Assistance request for back pain on a Purple

Hi Folks,

I really appreciate this site. For the past six months I’ve attempted to read most of the things on it! I’ve made notes, checklists, followed steps.

Just when I think I should be able to answer the starting question: what kind of material? I find myself more confused than ever.

We are sleeping on a 7 year old purple mattress. My low back pain is unbearable and I must finally make a decision and buy a new bed. Last time, we slept on a fold out couch for 6 months trying to make a decision and ended up with purple. I can’t recall if I liked it for awhile, but right now I can’t bear it.

Is it because it’s foam? Do I need a hybrid? Or is it because it’s older? Or maybe it’s too firm and I’m hitting the second layer. Or maybe it’s too soft and I’m sagging. (Which is what I tend to think). So confusing.

Here’s our details:
Husband: 6’5", 240lbs, , mostly back sleeper, no physical issues, dislikes firm beds, really likes our purple mattress even still.

Me: 5’2", 112lbs, mostly back sleeper but I’m supposed to be training to sleep on side. I have slightly bulging disc in my lower neck and low back, as well as an SI joint problem. I wake up in excruciating low back pain. Some days it takes me a minute to walk. When we go to hotels, I wake up in less pain. Not great but less.

I’m hoping to spend $1,500, but willing to spend a little more for results. Not $24,000 sleep number more, but more.

Everything thing I’ve read tells me the foam purple should be good for my scenario. We like the isolated movement component. He likes it. It’s supposed to be good for back pain. So I think foam is the way to go. Then again, maybe I need coils with a good thick top section? I am allergic to latex that is in bandaids, and rubber gloves but not to my purple. I hate things that smell.

So that covers budget, materials, support, isolated movement.

Feel? Totally subjective. I’ve read the articles and comparison charts. He likes softer than me. Neither of us like a ‘hard’ bed. Soft feels dreamy but support is more important. So…. Medium. :laughing:

Returns are a must. I can’t be stuck on a bed that hurts with no way to get money back if it doesn’t work for me. Not exchange- refund.

I appreciate any assistance in narrowing down this field!!!

Hi BrendaE,
Welcome to TMU. First I would like you to see this video of a purple mattress being opened up and examined. Inside the Purple Mattress It is possible and perhaps likely that some of your issues with the mattress stems from issues like this.
You husband needs a mattress that will support his large frame and weight. You on the other hand are on a different end of the spectrum with your size. It is not impossible for you to have the same preferences. Sometimes folks of different sizes and weight categories can enjoy the same mattress. One of the issues though, is the mattress utilizes too much poor quality foam, the larger sleeper in the couple will wear that foam down in record time, while the other sleeper remains stable, but that in turn will require a new mattress, as you can not fix that type of issue if the mattress is not designed with split or individual dual comfort replaceable mattress layers. You really should address the needs of the more your husband’s requirement first, from the perspective that with the wrong material structure of the mattress, it will not last too long with his physical characteristics. I say not impossible, as I am 6’ 218 (used to be closer to 250) and my wife is 5’4 135 and we sleep on the same king, super firm mattress, without issue as 80% side sleepers. So the generally accepted rule of too firm for side sleepers, is just that, a general rule or a guide. I will start by saying once you have selected the appropriate mattress, did very deep into finding the right pillow/s for each of you. I suspect you will need different pillows to satisfy each of your comfort levels. The fact that you have lower neck and other issues is testimony to individualized comfort and the pillow will by a vital key to getting there.
You can find mattresses in all price ranges and as I articulated in another post The cost to performance ratio, you dont always have to go for the lungs to get there. I call it may “cost to performance ratio”. ( I do this with my patients, is the change in your eyeglass Rx enough to warrant spending $1000 on a new pair of glasses, if you are happy with your current style! If you want to change your style or look, that is one thing, but dont expect much of a change in your vision). I apply those same values in evaluating mattress choices. You can purchase one of the “S” mattresses for up to 5-8k and if it sinks on you in a year or less, the high price did not bring you much value. that is not to say that another mattress in the same price range will perform as poorly, it just means you have to really exam the mattress, the materials, each layer, and where and how they are placed in the mattress construction. For example, some folks need targeted or extra pressure relieving mechanisms in their mattress. One suggestion would be to use a layer of memory foam in the comfort layer. Memory foam can sometimes cause a lot of heat retention and for those who already sleep hot, now get zapped with more heat while they sleep. Manufacturers can utilize microcoils to accomplish the same task. Quality microcoils used in place of memory foam will allow for excellent pressure relief, more air flow and less heat retention. You need to be careful though. Some mattress companies add micro coils gratuitously, just to say, we have ### coils in our mattress, but if those coils are not large enough, poor quality, or placed in the wrong section of the mattress, you are paying for hype. See this Gratuitous micocoils in a mattress. I am not picking on anyone, just pointing out a characteristic the mattress shopper needs to consider when getting all hyped up about a gorgeous looking mattress on a showroom floor. Back to value. Am I getting $$$ worth of value for the extra $$$ I am spending or will I end up at the same place in the end. Am I willing to take a chance on risking the difference if the end result is not clearly beneficial. Anyway, online mattresses like the big fig, titan plus/luxe, plank luxe/natural, helix plus are built and designed around folks who either need a firm mattress, a solid support layer, heavier gauge coils (usually 12.5-13.75g) or a very supportive foam support layer, with a comfort layer that finalizes our comfort preference. I am a big mattress topper fan, and I think almost everyone should use one, it can fine tune your position comfort, protects the longevity of your mattress, and if it begins to wear, you are replacing the topper, not the mattress. The big fig has been problematic for side sleepers as the typical complaint is it too hard. Depending on the type of mattress you like, hybrid, all foam, innerspring, there are many sources here at TMU who can customize you exact needs and PPP’s to the “T”. The trusted manufacturers and retailers are among the best in the industry (Manufacturer-Retail Stores :: The Mattress Underground) and you should query their sites. In my view, the difference between a smaller manufacturer and the big boys, is a smaller manufacturer that is custom manufacturing a mattress, can literally make anything you want. I am of the belief, simple is better, less is more. Start with a good support layer, add a good base layer is a single sided mattress, and perhaps up to about 5" of comfort layer deplored to your personal preferences. Once you start getting into mattresses that have 10" of foam over the support layer, it makes it hard for the support layer to do it’s job and have any affect on your comfort. Personally, I am thinking hybrid on your behalf. Since he likes softer than you, a split comfort, comfort layer/section of the mattress will probably be best. If you seek an all foam bed, take a look at Custom Sleep Technology ( just to see what a manufacturer can do with building a mattress and how the comfort levels can be segmented and customized for each sleeper. If you can not find a dual comfort mattress that allows for interchangeable comfort layers, than perhaps a split king. I would take a little time to review some of the manufactures here. Check out (Mattress Makers :: The Mattress Underground) they are excellent at building a great custom mattress. There are plenty here and online to choose from. I am not a real gimmicky type of person, which is why I am not so high on purple grids, airweave materials, gels and cooling chemicals. They certainly have value for some, and can be comfortable as others have experienced. I would suggest you surf around and get some ideas and then we can revisit. Then we can talk about the fine print. Warranties, refunds, restocking fees, returns, and exchanges. When it comes to that, you need to get that info in writing or email, prior to standing at the register. Never feel pressured. This is not a race, go home, or if online, take a day to sleep on it (no pun intended). Then revisit the next day and see if the excitement is still there.

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Which mattress did you buy? The Shifman?


No, I went with the Brooklyn Bedding Plank Luxe. In my mind, I kept hearing my wife’s voice, your crazy to spend that amount of money. I was like, people say the same thing to me and you (we are both in the same field, although she is not a licensed professional) when they purchase a good quality pair of eyeglasses and spend $1500 or more. Then, I came back to earth and said, ok, lets go home and think about it. Originally, I was hyped up about Saatva, but that died with individual reviews on line (not the website or affiliate reviews). Brooklyn Bedding plank kept coming up as the “most firm mattress” on the market and was flippable and had edge to edge coils and no foam encasement around them. My own advise started to take over. If the plank luxe didnt work, I am out $1300 max. I thought, I can live with that if I had to, even though they have 120 day trial and return policies, it was my 1st BinB consideration, so I was skeptical. So, I went with my gut instinct and bought it from an independent brick and mortar guy, who also has an affiliate website. I figured he was more reliable since he has a store and has a store full of mattresses. I read his story on line, watched his reviews and thought he was a nice guy. So, I used him. Now I recommend him a lot as my gut instinct about him was right on too. The Plank Luxe has been the best mattress I have had as an adult. Although, it is always about the money, it really wasnt, I would have spent it. I have spent more on pillows than I have spent on the mattress as you can see from my pillow collection. I just wanted firm comfort and did not want my back to sink. It worked. Now, I must say, from the last time I purchased a mattress, which was 2011, I literally studied mattresses, foams, builds, like it was a college course. I did take physics, some ceramic engineering courses, I had two engineering roommates chemical and ceramic, so I knew a lot about springs, glass, silica, foams and chemicals already, but this took me to a new level.

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Thank you for writing all of this up. I’ve read it a few times and checked out your links.

I have spent so much time perusing the trusted sources sites and end up right back where I started- confused. We’ve also watched YouTube videos about some of the trusted sources and others that have come up in related threads here.

I have no idea what I need for support or comfort and no clue if I prefer foam or coils and how many.

I’ve been searching for the right pillow for years- I have 17 pillows in my guest bed. :rofl:. All rejects from my research and reading. My guests have a showroom to chose from. Hahaha.

I think my next step will be to start calling all the trusted sources and listen to their sales pitches. Perhaps one will grab me enough to purchase.

Thank you for replying with so much thought!

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The video Batmannorm posted was very informative and shows why a lot of mattresses only last a few years or even less. Your back most likely hurts more than it should because it isn’t being supported sufficiently on your Purple mattress. Would you be allergic to latex if it’s enclosed? You could try a latex pillow to see if it’s only a skin allergy, or if just the presence of latex causes reactions. You probably need a firm, supportive base, which could be coils or dense foam, and then a top comfort layer that feels nice for pressure relief. So like Norm said, a topper can be used on any mattress to tweak it. Also, if a mattress has deep tufts, they could irritate your back. I’ve had that happen with my last two well known mattress brands that developed body impressions within a few days. If a mattress has 1" impressions, it might be tolerable, until you add the 1" to 2" tuft indentations. The tufts can make the mattress look more luxurious, but impossible to sleep on.

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I think that is one approach. I not so sure I would consider it a sales pitch, but I understand what you are trying to say. Ultimately, it gets down to is, 1st, what you think you would like, and then testing that theory. Places like Custom Sleep Technology, which has options in latex and polyfoam combinations, offer the opportunity to use their body profile and come up with good options for each individual sleeper’s preferences. It is a little costlier than the under 2k range, but much less costly than some of the other box store offerings by way of BR, S&F, various Purple, TP and Sleep Number type options. While I have no personal animosity towards those brands or any brand for that matter. I have my personal feelings about certain things, but my feelings towards various brands and sources do not affect what I would necessarily recommend or suggest how someone should approach looking for their next mattress. I know there are mattresses out there that offer newer creative materials, at 63 years old, I have seen a lot of mattress options be introduced, some with comfort purpose and some with profit motivation. I recently switched out of my beloved TP Procloud Hi pillow, to an old fashioned horsehair pillow (no other fill, just horsehair) and it is has contributed to the deepest, soundest, best nights’ sleep over the past weeks that I have had, even better than with the TP Procloud that I thought was great.
I have no objection to BinB’s as I have mentioned, I own one and love it. I lucked out.
When you have two people of varied sizes with potentially different feel requirements, going back to the basics is where it is at. I like to recommend for your husband’s size an innerspring or hybrid but tend to want to ditch the viscoelatic memory foam. I think your husband will sink it and wear it out and you will be right back here again. As I mentioned, in all foam categories, with dual comfort CST has the style build that will be best.
If you want an innerspring mattress, or ( or ( or one of the other trusted members (Our Manufacturer Memberships :: The Mattress Underground). These folks can do whatever you want to a degree. My feeling is for certain combinations, you may need a split king, if dual comforts are not available in the combination you prefer. I would check out the Brooklyn Bedding Plank Luxe, like mine. If you were to go with a split California king, you could order two twin xl’s, and turn one on the firm side and the other on the less firm side. You will each have the ability to test a prefixed firmness, but at different levels. Plus, the split California king will give your tall husband a bit of leg room with the extra 4" in length. ( they do use a HD 1.8lb 36ILD foam with a quilted cover that uses a 50ILD in the quilted foam. Their13.5g coils are incredibly supportive and should work great for each of you. But you really must decide what direction you want to go. I agree that you want to work with someone that will offer the 3 r’s, refund, restocking fee waiver, returns at no charge or very minimum or an exchange. You need to remember, most of the online sellers offer these features, many of the private manufactures will not be as generous, and for good reason. Once someone gets it in their head they have no obligation to the efforts of the seller, they can simply go on a fishing expedition, which is not fair to the seller, even though you as the buyer are in search of the perfect mattress. At some point there must be a meeting of the minds. In our practice, we occasionally give refunds, but we do not offer that as a policy option. Once you do the “if you don’t like it or it doesn’t work for you, here is your refund, policy” it really does not serve me or the patient any good. A refund is not a solution to the problem, it is an evasive measure, and does not solve the problem. That is why when a manufacturer offers distinct levels of comfort in their mattresses, there is a solution in there somewhere, it may not be at the price you prefer, but there is always a solution, even if both sides must compromise a bit. If there is no compromise, then, from my perspective, it is just wasted time. I know that sounds harsh, but at some point, the search must come to an end. You know yourselves best, but I just don’t think the gimmickry of the purple is going to do it for the long haul. The plank luxe is closest to a BinB that you will get to old school firm in my opinion. Throw a topper if needed for added comfort and you are in your price and comfort range. Otherwise, the selected trusted members maybe you next best option, but you need to be a willing partner in the process.
I know I sound a bit direct from a policy perspective, but when I teach a class or give a lecture, it is all about the facts, and no pandering. I kind of offer to the audience, this is the information, it is up to you do with it what you will. I wish you check some of the options out that have been presented, and you find the perfect match. Good luck on your search!_

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Thank you for this response! Good things to think about.


Ok. This is a good list of things for me to dig into further. Thank you!


Much appreciated! Direct is helpful.


I bought a Purple 4 in 2018. Im 225 pounds and back sleeper. Starting having back pain after 2nd day. Great pressure relief, poor support. I returned it.



The Purple 4 was their softest model with most sinkage, not surprised it lacked support for your needs. Glad you were able to return it.

  • Bill