how to get a good night's rest


Since we spend one third of our lives sleeping -- roughly 25 to 30 years in an average lifespan -- it’s a good idea to think about whether that part of our lives is working well. We can’t always assume the Sandman is going to visit for 8 glorious hours, like when we were kids. 

Those were the days. 

But after the age of girlfriend sleepovers and college frat all-nighters, we need so-called sleep hygiene, those boring but necessary acts that signal the brain it’s time to say “Goodnight moon . . . “  

To bolster these flossing and scrubbing rituals, experts say you need to focus on the main attraction meant to wrap you in sweet slumber -- your mattress. 

We know this, right? Except if, like me, you’re still snoozing on hand-me-downs used by Bedouins in 500 B.C.  

So the mattress adventure -- an adult rite of passage -- begins. And may I invite you to join in my bounty of research and consider whether your own sleep surface -- not your mate, friends, family, traffic, bad restaurants, nasty people, politics, and the general miserable state of the world -- is responsible for your daily grumblings.  

Let the education begin. 

First you must determine if you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper. Some of us -- as I learned the hard way -- don’t know until we stay up half the night watching the body flip and flop. 

The reason you need to be clear is that back sleepers typically prefer medium firm mattresses, side sleepers softer, and belly sleepers firmest of all.  

Next step is to decide if you like foam, gel, latex, spring-and-coil with either pocketed or continuous coils, or a new fangled hybrid that offers either fast or slow-acting foam on top of an innerspring and may also contain fake smart gels to give you an organic, oblivious rest. 

Some surfaces sleep hotter, some cooler, some shoot you to the moon on a jet-propelled magic cushion. I think one of my salespeople added this as an extra incentive. 

All mattresses could work for all types depending on whether you choose firm, luxury firm, palace firm, cushion firm, gentle firm, plush, luxury plush, or add a pillow top which could make a firm mattress less firm which may be good for side and back sleepers but not so much for you belly downers.  

If you’re part of a couple that sleeps together but on different parts of the anatomy, you may want to consider a dual control airbed, and if you’re a person who sleeps on all parts of the anatomy, constantly tossing and turning, you may want to consider surgery. 

Don’t even think about a water bed. That’s so frat party. 

Experts say you need 15 minutes to try out a mattress. Bring along a pillow and dress appropriately because as you rumble and roll you may attract a crowd of curious onlookers out for a Sunday jaunt.  

Be prepared to spend most of your time awkwardly gazing up at your salesperson as you sound thoughtful and intelligent about edge support and air flow but basically all you want is a bedtime snack. 

You could order a mattress online which is quite popular now and could be cheaper if you’re the type who can buy something sight unseen and presto just like that it’s yours for years to come. 

To avoid that, I’m writing this column while stretched out in full view at Macy's. I’ve been debating if I have pressure points on my shoulders or my hips are dipping, both of which are bad. Or I wonder if my spine is straight, which is good. I’ve never had my natural curves examined by so many strangers in my life. 

In the end, exhausted, I still wonder what’s too hard, too soft, too saggy, especially after my latest salesperson says, “Everybody is different. You and you alone must decide if the mattress is comfortable.” 

Funny -- I thought the old one was, at least until I went to buy a new one.  

I hope this has been helpful. Goodnight moon.

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