Choosing The Right Mattress

We’ve said it before and we’ll probably say it again. Nothing beats a good night’s sleep for maintaining good health, mental acuity and, if it’s important (and judging by the size of the industry it is), beauty. Hongkongers don’t get nearly enough hours in sleeping, making quality more important than quantity. That’s where the mattress comes in.

“Mattress technology has developed and evolved over the years and certain mattress brands have set the benchmark in the market, so choosing a mattress is as much a cultural as it is a personal choice,” begins Moira Roberts of bedding specialists Kokoon, whose international clientele wants every kind of mattress available. “Some customers who go for ‘brands’ and spend a lot on a mattress and find that they have not purchased the right mattress and end up coming to us for help.”

Size can be an issue in Hong Kong, but it’s not truly an obstacle. Many major brands — the big three being Serta, Sealy and Simmons — can have a mattress made to order, so if you have an IKEA bed frame, brought one from home (European sizes and California Kings are different dimensions) or have opted for the more space-saving “Hong Kong Double,” you can find a mattress to fit. So start with budget and stick to it. Mattresses, like most consumer products, can come with all manner of useless bells and whistles that inflate the price and do nothing for your slumber. Years ago Slate (in “Going to the Mattress”) pointed out that the most important part of the mattress — its coils — all come from the same source, kind of like how a handful of companies manufacture all smartphone processor chips. So make of that what you will. One thing is certain: pure silk threads, double thickness, organic Brazilian yak tacking and odour repelling free range down padding are unnecessary add-ons. If you want extra padding, buy a mattress pad, which will likely cost a fraction of the built-in “features.” The bottom line is that no one mattress from Wing On, IKEA or Simmons’ flagship is necessarily better — for you — than the next.

Despite the scores of names, labels, brands and sub-brands, mattresses break down into three kinds: the most common spring mattresses, with coil (single, pocket or open) support under a plush comfort layer; memory foam, which uses even pressure everywhere and which can get extremely warm (a poor choice in the SAR); and natural latex mattresses, an increasingly green choice sometimes used atop regular spring mattress and a good option for allergy sufferers. And Roberts reminds that, “A mattress is only one part of the bed, it is important to get the whole package for the sleeping environment right — a bed that looks good and provides good support to the mattress, the perfect height for you and your partner … and bedding [too].”

The most common question swirling around mattresses is “How firm should it be?” The short answer is: Firm enough to be comfortable. The idea that the more you weigh the firmer the mattress is a myth. So is the idea that a super soft mattress is bad for sensitive backs. Not a myth? The need to flip your mattress once every season and the need to consider replacing it every five to seven years. As the UK-based (and industry funded) The Sleep Council recommends considering a new mattress when you wake up feeling un-rested or achy. Generally, if it looks worn and you’re not sleeping like you did when you bought it, it’s time for a new one.

Finally, take the time to shop thoroughly. “It is important to spend as much time as possible trying a mattress. If you have a sleeping partner, try the mattress together,” stresses Roberts. Give it a good test drive, lie down, move around and try to get a feel for it. Getting a partner involved is crucial, as nothing is going to disrupt your sleep like a fidgety bedmate that’s tossing and turning all night.