Monday, January 12, 2009

A Bed

In Western consumer culture, one is supposed to sleep on a "bed", which consists of a raised frame, box spring, headboard, mattress, mattress cover, bed skirt, top and bottom sheets, pillows, pillow covers, pillowcases, blankets and a bedspread (or a comforter)—all of them stylish and color-coordinated. The bed has to be "made" every day to keep all this complicated equipment in order. The bed and all of its accouterments are expensive, require a huge amount of dedicated floor space and absorb significant time and money for maintenance.

That's not how most of the world sleeps however. At night humans can be found sleeping in all kinds of set-ups, from hammocks to straw mats to shelves of ice covered with fur. For safe and comfortable sleeping—this is, getting the job done—the traditional Western bed is wasteful and unnecessary.

You DO NEED to sleep comfortably every night. Sleep seems to be essential for your health, sanity and daytime creativity. However, the exact physical circumstances of that sleep are open to negotiation.

The things you DO NEED for sleep are simple. You need: (1) safety, (2) warmth, (3) protection from wind and wet, (4) protection from insects, (5) some minimal padding beneath you, (6) the ability to raise your legs to the same level as your head, (7) relative quiet, (8) relative darkness, (9) relative isolation (so your sleep isn't interrupted), (10) the opportunity to shift position several times a night, and (11) the opportunity to sleep at about the same time every day. Some people might also add: (12) relative privacy and (13) the opportunity to pee in the middle of the night.

None of these require a traditional raised bed. If you have ever gone camping, you know that a sleeping bag and air mattress can provide the same sleeping satisfaction as anything Martha Stewart dreams up. Sleep consists primarily of a long period of unconsciousness where the body doesn't care where it is lying as long as it meets the essential criteria.

The raised bed seems to be a European creation of the medieval era. One can imagine sleeping in an unheated house in dreary England where you wanted to gather as much bedding around you as possible and also wanted to be away from the chilly, damp and vermin-infested floor. The permanent raised bed may have been the logical sleeping device for olden times but not necessarily for today.

Consider the humble sleeping bag and air mattress. They can be stored in a very small space when not in use and don't take over a whole room. You use the mass-produced sleeping bag until it stinks, then you throw it away and buy another.

Even if space or expense aren't an issue, there is merit in just being simple about things. When you want to sleep, you ought to be able to get to it quickly with minimal preparation, and when you wake up, you want to start doing things right away without having to waste much time on maintenance. Instead of following the herd, you need to listen to your own needs, respect your own resources and sleep wherever it really works for you. The important thing is the quality of the sleep itself, not where it happens.

What about other uses for the bed: for sex, for bedside chats, for thinking, for recuperating from the day's stresses, for a work space? These functions are all negotiable and don't necessarily require a flat, fixed, raised bed with all the trimmings.

The body is remarkably adaptable if you give it a chance. Many of the nighttime aids that you think are essential may turn out not to be. You don't need a waterbed, Tempur-Pedic™ memory foam or a Craftmatic™ Adjustable Bed. Our ancestors never had these things yet seemed to have survived. From a practical standpoint, the more circumstances you can comfortably sleep in, the better prepared you are for whatever life throws at you.

If you are not sleeping well, is it really the bed's fault, or is the bed just a convenient excuse? Does your back hurt in the morning in spite of your fancy bed or because of it? People are always looking for technological solutions to their personal problems, and the overwrought sleeping device is sometimes a reflection of this.

How much of our daily lives is really essential, and how much is sucker marketing (and sucker tradition) that we have blindly fallen for? You decide.

It "may" improve your life—at huge expense.

13 comments:

  1. Thank you for this blog post. I haven't had my own bed since losing mine in Hurricane Sandy. Just this year, I've spent nearly 100 nights on an air mattress. Thank you for reminding me, a bed isn't something I need.

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    Replies
    1. Good sharing. About mattress you may consider Napure mattress, it come with seven-zone support and specially designed to minimise pressure points and reduce tossing and turning. With these, in turn improves quality of sleep. While Napure has just launched its Air Series. Napure Air mattress come with a new invention to provide better air flow for better ventilation, read more at:
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  2. The information you have posted is very useful. The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing..

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  6. I just wanted to say that I have been transitioning to a minimalist living space and as a result bought a shikibuton style bed. It did take a little getting used to but I enjoy it very much.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I have a feeling “nobody wants to be first”.
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    ReplyDelete
  8. it is good to find a short information about bed which we don't really need but its been almost a year after earthquake I made a temporary mud house and we all sleep on floor due to not enough space. we use plenty of mattresses underneath... please forward any further information you have will be highly appreciated! regards

    ReplyDelete
  9. it is good to find a short information about bed which we don't really need but its been almost a year after earthquake I made a temporary mud house and we all sleep on floor due to not enough space. we use plenty of mattresses underneath... please forward any further information you have will be highly appreciated! regards

    ReplyDelete
  10. Maybe I do not need raised frame, box spring, headboard, mattress cover, bed skirt, top and bottom sheets, but i want to sleep comfortably. Here is a good guide how to choose a right mattress.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love your articles very much after reading. I need a good class Bed Linens. If you have a please inform me because I want to purchase it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just have to say something. There are those of us with horrendously painful medical conditions and we do need beds that are specific to us. I personally require a bed that's extremely soft and conforming to my twisted spine. Most of us do not have all of the crap on our bed that you mentioned. Also, as someone who slept on an air mattress for 3 months, I can tell you that there's nothing comfortable about them and that it's a very poor long term choice. Just because you sleep like a camper, doesn't mean everyone should. Your blog is extremely misinforming.

    ReplyDelete