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Sleeping for health and profit.
June 23, 2012 2:14 PM   Subscribe

The Hunt For The Perfect Mattress. 'Technology in bedding is becoming as advanced as that of running shoes or rockets, with an explosion of gels, foams, latex and assorted materials harvested from organic rubber plantations and rare sheep around the globe, being molded, refined and patented by innovators and entrepreneurs to provide night after night of perfect, deep sleep.'

'Pseudo-science and doctors' testimonials would have you believe that we are all sleep-deprived princesses, looking for new technologies to get rid of our metaphorical peas.'

'"There is zero research to support claims that mattresses promote sleep or better sleep," said Dr. Alon Avidan, associate professor of neurology and director of UCLA's Sleep Disorder Center, a new state-of-the-art sleep laboratory. "Anecdotally, I have patients who have rheumatoid arthritis or low back pain who claim orthopedic foam mattresses feel a lot better, but this is just subjective. No one has done any studies."

Still, step into the world of bedding and you would never know it.'

'Palmpring, a South Korean company that reportedly has a cult following among celebrities, politicians and other elites in its home country.' 'The Palmpring is all-natural, manufactured in India and will appeal to sleepers with green leanings or allergies. The key to the Palmpring is its internal layer of organic coconut fiber, known as coir, which is mixed with all-natural latex. The fiber comes from the outer shell of the coconut.'

'At the upper end of the market is the Palais Royale, a $33,000 (for a king) hand-made mattress that is 15.5 inches thick and layered with the highest quality traditional materials such as wool and cotton and the newest in mattress technology, including a patented "outer-tufted open chamber design." Kluft mattresses are made by hand at a factory in Rancho Cucamonga, where each Palais Royale takes three days to make. Kluft says the company sells only 100 luxury mattresses a year. (The Kluft is not the most expensive: An all-natural hand-crafted Swedish mattress by Hästens can cost $90,000.)'
posted by VikingSword (69 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's insane, but it gels perfectly with one man's quest to find the perfect sheets.
posted by raihan_ at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you want a really fancy coir mattress, you can always harvest the fiber from any cheap mid-century upholstery furniture, that stuff is a long time staple of all kinds of upholstery.
posted by andorphin at 2:19 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mattress shopping pisses me off like nothing else does. The prices, WTF?! Some of these so called regular-not-made-for-a-king beds are worth more money than my first car was. Granted it was a used car, but IT WAS A CAR. I need a new mattress, but every time I start shopping for one I get so incensed at the cost that I go home without one.
posted by zarah at 2:27 PM on June 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I suspect a mattress that automatically adjusts to spread your weight evenly would be the most comfortable. It would need a lot of things under the surface that sense pressure at one point, send the pressure reading for that point to a computer, and quietly raise or lower the surface at that point on command from the computer (and hold that position until instructed to change). It could even be like a bed of nails as long as the nails all adjusted to spread your weight evenly.
posted by pracowity at 2:30 PM on June 23, 2012


I find inexpensive lower-end futons very comfortable, though they need to be replaced more often because the materials get compressed in just a few years. To each their own, I suppose.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:32 PM on June 23, 2012


We have one of these - latex and coconut fiber - and it is enormously comfortable. We like a firm mattress and this is simply perfect. Yes, I know they are expensive compared to regular mattresses but when you spend a third of your life sleeping on a mattress, it is worth the extra cost. Sorry to come across all-endorsement like, but they really are great.
posted by vac2003 at 2:36 PM on June 23, 2012


send the pressure reading for that point to a computer, and quietly raise or lower the surface at that point on command from the computer

Sex on such a bed would be hysterical and hysteretical.
posted by zippy at 2:39 PM on June 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would agree that "mattresses" don't promote sleep or better sleep, but having the right mattress for you certainly does. For some people that's memory foam, for others latex, and still others like spring mattresses (and that's not even getting into soft/medium/firm/pillow-top/blah/blah/etc). I did a lot of searching on this last year, and as far as I can tell cost and/or brand seem to have little to do with how satisfied people are with their mattresses -- it's all about comfort, which is much more subjective than that. I ended up getting a $300 memory foam mattress from the internet, and I couldn't be happier with it.
posted by vorfeed at 2:39 PM on June 23, 2012


I think half the time the problem with beds is not the mattress, but the bedstead / frame it's on. It's near impossible to find one that doesn't bow, sag or flex, especially at the end of the market where most people buy their beds.
posted by DayTM at 2:49 PM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


(The Kluft is not the most expensive: An all-natural hand-crafted Swedish mattress by Hästens can cost $90,000.)

I can sort of understand that only if it means I'm sleeping on real Swedes.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:59 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


When I didn't weigh very much, I could sleep on anything. Now that I'm older and heavier, you'd have to pry my latex Dunlopillo from my cold, dead butt cheeks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:00 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't stand pillowtops or soft mattresses, it feels like I'm drowning. We have what's basically a fancy futon mattress on an IKEA frame, and it's just hard enough. Latex foam just feels wrong to me whenever I sleep on it. Which means I seldom sleep well anywhere but my nice hard mattress. I haven't owned a set of box springs in years.

Considering you keep a mattress for several years, I can see why they're expensive from the salesperson POV; they're not going to get any quick repeat business off of you once you buy.
posted by emjaybee at 3:00 PM on June 23, 2012


All I'll say is that you can have my Tempur-Pedic bed when you roll my cold dead body off of it.
I will never, ever complain one bit about what I paid (and yes, I know that there are cheaper equivalents). Yesterday, my "chopped memory foam, firm" king-sized pillows from Pacific Pillows' Woot sale arrived, and they're AWESOME.

Got my first TP bed (queensized) in 2005, and in 2007 upgraded to a king because the queen wasn't big enough for the wife, myself, AND the cat, of course.
posted by mrbill at 3:00 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


vorfeed:(and that's not even getting into soft/medium/firm/pillow-top/blah/blah/etc)

Which reminds me that the best thing I've ever done ever for my own good night's rest is get one of those little pillows filled with grain hulls (mine's barley, but I don't think it matters). It retains its shape and loft, so once I make a little dent for my cheek and ear it cradles my head nicely and maintains the correct height to (a) keep my neck and upper spine straight, and (b) prevent my shoulder from hunching up into my jaw and restricting my breathing. The result is deeper sleep, less aches and pains in the morning, and I'm guessing less snoring...though currently I have no witness to verify that part and I'm too asleep to notice.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:01 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


you'd have to pry my latex Dunlopillo from my cold, dead butt cheeks.

when you roll my cold dead body off of it.

Jinx.
posted by mrbill at 3:01 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


We got suckered into one of those adjustable Sleep Number inflatable beds, and I hate that thing with the heat of a thousand suns.

First off, it's fraudulent, since they say it adjusts from 0-100, but that's in increments of 5, and anything lower than 25 lets you feel the internal frame of the bed and anything higher than 75 is like trying to sleep balanced on a log, so you're really talking nine firmnesses, not 100.

Next, the two sides are calibrated differently, so even if we're both set to, say, 50, my side is about two inches higher than Mrs. Fnarf's.

And there's a big divot in the middle between the two sides -- the surface of the bed is shaped like a Ruffles potato chip. If you move too far toward the middle, you roll off your air pad into the valley, and if you move too far to the side you roll off the bed entirely. This is easy to do because the mattress is continually getting wider and wider over time, and now hangs six inches off the edge of the box spring on either side, and since it has no support it droops.

It's completely impossible to take a comfortable position at anything less than a perfect straight-up-and-down position; if you bend or curl in any direction you start to roll off the inflated pad.

The only time I'm comfortable at all is when Mrs. Fnarf gets up and I slide my fat ass over onto her side, which is three inches lower, and kind of hug my raised side.

Seriously, I prefer sleeping on the floor with a pillow under my feet. Sleep Number, I hate you. I hate you.
posted by Fnarf at 3:07 PM on June 23, 2012 [25 favorites]


> one of those little pillows filled with grain hulls

It is alleged that I'm a bit of a drooler in my sleep. One of these would probably sprout if I used it.
posted by scruss at 3:08 PM on June 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm a big guy so I was always a little wary of the Sleep Number beds, but got to sleep on one about a month ago when I was staying at a friend's house. It wasn't bad at all, but I'll stick with my memory foam.
posted by mrbill at 3:19 PM on June 23, 2012


Join a crossfit class; train to exhaustion. That night, your mattress will be perfect.
posted by LordSludge at 3:21 PM on June 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


Memory foam - TP is our personal ticket to nirvana and we will accept no substitute.
posted by Ber at 3:24 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have an old "sleep number" mattress from before they had digital readouts numbers. My ex and I bought it. It was great, because we slept apart, each with our own blanket. Ridge in the middle was no big deal. My current partner and I still use it, though, and we like to sleep cuddled up. So out of necessity, I've found the magic solution to the ridge in the middle problem, as well as the different mattress height problem.

To solve the mattress height problem, you take the two air hoses from each compartment and you connect them to a T joint, then you connect the other side of the T to one of the pump outlets. Now both mattresses have the same firmness, assuming more or less the same weight on each. You get one "sleep number" for the whole bed.

To fix the ridge in the middle, I removed remove that 2" wide bit of foam that separates the two mattresses. Then I used a hot glue gun to glue the mattresses together. I glued the bottom flange of one to the bottom flange of the other, and the same with the top flange. There's a little gap there, which is just about right to even out the little ridge in the platform foundation they sell.

Anyway, I've been sleeping on it for like 20 years and while there's a slow leak in it somewhere (we need to pump it up for about ten seconds each evening) it's still a pretty good bed, and it doesn't wear out like futons do. And one can PUMP IT UP for a nice firm surface when that's wanted. Which sometimes it is. (^_-)-☆
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:26 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to say, of all the beds I've ever had, I miss my waterbed the most (why, hello there, 1980s).

It was perfectly conforming, in the winter, we raised the temperature of the bed so that it was warm despite the house being cold and in the summer, we lowered the temperature of the bed so that it was cool, despite the house being hot.

No $2000 mattress I've ever slept on has come close to matching a $150 bag of water.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:32 PM on June 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


I could be sprawled on a ninety-thousand-dollar mattress made of genuine Swedish unicorn butt-hairs, and I would not be able to sleep if I didn't have my dog, who is all elbows and drool, pressed against my hip and snoring in my ear. Or multiple dogs. Some of the best sleep I've gotten has been during hurricanes, with three spooked dogs of varying size, toenails, and snore-output trying to burrow into my clothing, all of us twisted together into a surrealistic pretzel with a surplus of spare feet.

I dislike high beds, and beds that are not in corners. I need a cozy little den protected on as many sides as possible and low to the ground. With dogs in it. Everything else is negotiable. I need a nice little IKEA yurt.
posted by cmyk at 3:46 PM on June 23, 2012 [31 favorites]


My grandmother had honest -to -goodness real feather beds. I still have fond memories of naps taken on the one she kept in her living room (yep a random bed in the living room. The room that also contained the potbellied coal stove.) People, that bed was the next best thing to being back in the womb.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:57 PM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


We have a memory foam mattress that has been in storage for two years whilst we've been away. So looking forward to getting it back this week. Anyone know how well they store?
posted by arcticseal at 3:58 PM on June 23, 2012


It's funny for me to hear about people loving memory foam. I can't stand it (it's too warm and too soft) and its recent proliferation seems to mean it gets harder for me to find a hotel that doesn't have some kind of pillow top, which usually means I can kiss a good night's sleep goodbye.
posted by weston at 4:01 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have a memory foam mattress that has been in storage for two years whilst we've been away. So looking forward to getting it back this week. Anyone know how well they store?

Apparently quite well. I still can't find mine.
posted by hal9k at 4:02 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Technology in bedding is becoming as advanced as that of running shoes or rockets

Running shoes, maybe; although the trend for running shoes right now is actually for way less structure and support - maybe there will be a "minimalist mattress" fad at some point where thin foam camping matresses "allow you to experience natural sleep as evolution intended". Anyway, this is an absurd sentence - you might as well say "Technology in bedding is becoming as advanced as that of swimsuits, or nuclear reactors." Nonsense.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:02 PM on June 23, 2012


pracowity, isn't that exactly a waterbed or air mattress? I don't find them especially comfortable. I think there's a trade-off between having even pressure on your skin vs. comfortably supporting your skeleton.
posted by hattifattener at 4:06 PM on June 23, 2012


The quest for the perfect bed?

We had bought a Simmons, all those individually wrapped coil springs and all. Within six months and a couple of rotations, it was down in the valley; two nice matching divots on each side. Very annoying. We contacted the seller and they said, why, that's perfectly normal. After a couple of years it was impossible. Ah, it has a warranty. Called and sure, someone will be out to assess. Sure enough, warranty was invalid because the box springs set was broken or something like that (the non-warranty, warranty). Oh well.

Next, had read about McRoskey in San Francisco. Highly recommended they are but expensive so we bit the bullet and bought just the mattress and used the old Simmons foundation and that was pretty good but wasn't quite getting it done.

We looked at some high end beds, well, for us, up to $4500, but couldn't justify the cost.

Finally, I lost my mind and again bit the bullet and bought a lower end Sealy Posturepedic with the low springs box placed directly on the floor, and, ah, placed the McRoskey on top of that set up. Pretty darn nice. The frosting on the cake was the addition of a three inch foam topper. Sits as high as an upper end bed, but not too high. Also elevated the head end by three inches or so. Now heaven. I'm old, so sleeping comfort is important and had a few extra bucks to assemble this monster but happy, happy I did (bonus, wife went along with this project).

Also, years ago in college had a futon mattress and placed on an air mattress; cheap and that worked pretty darn good too. Well, until the cat deflated that idea.

Like outdoors in the winter, layering is the solution.
posted by WinstonJulia at 4:27 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I miss waterbeds too. They had the superior temperature control that jacquilynne mentioned, those husk-filled pillows somehow worked even better, and the kind with wave reduction features were very stable.

As a student who was moving every semester back then, portability was their best feature. After draining, mine had an Ikea-esque frame that I could reduce to a stack of 2x3 foot wood panels and brackets using only a screwdriver. The whole thing fit in the trunk with room to spare.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:34 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


an explosion of gels, foams, latex and assorted materials harvested from organic rubber plantations and rare sheep around the globe, being molded, refined and patented by innovators and entrepreneurs to provide night after night of perfect, deep sleep.'

With that fetishistic listing of materials and proccesses I don't think it's just the sleep that's meant to be deep and perfect.
posted by howfar at 5:55 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


My grandmother had honest -to -goodness real feather beds. I still have fond memories of naps taken on the one she kept in her living room (yep a random bed in the living room. The room that also contained the potbellied coal stove.) People, that bed was the next best thing to being back in the womb.

How thick was it? Was it stuffed enough to feel firm? I am so curious. Also jealous.
posted by corb at 6:03 PM on June 23, 2012


Like most so-called luxury goods, for ever dollar you spend past some asymptotic point you quickly get diminishing returns.

For beds, it pretty much works like this:

Futon on floor, futon on frame, real new quality mattress on box spring or "low profile" board

Pretty much we are looking at a $100-800 spread here. Any more and you are buying more for the brand, looks or "prestige".
posted by clvrmnky at 6:06 PM on June 23, 2012


Next, had read about McRoskey in San Francisco. Highly recommended they are but expensive so we bit the bullet and bought just the mattress and used the old Simmons foundation and that was pretty good but wasn't quite getting it done.

I love my McRoskey! I don't use a box spring -- just the mattress on the slats of my bed. I've had it for almost 20 years and it's as firm as ever.
posted by trip and a half at 6:16 PM on June 23, 2012


I can't afford a mattress, and sleeping on the floor is starting to kill me. I'm thinking of making my own mattress by stuffing a giant pillow with polyfill. If it works, it will be the cheapest mattress ever! Screw technology!
posted by windykites at 6:20 PM on June 23, 2012


I ended up getting a $300 memory foam mattress from the internet, and I couldn't be happier with it.

I have a terribly herniated disk in my lower back which manifests itself as extreme sciatica. (To get some idea of what the MRI looks like, make a circle putting the end of your index finger and thumb together, and then put the top knuckle of your thumb on your thumb with most of the top of your thumb sticking into the circle. THAT is what the intrusion into the spinal canal looks like in the MRI.)

As a result, I've had to learn a lot about how to care for my back.

I've found two things that I can sleep on which don't ruin me for the next day or three -- the $500 memory foam mattress I bought from Costco quite a few years ago, and the living room couch which I bought purposely because it was long enough for my 6'1" frame to lie down flat without my head or feet up on either end's arm rests.

The memory foam bed works because, well, it's memory foam and is super comfortable and reduces pressure points common with many other mattresses.

The couch works for me because I can prop myself up against the back and lie at a kind of 2/3 angle, with the bad side of my back not really carrying any of my weight at all. I slept on the couch for 3 years before I got the memory foam mattress, and I've been on that ever since, aside from the occasional afternoon nap.

I can understand the quest for a comfortable place to sleep, perhaps more than most. And I do acknowledge that these are mostly matters of taste when it comes to comfort. But man, I can't help but recommend memory foam to anyone who complains of body pain upon waking. It's made such a huge difference to me.
posted by hippybear at 6:36 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


windykites, you may be interested in special agent conrad's FloorBed.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:59 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Corb, it was hugely thick. You sank down into the featherage and it molded to your body. Snuggled under homemade quilts.....well, makes me smile to remember it even after more than four decades.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:11 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Corb, it was hugely thick. You sank down into the featherage and it molded to your body. Snuggled under homemade quilts.....well, makes me smile to remember it even after more than four decades.

Was it nine feet high and six feet wide and soft as a downy chick? Was it made from the feathers of forty-eleven geese, and took a whole bolt of cloth from the tick? Would it hold eight kids and four hound dogs and a piggy you'd stolen from the shed? I bet you didn't get much sleep but you had a lot of fun on grandma's feather bed.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
posted by hippybear at 7:19 PM on June 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


My husband and I bought a waterbed in 1980 and we've been sleeping on one ever since. I think we're on mattress #4. We occasionally think we should replace the waterbed with a grown-up mattress and box spring (I even have an AskMe about it) and then we go away for a couple of days and try to sleep on one, and sigh with relief when we come back to our waterbed.
posted by angiep at 7:32 PM on June 23, 2012


A propos this topic, I'm looking forward to a fall release from U of Minnesota Press: The Slumbering Masses: Sleep, Medicine, and Modern American Life. Looks like fun if you don't mind the usual U of M Press academic marxist approach to cultural phenomena:
Before the introduction of factory shift work, Americans enjoyed a range of sleeping practices, most commonly two nightly periods of rest supplemented by daytime naps. The new sleeping regimen—eight uninterrupted hours of sleep at night—led to the pathologization of other ways of sleeping. Arguing that the current model of sleep is rooted not in biology but in industrial capitalism’s relentless need for productivity, The Slumbering Masses examines so-called Z-drugs that promote sleep, the use of both legal and illicit stimulants to combat sleepiness, and the contemporary politics of time
Penn and Teller covered this pretty well in their Sleep, Inc. episode of Bullshit!, too.
posted by Creosote at 8:24 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have purchased both mattresses and cars before, and I can assure you, I felt at least twice as icky after dealing with the mattress salesman than I did dealing with the used car salesman.
posted by indubitable at 8:56 PM on June 23, 2012


Look, unless you're sleeping like Edmund Dulac illustrates, you're doing it wrong.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:06 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can sleep on anything, personally, but my wife, with more back problems, has loved our mattress choice for ten years. What is it? I big hunk of firm foam. I thought it was expensive for a piece of foam, but, boy, it was nothing at all compared with all this stuff they're selling these days. I think it was somewhere around $200. Comfortable as hell (umm...heaven?) and hasn't compressed a bit in ten years.
posted by kozad at 9:23 PM on June 23, 2012


DayTM writes "I think half the time the problem with beds is not the mattress, but the bedstead / frame it's on. It's near impossible to find one that doesn't bow, sag or flex, especially at the end of the market where most people buy their beds."

Which is crazy of course because anyone can make a bulletproof foundation frame/platform with about $30 of 2X4s.
posted by Mitheral at 9:39 PM on June 23, 2012


We got a sofa that's more comfortable than any bed I've slept on. It sucks the awakeness right out of me. It also folds out, and makes for a typically lumpy sleep sofa. But folded up, man, that's my destination when I'm sickly and struck with insomia. It's a shame there's only room for one sleeper.

The official mattress was bought with extra money from the payout from selling our first house. Low end of a high-end line, it's nothing special, given the price. The brochure called it "The Fenway", which having grown up with the Red Sox made me wonder if it came already smelling like pee.
posted by bendybendy at 9:53 PM on June 23, 2012


I can sleep on anything, personally, but my wife

Funny, that's my favourite thing to sleep on.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:44 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which is crazy of course because anyone can make a bulletproof foundation frame/platform with about $30 of 2X4s.

The overall height of our recent new mattress set looked silly in a bedstead that was designed for the bedding of 15 years ago. I jumped on the edge and couldn't see the box spring compress at all; it may as well have been a board for all the good it was doing. So I used that box spring to replace a ratty old one in our guest bed, and instead bought a $70 "bunk board" which is basically $30 worth of 2x4s and a layer of cardboard, wrapped in fabric. It's only a couple of inches thick, so it doesn't show at all above the bed frame. Doesn't seem to change the feel of the mattress at all, and it brings the bed surface down to a reasonable level.

The new mattress is latex, and far softer than our old conventional model. I wasn't sure how that would work for me, but I think I like it. We also bought a wool mattress pad, a sort of manufactured 60" x 80" sheepskin on a fabric backing, with a very uniform thickness. That pad cost as much as four ordinary ones, and was totally worth it.
posted by jon1270 at 3:54 AM on June 24, 2012


I have to say, of all the beds I've ever had, I miss my waterbed the most (why, hello there, 1980s).

This. A bajillion time, this.
We had a waterbed for many, many years, and it was absolutely the best sleep we ever had.

There are downsides...Finding even semi-attractive sheets was a futile exercise, for instance. Hell, just finding sheets, period, became a fruitless task. When you did find sheets, they were simply the ugliest, oddest designs imaginable.

And, waterbed furniture is...well..."uniquely styled" would be a charitable way to put it. The general style was born in the 70's, and refined in the 80's.

But, dear lord, I never slept in any bed as comfortable and restful as my dear, departed waterbed. I miss it terribly.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on June 24, 2012


I had a waterbed in college. I bought it from a friend that flunked out for $75. "Do you want to see my waterbed" was a surprisingly effective pick up line in the 80s :) My wife has back issues, otherwise we'd still be sleeping on one today. Nothing was more comfortable.
posted by COD at 7:22 AM on June 24, 2012


After the second "super heavy duty, the beefiest one we sell" $150 bed frame for my Tempur-Pedic setup splayed out from under it due to (a) I'm a big guy and (b) design flaw, I said screw it and just put the box (no springs) and mattress directly on the hardwood floor. Works fine.

If I ever decide that I need it a little higher up, I'll have someone make a super-strong extra-braced "platform" out of 2x4s set on edge, and put that directly on the floor with the bed on top.
posted by mrbill at 10:01 AM on June 24, 2012


WTF? Fucking mattresses?

1. I slept well, except that I had to get up twice each night for an hour, so that I could listen to the jungle. No way to see anything, so your ears make pictures. But we six sleep in a circle, feet together, one guy always sitting on guard. He could sleep, as long as he didn't lie down. His job, mainly, is to reach over and shake the foot of anyone who snored or mumbled in his sleep. No way anybody can find us, at night, in dense bush. Didn't matter about the rain. Or them little brown, heat-seeking leeches crawling like inch-worms to any warm body. Roll over on your side, put the sharp thing on the ground in a softer part of your body. 60 pounds of gear hauled around all day in a triple canopy rain forest has a way of getting a guy tired enough to have a good sleep, even if it's in two-hour increments. My rifle is between my knees.

2. I slept well. Alone in the back country of the Sierra Nevadas. My horse and the mules were scuffing around in the meadow. They eat in half-hour sets and sleep standing. I sleep on my saddle blankets and under my bag, a laundry bag for a pillow. 30 miles riding that day. High altitude and tired body, a meal in a boil-bag, glowing embers from a small fire look like a city down in a valley. The impossibly deep sky wheels past overhead. Nothing in this forest is dangerous. Sleep comes easy. First light wakes me, chilled air outside my warm bag says snuggle longer. I fantasize about the coffee I'm about to brew.

3. I don't sleep well. Nowadays I'm boogered up and don't get into the back country anymore. Had to sell the livestock a couple of years ago. I putter around in the backyard, cursing weeds and kicking rocks. I have a neat ortho bed that adjusts like one of them fancy hospital beds, and a foam mattress that can fool you into believing you are floating around in the Space Station. I still wake up every couple of hours, but that's because I have to void my bladder a lot. Sometimes I can't sleep at all, on account of various aches and pains that rise above my tolerance threshold. I read until my eyeballs burn, or sit in the living room playing my guitar and watching my cat ignore me, until I feel the subtle urge to nod off coming on me. I'd like to be able to fall down in the rain, like back in the day, and, as soon as my eyelids slam shut, drop away from consciousness like a rock.

That ain't going to happen, though.

Fucking mattresses. Yeah, that's what's wrong.
posted by mule98J at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


I suspect a mattress that automatically adjusts to spread your weight evenly would be the most comfortable.

Isn't this a water bed, pretty much by definition? The pressure on any particular point is exactly the same as on any other, as long as you're not bottoming out the mattress.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:08 PM on June 24, 2012


Which is crazy of course because anyone can make a bulletproof foundation frame/platform with about $30 of 2X4s.

And a saw, drill, screwdriver or wrench, and the knowledge of how to use them all.

Which I do have, but working on building projects with people has taught me that not everyone had a dad with a workshop who taught them how to use tools earlier than they can clearly remember.
posted by flaterik at 4:45 PM on June 24, 2012


True, true. My comment was more a critique of the seeming inability of the manufactures to make a decent foundation platform.

One of the best things my local school district ever did was change grade 8 wood shop; metal shop; sewing; and cooking classes from full year electives to a mandatory 1/4 of the year in each class. Gave everyone a basic idea of which end of the assorted tools to hold in each of the four crafts. That and a couple hundred dollars in basic equipment (hammer, vice, needles, pots, drill, chisels, screwdriver, wrenches, etc.), maybe even less at the dollar store and/or harbour freight, and you are prepared for these little projects.

Kadin2048 writes "Isn't this a water bed, pretty much by definition? The pressure on any particular point is exactly the same as on any other, as long as you're not bottoming out the mattress."

Is the perfectness of the distribution affected by the tension of the bag/bladder? Floating in water would be better but of course there are problems with that. I thought I'd heard of someone in ancient times constructing a flotation bed of mercury (sadly seemingly impossible to google for thanks to the twin spoilers of "fish beds" and Mercury mattress company).
posted by Mitheral at 6:30 PM on June 24, 2012


Coming from a culture where we regularly sleep on thin (1-2 inch thick) cotton-filled mattresses or often on the carpet with just a pillow, (and as a corollary to the article), I am firmly convinced without any real kind of evidence to the contrary, that not only is this entire industry a scam, but that a) many multiple layers of materials do not have any real additive effect, and b) the ridiculous soft pillowy beds with a billion pillows arrayed around the headboard allowing all kinds of sag and strain, in combination with the general propensity towards obesity and weak core muscles in just about everyone, probably IS additive in terms of general negative consequences for people's spines.
posted by legospaceman at 4:21 AM on June 25, 2012


Also, can someone explain to me the idea behind beds so high your legs dangle off the sides without touching the floor?
posted by legospaceman at 4:22 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


the bedstead / frame it's on. It's near impossible to find one that doesn't bow

The floor.

We did this by accident when our bed frame lost a leg. And it's amazing. No squeaks and no bed under. No place for dust bunnies, lost toys, hiding cats, etc.
posted by DU at 4:29 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


pracowity: I suspect a mattress that automatically adjusts to spread your weight evenly would be the most comfortable. It would need a lot of things under the surface that sense pressure at one point, send the pressure reading for that point to a computer, and quietly raise or lower the surface at that point on command from the computer (and hold that position until instructed to change). It could even be like a bed of nails as long as the nails all adjusted to spread your weight evenly.
You're describing fluid pressure: waterbeds.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:52 AM on June 25, 2012


The result is deeper sleep, less aches and pains in the morning, and I'm guessing less snoring...though currently I have no witness to verify that part and I'm too asleep to notice.

I've been known to snore loud enough to rouse myself. I'll shake myself awake with the noise, determined to roll over and poke the person in bed next to me making all that racket, and I'm the only one in the room and the snore roar in my ears has ceased.

Thanks for the tip on Bunk Boards, aka Bunkie Boards. I sleep on a number of complicated pillow things to balance out the weak slats on our bed and my assorted injuries as they come and go (I get stuck in the darndest things - and I just re-injured my hamster tube injury of '07 ... grr). I'm headed to an IKEA for the mattress we liked and bunkie board slats stat!
posted by tilde at 7:00 AM on June 25, 2012


Mattress shopping is really miserable. I particularly hate "test driving" one by laying on it in a store with a saleseman looming over you. As if you could tell if a mattress was going to be "the one" by doing that for 20 seconds, esp. in that atmosphere.

Instead, I'd recommend a data-driven decision.

This link shows up on AskMeFi from time to time, which is where I first heard of it.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:29 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've slept on some kind of reasonable quality, very firm futon for the last 30 years and have absolutely no desire to get any kind of mattress, water bed, space foam or perfect billowy cloud refurbished into a sleeping surface. Hotel mattresses and guest beds are squishy torture instruments from hell. Sleeping on my futon is like sleeping on a dead buffalo, but as it turns out, I LIKE sleeping on a dead buffalo.

I had spinal fusion surgery when I was 15 to correct scoliosis, and I was told to expect early onset arthritis because of it, but it hasn't happened yet. Goooood buffalo!
posted by maudlin at 8:12 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are shopping for a new mattress , I would suggest the Tempurpedic with an ergo base. Some stores have a sleep chamber that allows you to experience the mattress in a unique way with an 8 minute interactive tour that recreates a bedroom environment. Once you get over the sticker shock, realizing that you can finance the sleep system interest free for @ $100 a month. You will find it is worth every penny!
posted by root beer tastes like fire ants smell at 8:29 AM on June 25, 2012


Also, can someone explain to me the idea behind beds so high your legs dangle off the sides without touching the floor?

In some parts of the US -- particularly northern New England -- high beds are traditional because they're warmer in the winter than a lower one, by virtue of being up off the floor and away from the inevitable drafts in older houses. At least that's the explanation I've always heard. I can't find any sources on it now, but occasionally (mostly in museums) you'll find high beds with little wood steps to make them easier to get in and out of.

I think they were a Victorian / late 19th c. upper-class thing, mostly.

They don't make much sense if you have central air, really.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:38 AM on June 25, 2012


Wow, root bear tastes like fire ants smell, your comment read exactly like a comment might if it had been posted by a Tempurpedic salesman. On MeFi the general approach towards self-interested promotion would be to reveal one's commercial interest in such a comment so people have an idea of where you are coming from. Would you like to clarify your position at all, given this knowledge?

(Self-interested promotion is forbidden in a main post, of course.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:41 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, I might like my TP bed and spent a lot of money on it, but I don't post word-for-word from marketing and sales training materials.
posted by mrbill at 12:44 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, can someone explain to me the idea behind beds so high your legs dangle off the sides without touching the floor?

There are some, uh, recreational advantages to a bed that is tableish height rather than chair height. Though I've always figured it was a marketing ploy to force us to buy all new sheets when we get new matresses.
posted by Mitheral at 2:45 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seanmpuckett, I thought it was so much of a sales pitch that I felt compelled to check out prior comment history for SEO breadcrumbs. Nothing at first glance, but that was clearly a pitch.
posted by arcticseal at 5:41 PM on June 25, 2012


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