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In comfort and in health

Comfort is a subjective quality: it all depends on your preferences, health and budget, says Taya Galea.

Comfort is a term that is often used in relation to sofas, armchairs and beds and denotes an expected satisfaction quality. It’s a quality that refers to the level of rest, relaxation, body support and the sense of release from pressure and stress that the product is expected to deliver.

Yet comfort is a subjective quality and depends a lot on your perception, expectations as well as personal requirements and conditions that all make demands on the product – be it a sofa or bed – to deliver the expected level of satisfaction.

Comfort standards and levels in a sofa or bed depend on a combination of design, size and materials used. The same product can be considered as the ultimate in comfort by one person and an uncomfortable offering by another. A tall person cannot sit comfortably on a sofa that has insufficient depth or tilt even if the cushioning materials used count among the best. The reverse is also true: shorter persons will not feel comfortable in a deep sofa and will end up with a multitude of cushions to bridge the gap between their back and the back cushioning.

The choice between a low and high back sofa often depends on style and comfort

Most designers enjoy working on a low back sofa because this allows for a stylish approach. A high back sofa, on the other hand, is a product that designers prefer avoiding. This is because a high back sofa rarely looks good, even though it is considered to be the most comfortable option for watching television.

The choice between a low and high back sofa often depends on style and comfort. However, in between these two offerings, there is a whole range of products incorporating reclining mechanisms and headrests that can be raised. These appeal to those who opt for comfort as a priority. For the design purists, the choice remains style over comfort.

The choice is yours. A sofa maker can give you choices in terms of differentiated foam firmnesses, feather or down cushions, suspension systems as well as an array of high and low back products. The choice is not an easy one to make, unless you have the luxury of a home large enough to accommodate various sofas in different areas: a sofa for socialising and one for sheer relaxation.

In terms of bedding, comfort satisfaction is gauged on the level of sleep achieved over a period of time. To many, comfort is measured in terms of correct back support. Correct body support does not necessarily translate into a very firm mattress. Some firm mattresses will cause blood constriction especially in the shoulder area that leads to numbness

A very firm mattress does not allow sufficient release to enable the mattress to contour to the back of your body. The spine is not straight and needs a mattress that can cocoon it by providing the right level of support. A soft mattress will, apart from sagging quickly, create a hammock effect which will negatively affect your back sooner or later. Much also depends on body weight, the suspension system beneath the mattress and of course the type and quality of the mattress interior and its cover.

As with sofas and armchairs, the principle here is that one bed cannot offer the best sleeping solution to everyone and you must base your decision on what your priorities are. You might consider sleeping on a soft bed as the height of luxury, while others prefer a harder mattress.

When buying a bed, recommendations by friends and family are helpful but even more important is the faith you place in the information relayed to you when making your bedding enquiry. The track record of the supplier, the options available and the knowledge of a specialist bedding retailer will go a long way in assisting you to choose the bed that is right for you.

A good night’s sleep

What does a comfortable bed offer?
• The correct spinal alignment that your body needs
• Sleep that achieves the level of satisfaction expected
• A high level of hygiene
• A temperature level that is acceptable
• A barrier to allergies

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