Will $150,000 Buy You the Best Sleep You've Ever Had?
The HÃ¤stens Vividus bed does not come with a guarantee to quiet crying babies. It does not vow Peter Pan-like trips to Never Never Land every night. The tooth fairy does not leave $100 bills under its extraordinarily comfortable pillows-although given its nearly $150,000 price tag, that would be a nice perk.What it does promise is more in line with the recent wellness science: With a good night's sleep, you live longer, learn faster, functionbetter, stay in better shape, and look younger. For the cost of a high-end Mercedes or a collectible timepiece, you can take a dip in anall-natural fountain of youth every evening. Or so the thinking goes.I went to the company showroom in New York's Chelsea neighborhood to check it out in person.The price intrigued me the same way that pictures of explodedFerraris do: How can something that looks so ordinary be so valuable? And on first glance, the Vividuslookslike a typical bed. There's no wide-screen TV that emerges from underneath the box spring,no built-in refrigerator. It doesn't spin in circles like a jewelon display beneath a decadent mirrored ceiling.But before I can crawl beneath the covers, HÃ¤stens's vice president of global retail, Bob Cooper, walks me through the history. The first Vividus came out in 2006, aversion that took 160 hours to create and cost $112,900. In the 10 years since, the company has researched how to regulate body temperature and provide support to create what it callsa "perfect night's sleep" without using any heat-trapping rubber or plastic materials. They ended up doubling the amount of time ittakes to build the bed-now 320 hours-and the company uses just four certified craftsmen at HÃ¤stens's dedicated atelier in Sweden to make them. Each Vividusis built to order and takes a minimum of 10 weeks before delivery.How does this all add up to $149,000?It starts at the bottom. The woodenframe ismade from slow-growing northern Swedish pine. On top of thatsits a box spring, called the base, thathas pure steel springsand multiple layers of flax for soundproofing.Above that is the mattress, which holds more springs, layers of cotton and wool batting, and horsehair lining, stacked the wayyou mightmake a lasagna. The mattress pad, or "topper," has its own layers of cotton, wool, and horsehair.Horsehair is critical: The hair is braided by hand, then unwound, to give it even more bounce.Every single curled strand functions likea tiny spring, providing support and pliability. And because each horsehair strand is also ahollow tube (unlike human hair), the materialacts asa miniature airway to wick moisture away so there's no sweat buildup. The cumulative effect of all these layers is that when you lie down on the bed, you feel as ifyour legs are slightly raised, which, as doctors will tell you, is better for circulation and overall heart health. I get in, and I start to see what they mean. Articles such asthis one typically describe luxurious mattresses as "sleeping on a cloud," but the Vividus is not that soft. My feet aresupported unlike any other mattress I've ever slept on. It gives and holds in unusual, but always comfortable,ways. It takes me awhile to settle in, and Cooper says that the longer Istayin it, the more it willrespond to my body, depending on whether I'm a side sleeper or prefer staying on my back. Will it cure my Jimmy leg? I wonder.The longer I'm here, even the price-tag guilt starts to melt away.The whole thing isconstructed in the Swedish style, meaning dovetail joints instead of screws or nails, and the springs areconnected to the mattress interior using a step-stitching process, accomplished by hand with a needle about 18 inches long.Wool batting adds another layer of safetywithout the need for toxic chemicals: In case of fire, the naturally flame retardant fiberwraps around the cotton, suppressing oxygen. The bed is allergen-free and has a guarantee for 25 years, though Cooper says he has seen some mattressesthat are morethan 100 years old, often passed down as family heirlooms. Lying here, I'm doing the math, which at that rate works out to a mere 50Â¢ per hour of sleep. My advice:If you can afford it, buy it. Just don't tryit out, asI did, to see what the fuss was all about. I'm spoiled forever.