Basics For Bedtime

By Jen Thames

It’s hard to imagine, but humans spend roughly one-third of our day in bed. That’s even more time than most of us spend in our cars, or at work, depending on your job. Not surprisingly, this makes most of us fairly particular about what kind of bed, what’s going on in bed, how much room we have in bed, and who’s been sleeping in our bed.

Bed manufacturers have taken notice and have experimented with waterbeds, futons, memory foam, pillow tops, adjustable beds, beds that change firmness, even inflatable beds. Whether we’re looking for a new big enough for two bed, or a dorm room bed, there are a raft of consideration to take into account about beds.

First, there’s the size of the bed, which is somewhat determined by the size of the room it’s going into. The standard classifications have held firm–single, double or twin, queen and king size–so that’s pretty much a given going in. We tend to like large beds, to get as much room in our bed as the room the bed is in will allow. Sometimes the bed will be crammed into a too-small room, and the owner will be deposited into the hallway upon rising.

Despite its bulkiness, difficulty in moving and all around cumbersomeness, the box spring and mattress set has endured the test of time. The main factor in a mattress is the firmness, and this is as much a personal decision as how much sugar you take in your coffee. Some of us like beds that give a little (or a lot) and some of us prefer the kind of bed you can bounce a quarter off of. When shopping, seek out a showroom that has a lot of choices on the showroom floor and don’t be afraid to linger and check out as wide a variety as possible so that when you think about firmness, for example, you’ll have a range of models to contrast and compare. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision–after all, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the bed, so shopping around makes sense. Plus, there are usually a raft of competitors–department stores, warehouses, furniture stores–so it should be easy to work up a matrix of the beds that suit and the best prices.

There’s a real pillow fight over pillows. Some like ‘em big, some small, some like to fold the pillow in half so it fits under their head, some like two per bed and some want more. If you can, check out pillows at the same time you’re buying the bed to get a sense for what the whole package will feel like. Students and other desk workers who have to sit for long hours might wind up with particular kinks in the neck and shoulders. So-called Asian pillows have a firm support for the neck that might be comforting. And, of course, pillows can be firm or mushy too.

Sleeping is just one of many activities–or inactivities–that might be going on in bed. Some students like to study in bed, and with the invention of Wi-fi tablets and cellphones, you can pretty much office in bed. Which brings up the issue of distractions (from sleeping) in bed. Some of us have a TV on the nightstand or the dresser, and some of us have banished the TV, because there has to be a time when the TV isn’t on. Or the TV distraction has now become the iPad distraction–you can prop that iPad up on a spare pillow and have access to thousands of radio stations, movies, and TV.

But, those who study such things say media in bed prevents a “good night’s sleep,” depending on what that means to each of us.

Finally, don’t forget residence hall linens ,blankets and covers, which make the bed toasty, or maybe too toasty depending on how cold you like it in bed. It’s a complicated subject, and sometimes it’s just better to sleep on it.



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