BEDS: THE RE­MAKE

They’re be­com­ing more stylish, com­fort­able for a grow­ing range of ac­tiv­i­ties be­yond sleep and can adapt to chang­ing health, age needs

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - MELISSA KOSSLER DUT­TON

When Greg Ver­lan­der’s fa­ther came home from re­hab af­ter hav­ing a stroke, he was up­set to find a hospi­tal bed in his room.

The bed’s in­sti­tu­tional ap­pear­ance made him feel un­happy and un­healthy, his son said.

Ver­lan­der never for­got that, and when he learned of a fam­ily friend who had con­structed a head­board and foot­board for a hospi­tal bed, he wanted to make them avail­able to oth­ers. To­day, Ten­derCare Beds of­fers the prod­ucts on­line in five fin­ishes.

“I just wanted to change peo­ple’s en­vi­ron­ment,” Ver­lan­der said.

Other com­pa­nies, too, have started sell­ing head­boards, bed skirts and other ac­ces­sories de­signed to help hospi­tal beds look less in­sti­tu­tional. In­te­rior de­signer Kelee Katil­lac of Kansas City, Mis­souri, spe­cial­izes in re­mak­ing rooms for peo­ple who need hospi­tal beds or med­i­cal equip­ment. “As peo­ple leave the hospi­tal sooner, there’s a greater need,” she said.

Up­grades to home hospi­tal beds are just part of a new fo­cus on mak­ing beds bet­ter in gen­eral — more stylish and com­fort­able for a wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties be­yond sleep­ing.

There are beds you can ad­just to make it eas­ier to work on a lap­top, beds that keep you cool at night and beds that charge your cell­phone. Many of the new of­fer­ings — in­clud­ing ad­justable mat­tresses and sup­port­ive pil­lows — help peo­ple age in place, says Joe Buck­heit, founder of AgingCare.com, a web­site de­signed for peo­ple car­ing for loved ones at home.

In­no­va­tions in the bed­ding in­dus­try have “ex­ploded,” says Mary He­len Rogers, spokesper­son for the In­ter­na­tional Sleep Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion in Alexan­dria, Va. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are re­spond­ing to con­sumers’ grow­ing un­der­stand­ing of the value of proper rest, and in­creased in­ter­est in work­ing, gam­ing or watch­ing TV in bed.

“Sur­viv­ing on the min­i­mum amount of sleep is no longer cool,” Rogers says.

For peo­ple who have dif­fi­culty sleep­ing be­cause they get too warm, Rogers says, man­u­fac­tur­ers have be­gun us­ing new fab­rics, foams and gels de­signed to keep the mat­tress from ab­sorb­ing heat.

Those im­prove­ments ad­dress some of the con­cerns gen­er­ated by mem­ory foam mat­tresses, which ini­tially were denser — and there­fore warmer — than tra­di­tional mat­tresses, says Derek Hale, edi­tor of Sleep­opo­lis.com. “Foams are al­ways im­prov­ing,” he says. “They’re not as warm as they used to be.”

There also are prod­ucts that will blow cool or hot air un­der the bed or be­tween spe­cial­ized sheets.

Ad­justable beds have be­come more ap­peal­ing and af­ford­able, Hale says. The mo­tors are qui­eter, faster, and can be op­er­ated by re­mote con­trol or phone app. Some beds have mas­sage fea­tures, USB ports or built-in light­ing. In many cases, the bases and mat­tresses are com­pat­i­ble with tra­di­tional bed­room fur­ni­ture, so buy­ers don’t have to change their decor.

An ad­justable bed that al­lows for ad­di­tional sup­port­ive po­si­tions can help ease mi­nor dis­com­forts such as back and joint pain, snor­ing, acid re­flux and swelling in the feet, says AgingCare.com’s Buck­heit.

“Peo­ple are more open and more thought­ful about their med­i­cal con­di­tions,” says Rogers. They are telling re­tail­ers, “here’s what’s go­ing on with me, and re­tail­ers are pass­ing it on to man­u­fac­tur­ers.”

While ad­justable beds are not a sub­sti­tute for hospi­tal beds, they do ap­peal to peo­ple with mi­nor health con­cerns, says Ann Mowrey, spokesper­son for Easy Rest Ad­justable Sleep Sys­tems in Bal­ti­more.

“We get a fair num­ber of peo­ple who have slept on hospi­tal beds and can’t stand it so they wind up pur­chas­ing our beds,” she says. “They re­port their mood and com­fort im­proved by the switch, and for some they are able to sleep back in the same bed with their loved one, which makes them happy.”

To­day’s ad­justable beds let peo­ple shar­ing a bed set their own sleep po­si­tions. A wife can ad­just her hus­band’s po­si­tion if his snor­ing is keep­ing her awake, adds Jay Thomp­son, pres­i­dent of the Leggett & Platt Ad­justable Bed Group in Carthage, Mo. His com­pany makes ad­justable bed bases.

Many cus­tomers — par­tic­u­larly mil­len­ni­als — choose ad­justable beds be­cause they want to use the fea­tures while they are awake, he says. Rais­ing the top of the mat­tress makes it more com­fort­able to work, read or watch TV.

“It’s the idea that I just want to be able to ad­just my po­si­tion for com­fort. I don’t want to have to prop a half a dozen pil­lows when I want to chill out in my bed and watch TV or work,” Thomp­son says. “It’s a life­style buy.”

MICHAEL HAR­RING­TON VIA AP

An ad­justable bed from Easy Rest Ad­justable Sleep Sys­tems blends in with ex­ist­ing decor.

GREG VER­LAN­DER VIA AP

A head­board and foot­board by Ten­derCare Beds de­signed to fit a hospi­tal bed for a child.

GREG VER­LAN­DER, TEN­DERCARE BEDS VIA AP

Greg Ver­lan­der started Ten­derCare Beds to bring more nor­malcy to peo­ple who re­quire a hospi­tal bed at home.

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