Category: sleeping

One Bed to Rule Them All

Denisa and I have been married over 17 years now. And so we finally decided it was time for the two of us to have some more space between each other. Hmm. That didn’t come out right. How about . . . “We decided to find alternate sleeping arrangements?”

Nope. Still not great.

We bought a king-size bed. When you’re talking about sleeping, I guess the direct approach is best.

The main impetus behind the bigger bed was that Denisa wasn’t crazy about the new bed we got after the one we’d used for 10 years had reached its end. So we had a new bed, but that one only lasted a four years or so before we got a different one, which has also not been super. Denisa’s back has been hurting when she slept on it, to the point that some nights she’d just go find a different bed to sleep in.

Not ideal.

So when we saw a beautiful king-size sleigh bed go up for sale, we bought it, sans mattress. The plan was to buy a mattress later. But buying a mattress is a bewildering experience these days, or at least it can be. When we first got married, it was more streamlined. You went to a department store, you lay down on a bunch of mattresses, and then you paid a bunch of money ($1,000+ at least) for a good mattress. Because you should pay a lot for a mattress, seeing as how you spend so much time sleeping.

This time, I’d heard a lot of good things about foam mattresses you buy online. Denisa wanted one that was more environmentally friendly. After a fair bit of research, we settled on the Tuft and Needle mattress. It has a ton ton ton of good reviews, and all the sites I saw said it was really solid. Better yet, many of the people I spoke to about mattresses said they’d bought that one.

But we didn’t buy a king size mattress for our king size bed. No no no. We decided to buy two XL twins, because they fit the frame just as well, and because this way, when one of us moves at night, there’s no chance at all of it shifting the whole bed. The best thing? It was only $750 total. (Yes, this is still $50 more than just one king size mattress, but whatever. It’s still a ton less than the fancy pants beds we’d bought before.) We had gotten old twin size box springs, and these mattresses don’t even need box springs if you don’t have them anyway. Score.

It’s one thing to have a plan and another to actually put it into play. What if we got the mattresses and hated them? (Tuft and Needle has a 100 night guarantee. If you don’t like it, they donate your mattress to a local shelter and give you a full refund. Very nice.)

Well, they arrived. And after taking down the queen size mattress and box spring, disassembling the old bed, taking it to the garage, bringing up the new frame, assembling it, bring up the box springs, and putting out the new mattresses . . .

I’m happy to say we both love the new bed. Super comfortable. Better than any foam bed I’ve slept in before. Feels plenty firm (we’d worried it would be too soft). Really, no complaints at all.

Though a king size bed is huge. It’s like we’re sleeping in two different hemispheres, really.

Anyway, if you’re in the market for a new bed and want a great sleeping experience and don’t want to pay a lot of money, definitely check out the Tuft and Needle. Highly recommended.


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Grownups Need to Be Told to Go to Bed

So I get home from work yesterday, and I’m just exhausted. No idea why. It wasn’t a really stressful day at the library or anything, but I was pretty darn tired. To make matters worse, I discover that I’m really grumpy and short tempered to boot. (Does that happen to any of you? You realize you’re grumpy and want to not be grumpy, but you seem to be stuck in one gear and can’t get out of it? That was me.) My family suffers through me through dinner, and then I just put my head down on the table and found myself almost snoozing off right then and there.

Denisa suggested I might want to go to bed.

Seemed like a good idea to me. At 7pm last night, I went to bed just to take a break for a bit.

I woke up at 7am, 12 hours later.

It’s so easy to look at my kids and know when they’re tired. They become different people, almost. They’re more easy to upset, they argue more often, they get grumpy–and it’s really easy as an adult to just tell them to go to bed and sleep. You know what? I think every grownup needs to assign a person to be in control of their sleep schedule. Someone who can take an objective view of what the grownup is doing, and then order him or her to bed when they just need more sleep.

I know what you’re thinking–you’re thinking that you know what’s best for you, and you know how much sleep you need, and you don’t need somebody to tell you when to go to bed. You know who else makes those exact same arguments?

My kids.

We’re not that different from children, when you get down to it. It’s not like someone waves a magic wand when we turn 18 and leave home and suddenly we need less sleep. I’m sure this would apply in other areas as well. Someone to step in and tell us when we’re behaving like a jerk and need to apologize. Someone to tell us when we need to share our toys, or when we need to stop eating.

Maybe it’s a copout. Maybe we’re here on earth so we can learn how to do all that without a grownup telling us to. That’s why I’m not going to advocate for anything more than assigning someone to tell us when to go to sleep.

I’m feeling much better this morning, thanks for asking. I don’t feel foggy-headed, I’m not grumpy, and I’m not overwhelmed with everyday tasks. Sleep is our friend, and sometimes we need someone else to step in and remind us that no, checking Facebook for an hour and then playing World of Warcraft for another hour is really not as important as sleeping for both of those hours.

My advice? Find someone in your life who you’re in contact with a fair bit. Someone who knows what’s going on in your life. And authorize that person to be able to order you to bed. Then, when they do (and they will), remember why you authorized them to do that . . .

And go to sleep.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise: An Experiment with Ben Franklin

I taught Seminary again this week, which meant that I had to be getting up around 5am every day. Last time, I didn’t change my sleep schedule that much–I just got up earlier, and I was exhausted each day. So this time, I decided to put Franklin to the test. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” And let’s be honest, in light of yesterday’s post, I need all the health, wealth, and wisdom I can get. So each evening, I tried to get to bed by 9pm.


As in, the hour before ten. Two hours before eleven. Two and a half hours before I normally go to bed.

Each day, I woke up at 5am as planned. And you know what? I haven’t been tired–despite all the other stressful things happening in my life. I’ve yawned much less. I’ve been a better thinker.

And I’ve absolutely loathed every minute of it.

Really. I hate going to bed early, I’ve decided. Hate it with a fiery passion that just might cause flames to shoot out of my eyes. We’re talking Mrs. White hatred, people.

Why do I hate it? For many reasons. First of all, my favorite time of day is the night. I love my evenings. I look forward to staying up late, reading books or watching movies. I would rather have an entire day with me being tired–and me having a real evening–then a day with me feeling fine and missing out on those few hours. Does that make me odd? Second, I hate what it stands for: I am not one of Those People. I remember once on my mission, my companion and I knocked on a man’s door at 4pm. He came to the door and yelled at us for having come by so late, informing us that all “good minded people” were already in bed by then.

At 4 in the afternoon.

Yeah. I don’t want to be that guy, and each evening before I turned off the light at 9pm, that’s the guy who flashed through my mind.

Is it any wonder I didn’t enjoy the experience?

So the question is–will I do it again next time I teach Seminary? Honestly? I probably will, as much as I hate to admit it. I’ll feel like an old fuddy duddy, but the cold hard truth is that I’m beginning to have a hard time functioning on just five hours of sleep a night. I’d go to bed a bit earlier–say 10:30 or so–but the problem then is that I can’t typically fall asleep at that time. I get sleepy around 9, and I usually fight through it. Once I clear that bump, I don’t get sleepy again until around 11:30. So it’s pretty much an either/or situation.

Have I been wealthier than normal? Certainly not. More wise? I don’t think so. Healthier? Possibly. But I’m sorry Mr. Franklin. 1 out of 3 just ain’t gonna cut it.

How about you–when do you go to bed and get up each day? Normally, I’m an 11:30 to bed, 6:30 out of bed kind of guy. When I’m not being a fuddy duddy. Do share!

Thrown Off My Sleep Schedule: How I Handled My Insomnia

I go on vacation for one week, and I come back, and I’m stuck with insomnia. Blech. Okay–first off, I know I shouldn’t complain. I had insomnia for something like 2 years when TRC was born and I was in Utah. I’d just stare at the ceiling every night, unable to sleep. I know how frustrating it can be, and this is nothing like that. I know also that just not being able to fall asleep for an hour or two isn’t insomnia.
Still, whenever I have a night or two (or three, or four . . .) when I can’t get to sleep, I have flashbacks to those nights in Utah, and I wonder if they’re back. However, I don’t wonder too hard, because the things I did to get over that insomnia typically work wonders for me. What did I do?
First up, I started getting up at the same time every day. This makes a huge difference, although it’s also one of the hardest things to force myself to do. If I didn’t sleep well the night before, getting up at the same early time I’m supposed to just feels wrong. I had to drag myself out of bed this morning. And yet, if I don’t do that, then the insomnia continues. I know this from experience, and so out of bed I get.
Second, I don’t take naps. Well, I don’t if I want to be able to fall asleep easily. If I’m not stuck in an insomnia rut, then a nap here or there doesn’t hurt. Yesterday I was just so groggy I was falling asleep at work, so I finally went home and took a nap. Couldn’t get to sleep until past 1. I’m not going to be taking a nap today.

Third, I read before going to bed, and I don’t stop reading until I’m sleepy. Usually this only takes about ten minutes these days. If I turn off the light when I get sleepy, I’m usually asleep in five minutes or less. If I don’t, it can be a long time coming.

Finally. I don’t just lie in bed anymore. If I’ve tried to get to sleep for an hour, I give up. Get up, go do something else, and then give it a fresh shot an hour or so later. Because who wants to waste time just lying in bed?

Really, these days it’s all just keeping the schedule running and falling back to it when I fall out of it. In Utah, lots of things conspired to throw me off that routine. I didn’t have a full time job, I was a stay at home dad, a new dad, and a night owl. I’d take naps. I’d wake up all over the place, time-wise. I’d watch TV and try to go to bed right after. I’d stay up until the wee hours playing World of Warcraft.

All sorts of things that ended up being bad choices. Thank goodness for being older and wiser. Now I just need to follow my own advice.

How about you? Have insomnia? How do you fight it?

Why Am I Always Tired?

I used to be an insomniac. Maybe not by the official definition, but I always had a hard time falling asleep. I’d be up until 3am some nights, just unable to actually go off to slumberland. At the time, I understood why I was tired. I didn’t sleep. Duh.

But I’ve gotten over that stage of my life (which means true insomniacs are even now no doubt claiming I was never one of them to begin with. Sorry, insomniacs. I feel your pain.) How did I get over it? Mainly by waking up at about the same time each day, and avoiding naps. I’ve discovered it doesn’t matter so much when I go to bed–it’s all about when I wake up. If I sleep in too much, that can really throw off my sleep schedule.

But I digress.

The thing is, even though I’m sleeping more (or, more consistently), I’m still tired. All the time. Not to the point that I’m weak and can’t do anything (I was that way when I was living in Utah), but just a general malaise. And I can no longer point the finger at insomnia. Instead, I think it boils down to two factors.

First, I need to sleep more. Getting to sleep is one thing. Sleeping enough is another. I get 6.5-7 hours of sleep a night, pretty consistently. Sometimes as much as 8. Sometimes as little as 6. I know I need more sleep. And yet there are so many shiny movies to watch, books to read, words to write, games to play, parties to go to, friends to talk with, children to play with . . . Something’s got to go. But as I get older, I’m starting to wonder if doing as much as I do is worth it at the expense of being tired the whole time I’m doing it all, or if it wouldn’t make more sense to do less and sleep more–thereby enjoying what I do more, since I (theoretically) wouldn’t be as tired.

And this leads me to my second conclusion: I’m getting older. Those of you who are younger than me are no doubt nodding and saying, “Yup. He is.” Those of you who are older are shaking your head wryly and thinking, “Just wait, kiddo.” You’re both right. I’m old enough to be feeling the effects, but not old enough to have earned the right to complain about it. Poor me!

Now, I could always do what the rest of the world seems to do when they’re tired: drink some caffeine. But setting aside the fact that I try to avoid putting artificial chemicals into my body when it’s not really necessary (Peeps is a necessity. Mountain Dew, not so much), I’m prone to migraines, which can be brought on by caffeine. So that’s pretty much a no go. I’d rather be exhausted all day than having splitting migraines.

What I ought to do is exercise more. When I go for brisk walks, I wake up. One day, my desire to be awake will override my inherent laziness. That day is not today.

No, in the end, I just feel like complaining and not actually doing anything about it. And looky here–I’ve got a blog! A perfect vehicle for complaining and commiserating. So–let’s hear it. Who else out there could go for mandatory nap time at work?

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