Sleep is vital for physical and mental health. With many of us struggling to get a good night’s rest, it’s time to look at our mattresses.
New mattresses are rarely at the top of the priority list. Their recommended life span is around eight to ten years, but even if you’ve been sleeping on yours for a year – or a decade – longer than that, it’s not going to break down and force a replacement in the same way that a washing machine or laptop might.
But that doesn’t mean an old mattress isn’t doing damage. Some mattresses that feel comfortable aren’t actually supporting your body correctly, which could be why you struggle to get off to sleep or wake up with aches and pains.
Lots of mattresses lose their support over time; while they might start off comfortable, the worst ones will soon begin to sag. So how do we find the best?
What we want from a great mattress boils down to a few key things: it should keep your spine aligned correctly, no matter how you sleep; it should be easy to turn and move on – preferably without disturbing your partner; it should keep you at a comfortable temperature; and it shouldn’t sag, soften or become less supportive over time.
How we test
Our testing programme runs through each of the requirements in turn. To measure body support, people of different shapes and sizes lie on each mattress on their backs and sides while we measure how well their spine is held in its natural position.
Next, the mattresses head to climate-controlled chambers, where we measure how much moisture and heat they absorb – and therefore how breathable and warm they will feel.
To find out how stable the mattresses are, we drop weights on to them and measure how much they bounce before the movement is absorbed.
Choosing a stable mattress is important for light sleepers who share a bed, as you’re less likely to be disturbed if your partner moves around in the night.
Finally, heavy barrels are rolled across the mattresses thousands of times to simulate eight to ten years of normal use. After all of this, some will show signs of sagging and damage, but the best should be as supportive as they were at the start.
It’s taken an awful lot of bouncing, but we’ve found some Best Buy mattresses that we think you’ll really love.
This contribution to Which? Conversation first appeared in the January 2019 edition of Which? Magazine (page 15: ‘Inside view’).
How long have you had your mattress? Do you sometimes wake up with aches and pains? If so, is 2019 the year to start afresh?
Let us know if a new mattress is in your new year shopping list.