If there’s a theme to this blog, it’s the focus on self-care in middle age. Far and away, the best change to my life this year has been purchasing a new bed. So you understand a little more about me, I usually move at glacial speed when making any major decision or purchase. I research the shit out of any large financial transaction. Buying a new car involved six months of poring over online customer reviews, interviewing friends, family, and coworkers who owned the same vehicle, renting one during a long weekend out of town, and finally, price comparing all the dealers’ inventory. You could say that I’m thorough.
When it came to buying a mattress, I discovered my due diligence wouldn’t be as simple to complete. In fact, I’d rather purchase a car again; it would be a lot easier. But I’d put off the decision for two years, and it was time to stop procrastinating. The problem is, you can’t really price shop from one retailer to the next because clearly, the mattress manufacturers want to screw with you. There is no consistent product or model from one store to the next, they all have different names. And? Serta, Sealy, Simmons, SleepNumber…why do almost all mattress manufacturers names start with “S”?
After dragging my feet for weeks, I finally went to Ethan Allen to jumpstart the decision-making process. The requirements for the bed were that it must be a California King and it must not need a dust ruffle, something I consider to be the biggest waste of fabric on the planet and nothing more than a magnet for dog hair. I fell in love with the Quincy bed and also purchased a new dresser and bench chest. The furniture was 6-8 weeks out from delivery, which meant I had about one month to safely choose a mattress and ensure the delivery dates would coordinate. Tick tock.
I started with internet reviews of all the new online bedding companies. The whole mattress in a box concept left me cold, and there were many reports of a strong chemical smell, so I stopped there. I ruled out the Sleep Number early on after my friend Jill shared a hilarious story of a night she and her husband Steve spent at her sister’s home in one. Settling in for the night, they adjusted the controls to their respective firmness preferences. Jill woke up again in the wee hours, unsatisfied with her number choice. She fumbled with the remote, only half awake. When she woke up the next morning, Steve was asleep on the floor. She assumed he was too hot and had sought refuge there, so she fell back asleep. When Jill awoke a few hours later, she went downstairs where Steve was sheepishly confessing to her sister, Lori, his crime of breaking the bed. In fact, Jill had released all the air on Steve’s side of the bed with his remote, not hers. That story alone turned me off the Sleep Number Bed. The last thing I want to be bothered with during slumber is the potential for a technology malfunction. I checked that brand off the list.
I liked the idea of a Tempur-pedic, but the consistent reviews of a mattress that is brutally hot deterred me. I am scorching in bed. And not in a good way. If I’m in bed before Steve, he joins me under the sheets and asks if I just took a hot bath because I’m radiating so much heat. This is one of the more unpleasant side effects of being…ahem…near 50 and in the depths of perimenopause. I prefer the room temperature to be somewhere around “meat locker” for both our sake. The ceiling fan runs year round in our bedroom. We crack the window in the middle of Minnesota winter. So…no to Tempurpedic.
For the last two years, when we’ve traveled we’ve stayed most often in Omni Hotels. Their king size beds are a revelation, and Steve and I agreed that should be the benchmark for our own bed. To illustrate our other priority, the last time we stayed there, he remarked, “The dogs would love this bed.” THE DOGS.
I ran a Google search on what mattresses the hotel uses and found you can buy their mattresses online! I was thrilled, yet skeptical when I saw the “all sales are final” caveat. Yikes. What if I hated it and we were stuck with a $1300 bed? I wrestled with the decision a few more days before finally pulling the trigger at Steve’s insistence. If we hated it, he would put it in one of his hunting cabins.
Sheets were the next decision. I prefer a crisp cotton, and I detest sateen. Ever since joining the satellite radio bandwagon two years ago, I’ve heard countless ads for Boll and Branch sheets. Intrigued, I went to their site and saw they had a reasonable return policy. I bought a set, along with a cable knit throw.
As long as I was investing all this time and money, I wanted great pillows, too. I’d heard all the hype about My Pillow, but when I got to Bed Bath and Beyond, I didn’t like the texture of them at all. I saw pillows made by Claritin (Yes, the allergy medication manufacturer.) that were customized to your sleep position. I didn’t want down pillows, having endured pin feathers poking me in the face before. The Claritin pillows were hypoallergenic and heavy. Impressed, I bought two for side sleepers.
The mattress pad was a critical part of the equation as well. Even though we ordered a firm mattress, I wanted a pad that would leave us feeling like we’d slept on a cloud each morning. Research, research, research led me to this one from Amazon. I found my ideal down comforter at The Company Store after sifting through hundreds of consumer reviews.
The dining room was full of all my new linens and accessories in the weeks leading up to delivery. The big reveal came on Valentine’s Day. Niiiiiice. The bed from Ethan Allen was SOLID construction, the best I’ve ever seen. There was ample support for the mattress and box springs with solid wood slats and a center beam. The mattress actually had the corners labeled with quarterly rotation reminders-a very handy feature. I was so excited to finally unpack all the linens and put them to use. I washed the sheets and pressed them with my favorite linen spray. The throw from Boll and Branch was soft as a kitten.
The height of the new set was daunting. I couldn’t get over the taller profile from our old set. The top of the mattress is 40 inches from the floor, I almost have to take a running jump to get in bed. We were so excited to try it out, we went to bed around 8 PM. The sheets were dreamy. I knew right away they were worth every penny. The mattress pad was everything I hoped for, perfect softness with the firmness of the new mattress below. The pillows cradled our heads gently. It was bliss. We both slept without tossing and turning, and felt refreshed for the first time in years upon waking. The next morning, we both agreed we’d wasted years by not replacing our old mattress sooner. It was the best sleep we’d ever had and four months later, we still feel the same. The sheets are holding up better than any brand I’ve owned in the past. The bad news? It’s so wonderful; we don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.
Also? The dogs really do love the bed.