Have vacation sleep at home

You don’t need to stay in a five-star hotel to achieve five-star shut-eye. By Sylvia Ong.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

You don’t need to stay in a five-star hotel to achieve five-star shut-eye. By Sylvia Ong.

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When a friend recently told you about her upcoming staycation at a certain luxury hotel, did your face turn green with envy? We totally understand. It’s not so much about the pampering treatment, but because of the incredible sleep you knew she’d be getting. Who doesn’t want to sleep and wake up without soreness in the neck or the familiar ache in the back? But even if you don’t have plans for a slumber sojourn, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. So here’s how you can unpack more blissful nights…

What Lies Beneath

We spend a third of our lives in bed, so it’s vital to look at where we’re resting.

After eight or nine years, a mattress can start to provide less support, leading to back pain. So if you’re looking to replace or buy a new mattress, here’s how to make it a less exhausting proposition. There are hundreds of models to choose from. But a big part of what makes a good one is very personal: One person’s luxury is another person’s backache waiting to happen so trust your own judgment.

The Hard Truth

For a start, know that firm mattresses aren’t always better for your back. If you suffer from lower back pain, research shows that the best mattress for this is a medium firm mattress rather than a firm one. Go for one with a firm support and one that feels most comfortable to you.

What Are Pillow-Top Matresses?

Pillow-top mattresses offer an additional plush layer on top of the mattress and over the support system for extra comfort. But if you are petite and small-framed, you probably don’t weigh enough to compress the foam to even benefit from the underlying coils and support system. On the other hand, larger, heavier people tend to prefer this extra cushioning between them and the coils.

Do It Like Goldilocks

Just like Goldilocks, you need to try a bed to know if it’s the right one for you. Some are too hard, others too soft – find the one that’s just right. When shopping for a mattress, make sure the base is similar to the one you have at home. Lie down on the mattress for 10 minutes. And try to roll over – it will take more effort if the bed’s too soft, and feel uncomfortable on your hips and shoulder if it’s too firm.

TIP Try no more than three mattresses at one time so you don’t get confused, says a Robinson’s bedding salesperson.


The first decision you have to make is to pick the mattress’ core which provides the support. Here are four common types: Innerspring, pocket spring, latex and memory foam.

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Best for: Bounce and affordability.

These generally use a steel coil support system that’s covered with padding and upholstery, including extra foams, fibres and smaller steel springs. The idea here is that the more coils there are, the more support and contour. These are usually more affordable, but any tossing or turning is likely to disturb a partner.

Try: Serta Hydra, from $3,050, from Serta Sleep Centre.

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Best for: Less movement.

One of the more popular types, a pocket spring mattress offers an even distribution of weight, and can support two people of two different body weights well because the springs are separated and sewn into individual fabric pockets. Since a pocket spring mattress can contain up to 3,000 springs and stuffed with natural materials like wool, it can be heavy to turn and may trigger allergies.

Try: Top Point 1000 pocket spring core mattress, from $2,045, from MÖBEL STORY.

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Best for: Sleepers prone to allergies.

Latex mattresses tend to feel cool and are built to last. It’s also an ideal option for those prone to allergies as it doesn’t harbour dust mites. These type of mattresses feels solid and sturdier, and will not please those desiring more plushy beds. Another big plus for latex mattresses is that they are eco-friendly and can be recycled.

Try: PosturePedic Hybrid (Latex), from $5,599, from Sealy Sleep Palace.


Best for: Aching backs.

These mattresses are topped with a layer of temperature sensitive material which resists pressure, and quickly reverts to its original shape when released. You’ll feel as if your body is sinking into it, your weight absorbed in, taking pressure off your joints and improving blood circulation. The most well-known memory foam is Tempur, which is originally developed by NASA.

Try: Tempur Original 21 mattress, from $5,499, from Tempur Sleep Boutique.

Pillow Talk

Want a better night’s sleep? Start by looking at where you lay your head.

Osteopaths say a correctly fitting pillow can assist with more restful sleep, which is important as it’s the time our body repairs itself, allowing for a better immune and respiratory function and reducing a lot of everyday aches and pains. A pillow that’s too high, or too flat, can cause sleepers to be holding their neck in a position where their head is bent to one side, causing a sore neck, back pain and headaches. The right pillow can help alleviate this problems.

Finding The Perfect Pillow

This depends on your individual needs and body shape. Ideally, a pillow should support your shoulders, upper back and neck, so that you can fully relax while asleep, rather than holding muscles in a contracted position overnight. A suitable pillow allow for good breathing, reducing the likelihood of snoring and sleep apnoea.

Test It Out

A pillow should properly support your neck and spine, creating a straight line from your neck to the base of your spine (similar to a correct standing position).

Consider Your Body Type

Not all pillows are one-size-fits-all. In general, slight people need flatter, smaller pillows while taller people with broad shoulders and heavy heads are better suited to higher and more supportive pillows.

What’s Your Sleeping Style

Back-, tummy-, or side-sleeping positions may influence the type of pillow height or density you require. Many manufacturers offer pillows specifically designed for each position, but it can come down to personal preference.


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Best for: Most body types.

Foam is versatile, non-allergenic, durable and offers lots of different shapes. Memory foam pillows, made of visco-elastic polyurethane material, mould to the head and neck and will keep returning to their original shape once pressure is released.

Try: Wellpur Contour pillow, $129, from JYSK (in Courts Bukit Timah).

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Best for: Smaller frames and tummy sleepers.

This pillow type uses goose or duck down and feathers. The material is warm, soft and moulds well to the head, but keep in mind feathers can stir up allergies.

Try: Nature Guard Luxury Pillow, $269, from Robinsons.

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Best for: Larger, heavier people.

Latex pillows are durable, resilient and naturally anti-microbial. They offer good support for the neck and head.

Try: Snowdown Tencel latex pillow, $109, from Robinsons.

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Best for: Allergy sufferers and warm sleepers

The natural fibres of wool are soft, durable and good at wicking away moisture. Cotton pillows are non-allergenic, washable and made from a breathable material which also minimises stains.

Try: HAMPDÅN pillow, $19.90, from IKEA.

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Best for: People with neck and back pain and side sleepers.

Posture pillows are contoured with a gutter or depression in the middle of the pillow, which cradles the head and supports the neck.

Try: Dentons Pillow, The Caress, $139, from Robinsons.

8 Ways To Create A Sleep Sanctuary

Turn your bedroom into a picture of bliss with our decorating tips.

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1 Bed Linen

High thread counts do make better sheets, but the type of thread matters most. If you’re looking for that cool, soft feel, that won’t feel clammy, nothing beats 100 per cent cotton.

Try: Ruutu-Unikko bedlinen set, $349 (king size), from Marimekko.

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2 Adjustable Bed

Sleep, read, work and eat in your bed – it’s a dream come true. Recliner beds allow you to raise the back and/or the legs, and even offer massages!

Try: Tempur North bed system, $28,999, from major department stores.

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3 Bedside Tables

Nightstands that are the same height as the bed or 2- to 3-cm lower look best. If you want to try a mismatched pair of tables, pick two that are the same height or just a wee bit shorter.

Try: Mademoiselle four-drawer chest, $2,249, from Taylor B.

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4 Throw

Tossing a throw over your bed or on the back of the sofa can add cosiness.

Try: Anastasia royal blue check blanket, $159, from Laura Ashley.

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5 Lamps

Two matching lamps create a strong use of symmetry. A drum-style shade is always a safe bet and will never feel dated.

Try: Pineapple table lamp, $319, from Laura Ashley.

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6 Mattress Cleaner

Your mattress harbours millions of dead skin cells and dust mites so deep cleaning it once every few months will give you the peace of mind.

Try: Philips Mite Cleaning Vacuum Cleaner FC6232, $299, from major electronic stores.

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7 Rug

Land your feet on a cosy spot when you swing them off the bed. Opt for plush wool or cotton; and avoid seagrass rugs.

Try: Sheepskin, $195, from BoConcept.

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8 Air Purifier

Even in non-hazy periods, many people are slightly allergic to dust and pollen. Turning on the air purifier at night can help reduce these in the room and prevent a sneezing panic in the morning.

Try: Dyson Pure Cool, $999, from major electronic stores.

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