Dream­ing of sleep

‘Just right’ mat­tress is hard to fine

Cape Breton Post - - COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS - Mike Fini­gan

Peo­ple wish for a mil­lion dol­lars and I used to, but now? I wish I could sleep like I used to, or, say, like a teenager. Or the cat.

Peo­ple say get a good bed. But I don’t think it’s the bed. I grew up in a com­pany house with my grand­par­ents and I’m pretty sure that the mat­tress they had on their bed was the same one they had when they moved into the house when it was built in 1925. Beds were an af­ter­thought in those days. If there was such a thing as a box spring I never heard about it. All the beds in our house had metal spring frames and the mat­tresses had feathers and I can’t re­call a sin­gle con­ver­sa­tion about a bad sleep.

Peo­ple just slept in those days. There was no tech­nique.

As a kid, I rolled out of the top bed of my bunk bed time and time again in my sleep and never even woke up.

I slept in the top bunk of a bunk bed on the rail­road gang I worked on as a younger adult and still got a good night’s sleep. When I ar­rived at the site of the tie gang, a loose col­lec­tion of box­cars on a sid­ing near Til­ley, Alta., the bull cook led me to the sup­ply car and tossed me out a mat­tress that draped over my shoul­der like a fur coat.

I took it to my new bunk car and threw it on the top bunk, the only bed left. I slept like a baby even on my first night, where I got about the same wel­come as a new fish in Cell Block D, un­til I was awak­ened by a freight train bar­relling by at 100 km an hour shak­ing the light­bulbs out of the ceil­ing of our car. Ten sec­onds af­ter it passed I was asleep again.

The night be­fore, I slept on a floor in a house in Toronto’s Chi­na­town.

I slept in a truck bed once as a hitch­hiker from Si­ca­mous, B.C. to Hope, B.C.

In uni­ver­sity res­i­dence, the beds had mat­tresses that had to be 50 years old. Slept like the dead on them. They weren’t even part of the sleep equa­tion. No­body ever thought about what they were sleep­ing on.

Air mat­tresses, wa­terbeds, ham­mocks, couches, fu­tons, back­seats of cars, sit­ting up, sand, grass, dirt, tents, bare floors, car­peted floors ... min­i­mum eight hours, pos­si­ble 12. Who cared? Sleep was sleep.

I was well into my adult years be­fore I bought my first new mat­tress.

Beds aren’t for the young. Ap­par­ently, they aren’t re­ally for the old ei­ther. (Not that I’m old, but I ain’t young).

Peo­ple my age go crazy try­ing to buy the right bed. We’re like a bunch of Goldilock­ses traips­ing around through fur­ni­ture stores ... too soft, too hard, too nar­row, too wide, look­ing for the elu­sive “just right” mat­tress. Two hun­dred springs per square foot, sleep num­bers, mem­ory foam.

We’re zom­bies liv­ing in the land of the un­dead stump­ing along with hand­fuls of cash or credit look­ing for one good night’s sleep. Please.

We went through three brand-new mat­tresses in as many years once. And the best bed we found was the one we slept on while vis­it­ing our cousin in Hal­i­fax. Not too soft, not too hard. Just right. She can’t re­mem­ber where or when she got it. We were will­ing to pay for her to go through hyp­no­sis.

Get­ting seven hours a night, three nights in a row now is ba­si­cally the sci­ence of alchemy. I try ev­ery­thing: warm milk. No beer at least three hours be­fore hit­ting the sod. Ab­so­lutely no TV or screens of any kind in the bed­room. Ex­er­cise. Dark cher­ries. Med­i­ta­tion. Prayer. Kiwi. Baths. Feng Shui. Yo­gurt. Yoga.

I don’t know.

Maybe I should just sleep on all those fun times.


The cat can sleep through any uproar. Colum­nist Mike Fini­gan wishes he had the same abil­ity.

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