Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 5: …in Bed

by Michael on March 26, 2010 · 0 comments

Not a Sleep Number bed. (Photo by Dale Gillard)

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

You started cleaning your bedroom on Day 2 of the Ultimate Spring Cleaning project, and today it’s time to put the finishing touches on that room. Wipe the last surface, vacuum the last bit of carpet, and don’t forget to box or bag up all of that stuff you no longer need so that you can toss it, sell it or donate it later (I’ll help you). While we’re still in the bedroom, let’s look at the most important piece of furniture in your home: your bed.

Your Home: Make Your Bed More Comfortable

Do you get a good night’s sleep every night? Most nights? Ever?

When you crawl under the covers, do you feel warm enough, cushioned enough, and supported enough? Is it a comfortable, restful place, or do you dread waking up in the morning with a brand new ache somewhere?

If you’re like a lot of guys—especially if you’re in your 20s—you probably haven’t given much thought to your mattress. Hell, you can fall asleep on a stranger’s couch, and in college you crashed on floors regularly. Just having a mattress is a luxury, right?

Not so much. Studies have shown that an uncomfortable mattress interferes with sleep—but your own body tells you that too. So let’s take a look at your bed and see how we can help you rest easier.

Sagging mattress: There’s not much you can do here except get a new mattress. Go try some. If you can afford it, look at Sleep Number beds (an air chamber and pump system allows you to make it softer or harder) or a memory foam mattress. However, a nice pocket-coil mattress can still give you an incredible night’s sleep. IKEA has some good mattresses at a relatively low cost, and there are sales and deals regularly.

Too-firm mattress: It’s easy and not that expensive to turn a brick of a mattress into a cloud-like sleeping surface. There are mattress toppers of many kinds: memory foam, fiber fill, feather beds…you can even combine them to offer a greater level of comfort. My mattress didn’t seem hard when I bought it, but as a side sleeper, it gradually took its toll. I ordered a feather bed online and it completely changed the quality of my sleep. (Keep in mind that if you have a girl over and she’s allergic, feathers could be a show-stopper.)

Neck soreness: That’s your body saying “you need a new pillow, fool!” Like mattresses, there are a huge variety of pillows. Soft, firm, extra-firm, memory foam, bead-filled, contoured…which type you need depends on a number of factors. If you sleep on your side, your pillow should have some firmness to it. A back sleeper wants a softer or thinner pillow. From there you simply need to try pillows to see what works for you. I personally use a “hybrid” pillow with memory foam in the middle and normal fiber-fill around it.

While I’m mentioning side sleepers, I might add that many of us get a better night’s sleep with a pillow tucked between our knees. It puts your hips in a more natural position, which in turn keeps your lower back straight.

Too hot or too cold: People often put up with temperature issues. Don’t be one of those people. The best way to make sure you’re always at the optimal temperature is to use a thin comforter and add a blanket or two as you need them. In the summer, make sure your bed is cool, either with air conditioning or a fan aimed at the bed.

Environmental noise: Many people get relief from outside noise (like a city street) by using an air cleaner. Set on low, it creates pleasing “white noise” that wipes out most of the background hubbub. If there’s a specific problem like a constantly barking dog or upstairs neighbor who likes to dance on your ceiling at 2 am, you absolutely need to deal with the problem at its source.

Don’t put up with sub-par sleep! If you have any other bedroom concerns, leave them in the comments and we’ll figure out a solution.

Your World: Look for Recipes

A couple of days ago you swore off junk food, sugar, wheat and more for at least two weeks. Now it’s time to figure out what you’re going to do for meals when you can’t reach for that box of mac & cheese or the phone number of that pizza joint.

Start with the two most popular recipe sites on the planet: Epicurious and Food.com. Both let you search for recipes, and filter those recipes by ingredient. Epicurious features an Advanced Search function that enables you to screen out ingredients you can’t eat, like wheat and sugar. Food.com massively simplified their site recently, but they enable you to filter recipes by ingredient and more.

The Food Network site includes recipes from their shows, so if you see something on TV you’d like to try yourself, you can find it there. You can also specify a main ingredient, meal and prep time: “Chicken,” “Dinner” and “15 minutes” offers 238 results.

Now search. Look for recipes you can make with the ingredients you have on hand, or with a couple of additional items you can pick up on the way from work. Make a list of main dishes and side dishes (always have a protein and a vegetable), for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Now plan your menu for the week. Remember, you can cook 2-4 days’ worth of food at a time and store it for a quick bite, and you can rotate side dishes. You can even eat the same thing every day if you want, just so long as you like it and it’s healthy.

Yourself: Have Some Fun

It’s Friday night! Go out with the buds (keeping in mind that you’ve sworn off alcohol for another week and a half – club soda with a lime looks enough like a mixed drink that you won’t seem like a teetotaler), watch a movie, play some poker or Wii bowling, or whatever else you want to do to blow off some steam.

Just promise you’ll meditate sometime today, get a full night’s sleep, and stick to your food detox.

I’ll see you tomorrow—when we’ll start cleaning your kitchen.

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