If you begin your day feeling groggy, don’t sleep over the problem, change the mattress. “It has been said that people who love their mattresses sleep much better than others,” says Mile Franicevic, senior general manager Ikea.
Since a third of our lives (roughly 25 years) is spent asleep, it’s wise to understand why a quality mattress matters. “A good, naturally made mattress makes a world of difference. Primarily, you fall asleep quicker. Secondly you toss and turn less and stay asleep longer. You also sweat less, which helps you stay cool longer, and hence your mattress is free from bacteria that seek moist environments to breed,” explains Philip McDonald, general manager SLA Venture, sole distributors of Hästens mattresses in the GCC.
For 160 years the Swedish firm has produced exclusive hand-crafted beds for kings and connoisseurs, using natural fibres such as horse hair, cotton and wool.
By the 20th century, mattresses were made with an inner spring core and materials such as latex or flexible foams. Today the bedding industry is having an eco-awakening, with top brands manufacturing organic chemical-free mattresses. “We produce Mega Foam or Green Foam, which does not use methylene chloride during its manufacture. Methylene chloride is an ozone-depleting chemical commonly used by mattress manufacturers to manufacture cheap foam,” says Sudarshan Rai, marketing manager, Dubai Furniture Manufacturing Company, suppliers of King Koil and Serta mattresses in the UAE.
Producers firmly believe substances used to fill a mattress lend it longevity and enhance quality of sleep. “Natural materials such as cotton, wool, flax and horse hair specifically act like a ventilation system throughout sleep, and in turn prevent unnecessary tossing and turning caused by unnatural materials and the chemicals they release,” McDonald says.
But Doctor Suad Trebinjac, consultant and head of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Rashid Hospital, refutes such claims. “There is no scientific proof that the kind of material used to make mattresses affects quality of sleep. I didn’t find a single serious study to support such a claim. This is one of many examples where quasi-science is used for commercial promotion.”
What is not debatable is that a good night’s rest is hard to come by on an old, lumpy mattress. “Sleeping on the wrong mattress may cause sleeplessness, back pain and overall aches and pains. It can even worsen any existing pain. We have patients with back pain, neck pain and wrist pain due to bad posture when sleeping,” says Dr Lucia Heras-Garcia, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Medcare Hospital.
Delivering supportive sleep solutions, a wide range of beddings are available in the market. “People’s bodies change over time, and the need for comfort and support only increases with age. Foam and latex mattresses give firm support and are also resilient. Providing stable sleeping comfort, they absorb the shock of body movement, and hence are a great choice if you share the bed with a partner who tends to toss and turn at night,” Franicevic says.
With mattresses, size does matter; they need to be large and sturdy to accommodate both body and weight of the persons using it. “A mattress should provide equal distribution of pressure to the body. This pressure must be moderate and pleasant. Very hard mattresses or very soft ones with unequal pressure can disturb sleep and provoke mainly muscular pain and stiffness,” Trebinjac says.
Rule of thumb is to always lie on a mattress for at least ten minutes before buying it, as any quality product is bound to give the pocket the proverbial pinch.
“Mattress as a product is a ‘high involvement purchase’ and is worth the investment. The price ranges from Dh1,500-Dh15,000, depending on the feel and features.The raw material used for all mattresses is usually the same, the price is determined by the features and the type of coil the mattress has. It really depends upon the customer’s requirement and what features they are looking for. A mattress is an investment, and customers today are willing to invest for the value that they get,” Rai says.
— Shahana Raza is a UAE-based freelance writer