Quality of sleep is one of the most important factors in human health and well-being; we spend about a third of our lives in bed.
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With the pressures of modern life, more and more people are getting by on less than the ideal amount of sleep.
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A Buying Guide For Mattresses In January 2021
Having the right mattress is crucial for a good night’s rest but, with a variety of types available at a wide range of prices, it can be difficult to know what to choose.
Getting Good Value
Price is important to most people, but it shouldn’t be the sole factor when choosing a mattress. If you buy an unsuitable mattress because it’s cheap, you will have many uncomfortable nights lying awake and regretting it.
By all means set a budget but have a good look at the available options; the best buys are not necessarily the most expensive.
Types of Mattress
Broadly speaking there are 2 categories of mattress – spring or foam. Within each category there are 2 types – open coil and pocket sprung in the spring category, and memory foam and latex in the foam category. There will be some differences between different products, depending on the manufacturer.
The firmness of a sprung mattress is affected by the spring tension. This varies considerably between different mattresses and it is important to find the right one for you rather than simply opting for the firmest.
Sprung mattresses are more breathable than foam, which is an advantage if you tend to get hot during the night. They need to be turned on a regular basis, to counter their tendency to dip, whereas foam mattresses don’t.
Pocket sprung mattresses are heavier than open coil. Bear this in mind if you think you might have difficulty managing to move it.
Open coil (or open spring) mattresses use a system of interconnected springs. They are a traditional design that is easy to mass-produce and cheap to buy.
They are firm and provide good support but are not as robust as other mattresses and can develop a dip in the middle over time leading to the ‘roll together’ effect. Springs in open coil mattresses tend to move as a unit so you will feel movement when your partner moves.
The main difference between pocket sprung and open coil is that the springs are sewn into individual pockets so can work independently of each other.
This makes them more durable, enables them to provide better support and avoids the problems associated with open coil, such as you and your partner rolling together.
Memory foam mattresses are very popular with some people but less so with others, so you need to be sure that they are right for you before buying.
They mould themselves to your body contours, providing support for your neck, back and hips. The effect of sinking into the mattress can make rolling over in bed difficult for some people.
The top layer of a memory foam mattress is formed from a heat-sensitive material that reacts to your body heat, allowing it to adapt to your shape. They tend to be warmer than other types of mattress which could be a problem if you are someone who gets hot in bed.
The temperature of your bedroom can affect the pliability of the foam so, in a cold room it might take a bit longer for the foam to warm up when you get into bed.
The foam comes in 3 different densities: high, medium and low. High-density foam is heavier, more durable and better suited to heavier people. If you have back or hip pain, they offer very good support.
Low-density is lighter, conforms to your body more quickly and is best suited to light people. They are also cheaper as they have less foam in them. Medium-density falls between the two and is a good choice if you and your partner differ quite a lot in weight.
If you order your memory foam mattress on line, it will probably arrive rolled up in a box. This is a big advantage compared to traditional mattresses if you need delivery in a hurry.
Latex foam mattresses have hypoallergenic and anti-microbial properties making them a good choice if you suffer from dust allergies. They are, however, quite expensive and are not a good choice if you are allergic to latex. They have similar qualities to memory foam mattresses but don’t conform to your body shape in quite the same way.
They return to their original shape more quickly giving them the feeling of having more bounce. Some latex mattresses are made solely using natural latex, but most contain a mix of natural and synthetic latex.
Spring Count and Gauge
In principal, the higher the spring count, the better the support, but this is not always the case. The number of springs given by a manufacturer may include springs in layers or even inside each other and this can be misleading.
The firmness of a sprung mattress is affected as much by the spring tension as by the number of springs. This varies considerably between different models of mattress and it is important to find the right one for you and not simply opt for the firmest. Two different mattresses with the same spring count can have very different degrees of firmness.
The ‘gauge’ of a mattress relates to the thickness of the wire used to make the springs. The lower the number the thicker the gauge. Most mattresses have a gauge between 12 and 15. Mattresses with a lower gauge are firmer and with a higher gauge, softer and springier.
The quality of your sleep will be affected by the firmness of your mattress but firmer doesn’t necessarily mean better. You need the right mattress to suit you and that means taking into account your height, weight and sleeping position. In broad terms the options are as follows:
If you sleep on your side or move around a lot during the night, a soft mattress will probably suit you better.
• Medium soft
If you change position during the night but don’t want a mattress that’s too soft, this is a good option.
• Medium firm
Anyone who sleeps on their back will benefit from a firmer mattress as it will provide more support for the lower back.
For people who sleep on their front or are particularly heavy, a firm mattress is the best choice.
The firmness of sprung mattresses depends a lot on the number of springs and the gauge of the wire. There is a large variation in spring tension available so, if you prefer a sprung mattress, you should be able to find one that is right for you.
Foam mattresses depend for firmness partly on the thickness and density of the foam used and also on the combination of other materials used in their construction.
There are a lot of options available with differing degrees of firmness although memory foam can feel softer than it really is due to the way it adapts to your body.
It’s easy to be a bit bewildered when confronted by the choice of mattresses available. After all, it’s an important decision and one you will have to live with the consequences of for a long time to come.
Think carefully about how you (and your partner) sleep and what you like or dislike about your current mattress.
Decide on your budget and visit a showroom where you can try out different types for comparison.
If you can’t get to a local retailer, a lot of online sellers offer a money back guarantee for a trial period.