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Best talalay layering for herniated L4/5 thin/straight side sleeper? 06 Apr 2012 17:22 #1

There's such good info on this site, I signed up to ask my burning question:

We bought a 3- (3")layer split King natural Talalay (by Radium) mattress from SleepEZ and have been rearranging the layers every so often to figure out what works for me. (We can still change our order with relatively little cost for about another month.) I have a herniated L4/5 disc that makes it important that my spine stays as neutral as possible. (My husband is fine with anything so far.)

The layers are Firm, Medium and Soft. I'm 5'8" 128lbs, relatively broad in the shoulders and not overly broad in the hips, and 56 years old. I'm a back and side sleeper - mostly side, though also more back now with the latex mattress.

Here's what I've found (like Goldilocks!):
Stacked from top to bottom:
Soft,Medium,Firm - too soft, flared up the back and nerve
Medium,Medium,Firm - hard on the bottom shoulder, woke up with pain /numb arm during the night. Back ok, though.
Medium,Soft,Firm - too soft, flared up the back and nerve again
Soft,Firm,Firm - best yet, but still seems to let my spine "sag" a little, causing some morning discomfort.

I kind of get the feeling that the 3" soft top layer is good for the shoulder, but too thick/soft for the hip/waist.
I'm not sure if putting an Extra Firm layer underneath would change that, and if so, would it be the base and middle or only one of them? How far down does is actually make a difference to the top?
The only other option I can think of is to get a Soft 3" Dunlop layer for on top instead of the Talalay, thinking it would act more like a 2" Talalay over the Firm base.

Any suggestions? I need to figure this out before it's going to cost me a fortune to change it. And I'm not quite ready to give up and say "it's as good as it gets" for the next 20 years... (although that is an option too).

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Last edit: by somewhatdamaged.

Re: Best talalay layering for herniated L4/5 thin/straight side sleeper? 06 Apr 2012 22:10 #2

Hi somewhatdamaged,

Your perceptions and feedback on your layer arrangements are very "accurate" and "discerning" which makes testing various possibilities much easier. Bear in mind too that sometimes a change can take a little longer to "kick in" and that there is also an adjustment period with a new mattress as well so it's usually a good idea not to make changes too quickly to make sure you are really feeling the new layering rather than daily variations and/or the effects of the previous change rather than the current one. Two to three days with each change is more accurate than a single day in other words unless a layering pattern is "clearly" wrong.

Your soft/firm/firm layering also seems to be close so it may be possible to fine tune this in various ways. Just to clarify the other variables that can make a difference ... I'm assuming that you have the quilted wool stretch cover? It would also help to know what type of mattress protector you are using over the mattress. Finally ... it may also help to know what type of mattress pads you may have available (if any) to use over the mattress.

So with those thoughts in mind ... here are a few thoughts on your configurations ... bearing in mind that with the combination of "combination sleeping" and an L4/5 disc issue ... good may need to be the goal vs "perfection".

I kind of get the feeling that the 3" soft top layer is good for the shoulder, but too thick/soft for the hip/waist.
I'm not sure if putting an Extra Firm layer underneath would change that, and if so, would it be the base and middle or only one of them? How far down does is actually make a difference to the top?
The only other option I can think of is to get a Soft 3" Dunlop layer for on top instead of the Talalay, thinking it would act more like a 2" Talalay over the Firm base.


My thoughts are similar to yours that 3" of "soft" is good for your shoulders but that in combination with any further sinking in with the layers under it , it can put your back out of alignment ... especially if you are spending more time on your back. As you know ... back sleeping typically needs thinner layers than side sleeping and with your lower weight and taller height this may be especially true.

So the goal is if possible to slightly reduce the amount you are sinking in to the minimum necessary for your shoulders and to "stop" the pelvis as quickly as possible after that. The medium on top does this "too much" and while it works for your back ... the ILD is just too firm for your weight and height for your shoulders. What this means is that we would either work towards firming up the layers under the 3" soft layer more or reducing the amount you are sinking in to the top layer, or a combination of both. The first option means using firmer Talalay (X-firm) or Dunlop in the lower layers or at least the middle one. The second option involves firming up the top layer a little though not so much as a medium talalay. This is where a mattress pad can play a role to cushion your hips and shoulders to ease pressure locally but also slightly reduce the amount they are sinking into the soft latex and improving alignment (by increasing the surface area around your hips and shoulders). This would remove some pressure from the recessed parts because you are not sinking in as much but would spread it around your pressure points more evenly. A layer of soft dunlop would also do something similar in that it would reduce the amount you were sinking in.

I would start with the first option of firming up the support as much as possible. One way to test this ... although it may be a bit awkward ... would be to use the 3" soft over the 3" firm layer (remove one of the firm layers) which would give you very firm support under the softer top layer and also reduce the amount you were sinking in and see how this affected things. If your husband was OK with this ... you could do the same on both sides and have a thinner mattress (even on both sides) for a couple of nights with a very loose cover. If this seemed to help ... then it would point to having as firm as possible layers underneath your top 3" of soft.

So I'll wait till I know some of the variables and the options that they make available but I would start with removing a layer.

Lastly ... when you tried this arrangement ...

Medium,Soft,Firm - too soft, flared up the back and nerve again


How did it feel on your shoulders? It may help to know if this caused any of the pain/numb arm symptoms of the medium/medium/firm layering.

One step at a time :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by Phoenix.
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