up! It was sort of comical.

I really wish I had brought a tape measure with me, as to me it absolutely felt like an old mattress that was very saggy and needed replacing. (It was on a fabric covered wooden box base so I don’t believe the base was anything to do with causing the mattress sagging, which can be a common problem when putting new mattresses on top of old box springs). I would have been very interested to see if this saggy mattress had indentations of 1.5 inches or greater, which is the depth of indentations many many mattress companies specify as the requirement for deeming the mattress defective or “past it” in their warranty documents.

That said though, I did sleep quite well in it. In my saggy little hole. Haha. Probably because I was so tired from the trip and the emotion of the situation we were in.

As for motion isolation, the mattress was so saggy it was like my husband was in a whole different mountain range, in his own hole on the other side of a hill. I didn’t notice him moving in the night at all.

A little dramatic, but a mattress with poor motion isolation feels like a boat on a stormy ocean

Example Two: Rollin’ On The High Seas

For our second accommodation, we shifted slightly out of town to a new house with amazing sea views and huge rooms. Amazing! You might be able to tell from the picture above that Dunedin is a really beautiful city, with rolling hills, a harbor and a beautiful peninsula. I love it.

However, the mattress on the bed in the room my husband and I chose for ourselves is possibly the worst mattress I have ever slept on. It was an innerspring (again) with a thin pillow top (yes, I could feel the springs through the comfort top layer..not too bad but I more than I would have liked). That was fine when I went to bed early to read my book, but when my husband came to bed, the mattress truly revealed itself.

He tossed and turned, and honestly felt like I was on a boat I was getting pushed around so much. This mattress has so little motion isolation I actually was feeling sea sick as he tossed and turned in his sleep! I nearly moved to the couch.

I had not realized how spoilt I have been in the past with beds that do such a good job of motion isolation, and just how important that really is to me. Luckily this house had two massive bedrooms with queen size beds in them, so we were able to switch rooms with our kids. The mattress in the other room was infinitely better.

What Do These Experiences Mean For The Mattress We Are Trialing?

In short, we are going to keep it. After the mattresses we have encountered during this trip, we have realized that our new mattress

  • is very flat, showing no signs of getting indentations yet (it’s nearly three months old so still very new, I’ll be monitoring closely)
  • is very supportive of pressure points
  • is really excellent at motion isolation

We’d been having doubts about the firmness of the mattress (I feel it’s a little too firm, not uncomfortably so, just a touch). That isn’t really fair to the mattress as it is described as firm and we have got what we paid for, which is great! We both sleep really well on it and were looking forward to getting home to sleep on it again.

What to read next

If you’re looking for more information than just my personal examples, read this post about when you should buy a new mattress.

If you need a mattress buying guide, click here.

If you want reassurance about buying a new mattress online, this article is for you.

Ready to start researching which mattress you’re going to buy next? Dive straight into my mattress reviews.

If you have any questions about whether you need to replace your mattress, or what type of mattress might best suit your needs, please leave me a comment, I love to hear from my readers and I love helping you even more!


Emily Johnstone

Emily is the creator and owner of Emily's scientific background gives her an analytical, critical, and discerning eye to bring unbiased, thorough, and helpful content to the site. Your good sleep is her top priority. Find out more about Emily and here.