How to Sleep Comfortably in Prison


In Washington, the standard state issue of bedding is two sheets, two blankets, one pillow case, one pillow, and one mattress. If the unit is especially cold the Sgt can authorize the issuing of a third blanket.

The pillow and mattress are made from the same flame-retardant plastic-y material which seems to be specifically engineered to pull heat from a body when it’s cold, and reflect heat when a body is all hot a sweaty.

The size of the mattress is slightly smaller than most twin beds. The mattress itself rests on a piece of painted steel plate or, if one is in the hole, a slab of concrete.

Learning to make one’s bed in a way that is actually comfortable to sleep in is a fine art and one well worth learning if one happens to be incarcerated. There are various approaches, many people swear by that whole “military bunk” thing where you can bounce a quarter off your sheets when its done. I, on the other hand, come from the “bug in a rug” school of thought. This is how I make my bed:

1) Acquire one extra sheet and two extra blankets.

2) Check all of them to make sure they are serviceable. This means that there are no weird stains, massive holes or other problems. Get fresh ones in necessary. It’s often necessary.

3) Compare the sheets. Identify two that have a small 5mm (3/16 in.) hole roughly 15 mm (5/8 in.) from the edge at the midpoint of each of the short edges.
Most of the sheets have them and if one does not, use toenail clippers to make a small cut in the sheet. If in the hole, you can use teeth (assuming you’ve got them). Otherwise, get creative.

3) Drape the first sheet over the mattress. Then, wrapping the sheet around the mattress, feed one of the corners of it through the small hole at the midpoint. Next tie the two corners of the sheet into a square knot. Repeat on the other end.
This secures the sheet to the mattress. Without doing this the sheet will slowly slip off of the mattress and have to be remade halfway through the night.

4) Take the second fluffiest blanket and fold it in half length-wise (That is the hotdog way for those of you who went to Brentwood Elementary, and for everyone else, fold a piece of paper in half two different ways then compare with a cheeseburger). Square the blanket so it mostly lines up with the mattress.

5) Drape the second sheet over the mattress and blanket, then secure it as described in step 3.
Congratulations! The icky state issue mattress has just been upgraded to a pillow top!

6) Slip pillow into pillow case and place pillow at head of bed.
What? I’m being thorough. Do you have any idea how many times I get done with this whole process and realize my pillow is sitting on the floor just out of reach? A lot. Ok? That’s happened a lot.

7) Fold one blanket and place on top of pillow.

8) Drape each blanket on the bed so that one edge of the blanket is lined up with the edge of the mattress nearest the wall. Drape the last sheet over all the blankets in the same manner.

9) Lay down on top. Hold the blankets with your feet by wrapping them around one foot then pinching them between your ankles. Also hold with one hand beside your shoulder.

10) Roll over once, schooch back to be against the wall, then roll over again. If you are skinny like me, you might be able to roll over a third time. This should wrap the blankets around your body making you resemble a giant human burrito.
Be careful to not accidentally knock your pillow off the bed just out of reach. I did say its happened a lot.

11) Enjoy being warm and comfy for once. If you forgot to pee before wrapping up, now would be the time to regret that.


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