How To Choose The Right Bed

We all know that we spend around a third of our lives in bed and yet, as a nation, we are apparently suffering a crisis of sleep. Insomnia is a growing problem for so many of us and so this week I have collaborated with Bensons for Beds to look at issues of sleep hygiene as well as how to choose the right mattress to help you create the best conditions possible for the best night’s sleep. Read on to learn about their sustainability drive and vegan mattresses as well.

When researching this post I found the usual stuff about trying to improve your sleep, such as no caffeine before bed (obvious) and no late night doom-scrolling (know it, not gonna stop it) as well as going to bed and getting up at the same time every day to prevent a weekend feeling jet-lagged (still not trading that Saturday morning lie-in). But there was one other I hadn’t come across before and that’s keeping the clock out of direct sight. Apparently seeing it as you wake can increase feelings of anxiety, either with a sense of time/life passing, or just panic that there aren’t many hours left till the alarm goes which makes you worry you won’t get back to sleep and therefore you don’t. Moving the clock so you can’t see it as soon as you open your eyes means you can just roll over and try and dig up some nice thoughts to help you drift off again.

Sleep hygiene aside, there is also the key issue of what you are sleeping on and if you can’t remember when you bought your mattress then it might be time for a new one. Benson for Beds have come up with a five-step programme called Your Bed, Your Way to help you choose the right mattress for your back and put it on the right frame for your décor.

I went to one of their stores to try it out. The first step is to work out your comfort rating and they have a fancy machine called a Sleep Pro to help with this. Now many of us assume a firm mattress is better for our backs but it’s not that simple. The key thing is that your spine should be straight when you lie on your side. This means your hip and shoulder should gently sink into the mattress and if you are too light and the mattress is too firm you will effectively curve your spine up at the top and bottom which isn’t comfortable and can lead to hip pain – and I know this because while my sofa bed looks great it’s so hard I wake up with a sore hip every time I sleep on it. The Mad Husband, on the other hand, who weighs more than me, is fine.

So you lie on the Sleep Pro and they adjust the mattress from soft to extra firm and you can see your pressure points reflected on the screen and, with their advice understand which mattress is best for you. Clever innit.

Step two is finding the right size and basically you want the biggest you can fit in the room. If you’re worried about bedside tables you can perhaps install a shelf over the headboard or hang your bedside lights from the ceiling to free up more space.

Step three is about working out what type of mattress is best for you and let’s talk about sustainability. This was the first question I asked when approached to work with Bensons as I knew it would be important to you and this is what they said:

“We are on a sustainability drive which includes using more recycled materials and British-based suppliers to reduce our carbon footprint. You can read about our policy here.”

They also stock vegan mattresses made from bamboo and organic cotton, with fillings approved by the Vegan Society. “Lots of our mattresses are also made with recycled plastic as well as eco-friendly latex.

“All our mattress springs are sourced from a UK based supplier and made with an element of recycled steel, and we manufacture one third of our products here in the UK which helps reduce carbon emissions.

“We also offer a mattress recycling service through our partnership with the British Heart Foundation.”

So, what sort of mattress do you need? If you sleep with someone who is a different size or who fidgets more than you, you might want pocket sprung which is made up of individual steel coils. It’s very supportive and also means you won’t bounce up and down when the other person tosses and turns.

Memory foam moulds itself to your shape – some people love it, some people find it too hot. Women of my age I am looking at you.

And then, of, course there are the sustainable choices.

Mattress sorted and it’s onto the frame. This is mostly about storage – do you want ottoman – where you lift up the base to reveal an area the same size as the bed or about drawers, which are perfect for keeping spare linen and even cushions overnight if you’re a maximalist bed dresser.

Finally, step five, and let’s be honest, probably the bit you did first – it’s time to look at headboards, feet and fabric. Bensons has lots of swatch books in stores and a huge variety of linens, velvets and cottons so, armed with your new found mattress knowledge and requirements you really can create “Your Bed, Your Way”.

You can see my jolly reel here or watch an explanatory video over on instagram.








Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Very interesting… good job. Thanks for sharing such a piece of good information. I will consider your advice while purchasing a bed for me next time.

  2. I wonder if anyone could answer this question for me? A number of companies offer a number of days for you to try out the mattress in your home. This puts me off buying from them. It makes me wonder what happens to the mattresses that have been used and not wanted. Anyone know?

    1. That is a fair question! “Repurpose” or Landfill? Our new WINK mattress came in a box and when released from its coil it expanded on our bed frame. We love it so have no intentions of returning but just how in the world would we get it back down to a shippable size????

  3. A holiday can be ruined by a mattress! We went to Dorset having rented what appeared to be a gorgeous family Barn conversion at significant cost. Both my daughter in law and I suffer back problems. The beds had FIRM mattresses….but despite asking in advance of booking we did not receive this information and foolishly went ahead. If it matters I suggest you do not book until your question is answered. Both heavy men slept well but the women were in agony in the morning. I was incapable of walking due to shooting pains up one leg. We returned home as no accommodation available nearby It was Easter holidays.

  4. I wish we have those stores in Montreal.

    Thank you and have a nice day.

  5. We don’t need a new bed atm, but love your jumpsuit 😊. Could you tell me where it’s from please?

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