Is It Time for a New Bed?
By Awake! correspondent in Britain
Do you frequently have a restless night, tossing and turning in an effort to find a comfortable position, and then in the morning wake up feeling stiff and sore? If so, the problem could be your bed.
THIS piece of furniture can be your friend or your foe. If you live in a land where beds are used, you likely spend a third of your life resting on one, but your bed will not last forever. Is your present bed serving you well?
Do You Need a New Bed?
A bed will normally give good service for about ten years. A heavier person may wear out a bed more quickly. Bear in mind also that your needs and preferences change as you grow older. To decide whether you need a new bed, ask yourself these questions. ‘Do I wake up with a stiff neck or a backache? Is my bed too small? Can I feel any springs or ridges? Do I hear creaks or grinding noises when I move? Do my mate and I find ourselves unintentionally rolling toward each other? Is the base uneven or sagging? Are the legs and casters worn out?’ Your answers to these questions may help you to determine whether it is time to buy a new bed.
What Makes a Good Bed?
A good bed gives you comfort and support, suiting your particular needs and preferences. Most beds consist of a mattress and a supporting frame, but the mattress is the key to your comfort. It has several components. First comes the cover, or ticking, which keeps everything together. Then follow layers of padded upholstery to cushion you and allow body moisture to escape. The third section, which provides the support and firmness, usually contains tempered steel coils or springs. There are various forms of interior support, but as a general rule, the more springs there are and the thicker the wire used, the better the support. A popular alternative these days is the polyurethane or latex foam mattress; it is lighter than the spring interior.
However, a good mattress only works well if it has a suitable base, usually the one for which it was designed. A divan bed is often sold as a set, with a mattress and base. Its deep-sided, boxlike foundation acts as a large shock absorber, allowing the mattress to breathe and thus significantly prolonging its life. Another option is the bedstead. It usually has a slatted base and is open underneath, affording good ventilation for its appropriate mattress. Solid slats provide a firm foundation, while sprung slats are more flexible.
Choosing the Right Bed
What should you keep in mind when buying a bed? A secondhand bed will have absorbed other people’s sweat and skin scales and may be full of dust mites that could set off allergic reactions, asthma, or eczema. It also may not conform to health or safety standards.
Before you shop for a new bed, it is recommended that you set your priorities, such as price, health considerations, or overall size. Try to set aside plenty of time to visit stores with a good reputation, and ask for as much information as possible about each bed or mattress. Since beds are often costly, do not let yourself be rushed into a decision.
You may find it harder to make the right choice if you are tired. Wear comfortable clothes. Do not feel self-conscious about testing a bed. Take off your coat and shoes and lie down on each bed for several minutes. Try various sleeping positions, paying special attention to the support given to your shoulders, hips, and lower back.—See the box below.
Caring for Your Bed
Taking good care of your bed will definitely prolong its life. Ask the sales staff for their advice, and take time to read the manufacturer’s care instructions. When you bring your new bed home, take off its polyethylene wrappings as soon as possible. This will help to prevent condensation, which may cause dampness, mildew, and rotting. Here are a few additional suggestions.
● Turn over a new spring mattress from side to side and from top to toe every week or two for the first few months and every three months thereafter. This will help the fillings settle and will ensure even wear. If you have a back problem, a foam mattress is worth considering, since it may not need regular turning.
● Never bend, roll up, or squash a mattress. To avoid damaging the fabric, use its handles merely to position it, not to support its full weight.
● Each morning throw back your bedcovers for at least 20 minutes to air out your bed and allow body moisture to evaporate.
● Keep your mattress clean by using a washable protective cover. Regularly vacuum both mattress and base to remove fluff and dust, and mop up any stains and spills quickly with a mild soap and cool water.
● Try not to sit in the same place on the edge of the mattress all the time. Do not let children or anyone else jump on the bed.
Your bed is much more than an investment of money. It is an investment in one third of your life—which can have a noticeable effect on the other two thirds. If you choose your supportive friend wisely and look after it, it will take good care of you.
[Box on page 22]
Which Bed Is Right for You?
Comfort and support. A mattress does not have to be as hard as a board to be good for you. In fact, it is thought that too firm a bed might aggravate back problems. Let your body tell you what feels best. Lie down on your back. If you can slide your hand into the hollow of your back so that it fits snugly and if you can turn over easily, the mattress is about the right firmness for you. A supportive mattress should allow your spine to remain in a straight line when you lie on your side. A heavier person will need a firmer bed.
Size. Choose a bed that gives you freedom of movement. If two people will share the bed, keep in mind that two adults sleeping on a standard-size double bed will each have the same amount of space as a baby in a crib.
Matching sets. If possible, buy a mattress and base that match and are designed to work together for your comfort and support. An old base may damage a new mattress as well as affect its guarantee or warranty.
Value. You often get what you pay for, so buy the best quality bed you can afford.
Space. If space is limited, a Murphy, or wall, bed, which folds away into a closet, may be worth considering. Another possibility is a futon, a cushion made from layers of fluffed-up cotton that is quickly rolled out on the floor at night. Futons may also be sold as sofa beds with slatted, convertible frames.
Health problems. If you are uncomfortable in a conventional bed, an adjustable bed offers a range of different sleeping positions. A water bed supports and distributes body weight evenly, and it may help those who suffer discomfort caused by pressure points.
Allergy sufferers. If you are allergic to dust or natural fillings, a mattress containing synthetic fibers or foam may be a good choice. It is also worth noting that allergens do not readily accumulate in a bedstead with a slatted base or in a water bed.
Older people. Make sure that the soles of your feet can touch the floor when you sit on the edge of your bed. A firm-edged base will make it easier for you to get in and out of bed from this sitting position.
[Box on page 23]
◼ Wear flame-resistant nightclothes.
◼ Make sure that bedding is placed well away from fires and heaters.
◼ Check an electric blanket often for frayed fabric, deep creases, scorch marks, and a worn electrical cord. Never use the blanket when it is wet, but let it dry naturally. Do not put heavy items on the bed when the blanket is switched on.
◼ Do not fill a hot-water bottle with boiling water, nor use it with an electric blanket. Remove it before a child gets into bed.
[Diagram on page 23]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Cover, or ticking
Deep-stitch diamond quilting
Layers of padded upholstery
Reproduced by courtesy of the Sleep Council
[Picture Credit Line on page 21]
Reproduced by courtesy of the Sleep Council