Ten Top Tips… for Choosing a Bed One of the most common questions any osteopath is asked is what sort of bed will help to relieve or minimize pain and stiffness. As we spend around a third of our lives in bed, it is certainly worth giving plenty of consideration to the choice of a bed, so here is our advice
1. Remember that beds do wear out. The lifetime of a bed is eight to ten years, so if you have had yours longer than this it may not still be giving you the support it once did.
2. Your bed might not be ideal for you if you experience any of the following signs: waking up feeling pain and stiffness in the morning; disturbed sleep; saggy mattress; springs sticking out; partners rolling to the middle of the bed.
3. We probably see more patients who have problems with a bed that is too hard than with one which is too soft. Many people with back trouble think they should get the hardest bed they can find, but while this may be right for some people it is not the best thing for everyone.
4. If you feel that your bed might be too hard, test it before spending a lot of money on a new bed. Try some padding over the mattress (a quilt, duvet or sleeping bag perhaps). If you find you get a better night’s sleep then your bed might need changing for one with a bit more give.
5. Never buy a bed without trying it first! Only you will know whether you will find a particular bed comfortable, so spend as long as you can lying on several different beds. Showroom staff will not mind this!
6. Your bed needs to be firm enough to support your weight without sagging, but with enough give in it that it is able to cushion your body. As people come in many different shapes and sizes, there is no one type of bed that is right for everyone.
7. Beds labelled “orthopaedic” in a showroom or catalogue are not automatically the best ones for your back.. Although the term tends to be used of firmer beds, it does not have any precise meaning. Nor is the most expensive bed always the most suitable! We suggest you try a variety of types of bed to find the most comfortable for you.
8. The way a bed feels depends on the base as well as the mattress. It is often a good idea to buy the two of them together so that you get ones which are designed to work as a unit, but if you are replacing just the mattress, check that the new one is suitable for the exiting base. Heavier mattresses require stronger bases.
9. If your partner is considerably heavier or lighter than you, then the two of you may require different levels of support. It is possible to buy beds that combine two separate mattresses within the same double bed, and this makes a big difference to some couples.
10. Finally, remember that most types of mattress should be turned regularly. The recommended interval for this is every six to twelve weeks. However, mattress turning is a particularly heavy job, so have someone to help you so that you do not strain your back in the process.
This art a courtesy of PainExhibit.org, an online educational, visual arts exhibit from artists with chronic pain who use art to express some facet of the pain experience.