And who are we to disagree? Sleep is where we rest from the stresses and strains of daily living as we journey through life. That we spend around a third of our lives in bed is a frequently cited statistic, but have you ever wondered whether it might be possible to actually improve the quality of your sleep?
According to the ‘Sleep Council‘ (www.sleepcouncil.org.uk) it’s all about the quality of your mattress; too soft and the body slouches, leaving the spine out of alignment. Too hard and the body is not relaxed, holding tension and creating pressure points. Just right and the mattress’ support will encase your bodies’ profile, keeping your spine aligned.
SIZE REALLY DOES MATTER
Bigger is certainly better when buying a mattress. You are less likely to disturb your partner if, for example, you can both lie side-by-side with your arms behind your head and your elbows out without touching. Your bed should also be about four to six inches longer than the tallest partner. This way, as we naturally migrate around the bed during sleep, we are less likely to whack each other with that stray arm-thrash during a lively dream.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
Ideally, take your mattress for a test drive and both lie on it in the showroom to ensure you both feel it does the job. Comfort is very subjective. See what works for you.
TYPES OF MATTRESSES
The three main types of ‘Sprung’ mattresses with a quilted or tufted outer fabric casing are:
Open Coil: Generally the construction for a budget to mid-range mattress. Bed supplier www.loaf.com has excellent mattress and bed styles to suit all budgets. Also the popular boho, Eastern-inspired styling of www.lombok.co.uk has striking wooden beds. Using both reclaimed and ethically sourced and certified woods, their dark wood ‘Seba’ four poster, and their ‘Baxter’ bed are striking classics that are on trend and reasonable budget.
Continuous Spring: Where the inner is made from a single length of wire ‘knitted’ into a series of woven springs running up and down the bed. With the ‘coils’ being smaller than open coil, it gives a higher spring count and therefore a more responsive feel.
Pocket sprung: Top of the range. Small, softer springs work independently from each other inside your mattress. Each coil is encased in a calico pocket, arranged in a honeycomb pattern. It adjusts to your own body contours and helps eliminate any roll together (unless of course you want to!). General rule of thumb is the higher the pocket sprung count, the more springs you have, therefore the more comfortable and luxurious your base will be.
Memory foam mattresses were a revolutionary concept, but are an acquired taste. The most well known brand, Tempur, work with a material originally developed by NASA; it’s composed of billions of viscoelastic cells, which respond to your temperature and weight. As you sink in to the foam, it can feel very ‘close’ to your body so NOT one for the faintly claustrophobic.
A Sussex-based bed specialist is the family run www.jonesandtomlin.co.uk. With three showrooms across Sussex, they stock all the leading brand names for both Divan bed sets with useful storage underneath, an entire range of mattresses, bedsteads and headboards and can advise on what’s best for you.
FILLINGS AND THE NATURAL OPTIONS
Fillings to form your mattress are chosen for their resilience, durability, flexibility and ability to absorb body moisture. As such, a good thick mattress generally gives a better quality product. Natural materials like wool, hair, coir fibre, cotton and silk are breathable and help alleviate modern day allergies to, say, a synthetic foam filler.
Look at luxurious, natural filled mattresses for longevity and conscious-consumerism. ‘Naturalmat’, based in Devon (www.naturalmat.co.uk) are market leaders in the hand-made mattress at their factory in Topsham.
Their team of craftspeople ensure every component is painstakingly created and quality-checked. Their products are handmade for longevity and the ethos being, you only invest once. Their company motto? ‘Natural Sleep For Life‘.
To complement your eco-conscious natural coir fibre mattress, it makes design sense to choose an equally harmonious, handmade wooden bed. Whitstable-based wood furniture craftsmen Mathers & Hirst (www.mathersandhirst.co.uk) have a newly-launched bed frame, the ‘VF’.
Their bed has a beautifully understated detail where the headboard wraps around the pillow line in the same way as a wing backed chair. Structurally enveloping and gloriously tactile in its forms. All factors combined should eventually guide you far, far away, into the sleep abyss.
BELLA’S TOP TIPS
- Leesa (Leesa.co.uk) have solved the universal problem of how to get that double, let alone superking-size mattress up the blooming stairs. Simply carry the box up, unpack and watch it expand with their pop-up mattress; ideal for rental properties and small flats.
- Create a sleep sanctuary; the idea is to wind down your mind and body as you head into bedtime. Avoid caffeine four-six hours before bed. Try decaf tea, or herbal tea such as peppermint or chamomile or a warm, milky drink, or a brandy!
- Bedside tables; remove clutter from piling around you, after all it’s right next to your eye line. Don’t bring work or ‘to do’ lists to the bedroom. Essentials only; clock, books, maybe a candle, hand cream, it’s all part of the routine and ritual to ease you into sleepy mode.
- Sleep and technology don’t mix; TV’s, tablets, smartphones and bright overhead lights all interfere with your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. Artificial light emitting from all these suppresses your bodies’ natural production of Melatonin, the sleep hormone. Without it, it’s harder to drop off to sleep the right side of midnight. Leaving these items ON means they are emitting low levels of radiation; the electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) in your bedroom can disrupt the pineal gland which makes the Melatonin, so switch to OFF.
If you suffer from Insomnia, try listening to Hypnosis audio and apps; Glenn Harrold seems to be a stud in hypnotherapy circles. His CD ‘Deep Sleep Every Night‘ is a best seller on Amazon. Failing that seek out a qualified professional hypnotherapist who could help. sleeping-disorders.co.uk
- Anti-snoring devices; lots of gimmicks like Nasal Strips and throat sprays claim to help with snoring. No. They don’t. Respiratory physicians claim various forms of gum shield are effective. Best advice? Try not to consume copious amounts of alcohol near to bedtime (they recommend four hours prior to bed) to avoid the flat-out snoring like a train syndrome. Advice at the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association britishsnoring.co.uk
- Pillows; don’t underestimate the importance of a good quality pillow. Bad ones with worn out, compressed fillings can exacerbate neck and shoulder pain. A good one should hold your head in alignment in 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.
- Alarm clocks. Having had a deeply restorative night of sublime, uninterrupted sleep, GET UP! If you cannot bear to be woken by a harsh noise or a shrill ‘ring’, set your phones’ alarm to something a little more melodic. But beware the snooze button. Top tip is to place an independent clock far enough away from the bed so as you have to get up to turn it off. Then ‘TA-DA‘, you’re up.