Injuries – how the right mattress could help your recovery

Many people underestimate how important sleep is in helping the body recuperate from injuries or deal with existing conditions. When you’re asleep, your body has the chance to correct chemical imbalances, replenish blood-sugar and rejuvenate damage – helping you along the path to recovery.

The body’s capacity to heal can be maximized during restful sleep – if you’re tossing and turning, or waking up throughout the night, you’ll lose any positive benefits and wake tired and achy. Finding the right mattress can enhance your body’s ability to heal during sleep – but what should you look out for to ensure you get the best possible night’s rest?


If you feel your mattress isn’t doing the job you want it to – and affecting your sleep negatively – your first instinct should be to check whether or not it actually needs to be replaced. If you have a sprung mattress (coil springs within a frame), the older it is, the more likely springs will have worn away at the fabric – and even burst through. Exposed spring coils are a sure sign that your mattress is on the way out and, worse still, could be actively harming you during the night. If springs are digging in, or forcing you to sleep in an unnatural position, your quality of sleep is going to be reduced.

Weight displacement

Another drawback of sprung mattresses is the problems they have in properly distributing the body’s weight. If you have joint, neck or back problems, spring coils can create pressure points – aggravating existing pain during the night and keeping you awake.

Weight distribution problems may be solved with foam mattresses – which hug the contours of the body and support large areas, rather than concentrated points. Anyone suffering from rheumatism, joint inflammation or arthritis could benefit from memory foam, which is designed to change shape with your body and reduce the need to shift position. Foam mattresses have the added bonus of being able to breathe – adjusting to sleep-disruptive temperature changes during the night by ensuring you don’t get too hot or too cold.

With their added support benefits, foam mattresses are more expensive than sprung varieties – but a cheaper option is to obtain a memory-foam ‘topper’ to lay on top of your existing mattress.

Understand your injury

Injuries prompt you to subconsciously adjust your body to alleviate pain. Even when you’re lying down in bed, your muscles will tense and relax to find the most comfortable position. While you may feel initially fine, an extended amount of time will slowly exacerbate existing joint problems.

Don’t simply put up with your current mattress if it’s causing problems: investigate the specifics of your injury or condition and find a solution. From turning off the laptop or tablet, to avoiding certain foods, there are plenty of ways to modify your bed-time conditions to ensure a good night’s sleep – if you’re struggling with an injury or medical condition on top of that, the right mattress could have surprising results.

Work and Study: Ideas for converting a bedroom into a study area

When children leave the nest you’ll have to decide what to do with their bedrooms. There’s no reason not to keep a bed in the room and continue to use it as a guest room, but it’s also worth considering how the room might work as a study.

A study can be more than just putting a desk and a chair in the corner of the room – and if you’re searching for ideas, check out our tips for creating the perfect study space in your home.


When you buy a study desk or chair, don’t assume you can’t get a decent level of comfort out of them. The comfort of your study furniture is important: if you don’t like sitting in your study chair for long periods, you’re going to end up in your armchair in front of the television. You don’t need to find padded leather – faux-leather, foam and flexible rubber-backed chairs offer the same level of comfort. If possible, try before you buy!

The same goes for desks – don’t just get any old model. Think about the height of the surface: too low and you’ll find yourself hunching – too high, and you’ll be stretching. Leg room is very important – make sure you can stretch out and move your legs around without bumping your knees on the sides or top.


One of the best ways to make a space conducive to study is to separate off a study area from the rest of the room. We’re not talking a curtain or a partition wall, but a clear, designated area in which your desk and chair are situated. In practice this means finding a desk/chair combination that fits the architecture of your room – you don’t want your chair to be hitting the wall constantly or your desk leaving no elbow room.

It also means keeping your room tidy. Invest in a tiered-file to store papers, rather than piling them on your desk or scattering them over the floor. A small pencil and pen tin is a great way of keeping all your small stationary in one place. Shelves are a great addition to any study – and help keep everything off floors and surfaces.


Even if you are converting an old bedroom or guest room, you may want to retain the room’s original function. There’s no reason you can’t keep a bed in there, but why not invest in a sofa bed to maintain focus on the room as a study. Sofa beds are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes, so you should be able to find a model which suits your needs. Having a sofa is also a nice option for when you need a relaxing study break.

Study spaces are as much about the little things as they are the big. Getting a suitable desk and chair are only ever going to provide a good base – the rest will be up to you. Arranging your stationary, categorizing your books, finding a good desk lamp – all these touches can help make your room work for your needs – and ensure your study time is as successful as possible.

Work, Rest and Play: Space saving ideas for your children’s bedroom

As children grow, their bedrooms go through a variety of functions. Babies may only need a crib and a changing table – but it won’t be long before your children are using their rooms for play and study. Children’s tastes and needs change rapidly and keeping up with what they want from their room can be tough.

Take a look at our guide to adapting children’s bedrooms – to keep them fresh, interesting and suitable for your child’s needs.


Having less space isn’t necessarily a disadvantage – and may even be a chance to create an unique look for your child’s room. Children grow rapidly, so it may be worth opting for a bigger mattress early rather than upgrading more than once down the line. Bunk beds are another space saving option – available in a huge range of styles they can be a fun alternative to normal beds and last children for several years. When your children grow out of them, lots of bunks can be separated into two separate beds – and moved into different rooms.

Stacked ‘shelf’ beds are another clever space-saver: normal size divans which include an extra, pull-out mattress in a shelf beneath which can be tucked away easily after use. Shelf beds are a great idea for sleepovers – turning quickly into two single beds!


Unfortunately, school will always bring homework – and having a quiet, private space in their bedroom helps children focus on their studies. Bunk beds offer another great solution: many models come with a study space built into the bottom level – with shelves, a desk and a computer cabinet.

Installing bookshelves is definitely a worthwhile endeavour – even if they’re not brimming with books, they’ll hold pictures, trophies or any other memorabilia accumulated- and compartmentalize the room nicely.


The bunk bed’s versatility never ceases to amaze: get more out of your child’s room by opting for a bunk with a built in sofa or TV space below. As a social space, the bedroom will play a constantly changing role in your child’s life: when they’re very young, they may not need it – but young teenagers will want to personalize it and, when they’re 16, they probably won’t spend much time outside it! When decorating, try to go for colours which will work for years… and won’t prove too embarrassing years down the line. Don’t forget to leave room for posters and other personal touches.

Drawers are also a must: when they’ve outgrown toys and games, be prepared for your child’s clothing collection to grow exponentially. You can save space by looking for wardrobes which fit the height of the room – and include stacked shelves for socks and other small items.

Work with what you have…

Perhaps the real key to keeping your child’s room suited to their needs is to talk to them. If nothing else, chatting about your child’s room will avoid arguments down the line if they suddenly decide they don’t like what you’ve done. Knowing what your child wants will also give you an idea of how to adapt to their interests – if they’re taking up a musical instrument, a playing space will prove very useful. Even if you don’t have a lot of space to work with, considering the potential of your child’s room now will reap benefits years down the line.

Silent Nights: Tips for ensuring children get a good night’s sleep

Getting children to go to bed, when it’s their bedtime, can be one of a parent’s hardest tasks. On top of any bedtime problems you may face, it’s worth remembering that getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to children’s mental and physical development. Well-rested children perform better in school and get more out of social and sporting activities.

The amount of sleep a child needs obviously varies significantly depending on age: at 1-4 weeks old, babies will sleep for up to 16 hours a day. As they grow, this amount drops rapidly – levelling out at 8 or 9 hours from 12 upwards. Age often doesn’t matter once children are old enough to want to argue about staying up past their bedtime – if you’re having trouble convincing your little ones to go to – and stay in – bed, check out our list of tips for avoiding bedroom battles.

Routine: establishing a regular time for children to head to bed is not only effective but will actually be seen as quite a fair move from the perspective of the child. A regularly-enforced bedtime lets children know what they are supposed to do – homework, bath, brush teeth – and when they need to do it. Parents who let their children ‘agree’ to a routine bedtime, will also be able to introduce extensions for good behaviour – and early curfews for bad.

As an extra tip – make getting up as much of a routine as going to bed. Letting children sleep late makes them less tired later on. Get them up early, for a full day of activities, to make them more prepared for bed in the evening.

Warnings: whatever the agreed bedtime, give your children ample warning each night, before sending them to bed. Offering a 30 minute warning – or gentle ‘reminder’ – is another way of ‘playing fair’ with kids – meaning there’s less chance of a disagreement once bedtime comes – and a chance to finish any pre-bedtime activities, like games or tidying up.

Reading: bedtime stories are great way to reward children for getting into bed – and encouraging them to lie quietly and calmly. Establish a limit of one or two chapters (depending on length) so that you don’t keep children up too long. Reading a story is also a great way to spend some quality personal time with your child each night.

Mattress and bedding: once your child is in bed, making sure they’re comfortable is the key to helping them stay asleep. If children are complaining of waking during the night, or showing signs of tiredness despite going to bed without incident, it’s worth looking at the quality of mattress or bedding they’re sleeping on.

Children grow very quickly – and if they’re too big or too heavy for their mattress, the effects on their sleep can be significant. If space is a concern, why not think about bunk beds? Bunks offer ample space per bed – and can be separated if you decide to put your kids in rooms of their own. In terms of bedding, look for material that ‘breathes’ – adjusting to temperature changes and keeping children comfortable throughout the year.

There’s always going to be some friction when it comes to getting children to go to bed – but it’s ultimately in everyone’s interests to try to solve problems as quickly and as early as possible. Taking steps, as your children grow, to enforce and maintain a sensible bedtime is not only going to prevent future issues – but help your children’s health and lifestyle.

Sofa beds: Think Before You Buy

Sofa beds are a great way to save space and add versatility to  your house. There’s a perception that sofa beds are uncomfortable and an uncertain compromise between sleeper and seating space – but with so many excellent products available, there’s no reason your sofa bed can’t be a stylish, high quality addition to your home. Check out our guide to sofa beds – and find the right model for you!

Non-supported beds:

Unsupported, fold out beds are simple and cheap – and usually consist of small, simple folding cushions double up as a mattress and tuck back into the sofa when you’ve finished using it as a bed. This variety of sofa bed is inexpensive, small and easy to fit in the home – the lack of support offered by the cushioned beds may be uncomfortable for many users. Small, unsupported sofa beds work very well in kids bedrooms, where you’ll be able to save space and allow your kids to have friends round for sleep-overs.

Select a frame:

Frame sofa-beds are generally more comfortable than other varieties offering a supporting mattress frame to aid sleep. They’re strong and durable and available in wood and metal varieties. If you’re opting for a wood frame, make sure it’s been treated to resist moisture, and avoid softer materials such as pine.

The fold-out mechanism of a sofa-bed is a crucial part of its structure – and you should make sure it works smoothly. The bed frame should lift out of the sofa without difficulty – if you hear any suspect noises (clicks or crunches) then it’s probably best to stay away. The mechanism itself should be smooth and safe so that quilts and sheets don’t get caught, torn or snarled up in the bed.

Choose your material:

Like normal sofas, you’ll be able to select your sofa bed from a variety of upholsteries, including leather. It’s an opportunity to match the new furniture to the aesthetic of your home – but keep in mind what you want the sofa bed for and which room you intend to put it in. If it’s going to be used frequently, by a variety of people, then it might be worth avoiding more expensive models – and saving money when the inevitable food or drink spills occur. If you intend to use it in a study or guest room, you may feel more comfortable going up-market.

Check for space:

This is an important step  – but one many people overlook. Sofa beds, by their very nature, change shape and size. Make sure you not only measure the space you’ll be fitting the sofa bed into but take into account other items of furniture or appliances nearby. Beds which fold out next to radiators or low-hanging shelves may result in an uncomfortable night’s sleep . People sleeping in the bed will also need space to get into and out of the bed, so remember to leave enough room on at least one side of the sofa.

Test for quality:

Mattress quality is also going to be a factor in choosing your sofa bed – and crucial to a restful night’s sleep. It’s easy to find sofas with perfectly good quality mattresses but the only way to be completely happy is to try out the mattress before you purchase. Don’t be shy about asking for the sofa to be unfolded in the store – and getting on to try it out yourself!

Keeping warm in winter – do I need new bedding?

Nights are longer and the days are shorter, like it or not, winter is here! You’re probably already noticing the temperature drop in your home – you’ll have to have the heating on higher and longer – and the same surely goes for your bedroom. While hot summers often leaves us kicking off the sheets during the night, in winter, quilts often don’t provide enough warmth.

If you’re a fan of snuggling up in bed during the winter months – what type of bedding works best – and should you shell out for new quilts to cope with the chill? Check out our advice for finding the best bedding for the winter months…

More blankets:

Your first option for dealing with the winter chill is to simply pile on the extra layers. If you’re determined to raise the temperature, adding one or two extra blankets is a good idea: layers trap heat and keep it next to your body. The problem with this method, is that extra quilts can be heavy and difficult to physically wrangle in bed . There’s also a tendency for them to get too hot, forcing you to wake up in the night to throw blankets onto the floor (only to scoop them back up when it gets cold again!).

Change materials:

It’s obvious that some materials are warmer than others. Some types of bedding are breathable, meaning that you’ll feel cooler in warm conditions and vice versa.

  • Cotton: cheap, available and breathable, cotton is a good all-purpose bedding. Depending on how much you’re willing to pay however, you may end up with a low-quality product.
  • Silk: cool and lightweight, this material is good for warmer parts of the year but might leave you shivering in the depths of winter.
  • Satin: another  cooler option, satin may look and feel luxurious but is unsuitable for most people during winter.
  • Flannel: much too warm for summer – but perfect for cosy nights in the winter.
  • Wool: wool blankets offer great warmth  – trapping air in pockets over their surface. Finding a good wool blanket may be expensive.

Tog and thread count:

The tog rating of a quilt is an industry standard which tells you how warm the product is going to be. Tog values don’t really reflect how physically light or heavy a blanket is going to be  – so don’t assume heavyweight quilts are going to be automatically warmer. Anything from 12 to 14 tog is going to be warm during the winter – but if you need that extra level of cosiness, you could go up to 18 tog.

Thread counts are another factor to consider when looking at linens – higher thread counts will be more expensive and  warmer during the night – but may also be far less breathable. A higher thread count does not necessarily translate to better quality and it really comes down to personal preference – make sure you like how the linen feels before you buy!

Bedding is only a small part of your sleep experience – you might want to ‘cheat’ a little and get an electric blanket (or even buy a warmer set of pyjamas). Better bedding does, however, contribute to better sleeps – and when the temperature drops during winter, a good night’s rest becomes more important than ever!

The science behind memory foam mattresses

Choosing a new mattress can be a bit of a chore: removing and disposing of your old one is hassle enough – without the added pressure of going out to select a model that delivers the comfort you’re used to. The importance of a mattress shouldn’t be underestimated. If you’ve been sleeping on an unsuitable mattress, it might just be the culprit behind any aches, pains, exhaustion or irritability you’ve been suffering in the daytime.

A quick browse of mattresses available on the market reveals a wealth of technological advances and comfort options – not least in the form of the well-known memory foam mattress. But what are the advantages of memory foam, compared to other types of mattress, how does it work – and what kind of benefits to your sleep does it bring?

The limits of traditional coiled mattresses

Traditional coil sprung mattresses are cheap, cover a range of budgets and are relatively easy to obtain. They’re not without problems however, and tend to suffer wear and tear very easily. Coils are fragile and distribute weight unevenly – this can cause springs to wear out or even push through the fabric of the mattress. Coil mattresses that outlive their suitability can become bent out of shape, uncomfortable – or even painful.

How does memory foam work?

Memory foam mattresses are a way to avoid some of the traditional problems of sprung mattresses. Originally intended for use in NASA flight seats in the mid-1960s, memory foam is light, versatile and soft. It was designed to protect against impacts – by being sensitive to points of heat and pressure and distributing weight across its entire mass. The viscoelastic properties of the foam allow it to retain and return to its original shape once the pressure is removed.

The advantages of memory foam quickly became apparent and its use was expanded into helmets and shoes – it even proved useful in increasing the comfort of prosthetic limbs!

Memory foam and sleep

Memory foam’s cell structure, reacting and responding to heat and weight, means it molds to the unique contours of the body, optimizing the support it provides during sleep. Memory foam aids rest  by reducing the need  to find comfort by moving around during the night and, by eliminating points of pressure, is particularly suited to people with back and neck pain. It is particularly suited to helping with, amongst other things, arthritis, fibrositis, poor circulation and respiratory problems.

The materials memory foam is made from can sometimes present issues for people with allergies. It’s a well-documented problem and a result of the chemicals used in the foam’s production. Memory foam is available in hypoallergenic varieties which should go some way to alleviating the irritation caused by allergies. It’s worth bearing in mind that, on the  other hand, memory foam avoids some of the allergy complaints associated with coil mattresses – like bed bugs and mites.

Memory foam isn’t a magic-bullet solution to the perfect night’s rest, but it could be the piece that’s missing if your experiencing troublesome nights. If you’re set on memory foam, make sure to try out the mattress in the shop – it’s a big purchase, so it’s worth your while jumping on and making sure it’s right for you!