What constitutes a good night’s sleep?

The ability to:

  • Fall asleep quickly
  • Wake up when you want to
  • Feel refreshed and ready for the new day ahead
  • Remain bright and alert until it’s bedtime again

These are the factors that define a good night’s sleep.

How can you set yourself up for a Good Sleep?

The foundation of good sleep is - Having a comfortable bed with a mattress that supplies the correct support that suits your body weight, shape and comfort preferences. Put simply this means that you will potentially toss and turn less on the right mattress and as a result you will wake up in the morning feeling better and not have stiff joints or muscles.

If anything, real refreshment comes more from the quality of restful sleep you enjoy than how long you sleep.

Why proper rest is so important

Unlike 24/7 convenience stores, the human body and mind needs to ‘shut down’ and rest each day to function, cope and feel well to operate at your best the next day.

Indeed, it’s getting sufficient quality sleep that largely determines your energy levels, mental alertness, health and happiness ~ plus your capacity to wake up in the mornings feeling rejuvenated and rearing to go.

When we’re deprived of sleep (or our sleep is disturbed) we can feel anything from ‘out of sorts’ and irritable to depressed and ‘out of control’ ~ which can often result in extra stress.

Whilst lack of sleep is unpleasant rather than necessarily harmful (and new parents can survive long ‘wee-hours stints’ looking after babies) it invariably impairs concentration ~ and leaves people more likely to make mistakes. Which, among other things, creates a real danger when driving.

The 4 R's of enjoying better sleep

  • Regularity
  • Routine
  • Restful bedroom
  • Right bed

To improve sleep quality, it’s always a sound strategy to stick to regular ‘going to bed’ times that are in-sync with (and personally suit) your biological clock.

So too is having your own special ‘get ready’ routine that sends a sleep signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down. Traditional hot drinks or a bath before bed can both be helpful when they’re associated with going to sleep; and if you find that reading serves to guarantee sleep, keep doing it for as long as it keeps working. Generally the things to avoid are eating right before bed; and engaging in activities that overstimulate your brain.

Having a quiet and restful bedroom environment is also clearly essential for good sleep; and here, a dark, cool, non-humid room with the right bed for your body (and bedding for your climate) is the ideal situation.

When to invest in a new mattress

A number of factors affect how long your mattress will continue to provide optimum comfort and support. Indeed, its useful lifespan will vary considerably depending on its quality; its frequency of use; the wear & tear it receives (a heavier person will wear out a bed more quickly than a lighter one ~ and a couple more quickly than a lone person); and how well it’s been cared for. As a general rule however, even a good quality mattress, with normal use, should not be expected to last more than around 7-10 years.

But at the end of the day, knowing when to invest in a new one really gets down to following your instincts ~ and asking yourself a few home truths:

  • Am I starting to wake up with neck or backache?
  • Has my mattress become tatty, torn or stained?
  • When I’m laying in bed, do I feel springs or ridges under the surface?
  • When I move in bed, do I hear creaks, crunches or groaning sounds?
  • Do my partner and I keep rolling in towards each other?
  • Would I be embarrassed if a friend saw my bed without its covers?

When your bed ceases to be a pleasure to sleep in, it’s simply the right time to replace it.

Tips for extending the life of your mattress

  • To protect your mattress from stains, simply put on a washable, protective cover. Special barrier fabrics for allergy sufferers are also available.
  • Pull back the bed clothes each morning and leave the bed to air for around 20 minutes. This will allow any body moisture to evaporate.
  • Unless otherwise advised by the manufacturer, it’s a good idea to turn your mattress over from side to side and end to end every few months (and every week for the first three months of a new mattress). This will help upholstery fillings to settle down more evenly; and also avoids undue wear and tear on the same spots.
  • Try not to sit on the edge of the bed too often and don’t let the kids bounce on it.
  • Never roll up or squash your mattress to store or transport it. This can result in permanent structural damage.
  • Only use the mattress handles to help you position your mattress on its base. They are not designed to support the full weight of the mattress on their own and may pull out.
  • Always remove polythene wrappings from a new mattress. Leaving them on can result in a build-up of condensation that causes dampness, mildew and rotting to set in.
  • Should you need to remove stains, use a mild detergent and warm or cold water ~ and be exra careful not to over soak your mattress or base.
  • Always avoid putting a new mattress on a base it wasn’t designed for; or on an old base; or on a board between the mattress and base. This can not only reduce comfort and lessen the useful life of the mattress, it can also affect the validity of any guarantees or warranties.