A new year, a new bed – what a great idea!.jpg

A new year, a new bed – what a great idea!

IF YOU wake up with backache, there is possibility that your bed is a contributing factor. But this can happen long before the mattress sags in the middle, frays around the edges and mysterious lumps appear ….

Our distant ancestors probably had fresher beds than we do and they were likely to be sweet smelling too! Fresh cut saplings, leaves and wild herbs would have needed to be replaced regularly, as the material would have compressed under the weight of a slumbering cave dweller. Perhaps it was then that lavender was first discovered as encouraging a peaceful night sleep.

Mankind, throughout the world, used natural materials to make comfortable, warm places to recline, mate and sleep. High mountain tribes in Asia and South America still use yak skin and llama wool, American Indians used buffalo hide, Eskimos polar bear skins and indigenous tribes in the lowlands of Asia, the Middle East and Europe used, and still do, wool. The clever Chinese preferred to use silk, for they quickly learnt that it has the best insulation qualities per gram than any other natural fibre.

Mattresses today are based on designs originally made with metal springs padded with horsehair. In the days when nothing was thrown away, mattresses would be unpicked, rusty springs and old horsehair replaced, the fabric washed and the mattress sewn back together. In the Middle East, where mattresses, pillows and duvets were traditionally made from lamb’s wool, the task of bed maintenance was even more daunting. Yearly each summer, they were completely dismantled. The wool, washed and dried in the sun, was combed and then sewn back into its various covers, ready for next winter.

Nowadays, the task of going to a showroom, choosing a new mattress (and possibly a base too), testing it, deciding which to buy and arranging for it to be delivered and installed is much easier by comparison. However, we seem to live under the illusion that our beds last forever, without any maintenance. I suppose in a way they do, but that does not mean they are either comfortable or healthy to sleep on for years on end.

The suggested life of a mattress is eight to 10 years. It seems like a very short period of time, but a mattress is only a couple of thin layers away from our skin and is something that is not washed or dry cleaned for an average 75,000 hours, or 3,000 full days! A quick look at a section of an old mattress under a microscope would convince everyone, I am sure, of the need to change.

So, having identified the type of bed you need – single, double, king size or the smart option of singles with mattresses that zip together, thus giving the option of offering a twin or double room – the rest is easy. Even just a new mattress on an existing base could provide hours of restful sleep, safe in the knowledge that, for an allergy sufferer, the simple act of ‘normal’ breathing might no longer be an issue.

So, in response to a new year’s resolution that might have been on the lines of “I will take more care of my body, mind and spirit in 2006”, the first step is easy … start by buying a new bed. Contact us for information and assistance to help you choose the best mattress for you, so that you can look after your most used asset, and often the most neglected – your body.

• Tessa Tuson is an interior designer, supplier of justwhite bedroom and bathroom essentials & property photographer. Visit: www.algarvenet.com/interiormotives, www.justwhite.com, www.algarvepix.com.