This has to be one of the most common questions we receive in the clinic:
“How do I pick the right bed, and do I need a new bed?”
So this month we thought we would compile a checklist so everyone knows what to look for and what to do when buying a new bed.
Firstly, your bed is the most important piece of furniture you will buy in your house. Generally, we spend a third of your lives in our beds so we need to make sure we have the correct bed for us.
There is not one bed out there on the market, no matter what price, that is right for everyone. We are all different shapes and sizes, sleep in different positions and require different features in a bed that will be perfect for us. So the first take home message from this article is to take the time to find the right bed that is going to be perfect for you, and your partner.
So how do you know when its time to get a new bed?
Time itself is the first factor to contemplate. Usually, the quality of the bed you have now, will affect how long it will last. However, no matter what the cost, you should replace your mattress every 10-15 years. Even though you may feel that your bed is still giving you the support you need when it is beyond this age, beds tend to be a perfect breading ground for all kinds nasties! Dust mites, mold and fungus to name a few, love the heat you generate and the moisture you release while sweating during the night, as well as the skin cells that come off your body during the night that they eat!
So in this case, you need to replace your bed for a mere health benefits rather then a support reason.
Obviously, the actual support of the bed is another reason to buy a new bed. There are some great questions to ask yourself and your partner about your current bed when deciding on whether to buy a new one:
Do you wake up in the morning and have some low back pain that relieves after 15-30 minutes with stretching and movement? This could mean that you’re on an inappropriate mattress for you
Do you have a better night sleep when you are away in a hotel or friends mattress?
Has your body or whom you are sleeping with changed since you last bought your bed? Your bed needs to be perfect for you right now and that will most likely be very different to the 10-year younger version of yourself.
Once you have decided its time to buy a new bed, you need to do your homework. It’s best not to just decide to buy a bed and walk into a bed shop with no idea what you need. Otherwise you’ll potentially end up spending more then you need to and not get what you need- which could lead to a very expensive mistake!
Here is a quick list of things you should think about before even walking into the store.
Price range you are happy to spend
Size of bed you need
Materials the bed will be made from
Type of base- will you keep your old base, buy a new bed frame or will you get an ensemble. Make sure you know the size of any existing base or frame you will be using.
Firmness of bed
Features you need to have, do you have a partner, are you two different sizes, do you two require different features.
What will your body be like in 10 years?
Price is obviously a big decision point. As mentioned earlier this bed will be the most important piece of furniture in your house. However that doesn’t mean it needs to be the most expensive piece.
Generally, do get what you pay for, and it is always good to compare prices of similar beds, rather than be pushed towards the most expensive beds in the store. Price is only one part of the checklist to getting the perfect bed, so looking through bed company websites and brochures to see how much beds actually are will give you an idea of what you are happy to spend.
The next step is going into the store to test out a range of beds within your price range and see whether you can feel the difference between them. Once you have tested a few beds, you will get an idea of the price range you need to spend for your body. Also be aware of trying to price match beds, as many stores may have the same brand of bed, but models can vary greatly.
Also many stores have fantastic specials on beds that can be up to 40-50% off, and when we are talking about $1000-10 000 those savings can get quit large, so it pays to do your research and shop around. It also never hurts to ask for a discount!
The actual size of bed is another important factor. Research shows that you need at least 10-15 cm more room than the tallest person in the bed. So if you are really tall, or your partner is, you will most likely need to get that king size bed to have the support for them. This also should to be calculated into your research.
Not all beds are uniform shape and height as well. So if you need a certain size to match your existing base this needs to be considered. Also if the bed is very thick it may end up being too tall on your old base to be able to get in and out of your bed, especially for the 10-year-older you. It’s important to have all these measurements in mind when deciding on a bed.
There are many different types of beds and it’s very easy to get confused as to which one you will need. Here is a quick break down of the different types.
Continuous coil mattresses are made from a single piece of wire looped into springs, and open-coil mattresses are made of single springs fixed together by one wire. They are usually more affordable than some of the other types.
However, because the springs move as one unit, the mattress tends to be less responsive to your body, and any tossing and turning is likely to disturb a partner. The coils also wear out more quickly than pocket springs, so it will need to be replaced sooner than some of the other types.
Tempur-Pedic mattresses are actually a brand name, but many people use them to describe any mattress type that uses “memory foam” or another type of foam that moulds to the shape of your body while you sleep, and offers even support all over your body. You essentially sink into it, and the mattress applies even pressure to your body at all points. Tempur-Pedic and memory foam mattresses tend to get warm over the course of the night, so if you need a cool sleeping surface under you, they may not be right for you.
Latex foam molds to your body shape. Natural latex is a white liquid produced by the trunks of rubber trees. This is blended with synthetic latex and turned into latex foam. Latex tends to be durable and the materials breathe, so they are a good option for those prone to allergies and there’s less chance of overheating. Latex also doesn’t harbour dust mites. These mattresses have a solid feel, so they’re not likely to please someone wanting a softer, more cushioned night’s sleep. They can be cumbersome to move due to their weight and density. Cheaper versions can get lumpy after a time so be careful when deciding on price point.
One of the more popular types, a pocket-sprung mattress has up to 3000 springs sewn into individual fabric pockets. They can be customised to have two sides, of different firmness. They offer good support by distributing your body weight evenly, and will support two people of two different body weights well because the springs are separate. You won’t feel too warm because the open-spring construction allows air to circulate. The springs can be customised to different tensions – soft, medium or firm. They can however be heavy to turn, as they’re filled with natural materials, such as lambs wool. Natural materials can exacerbate allergies.
Sleep number beds use inflatable air pressure chambers inside of the mattress that you can customise to suit the level of firmness you want in your sleeping surface. You can, at any time, make the mattress firmer or softer, and depending on the model you get, you can tilt the bed up into a reclining position, or you can get sleep number beds that have different chambers on either side of the bed, so you and your partner can enjoy different levels of firmness. “Sleep Number Bed” is a trademark of Select Comfort, which makes most of the beds that fit this description, however there are some other brands out there too. With all these features they are more expensive than other beds, but can be very good as you get older.
Firm and plush, as their names imply, indicate the firmness or softness of the mattress. You’ll see some mattresses described as “extra firm, firm, plush, ultra plush” to denote how hard or soft the mattress actually is. In some cases, to get to the “ultra plush” end of the scale, manufacturers add thick pillow tops and cushions to the tops of a standard mattress to make it feel softer. You can also find mattress types in between like “cushion firm” or “pillow top” or a firm mattress that has extra padding on the sides and top or a pillow top on it that makes the mattress softer when you lay in it but still is firm enough to provide support while you sleep. If one partner is larger than the other this can be a good way of having the support and softness that each partner needs. The larger partner will sink into the pillow top softness and get the firm support they need, while the lighter partner will stay on top of the pillow top and have the cushioning feeling they like. As a general rule its always better to go harder then softer because you can always add cushioning to the bed once you have it to make it softer, while its near impossible to make a bed firmer once you have chosen.
Some other points to consider when going to buy a bed are
Take your time: to be able to feel if the bed is right for you, you need to lie on the bed, and not only for 30 seconds. Once you have narrowed your bed choice down to a few you need to physically lie on the bed for 10 or more minutes to see how your body feels on the actual bed. If you can take your own pillow or use a test pillow in the store and lie in the position you do at night, if that is multiple positions, you will need to spend time in each of those positions to see how your body reacts. When you buy a new car you take it for a test drive and see how it runs, it’s exactly the same for a bed!
Don’t shop tired: All mattresses will feel great if you’re already tired.
Don’t get sucked into sales jargon: This is where your homework will come in handy. Sales people and mattress companies will use all sorts of jargon to make their bed sound good. You need to know what those words means and whether they have any weight on whether it will affect your bed.
Once you have bought the bed here are some questions to ask your self once you have slept in it for a few nights:
When you wake up, do you have less energy, or more?
After you’ve been up for a while, do you have unusual soreness, or aches and pains, specifically in your back or sides?
When you do get up and get ready, what’s your mood like? Are you ready to take on the day, or do you find you’re suddenly really grump in the mornings (compared to your usual self, of course?)
Are you tossing and turning, or frequently waking up to shift position during the night?
Do you feel like your floating while in your new mattress, with no areas of pressure?
If the answers to these questions indicate you are worse off now with this new mattress you need to exchange it as would seem you have made the wrong choice. This is where it is important to ask about exchange and return policies. You will be surprised but many companies will exchange your bed in a certain time frame so check these details before signing on the dotted line.
If you follow the information in this article, buying a new bed will be a stress free and exciting investment in your body, and you will reap the rewards instantly. So how is your bed going?
As always if you have any questions about your specific case please ask one of our practitioners.