Sleeping an average of 6-8 hours per night, the average person will spend one third of their life asleep. How well we sleep is affected by a range of factors, some of which are easier to solve than others. According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, the top rated factors for a good night’s sleep are a good mattress, comfortable pillows and cosy bedding. And with such a range available, these are easy areas to address. We’ve put together the ultimate buying guide for bedding and mattresses, as well as a list of our top choices for a sound sleep.
- 1 Sleep: Common Complaints
- 2 Mattress Buying Guide
- 3 Our Top Mattress Picks
- 4 Bedding Materials: What Are the Options?
- 5 Our Favourite Bed Sheets
- 6 Decoding Duvets
- 7 Our Top Duvet Picks
Sleep: Common Complaints
There are lots of different reasons why we might not sleep well, from a partner snoring and fidgeting to pets or children taking up room in the bed. If the latter, it’s a good idea to set limits on how often they are allowed to sleep with you. If you share a bed with another person, make sure it’s big enough for the two of you, and at least 10cm longer than the height of the tallest person. Aside from the obvious – factors like light, sound and temperature – a lot comes down to the quality of our mattress and bedding. The right mattress is a very individual thing: it can easily be too hard or too soft, sagging or not supportive. For couples who share a bed, it may suit one but not the other. This is why it’s so important to test a mattress out before buying. The quality and softness of your bedding will also influence how comfortable you both are.
Mattress Buying Guide
Your mattress has the power to transform your sleep from restless night to blissful slumber. Your ideal mattress will be one that is not too firm or too soft for you – which you find out by testing – that is big enough, supportive enough and which doesn’t sag. A really good mattress is expensive, but they can last over a decade, so consider it an important investment. Before you start, be sure to measure your bed frame, and if the frame isn’t big enough for the both of you, consider getting a new one.
Let’s review the different types of mattress available:
Open sprung mattress
Open sprung mattresses are your basic ‘everyday’ mattresses and are usually the cheapest to buy. They tend to be lighter than other mattresses, and vary in quality. With an open sprung mattress, all of the springs are connected, which means it’s not overly responsive to the shape of your body, and they have a tendency to start sagging over time.
Pocket sprung mattress
Pocket sprung mattresses are a more luxurious alternative to the open sprung mattress. They offer much more in the way of support, as the springs move independently, so the mattress adapts to your body. If you sleep mostly on your back or front, a pocket sprung mattress will likely offer the best support. Because they are quite densely packed, pocket sprung mattresses are often heavy.
Memory foam mattresses are designed to mould perfectly to your shape. They absorb your weight and are temperature responsive, which is ideal if you often wake due to being too hot or cold. Being fully synthetic, memory foam mattresses are a good choice for those with allergies.
Sprung memory foam
Sprung memory foam mattresses offer a hybrid option that is half pocket sprung mattress, half memory foam. They offer the best of both – great responsiveness, with full support. They also never need flipping. This kind of mattress is ideal for those who like to sleep on their side.
Latex mattresses are breathable and super firm (but heavy). They are less common than a lot of other mattress types, but are a popular choice for allergy sufferers as they have antimicrobial properties.
As the name suggests, orthopedic mattresses offer a very high level of support, as they are primarily designed to help those who have back problems. They are sprung mattresses with a much firmer spring – not to be confused with one that is simply hard and uncomfortable due to bad quality.
Our Top Mattress Picks
A responsive mattress with good support
This pocket sprung mattress from Dreams is actually sprung memory foam, since the filling inside is memory foam. Made in the UK and quilted with super-soft fabric, this medium mattress is a great all-around choice for a good night’s sleep. The addition of memory foam makes it extremely comfortable and responsive to your body, without losing firmness. The individual pocket springs allow the mattress to respond to the weight of your body as needed. This mattress offers good value for money and is both comfortable and supportive.View prices
A luxurious memory foam mattress made by Tempur
If your ideal mattress is memory foam, then the name you’re after is Tempur. Originally developed by NASA, Tempur mattresses are firm yet comfortable. This mattress offers the perfect balance of support and softness, and contours to your unique shape.
The mattress’ outer QuickRefresh fabric has a zip fastening so that you can remove the whole cover. With the ability to wash it, you can keep your sleep space feeling fresh and hygienic throughout its lifespan. A little more on the expensive side – but worth it.View prices
An orthopaedic pocket sprung mattress for extra firmness
John Lewis’ Ortho collection was made for those who need the ultimate sleeping support, being their firmest range. 1800 individual pocket springs adjust to suit your sleeping position, no matter how much you shuffle around at night.
The mattress filling is created for maximum hygiene and longevity, as are the side stitch seams, meaning it will see you through for the recommended 10 years. A 7-year guarantee is included which will give you peace of mind for the majority of the time.View prices
Bedding Materials: What Are the Options?
As with many things, when it comes to bedding material it’s a lot down to personal preference. Quality sheets are just as important as a decent mattress – you want them to feel good against the skin. Generally speaking, the more lightweight the weave of your sheets, the more crisp and cool they will be. Or if you prefer something that is extra soft and wrinkle-resistant, you should opt for a denser weave. If you’re after the best of the best, then Egyption or Sea Island cottons are the way to go. To make your life easier when changing the sheets, go for elastic edging that will fit snugly around the edges of your mattress – just be sure to get the right size.
Let’s review the top bedding materials:
Cotton sheets are a very popular bedding choice. If you can afford to, opt for 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, as they are both durable and sumptuously soft. Another option is to go for pima or supima cottons, which have a nice sheen – these tend to be more affordable than Egyptian cotton.
Linen bedsheets are best for hot climates, as they regulate temperature well and are very lightweight. Linen sheets are fairly expensive, but they will last you for years.
Poly-blend sheets are fairly common – they offer a more affordable choice and are easy to deal with, being very wrinkle-resistant. Most supermarket sheets are some sort of poly-blend, as they offer durability and are cheaper to make.
Bamboo blend sheets are usually a mixture of bamboo and cotton. They soak up moisture easily if you sweat in the night, are sustainable and have naturally antimicrobial properties.
Our Favourite Bed Sheets
Hotel-standard luxury cotton
The Peter Reed brand is typically associated with luxury and excellence. These 100% Egyptian cotton bed sheets are incredibly smooth and have a simple elegance. With a 220 thread count, these sheets come in a range of muted shades ideally suited to the bedroom. With sheets this durable, you can expect them to last for years.View prices
The perfect blend of materials
Natural cotton offers the user the ability to regulate temperature, ensuring a comfortable sleep even in the clammiest of climates. The bedding will stay cool and hygienic. Polyester is strong and durable, as well as being really easy to care for and wash.
With these sheets being 50/50 of each material, you have everything you could possibly need in a bedsheet. The 200-thread count is also perfect for those who love crisp, clean bedsheets.View prices
Durable Egyptian cotton that will stand the test of time
These clean, crisp Egyptian cotton sheets from Marks and Spencer are a great choice of bedding that will offer both comfort and quality. Perfect for deeper mattresses up to 30 cm, these soft sheets have a StayNEW™ finish that helps to make them particularly durable and less prone to colour loss. These sheets can be machine washed and tumble dried.View prices
Of course, a good duvet is quite beyond compare. There is no feeling quite like snuggling into a deep, warm duvet at the end of the day, or dragging it downstairs to the sofa when you’re not feeling well. Buying a duvet is like many things in life – you get what you pay for. When selecting a duvet, there are two factors to consider (aside from size): filling and tog rating.
With duvet fillings you can go one of two ways: natural or synthetic. Natural fillings such as down and feathers are soft and breathable, and they tend to last longer than synthetic fillings. However, for those with allergies or asthma, synthetic fillings such as hollowfibre are the better choice – in particular those with inbuilt antimicrobial and antibacterial protection – as they can be washed at higher temperatures to kill dust mites. They are also vegan/cruelty-free.
Natural duvet fillings are cosy, lightweight and drape comfortably around the body. They include:
- Duck feathers or down
- Goose feathers or down
- Eiderdown – rare duck down that is light and fluffy, but expensive
- Silk – light and hypoallergenic
- Wool – natural, comfortable and warm
Synthetic fillings are machine washable, vegan and non-allergenic. They include:
- Hollowfibre (a thicker version of microfibre)
A duvet’s tog rating is a measure of its ability to trap warm air. Duvets with a high tog rating are warmer those with a low tog rating. The scale ranges from around 3 to 15. As a guide:
- A 4-8 tog duvet would be ideal for hot summer months and warmer weather
- A 9-11 tog duvet would work well in spring or autumn, where the weather is cooler
- A 13-15 tog duvet is your best bet for the cold winter months
Our Top Duvet Picks
An ultra-warm 13.5 tog natural duvet for cold weather
Made up of 80% duck feathers and 20% duck down, this sumptuous natural duvet will keep you warm and toasty even in the depths of winter. Considering its quality, this duvet is great value for money and feels soft and luxurious to sleep in. Thick, breathable and cloud-like, it comes with the assurance that all feathers and down are sourced as by-products and with high animal welfare standards.
This duvet has a cotton cover and can be machine washed at 40°C. It can be tumble dried, but only on a low heat. Warm and comfortable, but not too heavy, this duvet is a great choice if you want a traditional feather filling.View prices
A warm, fluffy and breathable microfibre duvet
If you’d prefer a synthetic alternative to a feather duvet, this ultra-soft, light and breathable microfibre duvet has it all. Its Smartfil® fibre filling is made up of lots of fine fibres, designed to trap air and keep you incredibly snug. Unlike some duvets, which rustle loudly every time you turn over, this duvet is remarkably quiet. It’s also versatile – you can use the lone 9 tog duvet in warmer weather and attach an extra 4.5 tog using press studs when the temperature drops in winter. This duvet is a great choice for anyone allergic to feathers, with nice, evenly distributed filling and the ability to machine wash and tumble dry.View prices
A warm anti-allergy duvet endorsed by the British Allergy Foundation.
This duvet is the ideal option for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. Approved by the British Allergy Foundation, it contains Amicor™ in the filling, which is a specially designed material which gives anti-fungal and antibacterial protection.
To get the Allergy UK seal of approval, it had to go through rigorous testing and passed with flying colours. With a 200 thread count and 100% cotton cover, it is naturally breathable so will keep you the perfect temperature overnight.View prices
With bedding and mattresses, you get what you pay for. But it’s worth the investment, for a good night’s sleep in a bed where you will spend one third of your time. What kind of mattress and bedding do you like the look of? Tell us about your experiences by leaving a reply below.