Support, Comfort, Hygiene and Durability – the essential qualities of a new bed.

Sleeping like a baby

My Mum always said that as a baby I would sleep anywhere and for the most part I still do, but there came a point in time when I didn’t. When I purchased my first home I had no choice but to buy my own bed! I made sure that I found a bed that was comfy and had some storage for bedlinen and towels. I continued to sleep well – UNTILL – 10 years later the mattress came to the end of its life and I started sharing my bed with someone else. Married life needed a new bed!

Shopping for a bed second time around and not just for myself proved to be a little more complicated. There suddenly seemed to be far more choice on the market and a bed to suit every budget. I even saw one at £21,000 at the Ideal Home Show!

It was no good shopping alone, this new bed was for two. Everyone tells you to try before you buy, test the bed out, curl up as though you are settling down for the night, but how embarrassing is that? Why don’t retailers provide some sort of privacy for bed shoppers, screens that can be pulled around the bed or something more creative? Few people lie flat on their backs when they sleep, but how many people do you see trying out a bed in this fashion? The sleepless, restless nights continued and my grumpiness was not well received by friends and colleagues. The subject was discussed at length until one day my Gym Instructor asked if I had thought of a waterbed. ‘Waterbed’ I laughed ‘I don’t think so’. However it got me thinking and I looked up the British Waterbed Association (yes, there is one –, and researched some more and had some fundamental questions answered.

“I live in an apartment do I need to reinforce the floor?” No.

“What about the cost?” A lot cheaper than some of the beds I had previously considered.

“What if I move house?” Easy, drain the water, roll up the mattress, dismantle the frame and get one of the specialists to reinstall it at your new home for a very reasonable charge (I was quoted £40.00).

Now the challenge was to find one to ‘try before you buy’. There are a few stockists in Kent but I can recommend Choice Design in Dartford for their knowledge and care and attention. They stock waterbeds from two manufacturers, Akva and British Waterbed Company. If you have ever watched Gok Wans ‘ How to look good naked, you will know that he challenges people to model in shop windows, I now know how they feel. Having been in so many bed shops I knew the drill, curl up foetal like and feel how the mattress feels. So in full view of the pedestrians of Dartford, Husband and I curled up – and waved to the passers by who had grins on their faces. I was past caring, I wanted and needed a good nights sleep.

The verdict for us – a waterbed worked and still does. It has been lovely these past few months with it so cold, the thermostatically controlled bed is warm and cosy. Maintenance is a dream, no more hoovering mattresses or turning them, just add a conditioner every 6 months or so and wipe the vinyl mattress regularly. At £1,700.00 it was a bargain.

Off course, as I found there are many types of bed bases and mattresses to choose from, which is why the try before you buy scenario is so important. Deciding the type of bed you want and need and setting your budget will be a good starting point before you set out. If you need additional storage then a divan base with drawer storage will be neater than a bedstead with plastic boxes stored under it, but an antique brass bedstead may be just the thing for your home. Adjustable bases are becoming increasingly popular not just for the many benefits they provide to those needing a raised sleeping position or aid getting in and out of bed, but also for the varied lifestyles we now lead, watching TV in bed, working with the laptop in bed, with 2 separate mattresses they can meet all needs.

The construction of the mattress plays an important part in the overall price and comfort of your bed. There are essentially two main types of mattress construction, those with and those without springs. Latex and memory foam mattresses such as the brand Tempur and water beds are obviously without springs as are the traditional Japanese Futons. Sprung mattresses are either open coil or open sprung which are to be found in the budget to mid price range, continuously sprung which means a higher spring count with a finer gauge of wire, are found in the mid price range and the pocket sprung mattresses which are amongst the most expensive, but have the advantage of individually wrapped springs allowing them to work independently of one another, profiling to the body shape thus preventing pressure points and the transmission of movement between sleeping partners.

Once you have wisely chosen your bed you will want to spend more time in it and in your bedroom, so ensure that your bedroom storage in well organised and your bed well dressed. A haven of comfort and joy. Happy sleeping.


Interesting/Fascinating Fact – 80% of bed shoppers spend less that two minutes trying out beds on which they are likely to be spending around 3000 hours – over 120 full days – in just one year!

Interesting /Fascinating Fact – we lose more than a quarter of a litre of body moisture each night and shed almost half a kilo of skin scales in a year. This unhygienic environment is a hive for dust mites, whose droppings are known to aggravate asthma and eczema symptoms. Dust mites don’t live in Waterbeds.

Interesting /Fascinating fact – for every £100 you spend on a new bed represents an investment of 3p per night (assuming a lifespan of 10 years). A bargain bed is no bargain if you don’t sleep well in it.


The Sleep Council produces a really helpful booklet (downloadable from that provides lots of helpful tips about buying beds.


Typical UK Bed Sizes

Beds Imperial Size Metric Size
Single 3’ x 6’3” 90 x 190cm
Double 4’6” x 6’3” 140 x 190cm
King 5’ x 6’6” 150 x 200cm
Superking 6’ x 6’6” 180 x 200cm
Emperor 7’ x 7’ 215 x 215cm


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