Sleeping is an Investment

Kevin has always had sleep issues. For as long as I’ve known the man, he has never slept very well. He’s been a walking zombie for the past 23 years.

So over the years, we’ve worked on eliminating external triggers – background noise, no background noise, running fans, installing an air conditioner, covering every last pinpoint of light up with duct tape. (true story).

Kevin has tried alternating his diet – only drinking coffee in the morning, only having a splash of coffee in the afternoon, eating cereal right before bed, not eating right before bed, eating peanut butter sandwiches before bed, drinking a glass of water, (which makes him get up in the middle of the night to pee), not drinking a glass of water, (which makes him wake up with a headache and parched), and I can’t even tell you the combination of herbs and vitamins he first takes, then doesn’t take, to see if that has any impact on his sleep.

It’s become a running joke between us: “I think I’ve figured out why I’m not sleeping!” he’ll say with such hope and enthusiasm it’s almost painful to watch because I know it’ll inevitably fail, (which is does), and he’ll be right back to square one.

I had a few theories, but he wouldn’t listen to me – he wanted to exhaust every other possibility on his own first before he would reach the point where he was ready to accept help.

Finally, FINALLY, after exhausting every avenue, after trying everything short of standing on his head and leaning ever so slightly to the left, the man had had enough and he went to a sleep clinic. He did the whole spending the night thing, and when the results came back, I couldn’t help but preen a little.

I had been right. I guessed he had sleep apnea and he does. I would listen to him breathe at night and there were times he would simply stop breathing. Sometimes for so long that I would raise up on one elbow to watch him and be ready to spring into action if he didn’t resume breathing. (Though I have no idea what I would have done – I don’t have any medical training to speak of and aside from dealing with premature apnea with Dude and gently shaking him back to earth, I wouldn’t know what else to do).

Finding out that he had sleep apnea was a turning point. He now wears a mask at night and whenever he stops breathing, the machine will inject massive pockets of air into his lungs which makes up for the lack of oxygen his body needs whenever he stops breathing on his own. It’s also wiped out his snoring problem.

Whenever we went on vacation or went camping, and had to all share the same sleeping space with each other, I had to make sure to bring earplugs with me because the boys and I couldn’t sleep over his snoring. The volume was bad enough, but what really drove us crazy was the consistency, or lack of consistency, I should say. Sometimes he would snore softly, sometimes loudly. Sometimes he would abruptly snort. And it ALWAYS happened whenever we were on the verge of falling asleep so that when he let a snore loose, it was loud enough and startling enough to make us jerk back awake.

It was a nightmare. Seriously.

But now that he wears that mask at night, he doesn’t snore anymore. It eliminated that problem.

Unfortunately, it didn’t eliminate his sleeping problems.

He still wakes up at 3:00, on the dot, to either go to the bathroom, to grab something to drink, sometimes to eat something because he’s RAVENOUS, or he’s simply wide awake. And instead of getting up to go read, he will stubbornly lay in bed and stare at the ceiling for an hour, or two before he falls back into a fitful doze until morning light.

It’s always worse when he is stressing over something. I tell him he doesn’t know how to shut his brain off. Sometimes he will wake up in the middle of the night and a solution to a problem, that had been eluding him for days, will suddenly pop into his head. So I KNOW that on some level, he’s constantly thinking about stuff. We have no idea how to make him shut his brain off. But it’s not for lack of trying all sorts of stuff, I assure you.

Now me, on the other hand, I can fall sleep anywhere for any length of time. I don’t have a problem falling asleep, I don’t have a problem staying asleep, PROVIDED the world stops spinning and nothing happens around me. I’m a very light sleeper – everything wakes me up. A sneeze, a cough, someone shifting position in bed, a barking dog (GRR – our neighbor dogs drive me nuts sometimes), the house shifting, an animal scratching the house (which – CREEPY), a noisy car, loud rain … you name it. If it happens anywhere within ear shot, it wakes me up. So even though I go to sleep fast, I wake up about 50 times a night (which might explain why I’m tired all the time, now that I think about it. Duh).

But still. I have it easier than Kevin. Even though I have my own sleep issues, I still get more sleep than he does. And I always have. So when we broke down about nine years ago and bought a sleep number bed, I gave in. I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but hey, whatever it took to give the man his sleep, I was all for it.

I hated that bed. I never slept well in it. I would routinely wake up with various parts of my body completely numb – namely my pinky. And because Kevin would shift around, it would cause my side of the bed to move so it would wake me up. Finally, I ended up buying an air mattress and slept in the living room – FOR YEARS. Seriously. Kevin and I just slept better apart.

He loved the sleep number bed. In fact, he would let so much air out of his side of the bed it was like he was sleeping on a hammock. I, on the other hand, like it firm. Almost rock hard firm. It’s just better for my back. So the sleep number bed really did suit our individual needs. And sleeping in the living room wasn’t that big of a deal because we all went to bed at the same time (more or less) and it was dark and quiet. No problem.

But about two years ago, something shifted with the bed. It became a lot more uncomfortable and I could hardly stand to sleep on it. Still. I endured it for Kevin’s sake because he was still loving the bed. (I’m such a martyr, aren’t I? HA!) And sleeping out in the living room was becoming an issue because our sons don’t go to bed as early as we do now, so they would be up and though they would be quiet, I was such a light sleeper that I just wouldn’t fall asleep until they did.

Kevin and I have talked about getting a new bed for a few years now, but we never did anything about it. We had heard good things about Temper-pedic and thought if we ever went bed shopping, we’d check one out.

We went and checked one out yesterday.

When the mattress salesman found out how long Kevin and I have been sleeping on a sleep by number (nine years), he actually cringed.

Our old, lumpy sleep by number mattress

I couldn’t say I blamed him. Our bed was so used it was misshapen and lumpy and HELLO, it’s no wonder we weren’t sleeping very well.

We checked out the temper-pedics. We didn’t even look at the pillow tops. I knew those were probably too soft for Kevin and besides, I had heard that after a few years, the pillow top started looking lumpy and misshapen and that was one of the things that drove me the most nuts about our sleep by number – it just looked hideous after it was made. One side was lower than the other side and I hated how it looked. Which doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people but the small OCD part of me just couldn’t stand it.

(I have no idea if I have OCD, I’m self-diagnosing myself because of some of the things that drive me nuts and that I must correct AT ALL COSTS OR HEADS WILL ROLL).

After figuring out that the medium was the right one for us, we took a look at the price tag … and nearly fainted. We were on a mission to get some sleep but not for that price!

Our pale faces must have alerted the salesman because he then directed our attention to the iComforts by Serta. They were half the price of the Temper-pedic and just as good (with a longer warranty). We tested them out and decided on the medium.

They delivered our mattress yesterday afternoon. (Did I mention we BOUGHT the thing yesterday afternoon? Yeah. This place rocked the customer service).

New iComfort Mattress

It looks hard, but the salesman warned us that it would feel a little more firm than what we wanted for a few weeks until it was worn in. He also suggested we take our shoes off and walk on it a few times as well as that helps loosen it up.

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(hehe – I couldn’t resist posting this one).

The thought of putting our old bedding set on our new mattress sort of grossed me out, so Kevin and I went to JCPenney Home Store and Bed, Bath and Beyond to look for a new set. We found this at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

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(I know it’s wrinkly – I’m too lazy to use the steamer. They’ll work themselves out sooner or later. HA!)

I really like it, but I wish the skirt was a different color – there is too much gray. (Which, you can’t tell by this picture, but trust me – GRAY). I’ll probably try and find a purple-ish skirt to break up that gray.

What was really cool about this bed set though, was that it came with two Euro pillow shams and two decorative pillows. I can’t believe they haven’t been including the decorative pillows before now! It’s so hard to find anything that matches your set and individual pillows are so expensive. Anyway, I was thrilled and I’m ordering two Euro pillows from Wal-mart.com today. I hadn’t even HEARD of Euro pillows before yesterday. But I’m looking forward to putting it all together when they arrive.

How was our first night sleeping on it, you ask? (Thanks for asking!) Pretty good. Though our metal frame is too flimsy and off balance to support it, so every time Kevin or I shifted, it was like trying to sleep on a raft in the middle of the ocean. It woke me up several times and by 4:00 o’clock, I was wide awake. I ended up dozing on the couch until 6:00 a.m. (I don’t think waking up at 4:00 a.m was because of the mattress but because today was the first day of school and I’m always afraid I’ll oversleep and always tend to get up way early).

Kevin called the mattress place and they’re going to sell us a more sturdy frame. We’ll pick it up today and hopefully that will take care of the wobbling problem.

We’re a little concerned about it being too firm, but the guy did warn us about that. He said after a month, if it still feels too firm/soft, to let him know and we could exchange it for the one we wanted. I’m optimistic though, I think once it wears in a bit, it’s going to be really comfortable. It’s comfortable now, just a little too firm.

Let’s hope we invested in a bed that we can actually sleep in this time!

P.S. In case you’re wondering what the difference is between a Temper-pedic and an iComfort (aside from the price, of course) – the iComfort has “cool action“, which is supposed to help keep the foam cooler.

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