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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions.  If you can't find what you're looking for please visit ask us to submit a question to one of our bed experts.

Q: I have back and shoulder problems and wondered what the best mattress would be for me. eg firm or soft, memory foam or springs, etc Question from Ruth

A:

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.

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. For a long time, it was believed that a hard bed was good for a bad back.  Recent research confirms this is not necessarily the case and could in fact cause more damage.

The term 'orthopaedic' generally just means an extra firm bed; it is not based on any medical or other common standard, nor does it mean the bed has been professionally assessed or recommended.  It is a term loosely used by manufacturers to refer to extra firm models in their range.  Firmness is not determined by price, although comfort, luxury and durability and added features such as adjustability come with higher 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.

Pay attention also to choosing the correct pillow, which must support the 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!).