I’ve never had a good relationship with sleep. Back in elementary school, I remember having anxiety over whether I’d catch enough ZZZs. I’d lay in bed for hours unable sink into slumber, worrying as the hours ticked by about how sleepy I’d be the next day at school. Now that I’m an adult, I continue to take sleep pretty seriously. I need a solid seven to nine hours—the recommended amount for adults, according to sleep studies—and when I was single and living on my own, some melatonin, a sleep mask, and earplugs usually did the trick.
But back in March, my boyfriend and I decided to quarantine together in his childhood home in Woodland Hills, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. His parents were planning on leaving it vacant for the duration of quarantine, and having three times more space (and two fewer roommates) than at his place made the prospect too enticing to turn up. While I’d been to my boyfriend’s family’s house before, I’d never spent more than a night there.
What I did mind was when he would come to bed, and even the slightest movement would shake me awake.
During our first night at the house, I crawled into my boyfriend’s bed with an old spring mattress he’d had since middle school. I didn’t get much sleep that night, but truth told, I didn’t really expect to given that I was in a new environment and stressed about the pandemic. At the start, my boyfriend and I would try to go to sleep at the same time, but as time dragged on, our schedules departed a bit. He started to stay up late playing video games with his friends, and I liked that he still kept in contact with all of his friends—even if it was through Fortnite.
But what I did mind was when he would come to bed, and even the slightest movement would shake me awake. And I’m not talking subtle movements: It would take me a second to realize that this was just him getting in bed, not a full-fledged earthquake. Then, there was his not-so-cute habit of tossing and turning while asleep.
Each time I woke up in the middle of the night because of this mattress, I could feel my younger, middle school sleep anxieties boil up inside me. I’d speculate what time it was and how many hours I had left to sleep, and tabulate how many I needed to string words into sentences the next day (I’m a writer, after all). Suffice it to say: That cursed spring mattress was the enemy of our time in quarantine, and we decided that when we moved in together, we’d splurge on a memory foam mattress.
Come June, we were ready to do just that and along with apartments, we began the search for the perfect mattress. I’d always opted for memory foam mattresses I could find on Amazon, and the most I’d ever spent on a bed was $500. So when we walked into a furniture store and saw a mattress going for $3,500, my stomach did a flip flop. I knew Tempurpedic mattresses were the creme de la creme in the sleep world, but I didn’t expect to have to shell out that much money.
I imagined our future nights in our new apartment: I could fall asleep at my regular 10 p.m. bedtime and he could come to bed later without waking me up.
Given that it was a big purchase, we discussed whether or not it was worth it. To me, that mattress was the price of my first car, but he countered that it would be an investment and that we’d have the bed for at least eight years to come. The moment I laid down to test it (with a COVID 19-friendly liner on place for safety), it felt like sinking into a firm, yet fluffy cloud. I honestly didn’t even realize mattresses could feel so good. But what I hadn’t realized, and what ended up being more important, was that I felt nothing after I laid down. Even though my boyfriend was on the other side of the bed, testing out the mattress in different sleeping positions, I didn’t feel him moving.
I imagined our future nights in our new apartment: I could fall asleep at my regular 10 p.m. bedtime and he could come to bed later without waking me up. His tossing and turning wouldn’t be something I had to bear the effects of any longer. I’d finally have the sleep I craved. The arguments we were having would be a thing of the past. I was sold.
We bought the mattress and moved into our new apartment a few weeks later. There’s nothing I love more than not waking up cranky towards him now that I get better sleep—though getting into our luxurious bed every night is a close second. I never stopped to think about how external factors in my life could play such a significant role in my relationship until we started sleeping on his childhood spring mattress. I’m the kind of person who needs my sleep, and the right mattress could make a world of difference, even in my relationship. While that pricetag still seems steep to me, I can’t put a cost on arguing less with my boyfriend. Now, we spend more time cuddling in our bed, dreaming up plans for when quarantine ends. You know, someday.