By the time you turn 50, you’ll have spent approximately sixteen years of your life in bed – so it makes sense to invest in a decent one. “We splash out on holidays, kitchens and sound systems; why not on something we use every single day?” asks Simon Williams, of the National Bed Federation.
But where to start? Divan or bedstead? Double or king? And what about the mattress? Read on to find out the answers to these, and more, questions in our ultimate buying guide – as well as our selected favourites for best beds that should last you years to come.
What types of bed are there?
The two most common types are divans – a deep-sided base which the mattress sits on top of – and bedsteads, where the mattress sits on slats within a frame. Divans provide extra support, and often provide built-in under-bed storage. But most aren’t that stylish, and you often have to buy the headboard separately.
Bedsteads have more going for them aesthetically, as well as providing fewer places for allergens to accumulate. But you don’t get quite the consistency of comfort right across the bed, and you’ll need to make sure the slats are secured to the frame and evenly spaced.
What size bed should I buy?
Choose the biggest bed you can afford that will fit in your room. Ideally you want a king-sized bed, especially if you’re sharing with a partner. “A standard double bed is 4ft 6in wide, which gives each person just 2ft 3in – that’s less room than a baby has in a cot,” pointed out a National Bed Federation spokesman.
So how big is big enough? “You should be able to lie side by side, with your arms behind your head and your elbows out, without touching,” is the official advice. “Your bed should also be 10-15cm longer than its tallest occupant: anyone over 6ft (1.8m) tall should consider a bed that’s longer than the standard size.”
How important is the mattress?
The quality of your mattress is the most important factor when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. If you’ve had your mattress for more than seven years, it might well be time to replace it. Clues include waking up with stiffness and/or aches and pains, or if you find you sleep better in beds other than your own. Sagging and lumpiness are also indicators that your mattress is on its way out. Ideally, buy your bed base and mattress together, or at the very least, try mattresses on a similar type of base, as the two are designed to work together.
What else should I consider?
Shop for the best value, not the lowest price. The better the construction, the better the support and comfort, and the longer the bed will last. Also consider the bed’s height – many modern styles are quite low, while designs with storage drawers may be much higher.
Where possible, try before you buy – as mentioned, ideally with the mattress. Check dimensions, particularly if the mattress and base aren’t from the same manufacturer – many imported bedsteads come in European sizes, which are nonstandard in the UK.
A final thing to check is delivery times: a bed can take months to arrive, especially it’s they’re made to order. Will the deliverers dispose of your old bed? Do you have to assemble it yourself? And what happens if you need to send it back under warranty?