Take the mystery out of mattress buying

They say if you make your bed, you have to lie in it. Kya deLongchamps is musing on mattresses this week and guides us towards a soft, heavenly haven. 

Nothing, bar sexual attraction, is more subjective and given the price and the expected life span of 10-15 years for a regular mattress, buying a new one should be as close to a comfort-guaranteed experience as commercially possible.

The impact of failing in this body to bed marriage can be profound. If, like me, you’ve dug through the linen to find the label on your last luxury hotel stay mattressing — you will understand.

Circadian science has determined that sleep ‘cleans the brain’ (University of Rochester 2013) and that regular, chronic sleep interruption can have serious health impacts from obesity onset to an increase in depressive illnesses. Just a few nights riding the wrong cot can radically impair judgment and the inability to sleep through the night, simply makes most of us utterly miserable. Restorative, chocolate-dark sleep hours are vital.

On the showroom floor – the pressure is on, and not just from the circling sales staff twitching for the ‘whumph’ of a down-payment on that metre thick Slumber Superb 3000. In a terrestrial, public setting, at 10-20 minutes, even with your partner staring up through the rafters of the retail outlet, what has the bed really proved?

Groaning through the shops and from store to store for a couple of hours, many identical Irish mattresses bear different marketing titles — so not helpful whenit comes to comparison. Now, I would love to report that comfort trials are sweeping the country, but with the exception of tightly conditioned 40-night periods on a designated mattress cover (bought in store at Harvey Norman), this is not the case. You are vulnerable out there, and at four figures with little real understanding of what’s under the bonnet – it’s used car time.

IKEA boast of mattressing with a 25 year guarantee, so light that you can almost drop-kick their hybrids up the stairs. Is that a recommendation to buy – the ease of shifting the thing? The efficacy of table tough, orthopedic beds (a nebulous trade description) has been largely debunked, so don’t go straight to ultra-firm for that ropey back. Chiro-Span Posturisation? Impressive. This simply means there’s more springs at the centre. Heavier sleeper (15 stone plus) = firmer bed. That’s it.

Vispring (inventors of the pocket spring) and Hästens offer Anglophiles, celebrities and weary royalty all over the globe, a first class ride in luxury artisan quality. You won’t get out or into these beds with their matching crafted box-springs for less than €10,000. The Queen herself favours a deeply buttoned Hypnos for her yachts and palaces, hypnosbeds.com).

Savoir of London (est 1905 by Richard D’Oyly Carte and exclusive to the Savoy Hotel until 1997) have just outfitted the iconic hotel for its 125th year, each tailored by hand with pine, beech, curled and 26’ long horse tail, tickles of cashmere, cotton and wool. One of our editorial staff was recently and tenderly coaxed awake in their Marylebone showroom. Run a discreet credit check on your mobile on the street, before asking for a No.2, white glove delivery and complimentary bottle of bubbly, savoirbeds.com.

You are the best and only judge of your sleeping style, and it’s important to take your weight, relationship status, age and height to bed with you too. Everyone’s an edge sleeper when the bed’s just too small. Materials, structure, layering and size can shake you awake, or deliver a sumptuous night of a thousand snores. Even a divine Savoir has to be ‘broken in’ softening through those layers of wicking, natural ingredients, and it’s important to understand the nature and expected performance of your chosen mattress.

Here’s the rub – fill and ticking around that box of springs - latex, bamboo, cashmere, wool, animal hair, silk, memory and other synthetic foams, have been subsumed into ‘hybrid’ beds. The many confections and benefits/drawbacks of stacking layers of materials over springs remain extremely confusing. A modern 100% foam bed comprises of a sophisticated sandwich of cooling gel-infused foam, memory foam and a level of denser core support. Those sprung beds littered across a retail floor are far more complex.

Sufficient support through the surface edge-to-edge (for real back alignment), the real benefit (if any) of fat toppings, and the thermal performance of the bed through the seasons, are the top three sweet spots to keep in mind. These characteristics are generally boasted on the labelling as you shop.

We’re all hip to the cheaper open-coil (bonnell/continous spring) versus the motion-locking pocket spring. In reality even a cheap, but reasonable bed, probably won’t read saggy or lumpy for several years with sufficient rotating and flips.

Up to 1000-8000 springs are available but keep in mind that very high figures can be unnecessary to all but the hippo/duckling couple, and that the coils can be decked rather than set at one level. There are some superbly comfortable mid-range beds, such as King Koil Natural Posture 1800 mattress, which combines a trusted Irish brand, adequately dense springs, perimeter vents, the natural heat regulation of real wool fillings with a spine specific design. From €629. For the executive suite with an integrated topper, King Coil’s 5-Star Hotel mattress/divan offers are keen from €1069, caseys.ie.

With the springs and edge support adequate to your weight and activity, move to comfort ingredients. Pure latex over foam and spring-free memory foam beds are easily explored through thousands of customer reviews since NASA gave up the cosy stuff deployed in its rocket-ships.

If you have even a hint of overnight sweating, and ladies of a certain vintage, I do mean you — fight shy of a standard memory foam bed and those seductive synthetic/natural deep pillow-tops. That stifling, sinking feeling of man-made polymers even contained in CoolMax fabrics, is like backstroking through warmed porridge. Ask for the more level planes of a highly breathable, micro-quilted cool-sleeper, and throw on a warming mattress topper just for the winter.

New gel-foam beds with or without springs, combine the support and pressure relief of memory foam with ventilating layers of rubber 3D cubes which conform to your body. Far cooler. Ireland’s Kaymed K3 gel features in Harvey Norman’s popular Well Being line, from €1,200 for a 1200 pocket-spung Pure Gel 25 king.

Latex (processed Hevea milk), has fine environmental credentials and helps you to regulate your own body temperature especially in summer. Firmer than foam, it teams up intelligently with natural organics like lambswool for anyone with asthma and sinusitis, who is shy of a sinking, chemical-heavy buy.

See what the Natural Sleep Company has to offer in pocket-sprung, latex topped products and Talalay latex, manufactured for a softer feel, naturalsleep.ie.

Budget buy on a big bed? Sealy, Silentnight and Rest Assured offer tufted, damask covered beds with worthy pocket spring counts from just €500-€800, argos.ie.


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