The last time (which was also the first time) I had a new bed, I was living with my fiancé, who complained bitterly about how soft and lumpy our mattress was. The too-soft mattress he was complaining about was at least twenty years old and had been a hand-me-down that my once-upon-a-time husband and I had acquired from yet someone else back in our hippie days, when buying a new mattress would have been considered the greatest of extravagant luxuries that we never could have afforded.
But at the point of the new mattress consideration, I was living with Mr. Financially-Solvent-Seriously-Good-Income-Earning-Fiancé, whose back was hurting from sleeping in the crater at the center of my old dead mattress/marriage. After wasting money on a bed board that was supposed to make the mattress feel firmer but didn’t, he had decided in one swift moment to invest in an expensive, new, extra firm queen size bed immediately. Having never had a new mattress, I was shocked at the prices. While my old hippie sensibilities kept saying “this is wasteful”, I did think it might be nice to have a new mattress to go along with this new relationship. Ultimately, I really didn’t have much input into the choice, and he was paying for it, so in no time at all we came home with an expensive coil spring mattress he had chosen; one that weighed a ton and was so high that it felt like you were lying on top of a sheet cake.
Unfortunately, the sheet cake mattress has outlasted that relationship. Not only that, but I found myself lugging it around every place I have lived since. Although it feels quite comfortable to me, my Significant Other who I now share the bed with (here on in referred to as the SO) has been complaining that this extra-firm, super high, sheet cake mattress is too old and too hard and is hurting his back. My SO has a very physically demanding job, so it made sense that a good mattress would be an absolute necessity.
Furthermore, although he has not been lying in a depression in the mattress, you might say there is sort of a depression associated with the mattress (metaphorically speaking), at least where I am concerned, and so when he insisted it was time to replace it, aside from some weak arguments about the price of a new one, I really didn’t resist too much… OK, I made one practical money-saving suggestion about getting a foam topper, but he blew off that idea immediately.
Months went by and nothing really happened about the bed , until one Saturday we were out running errands and we happened to pass a bed store that was on the same side of the road we were on (no left turns – I was driving) so I pulled in so we could check out the mattresses. The last thing I said to him before we walked in the door is “Let’s just look and not commit. We can always come back”.
He had his mind set on a memory foam mattress. I knew nothing about them, but apparently he had been scouting them out. He wanted a Very Expensive Brand Name memory foam mattress. Nothing else would do. These Very Expensive Brand Name memory foam mattresses come in a variety of layers and degrees of firmness, with escalating prices. I kept saying “Ok, why don’t we go home and think about it”, but he ignored me. I don’t know what it is about guys when they decide to buy a bed, but he was really determined to not leave that store without one. They try to make it enticing by offering you a payment plan so it doesn’t appear so painful. We waffled between two of the lower to middle range ones. One was too hard. One felt too soft (to me, although he liked it). We finally decided on the softer one. It took a while for him to do the the financing paperwork with the saleswoman. While he was doing that, I kept trying out more and more beds, when I suddenly lay upon one that felt better than the one we were buying. Of course, it was significantly more money and it was everything I initially didn’t want. However, my logic was that this is the last bed we are ever going to own, so why shouldn’t it be comfortable? We are not getting any younger, right? So I told him I thought we should get the more expensive bed. The day before I would have settled for a topper at one-tenth of the price and now here I was, upping the ante.
“We should have the better bed. You should have a better bed for your back. This is the last bed we will probably ever own. We are going to die in this bed!”, I said. SO looked at me and then looked up to the ceiling with a pained expression, giving me that Suffering Jesus look that he tends to get sometimes when we are discussing things.
He bought the more expensive bed.
After we got home, I went online and looked up memory foam mattresses. Why we didn’t do this before I don’t know. I came to a site where people were saying they smelled terrible and were out-gassing and poisoning them and making them sick with all sorts of symptoms. I went into a total panic. I wanted to cancel the order. SO refused to cancel the order, said I was insane and we had a very tense evening. Then I called up everyone who I thought might have that kind of bed. I found four memory foam people and two foam topper people. Three of the four who had the Very Expensive Name Brand mattress said they totally loved their bed. The one person who didn’t love it said it was a total waste of money and if they had known we were going to buy one, we could have had theirs. Both foam topper people said they were very happy with their economical foam tops and that it had upgraded the quality and comfort of their sleep. All the mattress and topper people said that it took a while for the odor coming from the foam to go away, but that it eventually did.
A week later I came home from work and there was the new bed. The smell of it was intense and filled the whole room. It has taken weeks and weeks for the odor to dissipate, and as I lie there in bed at night, I occasionally will wake up thinking that toxic chemicals are coming out of the bed and are going to kill me (although not him, only me) and that my words “We are going to die in this bed” might end up being prophetic. Then I can’t sleep because I visualize my organs soaking up the evil chemicals. Also, when you have hot flashes, which I do, it tends to holds the heat. You are surrounded and enveloped by your hot flash. A few times I have even gotten up in the middle of the night and gone back into the old bed, which is now in the extra bedroom, to escape my hot flash and the chemicals I am imagining.
SO left me a little piece of paper that came with the bed saying the odor is harmless, which hasn’t helped me much. However, I am starting to get over it as the smell has mostly faded, just as everyone said it would. There is still is a slight residual odor though, similar to the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), the invasive plant in our back yard. When you pull it up, Tree of Heaven smells kind of like raw peanuts. Our bedroom smells like that now (see “Hydra“). I try to convince myself that since it smells like the Tree of Heaven then it must be a natural, organic smell, even though I know the bed is made out of space age foam and there is nothing natural about it.
The other thing about this bed is that when you lie on it, it’s like lying on modeling clay. Remember those slabs of thick modeling clay you used to get in the cellophane packages as a kid? It feels like that. Dense. Then, as you lie there, the mattress foam heats up a bit from the heat of your body and slowly begins to absorb you. It supports your lower back and cradles your hips. It’s a strange, but rather nice feeling. The SO totally loves it.
For me, it is taking some adjustment. I am also very honest about this experience, and about most things. and well, you know, you spend a lot of time in your bed so this is kind of a big deal to me. What I have noticed is that it’s harder to turn over because the bed sucks you into it, so mostly I just lie on my back like a flipped turtle. Once I am in it I am not going anywhere without great effort. Once you are in this bed, it is very difficult to get out of it too. There is no bouncing associated with the memory foam bed. You do not bounce out of bed (or in bed, for that matter, which is a whole other topic). You have to roll out of it or climb out of it, like quicksand. It is definitely a whole new way of being in a bed. It is the Earth Shoe of beds. I think it takes some adjusting to become a fan.
But in the morning, you don’t want to get out of it. This bed has actually made me late for work a number of times. The bed is like a giant drug. This bed is the Quaalude of beds. I would have to say this bed is Soporific.
It’s a whole new frontier.