This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine
According to leading sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley, ‘There are two things you need that should be of the highest quality: a pair of shoes and a bed, because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.’ Today I’m focusing on the bed, or actually the mattress, although it’s key to choose a frame that’s the right height, says Hector Wells of the British Osteopathic Association. ‘The top of the mattress should be the same height as the back of your knee when you sit down, so it’s easy to get in and out of bed.’
Since a good night’s sleep is worth more than rubies, I asked Hector Wells, Dr Stanley (who advises mattress manufacturer Vi-Spring), and Sue Killick (bed buyer at Furniture Village) for their advice:
- When buying a mattress, allow plenty of time – half a day is good.
- Start with lying on the most expensive bed, then work your way down (so you know all levels of comfort, not letting price be a factor).
- Shop with your body and not your eyes – headboards, etc, come second.
- There are usually three choices of mattress – soft, firmer and firm – but there’s no standard for these terms, so they can vary between ranges. The only answer is to try, try and try again until you find one that’s comfortable – not too firm but provides support. You want the mattress to hold the spine (in its natural ‘S’ shape) but also have enough tension to support pressure points such as shoulders, hips and ankles. (And ones with pseudo-medical names, eg, orthopaedic, aren’t necessarily better for you.)
- You move 40 to 60 times a night, so spend ten to 15 minutes on each mattress (with your partner), trying different positions, including rolling over – if the mattress is too soft that will take lots of effort; if it’s too firm, your hips and shoulders will be uncomfy.
- Lie flat on the mattress and ask someone to put a hand under your shoulders, then back, thighs, and calves. Ideally, you should feel a little pressure at each point as it’s tested. If there’s more pressure under any one area, then the mattress is probably too soft. If there’s no pressure, it’s too hard.The main types of mattress are natural fibre, pocket-sprung and memory foam – a trained adviser can guide you. Natural fibre is best if you get hot at night, so if you tend to perspire, have a thyroid problem, are menopausal, or are having some forms of chemotherapy, opt for natural fibre rather than artificial memory foam, which becomes hot and doesn’t absorb moisture.
- If you have pelvic pain, shoulder or back problems or are pregnant, pocket-sprung gives a rocking/bouncing movement, which helps you get out of bed more easily than a memory foam mattress, which tends to be too soft, so you get stuck.
- Make sure a mattress is not too heavy for you to lift and turn, and that the bedlinen is the right size to fit it. If you prefer a top sheet and blankets, make sure the mattress isn’t too deep to tuck in the blanket.
Furniture Village has 39 stores nationwide with trained advisers at its dedicated FV Bedshops, tel: 0845 085 0480, furniturevillage.co.uk; Vi-Spring, tel: 01752 366311, vispring.co.uk (FV Bedshops also have a Vi-Spring Centre of Excellence); British Osteopathic Association, osteopathy.org
A GENTLE TOUCH FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
The new Konjac Sponge from Japan, handmade with konjac vegetable fibre, may help touchy skin. Our tester reports that her spot-prone, delicate skin is calmer and softer. Used with a water-based cleanser or on its own, the Konjac naturally helps balance the skin’s acidity (aka pH) and is also a gentle exfoliant. Soak the sponge in water to soften it before using, and keep it clean by washing in clean, warm water, then squeezing and air-drying. It should last for up to three months of daily use. The Konjac comes in three options: White Round, great for sensitive skins; White Body, helpful for skin conditions such as eczema, and Bamboo Charcoal, antibacterial for oily, acne-prone skin. £12 each, from Victoria Health, tel: 0800 3898 195, victoriahealth.com