A bed is nothing without a firm infrastructure, so spend the most you can afford on what lies beneath; consider it an investment in your wellbeing, as proper restorative sleep is essential to health.
How hard should my mattress be? ‘The level of firmness depends on your height, weight, and how you sleep,’ says Jim Gerety, marketing director at bedding company vispring. ‘As a rule, the heavier you are the firmer the tension you’ll need, but it’s crucial that you go in to a store and test a mattress before you buy.’ The aim is for your spine to remain in a neutral position as you sleep, and you should feel no pressure on any part of your body when you lie down. If you are light, or sleep on your side, you will need a softer bed, while back sleepers can choose something firmer. Distribution of weight is also key, so tall, slim types may prefer a softer bed than someone with a compact frame. Many companies can make mattresses with a different firmness on either side of the bed to suit partners of different weights. Bear in mind that the type of bed you choose also has an impact: a mattress will feel harder on a slatted wooden base but softer on a sprung divan.
What are the differences between cheap and expensive mattresses? ‘Cheap mattresses are mass produced and are made from poorer materials, so aren’t as durable and won’t provide such good support,’ says Damien Breitner, manager at Hästens flagship Fitzrovia store in London (hastens.com). ‘In contrast, top-end mattresses are handcrafted and use only the finest natural materials.’ These include horsehair, which is springy and soft, cotton, wool and even cashmere. Natural materials regulate temperature much better and wick away moisture from the skin so that you don’t overheat. ‘Aim for the best mattress within your budget,’ says Breitner. ‘That may not necessarily be the most expensive. It’s all about what feels right for you.’
What about memory foam? ‘There can be drawbacks to memory foam mattresses,’ says Richard Tucker, managing director of new mattress brand leesa.co.uk. ‘They work by retaining heat and moulding around your body, so it can feel hot and movement is sometimes restricted. However, people with painful joints can benefit from the extra support. Be sure that you have a good trial period on any purchase to make sure that it suits you.
How do I look after my mattress? Turn it every three months to ensure that there is no sagging. A mattress topper will provide an additional layer of comfort, while also further protecting the mattress. If you have a slatted bed, use a pad underneath your mattress to provide a protective layer.
How often should I replace my mattress? The sleepcouncil.org.uk recommends you invest in a new mattress every seven years.
Words: Claudia Baillie