My Top Three Bedtime Activities

By Janey Womeldorf

My Top Three Bedtime Activities

I love going to bed. It is, hands down, my all-time favorite winter activity, especially at the end of long, bone-chilling, exhausting day – or even a relaxing one for that matter. When it’s been dark since 6 pm, ice outside is taking hold, and your bedroom is that perfect, you-can-almost-see-your-breath temperature for sleeping, nothing beats snuggling into and under the covers. Admittedly, the sound of snow crunching under my boots; our neighborhood Christmas-light drive, and steaming bowls of hearty soups also rank high on my list, but going to bed happens every single night – joyful. Although it never disappoints, there are three things that can elevate my nightly experience from exciting to pure bliss:

1. A Good Book

Once a good book gets its claws in me, I am powerless. Impatient anticipation gnaws at me throughout the day, and by the time bedtime arrives I’m chomping at the bit to get between the sheets to find out what happens next. Nothing tops letting my hectic brain melt into the book’s twists and turns, while being serenaded by the soothing light of a bedside lamp. It is the perfect wind down. It relaxes my brain, nourishes my body and is the ultimate stress buster. It is also dangerous. That 5:30 am alarm doesn’t care that the plot just took an unbelievable twist, and neither do the next day’s customers. Despite this, I have spent many a work night reading into the small hours, chiding myself as I painstakingly succumb to yet another chapter. A riveting read is one of the last bastions of legal fun, and it’s what bedtimes are made for.

2. Clean, Crisp Sheets

Oprah Winfrey once confessed that she so loved getting into bed when the sheets are clean that she has them changed every other day. If I could afford a permanent housekeeper, I’d do the same. Actually, I’m lying: I’d have them changed every day. Sheets make all the difference.

When my husband and I first married, there was no science to sheets. Sheets came in one style – cotton – and linen closets were tidy. We slept sound, ignorant and happy for eight, dreamy years until we moved from Florida to Michigan. We lived on the shores of Lake Michigan in a rental with radiator heating, thin walls and single-pane windows. At night, our cotton sheets made our skin shudder, and we ended up climbing into bed with our sweats on to help take out their chilling sting. If we wanted to read, we’d sit in bed with our heavy robes on back to front (the pre-snuggie), and then the next morning, we’d put our clothes back under the covers to warm them before bracing ourselves to get up.

Cotton was no longer our friend; it was time for flannel. We invested in a wintry, flannel set adorned with moose and pine trees – it seemed fitting. Our flannel sheets turned out to be a godsend in the winter, baking in the summer, and because we were too tight to buy more than one pair, nubby and uncomfortable from all the washing. We got rid of them.

Next up were the trendy, stretch, t-shirt sheets. These seemed a good compromise between the warmth of flannel and crispness of cotton, but they got so baggy after constant washing that they no longer fit taut on the bed. I could feel every wrinkly crease, so we got rid of those too.

Fortunately we moved south around the time that high thread-count cotton became the new must have; so we did have. We started at 300 count, then 400, then 500. We stopped at 500 because my face slid off the pillowcase at nights, so we started working backwards.

Just when we thought, we had cracked it at 300, we bought a new mattress with the fancy, padded bit on top, and despite the fact that sheets bulged from our overburdened linen closet, not a single one fit. We had more sheets on our shelves than Bed, Bath & Beyond, and I was loath to buy more. We tried sheet grabbers to hold our ill-fitting sheets in place but one corner inevitably popped off in the middle of the night, and we would wake up wrapped in floundering linen. It was all getting too stressful so we gave up, bought the correct size, but returned to our roots: We went back to good old-fashioned, simple cotton. Nothing beats their feel – especially when they’re clean.

3. The Perfect Bedroom Gift

They say the ideal present is when you receive something you didn’t know you needed, but now can’t live without it. If you don’t own a heated mattress pad, put this magazine down right now, grab that blue and white, 20% off coupon, and run out and buy yourself one for Christmas. If you share a bed, splurge on dual-control so each of you can regulate the temperature on your side of the bed. You’re buying for the long haul, and your opposite body temperatures will thank you.

It took us twenty years to crack the perfect sleeping code, but this cotton/heated mattress-pad combo is for keeps. We live and sleep in Florida now but, fortunately, most southerners consider winter to be any time the temperature gets below 60 degrees, so our dual-control, heated pad gets well used. On a wintry, frigid (it’s all relative) Florida night, climbing into crisp, cool cotton sheets, gently warmed by the welcome heat underneath, is nothing short of nighttime nirvana.

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to stay up. Now that I’m older, I can’t wait to go to bed. If age brings wisdom, then I for one am thankful for the wisdom to appreciate the simple pleasures in life – like climbing into a welcoming, cozy bed on a dark, wintry night. It is my nightly reward, and nothing beats it.

Especially when there’s a good book, clean sheets and a warm mattress involved.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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2 Responses to “My Top Three Bedtime Activities”

  1. Janey,
    I also appreciate sleep, and seem to get my best two hours of rest on the sofa when I snooze after the news. We cocoon between two ultra plush blankets which retain body heat. It is difficult to crawl out of bed some mornings. I can relate to your story.

  2. Janey Womeldorf says:

    Thanks for commenting and glad to hear I’m not the only one who struggles to crawl out of bed sometimes.

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