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9 Things That Will Take Your Bed To The Next Level

Little upgrades that will make a big difference! (Featuring some very cozy dogs.)

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Despite the fact that we spend a lot of time in bed, most of us treat the things we buy for them as an afterthought.

Think about it: how often have you chosen sheets, pillows, or a comforter based on what's cheapest and/or what is available in the colors you like? But if you really think about it, you'll realize... THAT IS ACTUAL MADNESS. Because even if you don't get as much sleep as you should, you probably still spend a lot of time in your bed. (About 91 days each year if you average six hours of sleep each night. That's almost a quarter of your life!!!)

I used to have a DGAF attitude about my bed and bedding. But now that I've seen the error of my ways and gotten more intentional about my bedding purchases, I've found several easy (and not wildly expensive!) ways to make your bed the most magical place in your home.

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1. A Pillow That Lovingly Cradles Your Head Every Night

Rachel Miller

Much like I always order the second-cheapest wine on the menu, I always used to buy the second-cheapest pillows from Target or Walmart. But after a friend told me about the extremely fancy pillows that her rich older boyfriend bought her, I realized that I'd been missing out. It took me a few years, but I finally upgraded (to a better pillow — still no rich older boyfriend, sadly) and I feel great about it.

I have the Tempur-Pedic Symphony Pillow, which my husband gave me for Valentine's Day several years ago*. If you use a 20% off coupon — which you will, because you aren't a total n00b — this pillow will run you $80, which seems like a fair price for something that you spend so much time using, and that should last you a while. If you don't want to spend $80 on a pillow, my co-worker Sarah loves this $40 one, which The Sweethome recommends as well.

*BTW: Bedding is the BEST Valentine's Day gift! It's vaguely sexy without being, like, crotchless panties, and it says "I want to fuck you and also watch Netflix documentaries with you in bed for hours," which is the EXACT message a Valentine's Day gift should send. When in doubt, buy nice bed stuff.

2. A Dreamy Mattress Topper

Rachel Miller

After spending a weekend looking at new mattresses, some of which were very pricey, my husband and I came across across a memory foam mattress topper at Kohl's*. We ultimately decided to buy a $250 Ikea mattress that was, like, fine, and then buy the mattress topper to go over it it. The topper cost about $200, but thanks to a bunch of sales and Kohl's coupons, we got it for around $130, and I can honestly say it was one of the best purchases I've ever made. It turned a perfectly average mattress into the dreamiest, cushiest, most wonderful mattress ever — something that has been confirmed by all guests who have experienced it — and for considerably less money than a fancier mattress would have cost. I used to not really be the kind of person who spent much time just lounging in bed, but the mattress topper changed all that.

*The topper we bought is devoid of any branding, and the one I thought it was is no longer available on the Kohl's website. But basically, just go to Kohl's or Penney's or wherever, and walk around squeezing the mattress toppers until you find one you like. I would not recommend buying one on Amazon because after buying a cheaper one for our guest bedroom that way, I learned that it really is the kind of thing you want to feel IRL first, if only because getting one of those things back in the package to return it is not going to happen.

3. Great, Everyday, Not-Wildly-Expensive Sheets*

Rachel Miller

Good sheets are so crucial for achieving maximum happiness in your bed, and you definitely don't have to spend a million dollars to get sheets that you love and that will genuinely improve your sleeping experience. If you want to upgrade your sheets but don't know shit about thread count (hi, me), I think it's helpful to just figure out what you like. For example: Do you like really soft sheets or really crisp sheets? Then read reviews, look at best-sellers, and ask your friends. I've found that people who love their sheets really love talking about them, and are good at explaining why they love them without devolving into buzzwords that don't mean anything to the average person.

Want some recommendations? My personal faves are these Cynthia Rowley sheets, which I found at Home Goods; they are so incredibly soft and cozy. The Sweethome recommends these sheets from Target ($49.99 for a queen set) as a budget-friendly pick. Another coworker loves these bamboo sheets ($79.99 for a queen set), which she says are "soft and silky without feeling synthetic at all" and "cool and slippery in the summer and utterly cozy in the winter." And I'd love to hear other people's favorite sheets in the comments!

4. *That You Actually Wash

Rachel Miller

Look, I understand that washing your sheets once a week, as experts recommend, can be a daunting task, especially if you, like me, don't have laundry in your apartment/your building. But you can't tell me that fresh, clean sheets don't feel great. They really, really do. I always sleep better the first night after I wash my sheets.

One thing that's helped me wash my sheets more often is getting sheets and a duvet cover (and towels) that are all the same color, which simplifies every aspect of washing them. And in NYC, I can at least take advantage of the fact that having your laundry done for you doesn't really cost much more than doing it yourself. That doesn't mean I like having to lug my laundry two blocks, or that I enjoy putting the duvet cover back on regularly, but I do it because I know how much better the bed feels when I do.

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5. A Set of Fancy-Ass Sheets

Rachel Miller

OK, I'm not going to tell you that nice sheets are a "must-have" because honestly, I hate when articles do that, and also because I still stan for these inexpensive jersey sheets from Target even though one article I read said that owning them makes me a human pee stain/adult baby. However! If you've got a little extra money, or you're registering for your wedding, or you have some gift cards or something, you might want to get yourself a pair of fancy-ass sheets!

My fancy sheets of choice are called Sheex, which are "performance" sheets. (lol) They cost $179. (lol again) My husband and I would pet them every time we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond, while debating whether they actually keep you cool as they promise to. Finally, he convinced me to give them a try. (We had some wedding gift cards, and with the 20% off coupon, it wasn't, like, outrageous.) So we did. Though I was skeptical of their claims, I was pleasantly surprised when we tried them out in the most disgustingly hot and humid week of the summer. They genuinely do keep us cooler than regular sheets do. They also feel fantastic — like, super silky, which is not a thing I knew I liked until I tried it.

I also really like these Brooklinen sheets which are somehow equal parts crisp and soft ($109 for a queen set, but FYI, the company sent me the set with the duvet to try for free). And my co-worker Natalie loves The Sweethome's recommendation (these L.L. Bean sheets).

Anyway! Nicer sheets are not a requirement, but they can really be worth the extra money if/when you have it.

6. Pajamas That You Love

Rachel Miller

It took me a little while to fully become Team Pajamas. Oh, sure, I had pajama-like garments. I had some tank tops and T-shirts that I one day started sleeping in. I had yoga pants, underwear, and basketball pants that I, um, acquired from a guy in my younger years. But I only really embraced the idea of Clothes Specifically for Sleeping and Lounging and Nothing Else Ever in the past year. My pajamas aren't fancy — seriously, most of them are from Old Navy and cost me $8 on sale — but putting them on still feels luxurious and special. And now my brain is trained to chill the eff out when I put them on. Definitely recommend!

7. Bed Risers

Rachel Miller

What can I say? I like beds that are so tall you need to pole vault into them every night. Risers make it easier to store stuff under the bed (provided you have a bedskirt that's on the longer side) and can help keep some pets off the bed if that's your prerogative. (It's...sort of mine. Sometimes.) Anyway, tall bed + tons of pillows looks monied AF. Just be sure that your bed's legs aren't weirdly shaped, and that you don't have any extra legs in the middle of the bed, because both of those things can make using risers impossible, and then you'll have to go back to the store and return them, which no one wants to do.

8. A Way to Make the Room Dark

Rachel Miller

My preferred method of achieving total darkness: these light dimming sheets for electronics, plus a sleep mask.

"Do people actually wear those things?" people say when they see my sleep mask. "Do they actually stay in place all night?" Yes and yes! I've worn one pretty much every night since I was in high school and they really do help if you are sensitive to light. Now I can't sleep without one! I recently got this sleep mask and it's incredible — considerably better in every way than the $8 ones I've been wearing for the past 15 years. But the $8 masks still get the job done.

If you can't sleep with something on your face, at least do yourself a favor and put up some good shades.

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