We’ve all been there – you’re going through life as usual, thinking you’re getting “good enough” sleep in a bed that’s “pretty comfortable”… And then it hits you: BED ENVY. You could be anywhere when it strikes – on vacation with family, a weekend getaway with friends, a business trip, even house-sitting. All it requires is you spending the night on a spectacular bed that isn’t your own. You get under the covers and before you know it, you’re drifting off to sleep like you’re floating on a cloud. The next morning, you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and determined to recreate this experience in your own home.
If you’ve tried and just can’t make it happen, we’re here to help. You may be missing a key element to getting that next-level “vacation sleep” you’re after.
The very first piece of the puzzle is the right mattress. If you’ve had yours a long time, you could likely benefit from a replacement, especially if you’re waking up with an achy or stiff back. A good tip is to try out all the different options to see what you like best – mainly because you might discover you need to go in a direction you hadn’t previously considered. For example, many people think they need to go after the softest mattress available, but if you sink into your bed too much, your spine won’t stay aligned properly throughout the night. It’s all about personal preference, so choose what’s comfortable to YOU, whether it’s innerspring, memory foam, an airbed, etc. Just make sure to top it off with a mattress protector to shield your investment from liquids, dust mites, and dirt (and most importantly to protect your warranty)!
Another source of back pain may be that you’re too cramped. If your bedroom’s size allows, you may want to upgrade to a larger mattress this go-around, especially if you sleep with a partner. That way you’ll feel free to take up more room and likely stay comfortable for longer.
If getting a new mattress isn’t in the cards for you right now or you have a decent mattress that just isn’t as soft as you’d like, mattress toppers can make a difference. Standard egg crate or memory foam work well, and if you’re worried about trapping heat, choose one infused with cooling gel. You could even go luxurious and try a down featherbed, but you’ll probably want to put a pillowtop mattress pad over it (which is essentially a mattress protector with a small layer of cushion built in). This not only adds further protection from the “elements” and keeps the topper from sliding around as much, but also prevents you from being poked by any feather quills.
If you wake with neck pain, your pillow may be the culprit. There are lots of different types of pillows on the market at every price point, so start by choosing one that’s designed for your sleep style – many pillows are tailor-made for the needs of back, stomach, and side sleepers. From there, just experiment. Again, it’s down to personal preference.
Here are some different fill types:
- Synthetic or down alternative- Usually the most inexpensive option and good for those who have allergies. Synthetic fibers such as polyester are used to create a plush filling, and the result is a crowd pleasing, easy-to-clean pillow. However, synthetics tend to break down faster than other fill varieties and may go flat without regular fluffing.
- Feather or down- More expensive and may not be ideal for allergy sufferers. They are extremely soft, durable pillows you won’t need to replace as often, but you may get poked by feather quills occasionally. They’re much more suited for back and stomach sleepers since they tend to flatten when you rest your head on them. (Side sleepers may find that feather/down doesn’t offer enough support.)
- Memory foam- Good for those who want neck pain relief and support. They come in contoured or standard varieties, and they’re normally quite durable and heavy. Memory foam can be pricey depending on the brand, and it’s not very easy to clean.
- Microbead or buckwheat- Again, good for support and neck/shoulder pain relief. Microbeads are made of polystyrene (think beanbag filling), and buckwheat pillows are stuffed with hulls (the husks that protect the buckwheat’s kernel). Some may find these pillows to be noisy or too firm.
Also keep in mind that hotels switch out their pillows every six to eight months, so that may be why their pillows seem fluffier or “better” than your own. Experts recommend not hanging on to your pillow any longer than about two years because over time, pillows collect a buildup of body oils, sweat, dead skin, dust mites and their waste… lovely, right?! While regular cleaning keeps this at bay, the filling inside eventually breaks down. (Admittedly, its nightly job supporting the weight of our heads is hard work.)
Washing and drying your pillows every three to six months is key to maintaining the loft and getting rid of all the aforementioned yucky buildup – if your pillows are washable, of course! Just follow the care instructions on the tag, and if you’re using a top-loader, make sure to wash two pillows at a time so the load will be balanced. We recommend doing an extra rinse cycle followed by an extra spin cycle, just to be sure you’re getting rid of all the soap and excess water. Before you put your pillows in the dryer, throw in some dryer balls or make a DIY version by putting tennis balls into socks. This will ensure that the filling stays evenly distributed and doesn’t bunch up. (If you’re using the tennis ball method, covering each one with a sock is important because it prevents the bright yellow dye and odor from transferring to your pillows. Tie a knot at the end of the sock to keep the tennis ball from escaping.) The result? Fluffy, lofty pillows!
Once you have your bed at its optimum comfort level, it’s time to dress it up with sheets, a comforter, shams and throw pillows. White is a great choice because of its clean, tranquil feel, and it’s surprisingly easy to maintain its brightness if you wash with a little bleach or Oxi-Clean. But if that’s too minimalistic for your taste, go with something that makes you feel relaxed. Some colors that are considered stress-reducing are lavender, light gray, cool blue, aqua, dusty/baby pink, beige, and pale green.
When it comes to sheets, you don’t necessarily have to go with the highest thread count – sometimes this can lead to a more fragile sheet because of the thinner threads used. 400–600 is a good “sweet spot” between durability and comfort. We do, however, recommend sheets made of breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or bamboo. Polyester may not wrinkle, but you’ll likely find that it traps too much heat.
Here’s a general tip: Most people sleep best in a cool, dark room. Try moving any electronics that give off light and then set your thermostat to around 67 degrees. (75 or above will usually disrupt sleep if you are under a comforter or duvet.)
As you can tell, we believe in a good night’s sleep. Feeling comfortable and relaxed throughout the night leads to feeling revitalized and fresh in the morning. And we could all use a little more of that, right? Especially on Mondays.
Feel free to share this post on your social media if you found it helpful. You might help a friend get a good night’s sleep too!
You can also visit one of our Great American Sleep Shop locations to test out all the different mattress types and firmness levels. One of our sleep experts can help you create a “luxury hotel bed” for your own home.