In Bed With A Norwegian


That’s right. I’m opening my bedroom door. But let me warn you, it’s chilly….And I’m not just saying that to shake off porn-seekers.

The temperature
In a previous post, i have talked about air having special qualities in Norway. It is no coincidence that in this northern part of the world, cold air is associated with freshness and good health. Try to deny it, and they will look at your like a French farmer who just heard that wine and butter are bad for you. In a Norwegian household, sleeping in a cold room is the best start for a good night’s rest. Some couples push it to the extreme by removing the heater altogether. And even then, some people sleep with the window open to let the fresh air inside. I cannot begin to tell you how this has been an adaptation challenge for me.
My mother in law’s bedroom is so cold, you could keep cookies in there for ages (great place to keep beer too!).

The bedroom in our previous apartment was so cold that I could see my own breath, without even opening the window. How can you sleep in those conditions you ask? The key is to have a thick duvet. They come in all shapes, sizes, materials… you can get one for the whole year or buy one for winter and one for the rest of the year. Like everything in this country, the most important characteristic is that it breathes (just like your room, and all your clothes by the way). Meaning: let the air circulate so you don’t sweat, an inconvenience that might kill you when outdoors (and since we’re sleeping with the window open at -15 C, I guess you could almost qualify a normal night in a Norwegian home as “living on the edge”).

The bed
Notwithstanding the corpse-preservation temperature, the typical Norwegian couple’s bed is not one that transpires warmth and contact at first glance. It is quite common to have 2 covers, one each. Sometimes even one mattress each!
Let me specify: i do not live in a nursing home; my friends are all way younger than 70; and no, I don’t lift the bed covers when I visit them. Most of my insider info comes from showrooms at furniture stores and bedding ads on TV (and the occasional conversation with some of my closest friends…).

No matter how hot your husband is, nothing says “keep your distance” like two pairs of covers on the same bed. To me, this is a dangerous passion-killer and I will never give into it (@husband).

As winters are dark and cold, so are summers bright (….and some times cold too). This is why your choice of curtains is crucial. Never before have i put so much thought (and money!) into curtains. They must be thick enough but at the same time not look like you ripped off the velvet drapes at the movies. We have bought and tossed more curtains than I can think of either because they were too thin or too “velvety”.

We finally found the perfect combination: a roll down curtain plus normal curtains over. That’s right, 2 different systems and 4 sets of wholes on your window frame and walls. Nevertheless, it’s the best way I have found to reconcile beauty and comfort. And it’s more flexible too, since you can choose almost any type of normal curtains to cover the roll-down, which is usually very plain.

S & S
Forgive me for being raw, but if there is one rule I share with Norwegians when it comes to the master-bedroom setting it’s this: Sex and Sleep only. Norwegians being big fans of natural and healthy living do not keep a TV in the bedroom. All those waves pollute the air (maybe even mess up with its temperature??). This is something I truly believe contributes to a better quality of sleep.

I can honestly say that every time i slip into a cold bed, i shiver with cultural chock. Although my mind accepts it, my skin will never adapt to it. First of all, coming from a tropical country, it’s not that I’m not used to cold: entering my room and feeling like i have to push around dead cows hanging from the ceiling before I reach my bed is not my idea of cozy.

Second, I am a heavy sleeper. I would sleep under any circumstances, regardless of the temperature or setting, so I can’t really notice the benefits of the Norwegian-way.

However, I have put a cross on my sexy PJ-set because I know my husband needs it to be cold (besides, sexy negligées are itchy). It is a small price to pay though, when you get to snuggle in winter with your favorite Viking; that is, if I never give into having one duvet each!

By now you should have an idea about how it is to be in bed with a Norwegian.

Feature image (on top) Shutterstock

Contributor Gisèle Le ChevallierStory and photos by Giséle Le Chevallier (also see our contributors). Giséle is editor of the blog expatsnorway.