We all appreciate and need a good nights' sleep. As Osteopaths, we often see patients with pain associated to an ill-fitting mattress(and pillow).
A good nights' sleep can be restorative and energising! Sleep is crucial to our functioning as a human being. A good mattress will support our body while we sleep. So, the mattress that we choose is important to our well-being!

We have all experienced sleeping on a bad mattress often noticed when you are away from home! But have you asked yourself lately, how good is MY mattress? Many of us find it difficult to navigate, choose and decipher the many beds in the marketplace today. Let me help you navigate and choose the right bed for you!

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a mattress
• Ask yourself "how old is your mattress?"

Mattresses have a limited lifespan. If you have had yours for some time, then it's time to think about changing it. Traditionally, mattresses last about ten years. Nowadays they are made to last a little longer. Our body changes over time, and the mattress also looses support with repeated use.

• We all have different mattress needs depending on our shape, size and weight. If you are heavier, then you need firmer support. If you are lighter, then you can get away with a softer mattress.

• Remember -Try before you buy!

Spend as much time as you can lying on the mattress in the shop. Try to go back for repeated visits. The more you can replicate how you sleep at home, the easier your decision will be. Try to lie on the shop mattress in the same position as you would sleep at home.

• Researchers in Spain studied people with long-term back pain. The study used a 10-point hard-to-soft scale. Less back pain reported in people sleeping on a medium-to-firm mattress! (5.6 on the scale). Those on a softer mattress had more back pain. Lean towards a firmer mattress!

• Make sure the mattress in the shop is on a similar base to the one you have at home. Otherwise it will feel quite different to when you tried it in the shop!

There are many types of mattresses to consider before buying. They all have their pros and cons. This can mean choosing a mattress is more complicated. Or understanding your options allow you to find the perfect mattress.

• Inner sprung
Innerspring mattresses are the most widely used. They support you with coil springs. In most circumstances, each coil is individually enclosed. This helps with the longevity of the mattress and prevents the coils from popping out of the mattress. On top of the coils is a wide variety of materials that are added for comfort. Ranging from foam padding to latex or memory foam.

• Latex
Latex mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber. They are known for providing firm, bouncy support that is uniform throughout the bed.

• Memory foam
Memory foam mattresses are growing in popularity. They are made of layers of different densities of foam. The foam responds to weight and temperature. They are known for comfort because they contour to the specific shape of your body. Memory foam toppers are also available.
Some negative factors of the memory foam mattress is that it retains a lot of heat. This can make you quite hot through the night. Also it can be quite difficult to get out of the bed. The foam moulds around your body due to pressure and heat. People with limited mobility or chronic pain find it hard to get out of bed once they are in it.

• Air mattress
Higher-end air beds look like a standard innerspring mattress. In place of coils, they use air-filled chambers. Above the air is a foam layer. Air beds are often chosen for patients with spinal cord injuries. Commonly, hospitals use air mattresses. For those who lie in the same position for prolonged periods.
• Adjustable mattress/ bed
These beds can bend and elevate at varying angles. As a result, the mattress has to be flexible. Different types of mattresses can be used on an adjustable bed; memory foam, latex, or air. However, sprung mattresses are more difficult to use because the springs don't handle the bending well. These beds can be very useful for the elderly or infirmed. They allow you to sit easily in bed. Sections of the bed can be raised or lowered for comfort.

• Sofa bed
Sofa beds come in handy when you have guests staying! Take note, sofa beds should never be used as a permanent mattress solution. The mattresses in these beds tend to be thin so they can fold into the couch. The support offered for your body is minimal at best.

• Water bed
Consists of a water-containing mattress inside of a rectangular frame of sturdy foam. This is enclosed inside a fabric casing, which sits on a platform. It looks like a conventional bed and is designed to fit existing bedroom furniture. Waterbeds use the displacement of water to provide comfort and support. They conform to the shape of your body.

The best advice in choosing a bed is to do your due diligence and research the market. There are many beds out there! When shopping remember there are many different price points and different levels of comfort.
Happy sleeping!

Written By Dr Caryn Edwards