Neck stiffness after mattress testing

Has anyone else experienced neck stiffness after testing mattresses? Due to my budget, my focus is innerspring mattresses. I went out last weekend to tackle Step 2 - testing comfort layers. I spent close to two hours trying out mattresses at a single store. I used a pillow intended for side sleepers (my primary sleeping position, back being secondary) that seemed to be about right. On a few mattresses I tried a somewhat flatter pillow but found it to be uncomfortable. As I left the store, I noticed that my neck was stiff. It remained stiff for the rest of the day and into the evening – I actually dreamed about it that night and woke up from the discomfort. The stiffness resolved the next day, but I’m wondering if anyone else has had this experience from just testing mattresses? I found myself drawn to mattresses with more comfort layers for the pressure relief, but I’m wondering if there were too many layers for my size and I wasn’t getting enough support from the innersprings? I welcome any thoughts/advice.

Hi Alicia J,

When you test many different mattresses over a fairly short period of time then sometimes your body can react and get testing fatigue from trying out so many different sleeping surfaces and firmness levels so it’s not unusual for some people to have some “symptoms” after testing many different mattresses. Some people may notice that their back is sore and others may notice sore necks like you and others may have different symptoms yet. If you experience this then it’s usually a good idea to take a break for a few days.

The article “5 steps to your perfect mattress” was written over years ago when the site was first started and is probably more complex than it really needs to be. While it contains some valuable information … over the course of the next few months I will be rewriting it (and the current tutorial) to amalgamate and simplify the information they contain into one tutorial but for now I would follow the testing guidelines that are linked in step 4 of the mattress shopping tutorial here which is a simpler process and just use the information in the “5 steps” section as additional information that may be helpful rather than as a specific process.


As Phoenix mentioned it is easy to get a slight misalignment getting up and down out of many mattresses in a short period of time, and this can also vary depending upon your level of muscularity around the cervical and upper thoracic region.

Another thing to consider is that while one pillow may fit you well on a particular mattress as a side sleeper, it may be inappropriate for you on another mattress. This thickness of the pillow should vary with the amount that your shoulder sinks into the mattress. Be sure to reassess you pillow with each mattress you try.

Thank you so much for your quick reply! I read the post you reference and ended up following a different link (Post #4) The following excerpts from that post capture in a nutshell my dilemma:

"Thinner comfort layers will put you closer to the support layers of the mattress which will “stop” the heavier parts from sinking in too far for best alignment…
.“As we age our need for pressure relief (thicker or softer comfort layers) can often become greater.”

I’m struggling to figure out how to get sufficient pressure relief without “sinking in too far for best alignment”. I don’t have anyone to bring with me to help with the “broomstick” test. I’ve got one more local outlet (Verlo) to visit and am hoping I might get some help from the sales people there.

OMG, the Beducator! Love your work! If I lived in Michigan, I’d be in your store in a heartbeat. Thank you so much for your reply. As I mentioned in my reply to Phoenix, I have one more retailer to visit and will pay more attention to pillows this time (though I’m still not sure how to tell if I’m in good alignment).

Hi Alicia J,

The testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial should help.

Your alignment when you are lying down should be very similar to when you are standing up straight with good posture.


Hi Phoenix – Thank you for your reply. I found the guidelines you reference and see that there are some ways I can test for alignment on my own. Hopefully, I can also find a good salesperson who will give me some honest feedback. Either way, thanks to this site, I’m not going into this blind, and I really appreciate that (empowerment is a wonderful thing!) Thank you so much for the enormous amount of time and energy you put into creating and maintaining this site – it’s awesome!

Hi Alicia J,

You may have found your local forum list already but just in case you haven’t if you let me know your city or zip code I’d be happy to let you know about the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in your area.


Hi Phoenix,

Thank you – I did find recommendations for my area, so I think I’m set. I had better luck last weekend, and after doing some homework, I expect to go back to the store and purchase a mattress tomorrow. Thanks again for all of your help!

Hi Alicia J,

I’m looking forward to finding out what you end up deciding … and of course to any questions you may have along the way as well.

Just to recap the most important suggestions …

  1. Test carefully for PPP
  2. Find out all the layers and components in a mattress to make sure there are no lower quality materials or weak links in the mattress (see this article)
  3. Make careful “value” comparisons between your finalists based on #1 and #2 and all the other parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.

Good luck :slight_smile: