Mad About . . .

How to Buy a Mattress and Create the Perfect Bedroom for Sleeping

30th October 2019

Today’s post comes to you in advance of tomorrow’s podcast which is so packed with content that I wanted to divide it into two parts. So today, in association with our sponsor John Lewis & Partners, I am going to talk to you about sleep. We aren’t getting enough of it. This is down to several things including the dreaded blue light in our bedrooms from those pesky screens, but it’s also about getting the decor right and, most importantly of all – buying the right mattress. Read on for tips on all of this.

forest green bedrooms are said to encourage a good night's sleep bedroom belonging to madaboutthehouse.com

forest green bedrooms are said to encourage a good night’s sleep; bedroom belonging to madaboutthehouse.com

There is talk nowadays of a sleep crisis. That we’re all too wound up and working too hard to take the time for those seven hours. Which is turn is making us more wound up and more stressed and less likely to sleep. Or even to sleep well. Back in 1942, according to a survey, we regularly had 7.9 hours a night. By 2013 that had fallen by an hour and by 2016 The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention was warning that up to one third of adults were failing to get the required seven hours sleep they needed a night. And what is interesting is not the lack of sleep but the organisation that is warning about it – which just shows how important it is that we sleep enough and properly.

All this, understandably, also has an effect on our mental health, which, in turn, affects our ability to sleep and so on round it goes. And I know you all know that sleeping with the phone next to the bed is bad but did you know why? Because I do and I didn’t. Well, it’s because the blue light from the screen suppresses the production of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. I am careful to sleep with my phone tucked under the bed (within arm’s reach) but face down and I don’t know if that makes a difference or not.

So what is to be done to encourage good sleeping habits? Well, one of the first things you need to do is establish your own sleep rituals. Now I’m as guilty as the next person of just having a quick read of the internet before bed but I am also a stickler for reading a book before I turn the light out as well.

rug on seagrass at sophie robinson

blue bedrooms are said to encourage sleep – this belongs to Sophie Robinson, the rug is by alternative flooring

Once I have taken all the clobber of my face, moisturised with all the different lotions for the different parts of the face (don’t forget the neck) flossed and cleaned my teeth, I’m already exhausted. Or, to look at it another way, this is all part of my winding down ritual before I go to bed. That said the older I get the longer it takes to do all these things.

Then I get into bed and read until my eyes are heavy. Sometimes this is five minutes sometimes 20. Sometimes five pages sometimes 20. And usually I start by having to re-read some of the pages from the night before. I always read and firmly believe now that if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to sleep. That’s probably not true but it’s my ritual.

In addition to creating your own rituals, there are guidelines for bedroom decor. This is, of course, intensely personal, but guidelines suggest that the cool colours – blue, forest green, and even pale yellow will encourage better sleep.

image via john lewis & partners

image via john lewis & partners

If you love colour and pattern, as Sophie does, and feel you would like stronger colours in your bedroom then consider putting them behind your bed (or on the bedhead) so that you don’t see them when you are lying down.

It is, as always, about working out how certain colours and patterns make you feel and then using them in the right way. So if you feel calmer looking at a cobalt blue wall or emerald green then use that colour in your room. There’s no rule about dark or light, it’s about what works for you.

As well as colours, consider also the textures. A deep pile rug or carpet underfoot, crisp cotton or soft linen sheets, a velvet bedspread. It needs to feel plush and cosy in there. And, it’s perfectly possible to do that within a neutral colour palette if that is what you prefer. It can look monastic and zen but it needs to feel fabulous.

seersucker bedding from john lewis & partners

seersucker bedding from john lewis & partners – some people find symmetry calming and relaxing

The other key factor is a tidy bedroom. Sorry but it’s true. You need to get rid of the piles of clothes, the laundry, the shoes and, if you work in your bedroom, the computer. Put it away, put it in a drawer, behind a screen. Wherever you can, so that once you are in bed your view is clear (and so, therefore, is your mind). The last thing you need is to catch site of the computer with all those unread emails silently stretching out their needy arms and begging for attention as you try to nod off.

Finally, the mattress. This is probably one of the most expensive things you will buy for your home. It’s certainly one of the most important. And a good mattress is expensive so you need to get it right. I bought mine (about five years ago) from John Lewis & Partners, so while they are indeed the sponsors of this post and podcast, I am speaking from experience.

mattress by john lewis

mattress by john lewis & partners, pale yellow is also said to be a restful colour for bedrooms

The first thing we were advised is that a firm mattress isn’t for everyone and that there are degrees of firm. Indeed, the firmness of your mattress will depend on your weight, which is why it’s good to try before you buy. You are aiming for a straight spine when you are lying on your side. A mattress that is too hard for you will push your hip and shoulder up and out of alignment. There should be enough give in it – or you should be heavy enough – for it to dip slightly under hip and shoulder so that your spine stays straight.

If you are shopping in pairs then check each other’s backs. If you are shopping alone then ask the assistant for help and when we bought our mattress the store assistant was endlessly patient and helpful suggesting all sorts of different mattresses that might suit us.

There is also the issue of people being different weights. If you can’t find a happy medium you can buy two mattresses that zip together so that each person meets their requirements. Look also for a pocket sprung mattress. This means that all the coils are separate which means that if one person tosses and turns all night the other won’t be bouncing up and down like a jack in the box. And we’ve all been there.

mm linen florian green duvet set from john lewis

mm linen florian green duvet set from john lewis

And that, according to The Mad Husband, is the best thing about our mattress for I am a wriggler, a starfisher and a fidgeter (as well, apparently, as a duvet stealer but that’s not relevant to this post) while he gets in, lies down and doesn’t move until the alarm goes off the next morning.

Another tip is that when you are lying on your back you should be able to slide a hand under your lower back.

Experts are agreed that you should spend up to ten minutes lying on a mattress to check it out. In practice I can’t imagine that anyone really has time for that, but do take a few minutes in your favoured sleeping position and moving around to see if it’s right for you.

Once you have decided on the perfect mattress, you need to consider what will happen to the old one. John Lewis & Partners will take it away for £29.95 and ensure that it is disposed of responsibly. The store has also launched its own range of natural mattresses made by Harrison Spinks (see my Do Less Harm directory for more information).

designers guild le poeme des fleurs bedding from john lewis & partners

designers guild le poeme des fleurs bedding from john lewis & partners

The springs are made from Cortec™  which are laid like a blanket and means there is no need for glue, which is hard to breakdown and recycle. The mattresses in the Natural Collection are also made with Hemp, sourced from the manufacturer’s farm in Yorkshire (hemp is carbon negative).

“The springs are made with British Steel which is unique in its ability to create ultra-fine wire making the springs lighter and reducing emissions during transportation. Fabric for the mattress is woven in the North of England using a viscose fibre made of cellulose from trees and finished using only steam, removing the need for harsh chemicals. This means it requires no additional fire retardant chemical treatments.”

image via john lewis & partners

image via john lewis & partners

A spokesman added: “The mattresses have been designed not only for maximum comfort, but also with recycling at the end of their life in mind. It’s estimated that in the UK alone 7.5 million mattresses are sent to landfill each year. This innovative new design means that at the end of its life when the mattress is collected for recycling  it can easily be broken down and the materials reused diverting them from landfill.

“In 2018, John Lewis & Partners collected over 66,000 mattresses from customers through its mattress and divan recycling scheme.”

As I mentioned at the top of the post, we will be discussing sleep and how to get it right on the podcast but I felt this was an important topic that deserved its own post. The podcast is sponsored by John Lewis & Partners and therefore this post is part of that partnership. 

 

 

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24 Comments

  • Reply Lindsay 1st November 2019 at 12:11 am

    I’ve been wanting a new duvet set for ages and that dramatic green MM one was the coup de foudre. Winging its way to my local Waitrose. Thank you so much.

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 1st November 2019 at 12:42 pm

      I’m so glad you found something you liked, that one is very pretty x

  • Reply Laura Allen 31st October 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Would you also share who makes the beautiful printed coverlet on your bed?

  • Reply Sally Legg 31st October 2019 at 8:29 am

    We have just bought a bed from Loaf and for an extra £50, they dismantle your old bed and donate it to a charity…

  • Reply Anna Noble 30th October 2019 at 2:30 pm

    We have discovered that a mattress can ruin a holiday. Having experienced the severe pain of too hard or too soft, we discovered that Premier Inn have, for us and thousands of others, the most comfortable mattress, so 5 years ago we bought one. Easy to do and under £600. Hypnos PI Pillow Top Mattress 150 x 200 Part No. 216066 Grey check Spring Edge.
    Now in our decrepitude we want to buy a king size mattress that has divided comfort built in. Softish for me, hard for him. Unfortunately our bedroom can’t fit 2 singles zipped together. Has anyone got any suggestions please?

  • Reply Debs 30th October 2019 at 1:59 pm

    We suffered from differing requirements from a duvet, I suffered from bad night sweats but the other half was wrapped up like a baby complaining of the cold. We switched to a natural sheep’s wool duvet and the difference is amazing, no longer waking up soaked in sweat. It’s rather heavy in weight but apparently that can help resemble being tightly held in the womb so said to further aid sleep. It was quite expensive (especially in Emperor size) but very worth it as we spend a third of our life in our beds, or at least hope to!.

  • Reply wicked home 30th October 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Eh eh lots of comments on having a phone in the bedroom and other digital stuff at night. Totally agree and I also put my phone face down under the bed… but will move it out soon… I was hoping you had a section on lighting in thr bedroom too.
    Planning two bedrooms now and I am stuck with few things – Pendants by each side of the bed, I love them but where should theynhang exactley ? I thought at the end of the bed, but the builder says on the bedside table –
    Thanks I love the podcast I always laugh out loud when I listen to it

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 1st November 2019 at 12:45 pm

      Well I think you want them to hang central over the bedside table – so that you won’t hit them in the night and then judge the height so that they are in the right place for your reading position and doesn’t dazzle you when you are propped up reading or lying down reading. There’s an element of trial and error but sort of up and out from the pillows if that makes sense!

  • Reply Amanda P. 30th October 2019 at 1:09 pm

    This is perfect timing since I’m planning on changing our bedroom in our fixer upper this winter! I’ve always loved lighter neutrals, but in this case I’ve fallen for a dark charcoal gray paint. It just looks so cozy and comforting to me, like a hug. I’m debating using it on all four walls, with a white ceiling (for now!) and dark drapes, which I imagine will go well with our white, gray and red duvet. But I’m afraid it’s too much darkness, plus gray being known for doom and gloom, etc. Any suggestions?

  • Reply Longdenlife 30th October 2019 at 11:02 am

    After constant arguments with my husband about the thickness of duvets – he likes paper thin duvets all year round which he throws off halfway through the night and I am a chilly mortal who loves a thick duvet in winter, we bought a dual tog duvet – his side is a much lower tog than mine – best thing I’ve ever done!

  • Reply Sharon 30th October 2019 at 9:40 am

    Having recently bought a Hypnos mattress, we’ve been through all the ‘lying around’ research! One other thing that JL told us is that you have to consider the base that the mattress will sit on – divan or slatted base – because this affects the firmness. We finally narrowed it down to 2 options (the other being Harrison Spinks) and staff kindly hauled both off the divan bases so that we could try them on the floor, because we have a bed with a slatted base and the floor gave a better representation of the firmness we would actually experience! I’m glad we chose a quiet time of day, as you definitely feel a bit conspicuous.. But it was worth it!

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 30th October 2019 at 10:45 am

      That’s also a really important point to know. If you can’t afford both mattress and bed at the same time (and we slept on a cheap Ikea frame for years) then get the mattress first as you will sleep better on a good mattress on a bad base than the other way round while you save for the base.

  • Reply Elaine 30th October 2019 at 9:27 am

    I was wondering the same as NVRM . Surely if the the phone is turned off the screen is blank?. Also my bedroom is pitch black once the lights are off so why does it matter what colour the walls are? I don’t lie in bed with my eyes open anyway.(who does?) when going to sleep. I don’t agree with all this about the colour of the walls. Sorry.

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 30th October 2019 at 9:39 am

      The colour of the walls is relevant for the time you are in there getting ready for bed – reading or undressing. It’s about making a calm environment so that when you do turn the light out and go to sleep you are already feeling relaxed and that sleep might come more easily. I quite like pottering around the bedroom before sleep; putting clothes away and that sort of thing before I start reading so for me the colour is important but I completely appreciate that it might not be for everyone.
      As I understand it phones should be on airplane mode to prevent notifications (and the resulting light) but I don’t want mine on airplane at night as I have teenage sons who might come home after I have gone to bed and I want them to be able to get hold of me so I just put it face down. As I said to NVRM that’s probably not scientific but it’s what I do!

      • Reply Stephanie 31st October 2019 at 11:15 pm

        My phone (iPhone) has a do not disturb function which can be by-passed by contacts of my choosing. I have set it so that only get my teenage daughter’s calls/texts when DND on on. It’s a great feature, maybe try that?

  • Reply ElaineFraser 30th October 2019 at 9:03 am

    Can recommend keeping room temperature at 18.5.
    Also for hot flushes Mr and Mrs Duvet from JL – 4.5 tog my side his side 13.5 ( with a blanket on top )
    In winter also use a Mr and Mrs electric blanket also JL but only his side is switched on before bed.
    Finally highly recommend everyone reads Why Sleep Matters ( it really does ! in ways we don’t realise) a big book but last chapter gives 12 steps for good sleep.

  • Reply Jean Rowland 30th October 2019 at 8:07 am

    Thank you for an interesting article – as always. I understand that phones emit electromagnetic radiation and should either be turned off, or put on to ‘airplane mode’ at night. I learned that from a neurologist talking on the radio ages ago. If you need to leave it on (like my husband, a doctor, still on call sometimes, despite being past pensionable age!) then it should be 3 metres or more away from your head. However, does the husband listen to me? He does not!
    Thank you for the tip about Harrison Spinks I need to buy a new mattress for a spare room so that info is very timely.

  • Reply Maria 30th October 2019 at 7:41 am

    I love dark bedrooms, yours is beautiful. Ours is Hicks Blue and it is gorgeous and enveloping. Do you mind saying where your bedlinen is from in the photo as that also looks beautiful! Am moving away from all white bed linen for the first time in 20 years and I love yours and the MM one in the JL photo further below.

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 30th October 2019 at 9:32 am

      The pale grey is from a swedish company called Himla. They sent it to me to try and it is indeed very soft and lovely to sleep in.

  • Reply nvrm 30th October 2019 at 7:02 am

    Could you please clarify why the phone should be upside down in the bedroom even when not in use? Do you mean that it keeps emitting blue light even when its screen is dark?

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 30th October 2019 at 9:35 am

      I just put mine upside down because it makes me feel that I’m doing what I can to prevent any blue light! I’m not sure that’s scientific. I guess if it’s face up and you get notifications at night then that’s what you’re trying to avoid which is why airplane mode is probably the best thing to do.

      • Reply nvrm 30th October 2019 at 12:52 pm

        Oh, if its about the notifications, then yes, it’s clearer, only I avoid it by setting them to never light up the phone screen and also I’ve turned on the “night time” feature on my phone, which means that notifications come up soundlessly during the set hours (except for a couple white-listed contacts whose calls are allowed to go through).

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