I've got a bad mattress, and I need help getting a good one

Hiya. I’m more or less at my wits’ end, and could do with some help.

I bought my first mattress about a year ago, a memory foam one from memio.com.au/ , sight unseen. I’d tried out pretty much every different mattress at a local shop and wasn’t happy with any of them, and had heard good things about memory foam. And the memory foam mattress at the shop felt the best out of the bunch, though not perfect.
ADMIN NOTE:Removed 404 page link | Archived Footprint: memio.com.au/

Well, a year later, I can no longer pretend it’s working out. I wake up tired, and it’s hard to get comfortable to go to sleep. If I lie on my back, my stomach muscles and back get sore, like they’re working to support me, and if I push through and go to sleep I wake up in the middle of the night with a sore stomach. If I lie on my front (my natural sleeping position, though I’m trying to switch) I can’t breathe properly - the mattress seems to absorb all the energy from my lungs rather than letting them expand. If I lie on my side, my neck is uncomfortable, my arms get tired trying to hold myself upright, but it’s the most comfortable position out of the three.

So I really don’t know what I’m doing. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in like a year, but I don’t know what alternative to get because I was uncomfortable on all the mattresses I tried out (neck uncomfortable/sore, and most were too firm). The fact that I’m trying to transition to sleeping on my side probably skewed the testing, since I only tested lying on my side.

I really don’t know where to start, when it comes to looking for a replacement. I’d like to understand the mechanics of why my muscles were apparently still having to work even when lying relaxed on my back, so I know how to avoid that. I’d be greatful for any advice.

Hi LenF,

Unfortunately … I don’t have any particular knowledge about the Australian market so I won’t be able to help much in terms of specific retailers or manufacturers I’m aware of there but the steps involved in choosing a mattress and the mattress materials that are used in Australia would generally be the same as in North America. I would also read post #2 here (except replace “Israel” with “Australia”).

Post #2 here also includes links to most of the forum topics from Australia and post #7 here includes a list of many Australian manufacturers and retailers and a few comments about some of them as well that will hopefully be helpful as well.

This is generally an indication that a mattress isn’t keeping your spine and joints in neutral alignment over the course of the night so instead of the mattress doing the work of keeping you in alignment your muscles are doing the work.

The best way to avoid this is with careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in the tutorial).


Thanks Phoenix. I’ll read up on those.

If I understand correctly, an alignment problem is because I don’t have the right support layer(s), right? The trick would be telling what kind of different support layer I need, rather than just trial and error at random…

Aha! This bit from this article seems relevant:

It DOES seem likely that it’s simply too firm for me. It is a very firm mattress. So I guess I can start by looking up what is in my mattress’s support layer and finding a material that’s softer. Cool! Thanks!

Hi LenF,

Every layer and component in a mattress will affect every other layer and component in a mattress and the mattress as a whole so the only way to know for certain whether any mattress is a good “match” for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP will be based on your own careful testing or your own personal experience.

While knowing the specs that can affect the quality and durability of the layers and components in a mattress is always important … unless you have a great deal of knowledge and experience with different types of mattress materials and components and their specs and different layering combinations and mattress designs and how they combine together and can translate them into your own “real life” experience that can be unique to you (which would generally be a very small percentage of people) … I would tend to avoid using complex specifications to try and predict how a mattress will feel or perform for you. When you try and choose a mattress based on complex combinations of specs that you may not fully understand or only based on specs for single layers or components that may not be as relevant or meaningful as you believe it is then the most common outcome is “information overload” and “paralysis by analysis”. Even the best mattress designers in the industry are often surprised at what a mattress they design “should have felt like” based on the specs when they design it and what it “actually feels like” when they test out their new design.

“Support” is often misunderstood because the goal of a “supportive” mattress is to keep the spine and joints in good alignment and this requires the type of contouring support that allows some parts of the body to sink in more (softer) and some parts of the body to sink in less (firmer) and this will vary on an individual basis. There is more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support/alignment” and “comfort/pressure relief” and “feel” and how they interact together.

In its simplest form choosing the “best possible” mattress for any particular person really comes down to FIRST finding a few knowledgeable and transparent retailers and/or manufacturers (either locally or online) that sell the types of mattresses that you are most interested in that are in a budget range you are comfortable with and that you have confirmed will provide you with the all the information you need about the materials and components inside the mattresses they sell so you will be able to make informed choices and meaningful comparisons between mattresses and then …

  1. Careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in the tutorial) to make sure that a mattress is a good match for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP … and/or that you are comfortable with the options you have available to return, exchange, or “fine tune” the mattress and any costs involved if you can’t test a mattress in person or aren’t confident that your mattress is a suitable choice.

  2. Checking to make sure that there are no lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress you are considering relative to your weight range that could compromise the durability and useful life of the mattress.

  3. Comparing your finalists for “value” based on #1 and #2 and all the other parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.


Well… it seems, in that case, that what it comes down to is

1: learn enough about mattresses to be able to assess the trustworthiness and competence of a retailer.
2: trust them.

There’s really no way to make even broad guesses about how comfortable a given type of mattress is going to be without lying on the thing? I can’t tell whether I need softer or harder or springier or whatever to at least narrow the field from the outset? Whether memory foam, latex or springs would likely work best for me due to their general properties of xyz, and so I should start by looking at those?

If that’s the way it is then that’s the way it is, I guess. I usually don’t trust salespeople at all and like to research the hell out of whatever I’m buying and do it from my own judgement, but if that’s not going to work at all here then I guess I’ve just got to accept that…

Hi LenF,

[quote]1: learn enough about mattresses to be able to assess the trustworthiness and competence of a retailer.
2: trust them.[/quote]

The return/exchange options you have available will also be an important part of the “value” of a mattress purchase if you aren’t confident that a mattress will be a good “match” for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP. I would also keep in mind that if you are dealing with a reliable manufacturer or retailer that it’s in their self interest to help you choose a mattress that is a suitable choice because no reliable business would choose to have a customer that is unhappy with their purchase.

In a word no. Unfortunately (and regardless of someone’s level of expertise or experience) nobody has a crystal ball that can predict for certain which specific mattress or combination of materials you will like best or that you will sleep best on … it just doesn’t exist.

I or some of the more knowledgeable members of the site can help you to narrow down your options, help you focus on better quality/value choices that are available to you either locally or online, help you identify any lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress, act as a fact check, answer many of the specific questions you may have along the way that don’t involve what you will “feel” on a mattress, and help with “how” to choose but only you can decide which specific mattress, manufacturer, or combination of materials is “best for you” regardless of the name of the manufacturer on the label or whether anyone else (including me) would have the same criteria or circumstances or would make the same choice.

I would keep in mind that there are no “standard” definitions or consensus of opinions for firmness ratings and different manufacturers can rate their mattresses very differently than others so a mattress that one manufacturer rates as being a specific firmness could be rated very differently by another manufacturer. Different people can also have very different perceptions of firmness and softness compared to others as well and a mattress that feels firm for one person can feel like “medium” for someone else or even “soft” for someone else (or vice versa) depending on their body type, sleeping style, physiology, their frame of reference based on what they are used to, and their individual sensitivity and perceptions. There are also different types of firmness and softness that different people may be sensitive to that can affect how they “rate” a mattress as well (see post #15 here) so different people can also have very different opinions on how two mattresses compare in terms of firmness and some people may rate one mattress as being firmer than another and someone else may rate them the other way around. This is all relative and very subjective and is as much an art as a science.

Assuming that the materials in a mattress you are considering are durable enough for your body type and meet the quality/durability guidelines here relative to your weight range … the choice between different types and combinations of materials and components or different types of mattresses are more of a preference and a budget choice than a “better/worse” choice (see this article).

Every category of mattresses (including innersprings, latex or memory foam mattresses) can include hundreds or even thousands of different mattresses with different designs, different “feels”, different characteristics, and different firmness levels. Every layer and component in a mattress (including the cover and any quilting material) will affect the feel and response of every other layer both above and below it so each category will generally include some mattresses that will be a good “match” for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own personal preferences) and others that use the same type of materials and are in the same category but have a different design that may be very uncomfortable and may be completely unsuitable for you to sleep on even if the actual materials are the same. Whether a mattress would be a suitable choice in terms of PPP will have more to do with the specific design of the mattress than the materials inside it which is just a preference … not a “need”.

Testing and comparing a range of local mattresses in “real time” can give you a sense of how you feel about different materials or different types of mattresses in very general terms if you can identify “patterns” in your experience but the only way to know for certain whether you like a specific mattress or whether it will be a good “match” for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP will be based on your own careful testing or your personal experience.


Ok. Thanks for the help.