The Lark Finds Mattress Help, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:55am


I am now and have always been a morning person.

I love what happens when I wake. While I might not actually throw my covers off, jump out of bed, and bound across the floor, I could. The back of my mind hums happily,”Well isn’t THIS great!”

In the morning everything seems possible. No, that’s not it. More like I don’t mind whatever might be impossible. Whatever is, it’s the best. I experience small details as exquisite.

By 3pm or so things change. Worry creeps in. An unsettled feeling, as though my parents might leave me with a mean babysitter. As though I might get lost in the library stacks. As though I might fail to meet someone’s expectations – I don’t know whose.

We don’t have to talk about that now.

I wonder how it feels for you owls. You know they use the term “owl” for night-lovers, right? No. I don’t mean vampires. I mean regular honest to god eat-a-sandwich-with-cheese people. We day types are “larks.” Owls, if your well-being grows throughout the day, how on earth do you ever go to bed?

Here’s an anecdote, maybe useful for larks and owls both.

A couple of years ago I suffered from anxiety waking. It could last more than an hour. Actual tossing, actual turning, misery. Morning people live for a good night’s rest. It’s like balsamic vinegar on strawberries, or salt on caramel. The sweet grows sweeter. I even go to bed at night a tad hungry, so as to enjoy my breakfast as much as possible.

Something had to be done.

So, first, I stopped drinking more than 1 glass of wine a day. That helped. Then I stopped working. That helped too.

But one more thing. I had always preferred a hard bed, until I spent a night at my sister’s. She had long ago made the switch to memory foam.

Fireworks. Albeit all dark, all blue in the dreams of night. I slept without waking for the first time in years.

We didn’t change out everything here at home, immediately. New mattresses are expensive, and I didn’t know if Significant Husband would take to the new feel. One step at a time. We found a memory foam topper at Costco for minimal cost. If we were doing a research study we’d say the sleep data from my sister’s house has been replicated. High fives all around.

One caution, this particular material off-gasses for close to 2 months. Best left in the garage or an empty room, until the chemical smell dissipates. Then rise, and shine. Even shining is better with sleep.

I still wonder, what makes someone a lark versus an owl? But for now I’m going to sit here in my glorious chair and listen to the exquisite birds chirping. Then I might go outside and prune my beautiful hedge and watch the dew shine on the dark leaves of my dear rose bushes. After all, this feeling won’t last forever.

36 Comments

  • 03/15/14
    10:32 am

    Reply

    lauren said...

    Owls, if your well-being grows throughout the day, how on earth do you ever go to bed?

    i don’t, really: i’m up until at least half past one on weeknights and three or so on weekends. that means that on days like today, if at all possible, i sleep until right about now (and i nap with gusto). there’s nothing more marvelous than waking up in the dead of winter and realizing i’ve outslept the daylight altogether.

    03/15/14
    1:00 pm
    Kathy said...

    @lauren, Ditto : )

    03/17/14
    7:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @lauren, Reading through all the accounts of owl life, reminds me again that so many software engineers are natural owls that I would be surprised when I landed someplace where the developers showed up before 10. They are so valuable, and super good ones so rare, that nobody ever cared what hours they worked.

  • 03/15/14
    10:40 am

    Reply

    dkzody said...

    I too am a morning person. I get things done in the morning. I run errands in the morning. I make appointments in the morning. For you see, by 4 p.m., I am done. By 8:30 I am in bed.

    We have a memory foam mattress that we purchased while sojourning in San Francisco. It is not made of chemicals and had no smell at all. It came in a box, with wheels, that fit in the back of our car and could easily be rolled onto the elevator of our high-rise and taken to our 17th floor studio apartment. Once the box is opened, and the mattress removed, you will never get it to return to that size and shape, but oh, the bed is wonderful. Check out keetsa.com

    03/17/14
    7:46 am
    Lisa said...

    @dkzody, They look great – reasonably priced too.

  • 03/15/14
    11:09 am

    Reply

    Susan said...

    I am definitely a Lark. Most every morning is a wonderful time for me.

    No memory foam for me. I’ve tried it and I feel as if I am going to suffocate from too much closeness. We are thinking of the Westin’s Heavenly Bed for our new mattress. My husband swears by it and has spent many a night on it while traveling for a case.

  • 03/15/14
    11:34 am

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    Dalit Fresco said...

    Oh yes, yes, yes, morning has broken… am elated to see morning is indeed happening again, so much hope, and so true – all is possible, even the not-so-much.
    When sun goes down I see no reason to be awake. So funny your notion about next morning breakfast – like a guilty secret I thought only I had…
    When we moved to England from Israel I was first met with high plush beds, realized that’s the way to go as close to warmer, higher “climate” in bedroom as possible, while back home one wants to be as close to cool tiled floor, with as thin a mattress as possible… One thing now helps me better sleep: send husband to college-kid’s bedroom, since nothing needs and should happen after we said our goodnights!..

    03/17/14
    7:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @Dalit Fresco, Ha!

  • 03/15/14
    12:00 pm

    Reply

    Cynthia said...

    Not to be all unromantic, but it’s a fairly simple genetic variation, with one allele variant associated with “morningness” and one with “eveningness”.

    http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/2847/

    03/17/14
    7:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @Cynthia, Oh, I find the human genome to be deeply romantic, in all its mystery and combinations <3

  • 03/15/14
    12:31 pm

    Reply

    Pen said...

    I’m a definite owl (darnit, would love to be a lark). My mom was a lark all the way; my dad an owl. My brother and I are both confirmed owls (I’m sure he would prefer to be a lark too).

    Larks have the world by the tail! And you get to experience the beauty of sunrise AND sunset. Plus, at a job (or even in non-work life), do the same amount of work but start it at 7 a.m. and you are perceived to be industrious and just all around good. Sleep your 8 hours later, and do the work later, and it just doesn’t give people that same virtuous feel about you. Comments about “lazy bones” and such are in the air (even from well-meaning people). Just the way it seems to be in our culture.

    “Owls, if your well-being grows throughout the day, how on earth do you ever go to bed?”

    I had to laugh when I read this. It’s not easy! I just start to rev up around 8 p.m., and by 10 p.m. I really feel human. At midnight I’m downright energetic. Since I’m not in restaurant work, or a lounge singer, it’s inconvenient. Most “good” jobs start early in the morning. Daylight is nice. I don’t have any way to “plan ahead” and go to bed early if I have to get up early. Just not sleepy. It can be so irritating!

    I read a great description once, by a writer who is a lark, with a spouse who is an owl. He described it thusly (paraphrasing): “When I wake up, I feel the best I will all day. Life is good! The rest of the day is a slow slide down to nighttime, when I go to bed (early). My wife, on the other hand, wakes up feeling like warmed over ____. As the day goes by, she slowly comes to life, until evening when all systems are “go” and she feels great!”

    That said, even though I’m an owl, I still wake up in the “middle” of the night (say 4 a.m.) feeling that sense of dread that so easily makes itself at home during the small hours. Ugh! Probably something like that happens to both larks and owls. In my case it means getting back to sleep at 7 a.m. and sleeping part of the day away. Not my first choice, but then there is no sense (for me) to being awake if I’m tired. I’d rather have less time but feel good (rested) for it.

    This probably sounds like a big complaint, and I don’t mean it that way; I just wanted to answer your question and describe what it’s like for at least two owls (because I can speak for my brother as well). I sense that if I were a lark it would be more of a good feature vs. the challenge of being an owl, but…. so far haven’t been able to change it in over 50 years (not that I haven’t tried!).

  • 03/15/14
    12:58 pm

    Reply

    Maria said...

    I am a natural owl. As are my father and sister. It makes holding a ‘real’ job an exercise in control and small misery as most ‘real’ jobs are offered by larks, who think 8 am is an appropriate time to be functioning. My husband is one of these, as is my mother.

    Mostly, one swears by routine and is resigned to the reality of operating under less-than-optimal conditions. I have alarms set to tell me to go to bed and alarms set to wake me. Several, actually. I have a set of activities that I do in the morning that do not require higher cognition (though one involves creativity, which is so much easier when one’s brain is still damp with the murky waters of sleep).

    Right now I am hiding from the larks (though they still get their talons on me, especially lately) in graduate school where if the work gets done, no one quite cares how or when it happens.

    I am heartened and saddened by a conversation I had with an older woman in an elevator. She saw me looking haggard and holding a small bucket of coffee and smiled, understanding perfectly. She told me that given her druthers she would wake at 10 every morning, and now that she was retired she could. I hope I will not have to wait quite that long.

  • 03/15/14
    1:25 pm

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    Confirmed owl here, and I LOVE it. People have told me that sunrise is beautiful…but it is hearsay evidence. I’ve never heard anyone say “Oh good, the weekend, now I can get up extra early.” What are the pluses to Owlship? Well, for myself, – quiet,- none of you Larks flitting about with your incessant chirpiness. This is when the children were sleeping peacefully, safe in their beds. I could have a cup of tea and a good book. No one expects you to be doing actual chores, but it is the perfect time for the small satisfying tasks; mending, letter writing, nail filing, and if you are more ambitious,
    cleaning drawers, ironing, and balancing the checkbook. I have never had a moment’s trouble sleeping, and I attribute that to being an owl. I simply do not go to bed until I am sleepy. That is, not tired, but sleepy. My Lark friends for the most part do have sleep problems, and I think it is often because they go to bed so early. After all, if you go to bed at 8 p.m. you should not be very surprised to wake up at 4 a.m.- you have already had your 8 hours, but you are likely to be miserable at 4 a.m even if you are a Lark. Fortunately my husband is a Lark, since we each value those “spaces in our togetherness”. I hope that your new mattress helps, Lisa. So hard to be chirpy when exhausted.

    03/16/14
    9:17 pm
    VAC said...

    @Kathy, Another confirmed owl here. The sunrise IS lovely, and my great weekend pleasure. I force myself to go to bed by 2 am on weeknights, but weekends I treat myself to the sunrise before heading off to bed.

    03/16/14
    11:37 pm
    Kathy said...

    @Kathy, @VAC That is perfect! I may give it a try.

    03/17/14
    7:53 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, I don’t go to bed until after 9. I do find I sleep better if I can make it until 10:)

  • 03/15/14
    1:53 pm

    Reply

    RoseAG said...

    I’m a morning person, always have been. It’s good to live in a mixed community. The morning people can have a few minutes to themselves early, the evening people get those minutes later in the day when the earlybirds are bushed.

    Husband bought us a memory foam mattress. It’s great for sleeping, but not so great for other bed-based activities – everybody has to work a little harder because it doesn’t bounce. So be sure you have a regular mattress of sufficient size in your spare bedroom.

    03/17/14
    7:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, Thank you for the systems engineering perspective;).

  • 03/15/14
    2:06 pm

    Reply

    Candace said...

    Lark here. I LOVE the promise of a new day, new beginning, opportunities waiting. Have been using a melatonin sleep spray to fall asleep quickly, as 5 am comes in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Now, I will definitely get a memory foam topper. Great timing on this topic as I saw somewhere that today is National Nap Day!

  • 03/15/14
    3:44 pm

    Reply

    Robin said...

    As long as my bio-identical HRT is working I’m a lark; otherwise I’m a can’t-sleep-at-all-any-time-of-the-day-or-night creature, whatever they’re called other than “unfortunate”. Hubby and I have always held different opinions on the soft vs firm mattress question. Solved that issue when we purchased a Sleep Number bed 3+ years ago. What’s super nice too is that if you have sore muscles or other things going on you can adjust how you sleep that night by increasing / decreasing the support :) They now also make memory foam topper versions of those mattresses. Sweep dreams!

  • 03/15/14
    5:27 pm

    Reply

    DaniBP said...

    I’ve heard good things about the memory foam and how excellent to get a good sleep. I am a lark but it sounds like you know my pain, I also have anxiety insomnia so I end up being not lark or owl, just miserable tired! Might have to try the memory foam, thanks for the tip Lisa. Such bliss in sleeping through the night!

  • 03/15/14
    5:57 pm

    Reply

    Danielle said...

    I’m an afternoon person

  • 03/15/14
    6:04 pm

    Reply

    Danielle said...

    I wrote a longer comment but somehow it got eaten!
    Anyway, I recently slept at a friend’s house and she had a super comfy mattress. It was a memory foam she had bought for $200 at Walmart.com, and definitely seems worth the investment!

  • 03/15/14
    6:09 pm

    Reply

    déjà pseu said...

    I’ve always been a morning person. We inherited MIL’s “tempurpedic” mattress and while it’s comfortable, I often find a sleep best on a hard surface. Sleep, yes, it’s precious. And recently scarce due to restless dogs and children. :-) Le monsieur is making noises about checking out one of those “sleep number” numbers.

    03/17/14
    7:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @déjà pseu, Ours is just a “topper” on a hand mattress, that seems to avoid the “engulfment” problem.

  • 03/15/14
    6:16 pm

    Reply

    Materfamilias/Frances said...

    I’m a morning person as well, but not nearly as sparkly as you are, from your description. Happy enough to be up, and I rarely need an alarm, but I’d prefer to have that time to myself, at least until I’ve had my first cup of tea…

  • 03/15/14
    7:05 pm

    Reply

    GSL said...

    “off gasses for 2 months?” who needs ozone anyway?

    I’m an owl who goes to bed with an audiobook taking me along on an adventure with an interesting protagonist. Tonight I’ll be with Magnus Pym from John LeCarre’s ‘A Perfect Spy’.

    03/17/14
    7:56 am
    Lisa said...

    @GSL, You’re right. Had I known how chemical this was I would have made a different choice. I would still, however, have gone for foam atop a mattress.

  • 03/15/14
    7:16 pm

    Reply

    E. Jane said...

    I am a natural born owl, as was my father and one of my daughters. It’s genetic,I’m sure. It’s not that I don’t love a sunny day. I just don’t like seeing the sun come up. But the truth is, I sleep very well between sunrise and about 8:30 a.m. Now that I’m retired, I can forget all of the years of 6 a.m.risings and indulge myself a bit. I love after dinner until bedtime, about 11:30 or midnight.

    I enjoy the coziness as twilight settles into the cloak of the evening. I enjoy having some time to settle the affairs of the day in quiet conversation with my husband or deep in thought by myself. The well worn ritual of a cup of herbal tea and occasionally a favorite television program often brings peace and contentment to this owl.

  • 03/15/14
    7:18 pm

    Reply

    Reggie Darling said...

    I am most definitely not a “morning person.” I often rise early, but it takes me several hours before I feel right, to clear the fog and residue of dreams from my mind. I also find this blogging “thing” has made me more of a night person, because that’s the only time I can really focus on it, with the house quiet and my workaday cares behind me, at least for the moment. I had my own bed epiphany recently at a Four Seasons Hotel where the bed I slept on was exquisitely comfortable, and far more so than our mattresses at home, which may be of very high quality (hand made, exenice, etc.) but just not all that comfortable. I find the now that I am in my 50s my preferance is for a softer, cushier mattress than what I liked when I was younger. I’m now determined to do something about this, sooner than later.

  • 03/15/14
    7:47 pm

    Reply

    Kerry Steele said...

    Oh the curse of the owl! If I go to sleep at 8 or 12, 6 am is never OK. Having school aged children means having to hover somewhere in “larowl” territory that is far from a happy medium.
    I have noticed that eliminating glasses of wine is part of the answer to this silly sleep thing.

  • 03/15/14
    8:01 pm

    Reply

    Jane said...

    Guess I am an owl but my father was a lark – “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” was often quoted while we were growing up. Thus, I was trained to rise early. But left to my own devices, I am often up until 12 or, on occasion, even 1 a.m. Yet I feel most comfortable getting up at 7 a.m. no matter when I went to bed. I just wish I could feel good about getting up even earlier, say at sunrise, and get more done. I enjoy the quiet of the evening when the affairs of the day are done and I can sit with a cup of tea and enjoy reading the newspaper, books and blogs. I feel guilty about not getting more sleep as I hear we should get 8 hours. Even worse, sometimes the later I stay up, the harder it is to get to sleep. My new year’s resolution was to get to bed by 10 p.m. I think that has happened only a handful of times. I enjoyed all the comments.

    03/17/14
    7:57 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, Seems that owls almost universally love the quiet, and reading, at night. The words used are so similar across everyone!

  • 03/15/14
    8:02 pm

    Reply

    Olivia said...

    I’ve made the transition from night owl (in my younger days) to morning person, now that I’m in mid-life. I too pretty much bound out of bed, and can’t wait to get outside with my dog and enjoy the sunset over the river and the closest thing to peace one can find in a city of 8 million people. Then it’s an unhurried coffee and perusal of the paper before starting my workday (from home) at 8 or 8:30. Weekends are even better: even fewer people out and about so early, long walks to the park, and lingering over coffee/paper/breakfast!

    By late afternoon and evening, I’m tired, bored, and just whiling away the hours until bed at 10 or 11. :)

  • 03/15/14
    8:37 pm

    Reply

    Princess Lambchop said...

    Oh, I’m such an owl! And it IS so hard to go to sleep! 11 pm to 1:00 am are my best times. But I have adjusted to corporate lark world, I can get in by 9:00 am most of the time. I hate doing anything substantive before 11:00 am though.

  • 03/15/14
    8:45 pm

    Reply

    Nancy said...

    I’m neither. I don’t jump out of bed, and I can’t stay up late. I start functioning around 10am and work well until 8 or 9pm, then slide into a fast decline and off to bed before midnight. Am I the only one?

    03/16/14
    1:12 pm
    MJ said...

    Same here! Is there a bird name for us? (I categorically reject “turkeys”.)

    03/16/14
    1:14 pm
    MJ said...

    And I should have added that our memory foam mattress has been wonderful for us – my husband can get up in the middle of the night without waking me. Occasionally it feels too warm or close, but that’s pretty rare.

    03/16/14
    10:16 pm
    Eleanorjane said...

    @Nancy, I’m more of an owl than a lark, but I’m with you in that I just need lots of sleep. Ideally I’d sleep from about 11 to about 8am with a relaxed snoozy sort of getting up (instead of having to rush about and get out the door).

    03/17/14
    7:58 am
    Lisa said...

    @Nancy, Ha! Sparrows perhaps?

  • 03/16/14
    4:57 am

    Reply

    flwjane said...

    I would r
    have replied to this

    I read this last night but it was after 10:00 and I was too tired to be coherent.

    Mornings for me all the way. Especially Sundays, the first day of my weekend when all seems possible.

    The time change is tough for me, I like to wake up with the sun and now the sun doesn’t come up till 7:00.

    Thank God for cats who want to start their day as soon as they hear the first bird chirp.

    Natures own alarm clocks.

    Here’s to the mornings. Lattes, blogs, a load of laundry and an english muffin with peanut butter and banana.

    xo J

  • 03/16/14
    5:05 am

    Reply

    Lisa Elliott Grose said...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your love lines of prose, a veritable ode to the mental dewiness and electricity of the mind before 8 a.m.

  • 03/16/14
    7:03 am

    Reply

    M said...

    I was an owl in my youth and scoffed at my father, a die-hard lark, until I had my first child and instantly became a lark. I have never looked back. Memory foam is a gift from the gods. We discovered it at the condo we rented in Hilton Head a few years ago. My husband and I both slept through the nights for the first time in at least a decade. Came home, did the research, bought a queen that allows the head and foot of the bed to be raised to any level. Score!!! We agreed this is the single best investment we have ever made in our health.

  • 03/16/14
    9:36 am

    Reply

    Jennifer said...

    I’m an Owl with menopausal insomnia who tosses and turns on a Duxiana. Nothing I love more than to lay in bed all morning, waking slowly while pumping myself full of tea.

  • 03/16/14
    10:06 am

    Reply

    class factotum said...

    I am a lark married to an owl, which is a far bigger issue in our marriage than our disagreement on every single political issue.

    Being a lark worked great when I lived alone. I love my husband, but I think our marriage would work a lot better if we lived in separate houses. I never get enough sleep.

  • 03/16/14
    12:07 pm

    Reply

    Gam Kau said...

    I wake at 5.30 on the weekdays, but sleep in till 12 on the weekends and both are fine with me so I suppose I’m a bit of both. So long as I have a blanket and a warm body next to me (human, dog, cat) I’m good. I sleep on the floor, no mattress, no pillow.

    03/17/14
    8:05 am
    Lisa said...

    Wow. No mattress, no pillow? I admire you.

  • 03/16/14
    4:07 pm

    Reply

    Kiki said...

    I’m asleep every night by 10 – now I am a working mom with three kids and lots of hobbies, but even when I was a 23 year old jet setter in SF (oh yes I was) I was in bed early. I remember laughing because there were three of us girls renting an amazing 2 bedroom apartment in Pacific Heights (I swear it was 1950 clay street) we were all recent cornell grads, super cute with great jobs and usually our lights were out by 10pm so we could wake up for said jobs by 6am…

  • 03/16/14
    10:18 pm

    Reply

    Ann said...

    I used to go to bed at 9:30 now I’m up until midnight every night. So much to do but I do love the mornings too. I wish I could get my husband to change to memory foam. Good idea to let it off gas in the garage.

    blue hue wonderland

  • 03/17/14
    7:31 am

    Reply

    AggieK said...

    I gave up wine for Lent and am finding I’m sleeping much better. I’m interested in the Costco mattress, though. What brand was it? Is it on their website?

    03/17/14
    8:04 am
    Lisa said...

    @AggieK, It’s called “Novaform.” The model we got is not on the website, but a new one seems to be.

  • 03/17/14
    4:31 pm

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    Oh I am most definitely a lark! I usually bound of bed with joy in the morning, but you are right, finding a good mattress did wonders. It still irks me that the sun rises later in TN than in NY though. It is one of the trials of living on the opposite side of the time zone, which means in mid-summer I am running down by the time the sun sets.

  • 03/19/14
    10:10 pm

    Reply

    pamela gene daley said...

    I’m late to this thread but soo grateful! I had no idea that so much of my anxiety was tied to owl issues! I go to bed late and sleep late (and I own my own business so can do that and still complete my work) but reading all this made me realize how GUILTY I’ve always felt! When doctors or….anybody really…say: Can you be here by 9am? No? 10? 11? 12……and so forth. I’ve learned to say: Nothing before 2 pm and put up with the disapproving tuttuts and so on. Owls are discriminated against!! Aux Barricades! :)

  • 09/16/14
    10:29 pm

    Reply

    Susan Craig said...

    The shape of the bed is a matter of visual taste, but the mattress makes the bed. I have found that latex foam, about 6 inches of it, does the trick for me. I like a memory foam topper and leave them outside until the worst of the off-gas is gone. My favourite bed was made with simple 4×4 legs cut to the length I wanted and topped with a sheet of heavy plywood. Bedskirt. Then the holy mattress. Try the latex foam in the hardness level you prefer.

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