Bed buying guide: How to choose the right bed
Considering that the average person will spend between a quarter and a third of their lives in bed, it is only common sense that a good bed represents an extremely sound investment.
However, rather than replacing our beds and mattresses when they start to deteriorate, the majority of us will simply grin and bear it, accepting poor sleep as the norm.
In short, although all of us love a good night’s sleep, only a few of us take the necessary steps, quickly enough, to secure it on a regular basis.
Whether it manifests itself in lower concentration levels, frustration or reduced vitality, a lack of decent sleep can affect us in a number of negative ways. Further, it’s often overlooked that the quality of our bed can be a huge factor in determining the quantity and quality of our sleep.
Having discussed customers' sleep preferences on a daily basis for over 25 years, I know exactly what’s involved in helping you enjoy the perfect night’s sleep, and have written this guide to highlight some of the major things you need to consider before choosing a bed.
In the following pages we’ll cover everything from the importance of getting a decent amount of quality sleep to what to look for in an experienced bed supplier. By the time you've finished reading, you'll not only recognise the huge difference a good bed can make to your overall quality of life, you’ll also be much more confident in your ability to make the perfect selection.
Getting a good night’s sleep
Nowadays we all recognise the importance of eating well and exercising regularly (whether or not we actually alter our routines accordingly). However, far too many of us overlook the part that securing a decent quantity of quality sleep plays in helping us maintain a healthy lifestyle.
By denying our bodies the chance to rest properly, we are forcing ourselves to live with a sleep debt hanging over our heads. As a result, not only will we feel tired during the day, we are also likely to see our productivity drop and our irritability rise. Needless to say this can have a distinctively negative effect on both our work and personal lives.
If you are suffering as a result of poor or insufficient sleep, consider the following…
Are you sure your bed is providing the support you need?
Although many will blame their troubled sleeping on stress, light or noise, a huge number of people are simply unaware of the massive impact their bed is having on their sleep. Often, people will be completely ignorant of the poor quality of their bed until they go on holiday, for example, and sleep in a good bed. It is important to remember that mattresses don’t last forever, and if yours has lumps or dips, if it creaks, clangs or squeaks, or is simply over 8 years old, then your bed is probably failing to provide you adequate comfort and support. If this is the case, you owe it to yourself to get a new one.
Is your bed the right size?
Another common issue experienced by people is that their bed is often too small to accommodate them comfortably. Whilst this can be a problem for tall people, especially if the bed has a footboard, the main problem here is people being disturbed by their partner. In a standard double bed (135cm wide) each partner gets just 67.5cm of individual space. That's less than the width of a cot.
Although it’s obviously important to make sure you have sufficient room for it, buying a larger bed is something you certainly won’t regret. Indeed, at The Bed Warehouse, we often have people come back to us after a few months saying that they can’t understand how they have ever coped in a small bed at all.
If you’ve always used a single bed, is it time to consider a three quarter double? If you are upsizing, you’ll need to consider the expense of new bed linens, but I’ve never spoken to a customer who regrets the change. When it comes to beds, bigger really is better.
Bed Size Guide
There are six popular bed or mattress sizes in the UK. Often recognised by their metric measurements, imperial measurements or common terminology. Here are all six.
Small single bed (2'6" x 6'3" or 75cm x 190cm)
Single bed (3'0" x 6'3" or 90cm x 190cm)
Three quarter bed, also know as a small double bed or a 3/4 bed (4'0" x 6'3" or 120 x 190cm)
Double bed (4'6" x 6'3" or 135 x 190cm)
King size bed (5'0" x 6'6" or 150 x 200cm)
Super king size bed (6'0" x 6'6" or 180 x 200cm)
Please note that king and super king beds are longer than standard. It's essential that taller people take advantage of this extra length as hanging your feet over the end of a bed puts a lot of strain on your lower back.
Choosing the right mattress
Without a doubt, the most important element to consider when buying a new bed (from a functional point of view) is the mattress. When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, comfort and support are paramount, and a good quality mattress selected for your individual needs is essential if you are to achieve these goals.
Certain body shapes are best suited by particular mattress types and it's wise to consider your own body shape when selecting a new mattress or bed. Higher shoulder to waist ratios or hip to waist ratios require softer more responsive springs and fillings to be able to respond to these body shapes. Squarer body shapes with lower ratios can require a firmer mattress to offer an appropriate level of support.
The firmness of any mattress is relative to the weight of the individual sleeper. Consider your own weight when judging the firmness rating of a mattress. In general, the heavier a person the firmer the mattress required to offer the essential posture support.
Whether you sleep on your back, side or front can influence the appropriate mattress choice. Front and back sleepers should avoid overly soft options as the natural curve of the spine can be distorted. Side sleepers should avoid overly firm options as the hips can be pushed out of position. We are always happy to discuss your individual needs in store or on our free advice line.
The most common mattress constructions are:
Traditional open coil/orthopaedic spring
This construction involves around 300 linked metal springs per king size mattress, and can be upholstered in various fillings. Whilst available in all firmnesses, this construction is particularly suitable in very firm orthopaedic type mattresses.
This construction involves anywhere from 600 to 6,000 individually encased metal springs per king size mattress and can be finished with various qualities of fillings to create a very supportive, sumptuous, luxury feel.
With the main function of these mattresses being to provide the sleeper with an almost weightless support, this construction involves no springs at all. Although some are available in very firm options, most are more likely to be medium to medium/soft.
Each construction type has its own features and benefits, and very often a combination of styles within a mattress will best meet a customer’s needs.
Common mattress buying considerations
As your new mattress should last you almost a decade, making the wrong choice can be a mistake that haunts you for an extremely long time, so bear these common considerations in mind as you make your decision.
Soft or firm?
The comfort level of a new mattress is a totally personal choice. Soft, luxurious beds offer no less support than firmer orthopaedic models so don’t be put off this type of feel. Think back to a really great night’s sleep, perhaps in a hotel; what type of feel did that bed have? At The Bed Warehouse we all try out the mattresses on display and collate an average firmness rating out of 10 for each. As a guide for an average size person less than 6 would feel soft, 6-8 medium firmness, an 8 upwards a firmer feel.
My partner’s a pain…
Whether you recognise it or not, if you share your bed, your quality of sleep may well be being disrupted by your partner. Perhaps your partner moves around a lot in their sleep, perhaps they have to get up earlier than you and wake you up in the process, perhaps there’s a large disparity between your body types, whatever the issue, a good mattress will be able to resolve the problem.
The key is in the type of mattress construction chosen. Rather than putting up with poor quality sleep and continual tiredness or banishing your partner to another bed altogether, why not simply invest in a good quality mattress? Whilst in a substandard mattress, movement on one side of the bed will be felt on the other, a good mattress will absorb movement, ensuring that the sleep of both you and your partner can continue undisturbed.
Whilst most people in this position will immediately think of memory foam mattresses (which will do the job superbly), ‘pocket sprung’ mattresses are also more than able to provide the necessary support whilst ensuring the comfort of both partners. In pocket spring mattresses each spring is individually encased, meaning it’s not directly connected to any surrounding springs. As a result, movement on one side of the bed will not transfer to the other.
My partner’s hot and I’m not…
The temperature that you and your partner prefer whilst sleeping is a hugely important factor that is often overlooked when selecting the most suitable bed or mattress.
Whilst no-one wants to be too cold in bed, this can usually be fixed through extra bedding. On the other hand, there is almost nothing you can do to cool yourself down if you are too hot in bed. Many mattresses now use memory foam for its excellent pressure relieving properties. However it’s worth noting that a proportion of people find this heat retaining material keeps them too warm for a comfortable night’s sleep.
If you feel that you or your partner may be sensitive to the extra warmth of memory foam, look out for temperature regulating fabrics that are becoming increasingly popular. Alternatively consider natural latex fillings which relieve pressure points without retaining heat. Alternatively, hybrid mattresses which combine springs and memory foam are much cooler than full foam varieties.
My back is killing me. Do I need an orthopaedic bed?
If you are suffering from an aching back, arthritic joints, painful hips or any other muscular/skeletal issues, your current mattress may well be accentuating the problem. The key is to choose a bed which is able to provide you with sufficient support without creating pressure points. Pocket spring, memory foam and latex mattresses offer excellent pressure relieving properties and high levels of support. Orthopaedic foam and orthopaedic sprung mattresses are generally firmer and suit a lot of people’s preference for a hard bed; remember though…harder isn’t always better!
It’s so high…
Modern beds and mattresses are often much higher than older models, so be sure to consider the height of your new bed. Whether you prefer a higher bed to ease getting out in the morning or a lower one to make getting in simpler, don’t make life unnecessarily difficult for yourself by choosing the wrong type of bed.
Do I need to turn this mattress?
Whilst traditionally constructed mattresses need to be turned over and rotated regularly, especially when new, more modern mattresses, especially those containing memory foam, do not need to be turned but should be rotated.
How often should I replace my mattress?
In order to help ensure the general public are enjoying the best quality of sleep possible, The Sleep Council recommends that you change your mattress every seven years. Unless you treat your mattress properly, however, it may need changing earlier.
Is there a warranty period?
Given that you will inevitably want your new bed or mattress to last as long as possible, it makes sense to take into account the warranty manufacturers are willing to provide.
Although warranties can vary from 12 months to 12 years, one thing that unites almost all manufacturers is that they will often reduce the warranty period if you buy a mattress without its corresponding base. Similarly warranty claims will often be refuted if the mattress is soiled, stained or dirty so always use a good quality mattress protector.
Choosing the right bed
Though your mattress is obviously the most important thing to get right when you are looking to improve your quality of sleep, it’s not the only thing you need to worry about. Indeed, when people come to us looking to swap their mattress for a new one, I always make sure to ask them whether or not they are sure the base of their bed is in good condition too.
If the base of your bed is faulty or misshapen, problems will soon impact on the efficiency of your new mattress. If your base was slightly uneven, for example, you might find that this puts a great deal of stress on one side of your mattress but not the other. Left unresolved this will severely shorten the lifespan of your new purchase and ensure your sleep quality is unable to improve.
So what type of bed base should you go for then? In the following sections, we’ll look in more detail at the advantages and disadvantages of divan bases and bed frames respectively.
Divan bed advantages:
No matter how big or small your bedroom, everyone can do with more storage space, and a divan style bed will provide this in abundance. The simplest solution is to have up to four draws set into the bed. However, should you need more space, perhaps to store extra bedding, a lift up ottoman style divan bed offers the perfect solution.
On these beds, rather than only using part of the available space underneath the bed, the whole base lifts up, revealing a huge storage area, perfect for storing bulky and seldom-used items such as suitcases and winter blankets, or as I'm told more often, shoes and handbags. What’s more, this storage space is completely invisible when closed!
Strength and rigidity
If one of your principal concerns is that your bed should be sturdy, a divan bed won’t let you down. Thanks to their construction, these beds will not wobble or creak and should support even the heaviest of mattresses for many years.
Another of the major advantages of a divan style bed is that it is possible to fit a headboard to them fairly easily.
Though you may love the way your bedroom looks at the moment, all of us want a change now and again, and should you decide to redecorate several years down the line, being able to change your headboard may well remove the need for you to buy a whole new bed-something that could save you a considerable amount of money!
As divan beds generally have castors fitted, it is easy to roll the bed around the bedroom should you need to vacuum underneath, for example.
Divan bases usually provide a solid board-like surface for your mattress to sit on. However, divan bases can be constructed with a layer of springs; these are known as ‘sprung bases’. These bases make the overall feel of the bed softer.
Divan base disadvantages
Although taste is obviously personal and largely subjective, many people do tend to prefer bed frames to divan beds when it comes to appearance. This is largely due to their bulky construction, which, though great for both storage and rigidity, undoubtedly makes divan beds less elegant and sleek than most frame designs.
Divan bases are built to accommodate storage drawers and over the years divans have become higher and higher as manufacturers seek to offer deeper drawers. To some people this is an advantage, however to some it makes the bed look disproportionately large in their bedroom and can make getting into bed difficult.
Whilst bed frames are usually supplied unassembled, divan beds, although split into two halves, are still fairly bulky items. As a result, delivery around some staircases can prove fairly tricky.
Bed frame advantages
Although divan beds are certainly not unattractive, coming in a far wider range of colours and styles, bed frames are generally much easier to match to your room’s overall aesthetic.
In terms of materials, the most common options are…
Pine. This softwood is available in hundreds of designs and can be finished in many stains or colours. For extra strength look out for our slow grown Scandinavian timber.
Oak. As oak is a hardwood, these bed frames are generally very sturdy and long lasting with a very clean finish.
Metal. From traditional to ultra-modern there are literally hundreds of designs on the market in every colour imaginable.
Leather. Leather beds are hugely popular for both its attractive looks and comfy upholstered feel. These beds are generally available in various grades of leather (including faux leather) and a multitude of colours.
Upholstered. Back in vogue, upholstered bed frames combine stunning good looks with warm, deep upholstered finishes to compliment any bedroom style.
In short, whatever you’re looking for, be it a chrome finished king size or a sturdy oak double there is a bed frame out there which will fit your desires perfectly.
Can accommodate storage
Although bed frames will almost always have a beam and additional support legs under the centre of the bed, the space underneath is far from unusable. Not only are coordinating storage drawers available to make the most of the space beneath the frame, some bed frames also have lift up ottoman storage bases allowing easy access to the storage space beneath the bed.
Bed frame disadvantages
Extra care is needed with laminate floors
When placed on laminate flooring, it is only common sense that beds can move during the night. As such, if you do have laminate flooring in your bedroom, I would highly recommend taking extra care when choosing a bed frame, as some can move out of their correct alignment on wooden floors. Not only is this bad for the bed and the mattress, it can also end up with you falling straight through the bed!
Although bed frames have a tried and tested construction and can support even the heaviest of mattresses the vast majority need to be regularly retightened.
Ottoman bed advantages:
Ottoman beds offer a large amount of storage, and is certainly one of the main reasons people choose an ottoman bed over any other type of bed.
Easy storage access
One of the reasons people tend to avoid an ottoman bed is because they’re worried about not being able to open them up.
This however, is far from the case. Our ottoman beds have are extremely easy to open, giving you easy access to the ample amount of storage space below.
Ottoman bed disadvantages:
Can be difficult to move
Once you’ve got a ottoman bed full of storage, they can be difficult to move around the room. If you do want to move your bed around, then you may wish to empty all of the storage first, which can be time consuming.
As with a divan bed, an ottoman bed can be bulkier than a bed frame, and people tend to prefer those when it comes to appearance. This is however subjective, and if you may love the way an ottoman bed looks - which is great as you get the benefits of additional storage and having a bed you love the look of!
What kind of bed is best for my children?
Whilst it’s easy for us to identify when we are not getting enough sleep in our own lives, it is important to be aware of the fact that your child’s bed, too, may well be affecting the quality and quantity of their sleep.
When your child or young adult is growing it's imperative that they are supported in the correct posture at night. An unsupportive bed or mattress in your child's formative years can lead to a lifetime of poor posture and related physical problems.
Not only will an old mattress or substandard bed leave your child irritable and lethargic, it will also have a distinctively negative effect on their performance in school – something no parent wants to see. Children nowadays are subjected to more exams than ever before, and enabling them to get a decent amount of quality rest every night will leave them happier and improve their concentration levels. What’s more they’ll also be much less likely to wake up during the night or early in the morning due to an inability to sleep!
Although bed frames and divan beds are equally as popular for children as they are for adults, it's worth considering a couple of alternatives to really get the most from your child’s bedroom…
Cabin beds are perfect for storing your child’s books, DVDs and games and will make it much easier for them to keep their room tidy – a problem with which they’ll usually need all the help they can get!
Very popular with kids, high sleepers are a great way to maximise space. Whilst the space underneath can be used as a play area for young children, as they grow older it can be used to accommodate a desk – something all children should have access to if they’re to reach their academic potential.
If your children like having their friends round for sleepovers then they’ll love the idea of a pull out guest bed. They are available in all sorts of styles and various qualities. Further, when not in use they roll easily away under your child’s main bed. Perfect.
Other things to consider
Don’t overlook the importance of a good pillow to your night’s sleep. As a memory foam pillow will adjust itself to fit the shape of your head and shoulders perfectly, they are extremely comfortable and can provide a great deal of support to those with neck and back problems. As with the memory foam mattresses, however, these pillows can be quite warm. Latex pillows are also extremely comfortable and offer responsive support without the addition of extra warmth, retain their performance for many years and are hypoallergenic.
When choosing a pillow, always consider your preferred sleeping position. Generally back and front sleepers require a narrower pillow to maintain correct sleeping posture. Side sleepers often require a deeper pillow to maintain a healthy posture.
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, all of us will lose a significant amount of moisture and dead skin cells during the night creating a perfect environment for millions of dust mites. These dust mites in turn are the biggest creators of the most common household allergens. Investing in a quality waterproof mattress protector will ensure your mattress remains allergen free and lasts as long as possible.
If you have a problem with your bed in the future and need to exchange your mattress, your manufacturer will often not even consider an exchange if there is evidence of the mattress having been used without a mattress protector.
Will you be able to get your new mattress into your room?
Whilst this seems like an obvious consideration, people frequently purchase mattresses which are too big for their stairways – something that can prove extremely frustrating for both buyer and delivery personnel!
Although there are some mattresses which are more flexible than others (many memory foam ones can be rolled up, for example) the easiest way to be sure your mattress will fit is to measure your stairway and doors and seek the advice of your supplier.
What to look for in an experienced supplier
Evidence of satisfied customers
Firstly, and most importantly, in order to ensure your purchasing experience is a good one, be sure to look for evidence of previous, satisfied customers. If you are unable to find positive testimonials from past clients on their website, this is usually a good indication that you should look elsewhere.
Do they deliver to your area?
In order to save yourself a great deal of time and hassle in the future, be sure to check whether or not the company delivers to your area. Although the best suppliers will deliver to the whole of England and Wales, this is not always the case with smaller suppliers!
Do they charge extra for delivery?
Although you may think you have secured a bargain when selecting your bed or mattress online, be sure to check out delivery costs before finalising your purchase. As they know customers will probably be unable to transport their new mattresses or bed home themselves, bed companies will often change unprecedented amounts for delivery. Worse still, this cost may well be hidden by them until you have already made your purchase.
For this reason I recommend using a bed supplier who can offer a free delivery service to your area.
Can they dispose of your old bed/mattress?
Old beds and mattresses are often cumbersome and unhygienic, and although many local councils periodically collect bulky waste items, no one wants to be stuck with their old bed clogging up space while they wait for collection. After delivering your new bed, however, a good bed supplier will be able to remove and recycle your used bed for just a small handling charge.
Do they sell recognised brands?
When initially visiting a bed retailer’s store or website, check that their stock includes leading brand names like Sealy, Sleepeezee, Silentnight and Myers. Although you may not wish to purchase one of these brands, the fact that they are available is a sign of credibility and an established business.
Bricks and clicks
When selecting a supplier, look to see whether or not they have physical showrooms as well as quality websites. You may have no intention of ever visiting the showroom, but the fact that they exist tells you two important things:
The supplier is a ‘real’ business with authentic, checkable credentials.
The advice and product descriptions offered will be from experts who have physically touched, felt and tested the quality of the products that they sell.
It almost goes without saying, but ensure any online purchase is made via a secure site! A good supplier will advertise its payment processor and display an in date security certificate.
I hope that you’ve found this guide both interesting and informative and that you now feel more confident in your ability to select the perfect bed.
In closing, let me remind you of the importance of prioritising your sleep. Without quality sleep, your body will be running on reserve power, leaving you more irritable, more susceptible to illness and generally less effective. As a result, poor quality of sleep can not only affect your personal relationships, it can result in a distinct drop in productivity at work, and leave you unable to maximise the pleasure and benefits of social activities and exercise. A new bed really could be just the boost that you’ve been looking for in your life.
Now let me tell you a little bit about The Bed Warehouse…
At The Bed Warehouse Direct we’re passionate about improving the nation’s quality of sleep.
Having watched my parents build the company from scratch 25 years ago, I joined the business myself around five years later after graduating from university, with my sister Zoe following shortly after to complete the family line-up. Together, due to competitive prices, quality products and a high customer referral rate, we were able to grow the business into Birmingham’s largest independent bed specialist. It was a natural progression to bring the same ethos to our website, and we are also now one of the fastest growing online bed suppliers in the UK.
As we’re well aware of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, not only do we pride ourselves on the quality of our stock – Silentnight, Sleepeezee, Sealy and Slumberland being just some of the brand names we provide – we aim to offer the most professional and thorough advice available.
Further, unlike many online and offline bed suppliers, we will deliver you a bed for absolutely nothing!
Alternatively, if you have any questions and would like to speak to someone in person, feel free to give us a ring on 0800 049 0800. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have!
What our customers say…
“We just wanted to say a huge thank you. We are over the moon with our bed frame, it is excellent. As was the service we received from The Bed Warehouse Direct”
Laura T. – May
“I would like to say thank you for the excellent service when I recently purchased a lovely headboard online though your website. I was called the very next day to arrange a delivery date and time and the item was delivered exactly as arranged, a great purchase and the best price online by far”
Trish B – March
“My bed was delivered this morning. Your delivery man’s professionalism & empathy were most apparent. Thank you very much for the easiest furniture delivery I have ever encountered. I will definitely be recommending your company. Thanks again”
Gillian H – February
“Thank you for the safe delivery of our small single bed. It fits perfectly and looks great. Thank you for your excellent service.”
Jean & David P – February
“Just had to write to say thanks for the excellent service. Easy online ordering, rec. a call to book the delivery, called to book a time, everything arrived and was del. Spot.on Many companies say they are good, but just a few are. It’s great to find a company with personnel who care and give a truly excellent service. Can’t say thank you enough I’ll be recommending you wherever possible.”
Keith M – January
“I was a little hesitant making a bed purchase over the internet from a company I had not heard of. I needn’t have worried as I am extremely happy not only with the bed, but also the bed selection range on the website, prompt delivery and overall service. Happy to come back to The Bed Warehouse for future ‘bed buys’ J.”
Surinder R. – October
“Just wanted to let you know I have today placed my third order for a bed and mattress with you. The service you provide is excellent (the mattress I ordered last time was out of stock for immediate delivery and you were good enough to ring and check I realised this!) The quality of the products is excellent, prices are highly competitive and with mattress disposal service and free delivery it would be insane to go elsewhere! You provided excellent customer service and such prompt delivery you really deserve to be a huge success and I recommend you to anyone who is thinking of buying a bed or mattress.”
Paula P. August.
Please visit our customer testimonial page to see over 2000 genuine reviews.