Osteopaths aren’t nosy – it might seem so because it’s often important for us to know how happy you are in your bed.  Not getting good sleep is bad for your body, bad for your mind, and bad for your emotional health.

Sleeping habits and sleep quality can significantly affect your ability to recover from pain and injury and so I’ll often ask you about how you sleep, what positions you find comfortable, and what your mattress is like. It’s important for us both to have insight into what happens to your body during that one full third of the day (or more – or less).

Quality comfortable sleep on a good mattress is a key indicator of your health and wellbeing and can affect your body both directly and indirectly.  Poor sleep or sleeping on an uncomfortable or poor surface is a key contributor to back, neck and shoulder pain.  Sometimes you just know you need a new mattress but aren’t sure where to start.

Choosing a mattress can be very daunting.  There are so many of them, and they range vastly in terms of not just size but quality. And then there is your budget to consider.  This is a real practicality, but needs to be balanced with getting a good and healthy amount of sleep

Did you know….that a third of us only get 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night?

….and that only 22% of Britons get adequate sleep, which experts say is between 7 and 9 hours ?

Do I really need one? I’d rather spend that money on a holiday!

Me too!

How might you know if you need a new mattress? Is it over 7 years old? Does it sag?  Can you feel the springs even when you put a topper on it? Do you and your partner roll toward one another in your sleep? Does it creak or crackle or smell damp?  You give your mattress an MOT but honestly if you get bad sleep because you’re not comfortable and you’ve already tried a topper, it might just need replacing.

I just went through this process with my son, and we got to make a little game of it.  It’s a big purchase, so try to have fun with it!

Step 1: Set your budget for the size mattress you need. Unfortunately decent mattresses aren’t cheap BUT you also don’t need to pay a fortune.  In looking around I wouldn’t consider any single size matress under £150 – but set your low budget end as high as you can afford to give yourself a guide.  I’d try to find the least expensive model that’s comfortable for you…then check the next one down in price.  You might end up pleasantly surprised.

Step 2: Get an idea of the kind of mattress you want.  There are sprung mattresses, pocket sprung mattresses (each spring has a wrapper of softness on it), foam mattresses and memory foam mattresses – all widely available. If your second cousin’s crystal healer says you need to get a yak hair filled mattress, your hunt might take you a while.

Generally, sprung mattresses without any tufting at the top are the cheapest and least comfortable.

A good tip: if you can feel the springs, don’t buy it.

More springs are generally better, so an ideal sprung mattress would be a pocket sprung one with a higher number of springs and some kind of tufted top (so you don’t feel those springs!)

At the other end of the price spectrum is a full memory foam mattress.  These mattresses can be amazing but beware of low quality foam being sold as if it were ‘the real deal’.  Not all the foam is high quality, and so will feel super for a while after sleeping on a pokey rock of a mattress…but it won’t last.  The better the foam density the higher the cost. I looked at them a few years back for my king size bed and we are talking in the thousands of pounds here.

If you want to look at memory foam, a quality mattress will have a density rating on the label. It is suggested that you choose one with a rating of 80kg as a minimum – which is supportive but will mould to you once it warms up to your body.  Beware: they will cost a minor fortune!

A superb compromise is a pocket sprung mattress with a small layer of memory foam.  Even better, a pocket sprung mattress with a foam layer and cotton tufting (to keep you cool in summer – foam can be toasty).  My mattress is a pocket sprung with a 2.5cm layer of foam, and a cotton tufted top.  On top of that I have a duck topper (which I can take off and wash as needed).

Step 3.  Get into your comfy clothes….maybe not your pj’s…..but this is where it gets fun. Pick a mattress shop and give yourself (and your partner) lots of time.  If you’re worried about pressure, leave your credit card at home.  Ask to see mattresses in the type you prefer and within your budget.  You may want to ‘test drive’ them right there!  Any good shop will let you try the mattress (plastic cover on!).  Lay on them for a long time, in all your sleeping positions.  Be sure to do it together as well as seperately to check if you roll toward one another because of the mattress.  Check mattresses labelled through the range of soft through firm.  Most people will prefer a medium to firm mattress as soft may not be supportive enough for people with pain.

Step 4. Go away and think about it. Don’t buy on the spur of the moment if you’re conflicted.  Once you take the plastic off you can’t return it.  (This is particularly true if you order a mattress online!) They may even offer you a deal to keep you from buying elsewhere.

Step 5.  Pay the little extra for delivery and placement, especially if it’s a big mattress. It will be heavy, and you don’t want to do your back in (but if you do I’m here of course!)

Checking out mattresses can be fun – spend some time on it before you buy it and many restful hours in it afterward…good sleep is an investment in terms of both your wallet and your body![