Mattresses are to be changed after their lifetime. The industry is looking for proper ways to dispose of used ones and replace them with new ones, boosting the wellness and market together.

Mattresses are one of those objects that seldom get replaced. This is not an Indian phenomenon, this is universal. Way back in the 1960s, the American mattress industry found itself staring at a situation where people would not change their mattresses for a long time. So, hardly, they would change a mattress once or twice and as a result, the industry would suffer, and the newer technologies couldn’t be pushed out into the market. Sales would mostly depend on new buyers. A typical mattress buyer would come back to buy a mattress only if she changed her home or refurbished her bedroom, which would normally happen typically once in 15 to 20 years. Thus, even before the rest of the world woke up to this acute issue of a lack of interest in changing one’s mattress, the U.S. mattress industry got together and took an unprecedented step of campaigning, to popularize changing mattresses regularly. This had a two-fold effect. Firstly, the mattress industry started innovating faster and as a result, it was able to bring new technologies to the fore. It could pass on the benefits of new studies through its new products. Secondly, the sales cycle took a different turn: health-conscious mattress-replacement buyers showed up at the door and naturally, mattress sales went up drastically. The industry nearly tripled and quadrupled rather in a span of 8 to 9 years.

In India, we are in a similar situation that the US industry found itself several decades ago. If one looks around, people hardly change their mattresses and not more than once in 15-20 years. That’s too long for a product, for a repeat sale to happen. And there are many reasons for it. Mattresses, people believe, is a one-item buy which becomes more livable, the more it is used. So, one would rather sleep on the same mattress day in and day out – well night in and night out and one would rather not change the mattress just because a new one came about in the market. In a fast-changing era with people used to changing mobiles once in six months, changing mattresses would still be unthinkable. So, what can one do? The mattress industry feels that a typical replacement should be in the range of 7 to 8 years. “Millennials feel that a mattress should be changed eight to ten years,” says H Raghunandan, a millennial who refurbished his home recently. He comes across mattress dealers who coax him by relating health benefits and why it’s good to change mattresses more regularly.

Myths holding back mattress replacement

Okay, now, let’s see the myths that are holding people back from changing mattresses.

Myth number one, a mattress becomes better as it gets old. This belief is so common that it has taken on a Gospel proportion. People really refuse to even move the mattress around and tend to sleep in the same position for years.

Myth number two is, new technology mattresses are bad for health. A lot of negative propaganda goes around, especially with synthetic material as opposed to pure cotton and spring.

Myth number three, the industry likes to push new mattresses that’s why they are coercing you to change. Nothing could be further from the truth. The industry wants consumers to get the best of the latest innovations in sleep products.

Myth number four, there cannot be a better mattress than what I am using. Similar to Myth 1 and three but people close their minds to newer studies and newer, comfortable material that’s proven to be healthy alternatives.

Myth number five, a new mattress requires adjusting oneself and takes a lot of time to do that. Actually, newer mattresses are more easily adaptable than plain coir-spring or cotton spring mattresses.

Myth number six, new mattresses are way expensive and there is absolutely no return on investment. Actually, it is the other way around. Newer mattresses are more affordable than the old ones and offer better health benefits than older material mattresses.

Let us look at reasons why people need to change mattresses.

1. If your mattress is more than 7 years old: Mattresses do have a limited lifetime. Typically, mattresses have a lifespan of about eight to 10 years.

2. The mattress is saggy: Buy a new mattress if you notice a shape change in your mattress especially, where your body weight tends to rest the whole night you sleep in. Sagging can occur with almost any mattress material (aside from waterbeds). No matter which material is used, mattresses tend to sag in the sleeping area after a few years. If it continues, you won’t get the much-needed lumbar support and it can harm your spine over the long term.

3. Your mattress is uncomfortable: We are alarmingly prudent in adjusting to our mattress discomfort. If you feel even a bit uncomfortable with your mattress, replace it immediately. Well at home.
The upper part of your mattress consists of “comfort layers” that should support your body and provide pressure relief. Comfort layers break down over time resulting in poor sleep and body aches but in some cases, your mattress choice might have been faulty from the start, and you need to replace it.

4. You often wake stiff and sore: Poor sleep can contribute to chronic back pain. If you wake up stiff and sore every day, your mattress could be part of the problem. If your back pain is worse when you wake but subsides when you stretch and move around, that’s a sign that the mattress is causing or contributing to your pain.

5. Worsening allergies or asthma: Mattresses tend to become a home for dust mites. The protein in dust mite feces may cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks and so can the dust that accumulates in your mattress. While vacuuming, steaming, and flipping your mattress might reduce dust and mites. If these steps don’t help, a new mattress might be the solution.

“Old mattress was based on the technology prevalent at the time and day it was bought. Technology has improved way beyond bringing a lot of health advantages,” says Rakesh, a linen retailer.

Make Changing the mattress easy

All said and done, changing mattresses is not easy. Changing a mobile phone is very easy. You can go and exchange a mobile phone or just put it away in your cabinet so that you can use it some other time or give it away to someone else. And mattresses cannot be given away to somebody else or can be easily stored for later use.

There are no good exchange programs for mattresses. Mattress cannot be easily disposed of. Changing a mattress brings with it a tonne of headaches which consumers just cannot handle.

“I think if we communicate to the consumer how easy it is to change a mattress, then perhaps there will be a 20 to 30% more conversion to changing the mattresses,” says Senthil J, a hospitality laundry service provider. Our mattress industry should come up with innovative ideas. It has to get people to change mattresses, pillows and bed covers. In India, we are known for recycling old materials. Exchange programs should be a way of recycling old materials and this also sends out a signal of being green-friendly.

Popularise the culture of replacing mattresses regularly. When you’re done with a mattress it’s tempting to try to find another use for it. Handing it down to your kids, putting it in your guest room and selling it on OLX. If a mattress is no longer good enough for you to use, it’s not good enough for anyone else. In particular, old mattresses are harmful for children, whose active, developing bodies require the support of a good quality mattress. Get the idea of giving a proper send-off to your mattress rooted in your family.

We’ve all seen mattresses that have been improperly disposed of. Mattresses don’t belong on the side of the road, at the bottom of a lake or in the middle of a field. Your mattress did a good job for you for many years and now it’s your turn to take care of it. Dispose of your mattress in a safe and responsible way:

Ask the store where you bought your new mattress to pick up your old set when they deliver the new one. Most retailers routinely offer mattress pick-up and disposal services as part of the purchase price or for a small fee. Call your local municipality, sanitation department or garbage collector. They usually have provisions for picking up larger items.