Nothing Works! Phoenix help!!

Forgive me for the long post, but this has been quite the ordeal.

Hey guys and particularly Phoenix. I would like your assistance in determining what to do next, as I am on my third mattress going on my fourth. Let me give you the details as I know each situation is quite unique to the individual’s characteristics. I have done my research on this site and read through the beginners rule guide and all of the various options in the comfort and support layers, so I am up to snuff on the various components of a mattress as much as a beginner could be at this stage.

I am a 30 year old male with a spinal cord injury, I do walk with a cane, however am currently also recovering from a shattered leg. I weigh 170lbs and am strictly a side sleeper with my arms closer to my torso so a good amount of pressure on my shoulders, which will be the theme of this search. I am looking for a mattress that would give all night pressure relief off of my shoulders, if there is such a thing, given the nature of my sleeping style or if there always will be some degree of discomfort/soreness or the sense that the shoulders have been slept on and it is time to turn sides. I also sleep with a body pillow in between my legs and place my free arm above the top end and my other arm tucked beneath it. I am only interested in sleeping in this same fashion and am not wanting to go through the relearning process of sleeping in other positions as I am a very sensitive sleeper.

For all these years I have slept on my sides/shoulders (on a firm mattress) and thought nothing of it. I just expected that if you are going to sleep on your side with an emphasis of the pressure on your shoulders, one can expect to wake up in the middle of the night with the sense that the shoulders are feeling the pressure and it is time to turn over to give that side’s shoulder some relief and a chance to recover before repositioning to that side again. The further in the night the more the sense of pressure would be and with the largest sense of “wow those shoulders have been slept on” being after 8-10 hours of sleep in the morning. *I should also mention I do wake up several times throughout the night to turn myself or use the bathroom as with having the spinal cord injury I cannot turn in my sleep. So up until recently when I had my girlfriend move in with me and it was time to get a larger mattress, I just assumed the shoulder discomfort I would feel being a side sleeper was simply the cost of being a side sleeper and there was nothing on the market that would completely eliminate this discomfort.

As a result I really didn’t care much about which mattress we got as long as it was a King. I always had a firm mattress so I thought thats what I preferred. She liked a softer one so we ended up going with a sleep number mattress where we could control each side separately, it was the i8 king pillow top with a 3inch poly foam comfort layer and 2 inches of synthetic fibers at the very top. Right from the get go I was never really comfortable. It wasn’t my shoulders, they actually weren’t to bad if I recall correctly. The problem was that I was getting hip/glute pain on the opposite side that wasn’t touching the mattress. Also in the morning when I would lay on my back to read I would begin getting lower back pain, especially on the lower settings so I would jack it up to 100 when I would lay on my back and ultimately settled on 55 when on my side. At any lower setting I would establish the hip pain (sleep number customer service did state that they recommend 30-40 for side sleepers), but the softer I went in the setting the worse the hip/glute pain, presumably because I had less support layer support as it was too yielding. They sent me another layer of foam to put under the air chamber, stating it would push the air chamber up closer to me thereby firming it up and adding more support to the support layer. This gave me some relief but ultimately the glute/hip pain ensued. The lower back pain was better but not totally gone when I would lay on my back in the mornings reading. Strangely, the last 4 days before they picked the mattress up I was relatively soreness/pain free, but still this was after 3 months of sleeping on it.

After this and still not coming across this forum or doing ample research, I decided to go to the much maligned Mattress Firm. Those 2 and 3 yr no interest financing options are much to good to pass on and I still wasn’t convinced that there is much to a mattress. just figured air wasn’t my thing, lets just snag a traditional firmer mattress as to not give me back problems when I’m laying on my back and reading, but soft enough in the comfort layer to minimize the shoulder pressure/discomfort. So the salesman at the place, who is just as described in the beginner’s guide, filled with stories and no knowledge of what is actually in the layers, recommended we go with the (simmons beautyrest worldclass resonance plush king size with pocketed coils in the support layer) so thats what we got. Now at 2k this was half the price as the sleep number, my back pain was gone when laying on my back and so was the glute/hip pain, but I would still wake up with that shoulder discomfort. As now I believed it could be completely eliminated with the advancements in mattress technology according to this salesman. I slept on it for 3 months and swapped it out again, this time for a (simmons beautyrest world class providence pillow top king size with pocketed coils in the support layer/see uploaded pic for specs if it appears).

So with this 3rd bed, still having the same shoulder issues, back pain has been fine on all of them other than the sleep number, but on this 3rd bed the hip pain has returned and unlike on the sleep number where the pain was on the opposite side touching the mattress the pain here is on the hip that is touching the mattress.

So to review the best qualities i’ve experienced throughout the 3 mattresses.

No air, something with enough support in the support layer to not give me back pain when I’m reading on my back, which both Simmons pocket coils gave me.

I definitely need more pressure relief on my shoulders, which so far was done best with the sleep number (although not completely) but at the expense of my hips, as apparently they were probably sinking in too much resulting in a lack of proper alignment. So at the least, even though according to the mattress firm salesman, the simmons I got was the softest feeling most pressure relief for shoulder sleepers (and pillow top being the most pressure relieving). Seemingly, when paired with the pocketed coils, was simultaneously not enough pressure relief on the shotlders while not being supportive enough on my hips, if my assessment as to them sinking in too much is correct as being the cause of the hip pain.

I should also mention I did try the tempurpedic cloud luxe and it seemed way too firm and from laying on it for quite awhile it seemed that my shoulders were already feeling pressure. When I told the salesman that he said that was the softest tempurpedic there and they were only firmer from that point. If that’s true that doesn’t seem like a viable option. I also tried a simmons black hybrid I believe its called, which was memory foam in the comfort layer and probably an inch and a half of poly right up top and seemed ok on the first visit but on the second visit I began to develop lower back pain even when laying on my side. I am yet to try latex, which this site seems to be quite fond of. Unfortunately, mattress firm doesn’t carry these and when asked why, the salesman responded “they get brought back a lot and people don’t like them.” This was his key selling technique when indicating what to look at and what not to, which as we all know can be made up on the spot to steer one into a particular mattress, presumably one with the highest margins. Aside from their limited quality of the most well known brands and either tempurpedics or presumably poly foam mattresses, I am still partial to them. Shortcomings and all, this salesman is essentially letting me keep trying out mattresses without any 100 day restriction until I find the right one as long as it takes, which in my unique and arduous case is quite important to me given that I will be going on my 4th mattress. Now I’m of course open to the smaller private mattress outlets or other recommendations. Its still all about finding the right mattress, but given my troubles and need to exchange so often thus far that is quite a perk.

Do you think a zoned mattress may be in order here or possibly a custom (although I’m sure the return on those and 100 day period might not be possible) or as I’ve mentioned latex?

Can really use the help and I’m willing to pay whatever it takes for a mattress, as without proper sleep I don’t have the energy necessary to perform my physical therapy and maintain my strength throughout life.

Thanks in advance.

Hi Realigned,

Unfortunately I don’t have any specific suggestions because the first “rule” of mattress shopping is to always remember that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved to use a formula or for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components would be the best “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) or how a mattress will “feel” to you based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more accurate than your own careful testing (using the testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial) or your own personal sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here).

I can certainly 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 you may be considering, act as a fact check, answer any questions you may have along the way that I am able to help with, and help with “how” to choose but only you can decide which specific mattress is the best match for you in terms of PPP or all the other parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.

I know that you’ve read the tutorial but two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you’ve read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of PPP that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability, durability, and value.

If I was in your shoes I would avoid the major brands (such as Simmons, Sealy, or Serta) or any mattress that uses lower quality or “unknown” materials in the comfort layers especially (the materials in the attachment you posted are very low quality/density and would be a significant weak link in the mattress in terms of durability). I would also avoid the chain stores that you are dealing with (see the guidelines here). No matter how it may feel in a showroom … if you purchase a mattress that uses lower quality materials that would be a weak link in the mattress then they can soften or break down much too quickly relative to the price you paid and the premature loss of the comfort and support which was the reason you purchased the mattress is isn’t covered by mattress warranties (see post #174 here).

Zoning can certainly be helpful for more challenging situations where it can be more difficult to find a suitable mattress that is a good match in terms of PPP either because of unusual body types (such as a larger differential between the waist and hips or waist and shoulders or unusual weight distribution) or other more challenging circumstances (such as a less flexible spine or greater sensitivity to alignment issues or various physiological or health issues). I think in your case it may be well worth considering.

Zoning can provide firmer areas under the heavier parts of the body that need to be “stopped” from sinking down too deeply or under the more recessed parts of the body that don’t contact the mattress as firmly (such as the small of the back or the waist) to provide better support and alignment while at the same time it can allow for thicker or softer layers under the shoulders which need to be “allowed” to sink in more deeply to provide good pressure relief. There is more about zoning in post #11 here and the posts it links to.

A body pilow can also help with alignment for side sleepers so it’s good to hear that you are using one.

I would also keep in mind that a suitable pillow that keeps your head and neck in good alignment can also make a significant difference in preventing pressure issues on the shoulders and for other upper body “symptoms” as well.

Just for reference … there are some additional posts that may be helpful to you as well. They are post #2 here which includes more detailed information about the most common symptoms that people may experience when they sleep on a mattress and the most likely (although not the only) reasons for them along with post #2 here and in post #4 here which has more information 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 that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel”.

In many cases like yours where you are having difficulty finding a suitable mattress the knowledge, experience, and guidance of a good retailer or manufacturer that you are dealing with can be one of the single most important parts of a successful mattress purchase and if you let me know your city or zip code I’d be happy to let you know about some of the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in your area.

The tutorial post also includes several links to the better online options I’m aware of as well and many of these provide some very good options after a purchase to either exchange a mattress or individual layers and components inside it or if all else fails to return the mattress for a refund.


Thanks for the reply I appreciate it. I looked through some of the links and will look through more tomorrow. I understand the various things to look for in the various layers to achieve alignment for the most part and will continue on the hunt for the mattress for my needs. I live in Phoenix, Az 85050. Do you have any specific retailers here you would recommend to go to that have a showroom? Also it sounds like you think a zoned bed may be a good starting point for me? Do you recommend I try some latex beds as well or latex in the zones? In general it sounds like latex is the most accommodating and most durable material to look for, would you agree?


Hi Realigned,

The better options and possibilities I’m aware of in and around the Phoenix area (subject to the quality/value guidelines here) are listed in post #4 here.

You are very fortunate to live in the Phoenix area since several of the manufacturing members of this site are based there which gives you the chance to test mattresses in person that most of the rest of the members that live in other areas of the country can only order online without being able to test them first.

I would certainly include zoned mattresses in your research but I wouldn’t limit your research to zoned mattresses alone. Your own careful testing will tell you whether a mattress is a good match for you whether it is zoned or not.

Latex is a great material and in general it’s the most durable of all the foam types but the choice of material is always a preference choice not so much a “better/worse” choice. Different people can have a very wide range of preferences about the types of materials and mattresses they like best and for some people it’s their favorite material and some people don’t like it at all. I would definitely include it in your research so you can decide how it feels to you and you have some great latex and latex hybrid options available to you in the Phoenix area.


Thanks, it sounds like I’m very fortunate to live in Phoenix. I reviewed the robust list of manufacturers available to me. It is quite a long list, where would you recommend I start in lieu of the things that we have discussed such as mainly zoned mattresses with latex components of the highest quality, namely natural latex in a zoned mattress? I would like to be dealing with the most knowledgeable people available to meet in the Phoenix area that have a show room for me to try out mattresses in. An extremely knowledgeable owner is probably more important to me than even the types of mattresses available.

Thanks in advance.

Hi Realigned,

While I certainly recommend the members here as a group … I don’t make specific recommendations for either materials, mattresses, or manufacturers. I would start with a phone call to the manufacturers on the list that are members here to talk about your situation and criteria (step 3 in the tutorial) and then decide which ones to visit based on your conversations. I also wouldn’t “assume” that you need a zoned latex mattress (see post #7 here) and I would do some careful testing and let your body tell you whether any specific mattress (zoned or unzoned) is a good “match” for you in terms of PPP.

All the members of this site are knowledgeable and experienced and I believe they all compete well with the best in the industry in terms or their quality, value, service, and transparency and would be well worth including in your research.


Thanks Phoenix, I will begin my search and will come back for some feedback when I talk to some representatives.

[quote=“Realigned” post=54088]Do you think a zoned mattress may be in order here or possibly a custom (although I’m sure the return on those and 100 day period might not be possible) or as I’ve mentioned latex?

I had a customer who shared your pressure point story. She solved it on her King sized mattress by turning two Twin XL’s sideways on her bed. The latex by her head was an extra soft. The latex by her hips was a firm. Of course, more cuts could be made to get the “zones” exactly where they are wanted, but for a simple fix, it was a good idea.

Other ideas were a half full XL and a full XL if you wanted the split 30% soft, 70% firm instead of 50/50.