Gear Pick: Ergoflex mattress

Ergoflex mattress

Andy says: It might seem odd to be reviewing a mattress on a running website, but the importance of good sleep is often overlooked preparing for an endurance race. Quality shut-eye is crucial in helping the recovery process during training, as it's in the deepest part of the sleep cycle that the body releases human growth hormone to repair the micro-tears in muscle tissue caused by intense workouts.

In addition, a 1999 study in the The Lancet showed that just a few days of reduced sleep time can disrupt glucose metabolism. That’s the process responsible for storing energy from food and the reason why runners carb-load. It means poor slumber can result in lower glycogen (fuel) stores in you body, making you more likely to run out of energy and hit the wall later in a long-distance race.

So there is a link between quality sleep and better recovery and running performance. And yet according to the 2011 Great British Sleep Survey, which interviewed 11,129 adults, 51.3 per cent of Britons admit to having sleep problems.

I tested an Ergoflex mattress for a couple of months during my training for the Chicago Marathon in October. They are made from memory foam (the same stuff sometimes found in the ankle collar of running shoes), and are designed to mould themselves to the contours of the body, offering support but still having a bit of ‘give’ for a comfortable slumber.

It was a bit of a surprise when the mattress was delivered – because it’s vacuum-packed it comes in a fairly compact box. Once opened the mattress magically unfurls itself and quickly assumes its full size.

The makers informed me that there would be a slight chemical odour on opening. It was a kind of antiseptic smell that was noticeable but not hugely unpleasant, but after airing the mattress for a day or two it wore off. I got an almost childish delight from pressing my hands and feet into the smooth surface of the mattress and then watch the shapes fade as the foam slowly returned to its original position.

Old v new

My previous mattress was quite soft and comfortable, but I did sometimes wake up with an ache in my lower back. By comparison the first few nights on the Ergoflex felt firm. It took me a little bit longer than usual to drop off, but once asleep I didn’t wake during the night. In addition, it felt a lot easier to get out of bed in the morning – because I was well-supported on top of the mattress I didn’t feel like I had to ‘climb’ out of bed.

The Ergoflex retained body heat more than my previous sprung mattress, which means that in the summer months you might only need to use a thinner duvet.

Over the following days I got more used to the mattress and grew to appreciate the nice balance it offers between support and comfort. Over time the Ergoflex moulded itself very subtly to my body shape, meaning that it almost encouraged me to assume my best sleeping position when I got into bed at night. It was like having my own bespoke fit.

Another impressive quality is that the memory foam absorbs and dampens movement better than a sprung mattress – which means that when there’s two of you in bed and one person moves around or gets out of bed, it’s not really noticeable on the other half of the mattress.

I used the Ergoflex during my peak marathon training, and I found that I was waking feeling refreshed and recovered after a day’s training. I also didn’t suffer any more backache since starting using it. As well as promoting good quality sleep, the support it offers when you’re asleep helps your body and muscles recover from the demands of regular running and everyday life in general. I’d recommend it to runners looking to leave nothing about their recovery routines to chance, and anyone simply looking for a good night’s sleep.

Prices range from £229 (single) to £589 (super king size). Find out more at www.ergoflex.co.uk.

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