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Adjustable Beds

What Mattress is Best for Me?

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan

7th November, 2023


‘So many people neglect to consider the importance of changing their mattress and end up holding on to old and non-supportive mattresses and then wake up tired and even in pain. Sleep is vital for your health and wellbeing, and it is so important to ensure that your mattress is enabling you to get the restorative sleep that you need.’

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your health and wellbeing. The quality and quantity of your sleep are both important and when you sleep deeply and restoratively, you wake up feeling restored physically, mentally, and emotionally.  However, too many people fail to consider the importance of their mattress and the crucial role it plays in helping them to get good sleep. They hold on to old and sagging mattresses, waking from restless and fitful sleep feeling tired and, at worst, in pain.  

Now we have state of the art beds and mattresses and so many other products to aid our rest and recovery, but the choice can be bewildering. Even I, as a Sleep Expert, found this myself recently when shopping around for a new bed and mattress for my teenager – the choice was overwhelming. We’ve come a long way since the hunter gatherer lying on a mat of leaves!

I am delighted to be able to write a blog for Oak Tree Mobility to help you to decide whether you need a new mattress and to offer some guidance on what you should be looking for. Each of us has a unique relationship with sleep and my work and mission is to help people understand what their relationship with sleep is all about, so that they can make the right choices and give themselves the best chance of getting the rest they deserve.

So, do you need a new mattress and if so, what type should you go for? Here are some factors to consider.

Do I need to change my mattress?

How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Do you feel tired? Are you in pain or feeling achy? Do you have pain in your neck and shoulders? Does your mattress make creaky noises when you move at night? Are there visible signs of wear and tear? Are you finding it hard to get comfortable? Do you suffer with allergies or asthma and are they getting worse? Are you overheating at night?

And – an important consideration – how old is your mattress? According to the Sleep Foundation, a standard mattress should last between 6-8 years before you need to replace it. But a mattress's life span can depend on a number of factors – including how often it has been slept on, the kind of mattress it is, and whether it has been used with a mattress protector.

Tired senior woman

What type of mattress do I need?

If you’re not sure what firmness level is right for you, there are a few ways to help identify what might be the best fit.

Think about your weight and sleeping position to narrow down a range and your local show room should be able to advise you on this. If you are unsure of what might meet your needs, you could consult a professional such as an occupational therapist. Additionally, each of Oak Tree’s regional home consultants receive training from occupational therapist Samantha Shann, Co-Director of The OT Service, so they can help you to find the best bed solution for you and your health.

Have you found yourself wishing for a harder or soft mattress when using your current mattress at home or when you’ve stayed at a hotel? For reference, most hotel mattresses are Medium to Medium-Firm, and these have the widest overall appeal.

What sort of mattress should I go for?

Because Oak Tree Mobility want to help you to find the right mattress for you, we offer three different types of mattresses:

Memory Foam (This is our customers’ favourite mattress type: It also comes with CoolMAX which helps to keep our customers cool throughout the night.)

Pocket Sprung: Pocket sprung mattresses are a good option for ‘active sleepers’ and people who change position throughout the night. The individual springs help your spine keep its natural curve even as you move around, reducing back pain so you can sleep soundly all night long.

Latex: Latex mattresses are generally firmer than pocket sprung or memory foam mattresses - perfect if you like to feel really supported in bed. The firmness keeps your body weight evenly distributed, relieving pressure on your joints and reducing muscle tension.

Hand pressing against mattress

What position do you sleep in at night?

What position are you in when you normally get comfy and fall asleep? And in what position do you find yourself when you wake up?

The answers to these questions can provide important insights to help you choose a mattress. The parts of your body that need more support in order to maintain spinal alignment vary based on your sleeping posture. Getting the right support will help avoid aches and pains.

To generalise, back and stomach sleepers may benefit from a firmer mattress. Side sleepers may prefer a mattress that has softness. It’s also important for side sleepers to find an option that ensures the head and neck are in alignment. Again, take your time trying out various mattresses in the showroom. Listen to your body and then decide what feels most comfortable.

Woman Asleep

Do you sleep on your back?

Back sleepers put the greatest pressure on their lower back. If a mattress is too soft, the torso can sink in more deeply than the upper back and lower body, and this U-shape can create strain. If a mattress is too firm, there won’t be any accommodation of the slight curve in the lower back. As a result, back sleepers do best with a Medium Firm to Firm mattress with light to moderate contouring.

Do you sleep on your side?

Side sleepers have sharp pressure points where the body is the widest, most notably at the shoulders and hips. On a too-soft mattress, those points will dip out of line with the rest of the spine. On a too-firm mattress, they will feel the impact at those points and be prone to misalignment. Consequently, side sleepers do best with Medium Soft to Medium Firm mattresses.

Do you sleep on your stomach?

Stomach sleepers are like back sleepers and put the most pressure on the lumbar spine. They usually do best with a Firm mattress that can keep them out of a U-shape and that won’t feel suffocating when lying face-down on the mattress.

Do you sleep in a combination of positions?

Combination sleepers find themselves in more than one position through the night. They typically should choose a mattress based on the position they spend the most time in. If there’s no primary position, Medium Firm offers the best bet across the sleeping positions. There are even mattresses that cater for ‘tossers and turners’!

How much do you weigh?

Like sleeping position, your body shape and weight can influence your choice of the best mattress to provide optimal support and comfort.

People who weigh under 130 pounds don’t sink as far into a mattress, so they often benefit from a softer mattress, especially if they sleep on their side or have pronounced pressure points. Innerspring mattresses tend to be a poor fit, and foam or hybrid beds can be good options.

People between 130 and 230 pounds can generally follow the previous suggestions for mattress firmness based on sleeping position. Foam, hybrid, and latex mattresses are all solid options and can be selected based on their specific features and designs.

People over 230 pounds will sink further into a mattress, especially near heavier parts of the body, which can risk throwing off spinal alignment. These sleepers usually have better results with mattresses that are a bit firmer to help avoid that risk.

A responsive mattress is easier to move on top of, and this can be valuable to people over 230 pounds because it reduces the chances of feeling stuck in the bed. Latex and hybrid options tend to be the most responsive.

Durability is important to sleepers of any weight, but people over 230 pounds can cause more wear in the top layers of a mattress. For this reason, sleepers with a higher body weight often opt for a mattress with a thicker comfort system that uses high-density materials.

It’s not just weight that affects how to choose the right mattress. People with broader shoulders or hips may need a softer mattress with more contouring, especially if they are side sleepers. Naturally, people over six feet tall should look closely at mattress dimensions to ensure that they can stretch out comfortably.

At the end of the day (excuse the pun!), comfort is subjective and while there are specific guidelines relating to your sleep position and bodyweight which can help you to determine what type of mattress to go for, much of this is really about what feels best to you so don’t forget, shop around. Visit a showroom and try a mattress out. Don’t be embarrassed to spend time lying in the showroom bed. I recommend spending at least 10 to 15 minutes lying on the mattress. At Oak Tree, if you would like to try out an adjustable bed, simply let us know and we will book you a no-obligation home appointment with one of our experts. Take your time choosing your perfect ‘mat of leaves’ and you will be rewarded with the amazing sleep you need and deserve.

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