Pure Latex Bliss Pamper and back pain

Can a mattress be “too firm”?

We got our Pure Latex Bliss Pamper mattress about a month ago (it’s the newer, “blue” version). We like the feeling of a firm mattress, which is what led us to select the Pamper. But recently I have been waking up with some lower back pain. In my entire life (55), I’ve never had a problem with back pain before.

However, I wonder if the problem is not the mattress, but perhaps the pillow? In the 4 weeks since we’ve had this mattress, I’ve used about half a dozen different pillows. I’ve yet to try one that I find entirely comfortable. My old pillow didn’t work, as it felt too low with this mattress. (Our old mattress had a 2" memory foam topper, so we sunk down in it a bit. With the Pamper there’s no sinking, so it feels like I need a higher pillow.) I wake up with a stiff neck every morning, so I know the pillow is a problem, I’m just not sure yet what to do about it.

I used to sleep about 75% on my side, 25% on my back. However, since getting the Pamper, I cannot sleep on my back at all, as it starts to hurt in just a few moments. But I can’t be sure of the cause: A too-firm mattress? Or an incorrect pillow?

Please, help! :slight_smile:


The best advice that I can give is to have the bedding expert evaluate your posture on the showroom model. Pillows have been a real pain in the neck (pun intended) for me. Over the years I’ve tried a good many, but keep going back to my old filthy worn out tried and true.

On my recent mattress shopping trip we happened to get a true expert. While the magic gizmo said I needed an “A” the sample was too thin so she came with a goofy contour pillow that looked almost like a CPAC pillow with high boilsters that cradle your neck on 3 sides when used as a back sleeper. It really did well for me and I’m tempted to try one, but I’ve given away about every pillow that I’ve ever bought…

As for mattresses, I prefer relatively firm yet compliant. It seems most firms just don’t have much “depth” to them but the PLB Nutrition seems to have the right idea. My guess is that if you were to add a nice medium density topper your Pamper would be much better. I’ve considered this option myself, but I really would rather have the mattress be right the first time.

Thank you for the reply, that’s probably good advice. Though one of the pillows I’ve tried (in fact, the one I used last night) was bought at the same time and store as we bought the Pamper (and I was on the showroom model at the time). But they didn’t evaluate my poster at all, they just kept throwing different pillows at me to try. As you’ve found, though, trying one for a few minutes just isn’t the same as using it for a full night.

A topper would probably feel more comfortable (and having used one on our previous bed for 10 years, more “normal”). But I thought that might make it less supportive and therefore even worse for my back. This is so complicated; it’s worse than buying a car! I wish we had kept our old topper; even though it was too old to use much longer, it would have been great for a test. I just didn’t think we’d need it. Stupid!

Sounds like you had a sales person and not a bedding expert. A true expert is hard to find, but will point out that a pillow is too low or high. A salesperson will just throw stuff at you to try.

I really think people are missing out on the dominant layer concept. To me the Pamper has a very firm core with only a minimal comfort layer thay you sink right through. I think before I did anything I’d try to find a Nutrition to test. It’s not so “sinky” like the soft ones yet offers plenty of comfort. I assume you still have a trial period for your current purchase?

It was a small store and the person who helped us was the owner. He knew his beds, but perhaps did not know how to ask the right questions or evaluate our comfort beyond how we ourselves felt.

There’s a comfort layer on the Pamper? I don’t notice any sinking, so I assumed it was something like 6" + 2", neither being a comfort layer. I’m afraid the Nutrition is beyond our price range, though. We can return this for store credit for another 2-3 weeks, but I’m not sure what we’d do with it. They did have another line, fully customizable (2 or 3, 3" layers of latex, though I can’t recall if it was LI latex or not). But it was quite a bit more money (> $500), and my wife probably wouldn’t want to venture it. (She’s ok with the Pamper. :slight_smile: )

Hi KinFol,

Absolutely. A mattress is a balance between pressure relieving layers that are softer and support layers that are firmer. You can read more about this in the “basic functions of a mattress” overview and the other overviews in the mattresses section of the site. A mattress that has comfort layers that are too thin may not isolate you from the firmness of the support layers below them and this can cause either pressure issues or alignment issues (see this diagram)

Again … this could be because you are not sleeping in alignment or “twisting” away from excess pressure when you are on your side.

Lower back issues are not usually connected to a pillow but stiff neck issues or upper back issues certainly could be and a pillow that keeps your head and neck in alignment is an important part of your overall sleeping system.

While it’s not possible to accurately “diagnose” the many issues that can happen on a mattress at a distance … especially without any reference points or more information about your height/weight and body type and the types of mattresses you are used to sleeping on … the odds are good that the mattress may be too firm for you in the sense that the comfort layer (the top 2" layer of soft latex which is on top of the firmer 6" support core) is too soft and thin and isn’t providing enough pressure relief (on your side) or secondary support to the recessed curves of your spine (on your back). It could also be that the difference between the Pamper and what you are used to is so big that you need an adjustment period for your body to get used to a new sleeping surface. A few posts that may also be worth reading that may help you understand what could be appenning includes this one about learned and natural alignment and this one about layering.

TD-Max’s suggestion to go into the store and evaluate the store model for alignment (hopefully with some help) is also a good one IMO. This page along with post #11 here talk about testing for alignment. Even testing other mattresses that are out of your price range can be very useful to see what type of layering may work best for you but I suspect that the issue is likely that the Pamper has a comfort layer that is too thin and soft for you and you may need to add a topper to get to the feel and performance that is ideal for you.


Wow, many thanks, Phoenix. That will keep me busy for several days. I will post an update when I have something to report.

I’ll just add now that I’m 5’10", 130 pounds (yeah, skinny), and our previous mattress (which was 31 years old) was a traditional mattress with coils / innersprings (mounted on a waterbed frame). It was a custom made extra firm, but did begin to bother us after about 20 years, which is when we went out and bought the 2" memory foam topper that we used for about 10 years.

I wish my body had a nice red line like that, it would surely make this so much easier! Again, thank you (and TD-Max).

Hi KinFol,

I actually gave some thought at one point to inventing some kind of “stick on” that you could paste along the spine or even along the upper side of the body that would give a more visual representation of the alignment of someone on a mattress (at least on their side). A good salesperson with experience can do a pretty good job of eyeballing it and can give you some good suggestions but there aren’t a lot of them around compared to the salespeople in many mass market retailers and chain stores who are more about marketing stories and commissions than they are about educating and guiding their customers.

The most important part of testing for alignment though is to completely relax on a mattress for long enough that you can hear the more subtle cues that your body is telling you. What is “subtle” in a showroom (twinges or tension etc) will often be much more obvious after sleeping on a mattress over the course of the night.

Even an “extra firm” mattress will have some softer comfort layers (just not enough to completely isolate you from the firmness of the deeper layers) and this in combination with a 2" memory foam topper would probably give you more comfort layer thickness than you currently have on the Pamper. This is one more “data point” that points towards a topper being helpful.

The first goal is to use your testing and the information to assess and intuit the most likely cause of the issues so you are “fixing” the right problem. Sometimes trying to identify mattress issues is a lot like a doctor trying to identify the cause of back issues because there can be many reasons for a similar set of “symptoms” and sometimes the source of the problem is in a different area than the symptoms themselves.


FYI I did find the pillow that I liked in the store:


I have not tried this one long term, but I plan to buy one and see how it works.

That’s definitely one of the most unusually shaped pillows I’ve seen (“goofy looking” was an appropriate description!). :slight_smile: I hope it works for you.

Among your many rejects, have you ever tried a buckwheat husk pillow? My wife uses one of those and I tried it for the first time last night. It wasn’t perfect (too hard, but she’s taken some husks out to try again tonight), but not terrible, either.

Hi KinFol,

I’ve tried a buckwheat pillow and by my tastes it was … unusual.

They are firm, but contouring, stable, adaptable, and breathable and quite comfortable. They also have an unusual rustling sound that goes with them (which I learned to like but didn’t at first) and also have a bit of an unusual smell (at least mine did) which I would describe as “organic or earthy” … or maybe just like roasted buckwheat :slight_smile:

They are not my favorite (and not my least favorite either) but they were a good experiment for me and I can see how some people would really like them.


It’s kind of like laying between a pair of boobs. :woohoo: Side sleeping you need to spin it or have a face full of… :whistle:

Neck support is excellent.

Phoenix described a buckwheat husk pillow exactly as I would (except more detailed). After trying it again last night, with less filling, I can say it isn’t for me. I do appreciate the way it can be molded to exactly fit my contours, but I find it too hard. Which is odd, since with less filling it is very movable – but once scrunched up enough to fit, it becomes hard again. I can’t quite describe it, but I don’t like it enough to continue using it.

I might try a shredded latex one next, or I might first go back to my old memory foam pillow, perhaps raising it up a bit with towels underneath. The one TD-Max linked to sounds interesting, if I could just get over the look. :lol:

As for the mattress, I’m still digesting all the material Phoenix wrote and linked to, and thinking about my options. My back doesn’t seem to be bothering me any more, but I do still have hip pain (I don’t recall if I even mentioned that) during the night, requiring me to flip sides far too often. And I still can’t sleep on my back (which, by the way, is probably why I had back pain that one night, because later I remembered that I did make an effort to sleep on my back a few times just to see what would happen – that didn’t work out well!). I’ll need to visit the store where we bought the bed sometime in the coming week or two.

Hi KinFol,

Both of these point to comfort layers that are likely too thin and soft. On your side … the thin and soft comfort layer may not be isolating your heavier hip area enough from the firmness of the support layers below them which could lead to hip pain. On your back … the softer upper layers may not be enough to provide the secondary support that “fills in” the recessed gap in the lumbar and helps support the lumbar curve in a neutral position.

Of course I can’t see you on the mattress in person so this is just speculation but the signs at least point in the direction of a little more thickness in the softer upper layers.


I don’t want to rush into anything, but I came to a similar conclusion. A topper would be the most economical way of going, but I really didn’t want any more memory foam. A latex one should work as well or better, of course, but they seem to be more than 2x as much money. Plus, there are no returns (unlike for a Costco memory foam topper) if we aren’t happy with it, so I’m very hesitant to go that route. The other choice is an entirely different mattress, but unless it’s one that we can exchange layers of, the risk is similar to the topper (since we will have used up our one-time exchange ability). Ah, decisions, decisions.

Thanks, Phoenix.

Hi KinFol,

One option you do have would be to try an inexpensive polyfoam topper (which is also a fast response material) and see if it can make a difference. While it won’t be the same as latex … it will add some thickness and softness to the top of your mattress and if it helped solve the issue it would be a very good pointer to confirm what was needed (more thickness in your comfort layer). This could be a stepping stone to a more permanent latex solution or it could even be a final solution (which may need to be replaced fairly frequently at a low cost). An example would be something like this which would at least give you an inexpensive way to test the theory at a low cost and it’s refundable as well.

Of course some careful in store testing on the Pamper with their 2" soft topper (listening to any subtle cues from your body to see if there is any hint of the issues you have on the mattress by itself) may also give you a good idea if a latex topper would work for you


Thanks, Phoenix, that sounds like a great idea. I’ve ordered one, and it should be at my local Walmart in about a week.

Time for an update. Quick recap: I have hip pain when side sleeping and back pain when back sleeping on a new PLB Pamper mattress. I’m also having neck problems attributable to the pillow. Even my shoulders have been bugging me recently, but I assume that’s more of the same (too firm a mattress).

Topper: After letting the Walmart foam topper air out for 4 days, we finally tried it last night. (Not relevant to this discussion, but: It probably needs to air out for 4 weeks, not 4 nights. I thought it had dissipated, but the smell was still horrendous after being confined in our room all night.) Ignoring the odor, the topper was somewhat helpful, but not enough to keep using it. I can’t say the difference when on my side was all that noticeable. Perhaps I could stay on one side longer, but not enough to care. It was more noticeable for my back. I could and did sleep on my back for some time (I can’t read the clock, so I don’t know how long), and though I started to feel some pain and flipped to my side, I woke up without any back pain (which would not have happened without the topper).

Went to the bed store yesterday and tried some toppers on their Bliss model. The only 2 that I felt might work (but who really knows?) were 1 latex and 1 memory foam. The latex topper was a 2" PLB, with a very low ILD number (13? 15?). They also had a 3" version but I found it much too soft. The memory foam was also a 2", but I didn’t find out the density. The store does not allow returns on toppers, so if I gamble and lose I’ll be out $250-$350 or so. Between the two of them, I’d say the memory foam felt more likely to work, but having had a memory foam topper for many years there are some things I was glad to have left behind (mainly the heat and the difficulty moving around). Still, a good night’s sleep beats little issues like that, so I’m probably more inclined to go with the memory foam. They may have an older latex one in their warehouse that we could borrow for a few nights; we’ll know by this weekend. Otherwise I’m dis-inclined to purchase from them and will probably go with a Costco memory foam topper. (I might also go with Amazon, but Costco is much easier for returns, so …)

As for the pillow, I got this shredded latex pillow, and I just love sleeping with it. It is SO soft and yet can be firmed up by bunching the bits together. Unfortunately, despite my trying for 4 nights, I always woke up with a stiff and/or sore neck. :frowning: It’s the most comfortable pillow I’ve ever tried, but it seems I can’t use it. So the last few nights I’ve been back to the one that worked the best for me, the buckwheat husk pillow. I don’t like it, it’s too hard on my face, but it seems to give me the best support. Oh, well.

I’ll provide a further update after I’ve gotten and tried another topper.

Hi KinFol,

As you already know … a step by step approach can be somewhat frustrating but also has the best odds of final success. Each new part of the experiment can act as an incremental pointer to the next step.

There are several interacting issues involved here. On your back … you need enough softer foam to fill in the lumbar gap with soft and supportive material. On your side you would probably need a little more thickness than on your back to allow the hips to sink in and relieve pressure without going through the topper and the comfort layer of your mattress to the firmer foam below.

The pillow issue will be affected by the final sleeping system you end up with (different toppers will lead to more or less sinking in and can affect which pillow works best) so I would make that the last step of the process and not give up hope for it quite yet. Of course I would use a thicker pillow as necessary while the experiment is continuing.

Your “cheap” WalMart topper experiment does have some good news attached to it because it seems that it was thick enough to help with the back issue. It may have worked a little better yet if it was a little denser foam with a higher support factor (also called compression modulus which is usually a side effect of higher density) because I suspect that this topper was both quite soft and low density which means that you would go through it more easily. With a little firmer foam with a higher support factor I suspect that you would have done even better yet on your back and for your side sleeping you wouldn’t have gone through it quite as easily and been more isolated from the firmer support layer.

This seems to be confirmed by your in store testing which used foams with a higher support factor in roughly the same thickness and they seemed to work a little better yet.

So the good news is that all of this seems to be pointing in the direction of a topper in the range of 2" to 2.5" with a higher support factor (a little more dense), possibly a little firmer than the very soft Talalay you tried, or some good quality memory foam.

Once again I would look through the big box stores (Wal Mart, Costco, Sams Club) for something in this range that they sell themselves (not from Wayfair in the case of WalMart for example which has charges connected with a return) which I suspect will be closer yet for the next step.


Thanks again, Phoenix, for your continued help and comments. You are of course right, the pillow situation has to be resolved after the mattress. So I’m putting that aside for now.

Just one small correction (you respond to SO many posts, it isn’t a wonder that you might make a typo once in a while), the topper I tried was the Walmart one you linked to in post #16 of this thread. It is a 1.5" polyfoam topper. I think you knew which one I meant, but just substituted ‘Costco’ for ‘Walmart’ (something I try to do as often as possible :wink: ).

I hadn’t thought about Sam’s Club as we aren’t members. But it might be worth joining if they have something interesting. I’ll take a look. Thanks!