Based on Swedish sleep consultants, what makes an ideal mattress
I took COVID very seriously in New York, which means cutting back on non-essential errands or interactions. But here I am sitting on a setee in a cave-like room and playing ethereal music in the ether, while Oliver Ankar, director of the Hästens Sleep Spa in New York City, kneels in front of me and pulls cloud-like boots onto my bare feet. Across from me is Linus Adolfsson, founder of the Sleep Spa, which houses all of the Swedish mattress manufacturer’s blue and white checked products. The calming atmosphere in which it is constantly dawning divides the difference between the exhibition space and the laboratory – Adolfsson as the chief scientist and me as the test person. I gave myself a pandemic pass because I want to come here, because I want to find the perfect mattress, if there is such a thing.
For most of the past year, my sleep was terrible. I know all the things that could get in my way: blue light that comes off my smartphone and TV before bed, drinks caffeine in the afternoon, dehydration, drinking too late at night and of course stress. These are more or less under control, although you’ll understand if my Stress-O-Meter is everywhere.
Ankar gives me a hygienic pillow that I carry around bed after bed on a test drive. With each new mattress, I am encouraged to move my hips and shoulders to settle in. The idea is to find a bed where my spine is straight and has enough support in my hips so that it doesn’t sit too high or sink into it, creating a slight V shape. I’m trying six mattresses, including one that costs around $ 390,000 (starting price at Hästens is $ 7,000).
The handcrafted mattresses are made from natural materials such as wool and horsehair that are balanced against a precise series of springs. They are some of the most beautiful things those old bones ever laid on. (Before you say the price tag influenced my preference, you’re probably right, but I’ll also say that at the end of the day my preferred mattress was on the lower end of the price range.) I’m joking with Adolfsson If I had a Hästens I would never get up He tells me that it has the opposite effect. These mattresses will give you such an amazing night’s sleep that you will jump up in the morning.
Whenever I’m here, I remember buying a fancy new mixer or taking a tour of a great gym: the idea of getting healthier comes up. We know sleep is great, and yet people who would rather miss their anniversary dinner than skip the day without legs will still skimp on sleep. For me, a pandemic in winter with little daylight means that nights and days bleed together. And some of what Adolfsson says hits hard. Tomorrow is a crapshoot. Am i rested Did I sleep weird on my shoulder? I like my mattress well enough at home, but I realize that the three minutes I spent in the mattress store in the mall probably weren’t enough in hindsight to know if it was it. For context, I think about all of this while lounging in a bed that costs more than some houses.
To woo me, Ankar promises a take away espresso and lets me keep the boots. On the way home, I wonder how many stories I would have to write in order to be able to afford a new favorite piece of furniture. Not all of us can slip into a Hästens mattress, and we might even buy our next bed on the internet (more on that later), but Adolfsson has some really Scandinavian ideas on how to lay our heads to rest.
Men’s journal: Many of us hold onto our mattresses for a long time. How do you know when it needs to be replaced and what to look for in the perfect mattress?
Linus Adolfsson: The first question I ask everyone when they come into our room is: What is your favorite object? When your wife is with you, say my wedding ring. Otherwise, it’s your house or your watch. The obvious answer should be your bed, and it doesn’t have to be a Hästens bed. You should always wake up better than when you went to bed. If we woke up stiff – tight shoulders, sore hips – I’d start taking care of my mattress. It’s hard to move forward in life and create flow in life without simply waking up and rejuvenating in your body. In Sweden people spend more money on mattresses. They are considered the most important piece of furniture in the house.
Conventional wisdom has been that a firm mattress is better for your back. Is that correct?
For innerspring mattresses, you need springs that are sensitive enough to react to your body weight but strong enough to lift you back up. Depending on whether you sleep on your back or on your side, you want a neutral spine with your hips sinking into the mattress. It helps activate the central nervous system so you can be deeply relaxed. Foam is compliant, but it won’t give you that support. It’s this harmony of pressure and lift. I believe people should be in beds with springs that give them some form of support. When it comes to a pillowtop, these will flatten over time. So if you get a firm mattress with a soft pillowtop, you end up with a firm mattress.
Is there a break-in period for mattresses?
Conventional beds have no break-in period. [But] A bed that uses natural materials like cotton, wool and / or horse hair will adapt to your body over time. It takes a while to connect and harmonize with it.
How do pillows fit into all of this?
At Hästens we use neck pillows. Most people make the mistake of having their shoulders on the pillow. Your shoulders should be on the bed and the pillow should hold your neck and the weight of your head. Usually, you just want to have one pillow and just let it raise your head. Men usually have thicker shoulders and need a taller, denser pillow to carry more weight on their necks. And side sleepers need a higher pillow because it takes pressure off the shoulder. The goal is to align the neck. So if you have a soft bed and your shoulders sink into the mattress, you will need fewer pillows. If you have a firm bed and your shoulders are on the mattress, you will need more pillows.
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