Sunday, January 27, 2019

An air mattress with a frame - the best sleep ever for under $ 300

The blogster realizes the title sounds like an ad, so let's emphasize it is not an ad.

It is a story of back pain and bad luck finding a good traditional mattress for a price less than the blogster's current car, meaning $ 1500 or less.

For some odd reason, some companies will produce futon beds with firm, comfortable mattresses every now and then. But they seem to be hard to find in the cacophony that is the sleep market.

Too much physical work combined with the wear and tear of ageing, and for some a couple of sub-optimal genes, made it so that the blogster found itself* with periodic back aches which made sleep less restful than it felt entitled to.

So, it did some research and went and bought a new bed. For a few months, sleep felt good. Then the memory foam mattress had too much memory, it radiated body heat back, and the supporting slats began to feel too soft.

It added a couple of boards on top of the slats, which made the bed firmer, but the mattress problem persisted. The sleeper's active nighttime metabolism produced too much heat, causing it to wake up and restlessly toss three or four hours into the night.

A broken foot intervened and the blogster had to sleep on the couch because getting up and down a flight of stairs in a cast is hard and even less recommended when you are tired.

The couch turned out to be great. It was firm and relatively thin, which solved both the support and the heat issue. The back ache was gone, no longer caused bad sleep, except during brief episodes when it acted up and required ibuprofen.

This was the blogster's routine until it moved and decided to leave the awful bed behind. Facing an empty apartment, the blogster headed to the store and bought an air mattress for about 15 dollars.

After a few nights, the blogster noticed: no back ache!

Yet, it was still determined to find a bed, the expected thing, with a frame, a box spring, a mattress, maybe even a nice headboard - because that's how it is supposed to be, right?

Thus began the googling, the binging, and the footwork visiting stores. It was exhausting, and the blogster slept a lot - on that air mattress. A month or so into the search, the blogster decided to stop bed hunting for a while and just enjoy the comfort of the air mattress.

Air mattresses are not designed for continuous use, and this soon became obvious. The mattress began to leak, slowly at first, then more, and needed to be replaced. But instead of resuming the search for the perfect bed, the blogster bought a high air mattress with an in-built automatic pump.

This turned out not to be a great idea because that mattress began to stretch and bulge more than the regular flatter one. It makes sense, there is much more material that can stretch.

Mattress number 2 lasted just a little over two months, nixing the dream of sleeping on air at a height comparable to a standard frame and mattress bed.

Mattress number 2, unsurprisingly, had a catastrophic failure - it ripped - at 3 am in the morning as foretold by Mr. Murphy, the one of Murphy's Law, not the one of the Murphy Bed.

In the morning, a grumpy, not very well rested blogster then bought another standard (8 inches high) air mattress to sleep over the next steps.

Enlightenment came at an antiques store. What is this, the blogster asked when it saw a bed sized wooden contraption which looked like a square raft with side walls, but on feet. This is a waterbed frame from the 1970s, yours for only 700 dollars, the store person replied.

Had the blogster been in California, it would have shouted "Eureka" and hit the nearest Home Depot. Instead, it called a friend, an awesome carpenter, whose handiwork you very probably have seen on some iconic photos.
That's easy, the carpenter friend explained, when requested to make a waterbed style frame for an air mattress.

A few boards, two by fours, plywood, and screws plus some wood glue were transformed into a frame in a couple of hours. Padding for the inside and outside was needed, and the builders decided on cheap and sturdy moving blankets.

After putting the air mattress inside the frame and adding another moving blanket on top for comfort and protection against cat claws and other pointy objects, the most comfortable bed ever was finished.

It cost just under 300 dollars - 120 of which went to the friendly builder - the rest for the material. The current air mattress is the simple 15 dollar version from the grumpy post-cataclysmic failure of the high bed. It holds the air for about 4 weeks before requiring topping off, as opposed to about a week outside of the frame.

When this one gives out, as it eventually will, the blogster will get one with an inbuilt pump for the ultimate sleep number bed clone.

[Update 5/3/2019]
The first air mattress had to be replaced about a month ago, more or less within the expected timeframe.

* Gender neutral thinking and writing is good for you (c)

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