A good night’s sleep: how to choose the perfect mattress for you
With so many labels, new technologies and marketing terms in the world of mattresses, we find out what we should – and shouldn’t – be buying into The importance of a good mattress
Besides going to bed early, switching off electronics and avoiding any stimulants, one of the best things you can do to boost the quality of your sleep is to invest in a decent mattress. Yet, with so many models on offer and salespeople on a commission waxing lyrical about each version’s advantages, it can be difficult to know where to turn. “The key here is to stay well informed on various marketing terminologies, as, more often than not, unsuspecting consumers fall prey to fancy names and product features, which, frankly, are all selling tools,” says Dominik Zunkovic, founder of e-retailer Whisper. “It’s imperative that you do your own research to ascertain the accuracy of values or attributes of the mattress technologies being claimed by manufacturers,” he says.
See through mattress marketing tricks
A few of the industry’s buzzwords that consumers need to be wary of include “gel technology” and “medically certified”, he says. The former, manufacturers claim, enhances coolness and comfort, while the latter label often comes without any scientific evidence to back it up. “Gel technology is not really cooling as it is not breathable and all heat and sweat is trapped in the gel layer, as it has nowhere to go,” Zunkovic says. Sudarshan Rai, marketing manager at Dubai Furniture Manufacturing Company, which manages the UAE franchise for Serta mattress store, shares a similar sentiment. “Customers should not fall for terms like ‘medical mattress’,” he says. “We recommend selecting a brand that has long standing in the market and has a good track record.” Another dubious marketing term that has caught Zunkovic’s eye is “duvet sleeping fans”, which he’s seen popping up over the past 18 months, selling at about Dh1,500. “Many people complain about heat disrupting their sleep, so it’s not surprising that products meant to address this concern pop up every so often. Also, with most mattress manufacturers still using closed-cell foams that trap heat and sweat, it has opened the doors for new ‘sleeping gadgets’ to tackle the problem of heat.” As long as your mattress uses open-cell foams and breathable fabrics, however, he says there’s no need for any newfangled innovations. In fact, he believes they are “completely unnecessary”. There are a few technologies that have impressed both Zunkovic and Rai in recent years, however. For Zunkovic, it’s the advancement in foams. “The industry and all of its key players are moving to higher density open-cell foams that ensure breathability but maintain the durability of the product and 10-plus year warranty options without the need to flip the mattress every season.” For Rai, it’s graphene tech, which removes static electricity from the body “thereby minimising stress and exhaustion”, he says.
Block out electromagnetic waves
Zunkovic’s company has also developed something called Silver Shield Technology, which has been internationally certified and claims to prevent any EMF [electromagnetic] waves from entering your sleeping area through a grounding cable that’s integrated with the mattress and plugged into an outlet next to your bed. “Electronics such as TVs, phones and computers all emit harmful EMF waves, but the biggest culprits that we all ignore are the cables running across our living space. These not only interfere with our brain waves while we sleep but also cause us to have irregular sleeping cycles.” This new invention, he says, promises to protect users against 99.99 per cent of all EMF waves. Of course, you could always just remove any wave-emitting devices from your room altogether. Electronics aside, Zunkovic says we also need to be aware of congestion-causing dust mites and bed bugs. “Any mattress without the necessary protection that is older than a year will have over two million dust mites living in it,” he says, adding that Whisper mattresses incorporate silver particles in its foam and silver yarn in its fabric. Silver, he explains, naturally ionises and kills all bacteria, protecting us from the creatures. Other, less-expensive options to combat mites would be to regularly clean your bedding and mattress, as well as pop on a dustproof case.
Everyone’s needs are unique
Dr Hady Jerdak, a sleep disorder expert and chief executive of Harley Street Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, says the type of mattress that should be used differs from patient to patient. “Some like it to be hard and others softer and more malleable,” he says. “There are no medical recommendations for the type of mattress and some companies will claim that they have a medical combination, but it is not based on any evidence.” When it comes to any technologies and innovations claimed by mattress sellers, Dr Jerdak says “they are completely not based on correct medical studies and thus as sleep specialists we cannot recommend any one type over the other”. However, he says, orthopaedists may have some preference for semi-solid mattresses as they provide better support for your back.