Topic Tuesday #166 2015/09/22 "Beds"
Beds. Unless you are a wandering nomad that sleeps in odd places like park benches and bed rolls, there’s a really good chance you sleep in a bed. If you are human, then it is also likely you will spend about a third of your life sleeping in a bed. There is also a good chance you will spend even more, shall we say, recreational time in that bed, you know… watching movies or something… After over a decade of experience in beds and bed activities... I have some advice for you on bed selection for those that may be in the market for something comfortable. This is practical advice, and not meant to be intentionally funny, though many things done in the bed are quite abstractly funny.
Size Matters: When you are little you have a crib, and eventually graduate to a big kid bed and then that twin follows you for a long time. You may be sleeping on a twin for the majority of your life between youth and old age and life circumstances in between. There is nothing wrong with a twin, if you are sleeping solo or with a small coterie of pets. When you are entertaining a guest a larger size becomes far more comfortable. If you are both twigs, then you can stay on the twin, but for average adults, you will want a bigger mattress. Heck if you become an average adult you may want to sleep on a larger bed too, such as a “Full” or a “Double”. If you are tall or like pillows, then there are longer mattresses available in the “XL” and “California” varieties. Once you consider a regular sleeping companion you have to also consider the sleeping accommodations of said companion. The industry suggests Queen and King for bed sharing, though I personally have an opinion on that which I will address shortly.
Costly Decisions: Let’s face it, a bed is an investment. They frames are expensive and often belong to an even more expensive bedroom set. A high quality mattress is several hundred to over a thousand dollars. Given this sunk cost it has an inertia that is difficult to overcome. If you get the wrong bed you are locked into all the accouterments of that size until you sink the cost again on another size category. The accumulation of accessories can be maddening if you are just getting started. At the very least, you will need at least one pillowcase, a fitted sheet and a blanket. Most people will also get a flat sheet and a bed skirt. You may also have a comforter or duvet and enough decorative pillows to populate a Pier One store... You can drop a lot of cash just on these size specific items. And keep in mind that the average bed will be with you for 10 years, by which time, you will want it gone, in a big way. They end up heavier at the end of their life than when you get them; I’ll let you figure out why, but I will say it is disgusting.
Type Of Mattress: There are also a wide array of different types of mattress. There are your basic innerspring bed. There are memory foam, Sleep Number™, adjustable (hospital), water bed, and so many pillow top variants that your head will spin. Then there are the foundations that go along with these. The most common are the box spring and the wooden slat or some combination thereof. I have seen trampoline styles and plain old hard solid bases (which could be good for those that need a firm bed), but those are usually specific to the bed frame. I won’t bother too much with frame types and styles because they are legion.
Take a-ways and life advice: Get a queen. Get a basic mattress from a place like Ikea, something that seems pretty comfy but is not too soft. When you lay on it in the store, check the foundation setup they have arranged and do your best to replicate it. Go for harder if you can and your back will thank you later as the bed is broken in and becomes softer than you expected it to be.
Pillow tops are nice and all but let’s be frank, when you are engaging in activities other than sleep, the mattress and frame are going to take some stress. A pillow top will shift under you some, not like a water bed, but I think you get the point, and if you don’t - go find out.
Why not a king? or a Sleep Number? From a financial consideration, king size lives up to the name and everything costs more. Even the pillows are bigger! Bigger is not necessarily better. A king size mattress will take up about 40 sqft. and a queen will take up 33.3 sqft. In an apartment or older home not designed for enormous bedroom sets, that matters a lot.
Now… those are major concerns, but… here is the hard truth that I have discovered: When you are with a partner for a long time, there will be a natural tendency to drift apart. A king size bed is too big and will make that drifting so casual that you won’t realize it until it may be too late. (Not the bed’s fault, but in a intimate setting distance does nothing to help remind you of any commitments you have made and make it very easy to become roommates. Similar sleep schedules would also be a wise habit.)
With “select a firmness” mattress systems, they are great for your health but when it comes time to have some fun, you have to be careful or you will tumble awkwardly into the less firm side or straddle the weird foam bolster in between the chambers. At least with the fully adjustable hospital style beds, you can make both sides go flat, just mind the gap. Seriously, humans do not need amorous activity to be any more awkward than it already is and I cannot recommend beds that keep partners more apart than is necessary. Having children and pets, I know that I can sleep on about 18 inches of mattress while the other 52 inches is taken up by the toddler who had a bad dream. One caveat, if you want to co-sleep with your new born children, then you will have plenty of room in the king, but you can still get away with the queen, so save the money and buy some diapers.