a trip to the bed shop...
Back in December, I popped into the new(ish) Back in Action store in George Street, near Marylebone in central London. I’ve been a fan of BIA for a long time – in fact since my patients started raving about their Mobiliser bed in 2003. They provided our Mobiliser and all the rocking chairs in the Victory clinic, and I like to catch up with them every so often to find out what’s new in the world of back care furniture and gadgets.
CEO David Newbound (the engineer behind the Mobiliser) enthusiastically showed me the latest in chairs, sofas and workstations – but it was when we got to the bed section that I fell in love.
20-odd years ago, the medical fraternity – especially orthopaedic surgeons – strongly believed that the best type of mattress for a sore back was an extra-firm one, the rationale being that you didn’t want a saggy mattress to allow you to bend in the wrong places.
While that may have been true once (when a less-firm mattress was essentially just one that was a bit worn-out), mattress technology has evolved, and softer mattresses can and do provide good levels of support for your back, without being unyielding. There’s still no one size fits all answer – back pain isn’t homogenous, with different underlying causes and different symptoms – but one study led by Dr Francisco Kovacs in Spain found that people with back pain who slept on a medium bed were twice as likely to report improvement in their symptoms, compared to people who slept on a hard bed. So it’s certainly no longer the case that firmer is always better; and the best way to find out which mattress is best for you is to try lying on it for at least 15 minutes!
I did exactly that at Back in Action – lay on several mattresses (and, if I’m honest, nearly fell asleep) and there were two in particular that I simply wanted to take home with me… or, possibly, I just wanted David to go away and let me pass out for a few hours!
The first one was the Technogel Anatomic mattress. Weirdly, the top surface of this mattress isn’t actually flat – it’s covered in a matrix of blue jelly squares, like a squishy Lego surface. This is because the space between the squares wicks away heat from your body, so that you don’t overheat in bed. The gel was originally designed for medical purposes for pressure relief; but it’s now also used by athletes to speed recovery after training sessions, as it’s apparently about 2 degrees cooler than a normal bed (and, you know, incremental gains). I’m not an elite athlete by any means, but this was really lovely – a bit of a Goldilocks moment, not too firm, not too soft – wow!
But then… David showed me his piece de resistance – the Dorsoo. This is a genuinely incredible piece of engineering - a beautifully comfortable, soft mattress that lies over slats that are supported by hydraulic pistons! This means that whatever shape you are, the bed will shape itself to support you. I lay on it for about 20 minutes and drifted into another world - I was honestly quite confused (and then sleepy/grumpy) when David told me it was time get up and leave!
However - he didn't cast me back out into George Street empty-handed - he gave me a totally delightful present of a Technogel Anatomic pillow to take with me and try. I've tried a lot of pillows in my time and this is quite different - and I've now been sleeping with it for around 100 nights, so I'm feeling comfortable to review it. Like the mattress, it's covered in the blue jelly squares, so it's cooling - if you're someone who's constantly fighting for the cool side of the pillow, then I've no doubt you'll absolutely love this! I'm looking forward to that aspect for the summer; but I don't get too hot in winter so for the first couple of nights I found it a bit chilly - though, since getting over that, I've loved it. My chronic grumbly neck (skiing accident when I was 19) is less grumbly, and my bionic shoulder (rotator cuff repair at 25) appreciates my new sleeping position too...
A good night's sleep is vital to your health, so if you often find yourself tossing and turning then it might be time to try investing in a new pillow, or even a new bed. Why not pop into Back In Action and have a look?