It's the one piece of furniture we all take for granted, but choosing a bed that's good for your health is as important as choosing one for comfort. Use our essential guide as your first step to a perfect night's sleep.
Most modern mattresses fall into four varieties. The first is open sprung, where the coil springs are wired together to form a single unit. These mattresses are ideal if there isn't a big weight difference between you and your partner. Pocket sprung mattresses on the other hand are where every spring has its own pocket, making the mattress better for restless sleepers or a couple where the weight difference is significant. Both Visco-elastic and Talalay latex mattresses respond to your body's temperature to get more comfort and are better for people with allergies as they do not harbour dust mites. If you and your partner have great differences in what you need from a mattress, a zip mattress (in which two different single mattresses can be attached to form a superking) may be the answer.
Your bed should be the biggest your room can allow. Having a large bed means you are less likely to disturb your partner. The common size of a British double bed isn't really big enough for two people to sleep in comfortably, which explains why people have more restless nights when with someone then when alone. Did you know that a standard 4ft 6" bed allows each adult the same equivalent of space a baby has in a bed? Ideally you should opt for a king-size bed which measures 5ft x 6ft 6". That way you can rest assured you will get a good night's sleep.
While bedsteads have an aesthetic purpose and help to give your room a definite style, a divan bed base is usually stronger and more supportive but plainer, style-wise. Divans also have the added option of storage drawers, which can be incorporated into the base. The main benefit of divan beds is that they take up less room. If you're worried about size, it's worth remembering that a king-size divan will often fit into the space of a double bedstead. Divans are also more versatile, if you're likely to change the style of your bedroom regularly, as many don't have the striking appearance of bedsteads.
Bedsteads are available in almost limitless styles and colours – metal and leather are particularly popular at the moment. Many are supplied flat-packed, and so can help with any of the problems associated with getting divans up stairs or through tricky doorways. Remember, if you're buying a bedstead, it's even more important to get the mattress right. The slatted base can reduce the life expectancy of a sprung mattress, so foam mattresses are ideal with this kind of bed. A sprung-slatted base will have a softer feel, and will prolong the life of your mattress.
When it comes to cost you should spend as much as you can afford on a bed, including the base and mattress. When you consider that the average bed lasts 10 years, the cost (however much you spend) won't seem at all bad when you work it out per sleep. A £500 bed used for over 10 years will cost you just 14p a night.
Don't count sheep. If for whatever reason you can't sleep don't just lie in the bed watching the alarm clock. Get up and have a milky hot drink and do something relaxing.
Make sure there is enough room for you and your partner. You are less likely to get a good night's sleep if you are constantly touching each other.
Lavender has long been renowned for helping people to get to sleep. Add some drops of lavender oil to your bath before bedtime or keep a lavender scented pillow close by.
Our bodies love routine. Try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. That way your body will get used to when you should be asleep and awake and you will avoid a jet-lagged feeling.
Turn your mattress regularly to avoid severe hollows forming on the surface – these will result in an uncomfortable night's sleep and will reduce the life of your mattress.