Our annual campaign – National Bed Month – that raises the awareness of the importance a good bed plays as part of a healthy lifestyle starts this Sunday. If you are one of the third of the population who hasn’t bought a bed for seven years or more, it’s time you thought about a new one.
After seven years, a bed has been subjected to around 20,000 hours of hard labour and may have deteriorated by as much as 70% from its ‘as new’ state.
You might be surprised to discover just what’s changed since you last shopped around. Here’s just a few of the key developments and improvements
1. The old adage that the harder the bed, the better, has been replaced by the view that it is the correct support (according to an individual’s weight and build), coupled with comfort, that’s best. The idea is to keep your spine in correct alignment, while the bed moulds itself to your natural body contours. How much surface softness to have is then a matter of personal preference.
2. The Pocket spring bed market has mushroomed, with far more choice at a vast array of price points from a couple of hundred pounds to tens of thousands! Pocket spring mattresses tend to feel softer than open coil ones, as they are packed with smaller springs to give more individual support and tend to have softer, more luxurious fillings over the springs.
3. 30 years ago, hardly anyone had heard of memory foam. Today, memory foam is a hugely popular material found in mattresses. It is used as a pressure relieving comfort layer on top of springs or other foams. The deeper the layer of memory foam and the higher its density, generally the more expensive the mattress. It slowly moulds to your body contours and if you share your bed it is great at not disturbing your partner every time you turn or move at night.
4. Further developments in mattress technology have meant that we can enjoy a bed that is as soft or as hard as we want. It is now possible to buy a mattress that is adjusted to suit both partners, even if their needs and preferences differ: softer on one side and firmer on the other. Other mattresses offer progressive support designed to respond to suit those differing needs equally efficiently.
5. Beds have got fashionable as well as functional. Bedsteads are back with a vengeance with every style imaginable from classic to country to contemporary in both metal, wood, fabric or leather. The choice of mattresses to go with bedsteads has also grown, with a far greater choice of support and comfort than ever before.
6. Adjustable beds – once the territory of leaflets in the post office and classified ads in the papers, all geared to the elderly and infirm – are now firmly established as a luxury bed option and readily available from many bed retailers and online traders.
7. Bigger beds are better – and it’s now much easier to get bigger beds than it used to be. The standard 4ft 6in x 6ft 3in (135 x 190cm) may still be the most popular size, but these days over a quarter of us opt for bigger beds and it’s now quite common to see 5ft or even 6ft beds on display in the shops. Manufacturers usually now make divan bases in two completely separate halves so larger beds pose few delivery problems. Also, more readily available are zip and link options – essentially two single beds which can be joined – or separated – by zip and link mechanisms and offered in different firmness levels. Different specifications are even available in the same mattress.
8. Modern, more affluent lifestyles demand increasing flexibility in the home and elastic walls for all our possessions: yet new houses and their bedrooms don’t seem to get any bigger! Fortunately bed manufacturers have become ever more ingenious at transforming beds into space-saving, multi-functional performers – without compromising on sleep comfort!
Storage drawers can be located even in fully sprung bases, whereas once they were only a feature of a solid, platform top option. Ottoman beds with massive storage are now popular, with some even lifting at the press of a button. Extra beds pop up from under single and double beds; as well as out of sofas, chairs and stools. There are even adult bunk beds ideal for the dual purpose study-cum-spare room.
9. British beds have become amongst the safest in the world. Since stringent flammability regulations were introduced in the UK in the late 1980s, all beds and the materials used to make them, have had to be resistant to ignition by the equivalent of a smouldering cigarette and a lighted match. Britain’s bed manufacturers and their suppliers of foams, fillings and covers have mastered all the hurdles of achieving safety without loss of performance or comfort.
10. With increasing awareness of health matters (such as the effect on asthma sufferers of dust mites who thrive on the warm moist environment of a bed and eat our discarded skin scales!) more information is now readily available about the materials used in each bed – so consumers can make an informed choice between, for example, natural or man-made options.
11. Mattresses can now be rolled up, vacuum packed and delivered straight to your door in a box. You can sleep on it for 100 nights and if you don’t like it, it can be collected and you get your money back. Who would have thought that this would be an option only 5 years ago – let alone 30 years ago.
12. Today, there is a huge choice of beds on the market – but the good news is, despite prices ranging from under £100 to over £10,000 for a basic, double divan, beds have never been such good value. Strong competition keeps profit margins down , choice and quality up.