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Janice Wells: Couched in comfort

The comfort of my couch has out performed the comfort of my expensive beds. So, what’s up with that?
The comfort of my couch has out performed the comfort of my expensive beds. So, what’s up with that?

Every morning my back and the rest of my torso in general are achy for a couple of hours. And if you’re thinking “there she goes again, whining about her aches and pains,” this column is not about me. This is about mattresses. Ok, it is about my personal experience but I’m doing a service by sharing it. Bear with me.

I don’t remember the mattress I shared with Former ’Usband. I didn’t get custody of it but I don’t remember missing it. Fast forward to a few years before I met Newman. I had a mattress that felt like a cloud. I could not get over how wonderful it was.

Had I won the lottery and spent thousands of dollars on a top of the line jobby at a top of the line store? Nooo. I bought it at Walmart. I think it was around $400. It came in a big box and it’s a good thing I liked it because once I’d fought it up to the attic bedroom and it sprang out of the box, there was no going back.

It was still good for many years after Newman started sharing it, but as “they” say about all “cheap” mattresses, eventually it started sinking a bit. When we moved down from the attic to the second floor, I decided it was time to get a really good mattress. After all, a good mattress is worth the money because you spend a big part of your life in bed and I was anticipating many blissful years ahead with Newman (who couldn’t see anything wrong with the mattress we had).

I approached mattress hunting more seriously than I would have bought a new car. When I say that I lay down on mattresses all over St. John’s I fear no misunderstanding.

Happily (!) the nice pillow-topped one I decided on was on sale, only (!) just under $2,000, down from well over three, and I felt like a real grown up, making a good long-term investment for our future comfort.

Pillow-top schmillow-top. I have never gotten a good night’s sleep on that mattress. I turn over all night long and wake up achy. I should have returned it, as I had that option, but the salesman said it was the softest one they had and Newman, who could sleep on a stone, thought I was cracked (my words, not his, but I knew). I felt like a complainer so I let myself be convinced that it would be better once it was broken in. Ha! Always follow your own gut, or in this case, body.

For Heart’s Content I would have bought another Walmart one. It wouldn’t get a fraction of the use the St. John’s one did, and therefore would last a lot longer and if I had to replace it years from now, at that price, so what? However, Walmart was out of mattresses and I got sucked in by a memory foam gel model, whatever that is, listed at $1,300 on the Costco website, on for under $400 at their outlet store in Carbonear.

How eagerly I went to bed that night. Ha. Now I have two places in which to turn over every half hour or so and wake up achy.

I bought an expensive mattress topper. It made some difference, but not much. I resigned myself to the fact that it’s my body’s fault, not the fault of the mattresses.

Then, this weekend, girls’ time in at the house in Heart’s Content, I slept on one of the couches for three nights. I slept the sleep of the innocent, didn’t turn over once and woke up with nary an ache anywhere. Back home in the expensive bed last night; aching this morning.

Now what’s that all about? I doubt most couches would be ideal for sleeping, especially permanently, but any time I’m in Heart’s Content alone, I know where I’ll be snuggling down.

So what is the story on the mattress industry? With super designed mattresses, do box springs really do anything but make the mattress higher than a plain platform would?

Can you spell indoctrination or brainwashing?


Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. She can be reached at

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