GETTING a good night’s sleep can be challenging, especially if your mattress is old and lumpy — and when you’ve become older and lumpier. Jokes aside, choosing the perfect mattress and pillow for yourself or for your elderly loved one is serious business. Choose the wrong one and it could be quite a costly mistake. After all, we spend a third of our lifetime in bed; more if you’re ill.

It doesn’t help that there are so many different types available, and one always seems to be better than the next. So how does one go about choosing the perfect mattress? Does it really exist? How do you match the needs of an individual to the right piece? How would you know when to get a new mattress?

It has been said that a good bed/mattress is one when you wake up feeling fresh without aches and pains. There have been times when I’ve found this in some hotels when I travel. When this happens, find out the name and model of the mattress. Your life has been made that much easier. Some hotels just know their beds and pillows so that their guests have the best stay. You need not go on a quest to find the perfect mattress any more.

There are so many different types in the market — latex, spring, combination of spring and latex, sponge foam, memory foam, airbeds, waterbeds, good old-fashioned kapok-filled ones, futon, and those with adjustable bases. Then there are hybrids that combine any one of those materials. There are also different types and ranges within each category too. It can get pretty mind-boggling!

Some salespeople and sleep experts may recommend that you just have a good mattress topper to make that final difference in your comfort level. This can be anything from a very thin topper to something with a bit more body and firmness, or a ripple/bubble mattress to relieve bedsores. Decide what works for you.

SHOPPING FOR MATTRESS

A good mattress can last up to 20 years, especially latex ones. Poor quality foam mattresses can noticeably lose its form even within a year. However, the average lifespan of a high-end mattress is about seven to 10 years depending on the level of care. A lot also depends on how often you sleep on the mattress.

When you decide to go shopping for a mattress, and you’re going to spend quite a bit on it, don’t rush into it. Find a day, preferably a weekday during the quieter hours of the day, to test out the different mattresses. Weekends are usually packed with people. You won’t be able to relax and listen to your body. Give yourself time to ask the salesperson questions too. After all, this is something you’re going to be using every night for the next 10 years!

If you’re going to buy a new mattress and test it out, experts have recommended that you spend at least 10 to 15 minutes on each mattress, and lying down the way you actually would if you were going to sleep. One of the best ways to replicate the way you sleep on your mattress at home is to bring your own pillow! Some shops allow you to lie down and try out the mattress; others may not.

So if you’re seriously going to invest in a mattress, you should also invest in the time you spend searching for the right one. Don’t be intimidated, shamed or bullied into purchasing something you don’t really need or is out of your budget. Walk away from that situation if it happens. Remember that the ultimate decision is yours.

If, however, you don’t have the time to do this, or can’t bring your loved one to try it out, you can start to list down your concerns to see which mattress would be the best choice.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

When choosing something for your ailing elderly, you’d probably have to know his or her problems and concerns — like joint or back pain, acid reflux, snoring, preferences in sleep positions like on his side or on his back, has poor circulation or gets frequent leg cramps.

Read reviews from credible sites. Some elderly people may not be comfortable with memory foam mattress because they feel like they’re sinking. There have also been reviews that memory foam mattress may not be the best option for menopausal women who suffer from night sweats. For some, a spring mattress may be the one for them, but it can be a bit noisy if you treasure your privacy.

Choosing the perfect mattress can be downright frustrating and confusing. You can scour the Internet and read reviews or you can ask friends for their opinions and recommendations. Or you can just go for what you feel is best for you and your loved one and forever hold your peace.

Whatever the case may be, it’s best to make informed decisions so that you don’t simply settle for something less. As the Irish proverb goes, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.”

One out of two isn’t half bad.

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