We spend around a third of our lives asleep which means that mattresses are subject to a staggering 20,000 hours of wear and tear over their average seven-year lifespan – that’s why it’s so important to choose a mattress that’s perfectly suited to you.
March is National Bed Month and the National Bed Federation (NBF) is raising awareness of the importance of sleep to wellbeing and is urging people to make sure they have a comfortable, good quality bed to help them achieve a refreshing night’s sleep.
Research shows that having a good, supportive mattress is one of the key factors to sleeping well and, in fact, an uncomfortable bed could rob you of up to an hour’s sleep per night. The foundation of good sleep is a comfortable bed and the right mattress. It can be the difference between a restorative night’s sleep and poor quality sleep that results in tiredness and fatigue.
Read more: 15 ways to get a better night’s sleep
To celebrate National Bed Month, the NBF is sharing 11 top tips to help you choose the right mattress for you so that you can ‘Wake Up on the Right Side, with the Right Bed’.
Set aside enough time
You can’t buy a good mattress in a hurry or if you’re tired or distracted – they’ll all feel wonderful! Spend at least 5-10 minutes on each bed on your shortlist and determine the different levels of firmness and material that you like best to help narrow it down.
Shop together – if the bed’s for two
Consider separate mattresses or different tensions if there’s a big difference in weight and build. You should be able to lie side by side, with your arms behind your head and your elbows out, without touching. Your bed should also be 4-6in (10-15cm) longer than the tallest partner – anyone over 6ft (1.8m) tall should consider a bed longer than standard.
Lie down in your normal sleeping position
Test out how easy it is to turn over and get in and out of bed. Wear comfortable clothing and remove any outdoor clothing and shoes.
Try a selection of beds for comparison
Test different levels of firmness to be sure which is best for you. Remember, there’s no industry-wide standard to compare firmness ratings from one manufacturer to the other.
The first thing you’ll notice about a mattress is its cover, sometimes known as ‘ticking’ in the industry.
Manufacturers spend a lot of effort selecting appealing colours and designs for their mattresses, but keep in mind that they will be covered up by bedding 99% of the time!
The ticking isn’t only for show; it also needs to be robust and tear resistant. High-quality fabrics are woven or knitted with viscose or cotton yarns. Inexpensive polyester or polypropylene textiles are frequently printed. Bonded or stitch-bond fabrics, as well as some low-cost knits, are available at the low end of the market.
Anti-dust mite/anti-allergy, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-static, breathable, water resistant, stain resistant, extremely absorbent, naturally fire retardant, and other features are available.
Tickings that provide good thermal management through moisture wicking and evaporation technologies are among the most popular solutions. Many businesses now provide performance fabrics that transport perspiration away from the body and through the fabric, where it can evaporate fast, making you feel cooler and more comfortable.
Make sure you have the correct support
The correct support depends on your weight, height, build, and even preferred sleeping position. Ideally, the mattress should mould to the shape of your body while remaining supportive. When you lie on your side, your spine should be horizontal. You should be able to turn fairly easily. As a general rule, the heavier you are, the firmer the tension you will need. You do not necessarily need a hard bed if you have a bad back.
Lie on your back and slide your hand into the hollow of your back. If it slides in too easily, the bed may be too hard for you (leading to pressure on your hips and shoulders); if you struggle to slide your hand in, the bed is probably too soft. If you can move your hand with just a little resistance, the bed may be just right for you!
The majority of mattresses feature spring interiors that give ‘core’ support. The tension, feel, and weight distribution qualities of each mattress are altered by changing the spring construction, wire thickness (gauge), number of coils, height of each spring, and quantity.
Spring interior mattresses can be ‘zoned,’ which means they can be zoned across the middle to provide extra support for heavy hips and shoulders, half and half to create different tensions on each side of the bed, or along the edge to provide extra rigidity.
Various tensions can be achieved within the same mattress. Certain models additionally allow the user to change the mattress tension.
Make sure you have enough room – bigger is better!
Ensure there is room for free, easy movement. Couples should select a bed that’s at least 150cm x 200cm (5ft x 6ft 6in). Partner disturbance is a major cause of poor sleep.
Think about the combination
A bed is a mattress and a base working together – don’t consider them in isolation. The common different types of bases include:
- Slatted bases
- Adjustable beds
- Bunk beds
Shop for the best value – not the lowest price!
Remember, every £100 you spend represents just 2.7p a night over 10 years. Always shop for the best value not the lowest price. There are, of course, some perfectly acceptable, lower priced beds available, but the better the construction, the better the support and comfort and the longer the bed will last.
Warranties and guarantees
These cover you against manufacturing defects – not gradual loss of comfort and support which is to be expected over time.
Look for the NBF Mark of Approval
The UK has strict flammability and product safety laws: the mattress and individual fillings should meet minimum levels of fire resistance. For peace of mind, look for the UK safety label and NBF-Approved tick. All NBF members are audited independently to ensure they follow the procedures that comply with flammability, health and hygiene and trade description regulations.
If you’re looking for a new mattress, bed, or both, take a look at the NBF’s Bed Buyers Guide to find the perfect bed for you.