Your Guide To Beds
Photo Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/mazzali/

So, do you need a new mattress? This is a common question that is often asked and the answer is not always obvious, which jars against the practice of when you buy other items. For example you know that you need a new car if yours permanently breaks down, or you know that you need a new television if your current TV won’t start. However when it comes to mattresses physical indications of replacement aren’t as easy to recognise – in fact your mattress may look perfectly fine and like new if you’re taken good care of it, however there could be significant wear and tear and in extreme circumstances such wear and tear can cause your back and other parts of your body long term problems. Remember mattresses are intended to reduce the stress and pressure put on areas such as your back, hips, neck and shoulders. Put bluntly, you should consider buying a new mattress when it isn’t providing your body the support it needs.


Although only you can decide when you need a new mattress, consider these questions as an aid to assisting you in such a decision:


  1. Having you started to encounter neck, shoulder, hip or back pain?
  2. If your mattress more than 7 years old?
  3. Do you regularly feel that your arms are ‘dead’ and lack blood flow etc when you wake up?
  4. Do you find yourself tossing and turning for over 15 minutes before you can fall asleep?
  5. Is your mattress starting to sag, come apart, show significant signs of wear or become lumpy?
  6. If you have had the chance to sleep in another bed recently, did you find the bed felt more comfortable then your bed at home?

The life of a mattress depends directly on the materials contained within it and how well it is manufactured. If you have answered yes to the questions above then it could well be time to start looking for replacement mattresses. When buying a new mattress these days, you will find warranties are commonplace in the mattresses of today – however remember that warranties DO NOT cover general wear and tear, but general defects. Also warranties will differ from provider to provider.


Once you’ve decided that you would like to get a new mattress, the next stage in the process involves you reflecting and determining what type of mattress is ideal for your bed.


The first and most important consideration when buying a mattress is that of size. Now this decision can be quite straight forward or it can be more complex. For example if you’re replacing an existing mattress, then you may go for a direct replacement. However if you’re investigating purchasing a new mattress to go with a new frame, then here are the key considerations that you need to give thought to:


  1. In your bedroom, how much space is there for a mattress?
  2. How many individuals will be sleeping in the bed? Just you, or do you share with a partner?
  3. How satisfied are the current people sleeping in the bed with the mattress size and the amount of space you have
  4. What would be the cost of upgrading to a larger bed and mattress, or how much would you save by downgrading in bed size……Also make sure you consider mattresses, beds etc too.

In terms of typical mattress dimensions, they can vary – however generic sizes are:


Twin 39” X 75”


Twin XL 39” X 80”


Full 54” X 75”


Queen 60” X 80”


King 76” X 80”


California King 72” X 84”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have realised that beds have come a long way since the single coil mattress. Mattresses now encompass a wide range of technologies and often sport multiple materials. When you are looking to purchase a new mattress, remember you are looking for a mattress of good value – not the cheapest one. A cheap mattress may save you money initially, however the durability may be poor meaning the bed wont last long, or worse still cause you back and general body problems. Also beware that the most expensive of mattresses doesn’t automatically mean they are the best.


When you’re going shopping ensure you take your partner with you and ensure that the purchasing decision is a joint one – as obviously a mattress that you find comfortable, may not be comfortable to your partner. When evaluating a mattress, ensure you test a mattress exactly how you would lay down on your bed normally – and ensure you don’t just lie down for a few seconds, it needs to be a few minutes to fully allow your body to adjust to the mattress.


Let’s now look at the different mattress types which you can choose from in the market:


Coil mattresses:


Coil mattresses were the first of all mattresses and rely on coils that are tempered to give that extra robustness. These type of beds require regularly flipping to ensure the mattress stops sagging and you get maximum life from the coils, however despite flipping these mattresses tend to have a shorter life than other mattresses – but they are cheaper because of this. Expect a lifespan of around 5-7 years for these type of beds. Finally a word of caution for these type of beds, people who sleep on their sides may find back pain exacerbated as the mattresses exert greater pressure on limbs and shoulders/hips and cause spinal misalignment.


Memory foam and visco elastic mattresses:


These are the mattresses that were originally developed by NASA to make aircraft safety better by relieving some of the stress and press in shuttle take offs. Once memory foam was really expensive when it was first introduced to the bedding market, however with so many manufactuers embracing the material you will find that there is a price for everyone. For those who don’t know, the material is called memory foam because it shapes to the individual who rests on the bed. Whilst these type of beds do tend to be more expensive then traditional coil mattresses, the quality tends to be better and this is often followed by longer guarantee periods, with a lot of manufacturers boasting either 10-20 years guarantees (but remember guarantees protect against defects, not wear and tear!) One thing to be aware of with memory foam mattresses, is they retain heat – so if you live in warm climates you should be aware of this! However it seems science wins again as you can get some memory foam mattresses which have a cooling layer in the top of the mattress.


Waterbeds


Here’s a question for you, when do you think the first waterbed was introduced? It was actually in the 1800s, however these beds came more mass market around the late 1960’s. At the time waterbeds were hailed as great for people who suffered from back problems as they have an ability to relieve pressure on the spine as the bed conforms to the shape of the individual (just like memory foam mattresses) – however users of these type of beds quickly realised that if you were a restless sleeper then you would constantly feel the flow of water which can make a good nights sleep even more disturbing. Obviously for such a product, leaks are encountered time to time by consumers, however in terms of longetivity, official statistics show that these are on par with coil mattresses.


Airbeds


Even if you don’t know what an airbed is, I would expect you are able to figure it out from the name. Yes you inflate the mattress with a pump to the degree which is most comfortable to you, there are even more advanced multi chambered airbeds which result in you having much more control over the firmness of your bed. Like memory foam and water mattresses, the airbeds tend to react to your shape and confirm to you which again is good for back sufferers and the like. Typical airbeds can last up to 10 years.


Gel mattresses


Gel in mattress works similar to memory foam, but as well as being able to become soft and conform to a shape, they also provide a good amount of support. This type of material does tend to be used in combination with other materials in mattresses and can also feature by itself.


We have focused on mattresses, however don’t forgot about your bed base too! If your mattress needs replacing or you are choosing to get a new mattress, then why not change the base too? Bases do need to be changed regularly. Bases can vary from typical bedsteads which normally sport wooden or metal frames and slats to divans which are basically box frames. You will find some mattresses only go with a certain type of mattress (but this is rare). Whatever you do, make sure you do your research before you invest in a new bed.


Once you’ve decided to get a new mattress, there is the question of what you do with the old one. Now if your old mattress is completely worn in, lumpy and is causing you back problems – then you shouldn’t really pass it onto anyone to suffer the same fate. However if you are just getting an upgraded mattress and there is nothing wrong with your current one, then I’m sure there could be some needy person out there who would welcome your old mattress.


The final step for you will be to decide what accessories you need to go with your bed.