CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our advice is expert-vetted and based on independent research, analysis and hands-on testing from our team of Certified Sleep Coaches. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Yes, Your Mattress and Pillows Could Be Sabotaging Your Sleep. Here's What to Know

Having trouble sleeping through the night? Your bedding might be to blame. Your pillow and mattress play a crucial role in your sleep quality.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech | Health | Lifestyle
Sarah Mitroff
3 min read
Woman in bed with a pillow over her head

A mattress or pillow that's too old, or not providing you with the right support, can ruin your sleep. 

Getty Images

Let's see if this scenario sounds familiar. You toss and turn all nightsleep through your alarm and wake up feeling exhausted. If you've done any research about why you can't sleep, you might think technology, blue light, room temperature and taking naps are the culprits sabotaging your sleep. But if you stopped these practices and you still feel like you're not getting enough sleep, it's time to turn your attention to your mattress and pillows.

If you have sleep issues, or always wake up feeling exhausted, you should first rule out sleep apnea or another serious medical condition. But if you're in the clear, it's time to blame your bed. A mattress or pillow that's too old, or not providing you with the right support, can ruin your sleep. Here's how to tell what's causing your poor sleep and how to fix it. (For more, you can also check out our favorite weighted blankets, mattress toppers and bed sheets of the year.)

A bed with several white pillows

Is it time to replace your pillows? Here's how to tell. 

Josh Miller/CNET

How to tell if you need a new pillow

The wrong kind of pillow, or one that's too old, could be preventing you from getting a good night's rest. Even if you don't think it's time to toss your current pillow, you should look for these three signs you should get a new one.

Sometimes, the dust and grime that builds up in your pillows (gross, I know) can trigger allergies while you sleep, causing you to wake up with congestion or make it hard to breathe at night. In that case, washing your pillow can help revive it. But if your pillow is too old -- more than two years -- you're better off buying a new one. Check out these tips on how to pick the perfect pillow for the way you sleep.

Could your mattress be the reason you can't sleep?

A new pillow can go a long way to helping you sleep better, but if your mattress isn't right, that's going to have a much bigger impact on your sleep.

Before you start shopping for a new mattress, there are a few ways to fix issues with your current one. Was your mattress once firm, but has become softer and softer over the years? That lack of support can mess with the alignment of your spine and could cause aches and pains. There are a few ways to make a soft mattress more firm that are cheaper than buying a new mattress. Mattress toppers and using the right foundation for your bed can help.

Simmons Beautyrest Recharge Ashaway 11-inch plush mattress

If your mattress isn't right for you, you'll really struggle getting a restful night of sleep. 


What if you ended up buying a new mattress that turned out to be too firm, and you're past the trial period that most online mattress companies offer? A firm mattress can put too much pressure on your body, causing pain and stiffness. You can use a few tactics to make your firm mattress feel softer.

What if you mattress feels just right, but you wake up feeling congested night after night? Just like with your pillow, if your mattress is more than a few years old, it's likely collected a lot of dust, dust mites and debris that can trigger allergies. You can easily deep clean your mattress to help it feel new again.

Lastly, if you have an older spring mattress, flipping it might help. However, because of how they are designed, you cannot flip newer foam mattresses. So if your foam mattress is lacking all of the support it once had, it's time to toss it.

If none of those fixes are helping you sleep better, then it's time to buy a new mattress. Most mattresses are designed to last 10 years, so if yours is older than that, look for these nine signs that it's time to replace it.

Ready to shop for a new one? First, ask yourself these seven questions to find the right mattress. Then, check out our guide to buying a mattress online and our list of the best mattresses you can get in a box shipped to your front door.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.