It is time to hunker down, get into hibernation mode and optimize bedtime. The early sunsets that make it feel like bedtime at 6:30pm and the onset of rain sure do make getting cozy and comfortable at home more and more enticing. Or maybe you are going to bed a bit earlier because, well, where else are you gonna go? That being said, and in all seriousness getting quality sleep may be more difficult with the added stress of managing life during these times.
A good mattress can make a big difference in both your quality of sleep and how you feel, physically and mentally, when you wake up. As I have written previously, sleep is a critical part of injury recovery. So, I want to help out by providing some simple advice about choosing the right mattress.
There are four key factors that I will outline. Of course there are many more details and points of comparison for those who are detail-oriented. Some great places to start gathering this kind of data include The Sleep Judge, The Healthy Back, The Better Sleep Council, Canadian Made Natural Mattresses, Naturpedic and many more.
But for the rest of us, who want the practical tips we can remember while shopping (either online or in-store), here are the four key factors I suggest you consider:
Or at least get a general idea of the category. The basic considerations that most average people have include: Innerspring (the coils are connected to each other), Pocket coils (coils are independent from each other), Foam (usually memory foam or basic foam), Natural Fibres (Coir, latex, horse hair, futon, etc). The websites mentioned above are great places to seek additional information about the types of mattresses.
2. Test out the mattress
Many mattress stores have adapted their operations to continue to provide customers with a safe way to shop for mattresses in-person. Check your local store for their current covid protocols. Respect their protocols and do your part to keep the staff and other shoppers safe. If shopping in-person is not possible for you, check out the details about return policies and delivery options prior to purchasing.
I recommend trying it out because you may be surprised about what you like and don’t like. Try out firm and soft. Mattress toppers and no toppers. Foam and no foam. Try your best to relax during this process, and mimic the sleep process as much as you are able within the conditions of the store.
Sleep comfort is the result of the interaction between you, your mattress, your pillow and your environment (like your blanket, the temperature, noise, etc). Most companies give a 90 day sleep guarantee for a reason. There is no shame in changing your mind once you get a mattress home and setup with your pillows, blankets and your environment. Of course, yes returning a mattress can be a lot of work, but if the mattress isn’t working for you don’t try to make yourself like it. Return it. It will be worth it in the end when you are sleeping well on the right mattress.
Generally, side sleepers need more independent support in their mattresses. Pocket coils and thicker foam are important here to support all the body curves, like shoulders, hips and waist.
Back and stomach sleepers need more spread out support, like innerspring or thinner foam. (And much smaller pillows too!)
Heavier people may do better with spread out support, like innerspring. However, if there are multiple people in the bed, everyone may end up rolling to the lowest point after a while and the life time of comfort may be significantly reduced.
4. Compare details
This can save a lot of money. A lot of stores carry similar mattresses by the same brand under different names. But if you look at the specifications, you may find that they are literally the same thing with a different name. And may be hundreds of dollars different on the price tag. Good news? Most companies will price match. Bad news? You have to actually show the difference and ask for the price match.
Other ways to help optimize bedtime
If you aren’t in the market for a mattress there are simple things you can do to optimize bedtime. In addition to having a good mattress it’s also important to consider your pillows. You should be getting new pillows every three years. This will make a world of difference, and just like mattresses it can be tricky to find just the right one for you. Create a bedtime routine that helps you unwind and disconnect from the stress of the day. The routine helps signal to your body and mind that it’s time to sleep.