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Which? mattress reviews: what’s changed since 1972?

As Which? celebrates 45 years of testing mattresses, we take a quick look back on how the mattress market has changed

Old-fashioned vs modern bedrooms

This month marks 45 years since we first started testing mattresses. Beds have changed a lot in the 16,400 or so nights that have passed since, but our commitment to uncovering the mattresses that bring you the best possible night’s sleep certainly hasn’t.

In March 1972, we tested 23 mattresses from nine different brands, including Dunlopillo, Silentnight and Sleepeezee. Fast-forward to 2017, and we now have mattress reviews covering 25 brands, with hundreds of mattresses having gone through our tough tests in the intervening years.

Read on to find out what’s changed since 1972, or head to our mattress reviews where we pick out the best that 2017 has to offer.

A good mattress costs less

Our advice 45 years ago was: ‘Don’t spend less than £70 for a double if you want to be sure of its lasting for more than about 10 years.’

That would have been almost £850 in 2016, according to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator. That’s a lot to spend on a mattress, with around two thirds of the 5,001 Which? members we surveyed last year spending less on their last mattress.

And who can blame them? Spending more than £850 is no longer a guarantee of durability. One of the most expensive mattresses we’ve ever reviewed developed a large tear during our durability test, leading us to label it a Don’t Buy.

Nowadays, you needn’t spend more than £250 to get a Best Buy mattress that will stand the test of time.

Pocket-sprung and memory-foam mattresses

The average spring count of the 20 spring mattresses we tested in 1972 was 350; today, pocket-sprung mattresses often contain more than 1,000 individual springs.

We only tested three foam mattresses, all made by Dunlopillo, because ‘fewer than one in 10’ mattresses sold in the UK at the time were foam.

Since then, memory-foam mattresses have become much more widely available and more affordable. So, it’s no surprise that more than a third of Which? members owned a mattress containing foam in 2016.

As well as measuring how warm mattresses are to lie on, we’ve also developed stability and breathability tests to help you choose the best type of mattress.

Top beds for back support

Our final piece of advice in our first ever mattresses article was: ‘Don’t be impressed by fancy claims.’

Our mattress testing has come on leaps and bounds since 1972, but that advice remains as true today as it was then.

Using technology that was unavailable to us 45 years ago, we now test every mattress for body support. Whether you’re big or small and sleep on your back or side, our body support tests tell us how well each mattress will support your spine.

If you sleep on you back, the mattress should keep your spine in the same shape as when standing. If you’re a side-sleeper, your spine should be almost parallel to the bed. The best mattresses do both and, after years of use, will still be as supportive as when new.

Our mattress reviews guide shoppers to the mattresses that will give your spine the support it needs. Don’t be fooled by fancy terms such as ‘orthopaedic’: the use of such terms is not restricted and is therefore no guarantee of good back support.

For more on finding the best bed for you, don’t miss our guide to choosing the best mattress.

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