Look After Your Back

Look After Your Back

If you find yourself tossing and turning all night in a restless slumber or sleeping like a baby only to wake up full of aches and pains - you may need to look at your bed and ask yourself if it is the right bed for you.

Every year up to 40% of the population - over 16 million of us - will suffer a bout of back pain and if you're one of the unlucky ones, you will find that the state of your bed will quickly become a priority.

A good bed, providing correct support and comfort, has an important role to play in relieving and preventing back pain

If you wake up with aches and pains which disappear over the course of the day, you are not sleeping as well as you did a year ago.

Are You Sleeping On The Right Bed?

The right bed is extremely important to our health and wellbeing because our sleeping environment will affect the quality of our sleep – which in turn has a big effect on how well we feel, both physically and psychologically.

A bed with the correct support, comfort and space will ensure you wake less, move about less, are less disturbed by your partner and are less likely to wake up feeling tired or aching.

So, what is the right bed? It’s not easy to make specific recommendations. There’s such a huge choice on the market place and the key deciding factor – is it comfortable – is such a subjective measure.

All we can do is give people an overview of the different types of bed available and tips on how to go about the process of choosing the right bed for them.

Jessica Alexander - Sleep Council spokesperson

The Sleep Council was set up to provide an independent source of advice on bed buying – as well as to raise awareness of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep to health and wellbeing.

According to The Sleep Council, Goldilocks had the right idea: the right bed’s neither too soft nor too hard – but it suits everyone’s very individual needs.

First and foremost it must give you correct support and comfort – but individuals might also have to consider factors such as back pain, allergies, breathing problems, available budget, whether a type of mattress makes you too hot, storage or space requirements: not to mention style preferences.

Size is important.

The most common British double bed size of 4ft 6in x 6ft 3in (135cm x 190cm) really isn’t big enough for two to sleep well without disturbing each other.

Studies have shown that more space – even a slight move up to a 5ft x 6ft 6in (150cm x 200cm) King size bed – can make a lot of difference to night-time comfort.

Always consider both the mattress and its support, whether divan base or bedstead. They work together to create the overall feel and performance of a bed, with different combinations producing differing results.

If you are not buying a base and mattress from the same supplier, make sure the mattress is suitable for use with the type of support you are considering: if you don’t, lack of durability could be a problem, with no comeback to the supplier.

There are many types – and prices of beds – from which to choose, each offering their own features and benefits.

Mattresses come with various types of internal spring unit – open coil, pocket sprung or continuous springing – in ordinary foam, visco-elastic or latex foam, filled with cotton or other fibres (futons!).

You should spend as much as you can afford on a new bed – it’s probably one of the most important investments you’ll make, not just for your home but also for your own wellbeing! Remember, every £100 you spend represents just 2.7p a night over 10 years. That’s less than the price of a daily pro-biotic yoghurt!

Once you’ve got your new bed, do remember that it won’t stay wonderful forever – beds get a lot of wear and tear!

Over time, your comfort and support needs change, too.

Do the Bed MOT test once a year – National Bed Month, which runs throughout March, is a good time to consider the state of your bed and your sleep and comfort quality.

Visit www.sleepcouncil.com for further information.

The Sleep Council offers the following tips:

  • Don't just buy a bed because it says it's good for your back. A bed that's supportive and comfortable is key. But it is important to remember that people's requirement for support will differ depending on their weight and build.
  • The term 'orthopaedic' generally just means an extra firm bed; it is not based on any medical or other common standard. Firmness is not determined by price, although comfort, luxury and durability and added features such as adjustability come with higher price tags.
  • There's no single right bed to ease a back problem and each different back problem also may require a different solution. The best approach is to research the options carefully, take time to try them out and choose what you personally find supportive and comfortable, regardless of labels or even price tags.
  • Narrow your choice down to two or three and then spend plenty of time lying on these in your normal sleeping positions. Five or 10 minutes should be the minimum for each bed - but feel free to spend half an hour or even an hour, if that's what you want to do.
  • Look for a supportive rather than a hard bed. Do not assume that orthopaedic or firmer beds are the best option. Often a medium firm bed with proper cushioning is better.
  • A bigger bed will be of benefit both for the back pain sufferer and for their partners - with less partner disturbance. Zip and link beds are a good option if firmness preferences differ widely or where a future requirement for two separate beds is identified.
  • Think also about the height of the bed: can you get in and out of it with relative ease? An adjustable bed might be an option if this is an area of particular concern - it also offers variable sleeping positions.
  • Many mattresses need to be turned regularly to ensure even wear and tear. If this is likely to prove difficult (and good quality mattresses are heavy!) then look for a mattress which does not need regular turning - there are a number of options of all types of construction now on the market.
  • Pay attention also to choosing the correct pillow which must support the neck neck in alignment with the rest of the spine. Too many pillows thrust the head forward or sideways (depending on your sleeping position); too few allow the head to tip backwards: both create a crick in the neck.
  • Try and adopt a sleeping position which creates less physical stress on the back (e.g. lying on your side is better than lying on your front with your neck twisted to one side!).

Courtesy of www.sleepcouncil.com

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