New research shows that couples are better off having separate beds due to the effects of poor sleeping habits. This article explains how to buy a new bed and mattress.
We tend to put poor sleeping patterns down to stress but in most cases it is caused by sharing a bed with a partner. At the British Science Festival this year sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley made the point that 50% of sleep disturbance is caused by sharing a bed. Health research indicates that couples would be healthier and more alert during the day if they slept apart. Poor sleep has been linked to various long-term health issues such as depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The second factor in poor sleep is having an old mattress and bed. The life span of a bed is affected by how much use it gets, whether it is supporting one or two bodies, and factors such as pregnancy and weight gain. A worn-out bed is a health hazard and sleep experts suggest replacing it 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. Two-year research by sleep expert Dr Chris Idzikowski found that people with uncomfortable beds slept one hour less each night than those with a well-supporting mattress.
How to Buy a New Bed
The Sleep Council has the following tips for buying a new bed: –
- Think about the different types of mattress and what you prefer. Do you prefer a firm or soft bed?
- If you use the bed as a substitute desk, a firmer mattress will be necessary.
- If you need extra storage space, choose a bed with side drawers.
- Be prepared to invest – a better-made bed will offer more support and last longer.
- The larger the bed the more room you will have to move around without disturbing your partner. 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-size 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 – your old base could increase wear and tear on the new mattress and buying separately invalidates your warranty and guarantee.
- Will the retailer be able to deliver in time and take away your old bed?
- Go bed-shopping in the morning: wear comfotable clothes and test out several beds for at least 15 minutes on each bed. Consider the sales experience – do you feel informed?
If you find a mattress and bed you like in a store it is worth it to go online to find a cheap mattress before you buy. There are various online deals. You may also be entitled to a VAT-free bed if you have existing health problems so check the small print.
Choosing a 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. Tempur is a popular brand. Waterbeds are good for allergy sufferers. Futons save space, look stylish and are no-fuss comfortable. They mould to your body shape.
A mattress should hug your shape and offer support. If it is too hard it can cause pain in your shoulders and hips. Your spine should be aligned from top to bottom 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 is a gap the bed is too hard. If you cannot 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. This seems like a more amenable solution than sleeping in separate beds. You can always invest in separate duvets, to avoid any hogging issues!
Consider your bedroom space and how amenable it is to a good night’s rest. Get rid of electrical equipment, keep it clean and clutter-free as much as possible. Create a space that you can relax in and refreshing sleep will be as natural as breathing.