Buying a new bed is a big investment, so it pays to do your research first. You might feel like Goldilocks – this one is too soft, that one is too hard, but which one is just right? Or is it just a new mattress you need? Most mattresses have a lifespan of only 8+ years, so are you getting the tell-tale signs of needing a new one - Lumpy bits? Saggy bits? Tears in the fabric? Waking up sore? Sleeping better on other mattresses, say in a hotel? These might just be signals for a new mattress, but is laying down on one in the showroom enough? It’s a minefield out there deciding which one to go for.
The first thing to decide on is the size. If you are buying a complete bed – you might want a super-king size so there’s room for you and your other half, perhaps for the dog and cat as well - but if the room is too small or access is tight, it is likely that it just won’t fit.
What if you sleep hot (and that’s most of us in Portugal in August!) even a bed whose manufacturer says it has ‘cooling properties’, might not suit you. Foam or latex can hold in body heat, especially if they're very soft and a lot of your body sinks in. Newer technology supposedly helps alleviate this issue and you can always accessorise your bed with toppers and sheets that offer cooling benefits.
There are basically three types of mattresses: innerspring, foam, and adjustable. There's no one ‘right’ material to choose as it's all down to personal taste, but in general, side sleepers need a softer mattress, stomach sleepers need a firm one, and back sleepers fall somewhere in between. And you’ll need to consider a few other factors, such as what your bedfellow needs, if it’s different from your preferences.
If you sleep on your stomach, the last thing you want is a soft mattress that feels like you are being drowned in memory foam! Instead, a firmer bed will provide the best support. Consider a firm foam, dense innerspring, or air-filled mattress.
Back pain sufferers will need a surface that supports but has some ‘give’, so your spine is kept in a healthy alignment. You might find happiness with any of the mattress types, but you should do your best princess-and-the-pea impression to see what feels best to you.
If your partner tosses and turns all night or you are the messy sleeper, you might want to consider an innerspring mattress with pocketed coils, or memory foam, latex, or a dual-chamber air-filled mattress. Medium-firm selections will all have good ‘motion isolation’, but remember, these could actually be less comfortable on the body of a restless sleeper, as there's little forgiveness against one's movements.
Foam and latex are both inherently antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites and mould and are a good choice if you are prone to allergies. If you opt for innerspring or air topped with fiberfill, be sure to encase it in an allergen-resistant cover to cut down on irritants.
And if you and your partner's preferences don't match and there’s a battle on the horizon, you might want to consider air-filled mattresses with dual chambers, or check out any online mattress companies that specialise in this. Fill out a questionnaire and have each side customised based on your requirements.
Finally, make sure you give yourself enough time when bed-hunting, as buying a bed in a rush might literally give you sleepless nights! And, just as you would test drive a car before purchasing it, it’s best to try out the bed you’re considering too. So yes, laying down in the shop helps. There’s no need to feel awkward about it – bed salespeople are used to it. It’s best to lie on the bed – with your partner if the bed is for you both - for at least 10 minutes to get a proper feel for it. But don’t go bed shopping when you’re exhausted, as everything will feel like a good fit!