There's an unforgettable episode of Seinfeld where Kramer announces he's not going to waste a good part of his life sleeping, so he adopts Leonardo da Vinci's legendary habit of napping for 15 minutes every four hours, for a grand total of one and a half hours of slumber a day. While hilarious, it predictably ends in disaster for him and everyone around him. It is an odd thing that we go unconscious at a scheduled time each night for (hopefully) six or more hours, but it can also be something to look forward to if we have an amazing bed to slip into.
When I was a student living away from home for the first time, I had a huge futon that was known to my friends as the most comfortable thing in existence. It was kind of my pride and joy (keep in mind how little the average student has that's actually worthy of boasting). And then one day it turned on me. It became hard and lumpy seemingly overnight, and whereas before my friends would sink into it and dreamily announce they were never going to get up, they would now leave my house after sleepovers all hunched and crumpled. I learned my lesson, and knew I needed a proper mattress, especially as my philosophy around sleep was in stark contrast to da Vinci's - I loved to sleep! I endured the lumps for a while longer until I moved in with my now-husband, at which point we bought a very good responsive foam mattress. It was expensive, and the best money we've ever spent; 10 years on I can say there hasn't been a single night when I've crawled into bed and didn't notice how heavenly it feels. Considering we all spend a third of our lives in bed - really! - and the fact that a high quality mattress should last 25 years, it's a worthy investment in your comfort and well being.
So what are your options? Luxury beds come in many forms these days, and the type you choose is a very personal matter. Beyond whether you like a soft, medium or firm mattress, you need to find out which kind of construction will give you the most comfort, and the best way to know is to lie on one. It's also important to research which mattress is best for your weight/body type and any health conditions you may have, as some designs will be better suited to alleviating your symptoms, while others may exacerbate them. Types to consider include: natural fibre mattresses filled with wool, horsehair or coir which is a fibre extracted from the husk of coconuts; foam that reacts to your body's weight, shape and temperature; pocket sprung which consists of cloth wrapped coil which holds the spring's tension allowing it to move independently; latex for its hypo-allergenic properties; and you can even have a bespoke mattress made to your specific requirements.
We all know that getting a good night's sleep is important, but it's actually crucial to our health. If comfort isn't enough to get us thinking about what we're sleeping on, these six reasons to get enough zzzzs from The Harvard Women's Health Watch may do the trick:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
So, proper sleep habits combined with the right high quality mattress can improve our quality of life and make us happier people. Top it off with a gorgeous bed and you've got the best of both worlds!