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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 20 Aug 2020 06:22 #1

  • Robin Brain
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I've read the "How to look for and find the best mattress ... for YOU!", and "Five steps to your perfect mattress"
I'm currently using a 12 year old innerspring mattress, and think it's time for a new one.

I'm probably being dense, but need more help with the support. I'm 6' 180 Lbs. BMI 24. Mostly side sleeper, but sometimes back, and rarely stomach. I tried a 3 layer foam mattress, but when sleeping on my back it seems like my hips and shoulders sink in and I feel pressure from the mattress against my lumbar spine. Is that supposed to happen? Putting a pillow under my knees that some sites suggest seems to help with that though,

Sleeping on my side felt much better, but my head felt slightly out of alignment, I'm guessing that's because of my pillow.

I'm indifferent to foam or latex. Would a 4 layer hybrid with springs be a better choice, or should I try to find a firmer 3 layer foam mattress so the times when I sleep on my back? The mattress I tried meet the minimum durability listed on this site. Thanks

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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 21 Aug 2020 10:53 #2

  • Sensei
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Hey Robin Brain,

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

I've read the "How to look for and find the best mattress ... for YOU!", and "Five steps to your perfect mattress" I'm currently using a 12 year old innerspring mattress, and think it's time for a new one.

Congrats on your new mattress shopping journey! Sounds like you've made a good start with your research, Phoenix's "How to Look for and Find the Best Mattress…for YOU!" , as well as "Five Steps to Your Perfect Mattress" both are great starter reads for getting organized. And definitely after 12 years, it's likely time to retire your current innerspring mattress.

I'm probably being dense, but need more help with the support. I'm 6' 180 Lbs. BMI 24. Mostly side sleeper, but sometimes back, and rarely stomach. I tried a 3 layer foam mattress, but when sleeping on my back it seems like my hips and shoulders sink in and I feel pressure from the mattress against my lumbar spine. Is that supposed to happen?

Good question; Robin Brain. If your hips and shoulders are already sinking into the mattress and creating lumbar pressure, you aren't getting the correct support for your individual comfort needs. Without knowing any details other than your description of a "3 layer foam mattress" however, I can't comment on what layering suggestions might be a better choice for you. What mattress did you try and for how many nights?

Putting a pillow under my knees that some sites suggest seems to help with that though, Sleeping on my side felt much better, but my head felt slightly out of alignment, I'm guessing that's because of my pillow.

For clarity, are you using the additional pillow under your knees to alleviate lumbar discomfort when sleeping on the current innerspring mattress or the 3 layer foam mattress? Supplemental pillows can certainly help in these situations but I would question having to "band aid" a new mattress from the start if you are already having support issues.

I'm indifferent to foam or latex. Would a 4 layer hybrid with springs be a better choice, or should I try to find a firmer 3 layer foam mattress so the times when I sleep on my back? The mattress I tried meet the minimum durability listed on this site. Thanks

It seems like you may be confusing the "firmness" of a mattress with how "supportive" a mattress is. The upper comfort layers of a mattress are responsible for providing pressure relief to your body, as well as support of its more recessed areas, including the spine. You can learn more on the importance of comfort layer construction and materials used in Phoenix's article "Mattress Comfort Layers" . The mattress support layers or mattress core's main function is to provide support for spinal alignment by controlling how deeply different parts of your body "sink down" into the mattress as you sleep. You may find Phoenix's companion article "Mattress Support Cores" helpful for breaking down the different types of mattress cores and support profiles they offer. And if you REALLY want a fun extra credit read to tie these together, check out Phoenix's "The Basic Functions of a Mattress" article, expanding on how Comfort and Support work in terms of mattress function.

Looking forward to hearing what your next steps are whenever you have time for a check-in.

Thanks,
Sensei
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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 21 Aug 2020 17:06 #3

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Good question; Robin Brain. If your hips and shoulders are already sinking into the mattress and creating lumbar pressure, you aren't getting the correct support for your individual comfort needs. Without knowing any details other than your description of a "3 layer foam mattress" however, I can't comment on what layering suggestions might be a better choice for you. What mattress did you try and for how many nights?

Thanks for the reply. I' hope I got the quote tags right.

Original Casper, and it been about 3 nights so far

For clarity, are you using the additional pillow under your knees to alleviate lumbar discomfort when sleeping on the current innerspring mattress or the 3 layer foam mattress? Supplemental pillows can certainly help in these situations but I would question having to "band aid" a new mattress from the start if you are already having support issues.


Just using the pillow for the the Capser mattress, and in all honesty only lasts maybe an hour or two before i move to my side, and get rid of the pillow

I'm indifferent to foam or latex. Would a 4 layer hybrid with springs be a better choice, or should I try to find a firmer 3 layer foam mattress so the times when I sleep on my back? The mattress I tried meet the minimum durability listed on this site. Thanks

It seems like you may be confusing the "firmness" of a mattress with how "supportive" a mattress is. The upper comfort layers of a mattress are responsible for providing pressure relief to your body, as well as support of its more recessed areas, including the spine. You can learn more on the importance of comfort layer construction and materials used in Phoenix's article "Mattress Comfort Layers" . The mattress support layers or mattress core's main function is to provide support for spinal alignment by controlling how deeply different parts of your body "sink down" into the mattress as you sleep. You may find Phoenix's companion article "Mattress Support Cores" helpful for breaking down the different types of mattress cores and support profiles they offer. And if you REALLY want a fun extra credit read to tie these together, check out Phoenix's "The Basic Functions of a Mattress" article, expanding on how Comfort and Support work in terms of mattress function.

Looking forward to hearing what your next steps are whenever you have time for a check-in.

Thanks,
Sensei[/quote]

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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 23 Aug 2020 12:33 #4

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Hey Robin Brain,

Appreciate your responses to my queries :) .

Thanks for the reply. I' hope I got the quote tags right…Original Casper, and it been about 3 nights so far

The Original Casper mattress is their basic, opening price point mattress, famous for sparking the popular "Bed in a Box" category and opening online shopping to the mattress industry. According to their site, the Original's construction is a top layer of poly foam, a second layer of zoned memory foam, following with a support layer of poly foam; no additional specs of the foams are given other than the mattress' 11" total height with both queen and king models having 80" in length. Here is an image from their site demonstrating proper spinal alignment on the Original/ see attachment:

Could be simply that the design of the Original isn't supportive enough for your 6'/ 180 lb build as you describe both your shoulders and hips sinking through, resulting in uncomfortable pressure points while in a back sleeping position. It might be helpful for your research if you could get a pic of you resting in side/ back positions for a better visual of what's happening with your spinal alignment. Just curious: what are you using for the base?

While I have previously recommended quite a few reading assignments, following the above exercise you may find Phoenix's article "Your Sleeping Style, Preferences and Statistics" interesting as well. Thanks again for the updates and good luck.

Sensei
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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 23 Aug 2020 19:07 #5

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Hey Robin Brain,

Appreciate your responses to my queries :) .


what are you using for the base?


Thanks for the replies

I'm using wooden slats placed over my old box spring. The gap between the slats is about 3". The slats of the box spring and the slats intersect each other. Thanks for the link. It recommends a comfort later of 2-4" for side sleepers . According to Casper's site the original has comfort layer of 3" I am tossing and turning at times. So If I understand correctly I might have to go for a mattress that has 4" of comfort layers, and a firmer support layer?

I'm confused if I need a firmer or softer support layer. I've attached a pic it's the best I could get hope it helps
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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 27 Aug 2020 12:28 #6

  • Sensei
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Hey Robin Brain,

Thanks for the pics and prompt response; my apologies for the delayed reply.

I am tossing and turning at times. So If I understand correctly I might have to go for a mattress that has 4" of comfort layers, and a firmer support layer? I'm confused if I need a firmer or softer support layer. I've attached a pic it's the best I could get hope it helps

The third pic seems to give the best observation of your alignment, but even then its difficult to "see" from my end what you are "feeling" as you lay on your side from a "sinking in" perspective. From your other posts' descriptions, it does appear that your hips are sinking past the topmost comfort layers and hitting the support layer, creating the pressure points you've described.

The different articles for suggested reading describe in depth the differences in function of the comfort layer of a mattress versus the support layer. The upper/ comfort layers give the amount of cradling or uplifting feeling you desire based on personal preferences of materials, etc. The support/ base layer of the mattress is responsible for the correct alignment of your body while sleeping. In this case of your Original Casper, perhaps its simply that the foam base layer isn't "supportive" enough for your needs, these are primarily designed with a "one size fits most" philosophy, not so much for athletic-type builds who would benefit from more of a performance-type mattress. That said, is there a COVID-safe showroom in your area that has mattresses in your budget? You would be better served spending several days testing mattresses of different materials/ construction if possible, to feel the differences compared to your current mattress. Thanks again for the updates, RBrain (typo…totally keeping it ;) ), looking forward to hearing what you decide…

Sensei
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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 27 Aug 2020 16:42 #7

  • Robin Brain
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Thanks for the reply.

There is a mattress firm, near me where I can probably test a few brands. I'll have to google if they are any other places also close by.

So if my current support layer isn't "supportive" enough does that mean when I go the store to check out beds, I try the same firmness but thicker support layer, or a more firmer layer? I'll test several there, but just wondering which one I should start witn

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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 28 Aug 2020 12:16 #8

  • Sensei
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Hey Robin Brain,

"So if my current support layer isn't "supportive" enough does that mean when I go the store to check out beds, I try the same firmness but thicker support layer, or a more firmer layer? I'll test several there, but just wondering which one I should start witn "

You may want to have a few notes ready when making your visits to help keep conversations on track. Start by explaining your current Original Casper situation and how you are sinking past the upper comfort layers into the support layer, which you may need more thickness there. Keep in mind too that the display pillows paired with the beds will be different than yours at home and ask to try different pillows if needed, to better approximate what you're used to as closely as possible. And always, have a budget number ready and familiarize yourself with the stores' exchange/ return policies beforehand, a quick google search will be your best friend here.

It’s also a good idea to also call before dropping in and check the showroom's COVID policies, some mattress stores are limiting the number of customers in their showrooms according to local COVID mandates. Best of luck to you, Robin Brain, and let us know how the shopping goes :) .

Thanks,
Sensei
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Help with spinal alignment and support (Step 5) 02 Oct 2020 17:14 #9

  • Robin Brain
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Figured I would give an update just in case it can help anyone else.

I returned the Caper original and purchased a Nest Natural latex hybrid in the medium firmness. It works great for me. Now I just need to find a new pillow that just as comfortable. My old pillow is still good, but I need to fold it a bit to get really comfortable.

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