Given we spend a third of our lives sleeping, we’re tucked up in our beds for – on average – 25 years, or 9,000 days over the course of our lifetimes. Sleep is when our bodies heal and recharge, so I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to commit the time to finding a comfortable and supportive bed.
What makes a good bed?
A good bed has firm support – an orthopedic style mattress – and I recommend one with a memory foam topper, which are built into many mattresses. They’re about two or three inches thick and laid over the top of the mattress, providing an extra bit of comfort that allows you to sleep more deeply. You can also buy external memory foam toppers for beds of all sizes then put it on top of your existing mattress. But when you’re in the market for a new mattress, these are the two things to do to make sure it’s perfect for you…
1. Test it properly
It’s important to physically go and choose a bed or mattress in person, and to spend a good amount of time trying out lots of different mattresses to find one that really suits you. Look at is as a luxury – you’re spending an hour or so lying down! And don’t just lie on your back – remember we usually drift off to sleep in the same position each night. Lie in your unique sleeping position on the demo bed and see how it fits. Don’t worry what people might think about you. This is a really valuable investment in your health and wellbeing given you will be sleeping on this bed potentially for the next ten years or so.
2. Practice getting in and out of it
Another consideration when choosing your bed is that you should be able to get in and out of it with ease and fluidity. It’s best to be able to just sit down on your bed rather than having to clamber on top of or bend down to it. Having said that, in Japanese culture, they prefer low beds with very hard surfaces like the Futon, so I suppose the answer is in whatever works for you as long as you are pain free and sleeping well. You’ll often have to get in and out of the bed to use the toilet in the night, and you don’t want it to be so tough it wakes you up.
How to sleep well…
If you travel a lot
One of the top causes of back and neck pain is sleeping in a new bed with pillows you’re not used to. If you travel a lot and find yourself sleeping in different beds, it’s easy to develop back and neck problems so I recommend taking your pillows with you. I see patients daily at my clinic who are suffering from these lingering after-effects of regular travel and the effect it has on their sleep. Even premiership football teams I have worked with, travel with their own pillows and toppers to negate that possibility and to provide optimum performance on match day.
If you have back pain
There’s no right or wrong way to sleep if you suffer with back or neck pain – sometimes you just have to find a comfortable position, which can be a challenge. Once you’re in bed, if you’re lying on your back, relax the lower part of your back by putting a pillow beneath your calf muscles. If you’re lying on your side you can put a pillow between your legs, as this takes pressure off your hips.