Monthly Archives: February 2012

How to Make a Bed in Hokkaido

I was inspired to post this after a conversation with a couple of friends a few weeks ago. One (T) had just returned from overseas and had spent the night at the home of the other (C). T’s from London, C’s from many places, but mostly Minnesota. I grew up in Arizona, but earned my winter chops living in leaky rental houses during college in Minnesota.

T: It was absolutely freezing in there! I had a lot of trouble sleeping.

C: It was not that bad! Some guest you are.

T: Some host! ::turning to me:: You leave the heater on at night, of course?

Me: Uh, no.

C: It’s too expensive!

T: How do you not freeze to death?!

Me: A hot bath before bed, six blankets, warm pajamas, a cat if one is available.

C: Yeah, basically.

T: Six!?

Yes, six. And they have to be applied correctly. Observe:

I have a bed in my house, but I haven’t found a traditional futon on the floor to be any colder. I start with a fitted sheet (obviously) and a small fleece blanket tucked in at the end of the bed. Fleece is my friend – down is great at keeping in body heat, but it’s freezing when you first climb into bed. With a little blanket at the end of the bed, there’s a place to tuck my feet that is protected from the icy sheets.

I personally don’t use a top sheet because 1) it’s freezing cold in winter and negates some of the power of the hot bath and 2) it takes about 2.8 seconds for me to kick it to the foot of the bed. Instead, I wash the fleece blankets (which dry surprisingly quickly) when I wash the sheets.

That’s one blanket. The next four are layered on top – another fleece to protect against the chilly surface of the comforter, the down comforter, a regular comforter, and a heavy wool blanket to weigh everything down.

Finally, the finishing touches:

The sixth blanket is on the left – a final fleece to wrap around your shoulders. I also use a pillow between the down comforter and the regular comforter as a heat sink. Finally, pillows on either side of me between the fleece and the down comforter prevent drafts.

After that, you’re a set of warm pajamas, a hat, and a cat away from perfection!

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