Stewardship of Life


SUPERSIZE my Slumber

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on March 25, 2010
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New Bed with Old Dog and Star Quilt from friends in North Dakota

Yes, the item that I hated the most having to leave behind in North Dakota was my futon mattress. It was comfortable and portable. I don’t think I ever endured a bad night’s sleep on it, even in the face of the relenteless teasing of my teenager, who referred to it as mom’s “old hippie mattress.” However, when one is limited to what can be stuffed, crammed, and jimmied into a Toyota Corolla and a Pontiac Gran Prix, big items like a futon mattress generally don’t make the cut.

The first few nights in our new apartment saw my daughter and I sleeping on two inflatable beds, one we had and one borrowed from my cousin. If you haven’t tried them, inflatable beds can be a surprisingly good option for the short term. They’re great to keep in the closet for guests or slumber parties but not for every night snoozing; therefore, we agreed that mattress shopping was on the agenda sooner rather than later.

I’ll just say up front that for me, a comfortable mattress ranks right up there in importance with a washer and my French press coffee maker.  A large portion of one’s life is spent sleeping, so one’s sleeping arrangement  is worthy of careful consideration—whether it be a hammock, a futon, or a mattress and box springs.

True to my pledge to buy used whenever possible, I looked at used/refurbished mattresses first, but frankly buying a used mattress from someone I don’t know carries with it a significant “ick” factor, while buying one that has been “treated” and rewrapped conjures up all sorts of unpleasant images in my creative little skull. That may be irrational on my part, but it is what it is. So when no true used mattress bargains were to be found, it was off to the outlet stores with a sigh of relief.

While standing in Mattress Firm gazing upon a sea of potential choices, I learned a surprising fact: not only is fast food in America supersized, so is what we sleep upon. Let me explain. For my entire life I have contentedly slept upon a double/full size mattress. I never once questioned whether it was too small. It was adequate; it met my needs. It was the standard. Last week, I discovered that the full size mattress is going the way of the dinosaurs. Soon you’ll find them only in cheap motels, yard sales, and perhaps in a museum or two. The pleasant salesperson informed me that mattress factories now consider the queen size mattress to be the industry standard. Only a few extra dollars stand between the average American consumer and six more inches of glorious sleeping space.

Thinking perhaps this was a fluke, I visited at least four other mattress stores and heard variations on the same story. At the store where I finally decided on my 50% off-special-purchase Simmons Beauty Rest mattress set, it would have actually cost MORE to purchase a comparable full size set. Go figure!

I will admit that my new queen pillow-top mattress is gloriously comfortable, and I have been sleeping very well, thank you. However, the whole “supersize my slumber experience” has made me squirm when I consider that it’s not only mattresses but sofas, televisions, and houses that are larger than ever. Why do we need more, larger, and better? When is enough enough?

How just was my purchase? That’s debatable. Sure I was able to work a phenomenal deal on the set by comparison shopping, and I got free delivery and a complimentary hypoallergenic mattress pad guaranteed to keep moisture, stains, and dust mites from sullying my bedded bliss for a full 10 years. Should I have bought the set at the outlet that was $125 cheaper and hard as a knotty pine board? Would I have been better off driving to Atlanta in search of an organic futon mattress? Maybe I should have sucked in my squeamishness and purchased the used one. It’s a tough decision. On the other hand, I didn’t buy bedroom furniture. I have two folding bookcases we brought with us, a $15 solid wood sofa table that I’m using as a computer desk, a $5 used lamp, and some wire and fabric storage bins in the closet in place of a dresser. I’m quite content with the room and its furnishings.

In the end, I hope that I did the right thing. I have a great mattress with a 10-year warranty at a terrific price that should provide many years of comfortable sleep. A writer needs her beauty sleep, you know. Wonder if I can supersize that, too?

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2 Responses to 'SUPERSIZE my Slumber'

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  1. Robert Leaverton said,

    We used to have a futon, but like Goldilocks – it became too hard, shoulders, hips and knees ached from sleeping on it. Even our current mattress is becoming too hard. I am thankful for the feather bed that nicely softens the sleep and can keep us warm when the bedroom really gets cold. But soon it will have to be stored away as it begins to warm up.


    • Yes, futon mattresses do have a limited lifespan, but they’re glorious while they last–as are featherbeds.


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