My first (and probably only) big purchase of the year was a new mattress.
My old one, bought in 1999, had reached the stage of having round rust stains showing through the fabric, the padding worn through, and ensuring that I could feel every spring pressing against me as I tried to sleep.
I made do for the last year by throwing a spare duvet on top of it, and this helped somewhat, by padding it out slightly. But it had to go.
So I was more than a little excited about getting a new one.
Paul and I wanted to buy the best mattress that our budget allowed, looking on it as an investment in our well-being for the next ten years.
So we did our research.
The Sleep Council website offers some good advice about choosing a new mattress, as well as suggesting that a new bed could be more effective than sleeping pills in achieving better and longer sleep. We looked at several guides from mattress suppliers and department stores - all saying much the same thing. We asked friends for opinions based on their own experience. And we did a lot of shopping around, comparing prices and features.
We finally decided on a pocket-sprung mattress: one containing smaller and softer springs in individual fabric pockets. These springs all work independently of one another, and this has two major benefits. It allows them to fit to individual body shape, giving better support to the entire body. And in a two-person bed, the movement of one person will not disturb the other, as only the springs on their side of the bed move. On the recommendation of several friends we also went for a built-in memory-foam topper, for added comfort.
We shopped during the January sales, which enabled us to buy a much more expensive model of mattress at less than half its usual price. We also looked for offers on Quidco and TopCashBack: sites that will give you money back for signing up and clicking through from their site when making a purchase. I got money back from them for buying my chosen mattress through one of their links; money back on something that I was going to buy anyway!
The only recommendation that we didn't take (and quite a big one!) was to try out a range of mattresses before choosing one. This is a sensible idea, especially when deciding on the feel of the mattress - whether you want soft, medium or firm. But for us it just wasn't practical, and after discussing the feel of mattresses we'd slept on over the past year (staying with family and friends, in a hotel etc.) we decided on medium support. This was a bit of a compromise, as I had loved the indulgent softness of sinking into my friend's 'princess bed', and Paul is happy sleeping on a hard floor!
We dusted and cleaned thoroughly before putting our new mattress on the bed.
We treated it to a mattress protector and a soft new sheet.
We sighed happily at how comfortable it was, and marvelled at its depth. (So deep that it has actually changed the view looking out of my bedroom window from in bed!)
The first night's sleep on it was smug bliss. And a week later I am still feeling gleeful each time I walk into the bedroom.
It's true that money can't buy happiness, but it certainly can buy comfort!