I’ve struggled to get a good night’s sleep for a long time. Thirty years ago, a young woman visiting the United States from Nicaragua rear-ended my car on the Washington DC beltway. She was doing sixty and I was sitting still, waiting in a line of traffic to exit onto the Dulles Toll Road. We went to court, she fled the country, and my neck and back have never been the same.
My wife and I recently sold our home and moved to Florida, far away from the wonderful chiropractor who has kept me pain-free for nearly twenty-five years. (I miss you, Bob!). My neck and back pain have returned, and I have found another chiropractor who recommended that I purchase an adjustable bed to get a good night’s sleep. Seems like a reasonable enough suggestion, right?
My wife and I went hunting for the perfect adjustable bed. We went to one local store, where they had infinitely adjustable bed frames to which one could add memory foam mattresses. This seemed like a rational approach at first, and I had my first visions of a good night’s sleep. But, I am six-foot-seven, and of course the California King mattress that would fit me is not available in a split mattress. We would need a split mattress, where my five-foot-three wife would have control of her side and me my side. I sleep in an almost sitting position due to GERD and snoring, and she sleeps on her side due to knee pain.
In a bed without the ability to adjust the two sides separately, in her preferred position I would have to sleep laying on my side, with sinuses, snoring and GERD in full activation mode. In my preferred position, she would be sitting up, causing her arthritic knees to yell at her. The manager kept lowering the price to the point where I thought he might offer us money to take the bed. I just couldn’t make it work in my mind; no visions of a good night’s sleep.
We went from there to a store selling so-called sleep-number beds. The saleswoman was very nice, and immediately placed my wife and I on a king adjustable bed. This bed came with a totally split mattress, fully adjustable on each side. The mattress was plush and comfortable, the sleep number thingy worked well and the price was ten-thousand-dollars. I became confused and asked how fast the thing would go and what kind of mileage it got. I had experienced a flash back and momentarily thought I was buying a car.
There were other, less expensive versions of these sleep number adjustable beds, a total of seven. These included the basic mattress, and various thicknesses of memory foam atop the inflatable part of the bed. One could go all the way up to thirteen inches thick, again in the price range of a car. We tried all of them, and could barely tell the difference.
When I asked the sales person, “If the idea is to choose a sleep number and stick with it for a good night’s sleep, how is this any different from just choosing a soft, medium or hard mattress?” Her response was, “Look at this nice neck pillow. I’ll bet it would work wonders with your neck pain.”
We really liked these beds at first. Then, we found out that there are two air bladders in a split control bed, one for each side. But, the air in the two is connected rather than separated. I weigh two-hundred-fifty-pounds, and my five-foot-three wife does not. So, when I lay down on my side of the bed, she flew up in the air and off of her side. I confess that my inner child found some amusement in this situation, but my wife was somewhat less amused. She pointed out that if this situation were to continue, she would also end up suffering from neck and back pain. More to the point, I might wake up one morning with knots on my head.
After we left the sleep number thingy store, I went online to do the research that I should have done before going to the store in the first place. I discovered that many of the infinitely adjustable bed frames with memory foam mattresses are made in China. These constitute cheap Chinese knock-offs of a credible American-made brand. Thus, the one guy almost willing to pay me to take the bed.
Then, there’s the sleep number beds. You can get an infinitely adjustable bed frame, containing many moving parts controlled by various electronic motors. You add to this the sleep number bed, controlling the firmness of the mattress through the use of an electronic air pump. And, you have a mechanical nightmare that raised visions in my mind of being taken over and devoured by the robot bed from hell. There’s potential electronic failure, moveable part breakage, leakage of the air bladder, breakage of the air pump and so forth.
Lessons learned from this experience include that my sleep number is forty-five. Also, I don’t want a bed that is more mechanically complicated, and expensive than my car. I don’t want a bed that will require a mechanic to come into my bedroom on a routine basis for constant repair, replacement and adjustment of bed parts. And, I certainly don’t want a bed that is basically a robot with complete control over my body, to the point where, and I am quoting one of the salesmen, “This thing is so adjustable that it can fold you in half like a pretzel.”
Based on all my research, I discussed the prospects with my wife. We decided to buy a hammock for the bedroom. I’ll still have neck and back pain, and we probably still won’t get a good night’s sleep. But, we won’t be broke or broken from being folded into a pretzel. There will also be no need for constant annoyance by the mechanic that has taken up residence in our guest bedroom to keep the adjustable bed going.
And, who knows, I might fall out of the hammock and onto the floor. I understand that sleeping on a hard surface can actually be good for back pain.
If this blog made you life, you’ll probably like PLEASURIA: Take as Directed. You can get the book online at Amazon http://bit.ly/pleasuria and at bookstores everywhere.
I’m donating all my after-tax profits to two charities for abused children, Holly’s House and Darkness-to-Light