Guide to buying the right bed

With many of us tightening the purse strings and watching the pennies at the moment, those planned big purchases may have been put on hold. But if your nights are spent tossing and turning because of a bad bed, it is worth investing in a new one.

How to buy a new bed
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However, given that a new bed and mattress can be expensive, it's worth ensuring that you are buying the right type - take a look at our guide to buying the perfect bed.

Divan or bedstead?
Before you hit the furniture stores, be clear about what type of bed will suit you. A bedstead can add style to your room and the range on offer is huge - from contemporary metal frames to classic wooden bedsteads, it is easy to find a style that fits with the rest of your home and prices can be very reasonable. If this is your preferred option, look for a "sprung slatted" base that will offer more comfort than a solid slatted base but with the same level of support.

Alternatively, you might want to consider a divan. Available with springs or without, for firm support, divans have two advantages - they often come with drawers which are excellent if you are in need of extra storage, and you have the option of adding a headboard for an added stylish touch.

If you have the space for a king size bed, it might be worth spending that little bit more as it will offer more space for you and your partner to relax and sleep well than a standard double.

The all-important mattress
Though the best bed for you won't necessarily be the most expensive, it is worth investing as much as you can afford in a good quality mattress. However tempting it may be, it is advisable to buy a bed and new mattress, particularly if you have a divan, as a new mattress on an old base may lose some of its benefits.

The traditional style of mattress is the open spring, the most commonly-used system, but a pocket sprung mattress is a more luxurious option. The springs work independently and this is ideal if there is a big weight or size difference between you and your sleeping partner.

But more recently memory foam and latex mattresses have increased in popularity - the visco-elastic memory foam mattress reacts to the heat of your body, allowing it to mould to your contours (excellent for keeping your posture correct), while a latex mattress has similar benefits.

If you're used to your old soft and cosy mattress, a new one may feel a little firm at first but remember, you can always buy a mattress topper for a little extra comfort.

Try before you buy
Once you are in the store, it's time to try out your options - now is not the time to be shy. Don't simply lie on your back for a few seconds, try out the positions you regularly sleep in, are you able to turn easily? If you sleep with a partner, you will both need to be there to ensure that both are happy with the choice.

Though some prefer a soft bed and others prefer a firm mattress, you must still be aware of getting the necessary support if you are to avoid those aches and pains.

A handy tip is to lie on your back with your hand flat under the small of your back - if the hand slides in very easily, the bed is likely too firm while if it is difficult to move, you may be sinking too far into a soft mattress.

Most importantly - take your time and don't be swayed by persuasive sales staff. The Sleep Council estimates that 80 per cent of people shopping for a bed spend less than two minutes trying out their options... and since we spend more than 120 whole days each year in bed, your purchase deserves a little more consideration!