Bed Buying Guide
We spend one-third of our lives asleep, and our mattresses are subject to a staggering 20,000 hours of wear and tear over a seven-year lifespan! So, it’s important to choose the right bed or mattress for you.
The process of buying a new mattress can often be confusing and frustrating, mainly because it isn’t something we do every day.
Get it wrong, and you could end up with sleepless nights or, even worse, a mattress that’s unsafe, unclean, or not what it claims to be.
Your Guide to Buying a New Bed
You might not know it, but there are lots to think about when it comes to buying a new bed and mattress.
We’re sharing some tips from The Sleep Council to help you on your way to finding your perfect bed and that perfect night’s sleep.
Download the guide here or visit our department stores and speak to a member of our team for advise on the right bed for you.
When’s the right time for a new bed?
You can’t beat a good night’s sleep – it leaves you feeling fit, thinking sharply and happy!
The foundation of good sleep is a comfortable bed and the right mattress. It can be the difference between a restorative night’s sleep and poor-quality sleep that results in tiredness and fatigue.
Research shows that sleeping on an uncomfortable bed could rob you of up to an hour’s sleep – yet the deterioration may be so gradual and invisible that many people fail to make the connection between an uncomfortable bed and poor sleep.
You may need a new mattress if…
Beds don’t last forever. Even if it looks okay, it may not be giving you the support or comfort you need for a good night’s sleep.
A mattress’s life span is affected by several factors such as the quality, care and amount you use it (e.g., reading, watching TV & sleeping each night versus occasional use of a spare bed).
Changes in lifestyle (marriage, new home) and in our bodies (losing or gaining weight, ageing, etc) can also necessitate a change of bed.
Type of bed
What sort of style do you prefer? What do you like or dislike about your current bed? Do you prefer a firmer or softer feel?
The price is right
Always shop for the best value not the lowest price. Of course, there are some perfectly acceptable, lower priced beds available (far preferable to an unhygienic second-hand bed shaped to someone else’s body) but the better the construction, the better the support and comfort and the longer the bed will last.
With a larger bed you are less likely to disturb your partner. You should be able to lie side by side, with your arms behind your head and your elbows out, without touching. Your bed should also be 4-6in (10-15cm) longer than the tallest partner – anyone over 6ft (1.8m) tall should consider a bed longer than standard.
Many manufacturers make beds up to 7ft square as a matter of course; others will make special sizes. Also consider the bed’s height – many contemporary styles are low, while those with storage drawers may be much higher.
Width of bed
The majority of British couples still sleep in a standard double size bed which is only 135cm (4ft 6”) wide. This provides each user with just 67.5cm or about 2ft 3” of space each which is less than we give a baby in a cot! It’s certainly very cosy for two people and with so little room to move, you’re more likely to disturb your partner every time you change position, resulting in a poor night’s sleep. However, some couples prefer to sleep in close proximity to each other, claiming that it improves intimacy compared to sleeping in a much bigger bed where you literally have to go searching for your partner!
So with partner disturbance a major cause of poor sleep, buying a bigger bed should result in a better night’s sleep.
The number of couples sleeping in separate beds is on the increase. In the Sleep Council’s Great British Bedtime Report from 2017, 12% said they slept apart compared to only 8% in 2013. Nearly a quarter of couples also reported sleeping apart at least some of the time. If you’re one of those who prefer to sleep in your own bed but still wish to be in the same room as your partner, the most popular option is the standard single bed which measures 90cm or 3ft wide, giving you plenty of room to get comfortable.
If you have a large bedroom, you could consider buying two single beds or even opt for a zip and link set where the two beds can be joined together to form a super king size. Having said that, many modern houses tend to have smaller bedrooms as the demand for 4 or 5 bedroomed properties results in a squeeze on room sizes upstairs. So, for many couples, a super king size bed is out of the question.
Here are just ten reasons why a bigger bed is better:
- Because a standard double bed (135cm/4ft 6in) gives each person just 2ft 3in of space – less than a baby in a cot. Now how squeezed is that?
- Ergonomic studies show that couples sleep better in a bigger bed. Before the trials only 15% said they would buy a larger than standard bed. Afterwards 50% said they would. (Ergonomic pilot study by the National Bed Federation, 1995.)
- Because you spend a third of your life in bed – by the time we are 50 we’ll each have spent some 16 years in bed. If you are going to spend all that time there, why take the trip to dreamland in tourist class when you can go first class?
- Because it doesn’t necessarily cost a whole heap more to move up a size. Over seven years, every £100 spent on a new bed costs just 3.9p per night.
- Because 16 other countries can’t be wrong! That’s how many boast bigger average bed sizes than Britain. Top of the league are Belgium, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Finland and Switzerland where most people sleep in a roomy 160cm by 200cm bed. By contrast we Brits still buy more 135cm by 190cm beds.
- Because you spend as much as you can afford on the best possible house, holiday, car, kitchen, TV and sound system. So why so stingy when it comes to buying a bigger bed?
- Because you wouldn’t want to get left behind! Although two-thirds of us still opt for the standard size, larger beds are becoming ever more popular among those with the bedroom space to take one: 33% of double divan and bedstead sales are now 5ft (king-size) or larger. (GfK NOP Consumer Scope Beds and Mattresses Market Monitor, December 2010).
- Because the average person wriggles and turns some 60 to 70 times a night – so you want to put as much space between you and your mate as possible to reduce the disturbance factor.
- Because you may not be as young as you were – or as slim! A 2014 report from the World Health Organisation said that 28.1% of adults in the UK were classified as obese in which case the ‘two in a 4 ft 6ins scenario’ could be putting a severe strain on your relationship.
- Because once you’ve slept in a king-size, you’ll never want to be a second-class sleeper again!
Try, try and try it again!
There is no substitute for lying on mattresses when selecting the right one for you. You wouldn’t buy a new car without taking it for a test drive first – and you’ll be spending even more time in your bed! So wear comfortable clothes, remove your coat and shoes and lie on the bed for quite a long time – at least 10 minutes (preferably more). Adopt your normal sleeping position and lie on your side as well as your back.
Always shop together if the bed’s for two, to ensure you are both happy with your choice.
Give yourself enough time
Set aside enough time to do the job properly. Don’t shop when you’re tired or rushed – you run the risk that the beds will all feel wonderful.
Spring interior mattresses
The majority of mattresses in the UK have spring interiors, which provide the ‘core’ support. Changing the spring construction, thickness (gauge) of the wire, the number of coils, height of each spring and the quantity alters the tension, feel and weight distribution properties of each mattress.
Spring interior mattresses can be ‘zoned’ – across the middle to give extra support for heavier hips and shoulders; half and half, to provide different tensions on each side of the bed; or round the edge of the mattress to give it extra rigidity.
Different tensions can be achieved within the same mattress. Some units also allow the user to adjust the mattress tension themselves.
Non Sprung Mattresses
Most foam mattresses are made from layers of different densities of foam. By varying their density and depth, it’s possible to achieve different levels of comfort and support. They are particularly suitable for use with slatted bases and adjustable beds.
Interior sprung mattresses use a wide variety of fillings to create different properties and comfort options, as well as affecting price. Fillings are chosen for their resilience, durability, flexibility and ability to absorb body moisture. In cheaper mattresses, fillings usually come in compact pads; in better quality models, layers of loose fillings in greater volumes are often preferred.
Latex foam mattress
A premium quality material derived from the sap of the rubber tree.
Has a distinctive, resilient feel, is very durable and has anti-microbial properties that offer benefits to many allergy sufferers.
Its natural elasticity means it recovers its shape immediately when pressure is removed.
It also has very good point elasticity resulting in even distribution of pressure for independent support.
Most mattresses are used in combination with one of various choices of bed base: such as divans, bedsteads, adjustable beds and bunk beds. Remember to ensure that mattress and base are suitable for use together, especially if you are buying them separately.
Divans are still the most popular style of base in the UK. They are essentially an upholstered box, fitted with castors for mobility or on legs to create space beneath. These days there are many beautifully tailored and upholstered bases with matching headboards offered in a range of colours and fabrics.
Sprung edge divans
The most luxurious option and feature a complete open coil or pocket spring unit mounted on a frame which acts like a giant shock absorber, increasing the mattress’s durability.
Solid or platform top
These have a rigid, non-sprung top panel, often made from hardboard. Beds with these bases are generally firmer, as well as cheaper than beds with sprung bases.
Firm edge divans
Generally feature a smaller number of larger, heavy duty springs within a rigid, wooden sided frame.
A divan is useful if you’re tight on space as most are available with drawers or lift-up storage, known as ottomans. Storage need not affect the comfort or quality of the bed – but it does cost a little more.
Headboards have grown in popularity and can create a focal point in any bedroom.
They are usually an optional extra to give you more choice but these days often coordinate with the divan base.
Like most things in the bedroom, your headboard acts as a style statement and will be a dominant feature, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you buy one.
You should think what fabric you like, whether you want a simple rectangular design or a more lavish padded design and how the colour choice or pattern will blend in with the rest of the room.
All of the different materials and designs have their own merits. For example, upholstered headboards give you more comfort where wooden headboards can give you sturdiness.
If you suffer with neck and shoulder pain, you may find your pillow’s the culprit.
Pillows come in a range of different shapes and sizes, including pre-shaped ones that support your head and neck, as well as a choice of fillings – goosedown, duckdown, feather, fibre filled, and visco-elastic, latex or polyurethane foam – and any number of combinations of these.
Here’s what to look for when buying a pillow:
A good one should hold your head in the correct alignment – that is, in the same relation to your shoulders and spine as if you were standing upright with the correct posture – and be tucked well into the neck and shoulder to support your head fully.
The thickness and number you need depends on your body shape and your preferred sleeping position. You will need a thicker pillow (or two thinner ones) if you sleep on your side rather than if you sleep on your back.
It is a good idea to invest in quality pillows and replace them at least every two or three years. When they have lost their ‘loft’ (height) and become lumpy, discoloured or misshapen they should be replaced.
Here are a few things to remember when you get your new bed home:
- Do not bend or roll your new mattress. It will permanently damage the spring unit and invalidate any warranties or guarantees.
- Let the mattress breathe.Like a new car, a new bed may initially have a ‘new’ smell about it. This will eventually disperse if well aired.
- Body shaped impressions are normal. Impression marks – sometimes known as settlement – are a normal characteristic of quality mattresses working as intended to conform to the shape of your body. These will be minimised with regular turning
- Getting used to your new bed. Your body will take a while to adjust to sleeping on a new surface, so don’t worry if your new bed doesn’t immediately meet your expectations. Give it time – it could take a few weeks.
- Turn your mattress regularly.Unless you have bought a non-turn (which has been specifically designed not be turned but must still be rotated), it is important that you turn your mattress from end to end and side to side every week for the first few months and thereafter about every three months. This will prolong the life-span of your mattress and minimise impression.
If an accident occurs, immediate treatment helps enormously by preventing the liquid seeping into the upholstery filling, where it can cause problems.
If possible, after stripping off all bedding, stand the mattress on its side – this will help prevent the fluid penetrating the mattress. Sponge immediately with cold water – but don’t over water.
Here are some recommended treatments for specific fluids:
Urine: Sponge with warm solution of mild detergent or upholstery shampoo. Then wipe with cold water plus a few drops of antiseptic such as Milton.
Vomit and diarrhoea: Scrape up as much solid matter as possible, without spreading the stain. Treat as for urine above.
Fruit juices: Use proprietary stain treatment – following instructions – or sponge with warm borax solution and then clear water. A strong coloured drink such as blackcurrant will probably leave a stain.
Chocolate and milk-based drinks: Treat as above and when dry use an aerosol grease solvent to clear grease – being particularly sparing if used on a foam mattress. Brush to clear deposit.
Blood: Use a proprietary stain remover, or upholstery cleaner, followed by cold water.
Oily marks: Use an aerosol grease solvent to draw stain out, rather than liquid grease solvents marks.