Jessie Raymond: Dreaming of a good night’s sleep
Lately, I’ve been finding that I go to bed feeling pretty good but wake up needing a cup of coffee with a WD-40 chaser.
It’s time for a new mattress.
When I was younger, I could stay up late and crash anywhere — futon, recliner, floor (my back aches at the mere memory). But over the years, I’ve developed an appreciation for a good night’s sleep. And our aged mattress now does the job about as well as a pile of two-by-fours.
Recently, after one particularly restless night from which it took me several minutes to un-crumple, I started researching mattresses online and discovered the problem: An average coil-spring mattress is good for seven to 10 years. Huh.
I know for sure that we got our current mattress before the Obama administration. Maybe before George W. I can only pin down its age in a five-year window or so, but let’s just say it’s technically “vintage” at this point.
I remember how much I loved it when it was new. It was one of those state-of-the-art (for the ’90s) models where, as seen in commercials, you could drop a bowling ball on one side without disturbing a glass of wine on the other.
It was true. I even demonstrated it at home a few times. Then I accidentally dropped the bowling ball on Mark’s chest while he was sleeping, and the way he carried on made me hang up that trick for good.
The bowling ball/wine glass thing wouldn’t work now anyway. As it is, when Mark climbs into bed, I have to cling to the far edge in order to keep from rolling to the middle.
While he concedes that the mattress has seen its best years, he’s not as eager as I am to find a replacement. He’s one of those people who fall asleep immediately and don’t move until the alarm goes off, no matter where they are.
I, on the other hand, have come to rely on a sophisticated arrangement of pillows to offset the shortcomings of the mattress, and any time I get up to pee or let out the dog (whose whining somehow goes unheard by Mr. Sleeps-Like-a-Log), I have to painstakingly Tetris myself back into place.
And in recent months, no amount of ergonomic adjustments can give me the support I need.
Back in the day, coil springs were the only design option for mattresses. But now there’s another: memory foam. Some models, available by mail order, arrive the size of a kitchen sponge but, once released from their container, expand like the universe during the Big Bang. Some offer features such as comfort layers and cooling gel tops. And, if the ads are accurate, many guarantee you will smile all night long.
That would be an improvement over the current wincing and groaning.
I always assumed memory foam mattresses were just a fad, like waterbeds — which are making a hipster comeback, heaven help us. From what I’m reading, however, they are competitive with, if not superior to, the old-school coil springs.
And even those have seen great advancements since we purchased ours. For instance, now you can drop a bowling ball on one side and not disturb a glass of locally brewed artisanal hard cider on the other.
Price points for all types of mattresses vary from $200 to $2,000. I do want the best mattress I can get; I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like to lie down and not have every bone in my body turn into a pressure point.
But does a $2,000 mattress offer 10 times the comfort of a $200 one? Will a foam one really last seven to 10 years (or 17 to 22, for those of us who tend to lose track of time)?
Are there harmful off-gassing chemicals in memory foam? Do I care, it if means I can wake up not creaking like an old door?
In addition to undertaking a lengthy cost-benefit analysis, I’ll have to test coil-spring and foam mattresses in person and comb the internet for consumer reviews until I’ve identified the best choice.
I’m thorough but also indecisive and cheap, which means the search could take months. My goal is to settle on a new mattress before the current one has done permanent damage to my spine.
In the meantime, I’ll do what I always do when mulling over a big decision: I’ll sleep on it.
But not well.
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