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Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 06 Mar 2013 21:58 #1

I'm so glad I found this forum. I'm been through a hellish set of circumstances trying to get the right bed, and banging my head on the wall the whole time. Unfortunately, things have not worked out well (5 beds later).

Background

This saga all started when my girlfriend and I figured it would be a good idea to replace our old Sealy pillowtop firm innerspring mattress from 2004. It had served us well - I loved the bed, and slept great on it for a long time. I'm mainly a back sleeper that prefers a relatively firm bed, but I do turn to my sides now and then (not for long). I loved my old bed because it had a the perfect set of a small cushion layer (which was not very thick) and the strong support of the interconnected coils underneath. We figured it would be a good idea to replace the bed given that it had been 10 years, but that turned out to be a bad idea.

I'm 30 years old, 5'11", 150 lbs. My girlfriend is 5'6" and 125 lbs. We are both back and side combination sleepers (her more than me) and we seem to prefer firmer mattresses - although my girlfriend is very flexible and has been able to sleep on most if not all of the beds I've had problems with.

Bed 1

We decided to get on a Groupon deal for a Simmons Beautyrest Classic plush bed, not realizing it was going to be way too soft for us. We got it in mid December, and it was OK for awhile. Both of us got to sleep, but we soon were experiencing back pain. We realized the bed was way to soft, and we needed something more supportive.

Bed 2

We went to a local discount store that sold floor model mattresses from Macy's and other stores, for very very cheap. We got an old Sterns and Foster bed which appeared to be circa 2005, super firm, for a cheap price. Once we got it home, we realized we had totally overcorrected. This Sterns and Foster was hard as a rock. Literally felt harder than sleeping on the floor. Also, there were some sleep depressions already being the floor model, which made the mattress uneven. We quickly realized it had to go back.

Bed 3

Thinking that we should try to go to the chain stores to get something reputable, we decided to go to Macy's. We ended up picking out a firm pillowtop ( www1.macys.com/shop/product/beautyrest-classic-mattress-sets-park-hall-firm-pillowtop?ID=657486 ), thinking that it would be as good as the one we used to have in the Sealy. After we received the mattresses, we slept pretty well for the first day or two. Then I started experiencing pain in my right shoulder - it was very strange. I asked around and did some research, and realized that this model of pillowtop had a huge ton of memory foam in it - which was probably causing me to sink in very deeply into the mattress and cause my shoulders to be contorted inward, and causing my muscles to spasm. Also, I sleep very hot, and this bed was making me really hot at night, sweating a great deal. From this experience, I realized I like the feeling of sleeping "on" the bed instead of "in" the bed, because I do move around a great deal at night and do not want to have the feeling of being sunken in. Needless to say, at this point I was thinking what we could possibly do to get this right.

Bed 4

Realizing that I could not live with perpetual shoulder pain every night, I arranged a return of the Macy's bed (with a restocking fee) and figured I would go to the big box retailer (Sleep Train) and get a bed, with a comfort guarantee. Ended up paying almost $2k for a Beautyrest Black Abriana extra firm ( www.themattressexpert.com/Simmons-Beautyrest-Black-Abriana-Extra-Firm/ ) thinking that I would shell out good money for something that is firm and would work for me. Again, I think I may have slightly overcompensated in getting a firm bed having realized that memory foam was bad for my general sleep feeling. This bed was probably the best out of the bunch of beds, although it was still really firm. It felt way firmer than the bed in the showroom when it arrived. Almost too firm. It did solve most of my shoulder issues, although finding the right pillow was the hard part as I was getting some neck pain. I had a thought of perhaps getting a latex topper for the bed, given that it was extra firm, and adding a little bit of comfort (but not a lot) would help.

Instead, I decided to do another dumb thing and swap out the bed for more cushioned version of the Beautyrest Black series - Beautyrest Black Ansleigh Plush Firm ( www.themattressexpert.com/Simmons-Beautyrest-Black-Ansleigh-Plush-Firm/ ) thinking that this bed would probably be the best balance of cushioning and firmness. Pete from the mattress blog online seemed to highly recommend the bed, and I figured it would be a good compromise. Plus, we were going to get a much cheaper price from a competitor than Sleep Train's almost $2k price for the Abriana.

Bed 5

After getting the Ansleigh Plush Firm and sleeping on it for several nights, I quickly came to realize it was too soft for me (crap!). My lower back was not supported enough. Also, it has some weird peaks and valleys (not sure if the mattress is just bad or the box spring) which is causing me to slide toward the center of the bed, and causing me some shoulder problems again. The mattress seems very uneven - very soft in the middle part of the bed, but harder on the sides and top and bottom, causing me to feel like my whole midsection and shoulders are sinking in, while my legs and head still stay up. This is a horrible feeling to have, and I feel like I made another mistake bouncing from bed to bed.

What Now?

Needless to say, I am tired, beaten down, and just throughly frustrated by this whole experience. It is even more depressing that my original bed which served us so well was in perfect functioning order, but we just thought that we should replace the bed given that it was getting close to 10 years, and that we should replace it with something nicer. Not getting a good night's sleep for 2 months so far has worn me down considerably, both mentally and physically (especially for someone like me who is used to getting 8 hours a night).

What should I do now? I have to wait 30 days to return my last bed purchase (Ansleigh Plush Firm). I'm thinking I need to sleep on the futon for now until I figure out what to do. I need the guidance of people like Phoenix and others on this forum:

(1) Should I switch back to the Beautyrest Black Abriana Extra Firm and add a latex topper? I feel like the extra firm was close to what I wanted in terms of the feel, but was just a bit too firm for my tastes. I can do an exchange for my current bed, but that would be it - no more exchanges or refunds after that.

(2) Realizing I don't like to "sink" into a bed, and instead be on "top" of the bed, should I look at old interconnected coil mattresses designs? I feel like having slept on those for so long and being used to the way they feel, this might be a possible solution?

(3) Maybe I should get a latex mattress? I have not tried any Latex mattresses, so I have no idea how they feel, but my chiro has said he uses one, although he didn't push it on me.

(4) I'm in the SF Bay Area and saw the list of stores that Phoenix recommended. I'm planning to stop by Nest Bedding and perhaps European Sleep Works and get an idea of what works. Also, I found a store near my workpace that seems reputable - Urban Sleep Store. Does anyone have any experience with them?

Please help! I'm desperate for advice and do not want to make the same mistake again in buying a bed!!!!!!! Thank you!

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Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 06 Mar 2013 23:43 #2

Familiar story, and I can sure sympathize; we went 4 months without a good nights sleep (and I need my 8-9 hours a night!) before finding this forum and beginning an intelligent search for a good bed. That took another few weeks, but now we have a perfect mattress. :)

Phoenix will give you the info and resources you need. I would just say, do NOT skimp on any of the steps, especially trying out the beds in the stores. Don't just lie down for a few seconds and see how it "feels"; follow the steps and really check it out. The store people aren't used to this but don't be daunted; it's your money, your sleep, your quality of life.

One other thing; they passed a new law around 2008 requiring all mattresses to be doused with toxic fire retardant chemicals. (We actually got sick from our first new mattress). When I learned about that, I was furious and just wished I could have my old bed back! The only way around the FR chemicals: 1) buy a mattress with a wool cover (naturally fire-retardant), or 2) some stores sell "chemical free" mattresses with regular covers, but you have to have a doctor's prescription for those.

Good luck!

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Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 07 Mar 2013 02:48 #3

Hi Postal007,

Needless to say, I am tired, beaten down, and just throughly frustrated by this whole experience. It is even more depressing that my original bed which served us so well was in perfect functioning order, but we just thought that we should replace the bed given that it was getting close to 10 years, and that we should replace it with something nicer. Not getting a good night's sleep for 2 months so far has worn me down considerably, both mentally and physically (especially for someone like me who is used to getting 8 hours a night).


I can sympathize with your experiences and while they are unusual in the number of mattresses you have tried ... your experiences themselves are not unusual at all. The major brands are just not the same quality as they were 10 or 15 years ago and there have been many changes in the industry including the ones that Sleep1 mentioned which together with not disclosing any meaningful information about the quality of the materials that are inside them are the main reasons I suggest avoiding them completely. To use an analogy ... in most cases when you buy these mattresses you are paying real wood prices for a mattress that contains particle board ... and they won't provide you with the information that will let you know.

Unfortunately with these brands and manufacturers ... the price you pay is not an indication of its quality, durability, or suitability.

What should I do now? I have to wait 30 days to return my last bed purchase (Ansleigh Plush Firm). I'm thinking I need to sleep on the futon for now until I figure out what to do. I need the guidance of people like Phoenix and others on this forum:


As Sleepy1 mentioned ... there are no shortcuts but there are steps and information that can help you break the cycle you are on. The first of these is to spend an hour or two reading post #1 here . this is the single most important post on the forum and the information and links that are in it will give you all the basic information you need to help you avoid the worst choices (like all the mattresses that you have tried so far or any other major brands or chain stores) and help you identify the better ones to focus on (usually smaller independent manufacturers that either sell factory direct or through better sleep shops that use much better quality of materials and lower prices in any apples to apples comparisons and have the knowledge and experience to help you make better choices).

(1) Should I switch back to the Beautyrest Black Abriana Extra Firm and add a latex topper?


In a word ... no. It would only give you two variables to deal with. There are much better directions than trying to match a mattress to a topper and this would only be a good idea if you had no other options IMO.

(2) Realizing I don't like to "sink" into a bed, and instead be on "top" of the bed, should I look at old interconnected coil mattresses designs? I feel like having slept on those for so long and being used to the way they feel, this might be a possible solution?


This could definitely be a good possible solution but the layering of the foam above the innerspring will be very important (it's the weak link of a mattress). Your own testing will help you decide if this is a good option and if it is the design and layering that is best for you but more important than that is to make sure that you are dealing with a retailer or manufacturer that will not only help you know the quality of the mattress you are buying but will help you make the most suitable choice.

(3) Maybe I should get a latex mattress? I have not tried any Latex mattresses, so I have no idea how they feel, but my chiro has said he uses one, although he didn't push it on me.


This could also be a very good options and once again it would be well worthwhile testing different versions of latex or latex combinations (such as a latex/innerspring hybrid). Once again the guidance and knowledge of who you buy from can be more important than what you buy.

(4) I'm in the SF Bay Area and saw the list of stores that Phoenix recommended. I'm planning to stop by Nest Bedding and perhaps European Sleep Works and get an idea of what works.


You are fortunate to live in the SF Bay area because you have some great choices available to you. I know you've seen this but for others who are reading this thread they are listed in post #2 here .

The first step is some reading. The next is knowing what to exclude. The next is to talk with each of the options in SF that attracts you and talk with them on the phone (before you go there). In other words decide on who you want to work with and who you best connect with. Tell them the short version of what you have written here or any part of it that you consider most important.

The next step is to visit the ones that you connect with and test mattresses with their help and guidance and narrow your selection down at each retailer or manufacturer you visit to one.

The final step ... and by this time you will have "all good choices" is to use your own personal value equation to narrow your choices down to one. Knowing all the layers of each mattress you considering will also help you make "value comparisons" and your own personal value equation will help you make all the objective, subjective, an intangible tradeoffs that will help you narrow them down to one.

Also, I found a store near my workpace that seems reputable - Urban Sleep Store. Does anyone have any experience with them?


They carry OrganicPedic (OMI for short) which are high quality latex mattresses but much higher priced than other mattresses that use similar materials. They also carry Pure Latex Bliss which are also latex mattresses (they have a blended latex line and an all natural latex line) which are "better than average" value in many cases but also not in the same value range as many other choices you have in the area. They carry Technogel which are a specialty mattress that uses anywhere from 1/2" to 1" of "soft solid gel" (similar to some of the gel that is infused in memory foam and other materials but in "pure" form) but other than this they use materials that are commonly available in other mattresses and also carry a much higher price than the materials in them would normally justify. Finally they carry Tempurpedic which are mostly high quality (with some exceptions which use lower quality materials) but are also significantly overpriced. In other words ... they tend to carry good quality mattresses at premium prices.

Hope this helps ... and feel free to post with any other questions that can help you get off the merry go round of "bad" mattresses :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 07 Mar 2013 05:11 #4

Thanks so much Phoenix. Appreciate your advice and help, and feel much more empowered with new information to break the cycle of bad mattresses!

I had one follow up question. Do you know of any local manufacturers that still use interconnected coils for the support system? It seems most if not all manufacturers have shifted to use pocketed coils for motion transfer purposes. Thanks again for your time!

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Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 07 Mar 2013 06:54 #5

Hi postal007,

It would probably depend on what type of foam or padding you wanted above the innerspring but a quick scan seemed to show several at least. I would look at the websites (for those that show their mattresses) and then call them on the phone and ask (websites aren't always up to date) and perhaps specify what you wanted in the comfort layers as well but it would surprise me if there weren't quite a few to choose from of various types (offset or bonnell coils) with different types of foam or cushioning materials above the innerspring.

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.

Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 09 Mar 2013 02:52 #6

Phoenix - thanks for the great tips. Today my girlfriend and I armed with some more information intended to go to a bunch of different mattress shops to look at mattresses. We ended up narrowing our choice down to nest bedding where joe, the friendly and helpful owner, took great care if us. We tried out a bunch of different beds but ended up with the quail organic bed, which is a zoned pocketed coil with a 3" topper of pure organic Dunlop. I think both of us thought this gave us a great firmness that we were seeking while having a little bit of give (but not a lot) from the Dunlop latex. Made me realize more than ever that I like sleep on top of the mattress and not sinking in. We also tried the cheaper interconnected coil version, but ended up liking the quail a lot more. We're getting it delivered tomorrow - will update you on how it goes! But I am super excited about this one - we took almost 2 hours at the store making sure it was the right fit.

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Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 09 Mar 2013 04:36 #7

Hi postal007,

As you probably know ... I think highly of Joe and he is very knowledgeable about materials and mattresses. He is what I call "mattress people" and you are in good hands.

It sounds to me like you did some good testing and made a good choice and I'm looking forward to your feedback once you've had the chance to sleep on it for a bit.

Congratulations on your new mattress :)

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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Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 11 Mar 2013 16:26 #8

Thanks Pheonix for all your help.

As an update, I got the bed this past weekend, and slept on it the first two nights.

First night was OK - got some neck and shoulder issues, but I think that was due to a wrong pillow. I switched over to using a contour pillow on the second night - and it was much better.

There are two concerns with things so far after 2 nights on the bed.

First, I notice that sometimes my shoulders (especially the pointy part of my blades in contact with the top of the mattress, where the rotator cuff is) appear to get pressure points or pressure builds up there. I feel sometimes they are a bit sore. Again some of this may have to do with the pillow I used on the first night (which was too high), but is this an indication that the mattress is too firm (at least where my shoulders are)? I'm not a big guy - 5'11" 150 lbs - and most of my weight is distributed in my lower body (buttocks, quads, etc.) - my upper body is much less built. Would a softer latex layer possibly help?

Second, another slightly concerning thing to me is that I'm getting some pain in my mid-lower back, near the lumbar region, when I wake up. I sit in the bed and listen to my body, and definitely notice that there's something alignment related that is wrong. Some of the pain is from the previous beds I've been on, but I'm afraid that somehow my alignment is off. What would cause my lumbar to not get enough support? The Quail mattress uses a zoned coil system ( www.nestbedding.com/products/nest-organics-quail-organic-mattress ) with a 3" dunlop latex topper.

[EDIT]: The Quail mattress base appears to be a Jamestown mattress, 6" pocketed coil system using Leggett and Platt Body Print zoned coil system (15.5, 15, 15.5 gauge) seen here. ( www.lpbodyprint.com/documents/3zone.pdf ). The topper (I checked today) is Arpico latex topper ( nf.arpicorubber.com/product_portfolio/latex_mattresses.html ) that is in medium firmness (between 75 and 95 kg/m^3).

I notice that with this bed, for some reason, there's a slight slope to either end and the sides of the bed at the edges (maybe where the latex layer is being packed in on the edges)? When I sleep on the bed, the lower part of my legs happen to hit this slight slope and go downwards - I wonder if this is causing my lumbar not to get enough support. Depending on the position, I notice I can barely pass a hard through the curve between the base of my back to the middle of my back in the lumbar - there's a (very) slight gap there. Is this another indication that my comfort layer is too firm?

Currently, the comfort layer on the mattress is a "medium" firm dunlop latex of 3". Would a softer comfort layer potentially address some of these problems?

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Last edit: by postal007.

Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 11 Mar 2013 21:55 #9

Hi postal7,

Post #2 here will give you some insights into some of the things to look for when you are considering any fine tuning but I think that it's far to early in the process to even begin to consider or speculate about any changes or the "cause" of any symptoms when you have only had a few nights on the mattress.

First, I notice that sometimes my shoulders (especially the pointy part of my blades in contact with the top of the mattress, where the rotator cuff is) appear to get pressure points or pressure builds up there. I feel sometimes they are a bit sore.


The pointy parts of the shoulder blades are not typically a "pressure point" and could be more related to a pillow issue or alignment issue (or in your case just a matter of adjusting to a new sleeping surface). Although anything is possible of course ... pressure points on the back are not nearly as common as they are on the side. There would normally be plenty of "softness" to relieve pressure on the shoulder blades and pain or discomfort in this area is more likely to be about lateral or vertical alignment (see post #6 here and post #7 here ).

Second, another slightly concerning thing to me is that I'm getting some pain in my mid-lower back, near the lumbar region, when I wake up. I sit in the bed and listen to my body, and definitely notice that there's something alignment related that is wrong. Some of the pain is from the previous beds I've been on, but I'm afraid that somehow my alignment is off. What would cause my lumbar to not get enough support? The Quail mattress uses a zoned coil system ( www.nestbedding.com/products/nest-organi...ail-organic-mattress ) with a 3" dunlop latex topper.


I would suspect that this could also be about adjusting to a new surface and possibly your "learned" alignment and the difference between your current mattresses and what you were sleeping on previously. As to the specific cause ... I don't know because I can't see you on the mattress and don't have the ability to have a longer more detailed conversation on the phone but the previous links should provide some insights that may be helpful ... although I would not put too much emphasis on what you experience in the early stages when the mattress is just beginning to break in and you are in the early stages of adjusting to a new mattress.

The first place to go for guidance though is always the manufacturer or retailer of the mattress (assuming they are experienced and knowledgeable which is the case with Joe) because they will have far more experience with the mattresses they make, sell, or design than I do and more detailed conversations with them than is possible on a forum would lead to more specific suggestions than mine which is always more limited to "theory" and "general suggestions" and helping people understand the variables involved in more general terms.

I notice that with this bed, for some reason, there's a slight slope to either end and the sides of the bed at the edges (maybe where the latex layer is being packed in on the edges)? When I sleep on the bed, the lower part of my legs happen to hit this slight slope and go downwards - I wonder if this is causing my lumbar not to get enough support. Depending on the position, I notice I can barely pass a hard through the curve between the base of my back to the middle of my back in the lumbar - there's a (very) slight gap there. Is this another indication that my comfort layer is too firm?


Again ... I don't have nearly as much knowledge about the specific design of the mattress as Joe would so he would be the best person to ask these types of questions. This would involve much more "fine detail" than I could possibly deal with on a forum without knowing much more both about the mattress itself and about how you interact with it. I doubt that any "slight slope" or what is called "crowning" would have the effect you are describing but again I would have no way of knowing for sure.

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.

Confused, Tired, and in Seek of Guidance - Mattress Saga 13 Mar 2013 16:37 #10

Hi Phoenix:

Thanks for your help and reassurance. I called Joe and he said that he'd have my back in case my pain continues through the adjustment period, and be willing to swap out the layers to get the feel right. I'm going to keep sleeping on the bed and see if things adjust.

Two follow up questions:

(1) I was just doing a bit more research on things, and I noticed certain people (including you) having hesitation about putting a pocket coil mattress on a slatted bed base. I got a slatted base with bowed slats from Nest Bedding here: www.nestbedding.com/collections/platforms/products/ventura-platform-foundations . Nest has assured me that my Quail mattress with pocket coils is fine to go on this type of platform, as the slats are less than 3" apart. Do you have any reservations about putting a pocket coil mattress on these type of slats? I just want to make sure there won't be any permanent damage over time.

(2) I did some more reading on the forum and found some posts you wrote about "pushback". For example, post 2 here I'm thinking maybe part of this is a pushback issue with the latex topper I'm experiencing as "back pain" or "back strain"? I would imagine that this would be different on a 3" dunlop latex over pocket coils vs. all latex mattress. Is what you were saying in that post equally true for a mattress with just a latex topper? If so, then perhaps the "fix" assuming that I never adjust to the new feeling is getting a softer comfort layer on top of the current layer? Or should I try to change the thickness of the comfort layers - i.e. a softer 1" layer on top of a 2" firmer layer?

Thanks,
John

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Last edit: by postal007.
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