It is imperative for a good night’s sleep. After all, we spend a third of our lives sleeping, but the quality of the remaining two-thirds is determined by how well we sleep!
When selecting a mattress, keep these attributes in mind:
Do you sleep on your stomach, side or back—or a combination of all? This determines your comfort level. Mattresses do not have to be hard as stone to be good. Test the mattress before buying—spend at least 15-20 minutes lying on it—and try several options before you decide.
High quality cotton, wool, flax and coir are the most durable materials. Besides the kind of material in the padding, durability is also determined by the way materials are interwoven. Spring mattresses have an outer padding and a middle padding often composed of foam. Beneath the middle padding is the insulation padding (usually fibre or mesh), lying directly on the springs—this layer protects the layers above from damage by the springs.
There may be several layers of different types of foam or a solid uniform layer of foam. Convoluted foam has indentations like an egg tray—it feels softer than straight foam and spreads weight evenly over a larger surface area, which is why many people find it more comfortable. It is also usually more resilient to wear and tear.
The outer layer of a mattress, the ticking, is usually polyester or a polyester-cotton blend. Quilting attaches the ticking to the top layers of padding. Ensure that the quilting is consistent and unbroken.
A good mattress offers appropriate support for every part of the body. This depends on the coil count and construction. There are four kinds of coil. Bonnell is hourglass-shaped, with the ends of the wire knotted or wrapped around the top and bottom of a circular potion of coil. Marshall or pocketed coils are individually encased in fabric and usually tempered (heated and cooled in succession) to ensure they retain their shape over time, increasing durability. Offset coils are designed to hinge, conforming to body shape. Continuous coils also employ hinging.
The best mattress supports your back without allowing it to drop out of its natural curvature and alignment. You sleep best when the shoulders and hips are well supported.
Space and size
Select a mattress that gives you enough room to move freely, especially if you sleep with a partner. A healthy sleeper is said to change position 40 to 60 times per night!
For two people, a queen- or king-size mattress is usually ideal, being wider and longer than a standard double. In addition, consider the size of your room.
It is best to buy the mattress and foundation (or box spring) together. This adds life and another level of support to the mattress. Foundations usually consist of a wooden or metal frame with springs. An alternative is the all-wooden frame which makes the sleeping surface feel harder. A wooden foundation should be purchased only if the wood has no cracks and all the slats are straight.
In case of defects, a warranty will cover your losses. Make sure you get yours stamped and signed and keep the bill attached to it. A good mattress that has been taken care of as per the manufacturer’s specifications should last 8-10 years.
5 ways to keep your bed happy and healthy
l Insert a mattress protector between the mattress and the bed sheet.
l Dust and vacuum the bed regularly to keep allergies at bay and use synthetic rather than feather pillows to minimize dust.
l Don’t place a mattress directly on the floor. Without the support of a foundation, it may not take the shape of your spine as well as it should.
l Turn your mattress over every two months to avoid impressions of your body contours setting in. Similarly, rotate it to ensure even wear.
l While moving the mattress, keep it straight on its side. Avoid bending it as this damages the springs. While accessing storage in a box bed, bend the mattress to a maximum of 45 degrees. Better still, remove it.
Time to change
If the mattress is over 10 years old
If you wake up feeling fatigued or are in pain or discomfort
If there are bumps, lumps or sags in the mattress
If you have “inherited” the mattress from family or friends!