Bed post

This is a blog post about beds (see what I did with the title there?). I’m often asked for advice about new beds and here is a distillation of the best advice I’ve found and given over the years. There’s much more that can be written about this but this covers the important stuff. There’s another post about pillows shortly.

Even though we apparently sleep less nowadays it’s obviously important that the bed that you sleep on is supporting you properly. Here I’m going to talk all about the myths and facts about getting the right bed. With new ideas and innovations coming out its time for an update.

Firstly, how often should you replace your bed/mattress? If your bed base is solid (wooden slats or a drawer divan) then clearly it’s just the mattress that needs replacing, but if it’s a sprung base replace it all. You should do this at least every 10 years, less if it’s a cheaper mattress, maybe as little as 7 years. Clues that your bed needs replacing include

  • it’s feeling saggy in the middle
  • back ache first thing in the morning ( esp at the level of your lower ribs)
  • you and your partner keep rolling together (by that I mean towards one another not… )
  • if you feel some of the springs or it makes a lot of noise
  • also replace it if it’s torn or one of the slats has broken.

One source states that the average couple hold onto their bed for 17 years! ( that’s almost worthy of an omg )

So what sort to go for? Time for myth number 1. Harder is not always better. In fact “orthopaedic” can be shorthand for ‘made out of rock’. You need to find the one that’s suitable for you and the way to do that is to use the goldilocks method…

  1. decide your rough price category and whether you want foam, springs etc
  2. Decide on the size you want. Personally I think the larger the better. Some years ago my wife and I went for a 6 foot bed. Lots of room can help you to sleep better. Also, be clear on whether you  want a drawer-divan, what type of base ( I personally think wooden slats are better) etc
  3. Now try them. You must actually lay down. Myth number 2 you cant try a bed from just sitting on the side and patting it! It may seem obvious but I still see people in bed shops perched on the edge tentatively press on it and saying ” this feels like it’ll do”. That is definitely not the right way to chose a bed. You absolutely must lay down on them in the position in which you would normally go to sleep. So if you tend to drift off laying on your left side with your right knee up and your arms folded then do just that. You’ll soon discover which feels right.
  4. Go up in price brackets until you find the most comfortable or you feel no difference. I.E if the £800 one feels just the same as the £700 one , go for the £700!
  5. Big stores are good and, generally, go for a well known brand. The acme bed company may be dirt cheap but your spine is valuable, look after it
  6. Lots of places will do a return policy for you to exchange it for a different one if you’re not totally happy. Ask beforehand.


As to types of bed there are generally 2 types of sprung mattress. One is a continuous coil spring -suitable for guest rooms and infrequent use really. While we’re on the subject of guest rooms please don’t put your old bed in the spare room. If it gave you a bad back it will do the same for any visitors you have ( and they won’t come again, though maybe thats the idea?).

The second type of mattress is a pocket sprung design, the higher the number of springs the more comfortable it’ll be generally. They’re a very good idea when you and your partner are of different weights.

The covering of the mattress can vary considerably and beware of paying too much just because the cover is made of a particularly fine Mongolian lambs wool and has gold thread in it (only a slight exaggeration). Make sure you get a type of mattress that suits your base -slats, sprung slats or a sprung base.

Foam mattresses are very “in” at the moment especially the heat-sensitive, mould-to-your-body type. They’re very good but they are expensive, they don’t suit everybody and they are very heavy. Like sprung mattresses a cheap one will not do you any good at all. Incidentally if you like your bedroom cold, given that they are temperature responsive you’ll find it’s like laying on a billiard table until your body heat warms it up!

A quick word on the subject of futons. Don’t. That’s the quick word. Unless you spend a lot on one their simply not worth it and you’ll get better value in a sprung mattress.

So, in summary, set your budget, try lots out and shop around for a good deal. It’s so important to have a good bed because you DO spend a lot of time in it and a poor or worn-out one can really affect your health.

Sleep well!

Neil Folker DCFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail