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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.