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Choosing the right mattress

Your mattress is feeling lumpy and uncomfortable, you are waking up with back ache, you have a restless night. All these point to the fact that its time you had a new mattress. We spend up to one third of our lives in bed and if you do not have a good nights sleep then it can affect you the next day.

Sleep is a very important part of a person's life as it is the time when our body and brain relaxes and revitalises itself. When choosing a mattress you will be confronted with a very wide choice and it can be very difficult in deciding which is the most suitable for you. First of all the type of mattress you choose will depend on the bedroom it is for and who will be using the bed. If it is for a child's bedroom or a guest /spare bedroom, then the type of mattress chosen could be very different from what you would want for your main bedroom.

Mattress types - open coil

Choosing the right mattress: open coil spring mattressOpen coil mattresses use one of the most long-standing methods of construction. Most people have slept on an open coil mattress at some point in their lives, and they are still some of the most widely-available mattresses on the market. Their construction means that they provide the support you need, whilst leaving plenty of room for a variety of fillings that help to provide you with comfort as well as support.

How an open coil mattress works

Open coil springs are usually about 5-6 coils high. A standard double bed has 325 of these coils, although some manufacturers may use more and, of course, the coil count increases as the mattress size rises to king and superking. The coils are all assembled into a single construction with helical wire. This is a thinner, spiral wire that joins the coils at top and bottom to form several rows. An outer rod is then fitted around the top and bottom of the finished construction to provide additional strength. Once the basic construction is completed, the mattress can be filled and the ticking applied.

Variations

As with most sprung mattresses, the tension, or firmness of the mattress can be altered by changing the thickness of the wire, the number of twists in the coil and the number of coils overall. In addition, an extra row of springs may be added at key points across the mattress to provide additional support. The continuous spring mattress uses the same basic construction principles as the open coil, but is made from a single length of wire that is essentially "knitted" together to form a single, sprung construction. The finished mattress springs are in rows, as with open coil, but are joined vertically. These springs are usually smaller than those used in open coil and use narrower wire, which makes them slightly softer. The fairly simple construction of the open coil mattress means that it is one of the most cost-effective mattresses on the market. If you are looking for a budget mattress, you will find a range of open coil mattresses that are both comfortable and affordable.

Mattress types - pocket sprung

Choosing the right mattress: Pocket Spring MattressPocket sprung mattresses are one of the most popular types of mattress on the market. Their construction involves a number of individual springs that are sown into pockets, giving greater support and flexibility to the mattress. The time taken to construct a pocket sprung mattress means that these are often among the more expensive types of mattress on the market. What's special about a pocket sprung mattress?

The level of support and comfort offered by a pocket sprung mattress is one of the reasons that it is the preferred choice of many customers. A pocket sprung mattress can have anywhere from 600 to over 3,000 individual springs, depending on how luxurious the manufacturers want the mattress to be. Each spring is individually protected by being sewn into its own pocket, which is made of a soft, durable fabric. These pockets are then sewn together, taking care that each spring is isolated from the next. The benefits of this type of construction are:

• Support - because each spring reacts individually to the pressure being put upon it, the mattress gives each sleeper excellent support. If you share a bed, the springs that are supporting your partner won't have any effect on the springs that support you - so you won't suffer from having a partner who's heavier, taller or sleeps in an awkward position.

• Comfort - each spring is enclosed in its own pocket, and once all the pockets are sewn together, soft, natural fillings help to increase the comfort level. In addition, most pocket sprung mattresses are hand-stitched on the sides, which improves comfort and increases the life expectancy of the mattress.

Whilst pocket sprung mattresses may be more expensive than their budget counterparts, their quality construction means that you will get excellent value for money and designed-in support that will help you to get the quality sleep you need.

Latex Mattresses

Choosing the right mattress: Natural LatexThe latest latex foam can provide you with a new level of support and comfort. Extracted from rubber trees, the nature of this material means that it is ideal for moulding to any surface, including the contours of your body when you're sleeping. It is particularly useful for those who suffer from bad backs, necks and other joint or muscle problems. It moulds to your body every time you change position, so you always get the ultimate in comfort and support. Latex foam is used by most mainstream mattress manufacturers and has a number of qualities that make it a perfect material for sleepers.

• Health - latex foam is naturally anti-allergenic and also has anti-microbial properties. This makes it an extremely hygienic choice for mattress buyers - particularly those who are buying for an allergy sufferer. Latex foam inhibits the growth of bacteria and mould, and many types of latex mattresses are breathable, so that the sleeper does not get too hot during the night.

•Silence - the squeaky sound of the ageing springs in a traditional mattress is a sure sign that the mattress is getting past its best. It can be annoying for those trying to sleep and it reinforces the fact that the mattress is no longer comfortable. Latex foam, on the other hand, is silent. There's no need to turn it because the foam doesn't need to distribute or settle within the ticking, and the silence helps to contribute to better sleep.

• Flexibility - latex foam is flexible in two ways. It can be adapted to construct varying ratings of mattress, from soft to extra-firm. That means that if you prefer a softer mattress to your partner, you can both get exactly what you want, but still use the same material. Latex foam is also flexible in that it can be adapted for a variety of uses - if you have an unusual sized bed, you can get a custom-made latex mattress, and you can also use latex foam for adjustable beds because it moulds so well to the shape of the frame and adjustable mechanism.

Mattress types - memory foam

Choosing the right mattress: Memory Foam mattressMemory foam has been adopted by the mattress industry as a supportive, comfortable and long-lasting mattress filler.

Like many advances in consumer goods, memory foam has come from research and development into space applications. Originally developed to help absorb the impact of G-force on US astronauts, its wider industrial uses have extended to providing us all with the opportunity to experience sleep support that fits us like a glove.

How does a memory foam mattress work?

Memory foam is also known as "visco elastic". It reacts to the temperature of the weight on it- your body in the case of a mattress - and moulds itself to the shape, giving complete support. When you get up and the memory foam stops sensing your body temperature, it reverts to its natural state. When you move during the night, the memory foam adjusts with you, providing you with the same support no matter what position you're sleeping in.

Why might it be better for me than other mattress types?

Although current mattress technology means that sprung mattresses and other fillings are more supportive than ever, they don't necessarily provide the level of support you're looking for. Memory foam moulds itself exactly to your body shape, so that no part of you is uncomfortable. Whilst it might not suit everyone, an increasing number of people are choosing a memory foam mattress over conventional constructions because of the level of comfort and support it can give. If you have a bad back, or you regularly wake up with aches and pains, memory foam may give you the "weightless" feeling you're looking for.