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Perfect bed is eye-opening experience

I’m not a morning person. Although I get up early to exercise, I only leave the cozy covers because my running partner will be waiting.

During our Northwest winters, when it’s still dark hours after the alarm goes off, this is especially difficult. My circadian rhythm says “stay” while the chilly air makes me long to pull the comforter higher and snooze a few more minutes.

Then, this last month, my early morning rise-and-shine routine morphed into a medal-worthy accomplishment. Curtis and I bought a new bed.

We didn’t need a new bed. Our latex mattress was only 7 years old. But I never quite liked it as well as I thought I would and the time was right to increase the sleeping options for out-of-town guests.

Our oldest son has the first queen bed we ever got – a wedding gift more than 20 years old. After years of vacating his room for family, his enthusiasm had waned. He didn’t complain, but it was clear he’d like one of his siblings to take a turn in a sleeping bag on the floor.

Not wanting to risk creating relative resentment, we decided to replace his brother’s twin bed with something larger – specifically our queen bed. Why get a kid a new bed when you can get one for yourself?

Bed shopping, we discovered, is a lot like playing Goldilocks without the hearty snack. In the first store we lay on bed after bed, developing a quick litmus test to determine our comfort level.

Going to our customary sides, we kicked off our shoes and flopped, then took turns rolling over. Curtis has restless legs, an uncontrollable syndrome that has cost both of us years of sleep, I’m sure. For marital bliss we needed a bed that wouldn’t jostle and jiggle at every twitch.

After doing the rollover test on every bed in the showroom, we left. I didn’t feel like Goldilocks anymore, looking for my “just right.” I felt like princess and the pea. They weren’t lumpy but they were either too hard, too soft or too much like a cheap trampoline.

I wondered if I was too picky. For our second store we picked a national chain we’d heard advertised on the radio.

It also sold soft, squishy beds and beds like boards but after laying on enough of them we found a mattress that might have made Goldilocks go to sleep. After it passed the rollover test we stayed prone and discussed its plushness. If it weren’t for the bright florescent lighting, I might have nodded off.

“I like this one,” I told Curtis between yawns. “I could take nap.”

He agreed, then he reminded me that beds aren’t just functional furniture. They’re recreational. But you can’t test those activities in public. Not unless you want to get arrested and spend a very sleepless night in jail.

Casting a quick glance toward the salesman, we rolled over a few more times, adding a lot of bounce. This gave me the giggles and, after being left alone since we entered the store, a salesman hollered that we shouldn’t have too much fun. I thought that was the point.

He hustled over to help and we spent the next 15 minutes resisting his upsell attempts. We didn’t want the bed that gets softer in response to body heat and position. That’s a little too intimate, even for a bed. We didn’t want the expensive, adjustable bed that vibrates at the touch of a button. That’s too much like the old Magic Fingers in a cheap motel without the cheap; besides, Curtis’ restless legs offer more than enough movement for me.

We just wanted the bed that made us want to go to bed.

After offering a maximum price for everything – bed, frame, delivery and tax, we spent another 15 minutes on paperwork and left.

Unfortunately, the bed arrived the next day without a frame and the salesman refused to honor our agreement, which I hadn’t noticed wasn’t in writing. Instead, he offered to sell us a metal frame for a ridiculous amount. We sent the bed back.

It took a lot of bed testing at two more stores before we found our fairytale ending. It was worth the wait. Not only did the salesman meet our price point, the mattress came with an extra five years on the warranty. A month later, it’s the best bed I’ve ever slept on. It has enough softness to sleep well, enough bounce to play well and motion control to minimize how many times I wake in the night. It’s just right.

In fact, it’s so sublime I’ve become a go-to-bed-early person and I wake up rested, sometimes before the alarm goes off. But I’m still not a morning person.

Contact correspondent Jill Barville by email at