Does your mattress really make a difference to your sleep?

Have you noticed the number of mattress ads that have popped up recently? On TV, billboards, public transport, social media, everywhere.

Companies such as Emma, Eva, Ecosa, Koala … They’ve all got friendly sounding names and they all promise, more or less, the same thing – amazing sleep or your money back.

Clearly, these ads are working. In the hope that a memory foam mattress would soothe the back pain I’ve suffered with for years, I treated myself to an Emma Original (reduced from $1281 to $587) in last year’s Black Friday sale.

Two months into the 200-night trial, I’ve no intention of returning it – I love how squishy yet supportive it feels when I sink into the memory foam – but my big ticket purchase made me wonder one thing: Was Goldilocks right? Does your mattress actually affect how well you sleep?

In a bid to find out, I asked sleep specialists to answer these common mattress queries.

Read: What to do if you’re struggling with a sleep routine 

Why is your mattress important in terms of sleep?

Woman in bed wearing eye mask
Does a good mattress really matter? (Alamy/PA)

Mattresses have two essential functions – support and temperature control. “One-third of your life is spent lying in bed – that’s why it’s important to have a comfortable mattress,” says Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder and clinical lead at Sleep School (sleepschool.org). “Poor mattresses lead to night-time discomfort, pain and sleep disturbance.”

Sleep expert James Wilson, adds that mattresses are also “very important for helping our body be the right temperature for sleep. If our mattress gets these two things right, then we will be more likely to get the sleep we need,” he says.

How can you find the right mattress for you?
“When looking at mattresses, we need to consider two things,” says Mr Wilson. “Does it offer the support we need, and does it feel right for us? Generally, a heavier person needs a firmer mattress, while a lighter person needs a softer one, in terms of support, but this is not always true.”

That’s why personal preference is such a big factor as well, and why staying in hotels or other people’s homes can affect your sleep: “Something that doesn’t feel like what we have slept on before can feel alien, and make us tense and stressed.”

Dr Meadows says: “Ensure the mattress is the right size for you. Think about your personal sleep space, especially if you’re sharing a bed.”  And in terms of temperature, he says: “Spring mattresses keep you cool (by ventilating air), while foam mattresses keep you warm (by trapping air).”

Mr Wilson adds: “Buy as big a mattress as you can. A double bed gives both people less space than a baby has in a cot bed.”

Read: A $4000 mattress and other sleep rip-offs to avoid this winter

Is it worth investing in an expensive mattress?

Man hand testing memory foam mattress topper
Is an expensive mattress worth it? (Alamy/PA)

“We spend more time on our mattress than pretty much any product we own, yet we often don’t give the time or money needed to ensure we get a mattress that is right,” says Mr Wilson.

While he’s somewhat sceptical about the recent explosion in mattress brands – “the innovation has been in the marketing, as opposed to the product,” Mr Wilson notes – he does recommend testing your purchase thoroughly to decide if you’re really happy with it, which is where those 100-day or more money-back guarantees come in handy.

If you’re sharing your mattress with a partner, Mr Wilson suggests to “consider one that allows you to have different support on both sides” – which is what he has at home. “My side of the mattress is designed around my sleep posture and body type, as is my wife’s. It is amazing and has been a real game-changer in my sleep quality and also preventing me from waking with aches and pains.”

If the mattress of your dreams is out of your price range, look out for Black Friday or end-of-season sales for big reductions. Dr Meadows adds: “If you’re on a budget, a mattress topper is an affordable way to enhance night-time comfort.”

How often should you change your mattress?

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“To ensure optimum support, you should ideally replace your mattress every eight years,” says Dr Meadows. Signs that your mattress might need replacing sooner include: sagging or visible damage, noisy springs, and waking up with sore muscles or stiffness.

Read: How to know when it’s time to break up with your mattress

Mr Wilson says: “I do not believe in a prescriptive number when it comes to changing the mattress. If your mattress is not supporting you or making you too hot (and less commonly cold), then change it today.”

Written by Katie Wright

Fashion and beauty editor at the Press Association.

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