Bedding in March 2009
This month is National Bed Month. Yes, I don’t know too much about it either, sounds like it could be fun! But it did make us think about beds.
It seems that most of us only buy a new bed when the old one is broken or so uncomfortable that it is disturbing our sleep.
Evidently we should be a lot more vigilant than that. As we get older, our bodies change and the support we need from our beds changes as well.
The first thing to consider is size. When you were younger, snuggling up with a partner was great. As we age, we might prefer a little more room to stretch out and become comfortable. If we’re on our own, we might still prefer a wider bed so we can move around at ease to find the best position for comfort. Length is obviously equally important - as a general rule, a bed should be four to six inches longer than you are when lying down.
The heightof the bed is something we don’t always consider properly. Beds do come in different heights and as you get older you may prefer to progress onto a higher bed to make getting onto it and more crucially getting up in the morning less effort.
That’s the easy bit! Next comes the decision on the base and mattress. Ideally you should replace both of these at the same time so they have a perfect fit and synergy. There are all sorts of bases, from high tech divans to old fashioned bedsteads and simple wooden slatted bases.
Generally most people like a divan, which is really a box base that can be upholstered with varying degrees of comfort. It can be fitted with drawers for storage or come in a number of other combinations. You can even buy adjustable bases which can lift in various sections. But really the base is secondary compared to the importance of choosing the right mattress.
Getting the right mattress is the really vital bit. Your weight, how much support you need, and most important of all for a good night’s sleep, what feels comfortable for you, all makes it very important that you make the right choice. Today this can be pretty difficult as there are simply so many mattresses available – interior sprung, orthopaedic, foam and today even memory foam – where do you start?
The main aspect is for a mattress to offer you good support everywhere. The mattress should gently mould to your body, but not too much so that when you lie on your side, your spine remains horizontal. If the bed is too soft, you will sink in too much and awake with aches and pains in odd places. If it is too hard, you may get pain from hips, shoulders and other load bearing areas. It used to be thought that the harder the bed, the better it was but this is no longer accepted; it is more important to get the right level of support and flexibilityyou’re your body. Orthopaedic mattresses by the way really only mean they offer a little firmer support than other mattresses; they don’t have any additional medical features.
You have probably heard the words interior sprung in connection with mattresses. These are usually made around special springs within the mattress but again, like everything to do with beds, this isn’t a simple aspect. Spring interior mattresses come in open coil, continuous spring or pocket spring ranges. Even foam mattresses come in a wide variety. They all have different advantages.
Of course if you are of a particular age like me, you will remember the craze for water beds. Since then there has been a trend for the Japanese style futon beds and other ideas come and go.
Where does it all stop?
There are two good pieces of advice that might help. First, the Sleep Council of Britain offer a free and detailed bed guide which will act as a useful starting point. Second, visit lots of retailers and try out the beds before you buy. Speak to the sales people, find out as much as you can and treat bed buying as a serious venture that needs proper research.
After all, you can spend up to a third of your life in bed – surely it is worth spending that time choosing the very best product for you.
The Sleep Council offers a free Bed Buyers Guide.