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Mattress Buying Guide - Back To Basics


A good night’s sleep is very important to rest weary limbs or a tired mind and enable you wake refreshed and recharged, ready to face the day ahead. A good quality mattress will improve the quality of your sleep and increase your energy levels as a result.

Mattresses may look quite similar to one another and you could be forgiven for thinking that one mattress is much the same as any other. You could not be more wrong. The differences are vast. We will be looking at the positive effects that a great mattress can have later on but just for a moment, let us consider what effects sleeping on a bad mattress will have, not just in the short term, but in the long run too.

The short term effects may be quite familiar to you. How often have you stayed in a hotel or b&b, or gone to stay the night with friends and found it difficult to get comfortable, eventually dropping off to sleep only to wake the following morning, feeling achy, un-rested or even sore?

These are the short term effects and depending on your fitness level, it’s fair to say that after a short while of getting up and moving about, these effects can be overcome. But what of the longer term effects?

The long term effects of sleeping on a bad mattress are far more damaging. One slightly uncomfortable night, followed by another and another, will have the cumulative effect over time, of significantly reducing the quality of your sleep. On a daily basis you will feel just that little bit less energised, just that little bit less prepared to face the rigours of the following day.

In worse case scenarios, if your mattress is sagging you will not be supported properly and gravity will pull you into the sag. Over time, this will have a damaging effect on your spine and may well leave you waking up sore as parts of your body are wrongly pressured.

The main problem and the reason that older mattresses get away with causing so much discomfort, is that it doesn’t happen overnight. We get used to the feel of our mattresses and if we have a bad night’s sleep or wake up aching one morning, we normally put it down to sleeping in an odd position. This may be true now and then, but certainly not all the time and if you wake up aching all the time; it’s time for a new mattress.

Most good mattresses will last for up to 10 years, sometimes more, so making the investment in a good one, is well worth it.

If you were to invest in our largest, most luxurious mattress, the Abaca Raglan Super King costing £2795, over 10 years, it would cost you a little over £0.76 per night, a small price to pay for 10 years of restful and invigorating sleep.

Statistics show that, on average we spend one third of our lives in bed, so it is well worth buying the very best mattress you can to ensure that this time is spent as comfortably as possible. Check out our guide to choosing the best new mattress and making sure you get a good night's sleep

Do you need a new mattress?

Ask yourself the following questions and if you can answer yes to 2 of them, then you ought really to look at investing in a brand new mattress.

1. Do you wake up sore or aching on a regular basis?

2. Do you wake up feeling you’ve not had a good night’s sleep?

3. Does your mattress feel lumpy?

4. Does your mattress sag noticeably in the middle?

5. Is your mattress over 10 years old?

If you have answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, you should definitely buy a new mattress. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll be able to feel the difference immediately.

The different types of mattress

There are 2 main types of mattress; the foam mattress and the traditional sprung mattress.

Foam mattresses can be sub divided into latex foam mattresses and visco memory foam mattresses.

Latex foam mattresses are formed either from natural rubber which is taken from rubber trees, or from a synthetic rubber known as Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR). The natural rubber product which comes from the rubber tree, (Hevea brasiliensis) in the form of a sticky white liquid, is mixed with water and then whipped into a foam. This substance is then poured into a mould and left to gravity set.

After the product has set, it is frozen to -7 °C and then re-heated to +93 °C. This cooling and reheating process is what produces the correct density and the uniformity of structure required for natural or latex foam mattress production.

Visco memory foam is made from polyurethane, the product of a complex chemical reaction between water, a polyol and a diisocyanate. When the materials are combined, bubbles are formed in the liquid and the mixture expands to form flexible foam. Poured into a mould and allowed to set for just a few minutes, it can then be cut to size.

Click here to view our natural mattresses

Sprung mattresses There are two different kinds of sprung mattress. The open coil mattress and the pocket sprung mattress.

The open coil mattress is made up of a number of springs which are woven together to make a single, larger spring unit. The effect of this is to spread the weight more evenly across a number of springs. The single biggest issue with the open coil mattress and one you will doubtless, all have experienced at some time in your lives is that of “roll-together”.

If one partner is heavier than the other, the lighter one of the two will feel themselves pulled in toward the heavier. This is because the springs in an open coil mattress are acting as one. This does not happen to such an extent in a pocket sprung mattress but key to the comfort of a pocket mattress is the number of pocket springs that the mattress contains. The more springs it has, the more comfortable it will be but it will also be more expensive.

There are other drawbacks to the sprung mattress which you simply don’t get with a visco-elastic foam mattress. Firstly, the springs themselves may not be strong enough to support you. Secondly, even the best sprung mattresses develop lumps over time and depending on usage, this could be in as little as 2 or 3 years. Thirdly, uneven pressures exerted on the back or any other part of the anatomy for that matter will result in pain, numbness and a feeling of tiredness in the morning, resulting from your nocturnal restlessness and attempts to get comfortable in your sleep. Finally, Sprung mattresses can be quite heavy and need to be turned and flipped every couple of months in order to retain as much of their shape as possible. Visco elastic foam mattresses and memory foam mattresses on the other hand will remember and return to their original shape automatically.

Choosing a mattress size

Mattresses can of course be made to order or custom built but there are some standard sizes which have been created to fit the standard bed dimensions.

Children’s single mattress = 75cm x 190cm (made to order)

Single size mattress = 90cm x 190cm

Small double mattress = 120cm x 190cm (made to order)

Double size mattress = 135cm x 190cm

Queen size mattress = 160cm x 200cm (made to order)

King size mattress = 150cm x 200cm

Super King size mattress = 180cm x 200cm

Emperor size mattress = 200cm x 200cm (made to order)

Choosing the right mattress size for your bed will of course depend upon what size bed you have opted for. This decision will largely be determined by the available space within the bedroom and the budget to which you are working. Most people however find that a slightly larger mattress such as a queen size or king size is more comfortable than a standard double.