Does Your Sleeping Arrangement Meet These Requirements?

Is it that time in life? Are you feeling ready for a mattress upgrade?

Warning and disclaimer: Downy cushions are no guarantee of blissful, adequate sleep.

Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t like a cozy bed? Sleep is that opportunity to relax after the tensions of the day and start fresh in the morning. Now, I confess this is not a subject a former Marine usually writes about.

The fact is, as I was plumbing the depths of wisdom from the past, I made some interesting discoveries. I was reading one of my favorite stoic sages, Clement of Alexandria (200 AD). He asks the question, “How firm should a mattress be?” That got my wheels turning.

Should I keep my current mattress? Should I sleep on something harder? Or should I ‘upgrade’ to comfortable pillows, ostentatious bed frames, and technologically adjustable mattress settings? After all, I turn forty this year. I did my time. Don’t I deserve it?

Speaking of posh sleeping gear, I must note that downy cushions are no guarantee of blissful, adequate sleep. I nearly suffocate every night under my wife’s down comforter. But, as I don’t always break a sweat during the Wisconsin winter daylight of hours (11 am - 1 pm), I suppose I ought to be grateful for the opportunity to detoxify my body of heavy metals at night. My holistic doctor verified this. I digress.
How hard? Well, the ground and a rock for a pillow were good enough for Jacob. Although, he spent half the night wrestling with an angel. So maybe his ‘sleep’ arrangement doesn’t qualify.

Between the excesses of snuggling into a limp yawning hallow and freezing on the ground like hard-core Civil War reenactors, Clement makes it simple. He prefers the firm, mildly comfortable mattress for three reasons:

  1. A firm mattress is better for digestion. Well, I must confess, I would not have thought of this one on my own. Clement feels no need to cite medical research. It is understood.
  2. A firm mattress is conducive to tossing and turning. Yes, Clement says this is a good thing. He affirms the firm mattresses as a ‘natural gymnasium for sleep.’ I gather from this that the Greek stoic did not ‘sleep like a log.’ Let me know if you have any further insights.
  3. A firm mattress is easier to evacuate in an emergency. Hmm, I suppose it is rather difficult to run to the toilet if you’re adrift in the middle of a king-size waterbed.

Then there is the matter of cost. Just how much debt am I willing to get into for a bigger, better bed? Clement reminds us that the Greek hero among men, Ulysses, rectified the unevenness of his marriage bed with a stone, modeling healthy frugality and improvisation.

What would Ulysses do? As a true Aristotelian, Clement confirms, the virtue of mattress selection is in the mean:

“A bed may be comfortable but we ought to avoid the extremes of too much indulgence and too much endurance.” - Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.)

Clement also notes that if you own a soft, pretentious bed already, you may continue to use it, just as long as you are not too happy about it.

So much for mattress selection. What is your preferred sleep arrangement? Tell us in the comments below.