Sleeping suggestions for a mattress-less house
May 15, 2012 8:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm subletting a house for three months in a town three hours from home. (I'll be there temporarily for work.) House doesn't come with a bed. What's the most comfortable sleeping arrangement I can make for myself without buying or transporting a mattress?


-Again, I don't want a real mattress. I don't want to worry about transporting, buying or sleeping on a used one. Let's consider a real mattress/bed out of the question.

-I'm 31, 5'4, small-framed, an insomniac and a hot sleeper. While I won't be in an overly warm climate, it will be a northern Midwest summer. No back problems. I'll be the only one in the bed.

-I'm open to air mattress brand suggestions, and also any other alternative, easily portable, creative, comfortable sleeping ideas.

-All materials must fit in my four-door sedan (actually in the car, not strapped to the roof).

-The house does have a couch, which would normally be my go-to, but other roommates in the house will occasionally be there and the couch is communal, in a communal area and wouldn't fit in the bedroom anyway.

I know I won't be able to replicate my cushy soft queen at home, but I'd like to get as comfortable as I can for the circumstances. Top of my price range is $250, but I'm willing to fudge a little for the right idea.

Portability is the main concern, comfort a very close second.

posted by Zosia Blue to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I ordered outdoor lounge chair cushions from Pottery Barn on sale one year and I use those for extra bedding. If you can't order from pottery barn you may be able to get some high-end outdoor furniture cushions - don't get the ones sold at Walmart - they will not be comfortable but if you can find an expensive garden furniture outlet in your town their cushions can be pretty comfortable and cheaper than futons. Mine cost about $60 - they are 5 or 6 feet long. They were on sale.
posted by cda at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2012

I was basically in your situation - I spent 8 months living in a nearly empty apartment while I waited for my wife and all our furniture to come join me. No point buying a mattress, since a perfectly good one was going to be showing up if I could stick it out.

The first attempt was an Airbed for (IIRC) over $100, but the thing sprung a leak after a week or so. Patched that one; it sprung another one, and then another. They're handy for guests, but I'm convinced they just aren't made for long term use.

I know you're not interested in mattress suggestions, but I ended up with an IKEA Florvag mattress. Mine was the full size for $150. I laid it straight on the floor and slept in relative comfort for 8 solid months. Easy to stuff in the car, so no concerns with portability.

It's rolled up now and in our closet. You can't pack them down quite as compactly as it came (it comes roll packed) but it's small enough to stow and bring out if we have guests or something. I like an actual mattress better, but I'd recommend one of these - I spent 8 months on it no problem.
posted by captainawesome at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Would you consider renting a bed? Once my husband and I rented a bed for a summer while we waited for our furniture to be delivered. It was neither expensive nor complicated. We went to a local rent-a-center type place and the bed was delivered a day later.
posted by msali at 8:28 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should clarify that I'm not interested in mattresses that can't fit in my car - something the Florvag is a great idea. As long as it can fit in my car, any suggestion is welcome.
posted by Zosia Blue at 8:28 PM on May 15, 2012

hammock? that would be my choice if there are two wall/ceiling studs at least 13 ft apart which you can screw an eyebolt into. there are freestanding stands as well.
posted by paradroid at 8:31 PM on May 15, 2012

One of the most comfortable bed arrangements I've had was a tall airbed topped with a featherbed. Overstock carries both. You can even have them shipped to the new place, I suppose, but they would fit in your car.

Air bed I've owned and loved

Note with the air bed, it drains the first few times you fill it, so you need to refill it a few times before the full sealing kicks in. Might want to do this before you need your first night's sleep.
posted by quivering_fantods at 8:31 PM on May 15, 2012

Hey, hey, Ms. Insomniac, don't mess with an already troubled area in your life. For $250 you can get a good mattress delivered and have a better chance of a great night's sleep. Consider abandoning it or selling it to the apartment when you are done. You could check with roomie first to see if he/she is ready for an upgrade, they may go in half way to keep it after. Or, you could donate it for the tax write off- some donation centers will pick up.

To help make your decision, try sleeping somewhere other than your bed for a few nights, then have a night in your bed. The difference is worth the $$.
posted by myselfasme at 8:42 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

The most comfortable sleeping I've done on non-beds was on furniture cushions laid on the floor and (on another occasion) on a doubled-over egg crate foam. I think the latter was a full or queen sized egg crate foam mattress pad sort of thing, but it was doubled lengthwise to make a very cushy single "bed" on the floor.

Will there be air conditioning at the house? You say you sleep hot, and egg crate or furniture foam might be too warm unless you have good vigorous a/c to compensate. If you expect to be sleeping in a warm room, consider a folding cot. I slept on a canvas cot once and I didn't find it especially comfortable, but I'll say this for it: the air circulation underneath was great for keeping cool.
posted by Orinda at 8:46 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am so excited to answer this! My answer is: Floorbed!

I love Floorbed, I've been buddies with Floorbed for years now. In fact, from ages 24 to 28 I didn't own a mattress - I slept exclusively on Floorbed.

Floorbed is just a concept, really, it's just spare blankets. Everyone has tons of spare blankets, and if for some reason you don't have a ton of them, then go to Goodwill and you can acquire them for pennies a pound. The super important key to Floorbed is cleanliness and order. With that, let me explain my most recent Floorbed.

Layer 0: a yoga mat.
Layer 1: a woolen blanket, folded in half so as to be about the size of a twin mattress
Layer 2: a quilt, folded in half so as to be about the size.....
Layer 3: a cotton comforter, folded so as to be....
Layer 4: a down feather comforter, folded.....
Layer 5: another thick-ass blanket, folded....
Layer 6: A nice cotton bedsheet.

The well folded and well maintained blankets have now become the most comfortable mattress in the world; firm and supportive, yet supple and yielding. I have put thought into the order of these specific blankets; the down is higher up in the mix so it's not totally squished (cause it's airy), the wool is at the bottom because no matter what it will be firm.

I highly stress keeping everything well maintained - I'm a bachelor and I keep my house very neat. I have never had someone complain about my bed, in fact, the exact opposite; women have complimented me on it's simple comfort, and they are surprised to find out it's a pile of blankets.

I've currently 'upgraded' to a king size mattress, as a result of being forced to take one, and I'll be honest, I miss Floorbed. Floorbed was my roommate, and buddy, for years. Bedbed just seems... redundant.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 8:58 PM on May 15, 2012 [37 favorites]

A Japanese futon would work too. Match it with a folding frame like this, and you won't be sleeping on the floor. This little rollaway bed is totally fine too,mane would fit in most cars if you can fold down the backseat.
posted by barnone at 9:16 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hammock stands can be taken apart, so don't rule out the hammock idea based on needing to make holes in the walls. A hammock plus some pipes will definitely fit in inside a car.
posted by janell at 10:37 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you do get an air mattress, maybe this is common knowledge, but in case it's not: I found the trick to not having it spring a leak or deflate during the night is to inflate it slightly less than all the way (85% full maybe?), to allow for some expansion when you lie on it. It took me several months and busted air mattresses before I finally figured that out, and I was very pleased with the results.
posted by désoeuvrée at 11:49 PM on May 15, 2012

A large dog bed is suprisingly comfortable and can be purchased for under $100 at places like Walmart and Target.

My daughter (5' 4", around 140 lbs.) slept on one for a few weeks one summer when she came to visit and said it was plenty comfortable. After she left I used it for a floor pillow to lie on and watch TV.

When I lived alone briefly, I rented a bed from one of those Rent-a-Center-type places. This was back in '99, but at that time I was able to get a full-size mattress and box springs on a frame with no headboard for $10 a month.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:26 AM on May 16, 2012

Based on personal experience I would strongly recommend against getting an air mattress. I slept on one every night for around three months, coincidentally, and it was a nightmare. Usually every 7-10 days it would spring another leak in the middle of the night. Glueing a patch was followed by a minimum 2 hour wait for it to dry. I tried everything, including under-filling it, but nothing seemed to work. The problem was compounded by growing paranoia that every time I turned over I could create a leak, which made my sleep unsettled. I have never been so tired and stressed out, and if I could do it all over again I would gladly fork out however much it cost to get a proper mattress and a good night's sleep.
posted by guessthis at 3:27 AM on May 16, 2012

air mattress....deflate during the night is to inflate it slightly less than all the way

Seconding this one. I have had great luck with air mattresses over the years. Yes, they eventually spring a leak, but it is a nice quick fix while waiting for better arrangements.

If you do go with an a/m, think of this too....
- The a/m does not need to cost $150. A reliable one can be had for far less especially if you are only looking for a twin size mattress - (01, 02, 03).
- If you choose a cheaper a/m, get two. It is much nicer to be elevated a bit off the floor and you will have a back up a/m in case one springs a leak.
- Get a mattress air pump - (01, 02). It is money well spent. Just make sure it has the appropriate attachments to fit the A/M nozzle.
- Put something like a blanket under the a/m unless you have carpet. A wooden floor is not so much the issue, but little stuff caught between the floor and the a/m will poke holes.
- Never just "flop down" on an a/m. They simply are not designed for that stress.
posted by lampshade at 4:19 AM on May 16, 2012

I was going to recommend one of the skinny Ikea mattresses like captainawesome mentioned. In another thread, someone suggested this cot. I also have the super compact Ikea unfolding 'sofa bed' that was $149 and would definitely fit into a car new (boxed), and it's very comfortable for sleeping, in case you'd like something multifunction.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:37 AM on May 16, 2012

If you have access to Ikea, at 5' 4" and a small frame, you'd probably get away with a mattress from the children's range (smaller, lighter, cheaper, etc.).
posted by carter at 6:10 AM on May 16, 2012

If you're willing to spend $250 on something bed-like, why not just get a twin or double mattress?

Go to any warehouse store and pick one up. Put it directly on the floor. Voila. Comfy bed.

If you really want to do it up, go to Ikea and get a platform for $50. Here's an Ikea mattress for $199.

Buy the bed in your new city. Sell it when you're ready to go home. Maybe even to your roommates.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:55 AM on May 16, 2012

Never just "flop down" on an a/m. They simply are not designed for that stress.

Just on a humorous note: my beloved air bed was subjected to such tortures as an 8-year-old child jumping up and down on it; two very rambunctious adults, er, wrassling on it (including flying leaps and tackles); and a family of three sleeping on it.

However, I have had another air bed (different brand) poop out on me within a month, and there is nothing more off-putting than waking up at 4 a.m. wallowing in a sea of semi-deflated air bag. You have to pretty much swim out of it!
posted by quivering_fantods at 2:32 PM on May 16, 2012

I bought this air mattress back in 2010 when it was still stocked by and had free two day shipping. It cost me $53 and has been worth every penny.
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:45 AM on May 17, 2012

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