My wife and I were on our way back from staying at a hotel for our friends’ wedding when we saw ads for mattress sales scattered along the highway billboards.
“You know what that means?” I joked, prepared for her to rebuff me again. We’d both agreed for years that the queen-sized bed we bought when we moved into our first place — nearly new off a family friend for $300 — wasn’t cutting it anymore. We needed a nicer, more comfortable bed.
But we also live in a small one-bedroom apartment that we’ve been outgrowing for years, so we’ve often put off purchasing large items like furniture and other significant improvements to a space that isn’t our forever home.
“Maybe we should look,” she responded, surprising me.
Prioritizing sleep can require a new mattress
The sales drew us in, but the comforting feeling of sinking into a quality mattress with plenty of space is what convinced us. That, along with the global pandemic that caused us to spend more time at home with each other than ever before. Locked down in our less-than-700-square-foot apartment, we found many things lacking: no porch, no yard, no private outdoor space, no spare bedroom, no offices for either of us to work from home, no place to garden or set up any home gym equipment. And most importantly, an uncomfortable, too-small-for-us bed that we’d stopped tolerating and started dreading.
Our recent getaways to hotels with king-sized beds confirmed that buying a new bed was a priority now, not later.
Rachel Lewis, a social media strategist and writer from North Carolina, felt similarly upon sizing up. “The main thing that made us upgrade was quarantine,” she says. Lewis and her partner had a full-sized mattress for three or four years before upgrading to a king for the same reason: Neither she nor her partner had slept as well as before due to stress, and found that a subpar mattress wasn’t as big of a deal when they weren’t spending so much time in the house.
“It definitely feels a lot more spacious and luxurious and worth it,” says Lewis. “My partner has been sleeping poorly for years and the king-sized bed has made it easier for us to test out different techniques for better sleep.”
We went into Mattress Firm looking for a sale and a few days later, we had the king-sized bed and adjustable base of our dreams. (Disclaimer: Sleep.com is owned by Mattress Firm. However we purchased our bed on our own — and loved it — before I pitched this article to Sleep.com for consideration.)
I have never slept better in my life, which is crucial because I have a genetic disability called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome that often causes chronic pain and fatigue all over my body. Getting a good night’s rest is one of my biggest defenders against the more frustrating symptoms of EDS and since my diagnosis, I have made sleep even more of a priority.
“Getting good, consolidated sleep translates to improved mood and energy,” explains Ben Dickstein, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in sleep issues. “Moreover, sleep plays a vital role in immune functioning.” Dickstein says that in his work treating sleep issues, he often begins with low-hanging fruit such as mattress size and quality that cause sleep disruption.
Sarah, a freelance writer from Massachusetts, decided to upgrade from a twin to a queen mattress after moving into a new place with their partner. When they first moved in together, Sarah and their partner slept sleep divorce style: in separate twin beds. After finishing their house enough to accommodate the new bed, and once they’d both come out to their parents, they got themselves a queen.
“After the bedroom was finished, I came out to my parents, but we still slept in twin beds for a while, but only because I was going through some difficult things at work and had other stuff to focus on,” Sarah explains.
They were also cautious about spending a large amount of money on a new bed, but, they say, the purchase was well worth it. “I sleep better, partly because the mattress is newer and partly because I sleep next to someone I love and feel comfortable with,” they say. “Aside from sleep, I have a chronic illness, and days that I need to spend in bed are much more comfortable with a larger mattress.”
Customizing your accommodations
There are times, however, when sharing a mattress can be disruptive. Rachel Miyazaki from Washington found a workaround when they realized sharing a the space wasn’t helping them get restorative sleep. When Miyazaki and their partner upgraded from a full-sized mattress to a king-sized frame, they customized their sleep with two twin mattresses in the frame instead of one king-sized mattress.
“Though we very much care for each other, we weren’t getting restful, restorative sleep with a shared mattress, especially a full-sized one,” they explain. “We have such different body types and therefore, different needs. We both were elated to finally have a larger, more personalized sleep space. Having the king-sized bed frame means that we still get the experience of sleeping in the same bed together without sacrificing our individual needs.”
Purchasing a larger bed isn’t just beneficial if you’re sharing a bed while in a relationship, it’s also a great choice for single people. Paige C., a freelance writer from Massachusetts, upgraded from a twin to a queen because she was having back pain and had recently purchased her first home.
“I'm very happy with the change. The bed is much more spacious and fits my room well. Once I found the right mattress, I was able to significantly reduce my back pain, too,” she says.
Adapting your sleep situation for the future
Sometimes a size upgrade comes as a result of a new or upgraded living space or another change, like the addition of a new baby. Irina Gonzalez, a writer and editor from Colorado, upgraded from a queen to a king after she and her husband had their baby.
“If I’m honest, the queen bed had already been feeling a bit tight when I was pregnant,” she explains. “We just needed more room since now we weren’t just sleeping in bed but I was also breastfeeding in bed throughout the night.”
It was a major improvement that Gonzalez doesn’t regret now that her son is over a year old. “The extra room really helped our family feel cozy and have room to grow. In the mornings, when our baby wakes up at 6 a.m., I bring him into our bed and we spend half an hour snuggling and playing with him. It’s something that I know we wouldn’t have been able to do in the smaller bed, and I very much treasure these moments.”
While my wife and I were prompted primarily by the pandemic and an already uncomfortable mattress, we also had our long-term plans to consider. Earlier this year, we adopted another kitten who loves to climb into bed and snuggle, which now makes us a family with three cats. Sleeping in bed with pets is no joke, but giving them more space to curl up and rest without disturbing us goes a long way.
We bought this bed with the intention that it will come with us to our first purchased home, but we also bought it with other future plans in mind. This will likely be the bed we sleep in when my wife is pregnant and when we’re both sleep-deprived while raising a newborn, so we want it to be comfortable for both of us for a long time. This bed is an investment and it’s important that we are happy with it, even when our bedroom and life circumstances change.
It’s scary to make that kind of leap, but the way I feel when I wake up in the morning pays for itself.