Buying a bed is a balance between price and comfort as well as providing potential back support and shoulder relief.

Buying a bed

Bed comfort seems to be all about personal preference. Most people spend many hours choosing a bed;-a percentage of whom are subsequently dissatisfied with sleep comfort outcome. Many others know or suspect they require a new bed but don’t have the health information or experience enough sleep discomfort to initiate the process of looking for a bed.

Medical profession consensus suggests that side lying is the optimal sleep position for most people most of the time. Some neck problems fare better in supine (on your back) with a low pillow.

The seemingly more sophisticated mattress market is dominated by mattresses with multiple pocket springs with 5 and 9 zones. Memory foam, for example, as commercialised by Tempur, is also popular.

A 30 or 60-night comfort exchange guarantee, which allows customers dissatisfied with the comfort or feel to exchange it for another of equal or greater value appears also to be a popular and sensible option. It appears to often take a few weeks for both the bed to settle and the sleeper to adapt. It is also possible that a bed may be eligible for an ATO medical rebate where a doctor or physiotherapy referral is provided, plus the bed may be GST exempt because of potential health product status. There are many dozens of beds available and many retailers.

Also worthy of note is that the Australian Physiotherapy Association recommends a bed, the Sleepmaker Miracoil Advance (5 zone), although no medical reason is provided to support this recommendation. Similarly, many beds come with “endorsements” from, for example, professional associations such as the Chiropractic Association.

Burwood Rd Hawthorn, for example, has 8 substantial bedding retailers/showrooms, allocate a few hours, try different beds and go back a second time to make a decision. Decide what you want to spend for what quality and comfort of bed and what guarantee might apply.

Price Warren is of the opinion that any bed greater than 10 or so years old will be significantly improved upon with a new bed. There is, however, no guarantee of symptom relief or alteration in the progression of any degenerative disease. Price believes there is potential to reduce spinal dysfunction and shoulder disease (for example, side lying on an injured shoulder) when well supported on a comfortable mattress as an alterable factor in the interest of minimising future bother. In other words the progression of arthritic or degenerative disease may well be influenced by the quality of one’s bed (~ 30% of life is lying in bed).

A further factor to consider where night and morning pain exist is that disc and joint pressure is approximately 1/2-1/4 in lying positions compared to standing, and 1/4-1/8 compared to sitting postures (Nachemson, 1964, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery). It is quite possible that the more upright postures have a more significant impact on lumbar mechanics, loads and pain than those resulting from lying in bed despite lying in bed being the most continuously uninterrupted posture in the life of most people.

For analysis and advice on beds and back pain please consult your Richmond Physiotherapy Clinic physiotherapist. Please also refer to our advice on neck pain and pillows.


The information contained in this site is not intended as a substitute for advice from a qualified health care professional. Always obtain advice from a qualified health care professional before starting any exercise, stretching or health care program. The author and everyone involved in the production of this site disclaim any liability for any adverse effects resulting from the use of the information presented.