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let's go to bed
how to buy a new bed

by Yee-Fan Sun
1 2 3 4 5

So here's my sad sob story of the day: I've made it through three decades never having owned a good bed. (I know, I know; cue the violins.) For the first 2/3 or so of my life, I bunked down on the same skimpy twin, on a mattress that may have been just fine when my parents purchased it for my kidlet self back in the 70s, but proved a whole lot less inviting when I was still stuck on it two decades later as a full-size-almost-adult. In college I survived two years on the dorm's standard-issue extra-long (read: extra-narrow) mattresses before I sucked it up and plunked down the money for a double-size futon. At a couple of hundred bucks or so including the frame, that futon struck me as a fair hunk o' cash back then, though it was so much bigger and cushier than anything I'd slept on thus far that it seemed well worth the money. But by the time I'd graduated and decided to move out to Arizona to join my boyfriend, the lumps and bumps had started to settle in. It was time for a new bed, which on our teeny tiny recent grads' budgets, meant another futon. We at least had the good sense to go for a nice futon, which meant we got maybe three or four years before the ditch began to form. After that, I vowed that my next bed would be a real bed. No more futons! Instead, we bought a mid-range mattress and foundation set from IKEA that cost about the same as our last futon. It was a good balance of firm and soft, a real deal we thought for about six months that is, until one day we noticed that even when we were lying with backs flat to the mattress, our bodies seemed pitched at a 30-degree angle to the floor.

So when the boy and I moved to our new digs in Toronto a month back with just four suitcases full of clothing and a couple of sleeping bags and Therm-a-rests for furniture, we knew that one of the first things on our agenda was simple. We were finally in a city we had every intention of staying in for a good long while; the boy was no longer making the measly grad student's stipend, but had a real salary at last. Time to put our penny-pinching tendencies aside, and make a real investment in our sleep future. We were off to buy a proper bed!

The excitement soon gave way to frustration. Salespeople bombarded us with confusing talk of pocketed coils versus continuous coils; they rhapsodized over coil counts, lobbing numbers at us in a scary blitz. There was a lot of mention of the latest technology, that made me wonder if I'd stumbled into the wrong store; I'd never considered that there might be a whole lot of high-tech behind what I'd always assumed was just a big box of springs and padding. We finally found a bed we thought we liked but were too wishy-washy to commit that day; returning the next, our original saleslady was off for the day. The subsequent salesperson insisted that to get a really durable bed, we needed to go the next level of quality up. She made us doubt our original decision, then riled me up by providing information that clearly conflicted with printed specs. I wanted a bed; I didn't understand why she didn't want me to feel good about the bed whose sale would have given her a plenty healthy commission. I'd been sleeping on a Therm-a-rest for six nights; I was a tad cranky, perhaps. The boy quietly guided me out of the store by the elbow as I threw back one last parting tirade at the woman's customer skills.

skedaddle on for more

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