Ten tips for finding the right mattress

A bed is one of the most important objects in a home, and often a significant investment. Here's what you should know before you shop.

Silk bedding, such as Gingerlily from Bloomingdale's Home, is naturally hypoallergenic and helps regulate body temperature. Courtesy of Gingerlily
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A couple of interesting facts about beds: you will spend 20,000 hours in yours over the next seven years and, according to scientific research, if you sleep well, you will live longer and probably be more successful at finding a mate.

The moral of the story? Your bed is one of the most important objects in your home, and it is absolutely essential that you buy the right one and then maintain it properly. The average person loses half a pint of fluid each night, most of which ends up in their mattress, and they will shed a pound of dead skin cells every year, much of which will also end up in their mattress, making it an ideal retreat for dust mites and other such organisms.

Experts recommend that you think about replacing your bed once every seven years. So, if yours is due for a refresh, here are 10 tips to help ensure a comfortable night's sleep.

1 Invest wisely

You are going to spend nearly a third of your life asleep, so treat your bed as an investment and spend as much as you can afford to.

If you're going all out, the Swedish company Hastens, which has recently opened its first UAE showroom in Jumeirah, specialises in handcrafted, bespoke beds made from natural materials. Prices start at Dh23,400. Beds by the high-end Norwegian manufacturer Jensen start at Dh21,000 and are available at the B5 showroom in Dubai.

2 Take your time

It's an important decision, so take as long as you need. Shop around and get expert advice.

Make sure to physically try any bed that catches your eye. Lie on it for at least 10 minutes, trying your usual sleeping position and then moving around as you would naturally. Don't be embarrassed; good bed companies will have designed their stores to facilitate this kind of hands-on testing.

"We want people first and foremost to actually feel what our beds are like. A lot of people when they go into a typical bed store will press down on the bed with their hand, maybe sit on the edge of it, and make their decision. That's an incredibly bad way to decide what bed you are going to buy," says Nick Braden, the chief executive officer of Hastens. "You have to lie on it."

One word of warning: don't go bed shopping when you are tired, because most things will feel great.

3 Comfort first

Make the mattress your priority. There is still a tendency for people to buy beds based on what they look like rather than how they work. In fact, the most important part of any bed is the bit you can't see. So, forget the fancy headboard, at least initially.

4 Nature inspired

Pay attention to the materials that have gone into making your bed. Technology is evolving fast and there has been a growing trend towards using natural organic materials, rather than synthetic ones, in mattresses. Hastens beds, for example, are made of horse hair, flax, pine, wool and cotton.

"Horse hair self regulates, so in a hot country like the UAE, it actually cools you down. The bed will lower the temperature of your body, so you will fall asleep very quickly. If you have something that is artificial it is very difficult for those materials to breathe properly," says Braden.

"The average person will perspire a litre or more every night," adds Jan Ryde, the owner of Hastens. "Eighty per cent of that moisture will end up in the bed. If your mattress is made of plastic or foam or synthetic, all of that will remain stuck in the bed. Mites grow when it is 26 degrees or warmer and if it is moist. This doesn't happen in a Hastens bed because it's dry."

5 Soft touch

Contrary to popular belief, hard is not always best when it comes to mattresses. A bed should be hard enough to offer support, but soft enough to react to the natural curvature of the body, particularly when it comes to the neck and the small of the back.

As a rule, hips and shoulders should dip into the mattress and the alignment of the spine and pelvis should be 90 degrees from the bed's surface. A quick way to test this is to slide your hand into the hollow of your back when you are lying on a mattress. If your hand slides in too easily, your mattress is too hard. If you can't slide it in at all, the mattress is too soft.

6 Size it up

Make sure to measure the relevant space before you go bed shopping. Will there be room for side tables or lamps? Is there enough space for cupboard doors to open properly? Can you walk around the bed comfortably? Make sure you know the answer to all these questions before you set off.

7 It takes two

Buy the biggest bed that your space and budget will allow, particularly if you are sharing it. Being disturbed by a restless partner is one of the most common impediments to a good night's sleep.

With two people involved, you will also need to buy a bed that is suitable for both of you, so make sure that you don't rush out and get something that only works for you. If worse comes to worse, consider getting a zip-and-link bed, which consists of two single mattress types zipped together.

8 Sweat the small stuff

Don't forget the logistics. Will your bed be delivered for free? Will it be assembled onsite? And will the company in question be able to help you discard your old bed? If not, how easily will you be able to get rid of it yourself? And at what additional cost?

9 Accessorise

Complement your bed with the right accessories and bedding. "People tend to make up for a bad bed with a big pillow," warns Braden. Make sure to buy a pillow that supports your head and neck properly. Shaped latex pillows are good for people who sleep on both their sides and back.

Also invest in good quality bedding. Silk is always a good bet because it will also help regulate body temperature, and is naturally hypoallergenic.

10 Flip side

Keep your new bed in tip-top shape by turning your mattress around every week for the first three months, and then every few months thereafter.

Hastens is located in Sunset Mall, Jumeirah. The B5 showroom is on Sheikh Zayed Road