So you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. Now before you chime in with “join the club,” you need to get to the bottom of why.  There are lots and lots of reasons people don’t sleep well, but the one that is perhaps most easily remedied is if you are sleeping on a mattress that isn’t right for you. But how do you know, you might ask? There are a few ways of determining if your lack of peaceful Zzz’s is a mattress problem, so let’s break those down before you investigate more complicated issues.

The first indicator is how you feel on your mattress, both right when you lay down and after a full night in bed. If your mattress just isn’t plain comfortable from the get-go, that will be your first red flag. You should look forward to being cradled and cushioned by your crib, not loathe to make contact with it. Perhaps more tellingly, though, is how you feel after the hours you spent sleeping upon it. Do you wake up each morning to the cranky aches and painful stiffnesses of a rigorous workout… only to remember you don’t even have a gym membership? If your body is in anguish when you wake up with no apparent cause, an improperly supportive mattress could be to blame.

Poor sleep, or difficulty achieving it, is another potential indicator of a shoddy mattress. Spinal alignment is crucial. You need to maintain proper breathing and avoid bad sleep postures that will keep you tossing and turning. If your mattress is too soft, too hard, or just worn out, you may never find that ideal configuration. A mattress that doesn’t support you or cushion your pressure points will cause endless shifting overnight.

And maybe your mattress was once the thing of dreams, but mattresses, like so many things, do not last forever. Don’t forget, tastes change, as do bodies, fitness levels, and circumstances. With these, so too should change your mattress. Firm (read: hard) mattresses were all the rage for back health years ago, but newer mattress technologies provide spinal support without feeling like you’re laying on a plank of sheetrock. Fleshier bodies might not need as ample cushioning as bony ones, so if you’ve gained or lost weight, your mattress might need updating along with your belt size.

Lastly, if you notice, visibly or palpably, that your mattress has lumps, bumps, divots, or sloping, it’s probably long overdue to swap out. Even long-lasting memory foams reach a point where they no longer “remember” how to return to their fully unimpressionable state. When this happens, new bedding is the only recourse. There are other reasons your mattress has gone bad, too, even if you don’t notice any tangible degradation. Dust mites and other nefarious critters that feed on sloughed body cells congregate inside the fibers of the mattress, and even if you follow all the cleaning guidelines, you can only get in so deep. So from a hygiene perspective, it is recommended to buy a new one every eight to ten years. This will keep you and your mattress in top form. And then, if you still aren’t rivaling Rumplestiltskin, you can look to other causes upon which to blame your inadequate repose.