My bed and me: a story of love and neglect


Hannah Jones/Winonan

A lonely train rattles past my window, and alarmed, I wake from my half-comatose state and crack my jaws with a yawn.

My computer is still open in front of me, but it too has nodded off, displaying a dreamy Milky Way background that slowly roves across the screen. The tranquil imagery is doing nothing productive for my alertness, so I give the mouse a click and pull up the document I had been writing when my eyes had glazed over and my chin had dropped to my chest. The piece is still unfinished, though significantly longer due to a long string of consecutive Z’s inadvertently typed by my clumsy, inert finger. I sigh, go about the chore of deleting all the extraneous letters, and glance at the clock. It’s about 12:30 a.m.

The average college student carries on a passionate love-hate relationship with his or her bed. We profess to love them, and yet we never make time for them. We spurn them regularly and cheat on them with coffee and energy drinks, sometimes shamefully spending the night with that floozy of a couch next door. We skip entire nights and find ourselves napping in class, thinking longingly of the tender embrace of our mattresses that we so easily took for granted. Then we binge. We sleep twelve-hour nights and four-hour naps, leaving the sheets in a tousled, unmade mess, sometimes studying, TV watching and even eating there rather than leaving it for even and instant. This lustful honeymoon phase never lasts, however. Soon we are back to sleepless nights and illegitimate catnaps on library desks.

Why I can’t seem to keep a consistent, steady relationship with my bed is beyond me. I adore my bed; it’s soft, warm, and terrible to leave in the morning and a blessing to return to at night. One would think I would be better about slotting in some quality time with this very special piece of furniture, and yet life continually gets in the way. I don’t consciously choose to neglect my poor bed, however much it may miss me. My negligence just happens naturally.

I decide that night that the time for excuses is over. I’ve got to spend some quality time with my bed, which has done nothing but support me this whole semester long. I shut my laptop, and immediately my eye catches my language workbook sitting on the coffee table directly behind it. I compress my mouth into a thin line. I think of my bed, which is eagerly awaiting my return, and I think of the assignment only half-finished within the pages of the book. I agonize. I weigh options. I groan. And, guiltily, I put off sleep a little longer. Just twenty minutes, I tell myself. Then I’ll give my bed the attention it deserves.

Before I know it, it’s 1:45 a.m. The homework is done, if not well, and I am exhausted. I look as though I’ve been living in the gutter for a week, hair disheveled, clothes rumpled, eyes ringed with ashy gray circles, crusty in more ways than one. It’s past my bedtime by far, and this time, I’m determined to hit my pillow even harder than I have hit the books.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to eight uninterrupted hours of sleep every night in order to function like a normal, sentient human being. In college, the academic apogee of many of our lives save those who will progress to graduate school, we make due with much, much less when in fact we may need it the most. Studies show that getting to bed on time makes a difference in staying focused, maintaining a fairly tolerable disposition, fighting off illness, fending off stress and staying at a healthy weight.

Our beds do so much more for us than we realize. Without them, we are hardly fit for the tasks we so readily give up sleep to undertake. It’s in our best interest, therefore, to put down the pencil and put on the PJs every night at a reasonable hour.

That’s what goes through my head as I, at long last, let my hair down, pull back the covers and slide into bed like a puzzle piece sliding into place.

Instantly, I rail against myself for not allowing my body to rest sooner. The bed molds to me like an old friend, taking me back even after my shoddy attendance, my inattentiveness. I am blissfully comfortable, almost moved to tears. I love you, and I’m never leaving you again, I think.

Then, of course, my eyes pop open yet again. It’s 2:50 a.m. I have slept for less than an hour, and I have to go to the bathroom.

Goodbye, sweet bed. It was nice while it lasted.

Contact Hannah at [email protected]