Tuesday, January 13, 2004

 Sleep tight 

Back in 1991, when I was a new grad student at the University of Texas at Austin, I bought a futon, double size with a wood frame, with my then-girlfriend Veronica. Back then, futons were still a fairly new phenomenon, and they seemed to me like a great alternative to the old bed paradigm, that of a bouncy spring mattress with a heavy box spring underneath it. Especially considering that I was still living a very mobile existence, the abilty of a futon for easy breakdown and setup was very attractive to me, and clinched the deal. Also, the firmness of the cushion on the unyielding frame made for a vastly improved sleep system for me, as I came to realize that sunken springy mattresses were actually quite uncomfortable. (I often sleep better on a hard carpeted floor than a spongy bed.)

Time passed - the old girlfriend left but the futon stayed on. I moved from Texas back to Arizona, then to Davis California, for another grad school stint where I moved that bed 3 more times. I then moved to 100 miles to San Carlos where I started life in the workaday world. 7 years after the initial purchase I finally bought a replacement cushion for the frame, partly at the urging of my new girlfriend. (Women, to their credit, are often the motivating force behind improving the sleep systems where I live.) The futon had new life, and became our bed for another 5 years....but this was a case of diminishing returns. A few more years passed, with one more move, this time to Santa Cruz, at which point the mobility advantage of the futon had been pretty milked, and now we were left with a bed that somehow felt smaller, with a lumpier cushion than we had ever remembered. It was time for a change.

In December Cindy and I took delivery of a new bed, a queen size Simmons Beautyrest with a box spring. I came full circle - now, a futon was completely out of the question, and I found myself impressed with the great advancements made in "bed science" since I had last considered a real mattress. Now they have all these new-fangled features that allow the bed to be way more comfy than I had imagined. With the Beautyrest you barely even feel the other person getting into or out of the bed. That feature alone was the clincher this time, and was very apparent even when we were trying out mattresses in the department store.

Of course, this time we spilled a hefty chunk of change on the thing - about a thousand bucks for the whole setup. But it's well worth it. As a friend once said, there are two things in life you should never skimp on - comfortable shoes and a good bed. Hard to disagree with that.

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