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Everyone has heard the statistic that a person spends one third of his or her life in a bed, but has anyone ever spent a few moments thinking of all the beds that a single lifetime entails?
Most of the US population is born in a hospital, and within minutes of birth, we encounter our first bed—a tiny clear plastic crib on wheels. If there’s a problem, the crib becomes an isolate or incubator. If the baby is healthy, the first one to five days of life is spent in a see-through crib, propped on an incline.
Soon enough, the baby heads home to encounter bed #2. This is usually a bassinet or cradle, larger than the hospital crib, but still quite small. Bed #2 lasts for a few months until baby outgrows it and needs more room.
The next bed (#3) is typically a full-sized baby bed. Slatted sides protect the now more-active baby from rolling out of bed while giving him or her room to roll over, stretch, and grow. This is the bed of choice as the child learns to crawl, pull up, and finally walk. Most babies and toddlers stay in this bed until the age of two unless they learn the trick of climbing out sooner. If that’s the case, bed #4 makes an earlier appearance.
Bed #4 is a toddler bed. It’s no larger than the crib and in fact, often uses the mattress from the crib. A toddler bed is lower to the floor, the slatted sides have been removed and replaced with side rails to allow easy access in and out of the bed while still providing security against rolling out of the bed in the middle of the night. Toddler beds last another two years or so. When the toddler fills the bed from head to toe, it’s time to move on to the next.
A twin bed is the bed of choice for #5 in the bed progression. A twin bed is the same height as other ‘adult’ beds. However, it’s small size makes it possible to accommodate a child or even a young adult. While narrow, it’s of an adequate length for an average sized person. This is the bed that will last from childhood through the teenage years and even be the bed of choice for college students crammed into a dorm room that can’t hold anything larger.
With diploma (high school or college) in hand, the next move for the young adult is to an apartment of his or her own. This is often the time when an upgrade to bed #6 occurs. The need to spread out and a cultural sign of adulthood is a bed large enough to sleep two people comfortably. Queen sized beds are commonplace as first apartments or starter homes. They are typically larger than a dorm room, but many are still too small to house a King sized bed.
Following a long-term relationship with bed #5, the sixth bed in the series appears about the same time as buying a house, getting married or having kids. Bed #6 is the king-sized bed. Once kids or middle-aged spread strikes, the need for an over-sized bed becomes apparent. For many, this is the last bed of their lives.
For others, the aging process calls for another bed. Bed #7 is for the elderly or the infirm. It’s not usually greeted with cheer or enthusiasm, but is nevertheless vital for the comfort and safety of the person sleeping in it. Bed #7 is a hospital bed. It can be used at home, a nursing home, care facility or hospital and is in some ways reminiscent of our first bed—the rolling crib propped on an incline. At this point, the progression of the bed has come full circle. We have very nearly ended where we began.
Yes, a person does spend one third of his or her life in bed. However, over the years, the beds change as a person’s body, lifestyle, and comfort levels change. There are many beds over the course of a lifetime, but all of them should be a restful place.