Bed hunting is a real pain-in-the-you-know-what if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
But we are. So we’ve put together the ultimate guide on all things beds…
We’ll start by saying, that if you’re looking for a new bed, your health and well-being should be a priority; don’t even think of compromising, just consider the best beds available.
Fact is, we’re living and working in an increasingly hectic, stressed world, so the notion of being able to recuperate sufficiently through several hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep on a consistent basis, has never been more imperative.
This means selecting a bed that is going to provide the optimal support that your body needs.
And this is when confusion strikes. Because every bed maker and his budgie are going to tell you that their beds provide the support you need.
If it’s too soft, you could sit with backache for the next ten years, or chances are it will result in bad posture, which will lead to all sorts of aches and pains.
Now, if it’s too firm, it will aggravate the pressure points that will have you waking up with pain in your shoulders and hips. The happy medium is a mattress that conforms to your body shape while relieving the pressure points.
But…you first have to know which kind of bed will match your body type and your unique needs, and that’s where it can get complex.
As has been covered in our previous blogs, there are various tactics to help ensure that you acquire an excellent night’s shuteye, that your body craves. But one sure way is to invest in a top-quality bed.
Grab a coffee – it’s gonna be a long, but worthwhile read. Let’s do this.
Four of the most popular types of beds
After reading this section, you’ll know which type of bed technology will be right for your body, and if you have another in your bed with you with a different body type, how to meet the sweet spot.
Image Credit: Wenz Home Furniture
An innerspring mattress has a steel coil support system. Different manufacturers offer different types of spring systems, all based on steel coils, but they could be in a single unit, as the image above shows, or individually wrapped pocketed coils.
Coil shapes, designs, coil gauge and number of coils in a mattress varies. Obviously, you will never actually see them, and they are covered by materials which are also important to know because each adds or subtracts from the overall sleeping experience.
In general, the greater the number of coils, the more points of support are provided which means greater comfort and support.
Innerspring mattresses make up most bed sales today.
What to check for:
- Type of spring (we’ll get into the detail just after this)
- Materials used on top of the coils
Who is it ideal for?
Innerspring mattresses are good for people who sleep on their stomachs, those with back pain, and overweight individuals.
- Good for sex due to its bounce.
- Many models are affordable.
- If you go too cheap, those coils will pop right out and jut into you, causing great discomfort.
- Can be noisy.
- Some don’t last long.
- If the materials used over and above the coils are not quality, they can cause discomfort.
Types of innersprings
The whole mattress is made up of head-to-toe rows of s-shaped coils. It limits the transfer of motion so this type is good for people sleeping together. Offers good support.
Offset coils have flattened tops and bottoms that are shaped like an hourglass. Offset coils allow the mattress to conform to the body for very good support. They are stable and sturdy and usually found in higher end innerspring mattresses.
These are the oldest, most commonly found coil support system. It’s less expensive than other coil systems and are usually found in mattresses in the lower price ranges.
Pocketed coils (side note: Genie mattresses are made from individually wrapped pocketed coil springs) are barrel-shaped steel coils individually encased in fabric coverings. They make the mattress firmer, and allow for zero motion transfer between sleepers. They’re more expensive to make, so they’re usually found in higher-end mattresses.
#2: Memory Foam
Image Credit: LionMattresses
Memory foam was first referred to as “slow spring back foam”. It’s created by inserting gas into a polymer matrix and slowly springs back to its original shape.
It was often used in medical establishments where patients were required to lay immobile for long periods of time because when the pressure on somebody parts impaired the blood flow, it would cause pressure sores or even gangrene, and memory foam mattresses significantly decreased this.
As you lay on it, it envelops you.
What to check for
- Density: the higher the density, the better quality the memory foam, because not all manufacturers use the same materials.
- Check that the density boasted about is not superficial, for example, that the high density is not only used for say, the first inch of the mattress (sneaky, sneaky…).
Who is it ideal for?
High quality memory foam is ideal for people who suffer from chronic pain, or the elderly because it is very supportive and provides relief from pressure point pain. Since it envelops the body, it is also great for people who easily get cold, or those who are very thin.
- Excellent support for people who suffer from pain and backache.
- Makes you warm if you are easily cold.
- Does not make a noise.
- Makes people who get hot easily, even more hot (unless it’s made with gel which cools).
- Can cause backache (difficult one, because memory foam has been reported to relieve backache and be the cause of it too).
- Does not help your sex life, as it lacks bounce.
- Not a good option for people who move around a lot in their sleep, as it has no bounce. Also may be difficult for older people to get off, also because it has no bounce.
- Not a good option for overweight people.
#3: Gel foam
Image Credit: Purple
The big difference between memory foam and gel foam is that memory foam is made from a viscoelastic, but a gel foam mattress, while also made from viscoelastic, is infused with gel. Gel foam keeps the sleeper cooler than a memory foam mattress, and also further helps with pressure relief.
What to check for
- Just like with memory foam without gel, you will also want a higher density gel mattress which is combined with memory foam.
- Check that the density boasted about is not superficial, for example, that the high density is not only used for say, the first inch of the mattress.
Who is it ideal for?
Gel foam mattresses are ideal for people who need good support due to age or pain, but who are overweight or get hot easily, because benefits are the same as a memory foam mattress, just excluding the hotness level it produces!
- Excellent for older people and those who suffer from aches and pains or backache.
- Because of the gel, it keeps body temperature down unlike the traditional memory foam which ups the body temperature.
- Gel mattresses spring back faster than memory foam, which makes movement easier.
- The cellular structure can break down, degrading the mattress faster than usual.
- Tend to be higher in price.
Good tip! Because gel mattresses are usually costlier, you may want to consider using a gel mattress topper on a more affordable support system instead.
The Genie mattress is a hybrid, made with a combination of high-quality materials for support and ultimate comfort.
Hybrid mattresses are made as a combination of an innerspring system for support, together with memory foam or latex, for comfort. It comprises various layers, to achieve maximum support and comfort.
It’s known as the “best of both worlds”.
What to check for
- “Hybrid” can be used as a term for any mattress that combines materials and support systems, so be sure the support system and materials used are supporting and high quality.
- What kind of coil system is used. For example, Genie uses an individually pocketed coil system. If a hybrid uses a Bonnel system, it won’t be as good.
- That the materials used will cause comfort and not discomfort. For example, Genie uses natural latex which is naturally resistant to dust mites, mould and bacteria, and also allows for air circulation to keep the body temperature consistent. However, let’s say memory foam is used instead – it will make a hot person hotter.
Who is it ideal for?
Because of the combinations used, most high quality hybrids are ideal for all people, even those with aches and pains. Plus, it’s great for sex!
- Zero motion transfer, so partner movement does not disturb the other person’s sleep.
- Exceptional spine support which decreases or eliminates backache and aches and pains.
- Allows for circulation of air to maintain body temperature.
- Usually pricier than many other mattress types.
- Can be heavier than other types.
- If it uses polyfoam, the bed can degrade faster (Genie does not use polyfoam).
Psst…the base is just as important as the mattress
The mattress and base of a bed work together for support, comfort and ventilation of the mattress. Rest assured, the base is not simply a way to raise the mattress off the ground.
Instead, it actually provides the foundation for the total sleep system.
The base determines the lifespan of the mattress and usually has to be replaced when the mattress is.
There are different types of bases, some better than others. This article about bed bases will provide the details you need to know.
Things to consider when looking for a new bed
No good buying a king size bed if the size of the room where it’s going to be placed won’t be able to fit it. Be sure to match bed size to room size.
This South African specifice bed size guide will be handy for planning:
A bed that’s great for one person may not be good for another. Factor in age, medical conditions, sleeping positions and partner needs:
The bed requirements for every age differ, sometimes significantly. While a child and teen and sometimes even up to ages 20 – 29 can sleep comfortably just about anywhere, a 65-year-old is going to experience difficulty or pain sleeping in some beds.
A person with particular health issues will also need a better bed. For instance, those who suffer from backache, aches and pains, fibromyalgia, allergies, insomnia, osteoporosis, arthritis, heavy sleepers, neck pain, will all need special, probably slightly pricier beds than those who have no gripes.
- Side sleepers need more pressure relief, so a hybrid for support and comfort is ideal.
- Back sleepers also need great support and comfort.
- Tummy sleepers need a firm mattress, but not so firm that everything sinks in.
You may be thin and light as a feather, while your partner may be overweight. You may sleep on your tummy and hardly move all night, while your partner prefers to sleep on her side and moves around a lot. In this case, you will need a bed with zero motion transfer so that when your partner gets up or moves, it won’t disturb you.
The point is: do your homework. Make sure that what’s good for you will be good for your loved one too.
Great tip! Hybrid beds usually are a great option when people share a bed because they cater to just about every need, except when someone is very slim; then memory foam may be recommended.
Some people like to store things under a bed, and if this is you, you’ll be pleased to know that a Genie bed comes with a base that is specially made for that. We even have storage baskets designed to be placed under the mattress.
Bonus! 20 Tips on how to find the perfect bed for you
Here are some features and benefits you’ll need to look out for when choosing a quality bed.
- Be circumspect about choosing the traditional wooden base, which can end up creaking, squeaking and groaning every time you blink. Today’s best beds are constructed from studier, more robust materials such as virgin polymer and high-grade aluminium materials.
- Another bonus of these new materials? No tree must fall so that you can fall into bed.
- These new materials also last longer than the wooden variety. In fact, one top brand – the Genie bed – is so confident about the durability of its base, it comes with a five-year guarantee and a 15-year warranty.
- A self-assembly base is also a great way to save on the hassles of transporting the bed. And you don’t need a doctorate from MIT to put them together – these days, it’s a quick and easy exercise.
- Of course, a quality bed base also needs to have the strength to handle the heaviest sleepers. A bed base designed to accommodate two people both weighing 200 kgs is what you can expect with the higher-end bed brands. So even if you and your partner are sumo wrestlers in the heavyweight class, you can still rest assured.
- With storage space becoming a rare commodity, having a base that gives you extra storage space underneath the bed is always a significant advantage.
- To help you be better organised, some bed brands come with specially designed baskets to keep things neat and tidy.
- And don’t slip up if you have a tiled floor, some of the best beds have anti-slip pads that you can purchase which help keep your bed in its rightful place.
- Does the bed offer the full selection of sizes? A complete range of beds gives you a choice between a single, three-quarters, double, queen and king-size.
- Transporting a mattress and trying to negotiate narrow passageways in your home is enough to drive anyone around the bend. But technology has finally come to the rescue by way of the compact bed-in-box concept. Check it out, other than the being a seriously cool concept, it also makes life a whole lot easier.
- Look, too, for a mattress made up of individually pocketed springs. This means that each spring is sewn into a single fabric pocket, which provides more support and comfort than the traditional wire-framed coil mattress.
- Another beauty of pocketed spring technology is that each coil moves independently and absorbs the pressure applied to specific parts of the mattress. Called Zero Motion Transfer, it means that you can sleep next to a breakdancing bull elephant and you won’t feel a thing.
- The technology that goes into a modern bed is literally down to the wire. In each of the zones, the thickness of the wire differs so that there’s extra support given to the heavier parts of your body.
- There’s nothing worse than waking up hot and bothered in the middle of the night. And to avoid that, the latest mattress technology includes high-density foam that’s studded with ventilation holes to allow air to flow freely, which disburses heat build-up for better temperature control.
- These days, modern bed design also includes a framed perimeter border coupled with high-density foam casing, which makes it doubly sure that the mattress remains sag-free for many years to come.
- Natural latex is more responsive than lesser quality mattresses. It contours to your body in ways that air memory foam mattresses can’t.
- Latex foam also distributes your weight over a larger surface area and relieves painful pressure points resulting in better circulation and a longer, more comfortable sleep.
- As much as you will love natural latex, bugs and mites will hate it. What’s more, natural latex is mould and mildew resistant, so you can expect it to last a good deal longer than its synthetic counterpart.
- A mattress that slips around on the base can be a mild irritation, so look for one with a non-slip layer that keeps everything on the straight and narrow.
- If you think the most up-to-date pillow is just an ordinary device to raise your weary head, think again. Today’s technology natural latex foam pillows are specially contoured to ensure that your head, neck and shoulders always get the correct level of support.
Before we put this to bed, how much sleep do you really need?
To the vast majority of us, being tucked up warmly in the best bed available, in a quiet, darkened room, free of distractions such as electronic devices, pretty much guarantees a decent night’s shut-eye.
To others – around 10% of the population – sleep is an elusive luxury that’s hampered by chronic disorders. The three most common ailments are sleep apnoea, which hinders breathing when sleeping; insomnia, which causes persistent problems in falling and maintaining sleep; and restless leg syndrome, which interrupts sleep due to unpleasant sensation in the legs.
But there’s also another, less understood category that supposedly affects around 1% of the population – the so-called ultra-successful class – who get by on barely any sleep at all.
One such ‘short sleeper’ was Margret Thatcher. She claimed that she could put the Great in Britain in as little as four hours of sleep a night. Evidently, there were no rusty patches on this Iron lady!
The prodigious Serbian inventor, Nikola Tesla, is reputed to have only slept two hours a night. Mind you, he was also reputed to have suffered a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and was the victim of a devastating nervous breakdown.
And Leonardo da Vinci’s genius was sustained with 20-minute catnaps every four hours, which totalled a mere two hours per day.
However, for the rest of us mere mortals, sleep for between seven and nine hours is not only recommended but is physiologically essential.
Put simply, we humans have evolved to sleep when it’s dark and be awake when its light. So what does that mean regarding hours that need to be spent in slumber?
Theories vary, but none can be as inaccurate as Napoleon Bonaparte’s opinion on the matter. When asked how much sleep people need, he purportedly replied: “Six for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.” Of course, Napoleon was far more proficient in invading countries that he was in matters physiological.
A genuine authority on the subject, the National Sleep Foundation, based in Washington DC, recommends the following duration of sleep that’s appropriate for the stipulated age groups:
Hours per day
Being deprived of sleep disrupts our circadian rhythm – otherwise known as the body clock. It’s our circadian rhythm that regulates much of our physiological processes: when to sleep, when to get up, when to eat. It’s also the circadian rhythm that is responsible for the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to induce slumber.
When the body clock is out of kilter, so is our health and emotional well-being. And it’s far more severe than feeling a little grumpy in the morning, as it can lead to severe mood disorders.
In the findings of a scientific study conducted by Glasgow University in 2017, people with body-clock disruption were found to be more susceptible to depression, bipolar disorder, mood instability and worse reaction times were found in people with body-clock disruption.
Adding to that is an abundance of research to show that sleep deprivation or poor-quality sleep also increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Most health disorders caused by poor-quality sleep are treatable or manageable, and sufferers need to seek medical attention. Of course, another way of avoiding interrupted sleep patterns is choosing a quality bed.
Finally…quality sleep starts with a quality bed
The bottom line is that a quality bed will go a long way in assuring quality sleep. And considering its importance of sleep on your health and well-being, comfort, should never be seen as a luxury but an absolute necessity.
If you are in the market for the best bed available, check out the Genie range. Not only does a Genie tick all the right boxes, but it’s also backed by a 100-night guarantee.
Basically, if for any reason you’re not happy with your Genie mattress within 100 days from purchase, then just contact Genie and they’ll come and pick it up from you personally. No questions asked.
For more information on the Genie range, feel free to download the “How to Choose a Better Bed” guide. The rest assured for many years to come.