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Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress

Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress

Isn’t it surprising how little we know about the one essential piece of equipment we lie on for one third of our lives? Yes, mattresses are way down the list of our priorities and that should not be the case.

Investing in the right mattress is money well spent because it is crucial if we are to get restful sleep. The quality of our sleep is going to affect everything we do from productivity to relationships and our overall health. The average US worker misses about 11 days work a year because of lack of sleep. This adds up to a total annual cost of $63 billion in lost productivity!

Let’s face it. A bad mattress is going to steal your precious hours of sleep, while a good one will make sleep the luxurious and re-energizing force it is supposed to be.

You might think buying a really good mattress would be easy. It is not! For example, a high price tag does not always mean this might be the best one for you. Price tags can range from $300 to $30,000! You need to keep a few things in mind such as the materials used, the warranty, the chance of an in-home sleep trial, and shipping. Look at how much research you do before buying a new smartphone, car, or cooker which will marginally affect your lifestyle. A mattress will have a major impact on our lives, yet we rarely do enough research.

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Here are 5 tips to help you through the mattress buying process.

1. Look at your sleep patterns and positions

How well you sleep and also your position will help you to decide which type of mattress may be best for you. If you are tossing and turning all night, your mattress and you may need to part company. Some people sleep on their stomachs. Actually, most people seem to sleep on their side and back. If you are in this category, then you are more likely to need a softer mattress. Keep in mind that a good mattress must come up to support the curves and arches in your body as you lie down. It also keeps your spine with its natural curve which is vital to prevent you from waking up with a back ache! You will need this extra support to relieve the hip and shoulder pressure points which are more likely to be painful.

2. Get familiar with the different mattress types

The most famous one going the rounds now is the memory foam mattress which was developed by NASA in the 1970s to protect astronauts from the effects of impact. It is softer and can really help you sleep better. This is due to the fact that it gets softer at all the crucial pressure points.

However, there are a few disadvantages. There is an odd chemical smell from the mattress which may mean you have to give it a good airing before putting the sheets on. Some users complain that the memory lasts too long, so that rolling over takes quite an effort as you have to press up and out of the previous contour. Another problem is that as it functions by using body heat, it may become a little too warm during summer. Some companies have solved this problem by using an aerated latex foam containing gel which helps to keep things cooler by dissipating the heat.

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Another option is the pillow type mattress which has an extra layer of padding on top which will make for a much softer surface.

When couples have changing or individual needs, the air bed type of mattress allows for adjustable firmness and softness, which also prevents a lot of arguing and may be a good choice for you.

The Better Sleep Council has a very good description of the different mattress types which will help you to understand the salesman’s jargon.

3. You need to try the mattress out with a sleep trial

You know when you fake a sleep on a mattress in the showroom? This is not ideal! First, you have no pyjamas or bedclothes on, so it really is useless. You also have to ask for a test pillow, so the whole operation becomes rather embarrassing. Not to mention if you have to lie with your partner. You would also need at least 15 minutes to get an idea of whether the mattress is soft or firm enough.

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This is when you have to ask about details of a sleep trial. Companies will have various offers which go from one month to three months. This is extremely important if you are shopping online. It may take up to 30 nights to actually get accustomed to a new mattress, so the longer the trial, the better. You should also inquire about transportation costs in the event of a return.

4. Don’t let price be your top priority

Price is not always a good indicator. You should be looking at comfort, convenience, shipping costs, and materials. You might think that haggling is only for your trip to the Casablanca bazaar, but you may be surprised to know that you can often negotiate a better deal for a mattress in the American or European showroom. Mattresses tend to be on sale with huge markups.

You can try indicating what your ceiling is and whether there is room for flexibility. That could mean getting a better deal. You might also get some accessories thrown in, such as a box-spring foundation. If you have done your homework, you can also take advantage of holiday deals and special offers. If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for a discount.

5. Ask about the warranty

This is probably the most important thing to consider, since it regards protecting the mattress itself. Make sure you invest in a waterproof mattress cover, as sometimes stains will void the warranty. The warranty is usually dependent on whether a proper support base has been used. Normally, the outer cover is guaranteed for one year.

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Generally a mattress has a life expectancy of about 10 years, if you look after it. You may find a company such as Ghost Bed, who are offering a 20 year warranty. This is an indication that they are using top quality materials. You also need to ask about delivery, especially if they are offering this free.

Conclusion

As you can see, doing some research before you buy your mattress will pay handsome dividends. You will sleep better and look forward to one third of your life with pleasure. That’s one of the best investments you can make!

Featured photo credit: Opening mattress/Emily May via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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