Back Pain Sufferer-- really need new mattress

I purchased a Sealy pillowtop mattress about 4 months ago. During the first three months, I was sleeping great. However, for the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with severe lower back pain and stiffness.

It’s hard to get comfortable on the bed now, and I’ve resorted to sleeping on an air mattress or the couch instead. This has alleviated the back pain. I called the furniture store I ordered the mattress from and explained my story (I essentially told them I thought the mattress might be sagging in the middle).

They’re going to send a technician in about a week to check out the mattress. I’m worried that there’s nothing truly wrong with this mattress and that (as a pillowtop) it’s just simply too soft for my back now that the foam has softened during that initial 90-day break-in.

I could try to sell this mattress and hope to get a decent amount back, but I’ll also need to purchase a new mattress. I’ve decided I need to get something much firmer. My budget is max $600 but would prefer closer to $500 if possible, and I live in NYC. There is a Sleepy’s near my apartment, and their prices seem reasonable. Is this a good place to start looking? Are there any other retailers in NYC that would have quality mattresses within my budget?

Would really appreciate any help you can offer.


hi RoxCo,

Unfortunately I think you hit the nail on the head. If you buy a mattress that has thick layers of lower quality polyfoam in the upper layers such as in a pillowtop … and it is just inside the “range” that is acceptable for you in terms of spinal alignment … then even the initial softening over the first few weeks can put you “over the line” and the mattress may no longer be suitable for you (even though it may still work for someone else with a different body type or sleeping positions). It is unlikely that there is anything here that would qualify for warranty coverage because loss of comfort and support from foam softening is not a warranty issue (even though it’s the most common reason people need to replace their mattress).

You could either sell it (and used mattresses don’t command a very big price) or you could do “mattress surgery” which means carefully cutting open the cover, removing all the “junk” foam and replacing it with higher quality foam, and then either re-attaching the cover or buying a new zip cover to enclose your “new” mattress. The springs will still be fine … it’s just the top foam that has softened too much for your needs and preferences.

If you sell it … I wouldn’t repeat the same mistake and walk into a chain store and only buy another mattress that is low quality and overpriced for what is in it. These guidelines will help you avoid most of the worst choices when you are mattress shopping.

Unfortunately $5 - 600 and “quality” (depending to some degree on the size you are considering) don’t really go together and I would be going for “the best available in the price range”.

Some of the better options in the NYC area are in post #2 here and a more detailed description of many of these is in post #4 here.

The size would make a big difference in what was available inside your budget and if you let me know the size you are looking for then I could probably help you narrow down the list a little bit more.


Thanks so much for your help. It’s a full size. I figured it wouldn’t sell for much unfortunately. Do you have a link discussing the mattress surgery you spoke to? And can you narrow down the list of retailers now that you know I’m looking for a full size mattress?

Thanks !

Hi RoxCo,

For your local choices I would go to … Ron is the owner here. They carry a range of mattresses including innersprings and they have much better quality and value in every price range than what you would find in a chain store. I would call them first to discuss your budget and ask him for his suggestions because they don’t list their prices on the site. They are also a member of this site.

dixiefoam I would talk with Mark here. They carry a range of all foam mattresses and hybrids that use high quality polyfoam (ranging from 1.8 lbs to 2.8 lbs) as well as latex (but it’s higher than your budget). They have very good quality and value.

Dreamfoam Bedding If you are comfortable ordering online without testing a mattress first … their Ultimate Dreams is a high quality latex/polyfoam hybrid and you can customize the latex to your choice of firmness level. Chuck is good at helping people make good choices. This is especially good value for a latex hybrid mattress but there are no refunds so make sure you put some thought into the choice of firmness level if you go in this direction. They are a manufacturing member of the site so if you do order from them make sure you tell them you are a member here so you will receive your free shredded latex pillow.

Post #13 here has an example but they didn’t post the final outcome. There are also several more detailed examples here.



Thank you so much for your help. I feel it may be important to mention that I had a spinal fusion about a year ago, so spinal support is important for me. I’ve slept on some very cheap beds that provided better support than the Sealy pillowtop I have now.

I think I’ll try DixieFoam this weekend. Their DreamBed Deluxe is within my price range. Do you have any comments on this mattress? How does the value compare to the DreamFoam?

Thank you again.

Hi RoxCo,

Keep in mind that there are two parts to “support”. The first is the deep support that comes from the deeper layers of the mattress which “stops” the heavier parts of the body from sinking in too far and tilting the pelvis causing misalignment. The second part of support is from the upper layers which “allows” the wider lighter parts (such as the shoulders for side sleepers) to sink in enough and to fill in the gaps in the sleeping profile to help support the curves of the spine. These two types of support together lead to spinal alignment in all of your sleeping positions.

“Value” includes both objective and subjective parts and is really up to each person to determine based on all the factors that are important to them and their own personal “value equation” (many of these in post #46 here.

Based on material cost alone … the Dreamfoam is probably better “value” but both of these are among the best value in the country and the ability to test a mattress locally … especially if you have more specific needs … and all the other factors involved in the link I included are also a significant part of the “value” of a mattress purchase and your own “value equation” is more important than the simple “commodity value” of a mattress IMO.

The DreamBed Beluxe uses very high quality materials and would be a good value and durable choice IMO … but again it’s important to make sure that it “fits” your needs and preferences. The choice between them would be “good vs good” rather than “good vs bad” which is exactly the place where the best final decisions can be made :).


Great, I’ll try the DreamBed Deluxe this weekend and report back.

Also, the technician from Raymour and Flanigan is coming next Tuesday to inspect the Sealy pillowtop I’m having problems with. I doubt they’ll be able to help, but is there anything I could say that you think might be able to swing things in my favor?


Hi RoxCo,

Unfortunately there really isn’t much you can say that will affect them. It’s pretty much a matter of measuring any impressions (and checking for proper support and stains). If the impressions are more than the 1.5" warranty exclusion (and there are no stains, the mattress is properly supported, and there is no evidence of damage) then it would be a valid warranty claim but this isn’t very likely.


Gotcha. This site lists the specifications for the mattress-- Sealy Posturepedic Carrara Plush |

I’m guessing the fact that the mattress has only 1" Super Soft Sealy Foam has led to my problems?

Hi RoxCo,

Actually it’s the other way around … I only wish that all their mattresses had only an inch of polyfoam.

The specs on the mattress you linked shows 2.5" of polyfoam including the hypersoft and the Sealy foam (which is less than most) but this is the plush version without a pillowtop and if yours is a pillowtop like this (same name) … then you have 3.5" of polyfoam which is even worse (the more lower density polyfoam there is the more effect that foam softening will have).

This is why pillowtops are not a great idea if they contain lower density polyfoam. They can have a great “showroom feel” but that feel doesn’t last very long.


I have been reading over all the posts Incan to help me make this decision. Thank you so much for your site!
I have narrowed my choice down to Dixiefoam, because I am not confident enough to buy online, even though the price is great. My question now is, since I can choose any fabric to encase my latex mattress with Dixiefoam, I am not sure about stretchy fabric vs non. Yesterday at Scott Jordan, where all of the Berekley mattresses have stretch covers, it’s was explained to me that the latex needs the stretch to conform better. I realize the cover has mostly to do with personal choice, but I am just interested in your thoughts on stretch vs non assisting the mattress in some way.

Hi Sujaan,

The choice between a quilted cover and an unquilted cover really boils down to one of preference.

An unquilted stretch knit cover will allow the feeling of softer latex to “come through” more and will allow you to sink into the latex a little more than a quilted layer.

If the cover is quilted … then the quilting would affect and modify the feeling of the latex underneath it depending on the type of quilting that was used.

For example … if the quilting was softer polyfoam … then it would soften the surface feel of the mattress and create a little more “plush” surface. It would also lower the resilience of the surface and provide a more “relaxed” and less “lively” sleeping surface (latex is more resilient than polyfoam) and change the pressure distribution slightly.

If the quilting material is a natural fiber like wool or cotton or a synthetic polyester fiber … then the fibers may be more compressed and firmer than the soft latex underneath it and depending to some degree on the amount and compression of the wool or synthetic fibers and the softness of the latex underneath they can firm up the mattress by slightly lessening how much you sinking into the softer latex or how well it can contour to your body profile. Using wool in the quilting (which is a very breathable and humidity and temperature regulating fiber) can also help in improving the temperature regulation and microclimate of the mattress.

So for someone that wanted the more resilient feel of latex directly on the surface of the mattress … then an unquilted stretch knit cover would be a good choice (this is the type of cover that Pure Latex Bliss uses for example).

For someone that wanted a slightly firmer feel and the benefits of wool … then this type of quilting would be a good choice. The degree that the wool or other fibers affect the comfort layers in the mattress would depend on the amount and compression of the fiber, its quilting pattern, and its firmness compared to the latex or other materials underneath it. Natura for example uses thicker layers of wool in the quilting.

Others like the Ultimate Dreams and many others use a polyfoam quilting which will create a softer surface (the top layer would be softer than the ILD rating of the latex) and this will also lower the surface resilience or what some people call “pushback” feeling of the latex which changes the pressure relieving profile of the mattress (the amount of weight that is supported by different areas of the body).

You will usually see latex with either an unquilted stretch knit covers to allow the "feel of the latex to come through more, a more “natural” or “organic” cover quilted with wool which are a little less stretchy and will increase the firmness slightly vs a cover with no quilting at all (and will create a more breathable and microclimate/temperature controlling mattress), or quilted with softer polyfoam to modify the surface feel and resilience of the latex … but this is all a matter of personal preference and of course budget.

There is more about quilted covers in this article along with Post #6 here (wool quilting) and post #2 here (effects of quilting and different materials and quilting patterns) and post #12 here (brief response about quilting foam).


Thank you so much for your response, Phoenix. We went to Dixiefoam today, assuming we’d buy the pure Talalay latex, and ended up buying the medium firm polyfoam instead for half the price! Mark was very helpful, not pushy at all, really knows his stuff and spoke very highly of your site. I loved the feel of the latex but the polyfoam felt almost as good and the price was very important for us at this time. Mark was very forthcoming that if we need to exchange we certainly can for a small fee. Very fair. I am really looking forward to trying the foam and I think the wool topper will be a wonderful additional top layer to wick moisture and keep us cool. I’ll update again once we’ve had a chance to experience the mattress at home…its arrival will be in 4 days!

Hi Sujaan,

Congratulations on your new mattress :slight_smile:

As you know I think highly of Mark at Dixiefoam and the quality/value of the mattresses he makes and it’s great to see that you let your body do the testing so you could choose the mattress that best meets your needs and preferences and also has the best quality/value for you. Polyfoam can make a very good choice if the quality is high (and the density they use certainly is) and budget is important.

I’m looking forward to your feedback once you’ve had the chance to sleep on it for a while.


Hi Phoenix,
So we finally got our medium foam mattress from Dixiefoam, Hurricane Sandy set everything back. We were so excited when it came but unfortunately after 4 nights we realize it’s just too firm for us. It’s a lovely mattress, and Mark at Dixiefoam is great to work with, but I think we have just been so used the cushioning of our old Tempupedic. We are now in the process of switching this foam one out for the Talalay latex that we originally though we would get at Dixiefoam. If someone is looking for a great firm mattress, I highly recommend the Dixiefoam foam. I will let you know how it goes once we exchange for the latex.

Hi Sujaan,

I’m glad you made it OK through the effects of the Hurricane!

Thanks too for the update. As you know I think highly of Mark and the mattresses he makes but especially because he is so easy to work with. You’re in good hands.

I’m looking forward to your next update once you’ve made the switch :slight_smile:


I am really sad. Mark at Dixie is awesome and he exchanged the polyfoam for the latex. We got it last night and the second we payed down on it we both wondered why is it so hard? It’s much harder than the one in the store. I had a terrible nights sleep, woke up with sciatica and a kink in my neck. Today I’m going to have to call Mark and find out why my mattress is so hard and beg him to exchange it for a softer one. Maybe the ILD is different? Or maybe the one in the store is old and has softened? Either way, my journey is not over. So frustrating!!

Hi Sujaan,

Of course Mark would be the one to provide the best answers why your mattress may feel different but I hope you have the chance to keep us up to date. Of course it’s a possibility that the materials still need to break in but he would be the “expert” about his mattresses and be in the best position to help you track down the mystery.



How did things and up wit your mattress? I hope you were able to find something that worked for you. Out of curiosity, what was the latex type/layering/ILD of the latex mattress you found too firm? And if you replaced it, the latex type/layering/ILD of that one as well?