Help me fix my Berkeley Ergo bed!

Sorry this is very LONG! Advice needed please!
I’ve been l reading posts this summer as my husband and I have been trying to figure out what to do about our Berkeley Ergonomics bed. I have had upper back and neck pain (soreness and stiffness in muscles, not actual spine) for about a year, and finally think it must be the bed. I’ve seen doctors, gone to months of physical therapy, had weekly massage, changed my pillow many times and still not much relief. I’ve slept on the floor, my daughter’s hard bed, a futon, etc. The harder surfaces are not good for me sleeping on my side either and I can’t sleep on my back. There is no medical cause for the pain and I’m in otherwise in good health. The pain is worst on the left side of my neck and upper/mid back, especially about halfway down left side, though I’m sore and stiff on both sides (traps, rhomboids etc). Massage therapist told me I’m extremely tight on left side (but I sleep on my right). I wake up with pain being worst and it gets somewhat better through day but never goes away (esp stiff/sore neck).
We have a 6 year old 8 inch BE talalay latex mattress on euro slats (which we’ve adjusted many different ways beyond what the store initially recommended, and we’ve even tried putting mattress right on the floor). The 6 inch core is medium non zoned talalay latex, top comfort layer is split with the side I sleep on being 2 inch soft, my husband’s is 2 inch firm. From the start I haven’t felt this bed was comfortable (has always felt too firm to me, though the soft side is softer and feels comfortable when I first lay on it). The salesman rejected my initial dislike as being adjustment issues after it was delivered (when we called about the comfort problems I initially had) and it was eventually tolerable for me so I’ve lived with it. Unfortunately the store we bought it from went belly up during COVID so we have no recourse now. The firm comfort layer was supposed to be my side but I hated it so much my husband swapped with me. I knew little about latex at the time, (but I really wanted and still do want a non toxic bed ) and now realize the salesman probably shouldn’t have sold me a firm comfort layer. We are both side sleepers. I am 130, 5-5 curvy, husband is 155, 5-11. He also occasionally has low back problems. I’m guessing the firm layer isn’t too great for him (although he doesn’t usually wake up with pain).
My question is should we try replacing the comfort layer with new 2 inch latex from another supplier? Should it be soft talalay latex since we’re both side sleepers? Or since the support layer is medium talalay, should it be some other firmness and then topped with a mattress topper of soft talalay for comfort? There is no store that sells BE anywhere near where I live now so I don’t think getting replacement layers from BE is possible. I don’t want the feeling of the straight latex foam under the sheet. I like the feel of a true mattress top. I feel like the main problem could be that this bed is too firm for me, and I’m not getting enough depth for shoulder and hips (my waist is much smaller than both). I sort of want to trash the whole thing but we spent over $3K and six years seems ridiculous to need to already replace given that we are small people and latex is supposedly so durable.

Another big issue is that this bed sleeps extremely hot for me. I go to bed cold (room is very cool) but I wake up almost every night on fire (though my husband is freezing and has to use extra blankets), and we use no mattress protector, cotton sheets, and a thin cotton quilt. I am post menopausal but I’m on hormones and don’t have hot flashes any other time. I feel like the mattress just retains heat.
I’m even wondering if we need to punt and buy another type of bed like springs or hybrid that is cooler but I’m overwhelmed and paralyzed about with shopping for one, since there are no trustworthy (not big brand) retail outlets I can go to in person. I’ve read extensively (and warily) about all the online mattresses and we did test some out at a Sandman Sleep store (far away from where I live) back in the spring. I liked the Nest Owl but I’m unsure about the thick “quilting foam” l in the pillow top. Seems like it could get a body impression pretty easily and may be hot too.
So bottom line is it worth spending more $ on this bed or do we try to find something different. Is a 6 inch talalay core with a 2 inch comfort layer enough for two lighter side sleepers?
Thanks if you’ve read all the way to the end!
Any advice appreciated. :grinning:

Hi Elisam and welcome to the Mattress Underground :slight_smile:

Sorry to hear your Berkeley Ergonomics bed is causing you so many issues….as you probably know, any mattress you and your husband find ideal will be based on your Stats (height, BMI, sleeping position(s) and any underlying health conditions) - thanks for providing those! - and your PPP (Posture & alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences).

As you both have lower BMIs, you should have far more options in sleep solutions as proper support should not be an issue with any good quality bed. As you can see comparing the the Mattress Specifications You Need To Know to the Mattress Durability Guidelines, latex is one of the most durable - and breathable - materials you can have in a mattress. This of course doesn’t mean you can’t still feel ‘hot’!

Since you are feeling aches and pain with a plush comfort layer, but your husbands firm side is worse, I’m wondering if one issue may be that you are sinking into the 2” top layer and bottoming out on the layer below. Another factor may the the type of latex - Talalay latex rubber is ‘bouncier’ than Dunlop (the common comparison is the difference between angel food cake and pound cake). If at all possible, you might want to try a few different firmnessses, like a more medium-firm, of both types to see how they feel for you, as this may solve your dilemma.

Remember, no one can decide on what’s best for you and your husband except the two of you. For your body profiles, it’s really as matter of preference what comfort levels you sleep on…asides from the aforementioned ‘sinking in’ (more likely with a thicker plush comfort layer) it depends on how you feel on various firmnesses. With an 8” latex mattress, a topper of an inch or 2 in the correct firmness could allow you to ‘rescue’ your BE mattress, but it may take some trial and error to finds the right fit, which is why if possible, testing some mattresses in local showrooms could help solve the puzzle. Likewise with a hybrid of different type of sleep solution - it may or may not be comfortable for you both, and as you say, replacing your BE may be a little drastic. Since you are having issues sleeping hot, you also might want to consider a cover of wool, bamboo, or coconut coir, as this would provide an additional breathable layer between you and the mattress.

If you are considering online ordering, many the Trusted Members of the site have toppers and replacement latex layers of both types, and various firmnesses…giving any of these your Stats, PPP and mattress history, and the issues you are having, will allow them to provide some possible solutions. Unlike, for example memory foam, any latex you find in a store, once you match the comfort level and support level you need, will be durable for many years…the hard part is really matching those for you both.

It does seem like a little tweaking/adjustment of your present mattress could resolve your discomfort without a costly bed replacement; I certainly wish you success! Please let us know how it works out!

~ Basilio

I hope this helps. I had a 2 inch for a top layer of Talalay and a sink right to the bottom into the next layer below me which was too firm and it was a medium as well so there’s no side lane. After lots of wasted money and time I realize that what I needed was a 3 inch soft so I could lay on my side and that also helped my pressure points so that I would not sync to the next layer below as far as your company that went out of business. I know there was a Berkeley Sleep design place where I got my bed that he went out of business during Covid as well. I’m thinking you might be like mine where the 3 inch solves the problem and I think it’s good advice to go with one of the trusted members on this underground site. Good luck with everything.

Thank you Cia! That is very interesting. Did you put the 3 inch soft right over the existing bed? Or did you replace the 2 inch layer and then add a 3 inch layer? I don’t think 3 inches will fit in my zipper cover which now has a 6" core and 2" comfort layer.
Maybe it was the same store…in Ohio?
I did reach out to a TM for advice about replacement, he said thought the talalay 6" core was potentially shot because talalay isn’t a good core material and should have used dunlop, and the soft comfort layer possibly compromised it and is probably also broken down. I don’t know how to tell if that is true, and I have no clue what to do next. Hate to trash a $3K bed but also hate to throw good money after bad.

Thank you, Basilio…I appreciate the advice, but I’m unsure how to proceed with where to try out these various types of beds. No local options for latex or latex hybrids, so I guess I’m stuck with trial and error of ordering things with a return policy.
As I’ve researched, no company seems to be offering a talalay core for latex mattresses, so that’s a clue to me that the Berkeley Ergonomics bed could be a dud. I realize it is also more expensive, but it seems like the durability of talalay is lower also.

I put my 3 inch on top instead of the 2 inch I opened up the zipper took out the 2 inch zipped it up and then put the 3 inch on top of my zipper lol and then I put two sheets on top of that. I’m still building my bed I think it’s best to do a bed that has a core of 2- 3 inchInstead of one 6 inch but since you already have the one 6 inch I’d be worth a try to get the 3 inch and just put it on top to try.
Then at least you’ll know for your shoulder for your sideline. And yes they designed Sleep was in Ohio they went bankrupt during Covid now he’s working at TY furniture I’m not sure where that’s located but I know that they said that you could get parts over there now for his old beds. He has yet to respond to any of my emails I’m very angry at him as I got rid of my bed he sold me just to get money not caring what I needed. I’m going to Savvy rest Where I get treated better and they really care. I speak to Twyla at the main corporate online telephone number and she’s very informational and knows a lot. Good luck with everything and sorry you’re going through the bed hell that I’ve been going through for six years now.

Yes, that’s the same store, same owner, and my same feeling toward them. :frowning: I’ve also tried to contact with no success. What good is a warranty when the company goes belly up and then won’t respond to you? Best of luck to you too!

Whenever someone has complaints about neck and shoulder pain, I always direct myself toward the pillow combination. I understand you have tried some different ones, but which ones? In what combination? Do you use one pillow or stack two? Have you tried a cervical pillow? It had an immediate effect on my snoring and neck/should pain. I just didn’t like using it after a while and moved on, but it worked great. You said you are narrower at the waist than hips and shoulders. Since you have split comfort, it is always best to attack one issue at a time. If you are suffering more than your husband, focus on you, and solve the problem, then work on your husband, trying to do too much will get confusing and lead to distraction and you can often go off in tangents. Foams, no matter what foam will sleep hotter than cotton, wool, or horsehair.
I would like for you to take a step back. When was the last time you felt like you slept comfortably? I know you said you are in good health; do you take any statins for cholesterol or anything else (that doesn’t mean you are unhealthy, but need medication to control a simple issue)? Has this bed always slept hot, for all 6 years? The fact that the support layer is talalay, is not that concerning, many company’s use talalay at higher firmness levels for their support layer although Dunlop by design has a higher support factor than talalay, but both can be made to higher firmness levels, they feel different as you sink further into them, I would think talalay would give you less of the type of problem you are describing than Dunlop would anyway.
Since the bed in only 6 years old, I don’t suspect the talalay has any depressions in it.
If you chiropractor said you are stiff, that means your muscles are either being stretched for an extended period of time when you sleep or compressed when you sleep, assuming you sleep the same way every night, the same conditions apply. The way to avoid that is to change the conditions. If your pillow is a talalay pillow for example, even the softest talalay pillow acts like a bouncy balloon always trying to push your head back up, even when it compresses when you first lay on it. Usually, the kinetic energy push back wins, and your head is being pushed off the 180-degree line 10 or 15 degrees. If you are using a pillow that does not have a lot of lofts or is one of those poly-fill types, your head is going down towards your mattress surface opposite of what the latex pillow will do, and you will be 10-15 degrees off in the other direction. Which will make one side of your neck and shoulders hurt. If you sleep on your right, it makes sense that your head is being pushed up and you are compressing the left side and when you wake up it hurts to straighten or stretch it out. Which sounds like a latex pillow or too lofty pillow.
I would not start swapping out layers of the mattress just yet, as the softer layer does not work for you and neither does the firmer layer.
You need to pick a layer, I would suggest the firmer one. Then get a pillow that matches the height difference between the surface of the mattress to your head. Stay away from latex pillows. A tempurpedic pillow (like the TP ProCloud Mid, as you are exactly my adult daughter’s shape and weight, she loves this pillow) is good here as they tend to sink until you head, and neck are at the 180-degree line in line with your body. I good down/feather pillow combination will do about the same thing, except they do not respond or rebound back like a slow response TP pillow. The other thing I would try is a body pillow. Wool, cotton or horsehair, anything but latex or memory foam in this scenario. We want nothing that heats you up, but something that will offer a cloud like surface, that the firm top comfort layer should support.
A horsehair topper could be in the works down the road (its keeps you cool, has a little bounce, is comfortable and checks a lot of your boxes), but, it is an expense we would like to avoid. The goal here is not necessarily to definitively solve the problem immediately, it is more about figuring out what makes you more comfortable, then using that information to augment what you must to get you there. The risk of purchasing another mattress may not yield any better results regardless of how much you spend, unless you know exactly where the current problem stems from.

Thank you for the advice @batmannorm . I’ve tried a cervical pillow called Therapeutica that I used to sleep on for years (a decade+) but wore it out. When I bought a new one, it wasn’t at all the same in material or thickness, and I tried two different sizes. Mostly I’ve slept on a Coop Homegoods adjustable memory foam pillow that I’ve constantly added and removed filling from. Also an adjustable shredded latex/kapok Avocado green pillow (it compresses to get very hard and becomes uncomfortable). A down pillow folded over, two very thin poly fill pillows stacked, a down pillow with a mackenzie roll in it. A BedGear Flow 1.0 pillow. A shredded latex Gummi pillow. Many types, although I’ve never tried a solid latex pillow. I will look at the tempurpedic.
I cannot sleep on the firm latex side of the bed. I have tried. It is painful just to lay on it because it feels so firm. It even feels too firm to lay on it on my back. Neither my shoulders or hips depress much into it. There is a 10 inch difference between my shoulders/hips and waist. I take no medication other than hormones and thyroid replacement, both of which I’ve taken a long time (and my thyroid levels are correct now). I can’t remember when I last slept comfortably (meaning I didn’t wake up with neck/back pain either in the morning or during the night) but at least a year ago, and at that time I was using the Coop pillow. In the past week, I’ve tried forcing myself to sleep on my back on a thin pillow and that does seem like its helping a little, although four or 5 hours into the night I grab my thicker pillow and go on my side in order to fall back to sleep.

My husband has tried helping me numerous times with neck/back alignment with the pillow choice and mattress by looking at my spine from the side, even using a marker to draw a line down the vertebrae so its easy to see and even when he says it looks pretty straight I’m still waking up in pain. Although no matter what I try (no matter what pillow thickness), he says there is always a slant from somewhere in my thoracic spine up to the base of my skull. It is like my shoulders can’t physically dig deep enough into the mattress to get a straight line. We’ve also tried adjusting the euro-slats that came in the foundation but that seems to make no difference whatsoever
I am not sure the mattress has always slept hot, but at least for a few years it has for me. But I bought it pre-menopause so that changes everything! I think I do sleep hotter now than 4 or 5 years ago before menopause. Actually my husband was traveling last week, and the nights he was gone I didn’t wake up hot in the middle of the night so I’m wondering if the bed is transferring his body heat over to me and maybe we should look at a king size. We sleep pretty much centered on our comfort layers on the queen though.

Well you certainly have hit the pillow circuit. When you are laying in your sleeping position with your pillow, what is your head position. I dont think the solid latex pillow will help, unless it is perfectly measured from the bed surface to you head. If it is a bit too lofty, you will put that extra pressure on your neck and shoulders. Ok, have you always had this 10" difference. Clearly, it is not hard to imagine what is going on there and as women get older with this type of scenario, they often complain of the upper back pain this causes. Any chance, this could be involved. When you say the firm side is too firm. My wife is 5’4 130 -5 large up top(8-9" differential); sleeps like a baby on our Brooklyn Bedding Plank Luxe. One of the recognized firmest mattresses out there, been a year and still loves it. Not that means anything, except everyone is different and reacts differently to various mattress firmness’s. I would try that firm side again with a body pillow to fill in the gaps and reduce the pressure. Look for something on Amazon that is easily returnable, to avoid being stuck. I am not a big returner type (which is why I have about 20-25 pillows all over the house), but desperate times calls for desperate measures. You are going to solve this, sooner or later, you will get to the bottom of it. Now it is strange that I would say to you not to try a latex pillow. My wife, with all the pillows in the house sleeps with two pillows, a TP Cloud and a 100% Natural Talalay Latex Pillow on top, but she uses it like she is hugging body pillow, from under her head to about the chest area. She resisted this pillow at first, because I hated it, and she didnt understand it. Squishy but bouncy, and it did not make sense to her, but now she loves it. Not sure it would work for you though, stacked in the traditional way. I don’t have much faith in the shredded foam pillows, always seems like a lumpy uncomfortable mess.

So do you mean hugging a body pillow? I have seen body pillows but I don’t understand how you use one. Does your head actually go on it too? When I am sleeping on my side (usually right side) which is most of the time, my head is pretty much directly above my shoulders and my right arm is curled up around side of pillow or sometimes under the pillow. I sleep with a down pillow under my left arm/in front of body to keep it straight because I have tennis elbow that is worse if I bend my arm. I am not large busted at all so that’s not cause of back pain, just that my actual shoulders are wider than my waist, which is relatively small especially compared to hips.

I think I dislike the firm talalay side because it has absolutely zero sense of cushiness/comfort to me. It is like sleeping on a barely squishy board. The quilted cover of the bed is just a thin layer of wool under stretchy cotton. The crazy thing is when we bought this bed, I actually thought that was the side I wanted and my husband liked the soft talalay. We were going from a 15 year old Original Mattress Factory innerspring bed to latex and I think I had absolutely no clue what I wanted the bed to feel like, and the brief show room time of trying it out was not helpful. At the time I had lower back pain and I just wanted relief and a non toxic bed.

Ok, what I am trying to understand, is your head above the shoulder “Plane” if it is, that is not good, too lofty pillow. That would mean that you are stretching the muscles on your right side and “locking” them in all night and compressing the muscles on the left side and they are not recovering fast enough. Either way, compressing or stretching will cause this. . You want to try and keep the head as level with your spine so there is minimal pressure on the stretching or compressing of your neck and shoulder muscles. Oh, it seemed like with that much of a differential, you would be in my wife’s category, but I guess more of a swimmer or tennis player’s body category. Was’t that OMF a firm mattress, most of their mattress’s are on the firmer side, except they use a good spring support system, most of the time, which is what I prefer. It’s as if that firm talalay is acting like a support layer in your case rather than a comfort layer. If you took a couple of your pillows and lined them up under your body, what does that feel like to you on top of the firm side? Perhaps, if the pillows under your body work better than the talalay closer to your body, you are just not getting enough contouring, that the pillows would provide and the firm talalay is not. When my wife uses sponge bob (that’s what she calls the 100% talalay (medium firm pillow) she hugs it where the pillow is under her head vertically and stretches down to about her chest area, and it works for her. The good thing about using the firm side of the mattress as a benchmark, is you can predict what is happening when you add something on top of it. If you use the softer side to keep changing and switching, it is not as easy to figure out how to duplicate the situation. Kind of like throwing a layer on the floor. You know it is hard and nothing is going to change that as the base.

I don’t think my head is above the plane of the shoulder, but I’ll have my husband check tonight and also TRY to sleep on the firm side. He can sleep on either side without it really bothering him. I have never tried sleeping on pillows to fill in the gap but I do have one thin enough pillow I could try that with.
Yes, I guess I have a tennis player body, kind of an X shape or hourglass but not top heavy.
The OMF mattress probably was firm but it did have some comfort layer though not a pillowtop. I was 31 when we bought it and almost 50 when we got rid of it, so I may have been more tolerant of sleeping on a firmer bed then. Actually I just realized it was more like 19 years old when we got rid of it. Yikes.

If you head is not elevated, that is actually one thing that can be eliminated. So you can check that off the list.So you are making progress already! Certainly as we get older, our preferences change and requirements do change, but I am confident, you will solve this. Not sure where you will end up, but one way or the other, you will get to the bottom of it. Just have to break it down, one step at a time! Wishing you luck!

Here is a random picture of someone using a body pillow. The make many different styles, but I think a single or J shape may work best. remember, this is just to test if we can get you in a comfortable position when you sleep. Hopefully, it will translate into what topper or other option you have for your current mattress set up.

Thank you! I’ve seen those before. I have a hard time imaging that would fit in my queen size bed though, but maybe a smaller one would.

Understood! That is why I would search amazon, as you just want to test it for a week or so to see if you get any relief so you can further evaluate the next step toward a solution.

thank you so much for all the analysis and helpful suggestions!

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