The inside track: hard beds

Every week a health expert shares a secret tip.

It is a myth that hard beds are best for bad backs. The ultimate bed involves a marriage between comfort (which often means softness), and support (which often means hardness). The problem is that firm beds don't support the natural contours of your spine. If you happen to be a shapely woman, who sleeps on her side, you really will struggle with a firm bed.

Personal preference has to be taken into consideration, as well as your sleeping position, weight and budget when buying a bed, but a good guide is one that offers a support/comfort rating of approximately 5.5-7.5 level, when "0" is the softest and "10" the firmest.

People often sleep in broken beds without realising it. And we think beds last for ever. But your bed's structure tends to deteriorate in quality by about 75% within eight years, causing sleep disruption. Therefore, we should all really be renewing our beds every 8-10 years.

If you can't afford a new bed and it is too soft, place a piece of plywood under the mattress. If it is too firm, either think about a mattress topper, or placing one or two duvets under your sheet to help give the bed some extra forgiveness.

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