I am lucky enough to live with a loved one – nothing to be taken for granted as we age. Additionally, we still share a bed. Problem is, as you get older, comfort during your sleep time seems increasingly vital. As a result, sharing a bed can be both a blessing and a curse.
Perhaps obvious, is the solution to spend many hundreds, or thousands, on a newer adjustable bed allowing for personal comfort calculations on each side (such as Sleep Number beds).
But that is not for everyone’s pocketbook. Further, I’m not comfortable on any type of memory foam. It’s a true gift for many who find it fantastic, but I can’t share their enthusiasm. I find it hot in summer and not the type of support I prefer. How about other solutions?
People say travel is a great teacher; I’m living proof. I learned two things about bedding while traveling in Europe; one of interest only to people owning unusual mattresses. We happen to have a European mattress combining box-spring and mattress in one. It’s getting older but I love the firmness and it remains in perfect condition.
Once upon a time, finding sheets for it was a hassle. For years, I used water-bed sheets. As the trend toward water-beds declined (oh, thank you) the sheets became harder to find.
On a visit to Scandinavia, I had one of those “V8-slap-your-head-duh” moments. You were supposed to use a pillow-top mattress on it (your choice thin-to-thick) and tuck your sheets under it. No wonder Ikea sells so many. On a second continental trip, I discovered a more versatile concept. Some hotels in Prague and Germany used queen or king beds but with separate, individual duvets on top. We enjoyed it.
Upon coming home, I arranged a plan – one fitted sheet underneath as usual, but 2 twin sized top sheets. They must be folded a bit due to our queen vs. king size bed, with separate twin blankets. As I wasn’t prepared to shell out for a whole new comforter set, I simply used my current one as top decoration.
What’s the advantage? When I am hot at night, I can push the bedding away. When he is cold, he can burrow tightly into the blanket. When I twist and turn, I feel free from guilt since I’m not bothering someone else’s sleep. Not perfect, but a good improvement for us. It is perhaps a tiny bit harder in the snuggling department, but that’s way less time than the sleep realm.
One day, when I am flush with cash or totally bored of making the bed with fancy duvet and decorative pillows, I might go further. I may opt for the simple hotel room style of separate comforters and a narrow coverlet at the foot bringing the look together.
Regarding other comfort, I hate to even whisper one old trick of firming up a mattress. But there will be old-timers out there who immediately think of it, so I do want to acknowledge its practicality. If you like your old, yet perfectly respectable, mattress but would like more firmness, there is the timeworn and trite trick of placing a piece of plywood under it.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Still, it’s less costly and sometimes the sheet of plywood under half of the pad is the answer for the couple who is not satisfied with the same mattress. Analogy? As the old cowboy pot used over the fire to brew chicory coffee is to the lovely cappuccino home station; so is the partial plywood to a Sleep Number bed. The quality may be worlds apart, but both work.
Related: Best mattresses for seniors
The mattress is firm, and one sleeper likes it that way; the other is uncomfortable, losing sleep and developing shoulder or hip pain. But the purchase of an expensive, automated bed is out of the question. That is what happened to Donald and Sylvia, two patients I still remember.
Surprisingly, while you might guess a reversed scenario, Sylvia, the one losing sleep and making complaints of “sleeping on bricks,” was quite heavy, whereas Donald was thin by any standards.
They had purchased their mattress just several months earlier – mostly for Sylvia. Now she was feeling guilty about her complaints, especially considering the mattress’ price.
Most manufacturers provide a “grace” period to decide if the feel is right for you, but it took Sylvia a few months to understand what was “happening to her.” And many people are timid about returning a mattress; too much like returning their underwear. In addition to that, bringing a mattress into your house (or out) is always a bit disruptive and hard work.
I made inquiries about her sleeping positions, and she wasn’t doing anything dreadful. On her next visit complaints persisted. I suggested experimentation – buy a twin size “egg-carton” foam pad for her side of the king bed, as well as a full-size body pillow.
Well, she never bought, or needed, the pillow because the foam pad did the trick. Sylvia’s pain was gone, she was sleeping “better than ever” and her husband got to keep the mattress that he loved. They were both happy together again – at least when they were sleeping.
Another tip for accommodating varying comfort levels is more expensive. Simply use two twin beds together as a king. This assumes purchasing both new, but it conveniently allows partners to pick their own comfort – a real luxury. For another small expense ($15 at Bed, Bath & Beyond) you can buy a “king-twin bridge,” which does exactly what you would imagine: it brings the beds together.
One warning – some of these seem flimsy, don’t stay in place or sink between the mattresses, but still they do the trick. Wider ones are more helpful. If you have the bedroom space for this king alternative, at least it will keep you both happy and close.
As in the old Turtle’s song (remember them?), I am particularly lucky in the “happy together” department. But even I get cranky if I am uncomfortable or losing sleep. I wonder how many other people could improve their happiness quotient simply by making a few changes to their bed – where they spend a good deal of their life.
Do you sleep well? Do you have a brand of mattress that you love? How have you compromised between two people’s preferences? Please share your experiences in the comments.
Tags How to Sleep Better