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     Volume 5 Issue 114 | September 29, 2006 |

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Straight Talk

Sleep The Final Frontier!

Nadia Kabir Barb

Right now what I would really like to do is go and have a siesta. Instead, I am trying to be diligent and somewhat professional by sitting here writing this article, hoping that I will be able to send it on time. It may also have something to do with not wanting to incur the wrath of the Magazine Editor who is always more than generous in the leeway we columnists are given to hand in our articles but one has to be careful not to push ones luck too much by missing the deadline every week! I am sure I have complained more than once that since I have had children, sleep has been somewhat elusive, but I hope you will forgive me if I repeat myself. I am counting on the fact that many of our readers are sleep deprived individuals like myself and will empathise with me. If not, all I can say is 'oops'.

A while ago I visited Dhaka for my cousin's wedding and a combination of recovering from the flu and being jet lagged, left me unable to sleep at night. As you can imagine by the third night I was desperate to try and catch up on my sleep deficit. If someone had told me to try and sleep standing on my head, I probably would have done it! Instead I was told to take a sleeping pill which was supposed to be very effective. Normally I would have never agreed to what I think is a rather extreme measure but as they say desperate times call for desperate measures and I was open to any suggestions. In fact this tablet was supposed to be so effective that I was warned that it took about seven minutes to take effect. Highly excited about the prospect of actually sleeping, I waited till I was home before taking the tablet. Well let me just say that seven minutes passed, seventeen minutes passed, seventy minutes went by and soon seven hours had gone by and I was still staring at the ceiling waiting for the sandman to come and put me to sleep. To my utter dismay my eyes finally closed an hour before I had to wake up and rush out! So my quest for a good night's rest remained unfulfilled for that particular week in Dhaka.

This eternal pursuit of the Holy Grail of the perfect bed and the desire for a restful night found my husband and I at the shops in search of a new bed when we happened to come across a type of mattress called a Tempur mattress. I had heard about the beneficial traits of this revolutionary kind of mattress which seemed to be a godsend for not only people with problems sleeping but also medical ailments such as back pain and rheumatism. From the information given to us by the sales assistant, the Tempur Material was originally developed in the 1970s at NASA Ames Research Centre, California, 'in order to improve seating comfort and g-force protection in spacecrafts.' But due to the fact that there were only 'small-scale production techniques available, commercial applications were only limited to medical cushions and mattresses for pressure sore prevention for many years'. In 1989, the Swedish multinational foam producer Fagerdala World Foams acquired Dan-Foam, a small polyurethane manufacturing company serving the Danish furniture market. Not that this information would have had any impact on any of us had we been aware of this at the time. But luckily for the back pain sufferers of the world unbeknownst to them during the 1980's, Dan-Foam had been trying to achieve a large-scale manufacturing process for the Tempur Material and it was only through the acquisition of Dan-Foam, that Fagerdala took part in the challenge to finalise the Tempur Project, and eventually be able to include this highly innovative foam material in its product range. Commencing with the Tempur products in Sweden in 1991, its popularity has been growing in leaps and bounds. Some people swear by it and claim that it has changed the way they view the whole concept of sleeping.

Obviously this piqued our curiosity and when the sales assistant asked us if we would like to participate in a demonstration of how comfortable the mattress was, we leapt at the opportunity. Anything for a good night's rest even if it meant going through the rigmarole of trying out this hallowed mattress in a department store! We were led into a little room with two beds next to each other and very subdued lighting. We were asked to listen to the audio tape which was turned on once we had removed our shoes and were reclining on the beds. The sales assistant let himself out of the room and we were left to our own devices. At first the voice told us we were about to start a journey into outer space. This immediately made me smile as it was rather corny and then the voice proceeded to give us instructions telling us what to do and what was happening. There were references to rockets and feelings of weightlessness (this was right after the bed had been put on a vibrating mode). For the next ten minutes the bed was electronically manoeuvred into different positions informing us of the benefits for those with neck and back pains. To be honest it was really rather comfortable, in fact, it was obscenely comfortable and the mattress seemed to mould to our body shape and weight. A few minutes before the end a woman's voice took over and she was obviously the part of the demonstration which was supposed to try and make us relax and enjoy the demonstration. But her constant use of the word 'nice' and her droning voice telling us to 'let the relaxation take over' or 'enjoy the relaxation' instead of making us relax sent us into fits of laughter. We tried very hard to stifle our mirth and get back to the 'nice relaxation' but it was of no avail we just could not help ourselves. Luckily the demonstration came to an end and we tried to put on a straight face while leaving the room. Having said this, we did end up buying the Tempur mattress and I am living in anticipation of the day it will arrive and I can get the ultimate experience in a good night's rest!

Having done what I set out to do, i.e. get this article in on time, I think I may just have to reward myself by trying to catch forty winks…

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