Patients are always asking me what type of bed or mattress is best for their backs. Up until now, I've been reluctant to recommend a particular make or design - they can often be incredibly expensive and people can get 'sucked in' by the sales pitch - and the best bed for one person may not be the ideal one for someone else. However, the British Chiropractic Association and one of the leading bed manufactures, Sealy Posturepedic, have finally got together to provide some advice...
First, a few facts and figures*: On average, we spend a third of our lives in bed. 58% of the population complain that they wake up feeling stiff and achey - anything but refreshed! 25% of people wouldn't consider changing their mattress - even if it is more than 10 years old. (*BCA and Sealy Posturepedic 2012)
Time for a change? So, when is the right time to consider changing your mattress? Generally, if it is more than 8-10 years old, uncomfortable, torn, discoloured and a bit 'manky' it could do with an update! If you can feel the springs or you feel it is less supportive than before, or you find yourself rolling into your partner, again it could indicate a need for something new. We should wake feeling rested and refreshed, so another indication is if you find it difficult to get comfy, or you wake up feeling stiff and achey in the morning (although it might be worth having a 'check-up' with the chiropractor too as it might be you, not your bed!).
So, what next?
Research it - ask your friends, find out the make and model of a comfy bed that you've slept on (I even phoned up and spoke to the manager of a hotel in Berlin to find out the specifications of a particularly comfy bed!), check out internet forums and blogs...
Choice - choose a reputable retailer that stocks a wide range of brands and mattress 'types' (foam, sprung, pillow-top etc) and make sure you get an informed opinion from an experienced salesman (Sealy Posturepedic have a wide variety of mattress types and do know what they're talking about!).
Try before you buy - Since you're going to be spending a large proportion of your life in bed, it's important to test out each mattress - lie on it for as long as possible, wriggle about, try getting in and out of it, take your other half with you and see how it works for the both of you. If you are a different size and shape from your partner, or you feel them wriggling about during the night, it might be worth getting two separate mattresses, as what suits them might not be right for you.
Go large - go for as big a bed as possible. This will allow you the freedom to move and wriggle about - important, as if you stay in any position for too long you'll stiffen up and put pressure on the joints, even if it feels comfortable initially.
Don't settle for second best - you don't have to spend a fortune, but a better quality mattress will tend to last longer, so may be a more economical option in the long run. A second-hand bed might be tempting - but remember that the springs and fillings will deteriorate with time, and there is the potential 'yuk-factor' of the previous owners' dust-mites and shedded skin cells...
Sleep Easy - make sure you lie in a comfy position, on your side or back, keep moving about, use a mattress 'topper' if you want a softer feel to a firm mattress and stretch gently before you leap out of bed in the morning.
For more advice check out my previous blog, or the BCA's website...
Eich Ceiropractydd yng Nghlinig Ceiropracteg Llangefnii