The Z Files: The Perfect bed Sleep expert Kate Bridle weighs in
Kate, what makes the perfect bed?
The universal component is comfort — that includes the type of surface we lie on, as well as the bedclothes we cover ourselves with. Comfort needs to be addressed in terms of support for the body, as well as the ability to support and maintain a comfortable body temperature. The right mattress can help you sleep and relieve pressure on your back, and the wrong mattress can be detrimental to the quality of sleep you get and your body. On top of that, your bed needs to feel cosy and clean.
So how should we choose what we lie on?
If you’re a side sleeper, a softer mattress will support your body by moulding around you. If you’re a back or front sleeper, a firm mattress is generally best for your spine. A memory foam mattress (or a good topper) helps to absorb movement, which is especially useful if you share a bed and want minimal disruption from your bed partner.
What should we look for when choosing the right bedding fabric?
Having fabrics that are breathable is essential in maintaining a comfortable body temperature. In the colder months, they need to insulate and keep us warm, and in the summer they need to keep us cool. There are fabrics designed to do this, though many people choose to have separate winter and summer quilts for maximum comfort. Of course, natural fibres are great for breathability.
How do we choose the right pillow, and how many should we sleep on?
There are a few factors to consider. The first is what position you usually sleep in. Front sleepers need a slim, soft pillow, but side and back sleepers need more support, so a firmer memory foam style might be more comfortable. One pillow is usually fine, assuming it gives enough support if you’re a side or back sleeper. If you’re a side sleeper, another soft pillow between your knees or upper legs can help with joint discomfort, which often wakes people. If you switch between positions, have two different pillows you can alternate. Also, if you suffer from a feather allergy or have asthma, stick to a synthetic filling or memory foam.
In a humid city like Hong Kong, what should we do about the bedroom temperature throughout the year? Is it better to use a fan or the aircon for ventilation?
Keeping cool is vital to sleep quality. If your body temperature rises even a small amount, it brings you into a lighter sleep or wakes you completely. Unfortunately, although using air conditioning on a regular basis is not ideal, it’s necessary here. But make sure your AC unit is cleaned and serviced regularly. In the milder months, a fan is a good way to move the air around, and will help cool you if you have breathable bedding fabric. An air purifier is also great in the bedroom. If you don’t have AC or prefer not to use it, then using a dehumidifier along with a fan is the next best thing.