If you're not sleeping as well as you once did, or you're waking up with aches and pains, it's probably time to replace your mattress. Actually choosing one from the numerous designs out there, however, is another matter. Will you go for firm or soft? Synthetic or wool filled? Pocket sprung or memory foam? Before you dash out and make a hasty purchase, read what the experts have to say.
When to replace your mattress
The general consensus is that you should replace your mattress every seven to eight years.
"Even if it doesn't show many outward signs of wear and tear, it may not be giving you the support and comfort you need to get a good night's sleep," says Jamie King. "A sagging area in the middle of your bed is a sure sign a new mattress is needed. Other indicators include lumps and any creaking noises coming from the mattress during the night.
Best for backs
A mattress that is either too hard or too soft can result in back pain, so take the time to find one that's right for you.
"A simple way to gauge this is to place your hand under the small of your back — if there's a gap, then it suggests the mattress is too firm. If you struggle to get your hand underneath, it's probably too soft," King says.
Firm, medium, or soft?
Sprung mattresses generally come in a choice of firm, medium, or soft support. "As a rule of thumb, the heavier you are, the firmer your mattress should be to balance out body weight," advises Adam Black. "The lighter a person, the softer and more yielding a mattress should be." Be aware that firmness ratings differ from one manufacturer to another.
Test a range of beds before making a decision.
"It's really down to what's right for you," says Charlie Marshall.
"When hunting for your perfect mattress, settle in as you would at home, kick off your shoes and take a good book with you."
Lie down for about 15 minutes, adopting your normal sleeping position. If you share a bed, make sure you're both there to try it.