Sleep on it

Posted in : Health Q&A on by : Around DB Comments: 0

Getting a good night’s rest is essential. Jane Clyde reports.


Mattresses have become so technological – some are even based on research from the US space agency NASA. But when considering a new mattress, don’t feel you have to choose one of the very latest, cutting-edge ‘sleep systems’. Here are some basic buyer tips.

If you suffer from back problems, avoid soft mattresses, and buy a new mattress as soon as the old one starts to sag. Don’t opt for a water bed as they tend to contribute to joint pain. Note though that water beds can be good for people with allergies – you need to be aware of your unique needs.

Can a mattress be too hard?

A mattress should be firm enough to support your body without sagging in the areas of heaviest pressure (hips and shoulders). Too much resistance, however, (by too firm a mattress), causes the area touching the mattress to lose blood supply. If that happens, the joints in the immediate area (usually the pelvis) also have the joint fluid forced out of them. This leaves you stiff and creaky in the morning, and prone to reactive joint inflammation and problems in your hips, lower back and shoulders.

Try this simple ‘road test’: lie on the mattress on your side for 10 minutes. Stand up, and after a minute, check to see if there is a bright red, perfectly circular dot (about the size of a golf ball) over the hip bone that you were lying on. If so, the mattress is too firm for you. You’ll need to buy a ‘pillow-top’ mattress cover to soften the contact points.

Equally, when buying a mattress for two people, you need a firm mattress to support the heavier partner, fitted with a pillow-top mattress cover to ensure that the lighter partner is also comfortable.

Children’s mattresses need to be relatively firm but not so firm as to be uncomfortable. Sagging mattresses are likely to cause more damage than overly firm mattresses, as a soft mattress causes repeat strain throughout the body and is less supportive of a child’s growing frame. Note that as children grow and become heavier, the mattress that suited them well, when they were half the weight, will tend to sag and possibly create spinal issues.

Insider tips

Pocket-sprung mattresses are initially more comfortable than other types, but they have a greater tendency to sag at the pressure points over time. It’s worth noting that Sealy Posturepedic® has a good range of mattresses providing excellent back support and targeted pressure relief.

Be a little wary of new synthetic materials. Check that they breathe well, particularly if you tend to become hot or sweaty through the night. On the flip side, note that memory foam blends can get hard and cold in the winter. Find out whether the materials used can withstand the effects of humidity, mould and bugs. Also ensure that harmful toxins, particularly neurotoxins, have not been used in the manufacture.

A quality mattress should last a good 10 years. But there’s no guarantee that it’s going to work for you personally. Go for a well-established brand and most importantly, ensure there’s a 30 to 90 day money-back policy. 

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