Have you ever considered how important it is to rest? We often make ourselves feel guilty for not staying active all the time, and while that’s definitely important and should stay an important part of your life, you should also make sure to be kind to yourself by doing what you can to get a good night’s sleep.
Now while I could wax poetic on timing, and how long we should sleep, etc etc, there are plenty of studies out there to read. I’m not here to bore you to sleep.
I’ve discovered directly that when I get a fantastic nights sleep I’m more focused, clear-minded, and better able to think abstractly. I am better able to handle stress, and better able to multitask.
But for me, sleep has always been both rewarding and challenging. I’m a night owl — and as a child I didn’t enjoy shutting down and missing out on whatever my parents were doing (much to their chagrin, I assure you). As an adult, however, I’ve discovered directly that when I get a fantastic nights sleep I’m more focused, clear-minded, and better able to think abstractly. I am better able to handle stress, and better able to multitask.
So along those lines, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what best works for me in a bed, as a platform to help me get the best rest possible. Now looking at all the marketing out there, you might be convinced that this or that type of mattress will work best for you, or that this or that blanket or other covering would be ideal.
An icy night in a hotel in the financial district of Boston, however, introduced me to what I truly felt was THE most luxurious and relaxing bed ever made. I still remember sinking into its supportive softness, and wondering how on Earth I was going to recreate it at home. Before leaving, I made sure to lift up the sheets and take a closer look at how they did it. This is the bed of my dreams, and even though it took years after that fateful night to reach what I would consider “peak perfection” on my bed, I’m finally there. And now I’m going to share my experience with you.
Step 1: Mattress
Yes, I know, step 1 really should be the bed frame, but that’s really up to you what you want, whether it’s a platform bed or a metal frame, and so forth. Once you’ve figured that part out the most important thing is support. If you’re like me, you may have had back issues before. If you haven’t, you’re lucky — and we want to avoid back issues. We’ll make the mattress super soft as we build up our bed, but every good night’s sleep needs a solid foundation. So start with finding a very firm mattress. A firm mattress will provide you with the needed support for your back, and give you flexibility when it comes to adding/removing layers. Bonus — they’re also usually the cheapest mattress to buy since you’re not purchasing any extra bells and whistles! Mine cost $500, and included a box spring.
Step 2: Memory Foam
Now that you have a firm mattress set up, you’re ready to start building it up with comfort! Step 2 is to give yourself an awesome memory foam topper! So here’s the thing. If you were to buy a fancy schmancy mattress with all the bells and whistles, you’d be spending $2,000 or more on it. A whole memory foam mattress costs a fortune, and when it eventually needs to be replaced, you’ll have to shell out another $2,000 AND move everything off your bed. With a topper you’re only out a couple of hundred, and you can get whatever new technology they have available. Amazon has a few that incorporate cooling technology (for those of us who sleep on the warmer side) for about $100. I suggest getting a 3″ – 5″ memory foam topper, to really add some cushion.
Step 3: Feathers
You’ve already improved your comfort level by 100% just by getting the right mattress and the memory foam. Now it’s time to add some luxury in the form of a feather or down mattress topper. Look at this gloriousness. Just look at it! LOOK AT IT!!! Soft, snuggly, and just downright awesome. Put that fabulousness on top of the memory foam.
What’s the difference between feathers and down? Not much, except that feathers have pokey stems that can stick you in the middle of the night. So try to opt for a topper that’s higher in down. And again, 3″-5″ is ideal. 2″ toppers don’t really do much.
Step 4: Sheets
Oh holy cow, you could drop yourself on to that bed right now and sleep like a rock. But wouldn’t it be better to have some soft and silky, or crisp and cooling (your choice!) sheets to lie on too? Now in case you’re not familiar, the key to amazing sheets is two things: Thread Count (TC), and Fabric.
First let’s talk about fabric. The cheap kids sheets you get in the store are often made out of microfiber. Microfiber, while soft, tends to retain both heat and moisture, so if you sweat at night you’ll want to stay away from them. Cotton is more crisp, and with a higher thread count, you’ll be enjoying your sleep much more.
Now for thread count. This is how densely woven the fabric in the sheet is. Higher thread counts are softer and more luxurious. 150 TC sucks and is like sandpaper, 200 TC is decent but still rough, 300 TC is standard, 400 is soft, 500-600 TC is silky and luxurious. Higher than 600 you won’t really feel a difference though.
Ask yourself these questions: How old is your pillow? Your mattress? Your blankets? How many dust mites and allergens do you think have found their way into your bedding? Does your pillow, or your mattress, or your bedding, serve you anymore? Have you been making do with pillows that are too flat, a mattress that causes you pain, and ancient moth-eaten blankets?
Step 5: Pillows
Now this may disappoint you, but while I do have strong opinions about them, I’m not going to get into pillows and the like. Why? Because they’re highly subjective. If you’re a side sleeper like me you’ll want a super firm pillow to support your head, in which case you probably prefer foam pillows. If, however, you’re a back sleeper, you may enjoy a feather pillow, since the feathers feel soft at first but move aside during the night, putting your head almost on the mattress.
If you’re a side sleeper like me and you really want a recommendation, I highly recommend the ChamberFirm pillow from Standard Textile. They’re more expensive than I usually pay for pillows, but again, I slept on them when I was at an Omni Resort for work and LOVED them. I had to beg Omni to tell me where they got them, and finally convinced them!
The best thing about copying hotels, as I have, is that the products you buy are high-quality and long-lasting. I mean think about it — in a hotel environment the products have to be high quality enough to last through hundreds of heads every year, and be comfortable enough to get the hotel high ratings. It’s a no-brainer. Plus I purchased anti-dust mite/bed bug pillow covers, to make sure they stayed fresh!
So in short, when buying a pillow, you need to make sure you find the right one for you, as it can be a serious pain in the neck, quite literally, if you have an ancient one or the wrong type. You can find more information about pillows here.
Step 6: Blankets
Everyone has their own bed setup for blankets — but I have a dual problem. I get super cold when I’m tired, then sweat during the night and kick off my blankets. However, I feel more cozy with weight on me, so I appreciate a nice selection of both lighter cotton blankets, quilts, and the like.
But my main joy when it comes to blankets is my duvet. What’s a duvet, you ask? Well it’s basically a down comforter. Soft, fluffy, warm and lightweight — you could sleep under it without sheets if you wanted to. It’s like snuggling under a cloud, or fluffy icing. There are different heat weights of down comforters you can buy, from lightweight all-season ones to super warm. I highly recommend buying an all-season one, which is lightweight and also usually cheaper, and making up the difference with blankets and quilts.
If you buy a duvet, make sure to also buy a duvet cover. The duvet cover will protect your investment from stains and damage. Even better, it will let you change the entire appearance of your bed with a holiday or for a season!
So that’s it, my friend! Everything you could need to put together an amazeballs bed. Whatever you end up doing, just remember that buying something new is always going to be better than old and ancient when it comes to mattresses and bedding. We love antiques, but that doesn’t apply here!
Ask yourself these questions: How old is your pillow? Your mattress? Your blankets? How many dust mites and allergens do you think have found their way into your bedding? Does your pillow, or your mattress, or your bedding, serve you anymore? Have you been making do with pillows that are too flat, a mattress that causes you pain, and ancient moth-eaten blankets? It’s worth thinking about.
Beds can be a very personal thing. They’re frequently subjected to our own bodily fluids, and the weight of our body and head. It’s important to keep on top of keeping a clean, parasite-free, fresh environment to sleep in.
Good luck to you, and sweet dreams!