cutting up a better night’s sleep. in steps

The first few weeks of honest-to-goodness live-aboard life were spent sleeping in the vee-berth on the foam mattress that came with the boat.  It’s good for a night or two but my back was beginning to complain after that third night.  Our fondest (sleep-centric) wish was to clear out the trunk berth in order to put our very expensive and very comfortable memory foam mattress in there. It is by far the most comfortable bed I have slept on and I had missed it every night (basically since packing everything up and moving to The Commune).

First we had to get Narnia under control.  This took a while since, as I have explained before, it had been torn apart, random stuff shoved in, moved around and completely messed up by the Delivery captain.   So the first step to a good night’s sleep was to reorganize Narnia.  It was no small task.  Each thing had to be evaluated to make sure it was acceptable, viable and necessary.  We threw out a lot.

Next we had to remove all the crap from the trunk berth and put into Narnia.  More evaluating.  More tossing.  More shaking our head in wonderment that we actually paid the person who had done this.

Then we had to clean and fix the trunk berth.  After dirty, salty, grimy, oily things had been thrown into our teak bedroom there was a lot of cleaning to do.  Unfortunately those icky things (engine parts, fenders, boat hooks, sails, hoses, extension cords, tool boxes, tools, greasy rags, etc) had done quite a bit of damage.  We cleaned as best we could and did our best to fix the worst of the scrapes, scuffs and dents.  We weren’t altogether successful.

Last: rip our fancy mattress to shreds (kinda).  Why would we do this?  Logistics.  Half the trunk berth is underneath the cockpit which means there is 18″ between the bed platform (on top of the diesel tanks) and the ceiling.  Our mattress  is  was 11″ thick.  This left 7″ for a human body (mine) to wedge itself in for a restful night’s sleep.  Nope.  Plus the space is almost a queen size.  Not quite.  Initially we thought we were going to have to ditch the mattress.  Not so after careful interweb research.  Turns out that an electric carving knife is just the ticket to slice through foam.

Electric carving knife: check.

Expensive foam mattress: check.

Willingness to go out on a limb for the sake of a good night’s sleep: check.


If you are interested in slimming down your memory foam mattress here is how to do it in five easy steps:

Step one: make template of space to know how much to cut off.

my very helpful kitty was helping
my very helpful kitty was helping
I hope I'm doing this right.
I hope I’m doing this right.
the finished pattern made from real pattern paper.
the finished pattern made from real pattern paper.

Step two: remove mattress from storage locker.  It had been wrapped carefully in plastic to avoid any mar or scrape.

Farewell protective plastic cover!
Farewell protective plastic cover!

Step three: remove plastic and fancy zip-off cover from mattress, which left the very thin knitted pseudo-cover.  Which is stitched on.  Not to worry!  This bring us to…

thin pseudo-cover is just barely holding everything together
thin pseudo-cover is just barely holding everything together


Step four: cut off thin knitted pseudo-cover and begin explorations of mattress structure.

layers and stuff!
look! layers!

Step five: rip off bottom layer of foam.

so careful for about 1.5 minutes
so very careful for about 1.5 minutes

This was really fun!  In the picture you will see a bunch of little dots  Each one of those dots is where the bottom layer of foam was attached to the layer of foam above it.  We started by carefully cutting each one then got tired of how long it was going to take (it was really, really hot at the storage locker) and sort of “Hulked” it apart.

thanks to this incredibly awesome website for the image.
pretend that the Hulk’s shirt is the layers of mattress foam and you have a pretty good idea of how careful we were.  thanks to this incredibly awesome website for the image.

That was the end of the steps to make our mattress thinner.  We ended up with an 8″ thick mattress which is more reasonable for life and sleep.

mattress after foamendectomy
mattress after                               foamendectomy
look at all those little dots!  good thing they're on the bottom!
look at all those little dots. good thing they’re on the bottom!

Ok, so our mattress is thinner but we still need to cut it to shape.  Time to get out the very scientifically laid out pattern!

I couldn’t figure out how I had laid out the pattern.

I have worked in fashion for over 15 years and I couldn’t figure out a pattern.

discarded pattern.  Good thing we had measurements!
discarded pattern

We ended up using a measuring tape and just cutting off the corner based on how wide the space is at the bottom vs the top.  Could we have gone back to the boat and measured it? Sure, but we didn’t.  Why live safely when you can live dangerously (at least as dangerously as cutting up an expensive soft object affords)?


After it was cut we wrapped it back up in the thin pseudo-cover, the fancy zip cover (which was considerably more baggy than it had been), the protective plastic layer, and tied it up with come-alongs.  It had to be maneuverable enough to fit in our truck and down the companionway hatch on our boat.

wrapped up and ready for deploy
wrapped up and ready for action

It fit in the truck.

It fit down the companionway on the boat.

inside the boat folded up
inside the boat folded up
inside the boat unfolded
inside the boat unfolded

It fit in the truck berth.

This being said, if you want the very best sleep of your life: cut up your memory foam mattress and collapse with relief on it when your hair brained scheme actually works.  You’ll sleep like a baby!

The most comfortable bed in the world.
The most comfortable bed in the world.

16 thoughts on “cutting up a better night’s sleep. in steps

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