Although the above seems like a simple enough question that should evoke an equally simple answer, the truth is that, as is so often the case, experts do have widely differing views. What’s more, what is a good and comfortable bed for one person is not necessarily so for the next, as what suits best does vary greatly from individual to individual. To take two extreme examples, even today many Japanese still sleep on traditional futons, thin strips of flock-filled bedding which are unrolled on the floor at bedtime, while there is a great vogue for waterbeds in many other parts of the world. The contrast between the two sleeping arrangements could hardly be greater – ranging from the sleeper being almost directly in contact with the hard floor to lolling about in the deep moving trough of a waterbed. Yet both methods have their keen proponents who would argue strongly the merits of their choice. The truth is that neither sleeping arrangement is per se the right one – the fact that both are acceptable for many people just shows that the human body can adapt to and accept a wide range of sleeping conditions.
Even in Britain, where the overwhelming majority of people favour what might be called ‘ordinary’ beds consisting of a base and mattress, there is wide variation in what people find comfortable. Experts, however, agree that to play its part in easing or preventing back pain or sciatica, your bed should meet the following criteria:
It must provide ‘good’ support for the whole body and so prevent the spine from sagging.
It must be of a height that makes it easy to get into and out of bed. The height is also of importance when it comes to making the bed or changing bedding – a low bed means there will be more bending over than with a comparatively high one.
It must be large enough to allow plenty of room for movement during the night. Naturally, if you share your bed it should then be big enough to provide adequate space for two.
Let us now look at these key points in greater detail.