Home Interiors

How your mattress, duvet and pillow choice can really affect your sleep

With over-tiredness a common problem in our always switched-on lifestyles, we explore ways to ensure your family catches more zzz’s

bed, Sumatra Silver Main, Christy Collection at Dwell
Creating a serene sleeping environment could be the key to better sleep. Credit: Christy Collection at Dwell

In our sophisticated, hi-tech lives, we’re struggling to switch off at night. To combat our frenetic times and ensure we get a good night’s sleep, a winding down routine is as important for adults as it is for children, advises Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, who is the author of The Little Book of Sleep. She recommends drinking more water, going to bed earlier at least three nights per week and developing a healthier relationship with technology.

Another important element is creating an environment of serenity: a neutral palette; calming scents of lavender, geranium and chamomile; simple, streamlined furniture and soothing lighting all help to create a dreamy slumber zone. 

But once all the stages leading up to getting into bed are perfected, it’s the bed itself (and all that adorns it) that can be altering how you sleep. From your mattress to your pillow, here’s what to look out for:

A bedroom setup with dark grey fabric bed with large headboard, white wooden flooring and yellow cusions and throw on exposed mattress
Create an environment that is serene for a better night’s sleep. Credit: Vispring

Source a supportive mattress

The mechanics of sleep are important to consider. “There are four basic requirements for a mattress to enhance healthy sleep,” says Sundar Rajan, CEO of mattress manufacturing company King Koil. “In order of importance, these are to maintain spinal alignment, reduce surface pressure, regulate body temperature, and resist nasty allergens.”

To this end, Sundar recommends choosing a mattress that conforms to your body without sagging – this support should be felt evenly along the length of your body. The mattress should also be made from breathable raw materials to aid your body’s ability to regulate its own temperature, while anti-microbial (such as latex) materials offer protection against allergies.

Pick a duvet to best suit your needs. Credit: Al Huzaifa Furniture UAE

Buy a duvet that will help you sleep through

“Pick the right thermal overall grade (tog),” advises Anri Hamilton, style manager at Home Centre. “Tog refers to the thermal insulation of a duvet and can vary from one, the coolest, to 15, the warmest.

“Considering the climate of the region and the need for air conditioning, a 4.5 to seven tog is an ideal year-round duvet for most people. You can also choose one that is cooler or warmer, depending on your personal preference and level of air conditioning you choose for your home.

“The filling of a duvet can be natural or synthetic. Duvets with natural filling are softer, warmer and more breathable than those with synthetic filling. However, if you are allergic to down, feathers or dust mites, then synthetic fillings are the right choice for you.

“Opt for a size that is neither too small, as it will roll up on one side when you turn in your sleep, nor so large that it will feel like you can’t get your arms or legs out in the air to regulate your body temperature, if needed.

“If your child is less than 12 months old, it is better to steer clear of duvets, as the heat trapped in a duvet can result in overheating or suffocation. Instead, get a blanket or a quilt. For toddlers and children under 10 years old, consider a duvet that has a tog rating of three to 4.5. Hypoallergenic fillings are also worth considering, in case your child is prone to allergies.” 

Family pillow fight
A pillow can make all the difference to your slumber too

Pick your pillow according to your sleep style

Pick one that offers sufficient support based on your sleeping position, advises Sunil Dulam, sleep technologist at the London Sleep Centre.

If you sleep on your back, a medium pillow will adequately fill the space between your head and the mattress to keep your body in a neutral position.

For those who sleep on their side, a firm pillow prevents neck and back pain. 

Those sleeping on their stomach need less fill in their pillow in order to prevent their neck from bending at an angle that can cause aches.

Duvets thermal insulating
Discovering the difference between different bedding types, and what they’re actually useful for

Types of duvet and pillow fillers, and what they’re good for

Down: These feathers are the small, fine ones found in the breast area of birds or under the tougher exterior feathers. They make for lighter, warmer duvets, making it a popular option.

Feather: They are less expensive than down duvets but are heavier, as feathers are larger and stronger than down. 

Mixed (down and feather): An ideal combination in terms of warmth and weight, it is also less expensive than duvets made of pure down. 

Microfibre: This ultra-fine fibre makes for light, high-quality duvets, almost as comfortable as natural down-filled duvets.

Hollowfibre: More durable and anti-allergic, but also thicker and wirier than microfibre.

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