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Searching for a mattress...take 4 09 May 2012 20:11 #1

  • adamseals
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My wife and I have been on quite the mattress searching journey over the past 8 months. We have tried and returned 3 mattresses (thankfully at no net cost financially as we got great trial periods), and are currently trying to figure out what to do.

Here's a brief summary of us. I am 5'11" & 165 lb and have historically slept on my stomach, although I am making some progress towards sleeping on my side some and back occassionally. I have some minor neck and lower back issues, and I am currently dealing with a frozen shoulder, which makes sleeping difficult. My wife is 5'6" and 125 lb and starts on her side but ends up occassionally on her stomach, and she also suffers from occassional neck and upper back pain. She likes "softer" mattresses, and I like "firmer" ones, although I think we really both want a mattress that conforms well to our body ("soft") yet provides good support ("firm").

So far we have tried the following king-sized mattresses over the past 8 months:

- Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Cloud: We tried this for ~40 of our 100 day trial period before swapping with another tempurpedic. We found it to be "too soft", meaning that we just sunk to far into the mattress. We didn't like the feel, and it wasn't curing our back/neck pain.

- Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Contour: We tried this for the remainder of our 100 day trail period (~60 days). In general, we both liked it better than the Cloud, but my wife continued to have neck issues. In hindsight, I was fairly pleased with the mattress, but she wasn't quite as happy, and neither of us were excited enough about it to justify the expense. We had minor issues with the off-gassing as well.

- Comfortaire Bella: We switched gears and tried this air-bed that is similar to a Sleep Number, but from my research, higher quality and less expensive. We tried this because we like "different firmness levels". Ultimately, I found that I had too much pressure in my shoulder area to sleep comfortably on my side, and I would end up on my stomach and had some lower back pain. Overall, we just didn't like this bed.

We decided that we probably should have just gone with the Tempurpedic RhapsodyBed (we tried split king with adjustable base initially, and this was quickly eliminated due to price), because we have slept on a friend's before and like it. When we went back to the Mattress Firm to confirm that was what we wanted to try next, we encountered what seemed to be our best salesman. Citing some of the reasons I have read on this site, he actually directed us towards a few cheaper alternatives because he thought that the comfort layer of the Rhapsody didn't allow either of us to sink in as much as we needed for our spines to be aligned. After a decent amount of time in the store, we left thinking we would decide between 2 beds: Revolution iComfort by Serta & Glen Oaks Comfortpedic by Simmons.

After reading some things on this site, I am now re-evaluating and thinking perhaps we should consider a local or regional chain. However, I am a bit discouraged about starting over from square 1.

Based on what I have shared, does anyone have any guidance for us?
Are either of the options we are looking at good? (I recognize they probably aren't the best value.)
Are there any good places in the Houston, TX area we should check out before making a purchase?

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

adam

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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 09 May 2012 22:22 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi adamseals,

As you already know ... a combination of side sleeping and stomach sleeping is one of the most difficult combinations to deal with because the needs of each are completely opposite. Stomach sleeping needs a thinner/firmer comfort layer to help prevent sleeping in a swayback position and the back issues that can come with it while side sleeping needs a softer/thicker comfort layer to accommodate the need for better pressure relief in this position. Normally the best option in this case is to use the thinnest/firmest comfort layer that provides "just enough" pressure relief on your side but no more. Including materials in your mattress that can be both soft and also supportive as you sink into them more (such as latex) may also be helpful. Of course this will also vary with individual weight and shape and each person's tolerances to pressure relief and alignment issues.

Some comments about each of your choices follow ...

- Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Cloud:

While this model is among the thinnest memory foam comfort layer of all their models (2.8" of memory foam) ... it also includes the Tempur ES which is the softest and allows you to sink in more deeply than higher density memory foam. This in combination with your slimmer body shapes (which can use thinner comfort layers) is the most likely reason it "didn't work" for you.

- Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Contour:

This has a thicker comfort layer (3.6") which would be a little more "supportive" (when compared with the ES memory foam but not with other materials) but even denser memory foam can still often lead to alignment issues because over the course of the night you can still sink too far into the material so even though you may start off the night in good alignment ... as the memory foam "relaxes" (this is called foam "creep" and viscoelastic materials do this more than other materials) it can allow you to sink in deeper. This too would likely be a little on the thick side for a stomach sleeper. As it went through the initial softening period, this could become a bigger issue as well.

- Comfortaire Bella:

IMO ... an airbed is generally the worst choice of all because air is either "completely compressed" or "not compressed at all" and there is no gradual change from one to the other so it is poor at adapting to different positions. There's much more about the pros and cons of an airbed here (mostly cons).

Tempurpedic RhapsodyBed

This may have been an OK choice but it would come with it's own set of challenges. While I don't agree that it would not allow you to sink in enough (and it still may be too much) ... the HD foam certainly would feel firmer at first because it needs time and heat to become as soft and conforming as it can be so initially or with movement it can feel firmer than it really is. This one too could be a little on the thick side with 4" of memory foam ... even though some of it is denser.

-Tempurpedic Bellafina:

While you didn't mention this one ... it may also have made a good choice. It only has 2.8" of memory foam (the 5.3 lb tempur material) but has latex underneath this and then the support layer. The latex would be more adaptable in terms of being supportive in different sleeping positions and that along with the thinner layer of memory foam (less to sink into over time) may have made this the best choice of all.

-Revolution iComfort by Serta:

My thoughts on many of the iComfort lineup including the Revolution are in post #11 here . I also think that the softness and thickness of the Revolution comfort layers (5.75" and it is cose to the softest of the lineup) would likely be too thick and soft for you in the long term ... and particularly as it softened.

-Glen Oaks Comfortpedic by Simmons:

This mattress includes 3" of 3.5 lb memory foam which IMO is too much low quality (low durability that will soften much more quickly) memory foam to even be considered as a realistic option at this price level.

Bear in mind that each person will interact with each mattress in different ways and that all of this is "theory" and thoughts about different layering and how it may affect you. Only your own experience can be completely accurate for your individual circumstances. Bear in mind too that memory foam will go through an initial more rapid softening period over the first few weeks which is followed by a more gradual softening over a much longer period of time so what feels "right" in the store may not feel as good or perform quite as well in a few months.

In terms of where to go next ... your experiences can be very valuable but I would tend to use them by going in a different direction and work with someone that may be more knowledgeable about different materials and constructions than just memory foam. As you probably know from reading some of the information on this site the best odds would be a local manufacturer that sells factory direct or a sleep shop that has knowledgeable people that sells alternative or local brands that use higher quality materials at better value.

Overall ... I would probably tend to suggest "thinner than average" layers of memory foam for your circumstances which would be much "safer". If this thinner layer was on a very firm support layer though (which would be helpful for your alignment) ... it may feel too firm because the thinner memory foam layer would not isolate you from the firmness of the support layer enough for side sleeping (although it would be better on your stomach). Because of this ... a "transition" layer in between the memory foam and the support layer that could help with both the extra softness that may be necessary on your side and the firmness that would be helpful on your stomach may be a good idea. Latex would be a good choice here (although a high quality polyfoam could also work well) because it can be soft with initial compression but gets firmer much faster and can be more supportive with deeper compression and is more adaptable to different positions. Latex can also make a great comfort layer in it's softer versions but it has a much different feel and is more responsive than memory foam so this would also be a matter of preference. It may be worth including in your research though.

Some of the better choices in Houston are in post #2 here

Hope this helps and if I've forgotten anything ... let me know.

Phoenix

PS: I should also mention that a pillow that is suitable for a particular sleeping position or combination of sleeping positions can be very important for alignment and with neck and upper body issues can play a vital role that is at least as important as the mattress. A pillow that "works" on one mattress may also not work as well on another that allows for either more or less sinking in (which changes the amount of the "gap" between your head and the mattress that the pillow has to fill in to keep you in alignment).
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 10 May 2012 11:13 #3

  • adamseals
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Thanks a ton for the thorough response Phoenix. It is very helpful in both understanding our past struggles and in helping us move forward with a bit more direction.

If I have any follow up questions as we begin the next stage of our search, this will certainly be the first place I come!

Thanks!
adam

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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 10 May 2012 11:29 #4

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I thought of one other point of clarification that might slightly alter your recommendation.

To make things even more difficult for my side/stomach sleeping, I have pretty broad shoulders, a thin waist, and a long neck, which I believe would make me need a softer/thicker comfort layer than my height/weight might lead one to believe for side sleeping (perhaps I am wrong, but that is what it seems like to me.) My wife also has a rather vuloptuous figure and broad shoulders for her height-weight combo, which probably means that she also needs a softer/thicker comfort layer than one might expect for proper side-sleeping.

I have been very intentional about sleeping on my side over the last year, but I have tended to end up on my stomach frequently throughout the night. My wife also starts on her side but often ends up shifting somewhat onto her stomach. I am hoping that if we get the proper mattress, the pressure points that likely cause us to shift to a stomach sleeping position during the night would not be as much of an issue, and perhaps we could stay on our sides.

Would this additional info change your initial recommendations at all?

Thanks again!
adam

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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 10 May 2012 17:31 #5

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Hi adamseals,

Yes ... this body shape and the combination of sleeping positions would present an even bigger challenge. This would be similar to an athlete that has trouble buying clothes because their body proportions (usually the "drop" between their waist and shoulders) are outside of the norm and need some degree of customization or adjustment to an "off the shelf" choice.

In cases like this ... some form of zoning can be helpful because the firmer middle area under the heavier and thinner pelvis will hold it up better which in turn allows the shoulders to sink more into the softer portion under the shoulders and upper body. While this is not normally necessary with latex, it can provide an "edge" with more difficult circumstances. The long neck would be more dealt with by pillow selection than with the mattress although the mattress will have an effect on the best choice of pillow. Pillows that are "scrunchy" so that they can be both flatter on the stomach and thicker and firmer on the side can make good choices.

While your wife's shoulders may be wider than normal ... most women also have wider hips than men which means that they are often in a more "even" proportion than broad shouldered men. Of course each person can be very diffeent here and even differences in sleeping positions can make a difference in the surface area of various parts of the body that come into contact with the mattress.

Yes ... in cases of more "curvy" profiles ... then it is often a good idea to consider thicker and/or softer layering to allow the recessed curves to be filled in better but this conflicts with the needs of stomach sleeping which is a much flatter profile with no real recessed areas to be filled in. Zoning can help with holding up the pelvis on the stomach at the same time it can allow for the use of softer foam under the wider lighter shoulders so the sinking in can be more even in all sleeping positions.

It's very difficult to change sleeping positions as most people who try discover although it can be done and sometimes it is part of natural changes that people go through from time to time (like changes in taste) but it can be very difficult to make these changes consciously. If a stomach sleeper can achieve good alignment ... then it's not as "risky" as it would otherwise be although it also has other effects because it requires a very thin pillow and there is no avoiding the twisting of the neck for extended periods of time. I would certainly take the stomach sleeping into account in the selection of your mattress by using the thinnest possible comfort layers rather than making a selection that you will be able to avoid stomach sleeping.

You have many "competing" influences at work here which can make actual testing with the help of a knowledgeable person who can help you in real time and actually see you on the mattress even more important. While this may not lead to an actual purchase or a "perfect" mattress ... it will at the very least give you much better reference points for your own needs and preferences.

Two other points that would be well worth considering.

One is that I would want to know how much a memory foam mattress I was testing had "beoken in" to get a clearer sense of how much a new version would change over the first few months. If it is brand new ... then take into account that it will soften to some idegree over this period of time.

Second ... bear in mind that it is easier to "adjust" or fine tune a mattress that is a little too firm with a topper or in various other ways than it is to fine tune a mattress that is already too soft or where parts of you sink down too deeply. In other words ... alignment in all your sleeping positions (with lots of time on each mattress, fully relaxed, and with no tension in the muscles similar to just before you drift off to sleep) is the most important part because improving pressure relief can be more easily adjusted.

Hope this helps

Phoenix
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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 14 May 2012 13:16 #6

  • adamseals
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Here is an update after a Satruday of mattress shopping. Unfortunately I woke up Saturday morning with a stiff neck which made the whole process a bit difficult. My wife was a trooper, but she is understandably struggling a bit with how technical and thorough I am making this process.

STOP 1: Angelbeds/Tranquility Showroom

Fortunately this is very close to our house and right by where we had to pick up some hardwood floors we are having installed later this week. The salesman was somewhat helpful, but seemed to be similar to some of the better ones that we had encountered at national chains...he was somewhat knowledgeable and helpful, but I felt like I may have known as much as him (if not more) after reading this site.

It was good for us to lay on latex, but overall I think we decided we just don't like the feel quite as well as memory foam. (Not that we would eliminate it, but we thought staying focused on memory foam would be best.)

Regarding the Angelbeds, they were very much made to compare directly with Tempurpedic, an interesting marketing approach. The 2 that we might consider would be the Angelbed 13" Allusion (similar to Tempurpedic Allura) and the Angelbed 12" Riviera (similar to Tempurpedic Rhapsody).

The Alllusion has a 1" 7# + 2" 5# pillowtop, a 1" 5# layer, and then a 7" polyurethane base.
The Riviera has a 1" 7# layer, a 3" 5" layer, 1" polyurethane airflow, and then a 6" polyurethane base.

Typing it out, they both seem very similar, except the Allusion being put into a pillowtop format. I actually found both of these to feel a bit firm initially, perhaps because of the density of the top layer.

The salesman noted that with the pillowtop setup, he could even put in different layers on each side to suit our individual preferences. I didn't understand exactly how that would work, and I can't remember which layer he suggested doing that with.

Overall, it was a decent experience, although we were discouraged they didn't make an equivalent to the Bellafina since it is what you had suggested. If you think these are quality mattresses that would potentially suit our needs, we may consider them due to the (hopefully) better value than the Tempurpedics.

STOP 2: Mattress Firm

We were hoping to lay on a Tempurpedic Bellafina, so we stopped at a Mattress Firm. It was a quick stop, as we found out that none of their stores carry it anymore as it has been discontinued. I have called around to a couple of other places that carry Tempurpedic and found the same issue. This is somewhat discouraging, as I was hoping to be able to test it out and see if the type of bed you were initially recommending seemed to be a good fit.

STOP 3: Houston Mattress Factory

This was definitely the most interesting stop of the weekend. I believe we delt with the owner, Mike (I think). He was passionate about mattresses and had plenty of wisdom to share, although he couldn't quite make it through a thought without getting sidetracked on something. This made things take a long time, which was tough for my wife, considering the conditions of the "showroom". This was as ghetto on the inside as it appeared on the outside, and it was extremely difficult for us to get a feel for any of the mattresses because they were all wrapped in plastic.

After explaining what we were looking for, we somewhat focused in on a mattress that had the following build. Top layer, 1" of 2# Visco Memory Foam. Next layer, 2" latex ILD 24-28. Next layer, 2" of 5# Visco. Base layer, 4" trizoned latex (lighter at head and foot). It seemed reasonably priced, I think it was ~$2100 for a king.

My main concerns with going with this bed are as follows:
- We didn't really get to truly test it (covered in plastic)
- It would probably be hard to get my wife back to the "showroom" to test it even if they would remove the plastic (although she says she will be ok if I decide we should buy from them)
- Their warranty, while fantastic as you noted, makes me a bit uncomfortable, because I would be essentially locked into buying from them (unlimited exchange, but no refund), and it would be super inconvenient to swap

Overall, it was a somewhat frustrating search, probably because neither stop 2 or 3 was as expected. Actually, typing this out helped get my thoughts cleared a bit, but at this point I am fairly clueless about where to go next. We may consider checking out Texas Mattress Makers as well I guess.

Any thoughts on the above mattresses and where we might ought to go from here would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 14 May 2012 20:47 #7

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Hi adamseals,

Probably not surprisingly ... I would suggest that #1 and #3 would be your better options. While the Tempurpedic would be well worth testing ... it is also less "memory foam" like than their models that have only memory foam and the entire lineup is not the same value as your other options IMO. This is not to say they are low quality ... only that their quality comes at a price that is very difficult to justify when compared to similar quality but more reasonable options. They are doing some shuffling around with a new line of mattresses. They also used to have a mattress called the BellaSonna which had latex "cylinders" which had some potential but these types of hybrids are not what people who are looking for Tempurpedic are generally looking for and their name is built on the feel and "reputation" of memory foam so these tend to not be as popular. Reverie has a similar concept although they use latex on top of the cylinders.

Angelbeds/Tranquility.

As you saw they have some better options for testing. They do use American made certiPur certified foam and IMO are certainly better value to the equivalent Tempurpedics. The HD memory foam is very dense which means it has an initial feel of being firmer but it is actually more conforming over time when it warms up (it can take on the shape of the body better). It also modifies the layers below it so that you don't sink in quite as far so in that sense would be more "supportive". Like all memory foam though it will go through an initial softening period followed by a more gradual softening over it's lifetime. IMO ... it's always wise to buy a memory foam mattress a little on the firm side to make up for this (depending on how much of the breakin period the floor model has gone through). It's also important to spend a little extra time actually lying on memory foam to give it a chance to warm up and come closer to your actual sleeping experience. Testing how it feels once it's conformed to your shape when you change positions is also an important part of testing memory foam. While they are not the lowest priced memory foam mattresses, they are certainly better value than Tempurpedic. Compare for example the Original Mattress Factory Serenity set to the similar Riviera.

Mattress Firm.

These are the types of outlets that I certainly tend to stay away from although I know you were only there for the Tempurpedic.

Houston Mattress Factory.

As you mention ... a lot of the smaller independent owners are very passionate about what they build and for someone in a "hurry" it can take a little extra time. They have the long term experience though and the willingness to help that this sort of old style approach can also be a breath of fresh air compared to higher pressure outlets. As you can see ... many of them are much more focused on the value of their mattress than the style of their showroom. Some of them even use a part of their factory for the showroom :). Of course they're not all like this but the "cost cutting" often translates into better quality and value which in this case is apparent. They put their moey into their mattresses in other words.

This type of layering (memory foam/latex hybrids) are one of my favorites and for some people represent the best of both worlds. Their latex would be better quality than say tempurpedic who would likely use a synthetic blended Dunlop and while the plastic can get in the way, you can still get a good sense of the mattress. People who have been around for a long time are often very good at matching people to mattresses as well and as he probably told you they will make adjustments if the layering isn't quite right.

Manufacturers like this often offer the ability to make adjustments to their mattress if necessary (by swapping out a layer for exampleor making other changes) which I believe is far more valuable than a refund or exchange. I am not a fan of refunds for local purchases because they add more to the cost of a mattress than they are worth and they can also encourage customers to make poor choices that are not even close to their needs and preferences under the "managed" environment of a showroom. With a local manufacturer you will usually end up with a much more suitable choice with better quality and value and if there is a need to do any fine tuning it is more effective to adjust what you know than to start all over again. Each adjustment that could be made would keep the good and adjust what was needed so the choices are actually better and more accurate than at an outlet that has a dozen "alternative" mattresses for exchange.

Texas mattress makers would also be a good place to visit. They do make some good quality gel memory foam mattresses that use some of the better type of gel memory foam that would be worth testing. They normally only sell wholesale but their outlet is attached to their factory and they carry the full range of mattresses that are made by Noah. They only have one mattress with any latex in it but they do carry a selection of memory foam.

Overall of the choices you have tested I would definitely be leaning towards the model at Houston Mattress in terms of quality and value but of course your experience on the mattress is just as important than the quality of the materials because even the best quality mattress may not be suitable for any particular individual and pressure relief, alignment, and the overall feel you like are the most important part of testing. The specs are always a guideline for both quality and suitability and if the manufacturer knows his foams and uses high quality materials and good construction then it can help save you the time from learning what they already know.

Based on my conversations with the choices you have ... you have some very good options available :)

Hope this helps.

Phoenix
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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 14 May 2012 21:19 #8

  • benjammin
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It seems like the Houston mattress bad almost has like a pillow-top layer with the very low lb. memory foam (2 lbs). Although it's just an inch, I would think even with sleepers who are light weight-wise it would break down. So I would it hope it would be able to be replaced easily in a layering scenario. Otherwise from a quality perspective, the layers look to be good. I don't know how effective the 2" of memory foam between the layers of latex would be, but ultimately how it feels is more important.

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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 14 May 2012 21:38 #9

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Hi benjammin,

An inch of low density memory foam in the top layer would not be a big issue for me and is used to modify the feel of the firmer latex layer below it. Even if it softens ... it would still perform it's function which is more for the surface feel of the mattress. It's actually a 2.5 lb density (I asked him specifically because I had never heard of a 2 lb memory foam) and would perform a similar function to a inch of quilting foam (an inch or so is usually fine for those who are looking for a certain feel that gives the mattress a feel that they prefer). Thicker layers of low density foam would have a much greater risk of softening and breaking down in a way that affected the performance of the mattress.

The memory foam between the layers of latex certainly will make a difference in the feel and it gives it a "slow sinking in" feel in between latex and memory foam which for some can be very attractive. It "slows down" the feel and resilience of the latex. It's actually the mattress that he sleeps on and he discovered the layering possibility as a result of some muscle injuries that he had and seeing the difference that putting a latex layer on top of his memory foam mattress made and he then decided to make it into a mattress that he would sell.

Phoenix
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Re: Searching for a mattress...take 4 14 May 2012 21:45 #10

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Phoenix, thanks for the thoughts and explanation. I'm especially intrigued by the memory foam slowing down the feel and resilience of latex. Very interesting!

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