Poor sleeping habits can be caused by an inadequate bed. Today I’ll tell you what to consider when buying a new bed. Many of us put poor sleeping patterns down to stress but it’s often due to inadequate support from a bed. The life span of a bed is affected by how much use it gets, whether it’s supporting one or two bodies and factors such as pregnancy and weight gain. Whatever the reason, a quality double mattress is still the nations favourite according to the retail industry.

A worn-out bed is a health hazard and sleep experts suggest replacing them every 10 years to ensure proper support. We spend a third of our lives asleep, so it makes sense to invest in a good quality bed yet many of us spend more time choosing a car than we do buying a bed!

Two-year research by sleep expert Dr Chris Idzikowski found that people with uncomfortable beds slept one hour less each night than those with comfortable beds.

Bed-buying tips from the Sleep Council:

Think about the different types and what you prefer. Do you like a firmer or softer mattress? Do you use the bed to work on? Do you need extra storage space?

Be prepared to invest – a better-made bed will offer more support and last longer.

The larger the bed the less you’ll disturb each other. You should be able to lie side by side with your arms behind your head and your elbows out, without touching. Go for a King-sized bed rather than a double, if you are sharing.

Beds should be four to six inches longer than the tallest partner.

Buy the base and the mattress together – an old base could increase wear and tear on the new mattress and buying separately invalidates any warranties or guarantees.

Will the retailer be able to deliver quickly and take away your old bed? Is there a guarantee?

Go bed-shopping in the morning; wear comfy clothes and test out several for at least 15 minutes on each bed. What was the sales experience like? Did they play classical music and dim the lights for you?

Once you’ve found one you like, compare prices on the Internet. You may be entitled to a VAT-free bed if you have health problems.

Types of Mattress

There are two main types of mattress – with or without springs:

With springs: Open Coil/Sprung are the most widely used and at the budget end of the market. Continuous spring have smaller coils and are mid-market. Pocket sprung have softer springs for greater comfort and are in the top price range.

Without springs: there are three types: Foam, Flotation or Futon. Memory foam (Visco-elastic) adjusts to the body’s temperature and ‘moulds’ itself to your shape. Flotation beds are good for allergy sufferers. Futons are popular in Japan and mould themselves to your body shape.

A mattress should mould itself to your shape and offer support. If it’s too hard it can hurt your shoulders and hips. Your spine should be horizontal when you lie on your side and you should be able to turn easily.

To test support, put your hand under the small of your back when lying on the bed. If there’s a gap the bed is too hard. If you can’t get your hand underneath, the mattress is too soft.

If one partner is significantly heavier it makes sense to buy two separate mattresses with different levels of support, to be stitched together.

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