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Alignment, posture, and arm sensitivity

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12 Apr 2015 17:02 #1 by we4321
First off, this site is filled with lots of useful information and I am glad such a site exists.

I have purchased a number of beds throughout the years in search for one that will allow me to sleep fully throughout the night. Fortunately, I have purchased from companies that allowed me to return if I was unhappy.

My sleep problem: I am side sleeper and my arms fall asleep at night and cause me to toss throughout the night. I feel this is due to alignment as well as arm sensitivity. This leaves me tired throughout the day. I have tried memory foam mattresses from select foam as well as latex mattresses from brooklyn bedding. While I am pleased to say that quality of mattress as well as customer service from both companies have been great, I am still tossing throughout the night.

My current bed is the aloe alexis from brooklyn bedding. The specs of the mattress are below:

7" HD core
3" 28 ILD support layer
3" 24 ILD comfort layer
www.brooklynbedding.com/latex-mattresses/14-inch-aloe

I am 5'6, 165lbs and I find that my hips sink in deeper then my shoulders. Due to this, brooklyn bedding suggested I change the support and/or comfort layers with firmer layers(both 32 and 28 ILDs were tried), but my arms fell asleep even faster then normal with the firmer layers. I also tried softer layers(both 19 and 14 ILDs) as well.

I have also tried numerous pillows but issue persists. I am unsure of how to resolve my arm and alignment issues. I know you mentioned there is often no need for zoning at all here( www.themattressunderground.com/mattresse...tips-and-tricks.html ), but I cannot seem to find any other solution.

I prefer the bouncy feeling of latex versus the sinking feeling of memory foam. I have been looking at the zoned mattresses from Flobeds. I wanted to know what you suggest for my case. Should I look at zoned mattresses? If so, are there any others besides Flobeds you suggest? Also, what should I be looking for specifically and/or other suggestions would you recommend? Thanks in advance.

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12 Apr 2015 18:52 - 12 Apr 2015 19:10 #2 by Phoenix
Hi we4321,

I wanted to know what you suggest for my case. Should I look at zoned mattresses? If so, are there any others besides Flobeds you suggest? Also, what should I be looking for specifically and/or other suggestions would you recommend? Thanks in advance.


Unfortunately there are far too many unknowns, variables, and different possibilities involved to be able to make any specific suggestions based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or "theory at a distance" (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here ). Trying to "diagnose" sleeping issues or symptoms such as these would be somewhat similar to a doctor trying to "diagnose" a medical condition on a forum with very limited information and only more generic descriptions of symptoms that can could come from many different causes and without being able to talk with them and examine them in person or do any testing that can help identify the most likely cause for the "symptoms" they are experiencing.

I can certainly make a few more general suggestions that may help in tracking down some of the possible reasons for your symptoms but it will likely take some trial and error based on the results of your actual sleeping experience to do some of the detective work involved that can track down what may be happening or confirm whether any of them will result in any improvement.

In more general terms there are really 4 main possibilities. They are physiological issues, a pillow issue, an alignment or postural issue, or a mattress issue.

Physiological issue:

When you have had the same issues with many mattresses over a period of years then this would "point to" a greater likelihood that this could be a physical issue rather than a "sleeping system issue" which of course would be outside the scope of a mattress forum. The best suggestion here would be to talk with a health professional so that they can help you determine whether there are any physical issues that could be causing your symptoms.

Pillow Issue:

I know you mentioned that you have tried different pillows but you may not have tried a pillow that keeps your head and neck in the alignment you need. The pillow that works best for you can vary with different mattresses depending on how much you are sinking into the mattress and the distance between your head and neck and the mattress surface. Softer mattresses may need thinner pillows and firmer mattresses may need thicker pillows but in very general terms side sleepers tend to need higher profile and possibly firmer pillows. If you are a side sleeper and your pillow is too thin or too soft then your head can bend sideways towards the mattress which could impair blood circulation or pinch nerves and could also increase the pressure on your shoulders. One indication of a pillow that is too thin could be if you sleep with your hand under the pillow.

Postural issue:

This is also a very strong possibility depending on the position of your arms when you are sleeping on your side. I would make sure that your lower arm is in front of you and it may be worth trying a pillow under the lower part of your lower arm (from just below the elbow to the hand) with your elbow bent and the hand somewhere around the 1:00 o'clock to the 2:00 o'clock position. This can rotate the arm enough to better align the shoulder and create a more neutral position and also rotate and increase the surface area of the upper arm and shoulder that is in contact with the mattress which can also reduce pressure. You can experiment with this by lying on a hard floor on your side with a thick enough pillow under your head to make sure that your head and neck are in good alignment and then using a thinner pillow under your lower arm in slightly different positions to see the effect it has on shoulder pressure. The effect of different arm positions and the pillow under your lower arm on shoulder alignment and pressure should be quite noticeable.

Mattress issue:

If you are a side sleeper and have too much pressure on your upper body or shoulders then a thicker or softer comfort layer can allow the shoulders to sink in more deeply and help to relieve pressure and maintain blood flow which will usually solve a pressure issue. Of course thicker or softer comfort layers can also allow your hips/pelvis to sink in more deeply and can put your lower back or pelvis out of alignment as well but this would cause a different set of symptoms than the symptoms you are experiencing. If you have ruled out some of the other possibilities and you can't find a balance between comfort layers that are thick and soft enough to relieve pressure on your shoulders without causing lower back issues as well then zoning can certainly be helpful as well because you can have a softer shoulder zone (relative to your lumbar and pelvis) which can "allow" your shoulders to sink in enough to relieve pressure while at the same time having a firmer zone under your lumbar or pelvis to keep you in good alignment. The "trick" with zoning is that the particular zoning pattern is a good match for your body type, sleeping positions, and weight distribution because in some cases some types of zoning can be detrimental and others can be helpful and the only way to know for certain is based on your own sleeping experience. There is more about zoning in post #11 here and the other posts it links to.

I am 5'6, 165lbs and I find that my hips sink in deeper then my shoulders.


I wouldn't worry too much about how much your hips may be sinking in partly because it's not really possible to measure accurately but mostly because if your hips are sinking in too deeply then you would most likely be experiencing "symptoms" in your lower body as well and unless you also have lower body "symptoms" (pain or discomfort in your lower back especially) I would focus more on the type of options that would have a greater chance of relieving your upper body and shoulder symptoms.

Hopefully one or a combination of several of these suggestions will help but outside of being examined for any physical issues that could be the cause of your symptoms I would start with the simpler postural and pillow suggestions to assess their results and see if they lead to any improvement (even if they don't completely solve the issue) before making further changes in your mattress or deciding whether to try a zoned mattress.

Phoenix

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Last edit: 12 Apr 2015 19:10 by Phoenix.

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13 Apr 2015 12:09 #3 by MattressToGo

Pillow Issue:

I know you mentioned that you have tried different pillows but you may not have tried a pillow that keeps your head and neck in the alignment you need. The pillow that works best for you can vary with different mattresses depending on how much you are sinking into the mattress and the distance between your head and neck and the mattress surface. Softer mattresses may need thinner pillows and firmer mattresses may need thicker pillows but in very general terms side sleepers tend to need higher profile and possibly firmer pillows. If you are a side sleeper and your pillow is too thin or too soft then your head can bend sideways towards the mattress which could impair blood circulation or pinch nerves and could also increase the pressure on your shoulders. One indication of a pillow that is too thin could be if you sleep with your hand under the pillow.

Postural issue:

This is also a very strong possibility depending on the position of your arms when you are sleeping on your side. I would make sure that your lower arm is in front of you and it may be worth trying a pillow under the lower part of your lower arm (from just below the elbow to the hand) with your elbow bent and the hand somewhere around the 1:00 o'clock to the 2:00 o'clock position. This can rotate the arm enough to better align the shoulder and create a more neutral position and also rotate and increase the surface area of the upper arm and shoulder that is in contact with the mattress which can also reduce pressure. You can experiment with this by lying on a hard floor on your side with a thick enough pillow under your head to make sure that your head and neck are in good alignment and then using a thinner pillow under your lower arm in slightly different positions to see the effect it has on shoulder pressure. The effect of different arm positions and the pillow under your lower arm on shoulder alignment and pressure should be quite noticeable.


I'll add a few things into the mix from a sleep lab technician. These have been helpful to me.

(Assuming for the sake of these examples that you're sleeping upon your right side)

As mentioned by Phoenix, make sure your pillow is sized correctly and thick enough to support your head and maintain alignment. When using your pillow, work on placing it directly underneath your head/neck area and not having it draped over the top of your (right) arm. Work on keeping your head out of forward flexion and keeping the weight of your head on the pillow and not on your arm. It's surprising how much of a difference this can make.

When lying on your side, try hugging a pillow to abduct your should girdle. This helps move your should joint forward a bit and reduces the amount of direct pressure placed upon the shoulder joint.

Another trick that helps to take some of the direct pressure off of the should joint is to place a pillow behind you and lean slightly against it while lying on your side. This lets you relax a bit more and moves the should joint forward just a bit.

Being wider in the shoulders, I've found it helpful to place a pillow under my free (left) arm. This extra elevation and support helps take some stress off of the upper shoulder girdle.

Depending upon my state of physical fitness/fatigue/soreness, I'll use a combination of these techniques along with some of the ones Phoenix mentioned every night, and the techniques I use will vary depending upon whether I'm lying on my left or right side.

Good luck!
-Jeff

Jeff Scheuer, The Beducator™ Owner of Mattress To Go
Researching for a mattress?... read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
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13 Apr 2015 12:36 #4 by we4321
Thank you both Phoenix and Jeff. Your feedback is invaluable. I will go ahead and try some of these suggestions and report back once I've had a chance to try them all. Fingers crossed. Thanks again

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