Wherever the Road Leads

Mattresses and Campers

The Quest for a Good Night’s Sleep

I’m sure there is a law of physics which states, in an older camper with the original cheap mattress that was installed under the pretense of being light-weight and meant for occasional use, each night’s sleep does NOT get better when slept on every night for the past four months.

I like a firm mattress. I don’t quite understand the logic of people paying a lot of money for a good mattress, choosing a ‘firm’ model, but then choosing to have a ‘pillow top’ to cushion your body between you and the firm mattress. Why order a ‘firm’ if you’re going to soften the blow? To each his own, however.


My first improvement was to simply flip the mattress… what was facing down is now facing up. Yes, I should have turned it top to bottom as well, but that meant dragging the mattress out of the camper, turning it in the direction it needed to be and then dragging it back in. I was surprised at how much simply spinning it helped, though.

My next move was to order a four inch thick ‘mattress top”… four inches to place on top of my somewhat-sagging, factory-installed, cheap – but light-weight(!) – elderly mattress. For $100, it was a worthwhile improvement and my night’s sleep got better.


Worried about the pain and suffering I was about to endure working ten-hour shifts Workamping, it was time for further action. I considered removing the mattress and sleeping on the four-inch foam pad resting on the solid bed-support, a flat piece of plywood. Leaving my mattress leaning up against the dumpster here in this trailer park would go unnoticed.

I realized, though, that if I wanted to sell or trade this camper, I may end up having to buy a mattress just to then give it away.

Now, with discount mattress stores a dime-a-dozen in most communities, why don’t I simply buy a new mattress, not necessarily a Seally Posturpedic, but good enough for a year? Size matters, especially in a camper. A standard queen mattress is 60″ x 80″. A ‘camper’ or ‘short’ queen mattress is 6″ shorter – 60″ x 74″ – and not available in the fly-by-night, strip-mall mattress places.

My next thought was to purchase a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood to put between the mattress and the piece of foam. THAT would stiffen things up, but would be fairly heavy and perhaps shift when pulling the camper. However, I am learning. When the floor was redone, Lee the RV Mechanic used ‘luan’ or ΒΌ” plywood. This stuff is super-thin, very flexible and great for building doll houses…


…or putting between the camper mattress and the piece of foam. I got the guy at Lowe’s to cut a 4′ x 8′ sheet down to 4′ x 6′. I pulled the mattress out of the camper and turned it top to bottom, then I sandwiched the plywood between the mattress and the foam topper.

I’ve never slept better.


Nor has my Paddington Bear Scottish Piper.


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  1. elayne  October 7, 2014

    but how was Tupelo’s sleep??? He probably preferred the softer version. I am glad things are working out for your employment location.. The shifts sounds very long to me but it is 9:30 and I have just rolled out of bed today. It is a dark , dismal, dreary, rainy, stay in bed kind of day.. I hope you have a great one.


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