Getting a good night’s sleep is an important aspect of maintaining your general wellbeing, and your choice of mattress is the first building block to ensuring a restful slumber. However, with the dizzying array of mattresses currently on the market, choosing the best one for your individual needs can become a bit overwhelming. Anton Odendaal from leading furniture and mattress supplier, Rochester, offers some pointers on how to go about selecting the perfect mattress.
Why is having a good mattress so important?
A mattress needs to provide you with sufficient support while you are asleep, says Anton: “Any mattress worth its salt needs to adequately support your body in a neutral position – where your spine, buttocks, heels, shoulders and head are all well supported in proper alignment. If this is not achieved, your body will fall out of alignment, you will not enjoy a restful slumber and you will wake up feeling stiff, sore and tired. Seeing that most people spend on average between 56 to 63 hours a week sleeping, ensuring that you are comfortable is essential in order to get the best health benefits from your slumber.
How do you know it is time to replace your mattress?
Depending on the quality and make of the mattress, the general consensus is that mattresses boast a lifespan of around 9 years. Says Anton: “If you wake up in the morning with some lower back pain, and after stretching, it dissipates after 15 to 30 minutes – this is a good indicator that your mattress is no longer providing you with adequate support and will need to be replaced.”
He says that over time, mattresses also tend to collect dust mites, fungus and other germs, which can exacerbate allergies and impact negatively on your sleeping patterns: “With regards to hygiene, after 9 years of regular use, it is highly advisable to consider investing in a new mattress. Frankly, I would personally replace my mattress every five years, as it is the most important piece of furniture I own.”
“Today, there are a wide variety of different types of mattresses available, and it is important that you understand how they differ from each other in order to choose the best one for your needs,” explains Anton. He says that with regards to quality structured mattresses; there are three main contenders, namely:
The innerspring mattress: These remain the most widely used mattresses. They comprise a centre core of springs made from tempered steel, which provide buoyancy and resilience. The coils are in turn surrounded by a protective casing for insulation and padding purposes. Firmness and durability is largely dictated by the kind of wire used for the coils and the number of coils included in the design – the higher the coil count and the stronger the wire, the firmer the mattress. Today, quality innerspring mattresses boast coils that are individually enclosed – this prevents the coils from popping through the mattress and improves the overall durability of the mattress.
The memory foam mattress: These mattresses are more commonly used in Europe, and although they are available in South Africa, they are generally considerably more expensive than their innerspring counterparts. They are made from varying densities of polyurethane foam, which responds to weight and temperature. The foam softens when it comes into contact with any form of heat and it is pressure-sensitive, which allows it to quickly mould to the shape of your body and negate pressure points for added comfort. They are available in varying degrees of firmness. Memory foam toppers are also available.
The Latex mattress: Manufactured from either synthetic or natural rubber, Latex mattresses provide firm, buoyant and uniform support throughout. They provide comfort that has been likened to that provided by memory foam, but the difference is that Latex pushes back, so ultimately provides better support. These mattresses are also commonly used in Europe, and are not so widely available locally, largely due to their high price tag.
Gauge the right tension
Says Anton: “It is essential that the mattress you choose is just the right firmness for your needs. If the mattress is too hard, your body will try to compensate by frequently changing positions. For example, if you lie on your side and your shoulder and hips cannot sink into the mattress, then they will automatically compensate by curving towards each other, leading to a stressed spine. Resultant tossing and turning will lead to disrupted slumber for both you and your partner. A good firm mattress should offer firm support, without putting pressure on your various pressure points. It should be able to distribute pressure evenly across the body to help circulation, decrease movement and minimise disruption.
Never has the old adage of “bigger is better” been truer than when it comes to the size of your bed says Anton: “It is highly advisable to choose the biggest bed possible – obviously within the limitations of the size of your bedroom and your budget. When you are sharing a bed with somebody, large mattresses have the benefit of being able to accommodate the free and easy movement of one party, without disrupting the other. Also, if you are a parent of young kids or a pet owner, you will know that you often have to share your bed with other ‘visitors’ – the bigger the bed, the more comfortable you will be on these occasions. For very tall individuals, it is advisable to invest in a mattress with extra length to accommodate your height.”
Make sure that the mattress you choose fits your bed, warns Anton: “Ensure that your bed base is suitable for the mattress you choose, as a poor base can make even the most expensive mattress uncomfortable. Base sets comprise a mattress and a base that has been specially designed to complement that particular mattress – providing optimum comfort and longevity of your mattress. Divan beds or ones with upholstered headboards are a good choice for spring mattresses, while beds with a wooden slatted base is best for a memory foam mattress.”
Try it out
The best way to select a mattress is to physically try it out, explains Anton: “The best mattress for you is the one that makes you the most comfortable. To do this, you need to actually lie on the mattress and push your hand under your back – if there is a large gap, the mattress is too soft, and if there is no gap at all, the mattress is too hard. Just being able to pass your hand under your back suggests it is just the right firmness for you.
“Remember, in order to feel your best, you need to get your rest – so be kind to your body and invest in a good quality mattress suited to your particular needs,” concludes Anton.