WE spend more than one third of our lives asleep yet more of us give little thought to choosing a mattress to suit our needs.
Alarmingly many of us opt for cheap options or second-hand mattresses and tend to ignore replacing a mattress until the springs are sticking out.
But a bed is a long-term investment in your health and wellbeing so it is important to take the time and effort to buy the best quality mattress you can afford.
There are a host of options on the market sporting technologies to help those who suffer from back pain and allergies, to help alleviate muscle and joint pains and also to minimise partner disturbance and prevent the build-up of heat in the bed.
Don't assume soft is best and most comfortable as poor support can lead to back and neck pain.
Different degrees of mattress firmness are suited to whether you sleep on your back, side or stomach.
So if you lie on your stomach, for example, a firm mattress will keep your spine aligned while medium firmness is generally suited to back sleepers to provide support and extra comfort.
Mattresses don't last forever and should be replaced once every ten years.
Types of mattresses
They have rows of tempered steel coils between insulation and padding.
While different brands of mattresses use different types of spring systems, the overriding factor behind your choice should always be comfort.
Firmness and durability is based on the thickness of the wire and the number of coils while the type of padding (silk, wool, cashmere, foams and latex) make a huge difference to the price.
These come in differing degrees of firmness but often make you feel hot while sleeping.
Your body loses quite a lot of moisture at night and if the mattress doesn't breathe well you will quickly become hot and sweaty.
Can be an inexpensive option for guests.
Mattresses made of this natural rubber can be an expensive option but can be of real benefit to allergy sufferers as it harbours less mould and dust mites.
It also minimises partner disturbance and can be expected to last some 20 years.
When deciding what type of mattress you require you also need to consider the size.
Of course big is better so you don't have to fight for space during the night.
A healthy sleeper moves around 15 to 30 times during the night, and cramped conditions can make sleeping awkward, uncomfortable and frustrating.
The size depends on the size of your room and budget.
- In your lifetime you will spend over 200,000 hours in bed - Far more time is spent in bed than using any other household item including the sofa, TV and kitchen items.
- Your body is not a flat surface! Your body is a unique collection of curves, muscles, organs and bones that needs to be supported correctly.
- Sleep experts have proven when people get the sleep they need, they will not only feel better, but will also increase their odds of living healthier, more productive lives.
- Numerous studies have found that insufficient sleep can significantly increase a person chance of developing serious medical conditions including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Test before you buy
Never feel embarrassed about trying out as many mattress alternatives as you need to - or spending as much as 15 minutes laying on each one to get a true sense of whether a mattress really feels right.
When assessing any mattress, try to relax into your normal sleeping position.
Check that the mattress is supporting your entire body.
It should contour to your shape and there should be no space between you and the bed.
Sometimes, a bed mattress can be firm to the touch - but don't be fooled by a firm outer layer.
Always try laying on it to actually see if it gives you adequate support.
If you suffer from a bad back, don't assume that a firm mattress is necessarily your best option.
Often, medium firmness can be a better choice.
If you're buying a mattress that you'll be sleeping on with a partner, test it out with them.
The right mattress should prevent you from rolling into each other - and also minimise mattress movement that can cause partner disturbance.
Avoid shopping for a mattress when you're tired - this is when any mattress will feel good to you.