This is the second installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys. It covers little tidbits of information that I have discovered over the years of being an adult, that make life a little easier.
The A-Z Survival Guide to Life
B – Beds
This subject encompasses something that is very near and dear to my heart, and that is sleeping, and all that is involved in sleeping. I can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of sleeping. As the professionals say, if you want to do a job properly, you have to have the right tools – and in my book, this little saying applies to sleeping.
I read somewhere, actually just the other day, the majority of the population in the United States is sleep-deprived. What with all the electronics, gaming units, tablets and gaming systems, sleep is becoming an afterthought. It seems to me when one is tired, everything is so much more of a struggle.
During sleep, the skin regenerates, your brain dumps all the toxic crap it built up during the day, your memory is improved and a bunch of other stuff happens that I really don’t want to go to Google to find out about right now. Trust me though – you need your sleep – there is no way of getting around it!!!
Here are several things I have found to be so important in ensuring you obtain a restful slumber.
Mattress – To really have a refreshing sleep, you need the right environment (or the right tools). And it all starts with the proper bed. It doesn’t have to be a fancy bed, but it needs to be a bed with a good mattress. Go to the mattress store and try out every single mattress. Don’t just simply lay on it, on your back. Make sure to flip-flop about on it. This is an important step in testing for the right mattress, because if you get too soft a mattress, you will find you can’t change positions without getting some momentum going first, enough to be able to fling yourself from say your side to your stomach. And if it requires energy and forethought to change positions while sleeping, then you are interrupting your sleep pattern – which is not a good thing. Make sure the mattress is not too firm either, you do not want to detect any areas of pressure in any position – hence when testing mattresses, lie on your back, your sides and your stomach.
Bedframe – A good bedframe is nice if you can afford it. Get a solid one, not one of those metal frames. The metal frames seem to become loose over time, and then every time you turn over, there is an ear-shattering clanging of metals – which again will disturb your sleep. And I am not completely sure the metal frames provide enough support.
Mattress Pad – Invest in a decent mattress pad. This is really the secret to having an extra comfy, scrumptious bed. That’s right – the mattress pad. Seems so simple, but I think a lot of people just don’t realize how a mattress pad, or the lack of one can make or break the comfiness of a bed. Get a mattress pad with some padding, and with cotton. Never, ever put anything synthetic on your bed, only cotton. Cotton will let your skin breathe, you won’t wake up all sticky and feeling slimy because you have been encased in acrylic or microfiber or whatever the latest synthetic material is. I see they have bamboo now, I am not sure sleeping in a material used for floors and feeding pandas is that brilliant an idea. And on a side note – heated mattress pads are an absolute must for damp climates – such as England, Seattle etc.
Sheets – We have had many discussions about sheets in the past. The right set of sheets is almost important as the right mattress and pad. Of course, cotton sheets are a must. I used to think a higher thread count was crucial, but I have since readjusted my position on thread count. The higher thread count sheets are nice, but they are not as durable, and all it takes is one sharp toenail and the sheet has a tear in it, which just gets bigger and bigger and more annoying. I think a 400 thread count is about right. It is sturdy, durable and will withstand repeated washings. Color of the sheets – I actually think white sheets are probably the most sensible because they can be bleached and subjected to hot water washings (this is important if you like to eat chocolate in bed and then a piece drops on your front and you don’t notice and then in the morning chocolate is smeared everywhere – not that this has ever happened to me). Unfortunately, white sheets are kind of boring. I discovered just recently – it is really hard to find patterned sheets anymore, so if you have to have colored sheets, find a color that is soothing and pleasing to the eye. And always have at least two sets of sheets, just in case you spill a glass of water, or Ovaltine as you are getting into bed, and you have to change the sheets late at night – you don’t want to be stuck without sheets, nor do you want to wash your sheets in the middle of night. That will cut into your sleep time.
Blankets – Blankets are kind of tricky. This is something you will have to figure out by trial and error. I say you should layer blankets, so you can titrate the level of warmth and weight covering you. I prefer a tri-layered system, that is – a thin cotton blanket (kind of like the ones the hospitals use – very washable and durable) followed by a down comforter with a duvet cover and to top it off a fluffy throw blanket. The fluffy throw blanket is great for afternoon naps, but doesn’t require you having to make your bed all over again. It also can be neatly folded at the end of the bed. I just wish they made fluffy throw blankets for taller people – why do they make them so small?
Pillows – A good pillow is hard to find. To get around this I recommend a two level pillow system. One should have at least four pillows on their bed. There should be two slightly firm ones, for propping up your head and reading, or watching TV. The other two should be softer, more pliable so you can get the right elevation for your head, but not have your neck at a disagreeable angle. Do not buy super expensive pillows, it is a waste of money. Buy decent pillows, ones that aren’t so expensive that you don’t mind replacing them about every 6 months or so. Not that I want to freak you out or anything, but think of the microbes that must accumulate in pillows.
And do not get sucked into buying all those ridiculous decorator throw pillows, they are simply a pain in the butt to take on and off the bed and they serve absolutely no purpose other than to look pretty and add a “Pop” of color.
The Bedroom – Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. It should be tidy and uncluttered. It should be painted in a soothing color, nothing garish. Don’t use overhead lighting, more muted lighting, with bedside table lamps will provide a calm environment, conducive to rest, relaxation and sleeping. Make sure there is gently circulating air. Create this by either using a ceiling fan, or a fan on a table. Keep the room cool. If you live in an arid environment, consider a humidifier (an ultrasonic one – they are cleaner).
Maintenance issues – Make sure to rotate your mattress or flip it, according to the manufacturers recommendations, it will extend the life of the mattress. Wash the bedding frequently, if you can’t do weekly, go every 2 weeks. Get into bed clean, there is nothing worse than debris in between your sheets.
Make your bed every morning. I read somewhere that people who get up in the morning and make their beds are more productive during the day. Also, it is just so much nicer to get into a nicely made bed at the end of the day.
Sharing your bed – this will be discussed under “R” – Relationships (again if I remember when I get to that point).
Who knew I had so much to say about beds?