A BED should be comfortable – a truism if ever there was one, but one that a lot of people fail to realise when looking for a new bed.
Comfort is the most important factor when buying a bed, not how many springs it has, whether it has been into space, or how many layers of fillings it has. If it isn’t comfortable, it’s the wrong bed.
Going to bed at night should not be a puritanical experience (unless you really want it to be) so the mattress should welcome you and wrap around your shoulders and hips.
Customers sometimes ask us for a ‘firm’ bed in the mistaken belief that it is somehow a magic cure for lower back pain and other ailments that they suffer from. It may well be that a firmer bed may help their condition, but equally it may be the worst thing for them. If you are buying a bed because of a medical condition, seek advice from a medical professional as to what type of bed will help you before coming to look.
Remember too that you can spend 5 minutes on the floor without being overly uncomfortable but 5 hours would be a different story. Take your time and if the mattress feels a little soft at first, then it’s probably the right one after a couple of hours.
If like most people who are looking for a bed, you are not comfortable with your existing bed, chances are you bought a bed that is too hard for you based on the premise above, and you wake up on your front with lower back pain and sore shoulders as your body has tried (and failed) to get comfortable during the night.
Body movement during sleep is perfectly normal, but should not be caused by a build up of pressure on the joints or by the person next to you getting out of bed, and a good choice of bed will help in minimising this, aiding restful sleep.
Beds are generally made up of two parts, the mattress and the base (or divan as it is also known). The combinations of these two items are what give the bed its overall comfort and a compromise on one will always affect the other, and therefore, the feel of the bed.
Mattresses fall into three main categories as listed below and each has their merits. The mattress will make up about 2/3 of the cost of a bed and as it is the surface in contact with the sleeper, is the vital part to get right. Be very aware when shopping for mattresses how you feel on the day – shop on a Sunday morning after having been out Saturday night and anything will feel comfortable.
These are the traditional mattresses that have been around for over 100 years. The spring mattress again falls into two main categories – open coil spring, and pocket spring. The open coil as the name suggests is a layer of mesh on the bottom, large springs wired to it in the middle and another layer of mesh on the top like a mesh bread on a spring sandwich. Layers of padding are then added to one or both sides to make the mattress softer. The downside is that as all the springs are attached to each other, any movement on one side of the bed will by the laws of physics, be transmitted across the bed to the other side. It can also be the case that if the ‘filling’ is not sufficiently rigid that the mattress can suffer from lateral movement making it wobble like a giant fabric covered jelly.
Pocket Spring Mattresses
Pocket spring mattresses have individual springs that sit upright in their own fabric sleeve, and can be arranged in a single layer or in double layers (or exceptionally triple layers) for extra comfort. Various fillings are then put above and below the springs and the whole mix is then sewn into a large cover that secures the springs around the edge. The number of springs in the mattress can be greatly increased so the mattress can conform to the shape of your body, but this is only useful on two conditions: 1) the springs are working by flexing under the weight of your body and 2) they are big enough to provide a level of support when matched with the fillings to make the bed more comfortable.
Visco Elastic Mattresses or Memory Foam
Visco elastic foam came about as a result of NASA research into how to create a material that would help astronauts withstand the pressures created during take off in the Space Shuttle programme. This very dense foam like material shapes itself around an object placed upon it and becomes increasingly pliable around body temperature making it feel like soft dough. This makes it ideal for pressure relief on a mattress surface as it can provide support for areas where increased weight is placed upon it, and when the pressure is removed it returns to its original shape..
First brought to market by Tempur, it has now been made in many different forms in many different qualities that are impossible to gauge with the naked eye, and mixed in with other styles of mattress like springs. If you want a long lasting mattress, buy the best one that you can afford as the quality of the materials used in the manufacture will affect how long it will last.
The mattress is however only half the story. What also matters is what lies beneath…
A divan base can be sprung edged, firm edged, or have a solid top.
Sprung edge bases have either an open coil type spring system, or pocket spring system like the mattresses above. The springs reach right to the edges of the base hence the spring edge, and these provide support for the mattress across the entire surface of the base.
Firm edge bases are similar in the middle but have a raised board at the sides providing extra support around the edge of the bed.
Solid top bases have a solid board across the surface but this normally would have holes in it for the mattress to ventilate properly and this provides the firmest support for the mattress.
Box bases or bed bases are a traditional shallow frame that can be put onto a metal rail running between a headboard and a footboard to allow an empty space under the bed for storage or aesthetics. Confusingly, they can be sprung, firm or solid just like the full depth base.
Slatted bases came into use as a cheaper alternative to the box base and can have solid or flexible slats running side to side across a bed frame. These are normally made of laminated timber in order to allow some movement.
Always by the biggest bed that you can afford that will fit in your room. As a child you probably had a 3’ standard single bed, yet as an adult we are expected to fit two people into a 4’6” ‘double’ bed, giving each sleeper half as much room as they had as a child. If you have a bigger bed, you will sleep better. Try to ask for the bed you want by physical size, as terms such as king size can mean different sizes to different people in different places and you can easily end up with the wrong size of bed.