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Sleep on it

According to whatever Google search result you want to believe, we spend between 26 and 33 years of our lives in bed! Now there’s a fact that should make you want to get up and spring into action. But it should also make you want to re-evaluate your sleeping arrangements.

We don’t all have the luxury or rather the finances to acquire the most sumptuous, super king-sized, silk-sheeted bed but there are a few things that you can do, without breaking the bank, to ensure that the place where you spend so much of your life, is at least as relaxing and comfortable as it can be.

Obviously, the bed you get is an entirely personal preference. I don’t like to be too high up but that’s just me. I had a futon during my college years but that really was too low. I sort of felt like I was sleeping in a flower bed. I’ve also had a higher bed than my current one. I just think a bed that is on the low rather than high side gives the illusion of more space in a room, so that’s my preference. I’m not very tall so it also suits me to be lower to the ground. If you’re tall, you may find a lower-style bed uncomfortable.

I like the spaciousness of a big bed so when buying a bed for our renovated house 12 years ago, super king it had to be, and I love it. Unless it falls apart, I’ll never change it so, for me, it was worth the extra expense. And the headboard has two reading lights attached. I’m a big reader so that too was important.  

I won’t talk about the benefits of one mattress over another because, frankly, everyone’s view of a mattress is different. I spent a lot of money on our mattress because I viewed it as an investment. It’s a memory foam one with a hypoallergenic silk cover and, honestly, it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made. We’ve had it for 12 years! When I buy a new one, I'll be checking out natural latex options which are antimicrobial, breathable, very durable and eco-friendly. If you buy a good mattress and use a mattress protector, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be good for over 10 years and usually a lot longer. If you've noticed that your sleep isn't as satisfactory as it used to be, consider changing your mattress. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a decent mattress or even a new mattress, consider a good, thick mattress topper as a stop-gap solution.

Now we get to the nitty-gritty…the bedding.

My pet hate is dressed beds! I just don’t see the point. All those silly little cushions with silly names, most of which begin with the letter B, boudoirs and bolsters, that match your curtains etc (another pet hate of mine is obsessive matching and colour-coordinating) and that you have to remove before bedding down for the night and which then invariably end up chucked on the floor or having to be re-homed on a chair. And those heavy bedspreads which again serve no useful function other than to make the bed look neat during the day (who has regular visitors to their bedroom and, frankly, if you do I very much doubt that they are there to admire your bedding?) and have to be rolled down to the end of the bed where they sit heavily on any tall person’s feet or end up slipping off the end of the bed and ending up on the floor for the night. No, not for me. I mean, if they make you happy, then by all means go for it. But I’m with the Scandinavians, Germans etc – a lovely sheet and a soft duvet (I’ll allow you a beautiful throw, which can double as a shawl around your shoulders when you’re reading) and then we move on to the pillows…

Personally, I can’t have enough. I sleep with two BUT I need several more for propping myself up to read. I like to be surrounded. I’ve tried those boomerang-shaped pillows (I had one when I was pregnant) but, honestly, they don’t do it for me. There’s no substitute for a pile of pillows and they must be regular, rectangular pillows. Not for me the square continental ones (perhaps to prop one up but definitely not for sleeping). I don’t need a pillow to go down below my shoulders. I just need it to raise my head. As for the consistency, well, I’m still trying to find the perfect pillow. I crave the bedding I had in a Radisson Blu hotel in Malmö several years ago. It was the closest I’ve ever come to Heaven. The pillows were sensational, that perfect combination of supportive enough but yet super soft, likewise with the mattress, and the duvet was like an enormous, weightless cloud. My husband and daughter had a similar experience in a Radisson in Hamburg. So overwhelmed was my husband that he actually asked the receptionist who their supplier was, and I checked their website but the array of pillows proved confusing. I’d have to try them out. Anyway, I’ve since lost the piece of paper that the kindly receptionist wrote the name on. I’ve tried memory foam pillows and hated them. I’ve tried goose-down which I found far too soft and which I believe I may be allergic to. Right now, my favourite is a microfibre one. It’s just the right consistency and height. But it’s still not perfect. However, having lots of pillows is a non-negotiable necessity.

Sheets, pillowcases? I believe silk is incredible and naturally hypoallergenic. I’ve never tried it. My favourite has always been jersey (M&S did a lovely modal bed set a few years ago but it has since been discontinued and I haven't been able to find anything quite as nice) because it’s comfortable, doesn’t require ironing (anything that doesn’t require ironing is a plus as far as I’m concerned) and easy to put on. Fitted sheets are another essential. I cannot and will not deal with the faff of flat sheets. Life’s too short. I had the displeasure of dealing with them as a chambermaid many years ago during a summer in Berlin and that was enough for me. Unless someone is going to tip me, then it’s fitted sheets, or I walk!

I do love beautiful bed linen BUT rather than owning it and having to spend hours ironing, I’m willing to pay a hotel to provide it for me once in a while. At home, again, convenience is key (as long as comfort isn’t compromised). I discovered washable, coverless duvets over a year ago and now that’s all I use. Throw them in the washing machine in the morning and they are back on the bed a few hours later. I’m happy to recommend the Fine Bedding company Night Owl duvets and pillowcases. They come in two weights for summer and winter and in a lovely range of colours to suit most tastes. Other places now do them as well, but these are the best I’ve found.

So, love your bed, make it as pleasing as you can. You’re going to be in it for around three decades. No two people love the same bed or bedding. I’m not suggesting that my views are more valid than anyone else’s. I’ve just found what makes me happy.