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Choosing the right mattress for you. By Dr Zeinah Keen (Osteopath)

girl sleeping

So many people ask me about mattresses and what I would recommend. In truth there is no one particular brand I would recommend, it is such a personal choice. Also there is no need to spend thousands of dollars on a new mattress. An expensive mattress does not necessarily mean it is going to be right for you. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause sleeplessness, back pain, and overall aches and pains. For people with a back problem, a mattress that isn’t a good fit can make the pain worse. Lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture, strains muscles and does not help keep the spine in alignment, all of which contribute to low back pain. Your mattress should be comfortable and supportive, allowing the structures in the spine to rest and rejuvenate during the night.
Tips for shopping
• Understand the physical components of the mattress.
Support: The springs inside the mattress provide the support. Mattresses vary enormously in their number and arrangement of springs. There should be enough springs to provide adequate support and allow for the natural curves of the spine.
Comfort: The padding on top of the mattress provides the comfort and varies in thickness (7-18 inches). Again, these factors are based on individual preferences.
Generally speaking the more springs in the mattress and the thicker the padding, the higher the quality (& price).
• Firm, medium or soft?
Firm: If you sleep on your tummy, a firm mattress will keep your spine aligned.
Medium: Best if you sleep on your back, as it’ll provide support for your spine, back and neck while keeping you comfortable.
Soft: Great for sleeping on your side because it will support you and mould around your body’s curves.

• Test your mattress:

Spend a good 10 minutes lying on the mattress in the showroom (don’t worry about looking silly) including turning over a few times. If you have a partner they should ideally go shopping with you. When they turn over in the night, you should not be able to notice.
Try to roll over. It will take a lot of effort if the bed’s too soft and uncomfortable on your hips and shoulders if it’s too firm.

• Which type of mattress?
There are four main types of mattress:
• Continuous or open-coil mattress are made from a single piece of wire looped into springs, and open-coil mattresses are made of single springs fixed together by one wire.
PROS
Light and therefore easy to turn
Cheap
CONS
Less responsive to your body offering little support.
Reduced longevity compared to other mattresses as the coils wear quickly
• Memory foam mattresses are topped with a layer of temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material (memory foam).
PROS
As it’s a type of foam, you should sink into it and feel your weight absorbed, taking pressure off your joints.
CONS
Because you sink in, the mattress padding can feel very close to your body all the time, meaning it can get warm easily.
• Latex foam mattresses. Latex foam moulds to the contours of your body.
PROS
Tends to be durable and the materials breathe, so they are a good option for those prone to allergies and there’s less chance of overheating. Latex also doesn’t harbour dust mites.
CONS
These mattresses have a solid feel, so they’re not likely to please someone wanting a softer, more cushioned night’s sleep. They can be cumbersome to move due to their weight. Cheaper versions can get lumpy after a time.
• Pocket-sprung mattresses. They have up to 3000 springs sewn into individual fabric pockets. They can be customised to have two sides, of different firmness.
PROS
They offer good support by distributing your body weight evenly, and will support two people of two different body weights well because the springs are separate. You won’t feel too warm because the open-spring construction allows air to circulate. The springs can be customised to different tensions – soft, medium or firm.
CONS
They can be heavy to turn, as they’re filled with natural materials, such as lamb’s wool. Natural materials can exacerbate allergies.

Personally I have a firm pocket-sprung mattress with latex topper. It’s divine.
Sweet dreams.

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