e spend up to a third of our life in bed. It follows therefore that we should spend that time in a comfortable supportive bed allowing us to rest and re-charge our batteries. Sleep allows our backs to release the stress accumulated during the day and to re-absorb the nutrients they need through blood supply.
If you are one of the 60% of adults in this country that has to live with back pain from time to time, you will be only too aware of how vital the right bed is.
If you wish to avoid back pain a reasonably active lifestyle and a good supportive bed is a good start.
An old or second hand bed which has shaped to someone else’s body will almost certainly aggravate or contribute to back pain. A sagging mattress puts strain on muscles and ligaments which in turn can leave long term problems.
This is not just a problem for adults, children can be similarly affected when using ‘second-hand’ or hand-me-down beds.
How long should I keep by bed?
It is recommended to purchase a new bed after 10 years to ensure the correct support.
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What support should I look for?
Comfort and support are the two key factors, comfort is based on each individual and support should ensure you achieve a good “posture” in bed, support should be guided by such factors as your weight, height and build and preferred sleeping position.
Take time in choosing your new bed, slip your hand between the base of your spine and the mattress. If you cannot easily do this the mattress may be too soft, if there is a hollow the mattress may be too firm. Ideally your hand should be a snug fit. After lying on the bed for several minutes, ideally the mattress should mould to the shape of your body.
Manufacturers care guidelines
All reputable manufacturers offer advice in caring for a mattress, do make yourself familiar with these.
What size bed should I buy?
Buy a big a bed as you can fit into your bedroom, the larger the bed, the more room there is to move about, so largely reducing disturbance from your partner.
Matching mattresses to bases
All types of mattress construction are now offered to go with slatted bases. If you are not buying the two together as a complete unit, make sure that the mattress has been recommended for the type of base you want. It is imperative that the bedstead slats are no more than 2.5 inches apart.
Allergy and asthma sufferers
Almost all beds will in time attract house dust mites. Regular cleaning, airing and the use of protective covers will reduce the effect. People also suffer from allergic reactions to feathers, hair and wool. Mattresses containing synthetic fibres and foams are generally good hypoallergenic options. Some manufacturers now have anti-dust mite treatment incorporated into the mattress ticking (cover).
Turning your mattress
Most mattresses need to be turned regularly to ensure even wear and tear. However, mattresses can be quite heavy and you should take this into consideration. A no-turn mattress would be ideal if you suffer from back problems or would find it difficult to turn.
Types of mattresses
There are various types of mattresses to consider.
Spring Mattresses: The most common type in the U.K., the number of springs used and the thickness of the metal affect the feel and determine support – the better the support.\
Open Springs are generally found in the budget – mid price range of beds. Rows of hour glass shaped springs are connected top and bottom by a spiral wire and the edge of the unit is normally strengthened by a retaining flat or round rod edge.
Pocket Springs are rows of smaller, lighter parallel or barrel shaped springs, each in a separate fabric pocket which slightly compresses the spring. The rows of springs are clipped, tied or glued together. Pocket springs allow for a more flexible response, giving a higher degree of body support and are generally found in the mid – upper price bracket.
Non Sprung Mattresses: Most non sprung mattresses are made from latex – usually natural
rubber – with pores in them to allow the mattress to breath. They are relatively light, however they do tend to be in the higher price brackets.
Upholstery and Ticking
Ticking is the name for the mattress outer cover which in combination with the tufts keeps the fillings together. The most commonly used upholstery in quality tufted mattresses are wool, cotton felt and teased animal hair. The type, quality and combination of these and other fillings will determine the quality and overall comfort of the mattress.
Looking after your bed
Always follow the care instructions, always air it at least 20 minutes before making it and turn the mattress to even out wear and tear. (not necessary for no-turn mattresses). During the first month turn it over from side to side and top to toe. After this turn it about every three months. Latex mattresses should not need turning. Try not to sit regularly on the same part of the mattress as this will weaken the edge.