We all use them, but how often do you think about whether your mattress is right for you? Or how much it can affect your life – both in terms of quality of sleep, and the potential for causing pain or other physical problems.
Most people are aware of how important posture is to your overall health. If you’ve experienced a full day sat at a poorly set-up work station, and felt the aches and pains after you’ve been there, then it can quickly prompt you to change things so that the computer is the right position, your chair suits you or your desk is the right height.
But let’s take the average-Joe office worker. Let’s say, they work a 9-5 day, Monday to Friday, with maybe an hour off for lunch in the middle of the day. They have had the Occupational Health team in, so everything is set up in the optimum position. That’s a total of 35 hours a week, supposedly sat in the right way, doing all the right things as far as their work will allow. But they are still getting headaches. Or low back pain. Or a stabbing pain through their chest every time they take a deep breath.
It’s entirely possible any of these problems are to do with their bed. 35 hours a week of being in the correct, well-supported posture is nothing when you consider an average 8-hours-a-night sleeping pattern means you are spending 56 hours a week in your bed, rarely getting up for a tea break, or to go and check the printer, or for lunch. Just lying there, relatively still, in whatever position you fall asleep in.
Add to that how rarely most people renew their mattress and we start to see just how important the health of your bed can be.
But what sort of mattress should you be going for? There are articles and studies and “expert” opinions all over the internet on this topic, but my personal opinion is this: whatever is comfortable for you. Now, I add the caveat of “nothing too soft” to that – you do need a certain level of support from the surface you are sleeping on, so something that just lets you sink in to it is not going to be any good – but should you go for medium-firm? Hard? Memory foam? Pocket sprung? With a topper or without? It’s all down to personal preference, and sleeping position.
A few tips, though. First, never test a mattress when you’re tired. If you are about ready to drop, then you could fall asleep at a bus shelter and think it’s comfortable. You need to be able to get a comfortable, good night’s sleep even when your mind is tending to overdrive, so if you think you could drop off on something even though you’re awake and ready to go, it’s probably going to be a good bet.
Second, make sure you give it a good long test run. This is where buying over the internet can be harder – you have no idea what you’re getting until it arrives, and then many of us will settle for not-quite-right rather than get into the hassle of returning it, even if there is a money back guarantee in place. Go to the store, kick your shoes off and settle in for long enough that you can be sure you are getting something which will be a lasting investment for you.
Finally, consider what position you normally sleep in. If you are a side-sleeper, you are likely to want a slightly softer mattress than someone who sleeps on their back. If you sleep one way but your partner sleeps another, consider a split-support mattress so that each of you has the level of comfort you need.