Mattresses: The Essential Guide

 Do you wake up stiff, achy or with any other type of pain? Does your mattress have lumps or does it sag in the middle? Is it five years old or older? Do you sleep better in a different bed, such as at a friend’s house or hotel? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need a new mattress. However, buying a mattress can be a huge headache; what brand to buy, how much to spend, whether to buy a spring mattress or try something new like latex are all questions that can confuse even the best of us.  They say you spend up to a third of your life in bed, so a good mattress is a huge investment. Before you head to the shop to start testing, get to know your options with our buyer’s guide to mattresses. Nafisah Mohammed gives you the inside guide to a sound night’s sleep

A bed should be 10cm longer than the tallest person who will be sleeping on it. So, a king-size is the minimum for someone 6ft or more, and wide enough to allow both partners to lie side by side, hands behind heads, without elbows touching.

To check if a mattress is supporting you properly, lie down and slide a hand beneath your back. If your hand fits easily, it’s too soft; not at all and it’s too firm.

The base will affect how the mattress feels. A spring divan (a divan is the base for your mattress)
will make a mattress seem softer and allows the mattress to adapt to the body’s contours while a solid divan or slatted base provides firmer support.

Spring and pocket mattresses are padded with fillings including cotton and foam. Luxurious options such as silk will mean the finished product is more expensive.

“Orthopaedic” is a term that describes mattresses with a firmer spring. While some people swear by them, it’s more important to choose a mattress that gives proper support
as opposed to just being very hard.

The most popular mattress brands in Nigeria are Vitafoam, Mouka and Vonofoam.

Open-spring mattress
What is it?
The most common type of mattress in Nigeria, an open-spring mattress contains one long piece of wire coiled into springs. It also has a border rod of wire that gives the mattress a firm edge and helps retain its shape.

Great value for money. They are lighter than other mattresses, so easier to turn and can be turned in all directions which extends the life of the mattress. They are good for occasional use, and ideal for children’s bedrooms as they are less expensive. So, they can be upgraded as they grow.

As the springs are all connected, open-sprung mattresses are less responsive to your body and overall less supportive.

Pocket-spring mattress
What is it?
Pocket-sprung mattresses are more luxurious with up to 3,000 individual small springs housed in separate fabric pockets. They tend to have hand-stitched sides for strong, stable edges.

The springs move independently to support your body. They come in a choice of tensions – soft, medium or firm. This means good support whatever your weight.

Because of the density of the fillings, pocket-sprung mattresses can be heavy to turn. They’re usually filled with natural materials like wool which can exacerbate allergies. The separate springs make them ideal for two people of different weights. Also available with two sides of a different firmness.

Memory foam mattress
What is it?
The most well-known type of memory foam mattress is Tempur, a material originally developed by NASA. It is composed of billions of viscoelastic cells, which respond to your temperature and weight.

When warm, it moulds to your shape and absorbs your weight, taking pressure off your joints. And it feels the same on any base. They are supportive, good for allergy sufferers and helpful for people with joint pain.

As you sink into the foam, it can feel very ‘close’ to your body; that means you can become hot. It has a unique feel, so, you’ll love it or hate it.

Latex mattress
What is it?
Natural latex is white liquid tapped from the trunks of rubber trees. This is blended with synthetic latex and turned into latex foam, using a process that produces the finest polymer.

Latex is breathable, so you won’t overheat. Exceptionally durable, its resilient feel also makes it good for those who prefer a firmer bed.

Some think these mattresses have a rather solid feel and they can be heavy and difficult to move. Cheaper versions can develop lumps and body impressions. They are good for those with allergies and asthma, as latex doesn’t harbour dust mites. It also has natural antimicrobial properties.

Caring for your mattress

Airing: After delivery, your mattress should be aired for 4 hours to freshen and remove any aroma from storage. Your mattress should be aired on a weekly basis by turning back the sheets for a few hours. A mattress protector is recommended to extend the life of your mattress.

Spring mattress: with the majority of spring mattresses, it’s important to turn your mattress regularly to maximise its life. Body weight compresses a mattress, leading to dips and ultimately and uneven sleeping surface.

Circulation: Avoid using a plastic sheet on or under the mattress as this prevents air circulation and can cause condensation leading to mould and other undesirable effects.

Memory foam mattress: These mattresses do not need turning and in some cases only have one sleeping surface so cannot be turned. But the mattress should still be rotated occasionally (once a month) to maximise its life. Over time, these mattresses may feel as though they are gradually getting softer, as cells within the foam open more fully. However, the important pressure relieving properties remain the same and eventually the whole mattress will react evenly.

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