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Bed Buying Guide

Helping you find the bed of your dreams

Time for a New Bed?

Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you suffer from back problems? Are you allergic to certain materials? Or are you still sleeping on the bed you bought when you purchased your first home?

Beds are part and parcel of our lives, and a good night’s sleep is essential to living well, but more often than not, we’re unaware that our old beds might be causing all kinds of issues. Simply put, when a bed is no longer providing proper support and comfort, the quality of our sleep will suffer. Sadly, beds don’t last forever. Their life-span is affected by a variety of factors from the quality of the bed itself to the amount of use they get (we all know there’s nothing better than reading the Sunday papers or watching the telly while under the duvet). But also, changes in our lifestyles might mean our beds no longer suit us. If you are getting married, lose – or gain weight or develop back problems – then you might find your old bed needs to be replaced by a newer more suitable solution.

Mattresses, bedsteads, frames – it can all be pretty daunting or confusing especially when there’s a massive amount of information to digest and hundreds of different types of beds to choose from. But at SlumberSlumber we’re here to help. Just follow our straightforward bed-buying guide or ask one of our friendly Bed Experts for advice. Then pick up a fresh pillow from one of our team, kick off your shoes and test out our beds by having a good lie down – just don’t fall asleep in the store! Before long that dream of the perfect nights sleep will be a reality!

Health Check

Do you…

• Wake up with aches and pains, which wear off as the day progresses?

• Find you’re not sleeping as well as you did a year ago?

• Get a better nights sleep somewhere other than your own bed?

• Notice visible signs of wear and tear on your mattress?

Well then, it might just be time for a new bed. A new sleep solution may not be a wonder cure to all life’s stresses and strains, but it will certainly help you get a better night’s sleep, leaving you refreshed and re-energised in the morning.

Buying a new bed can be a daunting process. So here are a few simple points to think about before you start the process:

How to choose a New Bed?

1. What type and price?

What style of bed do you prefer? Is there anything you particularly like – or dislike – about your current bed? Would you choose firmer or softer support?

Shop for the best value not the lowest price. The better the construction, the better the support and comfort offered and the longer the bed will last. In short, you get what you pay for.

2. Size really does matter

Most people who share a bed will be disturbed by their partner in the night. If you upsize your bed then you’re less likely to bother one another.

But it’s not just about width. Length is just as important, and experts say that your bed should be 4-6in (10-15cm) longer than the tallest person using it. Plus, it’s also worth thinking about the bed’s height – many contemporary styles are low, while those with storage drawers may be much higher, either of which could cause problems if you have mobility issues.

Worried about access? Don’t be, our bed delivery team are used to most challenges and many bed bases and bedsteads are delivered in pieces and assembled in your home.

3. Buy base and mattress together

Try to make sure you test mattresses on a similar type of base. The two are engineered to work together, so a change of base will affect the feel and performance of the mattress.

Top Tip – Don’t just switch the mattress!

Simply changing a mattress but keeping an original base might not be the best idea, especially if you are buying a divan. An old base can reduce the useful life of a new mattress as well as affecting the support and comfort a new mattress can offer. An old base can also invalidate any warranties or guarantees that come with the new mattress.

The 10 year test!

Tests by the Furniture Industry Research Association reveal that the quality of a bed can deteriorate by as much as 70% over 10 years. So, how old is your bed?

Try this quick test:

Can you lie side by side, with your arms behind your head – with your elbows sticking out – without touching each other? If not, your bed probably isn’t big enough.

If the bed is for two people, then make sure you shop together… you both need to be happy with the choice – otherwise you’ll have to live with the decision for years to come!

When shopping for a new bed, follow these simple points:

Shopping for a New Bed?

The only real way to find the right bed is to have a good lie down on it! You wouldn’t buy a new car without taking it for a test drive first, so make sure you put any potential beds to the test too!

Make time and be comfortable

Enjoy the process and relax. That means trying several beds without any time pressures. Don’t wear your Sunday best. Wear comfy clothes, remove your coat and shoes and lie on the bed for quite a long time – at least 10 minutes – though feel free to make it longer!

Mattress rating

To help you understand the mattress types available we’ve given each a rating, either 1 (soft) 2 (medium) or 3 (firm). Try them out to find which is best for you, and then test different mattresses within your preferred rating. There’s no universal standard for comfort that bed manufacturers stick to, so our rating system will help you to easily compare between brands and styles.

Soft to firm

The comfort rating of your mattress really does matter. A mattress that is too soft can mean your body will slouch, leading to back pain; one that is too firm can cause discomfort at various pressure points such as hips and shoulders. So, make sure you test!

Positioning

The best mattresses mould to the shape of your body while remaining supportive. Try lying on your side – your spine should be horizontal. You should also be able to turn over easily.

Are you the same size as your partner?

You might need separate mattresses if you and your partner vary drastically in size and weight (3 stones/18kgs or more). Some manufacturers make double beds from two single mattresses zipped together, which offer different levels of comfort. Others can combine different degrees of firmness in one mattress.

It’s your choice

Being comfortable is a matter of opinion. Some like the sensation of sinking into a bed, while others prefer a firmer option. There’s no right and wrong and there are lots of different “feels” around – just find out what you like and choose what works best for you.

Ticking, quilting and tufting

A mattress will always have a cover – this is called the ticking, and it’s not just there to look pretty. It’s been designed to be tough and tear resistant. Better quality mattresses use cloths that are woven or knitted in high-end viscose or cotton yarns, but cheaper

Types of Mattress

Even though mattresses may look pretty similar, don’t be fooled… the differences within them are vast. Working your way through all the options can be pretty daunting, so feel free to ask our Bed Experts any questions that you might have, that’s what we are here for.

The following information aims to help you find your way around a mattress:

1. The view from the outside

Ticking, quilting and tufting

The mattress will always have a cover – this is called ticking, and it’s not just there to look pretty.  It’s been designed to be thought and tear resistant. Better quality mattresses use cloths that are woven or knitted in high-end viscose or cotton yarns, but cheaper cloths in polyester or polypropylene are often printed too.  Various special qualities can also be applied to ticking with options including anti-dust or anti-allergy characteristics built in.  If you’re interested in these options then have a chat with out Bed Expert.

2. With or without springs?

There are basically two main types of mattress – those with and those without springs.

Spring interior mattresses

The majority of mattresses in the UK have spring interiors, which provide the ‘core’ support when you sleep. Changing the characteristics of the springs alters the tension, feel and weight distribution properties of each mattress. Spring interior mattresses can be ‘zoned’ meaning various areas on a mattress can be designed to be firmer or softer, helping those with back problems.

There are three main types of spring interiors:

1. Open coil or open sprung
These are the most common type, with springs arranged in rows and connected to one another, top and bottom, by a spiral helical wire.  They come in a choice of tensions, starting from a very firm 12.5 gauge wire.
Price: Budget to mid range.

2. Continuous spring
The continuous spring unit is made from a single length of wire ‘knitted’ into a series of interwoven springs that run up and down the bed. Generally speaking the gauge of wires used is softer than the open coil, giving a higher spring count and a more responsive feel.
Price: Mid range

3. Pocket spring
Pocket springs are smaller, softer springs housed in individual fabric pockets, allowing them to work independently, fitting to the sleepers body shape. This means each partner has their own support system, so when one partner moves in the night, the other is less likely to be disturbed. Spring counts typically vary from 600-800 up to 2,500 but can go higher offering a range of tensions and comfort ratings.
Price: Higher end

Mattress Fillings

Fillings are used inside interior sprung mattresses to create different comfort options. The type of filling chosen can affect resilience, durability, flexibility, the ability to absorb body moisture and price.

The purpose of various fillings:

  • Cotton: Creates a soft feel is able to absorb moisture
  • Wool: Naturally resilient, breathable, fire retardant and luxurious
  • Foams: Used for their soft cushioning effect
  • Polyester: Has good recovery properties
  • Hair: Highly resilient, often described as “nature’s spring”.
  • Coir: Made from coconut fibre and used next to the spring to stop the spring being felt
  • Silk, cashmere, mohair: To add an additional sense of luxury

3. Non sprung mattresses

The most popular non sprung mattresses are made from foam. Most of these are made from layers of different densities of foam. By varying their density and depth, it’s possible to achieve different levels of comfort and support. They are particularly suitable for use with slatted bases and adjustable beds and come in three main types.

  • Latex options have anti-microbial properties that offer benefits to many allergy sufferers and their natural elasticity helps the mattress shape recover quickly, giving very good individual support.
  • Visco elastic or memory foam slowly responds to body temperature and weight, taking the shape of the sleeper and ensuring good pressure relieving properties.
  • Polyurethane foam mattresses are widely used and extremely versatile with prices matching quality and foam density.

Top Tip – Turn, turn, turn

Mattress fillings in sprung mattresses will settle over the first few months of use making your mattress unique to your body shape. This may be more obvious in more expensive mattresses with more fillings. Turning your mattress regularly will help even out any settlement.

Types of Base

The majority of mattresses were never intended to be used on their own. Most have been designed to work in combination with a bed base to ensure maximum comfort. These bases come in a range of styles and functions – scan through the list below and see the various options available.

1. Divans

The divan is the UK’s most popular option! It’s an upholstered box, fitted with castors or legs. Deep divans often come with the added bonus of useful storage drawers. There are four main types of divan:

  1. Sprung edge: Probably the most luxurious option, they provide even support across the whole mattress and act like a giant shock absorber increasing the mattress’s durability.
  2. Solid or platform top: Made using a rigid, non sprung top panel. This means the general feel of the bed tends to be quite firm.
  3. Firm edge: These feature a small number of larger, heavy duty springs within a rigid, wooden sided frame.
  4. Flexible slatted: The use of laminated soft woods mounted in a frame helps give a level of springiness to a bed that can be adjusted to suit individual preferences.

Divan Storage

Built-in storage under a bed doesn’t necessarily mean a compromise on quality or comfort. If you’re running out of space in your house, under bed storage could be a really good solution. And options are available for nearly all our Divans:

  • Drawers: In one or both sides and, or the foot end
  • Sliding doors: Can give access to the beds on one or both sides and, or the foot end
  • Hinged: Ottoman style divans have a shallow platform top, hinged to the rest of the base, which, when lifted, gives access to almost all of the under-bed area

2. Bedsteads

Bedsteads are back in style! And there is a massive range to choose from with options available in wood, metal, plastics, upholstered or any combination of these.

The most common systems use rigid or flexible wooden slats to support the mattress, though other variations that use wire or mesh are available. Many bedsteads are imported or even antique, so be warned, they may not conform to current UK standard sizes. Take care to ensure a mattress and bedstead are the same size!

3. Adjustable bases

Adjustable beds are a solution to the changing ways we’re using our bedrooms and beds. We read, eat, surf the net and watch TV from bed, so being able to adjust position and sit upright comfortably makes them a massive benefit to some. And, of course, adjustable beds offer solutions to a range of medical problems or aid those with mobility issues.

They are available as single or doubles with individually adjustable halves. They can feature flexible laminated slats or fully sprung upholstered sections. Plus – and this is the fun bit – they can have up to five or more individually adjusting sections – for neck, head, upper body, legs and feet. Mattresses tend to be specially made for adjustable beds, so the base and mattress should really be bought together.

4. Bunk beds

The children’s favourite! Bunk beds and cabin beds are a great, fun, space-saving option. Some bunk beds can be split to create two single beds, useful, as some children might not always want the top bunk! Cabin beds often contain a desk, drawers and cupboard, which often makes the smallest room in the house suddenly useful again!

5. Guest beds

There’s never enough space when friends or family come to stay! Guest beds are a practical solution with inflatable, folding and pull out options available. Whatever the type of guest bed, all are designed with one purpose in mind, to take up as little space as possible when not in use!

Bed Fact – Fire It Up!

  • The blue and white FR label should be displayed on all beds sold in the UK. This means the products meet current fire safety regulations, which ensure all bed bases and mattresses are less combustible and more fire retardant than ever before. Beware of cheap foreign imported beds as these might not meet the same standards!

Top Tip – The Right Combo!

  • Remember to make sure that a mattress and base will work well together, especially if you are buying them separately. If in doubt, ask one of our Bed Experts!

Bed Fact – Don’t go second hand

  • Don’t go second hand – We lose more than a quarter of a litre of body moisture each night and shed almost half a kilo of skin scales in a year. That’s pretty nasty and an old mattress is a haven for dust mites, whose droppings aggravate asthma and eczema symptoms. So, think twice about selling or buying a second hand bed.

Pillows and Toppers

Even though mattresses may look pretty similar, don’t be fooled… the differences within them are vast. Working your way through all the options can be pretty daunting, so feel free to ask our Bed Experts any questions that you might have, that’s what we are here for.

Bed buying shouldn’t end with a bedstead and mattress – the things you put on-top of your bed can be just as important in helping you to get a good nights sleep as the bed itself! Here’s some extra advice on getting the finishing touches right…

Pillows

Believe it or not, pillows are often the cause of a lot of sleep, neck and back related problems. Experts recommend investing in quality pillows every 2-3 years. Pillows that are lumpy, discoloured or that have lost their height can begin to cause issues – 10% of the weight of an old, unwashed pillow could be made up of skin scales, mould, dead and living dust mites and their droppings!

A good pillow will hold your head in alignment with your shoulders and spine, the same stance as if you were standing upright with good posture. The thickness and number of pillows you need all depends on the position you like to sleep in. For example, you’ll need a thicker pillow (or two thinner ones) if you sleep on your side than if you sleep on your back.

There is a massive selection of pillows available, from goosedown and duckdown to feather, fibre filled, and foam. You’ll also be able to find pillows in various shapes and sizes, including ones which are pre-shaped to support the head and neck. The choice is subjective – whatever works for you is going to be a winner!

Overlays and toppers

Overlays and toppers soften the feel of a mattress by adding extra layers of cushioning and protection. Generally non-sprung, they can be made up of anything from polyester fibre to feathers. Although helpful, it’s worth bearing in mind that they shouldn’t be used to spruce up an old, worn out bed – if you need to change your mattress a new overlay won’t fix the problem!

Your Questions Answered

1. I have a bad back, what bed should I choose?

Don’t believe the old adage that a hard bed is best. Recent research confirms that a supportive and comfortable mattress is the best option – and it doesn’t matter what type of construction it is.

Any references to orthopaedic or medical terms won’t necessarily mean that the bed has been professionally assessed – manufacturers often use this sort of language to loosely describe firmer beds.

2. I have asthma/allergies. What bed is best for me?

Nearly all beds will, in time, attract house dust mites, whose droppings are highly allergenic. The only solution is regular cleaning, airing and the use of protective covers will reduce their effects.

Some manufacturers now using anti-dust mite treated fabrics in the mattress covers, though always check the materials used if you suffer from any other allergies. Our Bed Experts will be able to give additional advice too.

3. The mattresses look the same, so why are the prices so different?

The chances are they are not as similar as they seem. They might claim to be of similar quality, but you’re likely to find that different material, densities and methods have affected the overall product and price. Our Bed Experts will be happy to explain the differences.

4. What should I pay for a good mattress?

Prices for beds range from well under £100 to several thousands. As a general rule, you do get what you pay for. Remember that every £100 you spend on a new bed represents an investment of just 4p a night (assuming a life span of 7 years). A bargain bed is no bargain if you don’t sleep well in it.

5. Will I notice any difference between rigid and flexible slats?

Rigid slats will give a bed firmer feel, but they will also affect the durability of the mattress as they have no give, and work against the mattress, leaving it to do all the work. Sprung slats are designed to work with the mattress, prolonging its life and improving comfort levels.

6. Why should I turn my mattress regularly?

Better quality mattresses with lots of natural fillings, will often form body indentations – this is totally normal and proves the mattress is working as intended. Regular turning will help the fillings settle and compact down more evenly.

Generally, it’s a good idea to mattresses from end to end and side to side every week for the first few months, and thereafter about every three months.

7. What sizes do beds come in?

We stock beds in sizes from single to superking. Specific measurements are:

  • Single 90cm/3ft
  • Small Double 120cm/4ft
  • Double 135 cm/4ft 6”
  • King 150cm/5ft
  • Superking 180cm/6ft

8. Will I be able to find linen for bigger beds?

Yes. We stock linen for bed sizes up to superking.

9. Are foam mattresses hot?

Foam is a good insulator, probably better than other mattress types available. The higher the density of foam (i.e. the better the quality) the greater the potential heat retention. If you get hot in bed, then look for a foam mattress with an open cell construction, which will breathe more easily. You can also make sure the mattress is well ventilated, and use cotton sheets and duvets with lower tog ratings.

At SlumberSlumber.com we’re passionate about sleep.

In fact we have many year’s experience in beds and bedding. You might say that we love to help people find perfect ‘solutions for sleep’.

Visit our website and you will find a Sleep Clinic which is full of practical advice on anything from night sweats to snoring. We also have great buying guides including “how to choose the perfect pillow”.

SlumberSlumber.com is continually searching the global marketplace to bring you the finest selection of bedding products available. We’re here to make a great night’s sleep a reality.

Service is very important to us and our new SlumberSlumber bed showroom at the Whitehouse in Portrush has a friendly bunch of bed specialists ready to help you find the bed and bedding of your dreams.

Our great service is recognised too. In fact 97% of our customers said we were excellent! (Feefo Independent Feedback)

Freephone Helpline 0800 121 4110

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm Excluding Bank Holidays

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