On a recent 30-minute commute, I counted no fewer than six radio ads for slumber-inducing/enhancing products. You’ve likely heard them, too.

There’s the fellow from Minnesota who invented his own pillow, and promises no more sore necks, numb arms or squashed support.

There’s a mother-daughter team who design blackout blinds that would have been the envy of block captains during World War II.

There’s a company that will deliver a mattress straight to your door, in a box – and let you sleep on it free for 100 nights, no questions asked. That’s the oddest part to me: I would have a million nosey questions to ask someone who enjoys a four-month-long gratis snooze.

And there seem to be a gazillion devices aimed at curbing what must be a national snoring epidemic: mouthguards and chin straps, nose clips and micro-pulse wristbands. And the granddaddy of all, the CPAP mask and its trappings: cleaning kits, filters, tubing and travel packs.

Who’s buying all this stuff? And why can’t they sleep like normal people?

Like me, for instance: In a bed with two dogs, a cat and a pile of unfolded laundry … in a room awash in ambient light and noise (My husband would correct me: his late-night saxophone playing isn’t noise; it is art.) … my head beneath, not resting upon, a decidedly non-ergonomic pillow.

We have become a nation of needy, coddled sleepers – as fussy as newborns but without the endearing coos and cuddles.

Forget counting sheep. All you need to do is count the mattress stores that are popping up on every other corner, as ubiquitous as nail salons.

Who is buying all these mattresses? How many beds – or bedbugs – do they have that necessitates such a constant influx of new bedding?

And when, pray tell, did sleeping become such luxury sport? When did it matter that three U.S. presidents rest their laurels on the sheets you’re getting ready to skip your mortgage to buy?

When did we begin needing pajamas delivered to us in keepsake boxes … European down (humanely sourced) in our duvets … a ‘sleep doctor’ on call who offers online sleep improvement courses for the very affordable price of $39?

I blame Arianna Huffington.

The exhausted media mogul sold her business so she could take a nap. Then she woke up to cash in on the sleep deprivation crisis.

She writes, lectures and evangelizes about positive sleep habits. She offers up her nightly routine as a model, suggesting hot baths with Epsom salts, chamomile or lavender tea, a change into comfy bed clothes, reflections in a bedside gratitude journal. Sounds so serene, doesn’t it?

But I barely have time to brush my teeth and let the cat in before I hit the sack.

For that is what my mattress is, and a rather sad sack, at that. It is not an exemplar of nocturnal technology: engineered using molecular science, pressure point design and ‘space age’ memory foam. Yet it is a lovely, constantly-luring, lived in nest.

Now, the eiderdown elite (the cagey makers and marketers of sleep products) push an eight-year expiration date on mattresses. They shame us with statistics about the amount of dead skin cells an overage-mattress accrues. I’m calling them out for bully tactics and ewww-style advertising.
I am quite content with my 12-year-old faithful companion, thank you very much.  (And yes, I lie about my mattress’ age. Mine too. It has come to that.)

The science of sleep has gotten way too complicated. In addition to Dr. Sleep and Her Royal Highness the Snooze Princess, we need a Professor of Linens and Pillow Tops – some Scandinavian sage who can school us in the tensile of thread count, the density of foam, coil systems, hand-tufting, pillows that cool and all things percale.

But who am I kidding? I’d skip the lecture and opt for the short-sheeted, CliffsNotes version.

I am, it seems, an easy girl to bed.

The only requirement I have for sheets is that they are CLEAN.

I don’t need premium European flax to fall asleep.

My linens are not heirloom quality – and I haven’t lost a moment’s shut-eye over that fact.

The cotton on my bed come from SteinMart, not Egypt.

The sole prerequisite for my mattress is that it’s large enough to hold me and my sweetie …  our band of snuggly pets … grown kids when they feel like a midnight chat … and an array of reading material, crossword puzzles and errant socks.

The only sleep aids I need so far, knock wood (the log-sawing kind), are a busy day behind me … a happy day ahead … and a book that will fall to my chest in minutes.

And I’ll bet you caffeine to chamomile that I’ll sleep right through the book thump, delightfully, dozily undisturbed.

(Shhh … no need to bother Arianna with this. She’s sleeping.)


Lucinda Trew writes, sleeps and wakes — after hitting snooze multiple times — in Weddington, N.C.

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