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New mattress hell 27 May 2021 15:33 #1

Hi all

Around mid 2019 I separated from my partner and moved into the spare room and slept on a futon base and mattress. I found this hard at first - but adjusted. Every now & then the hardness of the base and thin mattress made me uncomfortable - but I slept well on this for 18 months without any major problems.

Prior to this, I slept on a Design Mobel flexi-slat base, a DM firm mattress (I dont know what was inside the mattress). I had both memory foam and a furry wool toppers. I slept very well on this combo for 16 years.

Ive recently purchased the same Design Mobel flexi-slat bed 2nd-hand - as I loved my original slat bed. After trying and not liking a couple of Dorsal foam mattresses, I settled for a 15cm (6 inch) wool mattress cover with 15cm of organic (Sri Lankan) latex layers. The shop owner told me that at 6'2 and 90KG, I didnt need a thicker mattress. 1 had 1 week to decide that I liked the mattress and 3 months to settle on a layer combo. For most mattress combos, i set the variable flexi slats under my back to the firmest setting.

After 1 month of changing-out layers and broken sleep, I settled a what thought was a comfortable combo (top to bottom) - 2.5cm soft/5cm med/10cm med, with the furry wool topper. All was going well until a started getting a pain in my upper back - for the first time on my 48 years (Ive had a sporadically bad lower back for most of my adult life). So I started putting a 5cm (2inch) firm layer in at the bottom 5cm soft/5cm med/5cm firm) - but this seemed to make it worse. I also tried moving the firm to the middle - but this made it worse also. My latest combo is a 5cm top/10cm bottom. This is the most comfortable, but Im still waking up with pain and will routinely wake-up at 2-3am in the morning, not always managing to get back to sleep.

The pain can last the whole day and is aggravated by sitting down. It can get so bad that it requires pain killers. My osteopath isnt convinced its my bed and gave me some stretches and told me to choose the most comfortable bed combo. My physio thinks its a combo of sitting down all day and the bed. The bed shop owner says I should just pick the most comfortable bed and dismisses any talk of the bed needing to be a certain firmness for a bad back. Ive been doing various stretches for about 4 weeks now to no avail. Im convinced that the change in bed is the biggest contributing factor as its the only thing thats changed. Im generally sleeping terribly and occasionally take sleeping pills if I need to be rested for a big day.

Ive tried going back to the futon - but found this very hard after having spent months on a softer mattress combo - and would return back to my new mattress. Ive read that you should never do this - but have been desperate to get a good nights sleep and was keen to see if the back pain eased.

I should say that my natural sleeping is on my side, with my bed-side arm under my pillow. I sometimes find myself more on my stomach. Ive started to put a pillow between my knees - at the insistence of my osteo. I know that my sleeping posture isnt ideal - but it hasnt given me any great problems - until recently. I do sometimes try to sleep on my back.

So I have 2 weeks left to try different mattress combos before I need to take unwanted layers back. Very keen to some recommendation about what I should do next. Ive have received much conflicting advice and Im starting to think that treating myself with an organic latex was a mistake. Im at the stage where just 1 night of good sleep has become a rare luxury!

Cheers

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New mattress hell 28 May 2021 10:06 #2

Hi, I am by no means an expert in either mattresses or medicine, just a fellow mattress shopper/bad mattress experiencer, but your post was calling out for a response and so here I am.

In my personal experience side-sleeping on bad (for me) mattresses, upper back and shoulder pain indicates a too firm mattress, while lower back pain indicates a too soft mattress. Since you are describing upper back pain, it seems like making the mattress firmer may be the wrong way to go. Have you tried making it softer? Is it possible that your wool topper is too firm? Maybe in your old build, the memory foam was giving you needed pressure relief under the wool topper, or you just need more softness than you did before - I certainly need a softer mattress now than I did 16 years ago.

Of course it's always possible that there's another issue unrelated to your mattress. I think in one of the stickied posts, someone talks about how he kept struggling to perfect his mattress and then realized he had an unrelated health issue which made him unable to get comfortable. I'm glad to hear you're under the care of a doctor.

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New mattress hell 29 May 2021 00:10 #3

Many thanks for you thoughts, BurrowingOwl.

Its a very confusing time as the first bed in my email was firm (albeit with a memory foam topper), my 2nd a futon (soft & thin pillowy top but hard base) so this was firm also. But whenever I introduce a firm layer in my new mattress, my back pain gets worse. The most immediately comfortable combo was the (top to bottom) 2 inch soft 4 inch medium combo but would wake up early regularly and get some back pain. If my evaluation period expires and I havent found the perfect combo - I will probably just default to this and hope for the best.

Thanks again.

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New mattress hell 29 May 2021 14:48 #4

Hey SleepySy,

Welcome to The Mattress Underground :) ! Thanks for your question.

Around mid 2019 I separated from my partner and moved into the spare room and slept on a futon base and mattress. I found this hard at first - but adjusted. Every now & then the hardness of the base and thin mattress made me uncomfortable - but I slept well on this for 18 months without any major problems.


Thanks for including your mattress history, SleepySy :) . You've done an excellent job of detailing your background and preferences; well done!

Prior to this, I slept on a Design Mobel flexi-slat base, a DM firm mattress (I dont know what was inside the mattress). I had both memory foam and a furry wool toppers. I slept very well on this combo for 16 years…Ive recently purchased the same Design Mobel flexi-slat bed 2nd-hand - as I loved my original slat bed. After trying and not liking a couple of Dorsal foam mattresses, I settled for a 15cm (6 inch) wool mattress cover with 15cm of organic (Sri Lankan) latex layers. The shop owner told me that at 6'2 and 90KG, I didnt need a thicker mattress. 1 had 1 week to decide that I liked the mattress and 3 months to settle on a layer combo. For most mattress combos, i set the variable flexi slats under my back to the firmest setting.


If I understand your mattress history correctly, before trying several Dorsal foam mattresses, you were using a thin mattress on a futon for roughly 2 years, and before that, a DM firm mattress and Design Mobel flexi-slat foundation for 16 years? I'm not familiar with DM mattresses and couldn't find them online for a product description, but each setup would have quite a different foundation support feel and therefore a resulting body adjustment period.

After 1 month of changing-out layers and broken sleep, I settled a what thought was a comfortable combo (top to bottom) - 2.5cm soft/5cm med/10cm med, with the furry wool topper. All was going well until a started getting a pain in my upper back - for the first time on my 48 years (Ive had a sporadically bad lower back for most of my adult life). So I started putting a 5cm (2inch) firm layer in at the bottom 5cm soft/5cm med/5cm firm) - but this seemed to make it worse. I also tried moving the firm to the middle - but this made it worse also. My latest combo is a 5cm top/10cm bottom. This is the most comfortable, but Im still waking up with pain and will routinely wake-up at 2-3am in the morning, not always managing to get back to sleep.


I do have several more questions regarding your sleep preferences, SleepySy. What is your preferred sleeping position(s)? If you have recently developed pain in your upper back for the first time, it sounds as though your neck and shoulder alignment could be an issue. How long has it been since your pillows were replaced? Here are some ideas worth trying: pictures of alignment and a floor test. In your regular sleeping position(s) , set the timer on your phone and take a couple of snaps to see how your neck, back, and spine are aligned on your mattress. Correct positioning will vary depending on your primary sleep position of side/ back/ stomach/ or combo, but ideally, you would want to envision a straight line from between your shoulder blades to the small of your back. It may also be a good idea for the pics to capture the amount of "give" that your flexi-slat base provides to be sure that support is not an issue. Finally, you could take the mattress off of the foundation and place it directly on the floor to rule out any support issues with the mattress itself.

The pain can last the whole day and is aggravated by sitting down. It can get so bad that it requires pain killers. My osteopath isnt convinced its my bed and gave me some stretches and told me to choose the most comfortable bed combo. My physio thinks its a combo of sitting down all day and the bed. The bed shop owner says I should just pick the most comfortable bed and dismisses any talk of the bed needing to be a certain firmness for a bad back. Ive been doing various stretches for about 4 weeks now to no avail. Im convinced that the change in bed is the biggest contributing factor as its the only thing thats changed. Im generally sleeping terribly and occasionally take sleeping pills if I need to be rested for a big day.


I'm quite sorry to hear that your pain requires medical attention, SleepySy, that must be terribly frustrating to deal with on an ongoing basis. I would tend to agree with both your osteopath and physician not only the importance of a supportive and comforting bed, but also of adding regular low impact movement to your routine. We moderators are not licensed in any way to give medical advice but always encourage moderate physical activity daily to avoid spinal compression that can gradually lead to limb numbness and back pain.

Ive tried going back to the futon - but found this very hard after having spent months on a softer mattress combo - and would return back to my new mattress. Ive read that you should never do this - but have been desperate to get a good nights sleep and was keen to see if the back pain eased.


Your body will need a minimum of 30 days to adjust to a new mattress and this is why most companies do not offer mattress returns before a 30 day sleep trial period has expired. Moving back and forth between such different beds will prevent you from better understanding what tweaks your new mattress may need to help you rest better.

I should say that my natural sleeping is on my side, with my bed-side arm under my pillow. I sometimes find myself more on my stomach. Ive started to put a pillow between my knees - at the insistence of my osteo. I know that my sleeping posture isnt ideal - but it hasnt given me any great problems - until recently. I do sometimes try to sleep on my back.


Sometimes as our bodies age, what was once a most comfortable sleeping position becomes more trying for your body to adapt to. Body pillows and contouring pillows can be useful sleep aides, easing pressure and adding comfort to your sleep environment, as well as supplement a mattress's performance. As you are primarily a side sleeper (please ignore my asking your sleep positions earlier), the pillow you use for head and neck support should have enough loft to give correct support for those areas. In other words, side sleepers generally need thicker pillows to fill the distance between your head, shoulders, and mattress.

So I have 2 weeks left to try different mattress combos before I need to take unwanted layers back. Very keen to some recommendation about what I should do next. Ive have received much conflicting advice and Im starting to think that treating myself with an organic latex was a mistake. Im at the stage where just 1 night of good sleep has become a rare luxury!


Hopefully, some of the above suggestions will help you further with some of your mattress troubleshooting, SleepySy. Thanks @BurrowingOwl for offering ideas (and welcome to TMU :) ). Looking forward to your updates when you have time for a check-in.

Sensei
Sensei(@ TMU Team)
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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New mattress hell 29 May 2021 16:08 #5

Hi Sensei.

Thanks so much for your helpful and detailed response.

Re pillows - very good point. Prior to my troubles, I slept on 2 old (cant remember how old) feather down pillows - but my osteo and physio both told me that I should drop down to 1. I tried this but it hasnt fixed my back issues and doesn't feel right. About to go out and find a nice, lofty pillow.

Design Mobel is a brand here in New Zealand that was brought by Sleepyhead back in 2008. They used to make some beautiful native timber slat beds, but now just make mattresses.

Will try your suggestions re sleeping posture - will get one of my daughters to take pics.

Lastly, its possible that my slats might need replacing. Will try this also. Will report back with my findings.

Cheers again.

SleepySy

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New mattress hell 30 May 2021 04:13 #6

I did what Sensei suggested and took some pics of my sleeping posture. What you cant see is my left arm under my pillow - which forces my head up a little,

This pic was taken with a (top to bottom) 5cm soft, 10cm med combo with adjustable flexi slats (under my back only) set to firm.



This arrangement has given me the least problems - but by no means trouble free. I would appreciate if someone could comment on how my spine alignment is looking and if there are any red flags.

Cheers

SleepySy
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New mattress hell 31 May 2021 08:33 #7

Hey SleepySy,

Thanks for your reply and for the pic, it is most helpful :) .

This pic was taken with a (top to bottom) 5cm soft, 10cm med combo with adjustable flexi slats (under my back only) set to firm.
This arrangement has given me the least problems - but by no means trouble free. I would appreciate if someone could comment on how my spine alignment is looking and if there are any red flags.



Please note: TMU moderators do not have medical licensing and do not offer medical opinions or advice. We offer help to consumers with trouble shooting mattress issues to the best of our ability based on our knowledge, experience, and support of our trusted members. That said, let's review your picture :) .

These two lines show (1) that your back seems to be in a straight alignment but not level, as your head is angled upwards slightly and (2) the lower/ hip area of your mattress appears to not support you as well as the upper shoulder area. With your hips slightly lower than your shoulders, your spine is angling downward. You have set the adjustable flexi slats to firm under your back area; has that resulted in any further improvements? It would be interesting to see a pic of you in your side sleeping position but at a further distance, including a view of the slats to see how they are supporting your body. Are you able to try placing the mattress on the floor without the foundation and testing its feel that way?



Regarding your pillow: the loft may be correct for the distance between your head/ neck/ shoulders; however, your head needs a bit more sink for better alignment.

This borrowed Google image depicts shoulder and hip alignment in relation to correct "sink" into the mattress and support, as well as gap variances for pillow loft. As you mentioned that your left arm is tucked underneath your pillow, which may account for the slight upward angling visible in the picture. Is this a new pillow or one of the down ones? Again, TMU moderators do not have medical licensing and do not offer medical opinions or advice. Looking forward to your updates as you continue with your process ;) .

Sensei
Sensei(@ TMU Team)
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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New mattress hell 02 Jun 2021 03:01 #8

Hi Sensei

Thanks again for your time.

OK - so I moved the mattress onto the floor. The previous layer combo (2 inch soft/4 inch med) felt a bit thin on the floor without the slats, so I went with a 1 inch soft/5 inch med/10 inch med combo. I immediately liked the difference, but still experiencing pain - which is probably to be expected so soon after the change.

It would be interesting to see a pic of you in your side sleeping position but at a further distance, including a view of the slats to see how they are supporting your body. Are you able to try placing the mattress on the floor without the foundation and testing its feel that way?


OK - heres the mattress on the floor with me on top of it:



I put the pillow between my knees for the pics, as Ive been trying to get into the habit of doing this.

This borrowed Google image depicts shoulder and hip alignment in relation to correct "sink" into the mattress and support, as well as gap variances for pillow loft. As you mentioned that your left arm is tucked underneath your pillow, which may account for the slight upward angling visible in the picture. Is this a new pillow or one of the down ones?


No, the pillow is the original down pillow. For the pics above, Ive used a less-lofty pillow as you mentioned the my head was tilted-up too much.

My next weekend project might be to replace my flexi-slats with fixed slats and try this for a few weeks. My 3 month layer-swap expires next week, so Im thinking I might just buy an extra layer so I can spend more time trying some layer options on fixed slats.

Cheers

SleepySy
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New mattress hell 04 Jun 2021 02:03 #9

Hi there

Thought I would show another angle. Im aware that my top shoulder rolls forward - this pic shows what I mean:



Could this be contributing to the problem?

Cheers

SleepySy
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New mattress hell 09 Jun 2021 11:37 #10

Hi Sensei

Sorry to be a pain - but would be grateful for a comment or two about the changes I made as suggested.

Cheers

SleepySy

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