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Bed and Mattress Advice

by Wendy Emberson(more info)

listed in sleep and insomnia, originally published in issue 48 - January 2000

Advice from Wendy Emberson MCSP SRP,
Chartered Physiotherapist:

1. If you sleep well on your current mattress and get up feeling lithe and ready for the day – do nothing.
2. If your mattress is too firm, i.e. your shoulders and hips don't sink into the bed, and you feel as though you're balanced on top of the bed rather than supported by it – then
consider the possibility of buying an overlay of the new visco-elastic polymer material.
3. If your mattress sags in the middle – then consider buying a new supportive mattress that allows for your shape and weight. You may prefer a conventionally sprung mattress – not too firm and probably with standard posture springing. You may like to try the visco-elastic material as a full thickness mattress.
4. Pain in the neck and shoulders? Sleep with one pillow. Again there are now pillows in this same material. But also look carefully at your mattress – if your shoulders don't sink into the bed then you may be pushing your shoulders into your neck and causing the pain.
5. Don't forget to check your children's beds as well. They can suffer disturbed nights just like adults. [With the increase in back pain in children, their beds are equally important.]
6. If you are not sure whether your mattress is a problem, then ask someone who has the required knowledge – not just an opinion!
7. Ask the supplier if you can return the mattress within a specified time, if it does not improve your night's sleep. You cannot tell by lying on a showroom bed for a few
minutes. After all, if you are allowed to test drive a car, then why not a bed?

Buying a new bed can be an expensive mistake. It is not just the cost of the bed, but the loss of work, the loss of income to both employer and employee, and the enormous personal cost in terms of pain and possible disability that can be reduced and maybe even avoided. Most people will keep a bed for about 10 years. Make sure you don't buy 10 years of avoidable pain!

Contact Numbers:

PhysioFirst: For your local independent Chartered Physiotherapist Tel 01327 354441

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About Wendy Emberson

Wendy Emberson is a chartered physiotherapist who has been working in her private practice for 20 years specialising in orthopaedic medical and musculo-skeletal conditions. She can be reached at her clinic on Tel: 01279 654020.

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