The Quest for the Perfect Night’s Sleep

princessOkay, I will admit it.  I am ridiculously particular when it comes to my bed.  In an earlier post I talked about making my bed  https://gstoutimore.wordpress.com/2012/12/, and I can tell you that nothing has changed about my obsession with an unwrinkled surface on which to lay my head at the end of a hard day. 

Except I think the obsession is worse than ever.

It started a little over a year ago after I received a tax refund.  I don’t easily spend large sums of money.  I prefer to let it slip through my fingers in small insignificant sums that are hard to track and end up in the age-old question, “Jeeze…Where did all that money go, anyway?”

At any rate, when my refund check arrived, I decided to break tradition and spend the entire wad on a new mattress.  My old one was over fifteen years old, and had a trench several inches deep in the center.  In the morning, I would wake stiff and sore, and spend the next hour stretching and cussing out the matted stuffing that had obviously seen better days.

The weekend after making THE DECISION, my search began.  I surfed the internet, reading reviews, making price comparisons and otherwise schooling myself in the ways of the mattress.  Memory foam sounded the most comfortable, but the reviews said it gets hot. 

“Hot” and “menopausal woman” should never exist in the same room, unless it is a description of the woman and not her temperature, which at my age is more fantasy than reality.

I decided to speak to some real-life sales people someone who knew mattresses like a Ford salesman knows cars, and headed for one of the several mattress stores in town.

 “I’m looking for a new mattress,” I said, after entering the display room.

“Um…sure… try out anything in the store and let me know what you want,” responded the salesman, who was busy sending a text on his smartphone.

I scanned the room, trying to compare the mattresses. They all looked pretty much the same. 

“Thank you for your time,” I called out as I exited. The salesman never looked up from his smartphone.

A few days later, my son and I were in a large department store and I wandered to the mattress department.  Before I had time to read the sale signs, I heard a voice from behind me, “Zat one eeze on sale.”

The speaker was a slender woman with faded blond hair and a strong German accent.  She swayed a bit and leaned against the bed frame.  “Lie down on eet and try eet out,” she coaxed.

I couldn’t tell if she was slurring, or if it was just her accent, but I carefully perched on the edge of the mattress she was pointing to.

Eet is a special combination of memory foam injected with gel that keeps you cool,” she cooed.

She was definitely slurring.

 “Try lying down on eet.”

A bed that keeps you cool.  I thought I heard angels singing the “Halleluia”chorus from Theicomfort mattress Messiah.

I gingerly stretched out on the bed. 

Heaven on steroids.

The slurring woman knew her stuff.  She explained how the mattress was made. She told me about its warranty.  She knew the regular price and the sale price.  She explained that if something were to go wrong with the mattress, I did not need to call the manufacturer because the big department store would make good on the warranty.  She staggered to her desk and I followed, and in a few moments the deal was done.

A few weeks later my bed was delivered by two men who carefully put booties over their shoes before entering my apartment, and every night  since then, I sink into my bed and sigh, “God, I love this bed!  Bless the slurring staggering German lady!” before falling asleep.

But with everything in life, there is a catch.  My favorite sheets are wearing thin.  I thought it would be easy to find new ones.  Little did I know that my specifications were so difficult to meet.

They cannot have deep pockets.  Most new contour sheets are for mattresses that are at least fifteen inches thick.  The slurring lady didn’t mention this when she sold me a mattress that is nine inches thick.  When I put deep pocket sheets on my mattress they do not stay smooth, and to me, sleeping in a wrinkled bed is like sleeping on rocks.  I would never claim to be a princess, but I do suspect that I would feel a pea if one was put under my mattress.

They have to be all cotton percale, 280 thread count.  When I was a child, all my mother’s sheets met these specifications. They lasted forever.  They smelled like fresh air. They felt cool and smooth against my skin.  Apparently, more people have taken to sateen, or Egyptian cotton, or (ugh!) microfiber (what kind of mini fibers is microfiber made of, anyway?)

bedThey have to be white.  When I was a kid we always had white sheets, and I longed for printed sheets like those my friends had on their beds.  But now I know that my mother knew.  White sheets are like fresh snow- cool, serene, smooth.  For me there is nothing that smells better than white sheets dried outside in the cold winter wind.

Alas, such sheets are evasive, and as my search for the perfect sleep continues, and I’m open to suggestions.  In the meantime, I still bless the slurring German lady, because God, I love my bed.

Advertisements

Did You Make Your Bed This Morning?

unmadeWhile waiting at the dentist’s office this week, I read an article called “Happy Habit: Make Your Bed” but Jackie Ashton. In the article, Ms Ashton admits to hating to make her bed and resolves to amend her ways, explaining how this daily chore sets the stage for a more orderly and productive day. Her catch phrase, “messy bed, messy head” spoke a resounding truth to me, for I am a bed Nazi.

I’m not sure where it began, but I think I can blame my mother for my obsession with a neat bed. It was my mother’s expectation that our beds be made before we left for school in the morning, and I, being one of the eldest of the clan, had to set an example for my six younger siblings.

Without fail, at 30 Green Street, every Saturday morning all beds were stripped and all sheets washed. My mother hung them on the clothes lines, where they would flap in the breezes of the backyard until they were dry, to be carefully returned to the beds before the youngest child’s bedtime. The ritual did not stop there, however. When Saturday evening came, all heads were shampooed and all nails trimmed, and by nightfall, every child was scrubbed and shiny, clad in clean pajamas and tucked between smooth percale sheets that smelled of fresh air and sunshine.

I was a teenager before we had contour sheets for our beds. My father, who had been in the Navy, taught us to make square corners from flat sheets, showing us that sheets on a well-made bed would endure several nights of slumber before coming un-tucked. We often paired up in teams of two to make beds on Saturday afternoons, and my sister Robin and I devised ways to make the chore more enjoyable. Making beds for ten people could be a daunting task, but our games made the work less mundane. We bent back the mattresses and pretended they were horses while we jumped on the bed springs. We folded blankets like flags, creating tidy wool triangles that sat on the sheets until it was time to unfold them and tuck them under at the foot. We tried flipping coins on our freshly made beds, in hopes that they would be as taut as those in the military barracks my father had described. square corners

The real test of our bed-making skills came when my mother came to our beds to hear our prayers and tuck us in. A poorly made bed would result in a “tsk tsk” as my mother smoothed the sheets and refolded the square corners. She would unscrew the handle on the steaming radiator to turn off the heat, and prop the window open a few inches- even if the night skies were filled with snowflakes. She would sit on the side of the bed, stroke our heads and listen to our vespers, then with a kiss the cheek, she would tuck in the sides of our covers so tightly it was almost impossible to roll over. The ritual worked. It took me moments to enter dreamland, and I never woke until morning.

It is probably because of my childhood that I am so obsessive about my bed. Every morning, as soon as I have showered, I make my bed. I do not remember a time when I have left it rumpled from the last night’s sleep. I hate when people sit or lie on my bed during the day, but I tolerate it, knowing that having my kids flop on my mattress for a heart to heart talk is more important that how my bed looks.

But when it is time for bed, the rules must be followed. The bottom sheet has to be wrinkle free. The top sheet has to be neatly pulled up to my chin and carefully folded over the end of my comforter. My pillows must be plumped, smooth and cool. And truth be told, during the winter I am known to open the windows just a crack, even if the snow falls from the night skies.

bedI have thought about my bed making rituals many times. Perhaps it is to bring order to the chaos of the day. Perhaps it is to prove to myself that although I cannot control the entire world, I can control mine. At least a little bit. Perhaps it is just a way to pay homage to my parents, who gave me years of peaceful dreams in a little house with too many kids.

Ms Ashton, I am happy you have joined the ranks of the bed-making brigade. Now, let’s talk about the towels on the bathroom floor…

%d bloggers like this: