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Any suggestions? 20 Oct 2020 21:35 #1

Hi:

I'm hoping someone can shed some light on my next step for the following problem. I must do something. My sleep is disturbed in a major way on a nightly basis.

I wake up may times a night and have to stretch my back to fall back asleep. The stiffness is in the middle of my back. After being up a few minutes in the morning it goes away.

I sleep well on many hotel beds.

I'm 5" 3', 140 pounds. I sleep on my stomach mainly, with one leg jutted out and sometimes on my side. When i lay on my back the pain goes away, but I have trouble falling asleep in that position. I have a custom platform bed. It provides excellent support to the mattress.

I'm on my third bed:
First was memory foam. I can't remember the manufacturer, but I got it from Sit and Sleep. I slept on it for many years, even though it bothered my back.
I then tried the Nest full latex bed. Tried both the medium and firm latex topper, Returned it.
I now have the Hybrid Coil mattress from Arizona Prem. It has the medium latex topper. I should have returned it, but did not. My bad I'm not disparaging the product, it just does not work well for me..

When I can't fall back asleep in my bed I move to my couch. It is 65% polyurethane foam pad, 15% textile waste fiber pad of unknown kind, 12% cotton waste batting and 8% resinated polyester fiber batting.

When I sleep there, my back hurts not at all or much less.

The top of my mattress unzips, so I was hoping changing the topper to other suggestions would be the path to solving the problem.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Ellen

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Any suggestions? 22 Oct 2020 13:41 #2

Hi emc.

Dealing with back pain and sleep disturbances can be very unsettling. The good news is that with all these experiments you’ve been through you are slowly gathering all data needed to pinpoint a more suitable construction moving forward.

I'm 5" 3', 140 pounds. I sleep on my stomach mainly, with one leg jutted out and sometimes on my side.


Thank you for sharing your sleep stats with us. Stomach sleeping is the most likely position to cause trouble of all sleeping positions ... it surely tends to bug lots of backs out there. (Including mine when I used to sleep face down). Your “jotted out leg” may also create some posture issues as well. Prone sleeping positions has special requirements when it comes to mattress support/comfort. As a rule, stomach sleepers need a thinner, firmer top comfort layer than the other sleeping positions to avoid hyperextension of the lumbar area (which is likely why you’re experiencing relief when switching to sleeping on your back).

You are on the normal side of BMI so you won’t need much comfort layer thickness. A good place to start is 1" of softer material in the comfort layers, so there is enough "softness" to cushion the bony parts of the pelvis. In general, stomach sleepers should choose the thinnest and firmest comfort layers comfortable to them, as sinking in too far can lead to a swayback position and cause back issues.

I'm on my third bed: First was memory foam. I can't remember the manufacturer, but I got it from Sit and Sleep. I slept on it for many years, even though it bothered my back. I then tried the Nest full latex bed. Tried both the medium and firm latex topper, Returned it. I now have the Hybrid Coil mattress from Arizona Prem. It has the medium latex topper. I should have returned it, but did not. My bad I'm not disparaging the product, it just does not work well for me.


Putting up with pain is not a good thing (if you have a choice) as leaving it unattended may create or exacerbate postural issues over time. Did you have any issues with the bed prior to your memory foam bed? If not, do you remember what the bed layering and construction was? One issue with memory foam, in general, is that it has very low resilience, has a more "in the mattress" feel to it, and changes its feel and response with pressure, temperature, humidity, and length of time it is subject to compression forces. It can feel firm in some conditions or circumstances and soft under different conditions. You can read more about the pros and cons of memory foam in this article

Too bad that the Nest and APM beds haven’t worked for you. Did you make any changes to the Nest mattress in an attempt to make it work for you? Did you sleep on each one for the recommended number of nights needed to properly adjust to the mattress before making the ultimate decision that the bed(s) didn’t work for you? Sometimes, a new mattress can cause us pain as our body re-adjusts to a proper sleep position.

I can see you’ve also been in contact with Ken and are awaiting any other recommendations he may have to help you make the Arizona Premium bed work.

When I can't fall back asleep in my bed I move to my couch… When I sleep there, my back hurts not at all or much less.


Are you able to fall asleep on your back when on the couch? Or, do you also fall asleep on your stomach? Either way, couches are often much firmer than beds and this may be indicative that you’ve chosen mattresses that have comfort layers that are potentially too thick, too soft, for both for your needs.

The top of my mattress unzips, so I was hoping to change the topper to other suggestions would be the path to solving the problem.


It’s likely that trying a firmer latex layer could be a step in the right direction. This may also be worth asking Ken.
I know you mentioned your custom platform bed is very supportive. Would you happen to have a picture of the base?

Phoenix
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Any suggestions? 25 Oct 2020 19:59 #3

Hi Phoenix:

Thank you SO much for your reply. It amazingly generous of you. See my replies below. I've attached a picture of my platform bed. It's just the corner, because the mattress is heavy to move (Cal King), but the entire platform is the same as the corner you see in the picture. I could not figure out how to get the shading to work, so I used the Your Question, My Answer format.

Your Question: As a rule, stomach sleepers need a thinner, firmer top comfort layer than the other sleeping positions to avoid hyperextension of the lumbar area (which is likely why you’re experiencing relief when switching to sleeping on your back).

My Answer: Makes sense! Is the comfort layer the top layer that I can remove? With the Nest bed I tried both the medium and firm latex toppers, both 3', and slept on them both for a few months. Maybe I should try 1' firm latex? Is it possible to have the latex I have cut in half (I'm an environmentalist so I prefer to use what I have if possible).

Your Question: Are you able to fall asleep on your back when on the couch? Or, do you also fall asleep on your stomach? Either way, couches are often much firmer than beds and this may be indicative that you’ve chosen mattresses that have comfort layers that are potentially too thick, too soft, for both for your needs.

My Answer: On the couch I can sleep on my stomach and it does not hurt or is greatly reduced. I think you are right, this indicates that I need firmer. The topper I have now is 3' medium latex from APM. I could cut what I have in half, 11/2' medium. If that does not work, buy 1' firm. Does that sound like a good way to go?

Your Question: I can see you’ve also been in contact with Ken and are awaiting any other recommendations he may have to help you make the Arizona Premium bed work.

My Answer: Ken suggested softer, since I had tried both medium and firm. He did not suggest thinner. He was not much help and I am not expecting a reply from him. He said it was probably a medical condition (It's not).

I feel so much closer to a solution with your reply, again that you so much. I felt like I was crying into the wilderness until I got your mail :)

Best,

Ellen
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Any suggestions? 28 Oct 2020 00:57 #4

Hi emc.

You are very welcome! Thank you for sharing a photo of your platform bed. It does indeed look very sturdy and supportive.

Makes sense! Is the comfort layer the top layer that I can remove? With the Nest bed I tried both the medium and firm latex toppers, both 3', and slept on them both for a few months. Maybe I should try 1' firm latex? Is it possible to have the latex I have cut in half (I'm an environmentalist so I prefer to use what I have if possible).


You should be able to unzip and replace the 3” latex layer you currently have, as Arizona Premium doesn’t glue their layers together.

You could try cutting the latex layer in half, but you could also exchange your current 3” for a 2” to see if that makes a difference.

On the couch I can sleep on my stomach and it does not hurt or is greatly reduced. I think you are right, this indicates that I need firmer. The topper I have now is 3' medium latex from APM. I could cut what I have in half, 11/2' medium. If that does not work, buy 1' firm. Does that sound like a good way to go?


It is extremely difficult to find a latex layer in less than 2” so, if you decide 1.5” is the way you’d prefer to go, you could cut the latex layer in half. As a way to get your hands on a latex layer of that thickness.

Just out of curiosity … have you considered using just the latex on top of your platform base (without coils or any other support layer underneath)? This could give you more data points to see if you are heading in the right direction.

Keep us posted.
Phoenix
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Any suggestions? 04 Nov 2020 19:59 #5

Phoenix:

Again thank you so much for your reply!

I'm going to try as you suggest to only sleep on the latex and I am also trying only sleeping on the coiled mattress without the latex. I've been doing that the last two nights. First night no difference, slight improvement last night, so I'm going to give it some time. If it turns out this is better I will try and replace the latex layer with something less than 3" and firmer. The mattress alone is firmer, so if it feels better I'm going to assume firmer is better.

Your Question: Just out of curiosity have you considered using just the latex on top of your platform base (without coils or any other support layer underneath)? This could give you more data points to see if you are heading in the right direction.

I will try this, but this seems like what you would sleep on if you were camping in a tent. I can't imagine just sleeping on 3' of anything will feel good? What data point would one glean from this? I will try it though at your suggestion, as I want to learn as much as possible to solve my problem.

Again, thanks so much. I'm chipping away at it. If it turns out that the coils are supportive and I need another comfort layer, what would you suggest? You have said thinner and firmer is best for stomach sleepers. What would you suggest in that realm.

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ellen

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Any suggestions? 07 Nov 2020 13:20 #6

Hi emc/Ellen.

You are welcome! ;)

It has been 2-3 nights since you posted that you have been sleeping on the coiled mattress without the latex. How has that been going for you?

I can't imagine just sleeping on 3' of anything will feel good? What data point would one glean from this? I will try it though at your suggestion, as I want to learn as much as possible to solve my problem.


Since you are currently sleeping prone with no prospect of training yourself to sleep back or side, depending on your body type and where you carry your weight you may hyperextend your back and cause the midback or lower back muscles to compensate for any misalignment (Hence your midback pain) It also may be that the spine misalignment would put some pressure on vertebra as well or a combination of two. It is encouraging that the pain disappears in the morning as this can indeed be addressed by finding the right layering configuration. To test if deep support is the issue... I suggested you go towards the extreme of having much firmer deep support than you would get with using the innerspring unit, which can give a good indication of what is going on. If after a few nights the pain changes from midback pain to pressure point pains (or a combination of the two) this would suggest that you need more firmness on the deeper support (not as firm as the floor but not as soft as the coil unit. Try to assess the type of pain as well... does it come from the spine? Does it come from the muscles? You need to do a bit of detective work, get in touch with your body, and change only one variable at a time and give the body some time to catch up with the change. I’d keep some notes as well ... One step at a time

Once you determine the most likely cause of the pain (comfort-related, support, or both) then you have several options. You can manipulate the layering configuration by changing thickness, firmness, or both. You may be lucky and need to change just the top layer, but most times prone sleepers need to dial in quite precisely on the deeper support needed. There are many combinations you can try once you determine that. Just as an example, (as this may not apply to you) if it appears through your experiments that thinner and firmer is better for you and it eliminates both your midback pain AND there is no pressure point pain, you could reasonably sleep on the 3” .... If you determine that you have no more midback pains and just mild pressure point pains you can even try a 6” firm set up without coils/etc. atop your bed base.

As a fun fact, the futons used in Japan are overwhelmingly 3” in thickness, although sometimes they can be found in 4”. These go directly on the floor and then are stored away during the day. When you have the right material, layer thickness, density, and base for your BMI, preferences, and sleep style, you’d be surprised at what kinds of setups can be comfortable!

Phoenix
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Any suggestions? 09 Nov 2020 18:16 #7

Hi Phoenix:

Thanks for following up and continuing to help me. I feel like I'm now going in the right direction.

At first taking the latex off and sleeping on the coils did not seem to make a difference, but the last couple of nights there's been an improvement. I know it takes a little bit for the body to adjust so I'm going to give it another week and then switch to just sleeping on the latex atop my platform as you suggested to gain another data point.

Phoenix: Since you are currently sleeping prone with no prospect of training yourself to sleep back or side, depending on your body type and where you carry your weight you may hyperextend your back and cause the midback or lower back muscles to compensate for any misalignment (Hence your midback pain)

Me: I also sleep on my side. I'm not sure in the middle of the night what I'm doing. Body type wise, I'm normal weight with most of my weight from the bellybutton up.

Phoenix: To test if deep support is the issue... I suggested you go towards the extreme of having much firmer deep support than you would get with using the innerspring unit, which can give a good indication of what is going on. If after a few nights the pain changes from midback pain to pressure point pains (or a combination of the two) this would suggest that you need more firmness on the deeper support (not as firm as the floor but not as soft as the coil unit.

Me: Yes, I'll do this if changing out the comfort layer with something more firm than the 3' medium latex over the coiled unit does not work. I also know that firm latex does not work, so whatever is firmer than that? That's where I'm ultimately going for step one. If this does not solve the problem then I will have to as you suggest start completely over and get a firmer support unit (what would you suggest?)

Phoenix: Try to assess the type of pain as well... does it come from the spine? Does it come from the muscles? You need to do a bit of detective work, get in touch with your body, and change only one variable at a time and give the body some time to catch up with the change. I’d keep some notes as well ... One step at a time

Me: It's mid back muscle pain both sides Spine is fine.

Phoenix: As a fun fact, the futons used in Japan are overwhelmingly 3” in thickness, although sometimes they can be found in 4”. These go directly on the floor and then are stored away during the day.

Me: Ha, that is a fun fact. Never thought of it that way.

Best,

Ellen

PS If anyone is Los Angeles wants my 3' medium firm latex for a Cal. King they are welcome to it after I'm done experimenting.

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Any suggestions? 11 Nov 2020 23:33 #8

Hi emc.

Thanks for the update! I am glad you’re feeling more confident.

It is promising that you’re starting to see an improvement sleeping on the coils without the latex layer and it is indeed a useful data point. In this setup, your spring unit is now playing a dual role ... that of support and comfort. Because of the missing comfort layers, you have firmer support and some inadequate comfort coming from the spring unit itself. This is not ideal and it is not advisable that you try to get your support comfort needs from this layer only, but what this experiment tells you is that you probably need a firmer support layer in combination with an appropriate comfort layer on top. For this, you may wish to revisit the The basic functions of a mattress article for clarifying these concepts.

In your last post, you introduced some more variables such as your mid-back muscle pains which may have several reasons including using an inappropriate pillow (see my comments below), also the side sleeping, so I’d certainly monitor the type of pains you are experiencing and the positions they are associated with...

I also sleep on my side. I'm not sure in the middle of the night what I'm doing. Body type wise, I'm normal weight with most of my weight from the bellybutton up.


Thanks for the clarification, this means that you need to take into account that side sleepers generally need a bit more pressure point relief on the surface to accommodate the wider dimensional variances between the shoulders, hips, and waist. There’s a bit more about different sleeping positions here . The key when sleeping upon your side is to make sure that you are not sinking in too deeply with an excessive lateral curvature. This article speaks to this in a bit more detail.

Most side sleepers will fall in the range of needing from 2" -4" in their comfort layer. Without an appropriate comfort layer, a side sleeper will end up with pressure points during the course of the night and could have symptoms of numbness, soreness, localized redness, or end up tossing and turning all night as your body tries to relieve the pressure. That’s just a little more information to consider in your testing.

It's mid back muscle pain both sides Spine is fine.


Thanks for clarifying where you are experiencing your pain. In the case of the mid or upper body, good horizontal alignment is important but lateral (side to side) alignment is also important. For example, if you bend your head and neck forward towards your stomach (for back sleepers) or your head and neck backward and twisting for prone sleepers then it can bend the upper spine and create tension and pain in the mid and upper back. It can also happen if the upper layers are too thick and soft.

A suitable pillow is an essential part of good alignment for the head and neck and upper body because the gap between the head and the mattress and the curve of the cervical spine needs to be supported just like all other parts of the spine. In your case, because you are sleeping prone the use of a pillow will exacerbate the cervical curvature and twist the spine in that area. Like mattresses ... there are certain "needs" that depend on body type and sleeping positions. There is more about choosing pillows in the pillow thread here and the other topics and sources of information that it links to that may be helpful.

In the same way ... if you push your arms and shoulders forward into a forward slouched position then it can also create tension and soreness in your mid or upper back. This can come from a mattress that has comfort layers that are too thick and/or soft and allows your torso to sink in a little too far but "holds up" the lighter shoulders (pushing them forward). In both cases, your muscles will be tense and working throughout the night to maintain alignment.

You can read more about what tends to cause back pain in post #2 here .

I’d assess your pillow as well and after a few more days of experiments, I'd make a clear summary of your findings before moving forward with any decisions or purchases.

Looking forward to additional updates!

Phoenix
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Any suggestions? 16 Nov 2020 15:40 #9

Hi Again:

We have to stop meeting like this :)

I think you are right, the coil bed is not firm enough. My problem has improved because it is more firm than the latex, which I removed.

When I bought the hybrid coil from Arizona Premium they said that if offered a lot of support. Do you think I should buy a thinner firmer comfort layer and try that before I switch out the support layer (that's where I'm going to take the money hit, but I do spend a 1/3 of my life on that bed). It sounds like I can't get thinner than 2". What would be considered firmer than med. latex (I tried firm latex and that was not enough, I think latex is overall too spongy for my needs).

Once I get a correct comfort layer, which I will need no matter what support layer I end up with, I can try that and see if there is an improvement and then go to the next step of changing the support layer and pairing that with my new firmer comfort layer. What is considered firm in the universe of mattresses? Just as a reminder I had a Nest all latex and had the same problems.

Thanks for the pillow info. I read it all and being a stomach sleeper it seems that my almost flat pillow is correct. I also sleep on my side, but I think mainly I just do that for pain relief. I know that sleeping on my back would be best, but have never been able to pull that off.

Thank you for your continuing help Phoenix. You're a mattress angel!

E.

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Any suggestions? 17 Nov 2020 20:48 #10

Hi emc.

Thanks for your kind words, I appreciate it!
Everyone is different … body types, sensitivities, support & comfort needs, and much more. Your prone sleeping position is also throwing a wrench in the works with more or less “extreme” support needs, but I am glad that you are getting some “problem improvement”.
It’s nice to see you so hopeful but don’t think we are yet done. We still need to meet like this for a while ;) Before you move to the next step it would be good to clarify a few things so that I can further offer some comments. What was the exact layering (including the base) you used when you noticed the improvement? How many days into the “improvement” are you? Is it still holding on? Any other variations that you combined with the base “improvement” layout and the results for each.

Arizona Premium they said that if offered a lot of support


I don’t doubt that. The coils are quite supportive but probably not supportive enough for you in the prone sleeping position.

Do you think I should buy a thinner firmer comfort layer and try that before I switch out the support layer (that's where I'm going to take the money hit, but I do spend a 1/3 of my life on that bed). It sounds like I can't get thinner than 2". What would be considered firmer than med. latex (I tried firm latex and that was not enough, I think latex is overall too spongy for my needs).


It depends! I am assuming from your brief description that sleeping on the coils themselves has helped to alleviate some of your pain. I cannot tell from your “improvement” description if this unit would be supportive enough for you. Support should be your primary concern as it is not possible to fix if you get it wrong. The most important goal of a suitable mattress is to support the spine and joints in neutral alignment in all your sleeping positions so that the muscles and other tissues can fully relax and not work during the night to maintain good alignment.

Once I get a correct comfort layer, which I will need no matter what support layer I end up with, I can try that and see if there is an improvement and then go to the next step of changing the support layer and pairing that with my new firmer comfort layer.


Part of the challenge you may have is if the issue is lack of primary support (see post #4 for primary support, secondary support, and pressure relief and how they are related ). Any attempt to "fix" support layers that are too soft by adding layers on top will often only be partially or temporarily successful because it would be more of a "band-aid" than a solution that "fixed" the core problem because the top layers can still "bend into" the support layers below them and lead to alignment issues. This is why I suggested you hold on with purchasing any comfort layers and asked some questions that may help determine if the coils are supportive enough for you.

Your secondary point of focus is to get enough softness on the surface to allow your pressure points to sink in enough so that direct pressure on various parts of the body don't cause soreness. Too much firmness or too much softness in either the comfort or support layers can both lead to alignment and pressure issues, discomfort, or pain in various areas of the body.

FYI ..there is also more about the more common symptoms that many people may experience on a mattress and some of the underlying causes that may be involved in post #2 here and the posts it links to that may help with some of the detective work or trial and error that may be involved in solving the symptoms you are experiencing.

In parallel with this, I’d do a bit of research and perhaps try some other comfort materials since it seems latex isn’t working for you. I’d consider looking into natural materials (featherbeds, wool, cotton, etc.) vs foams.

There’s more detail about featherbeds in this post and more about wool mattress pads and toppers with some sources in post #3 here . Also look in post #8 here .

I would start here and see how a natural option would meet your needs. “Firmness” in the world of mattresses varies depending on the material you’re considering, as well as your only personal interpretation of how the mattress feels when you lay on it.

Looking forward to your continued updates.

Phoenix
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