Test drive: Never be afraid to lie on the mattress to see how it feels before you purchase it. *MCT photo
Test drive: Never be afraid to lie on the mattress to see how it feels before you purchase it. *MCT photo

Considering the amount of time we spend in bed, having the right mattress is very important. How comfortable is your mattress and how long have you had it?

If you are not sleeping well or are experiencing back problems, it may be time for a new mattress, especially if it is over seven years old. The mattress industry recommends getting a new mattress every five to seven years.

But before purchasing a new mattress there’s a lot to consider.

Do your research first. Determine if you want a coil mattress, waterbed or a rubber and viscoelastic mattresses by brands such as TrueSleep and Tempurpedic. When it comes to the construction of a mattress there’s a lot to choose from. The Internet has a wealth of information about the various types available, the pros and the cons.

Consider your sleeping position — do you sleep on your back, your side or your stomach? Does your partner keep you up by tossing and turning? Some experts say that people who sleep on their back usually benefit from firm mattresses that offer support to fill in the gaps in the contours of the back.

Make sure it provides enough comfort so that you do not feel like you are sleeping on a board.

Comfortable

Side sleepers may prefer a softer mattress to minimise pressure to the smaller areas of the body.

Before you purchase your new mattress, evaluate your existing one. Is it comfortable? If you are sharing, is it big enough?

Determine what works or does not work and use this information to gauge what you will need as a replacement.

While a mattress will not cure any back ailments, the right one may provide optimum support.

Evaluate your back issues and do your research on which type of mattress is right for you and what your comfort preferences are.

Consider getting a hypoallergenic mattress if you suffer from allergies or asthma.

Try it out first.

Do not be afraid to physically try out a new bed and dress in clothing that is similar in comfort to what you would wear to bed.

Shoes that are easy to take off and put back on, loose fitting shorts or jogging pants and a comfortable t-shirt.

Trying out a mattress in a work dress or suit will not give you a full appreciation of what you will experience when trying to sleep.

Relax and try out a few sleeping positions.

Take at least 10 minutes to test the mattress.

If you share your bed, take your partner along with you so that you can both test it at the same time — you will sleep better if you are not crowded and if you are both comfortable.

Finally, do not buy a mattress without first being aware of the warranty and carefully reading the fine print.

Honey Adams is the education officer for the Department of Consumer Affairs.