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Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 10 Jan 2013 17:12 #1

Can a mattress be "too firm"?

We got our Pure Latex Bliss Pamper mattress about a month ago (it's the newer, "blue" version). We like the feeling of a firm mattress, which is what led us to select the Pamper. But recently I have been waking up with some lower back pain. In my entire life (55), I've never had a problem with back pain before.

However, I wonder if the problem is not the mattress, but perhaps the pillow? In the 4 weeks since we've had this mattress, I've used about half a dozen different pillows. I've yet to try one that I find entirely comfortable. My old pillow didn't work, as it felt too low with this mattress. (Our old mattress had a 2" memory foam topper, so we sunk down in it a bit. With the Pamper there's no sinking, so it feels like I need a higher pillow.) I wake up with a stiff neck every morning, so I know the pillow is a problem, I'm just not sure yet what to do about it.

I used to sleep about 75% on my side, 25% on my back. However, since getting the Pamper, I cannot sleep on my back at all, as it starts to hurt in just a few moments. But I can't be sure of the cause: A too-firm mattress? Or an incorrect pillow?

Please, help! :)

Ken

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Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 10 Jan 2013 17:53 #2

The best advice that I can give is to have the bedding expert evaluate your posture on the showroom model. Pillows have been a real pain in the neck (pun intended) for me. Over the years I've tried a good many, but keep going back to my old filthy worn out tried and true.

On my recent mattress shopping trip we happened to get a true expert. While the magic gizmo said I needed an "A" the sample was too thin so she came with a goofy contour pillow that looked almost like a CPAC pillow with high boilsters that cradle your neck on 3 sides when used as a back sleeper. It really did well for me and I'm tempted to try one, but I've given away about every pillow that I've ever bought...

As for mattresses, I prefer relatively firm yet compliant. It seems most firms just don't have much "depth" to them but the PLB Nutrition seems to have the right idea. My guess is that if you were to add a nice medium density topper your Pamper would be much better. I've considered this option myself, but I really would rather have the mattress be right the first time.

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Last edit: by TD-Max.

Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 10 Jan 2013 18:49 #3

Thank you for the reply, that's probably good advice. Though one of the pillows I've tried (in fact, the one I used last night) was bought at the same time and store as we bought the Pamper (and I was on the showroom model at the time). But they didn't evaluate my poster at all, they just kept throwing different pillows at me to try. As you've found, though, trying one for a few minutes just isn't the same as using it for a full night.

A topper would probably feel more comfortable (and having used one on our previous bed for 10 years, more "normal"). But I thought that might make it less supportive and therefore even worse for my back. This is so complicated; it's worse than buying a car! I wish we had kept our old topper; even though it was too old to use much longer, it would have been great for a test. I just didn't think we'd need it. Stupid!

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Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 10 Jan 2013 21:12 #4

Sounds like you had a sales person and not a bedding expert. A true expert is hard to find, but will point out that a pillow is too low or high. A salesperson will just throw stuff at you to try.

I really think people are missing out on the dominant layer concept. To me the Pamper has a very firm core with only a minimal comfort layer thay you sink right through. I think before I did anything I'd try to find a Nutrition to test. It's not so "sinky" like the soft ones yet offers plenty of comfort. I assume you still have a trial period for your current purchase?

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Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 10 Jan 2013 21:55 #5

It was a small store and the person who helped us was the owner. He knew his beds, but perhaps did not know how to ask the right questions or evaluate our comfort beyond how we ourselves felt.

There's a comfort layer on the Pamper? I don't notice any sinking, so I assumed it was something like 6" + 2", neither being a comfort layer. I'm afraid the Nutrition is beyond our price range, though. We can return this for store credit for another 2-3 weeks, but I'm not sure what we'd do with it. They did have another line, fully customizable (2 or 3, 3" layers of latex, though I can't recall if it was LI latex or not). But it was quite a bit more money (> $500), and my wife probably wouldn't want to venture it. (She's ok with the Pamper. :) )

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Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 11 Jan 2013 00:18 #6

Hi KinFol,

Can a mattress be "too firm"?


Absolutely. A mattress is a balance between pressure relieving layers that are softer and support layers that are firmer. You can read more about this in the "basic functions of a mattress" overview and the other overviews in the mattresses section of the site. A mattress that has comfort layers that are too thin may not isolate you from the firmness of the support layers below them and this can cause either pressure issues or alignment issues ( see this diagram )

We got our Pure Latex Bliss Pamper mattress about a month ago (it's the newer, "blue" version). We like the feeling of a firm mattress, which is what led us to select the Pamper. But recently I have been waking up with some lower back pain. In my entire life (55), I've never had a problem with back pain before.


Again ... this could be because you are not sleeping in alignment or "twisting" away from excess pressure when you are on your side.

However, I wonder if the problem is not the mattress, but perhaps the pillow? In the 4 weeks since we've had this mattress, I've used about half a dozen different pillows. I've yet to try one that I find entirely comfortable. My old pillow didn't work, as it felt too low with this mattress. (Our old mattress had a 2" memory foam topper, so we sunk down in it a bit. With the Pamper there's no sinking, so it feels like I need a higher pillow.) I wake up with a stiff neck every morning, so I know the pillow is a problem, I'm just not sure yet what to do about it.


Lower back issues are not usually connected to a pillow but stiff neck issues or upper back issues certainly could be and a pillow that keeps your head and neck in alignment is an important part of your overall sleeping system.

I used to sleep about 75% on my side, 25% on my back. However, since getting the Pamper, I cannot sleep on my back at all, as it starts to hurt in just a few moments. But I can't be sure of the cause: A too-firm mattress? Or an incorrect pillow?


While it's not possible to accurately "diagnose" the many issues that can happen on a mattress at a distance ... especially without any reference points or more information about your height/weight and body type and the types of mattresses you are used to sleeping on ... the odds are good that the mattress may be too firm for you in the sense that the comfort layer (the top 2" layer of soft latex which is on top of the firmer 6" support core) is too soft and thin and isn't providing enough pressure relief (on your side) or secondary support to the recessed curves of your spine (on your back). It could also be that the difference between the Pamper and what you are used to is so big that you need an adjustment period for your body to get used to a new sleeping surface. A few posts that may also be worth reading that may help you understand what could be appenning includes this one about learned and natural alignment and this one about layering.

TD-Max's suggestion to go into the store and evaluate the store model for alignment (hopefully with some help) is also a good one IMO. This page along with post #11 here talk about testing for alignment. Even testing other mattresses that are out of your price range can be very useful to see what type of layering may work best for you but I suspect that the issue is likely that the Pamper has a comfort layer that is too thin and soft for you and you may need to add a topper to get to the feel and performance that is ideal for you.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 11 Jan 2013 00:33 #7

Wow, many thanks, Phoenix. That will keep me busy for several days. I will post an update when I have something to report.

I'll just add now that I'm 5'10", 130 pounds (yeah, skinny), and our previous mattress (which was 31 years old) was a traditional mattress with coils / innersprings (mounted on a waterbed frame). It was a custom made extra firm, but did begin to bother us after about 20 years, which is when we went out and bought the 2" memory foam topper that we used for about 10 years.

I wish my body had a nice red line like that, it would surely make this so much easier! Again, thank you (and TD-Max).

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Last edit: by KinFol.

Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 11 Jan 2013 00:51 #8

Hi KinFol,

I wish my body had a nice red line like that, it would surely make this so much easier!


I actually gave some thought at one point to inventing some kind of "stick on" that you could paste along the spine or even along the upper side of the body that would give a more visual representation of the alignment of someone on a mattress (at least on their side). A good salesperson with experience can do a pretty good job of eyeballing it and can give you some good suggestions but there aren't a lot of them around compared to the salespeople in many mass market retailers and chain stores who are more about marketing stories and commissions than they are about educating and guiding their customers.

The most important part of testing for alignment though is to completely relax on a mattress for long enough that you can hear the more subtle cues that your body is telling you. What is "subtle" in a showroom (twinges or tension etc) will often be much more obvious after sleeping on a mattress over the course of the night.

It was a custom made extra firm, but did begin to bother us after about 20 years, which is when we went out and bought the 2" memory foam topper that we used for about 10 years.


Even an "extra firm" mattress will have some softer comfort layers (just not enough to completely isolate you from the firmness of the deeper layers) and this in combination with a 2" memory foam topper would probably give you more comfort layer thickness than you currently have on the Pamper. This is one more "data point" that points towards a topper being helpful.

The first goal is to use your testing and the information to assess and intuit the most likely cause of the issues so you are "fixing" the right problem. Sometimes trying to identify mattress issues is a lot like a doctor trying to identify the cause of back issues because there can be many reasons for a similar set of "symptoms" and sometimes the source of the problem is in a different area than the symptoms themselves.

Phoenix
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
Click here for TMU Discount Codes if purchasing from Our Trusted Members.
For any mattress questions Ask An Expert on our forum

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Last edit: by phoenix.

Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 11 Jan 2013 21:35 #9

FYI I did find the pillow that I liked in the store:

www.furniturefirst.com/Glideaway-Sleep-Products-Contour-Deluxe-Pillow/PILCONTRDLX-1169/ItemInformation.aspx

I have not tried this one long term, but I plan to buy one and see how it works.

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Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain 11 Jan 2013 21:52 #10

That's definitely one of the most unusually shaped pillows I've seen ("goofy looking" was an appropriate description!). :) I hope it works for you.

Among your many rejects, have you ever tried a buckwheat husk pillow? My wife uses one of those and I tried it for the first time last night. It wasn't perfect (too hard, but she's taken some husks out to try again tonight), but not terrible, either.

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