If you’re not getting a restful sleep at night, it might be time to buy a new mattress. So print and keep this guide on navigating the maddening world of mattress buying.
Buying a mattress
It pays to do your research for this expensive buy, which should last you the next 10 years. Here's some expert advice:
Rule #1. How do you know you have the right mattress?
Paul Bell, an osteopath from The Osteopathic Centre, says your spine should be straight when you sleep on your side and in its natural curve when you lie on your back.
It should also:
1. Mould well to your body, leaving no space between the mattress and your body.2. Let your hips and shoulders sink slightly deeper into the bed than the spine and torso.
Michelle Anne Ng, marketing manager at Simmons (SEA), adds that queen- and king-sized mattresses should let you feel undisturbed even when your partner tosses in bed.
Rule #2. What’s the right way to test a mattress before buying it?
A couple should try out the mattress together so as to simulate the way they sleep, says Dave Hong, marketing manager at Sealy Asia.
Lie on your backs and sides for at least 20 minutes.
Rule #3. Does mattress height matter?
Yes, it does, say experts. The thicker the mattress, the more plush and comfy it is.
Dave says some models are filled with pressure-relief materials like latex and memory foam, which add to the height.
Make sure that the mattress, when paired with your bed frame, makes it easy for you to get on and off the bed comfortably, says Michelle.
Rule #4. Does a heavier person need a firmer mattress?
Yes. However, our experts say there is no recommended level of firmness for different weights.
Generally, a mattress with a thin cushioning on the topmost layer would be more comfortable for a heavier person as he/she can feel the support of the mattress better and be more comfortably cushioned at the same time.
Rule #5. What mattresses are suitable for people with spinal or back problems?
A light to moderately firm one. Paul says the mattress should be highly compartmentalised - it should have numerous small spring compartments to support and mould to different parts of the body.
“Memory foam mattresses are also suitable,” he adds.
Rule #6. What kind of mattress should I buy if I don’t sleep in an air-conditioned room?
Look for mattress fabrics made with more cotton and less polyester, and pair it with a bamboo bedsheet that wicks perspiration from your skin.
The Serta Acacia Valley Mattress ($3,699, from Serta Sleep Centre) and Slumberland Tempsmart Mattress (from $1,489, from Slumberland) are designed with features that keep the mattresses ventilated and you, cool.
Rule #7. Are costlier mattresses better?
Yes. For example, the super premium mattresses priced above $4,000 at Lotus Bedding contain materials like wool and cashmere, which give a plush feel, says its director Lee Seng Khoon. Quality coils that are more durable and give better support also add to the cost.
Rule #8. Aching joints and fatigue, even after a good night’s sleep are these signs that your mattress is not suitable for you?
Yes, the mattress could be too hard or too soft for you. Dave says it could take up to a month to adjust to a new mattress.
Other causes could be using the wrong type of pillow, or a bed frame that gives insufficient support to the mattress.
Rule #9. How long should a good mattress last?
10 to 20 years. When you feel that the mattress is squeaky or saggy, that is, when the body sinks more than 2.5cm into the bed, it’s time to change your mattress, says Dave.
BETTER SLEEP TIP OF THE DAY: White bedlinen does not have a colour dye layer, so it lets you feel the mattress better, says Michelle Anne Ng, marketing manager at Simmons (SEA). A high thread count, like Egyptian cotton, is also smoother, softer and more durable than other fabrics. Try Contempo Egyptian queen-sized cotton bedlinen, $49.90, from Aussino.
Should I buy a waterbed?
“Sleeping on a waterbed didn’t make me seasick, contrary to what I thought. It looks like a regular mattress, but is softer and conformed to my body perfectly,” said Simply Her writer Azlinda Said, who tried it.
#1: A waterbed reduces the pressure exerted on your body. This benefits people with backaches.
#2: Different amounts of water can be pumped into each side of the bed to cater to your firmness preference.
#3: It’s cooling, thanks to the topmost bamboo cotton fabric, which allows for ventilation.
#4: The detachable mattress cover is washable to prevent a build-up of dust mites.
THE DOWNSIDE: When moving your bed to your new home, you must drain and refill the water. A single-sized mattress, at 180kg, is extremely heavy.
MAINTAINING IT: Add a conditioner every six months to keep the water clean and fresh. If you accidentally puncture the waterbed, apply a glue (for mending waterbeds) on the torn patch.
PRICE: $995 to $6,000, depending on size, from Fantasy Waterbeds.
Have trouble finding that perfect mattress? Try these mattresses with a difference.
Below are the most interesting ones Simply Her found and tried in the department stores and sleep boutiques.
1. My husband and I have different mattress needs.
Sleep to live
The brand can customise a mattress with two different firmness levels a softer half and firmer half.
There are four levels of firmness to choose from, and within each level, five comfort choices. The combi-mattress felt like a complete queen mattress, not two single mattresses put together.
Customisation takes three weeks. Sleep To Live also offers a sleep diagnostic test to determine the mattress firmness for your body type.
PRICE: From $1,600, from Courts Megastore
2. For those who love the feel of hotel beds
Sealy Posturepedic Hotel Collection
If you’ve ever lifted the bedsheets at hotels to check the brand, you’re likely to find Sealy Posturepedic in many top-end hotels, including Capella, Fairmont, Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Marina Bay Sands and St Regis.
If you like the feel of your staycation bed, try this collection. They are not replicates (Sealy customises mattresses based on each hotel’s specifications), but the three models from the range, of varying firmness, are created close to hotel standards.
PRICE: From $4,045, from Sealy Sleep Palace
3. And the prize for the most comfortable mattress under $2,000 goes to...
Cellini Nightingale Spinal Royal
This value-for-money mattress comes with a comfortable soft layer that cushioned me snugly.
For those who like their mattress firmer, there’s the $980 Nightingale Orthopedic Master it felt springy but not hard.
Their Suntec City Mall showroom has a discreet bed section I could try the mattresses comfortably and undisturbed.
PRICE: $1,480, from Cellini Suntec City
4. For the indulgent
Sealy Palatial Crest and Simmons Beautyrest Black
These two premium mattresses were the most luxurious. Silk, wool, cashmere and alpaca (a South American animal prized for its silky hair) fleece are some of the materials that go into the luxe Sealy Palatial Crest range.
The coils in the Simmons Beautyrest Black range are constructed to create a snug feel - and yes, the mattresses did cushion me like a marshmallow.
Expect also thick (at least 5cm) and plush pillow tops (the uppermost layer of the mattress) for that opulent feel. Any mattress you try after these will pale in comparison.
PRICE: From $9,000 and $14,500 respectively, from Sealy Sleep Palace and Simmons Gallery
5. For the stressed
Simmons Backcare e-ION Crystal Series
These mattresses contain a fabric layer made from mineral stones that emit negative ions and far-infrared rays, up to 50cm above the mattress. These invisible elements are meant to improve blood circulation, reduce stress and make you feel healthier.
There are three models - Luxury was the softest and most comfy for my 50kg frame. It’s also good for those who do not sleep in air-conditioned rooms as the uppermost layer has cold foam that’s porous and dissipates heat.
PRICE: From $4,049, from Simmons Gallery
6. For families with active kids
Kids would find this full latex no spring coils mattress less bouncy, and less fun to jump on. And latex is more forgiving than coils when it comes to kids who make a trampoline out of the beds.
It’s soft, snug and as comfortable as spring-coiled counterparts.
PRICE: From $3,699, from Lotus Sleep Studio and Courts Megastore
7. For the restless sleeper
Tempur Original, Cloud and Sensation
There are no spring coils in these mattresses. Instead, they are made with a patented visco-elastic compound commonly known as memory foam, which conforms to the body and reduces pressure on it.
The mattress enveloped me, was dense and gave a good sense of support.
Pair it with an Ergo Adjustable Base ($4,699 for a queen-sized base, sold separately) that lets you tilt the head and leg positions.
PRICE: From $3,599, from Tempur Sleep Haven and Robinsons Centrepoint
BETTER SLEEP TIP #2 OF THE DAY: Scent your bedlinen, pillows and bolsters with a spritz of this lavender linen water, then run a hot iron over it. Try Aussino Linen Water, $59, from Aussino Paragon
Tips on choosing the right bed frame
Choose the right bed frame for your mattress, advises Gary Tho, pediatric and family chiropractor at Holistic Chiropractic. A mattress on a bed frame with slats will feel softer than the same one on a frame with a platform base. Here are some recommended pairings:
Mattress type: Soft
Recommended bed frame: A box spring (a frame with spring coils and covered with fabric) or bed frame with slats for the base
Mattress type: Firm
Recommended bed frame: A solid foundation box (a wooden frame covered with fabric) or a bed frame with a platform base
Mattress type: Memory Foam
Recommended bed frame: Any bed base or an Ergo Adjustable Base
His and Hers
Readers share how they compromised with their husbands on the kind of mattress to buy.
“My husband prefers a firmer mattress than me, but we managed to find one that we both liked. However, when it arrived, it did not feel as comfortable as the display set we tried at the department store. I’ll probably get a mattress topper to add a softer layer to it. Or get my husband to roll on it to season it.” - Eileen Chia, 37, preschool teacher
"My husband is the Princess and the Pea-type while I’m the more easy-going sleeper but we had no problems with our rather firm mattress.
"He recently had a backache and discovered that the wooden slats of the bed frame had shifted. This left a gap, which made the mattress sag, which, in turn, gave him a backache. After he put the slats back in their original positions, he slept like a baby. - Cheryl Sim, 41, lecturer
5 top tips for giving your child a good night’s sleep
Simply Her speaks to experts on how to choose a suitable mattress for kids.
#1: Choose a firm mattress for your baby
”Press onto the baby’s mattress a firm one should bounce back immediately,” says Gary Tho, pediatric and family chiropractor at Holistic Chiropractic.
#2: Let your kids try the mattress first
Toddlers usually need a medium-firm mattress for sufficient support.
To make sure that it’s comfortable for them, get them to lie in their usual sleeping position for about 10 minutes, then ask them if their neck, shoulders and hips are comfortable, advises Gary.
#3: Consider the sleeping position of your child
While a back sleeper tends to feel more easily comfortable on all types of mattresses, a side sleeper would benefit from a memory foam mattress that moulds to the hips and shoulders, and relieves the pressure on these points, says Gary.
#4: Look for hypoallergenic materials for children with sensitivities
These materials, like cotton, silk or synthetic material, with common allergens removed from them during the manufacturing process, benefit children with asthma, eczema or rhinitis, says Will Kalla, spinal care specialist at Precision Spine Chiropractic.
So these fabrics are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.
#5: Choose the right pillow for your child
Get your child to lie on the pillow before buying it. His neck should be in line with his spine whether lying on his back or his side, says Will.
Otherwise, he risks spinal problems that could occur due to bad sleeping posture.
Suggestions for mattresses for babies and children
This foam mattress is made with sunflower oil and water. Its honeycomb structure lets the mattress breathe, making it cooling. The cover is removable and machine-washable.
PRICE: From $799, from Lotus Sleep Studio
Simmons Backcare Kids
The mattress fabric is treated to repel water. If your child wets the bed, you can wipe the fluids off quickly before they permeate.
It’s also anti-allergen and anti-microbial.
PRICE: From $1,469, from Simmons Gallery.
True or False?
Dr Chua Ai Ping, a consultant with the Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine at NUH, sheds light on some sleep sayings.
Q: “We need eight hours of sleep every day.”
False. There is no magic number. Most of us need seven to eight hours of sleep, but if you sleep for five hours and wake up feeling refreshed, that’s all you need.
Q We fall sick easily if we do not get enough sleep.
True. Our immune system releases proteins called cytokines when we sleep. We need these substances to fight infection and inflammation in the body, especially when we are not well. Studies have shown that the sleep-deprived are more likely to fall ill or recover more slowly when they are sick.
Q If you take 10 to 15 minutes To fall asleep, it means that you are getting the right amount of sleep. Any less, you are sleep-deprived.
False. There is no ideal timing to fall asleep. It ranges from five to 30 minutes if you take longer, it just means that you have accumulated more sleep the night before.
1. Get the March 2012 issue of Simply Her for more interesting stories. Simply Her, published by SPH Magazines is available at all newsstands now.
2. Check out more stories at Simply Her online, www.simplyher.com.sg.
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