The Worst Bed in the World

I’ve been an insomniac since birth.  My mother swears that I didn’t sleep a night through until I was four.  Apparently insomnia isn’t fatal.  But it definitely changes your whole perspective on things.  I hated bed and bedtime with a passion.  Seven 0’clock.  Every night.  I would find myself incarcerated.  It could still be light and sunny outside but bedtime was law.  I would be up for glasses of waters and excursions to late-calling visitors.  I would read, I would play, I would listen to the terrifying night noises.  But never sleep.  Even once it was dark and the rest of the world was abed, I would be awake.  Sometimes I would grab a sleeping bag and my pillow and creep out into the corridor, someone else’s room or the landing at the top of the stairs and curl up in a heap, on the hard floor and sleep.

I could sleep straight on the floor, no questions asked.  These days my bones aren’t so grateful for such treatment, I must be getting old.  Somewhere in my early 20s, courtesy of ME and a whole load of sort of blacking-out episodes, I learnt to nap.  (I’m a late developer).  Now I can truly sleep anywhere.  Even during the day.  Even in the car.  As a child, I only fell asleep travelling after twenty four hours awake mixed probably with a hefty dose of boredom.

I like my bed hard and firm.  This is a b0nus because I’m never one to c0mplain about hotel beds.  Everyone seems to complain that they’re too hard, I’ve never found one yet.  I do mind hotel pillows, stale and saggy and oh, feathers – euw!  I got invited to try someone’s space age (NASA was indirectly involved somehow and probably bee’s knees) high-tech mattress a while back.  They were singing its praises.  I obediently lay down.  I was drowning in a florid ocean of foam.  (I have a fear of drowning).  I sprung back up pretty fast.

Recently I’ve had to stay at my mother’s a few times.  She won’t let me sleep on the floor anymore.  It isn’t civilised.  (It isn’t civilised having people stay in your sititng room either so we get chucked back out pretty quickly).  So from somewhere, this futon is produced.  Just the mattress, not the frame.  I don’t know if it belongs to a frame anymore.  Somewhat soggy, it doesn’t really make any difference except in my mother’s mind.  I can’t sleep on it.  There’s buttons.  No, I’m serious.  It has these buttons on it and they’re so nubbly and painful to sleep on.  (Oooh, maybe I am a princess after all).  I’d rather sleep on the itchy rug.  Instead I raid the loose seat cushions from the sofa and make a nice firm bed for myself to roll off in the night.

But the worst bed in the world?  Oh, I’ve met it.  I slept on it many times over the years.  And our relationship never improved.  Let me show you it in all its faults.

I am not tall, I think we’ve covered this before.  Therefore when you come up to a bed, your bed, the very bed where you will expected to sleep for the next fourteen nights, and it barely comes half way to your knee, you’re going to start have suspicions.  It’s rather different when it’s sold as a camp bed, preferably whilst camping, but no, this object is marketed as a ‘bed’, an adult bed at that.

The whole thing has a flimsy air to it, there’s not much in the middle but that’s all hidden by a candlewick bedspread.  I loathe candlewick bedspreads.  They have irregular columns of marching caterpillars, fuzzy under the chin, and long, twisted tassles that only live to get up your nose and in your ears.  Oh, and they always seem to smell funny; old, dusty, fusty, musty, nasty.  I loathe candlewick bedspreads, did I mention?  But away from that, either end, there are the foot board and the head board.  Like any respectable, proper bed.  There’s not much difference in height between either of the two and they have those bumpy spindles that stick in your back if you try to lean against them to read in bed, are in dark wood and are reminscent of a baby’s cot.  The head board probably doesn’t come much higher than my waist.  (Yes, I have a waist, thank you).

This diminuative form doesn’t seem promising.  You can’t test further yet because first you must perform an essential ritual, for as I’m sure you all agree that when presented with a strange bed, you must strip back the covers rapidly and inspect.  I’m not sure what I thinking to find, bugs, spiders?  I don’t know.  It must be done though or else I won’t get in.

However, under that hideous bedspread are different horrors lurking.  I’m a duvet girl.  I love a big, comfy, snuggly duvet.  This bed has a blanket and a top sheet.  My mother brought me up respectably with a top sheet under my duvet cover but I rebelled in my teenage years (I know, talk about living wildly and dangerously).  The top sheet and I are mortal enemies, locked in deadly combat throughout the night.  It twists itself into bulky rope, eager to entwine itself first around my sprawling limbs then pulling tight around my stomach then finally it will attempt to garrott me.  I don’t take kindly to such treatment from a polycotton python.  This sheet looks innocent enough, worn and garish in its florid neon pastel floral splats, but it will assert itself not long after I finally drift into a restless, tossing sleep.  We can’t part company because the disturbed, twisted antics of the sheet are better against my skin than the heavy, weighty blanket which although fairly smooth as it’s some early ancestor of the fleece also smells funny.  I hate smells.  Besides which the brown and white design is of a fierce tiger which has always scared me.

Of course a duvet is not just about comfort, they’re also warm when you want them to be.  I have never been able to keep warm under a blanket and sheet.  Maybe in this case it’s also because the bed is narrow and the thin, pointless mattress is even narrower.  There is nowhere for the covers to be fixed firmly under and this is a problem because I toss.  Somewhere in the night, if not several times, the covers and I will part company, they will spill in awkward heaps over the edge of the bed onto the nearby floor.  I will shiver.  I will collect the recalciant bedclothes from the floor and attempt to make the bed again in the wee small hours.  Then I find out that the mattress is so pointless that the bottom sheet won’t even stay tucked under and is now trying to mount an attack from the top.  It will be a long night.  Every night.  For fourteen nights.

The mattress, blue and white, probably floral, is a pathetic excuse of a mattress.  It serves no purpose except to remind you of its pointlessness.  There is no hope below this because this is a sprung bed frame.  Between the two ends is a metal frame, attached by some magic and still clinging on, and filled with wires.  The mattress politely covers this monstrosity.  The springs do not spring, they don’t have the energy to creak with abandon.  They squeak and sigh.  Then they sag.  Oh, they sag.  You lie down and before long your proverbial is resting on the ground.  I kid you not.  The entire bedframe makes a hammock look orthopaedic.

You’d be afraid of turning over if you didn’t take a strange comfort in the fact that you’re already on the ground anyway.  There is no support.  There is a narrow bar of metal either side of the bed, occasionally feeling that it’s high enpough above to rest your chin on, imprisoning you within this cocoon of utter awfulness, either side of the matress.  You can’t sit on the bed to get dressed, it’s too low and there’s nothing to sit on.  But you have to sleep on it, night after night.  But it can get worse.

Now as you know, I am short person.  I don’t quite know who this adult twin bed was designed for.  Presumably it was designed by someone who was a sadist and never intended to sleep on it themselves.  When I lay down all my five feet in this wretched, diminuative, pathetic bed, my head is jammed against the head board and my feet poke against the foot, my toes trying to find the gaps between the spindles.  I can’t stretch out, I am crushed between wood and metal whilst virtually touching the floor in the middle.

This is the worst bed in the world.


11 thoughts on “The Worst Bed in the World

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  1. I have never been able to sleep during the day unless I am really ill; your description of the horrors of incarceration really struck a chord with me. I remember reading many a clandestine book under the covers when I was small and expected to sleep during the afternoon. ‘It’s good for you’, they said. ‘How can it be good for me to be shut in my room away from everything and expected to sleep? In the middle of the day??’ I argued. I was always terrified I’d miss something vitally important, and – horrors – NOT KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON…! But arguing didn’t work and I was always packed off to bed. To this day I don’t know whether the afternoon nap culture is good for you or not, because I hardly ever did it! (One could point to my somewhat odd way of looking at things, and my addiction to books, as evidence to support the nap as being an essential part of a child’s development! But I would suggest heredity, genetics and environment as an excuse)
    I also enjoyed your comments on the perils of top sheets. I couldn’t agree more. I object to having an assassin in my bed. I do not wish to wake up halfway through the night in the firm belief that the Barnstaple Strangler has me in a death grip. Nor do I enjoy breaking my neck when I attempt to get out of bed to escape from said Strangler, because my feet are tied in a granny knot that would baffle Houdini. Duvets all the way, thank you! At least with those I can enjoy a relatively peaceful night. Anything that increases the probability of my having night terrors must be ditched, so goodbye top sheets, hello duvet. I love my duvet!

    1. I love my duvet too and it doesn’t try to kill me either. Learning to sleep during the day is a skill that I have only recently acquired because of my ME and I always hated not knowing what was going in the evening when the insomniac child that I was was packed off to bed at 19h. Thanks for commenting. :)

  2. Your combat with the top sheet made me laugh! My son (also a lifelong insomniac, and also a Highly Sensitive Person–see Elaine Aron’s book of the same name, if you’re not familiar with it) vacillates between combat and rapprochement, since he also has night sweats and is attracted to the top sheet’s light touch. Unfortunately, it always betrays him. By morning, it’s clear that he’s been taken in, again, by a ropy snake. That’s what happens when you let down your guard and doze off!

    Forgive me for laughing about something that I know is quite serious–my son simply can’t shut his mind off, in part because it’s a brilliant, observant mind that compulsively follows an idea’s consequences, elaborating on it, noticing how it connects, or might connect with, or might affect, everything else he’s noticing. Which is pretty much everything in his path (and thanks to the Internet, that means pretty much EVERYTHING). One of the upsides of this very significant burden is that those who bear it are capable of the kind of vision that can save, and heal, and change the world. Other people–maddeningly–can rest easier because of the work that insomniacs carry on.

    However: it’s important to defend yourself where and when you can from other people’s attempts to “civilize” you. I am rooting for you to sleep on the floor at your mother’s house, without having to go through the extra difficulty of having to claim the right. Wait for her to go to bed herself, then shut the door and do it your way. :-)

    1. The book looks very interesting, I’ll have to check it. I’m sorry to hear about your son’s struggles, I hate hot sheets too and found (snobby as it may be!) that pure cotton keeps coolest. I’d rather make people laugh and I try to find the humour in most things, even the tragedy. Thank you for visiting and sharing, I really appreciate it. Oh, and I’m still resisting the so-called ‘civilisation’ process. :)

  3. Oh you describe the horrors so well! I’m more of a soft bed, girl, but I agree with you, when the consistency is wrong, it’s just wrong. Ugh. And I LOATHE feather pillows. I annoy front desks with my requests for ‘cheap foam polyfil’

  4. That sounds truly dreadful! I have battled with insomnia a lot. I am a lot better now once I cut out afternoon caffeine, increased my exercise, and stopped checking work email at home. (I used to pop awake at 2 a.m. worrying about an email.) I guess I’ll never be cured, though, ’cause it still happens to me even when I don’t have a care in the world.

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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