February 7, 2014

Let’s Go to Bed. ~ Rachel Astarte Piccione


“The bed has become a place of luxury to me! I would not exchange it for all the thrones in the world.”

~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Ah, bed. That most under appreciated slab of furniture.

It lies in your bedroom, spending sixteen hours of the day unused, perhaps even unmade, waiting patiently for your weary return.

What is a bed for? Many will say that a bed has only two functions: sleep and sex. While that is certainly true, for the single woman or man, bed can be so much more!

The Sanctuary

We often overlook the importance of physical comfort. We buy shoes that look fabulous, but wearing them is akin to medieval torture. Upgrading your bedding is an easy way to infuse comfort into your life. And it’s not necessarily expensive to outfit your bed for maximum comfiness.

On a basic level, one of the bed’s primary functions is to provide comfort. Therefore, as a first step, it’s essential to set your bed up for sumptuous relaxation. With my own bed, I try to achieve a quality that I call “numminess.” Nummy is that safe and snuggly feeling you get when you pull the covers tight around you and recline against your pillow. It’s a bliss right up there with really good sex. That’s why it’s vital that you begin with the preparation of your bed. Even if sleep and sex are the only functions it ever has, you’ll have given yourself a great gift.

We can also think of our bed as a decompression chamber. A natural form of meditation is to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling (or the wall, or out the window) to let our minds clear. The stresses of our everyday lives—careers, relationships, and family—necessitate a break of this nature. Bed is there for you.

The Entertainment Hub

For many, the idea of bed as a location for entertaining oneself is a no-no. But when you live alone, the bed can be a terrific place to set up camp for prime enjoyment.

Unlike many, I do not have a problem with having a television in the bedroom. I think of it like alcohol: a little can be a lovely thing. Healthy, even. Abusing the privilege, however, is not advised.

There’s something deliciously naughty about crawling into bed and cozying up to a good old movie. A television in the bedroom is also a fine companion for occasional loneliness jags. I know from experience that there are immense healing properties to the combination of a comfy bed and a Mel Brooks film festival.

For those opposed to having portals of electronic media in the bedroom, your bed is also a great place to get reading done. Dust off your library card and get caught up on your favorite mysteries, the classics you never got around to, or work your way through the New York Times Best Seller list. The important thing is to use your solitary bed-time to pamper yourself.

Writing in bed is another pleasure. I’ve logged many a journal entry nestled between my Egyptian cotton sheets. I keep a blank notebook and pen by the bed as well, in case the muse decides to drop by at four-thirty in the morning. It happens. Let me tell you, it’s immensely frustrating to think you’ve committed a great thought to memory, but when the sun rises, all you can remember is a fuzzy something about red kites and salamanders.

The Command Center

Many of us have dragged the laptop into bed to fire off a few emails or putter around on Facebook, but get this: I once dated a man who hooked his computer up to the huge-screened television in his bedroom, using it as a monitor instead of his laptop’s paltry 15-inch screen. Talk about using your bed as a command center!

In a similar vein, my mother has made an art of her solitary bed-time. Not only is her queen-sized sanctuary bedecked in the fluffiest comforters, pillows, and sheets, she has everything she could possibly want at arm’s reach, from New York Times crossword puzzles to candied peanuts. If that weren’t enough, for her morning ritual she has—I kid you not—a small coffee pot set up so that all she needs to do is roll over for her first cup of joe. Hey, if you’re going to do it, do it right.

Pimping Your Ride: Setting Your Bed Up for Comfort

The Mattress

The first step to creating a bed sanctuary is to buy the right mattress. In order to do this, you must shop at a brick-and-mortar bed store. Online shopping will not suffice for something as crucial as bed-buying. Feeling is believing.

Upon arriving at the store, you’ll need to tell the salesperson—who will inevitably descend upon you like a fruit fly on an overripe banana—that you’re just looking and you’ll let him know when you need help. Then, do yourself a favor and forget he’s there (until you actually need him). Lie down on many different models for several minutes. Sit up, too, since you might be reading, writing, or watching a movie in bed. Does your body instantly relax? How is the support under your spine?

Let’s say you’ve found your dream mattress, but you’re fretting about the price tag. If you’re concerned, think of this: Unlike that $2,000 monstrosity of a step machine you bought, your bed is something you’ll use every day. Mattresses need to be replaced every seven years or so. So, if you splurge on a $1,500 queen-sized mattress, you’re spending under 60 cents a day on your health and comfort. As smart investments go, that’s brilliant.

The Bedding

Sheets: When buying sheets, don’t even look at anything under 300 count. My preference is 100% Egyptian cotton, but not sateen. (They feel slippery to me.) You don’t have to go high-end. Some of the best sheets I’ve slept on were old white cotton sheets at a mid-range hotel in Negril, Jamaica. I asked the owner what brand they were, and she shrugged: “Plain cotton.” So, there you go. The key is washing them a lot so they get ultra-soft, thereby developing a high numminess factor.

Comforter: A good all-seasons down comforter will set you back about $100. If you buy quality, you get quality. That means you can still use your fluffy comforter in the oppressive heat of summer. Go for box stitching to maintain loft and avoid hot and cold spots. Buy a duvet cover for your comforter that matches your sheets’ texture and quality.

Pillows: I like to mix things up here. I have a firmish, memory foam, standard-sized pillow that I use to support my head. I also have a king-sized pillow that I use as my BFP (Boyfriend Pillow), thusly named not only for the way it’s held (placed perpendicularly to the head pillow and clutched tight during sleep), but because a lover of mine with a bad back once enlightened me to its therapeutic benefits. The BFP (or GFP, as you prefer) is ideal for wedging between your knees as you sleep.

The good news is that most of your bedding items can be purchased online at discount stores. I managed to put together my whole luxurious bedding extravaganza for under $300.

As an ardent introvert, I love bed. If I could spend my life between bed, the outdoors, and a few nice cafés I like to hang out in, I’d do it in a flash. I even love the phrase, took to bed. As in, Miss Eleanor was overcome and took to her bed. The idea of retreating to a pillowy wonderland designed solely for comfort seems pretty darned delicious to me.

So. You’ve made your bed, now… Well, you know the rest.

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Assistant Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: courtesy of the author

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