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By Leah A. Zeldes, Tribune Brand Publishing
How are you sleeping compared to a year ago? If you toss and turn more or wake up feeling stiff and sore, a new mattress may improve your sleep. Manufacturers used to suggest a new mattress every 10 years or when the old mattress showed signs of wear and tear, but for better sleep, consider replacing your mattress even sooner.
After all, your bed is the most-used piece of furniture in your home. On average, people spend a third of their lives - some 220,000 hours - in bed, according to the Better Sleep Council, a nonprofit organization supported by the mattress industry.
"Your body changes," says Edith Oralnsky, a consultant from Baer's, a collection of 15 fine furniture stores throughout Florida. "If you've gained or lost weight or developed arthritis or other bodily ills, you may sleep more comfortably with a new mattress," Orlansky says. "Comfort preferences will likely shift as you age or change sleeping positions - something more firm or more plush may be called for."
Mattresses have changed in recent years. Today, there are three primary construction types: Conventional coil, memory foam and hybrids, which have a layer of memory foam but also coil support, according to Helene Brown, a Baer's interior designer.
Traditional coil, or innerspring, mattresses have steel coils under layers of foam and upholstery, and range from plush to extra firm.
Memory foam mattresses have layers of foam with different densities to contour your body shape. "The latest technology is cooling gel," says Brown, ading that gel memory foam is designed to be cooler. "Medically, the body has to cool down before you can fall asleep."
Couples can benefit from memory foam, according to Brown. "There's very little motion transfer," she says. With a memory foam mattress, one person doesn't feel any disturbance when the person he or she is sharing the bed with tosses and turns thoughout the night. Memory foam mattresses should help you sleep better.
Hybrid mattresses combine the support sleepers are accustomed to from coil with pressure relief from specialty foams like gel memory foam or latex. In addition to less partner disturbance, these mattresses offer the added benefit of a cool sleeping surface.
When buying a new mattress, you should also buy its matching foundation. The foundation and mattress are designed to work together. Foundations and box springs absorb most of the stress and weight on the bed, helping mattresses last longer and stay comfortable.
How to Choose a Mattress
“We actually have a computer program called bedMATCH to help
people choose the right mattress,” says Brown, adding that the bed-
MATCH program scientifically matches a person’s body type to the
most appropriate mattress size and style. The program, created by
bedding manufacturer Kingsdown as the result of its Sleep to Live
Institute, uses 18 measurements and more than 1,000 calculations
to determine the best mattress –regardless of brand – for a person’s body type and sleep style.
But nothing is better than testing it out. Be sure to spend enough
time lying on different mattresses to see which is most comfortable.
Make sure you try the mattress in the position you sleep in as well
as the appropriate side of the bed you sleep on. When you find the
one you like, spend at least 15 minutes lying down on it. “Use your
own position when you sleep,” says Orlansky. “People think you are
wasting time, but you are not.”
The size of the bed you choose depends on how much space you
have and who will be sleeping on the mattress. Keep in mind that
the larger the bed, the more expensive bedding will be. Measure to
make sure the bed will fit in your room. If you size up your mattress,
you may have to eliminate some other bedroom furniture.
- Twin or single beds, 38 inches wide by 75 inches long,
take up little room and are a good choice for kids or smaller adults
who sleep alone. A pair of twin beds may give you more versatility
in a guest bedroom. For taller adults, there’s an extra-long version,
5 inches longer than a standard twin.
- Double or full-size beds, 54 inches wide by 75 inches long,
give a single sleeper room to spread out, but are a bit cramped for a
- Queen beds, 60 inches wide by 80 inches long, offer a better
fit for two adults but might not be wide enough for those who
like to sprawl.
- King-size beds, 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, are the
most popular size for master bedrooms. The California King, which
is 4 inches narrower but provides 4 inches in more in length to accommodate
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