This is my first post on here. Some background info on myself: 29-year-old male, 5’8" 180lbs former athlete who has been suffering from a severely herniated disc in my lumbar spine for the past 17 months. The disc is putting pressure on a nerve root resulting in constant pain in my right leg. Also, my right leg has become so stiff/weak that it is very difficult to extend. I can deal with the pain, but the inability to extend my right leg is changing my life for the worse as it inhibits me from moving quickly, playing sports, etc. About 5 months ago I had surgery to remove the part of the disc that is herniated. The surgery reduced the severity of my pain, but the pain that I have is still significant and constant. A recent MRI shows that the disc re-herniated. Since the surgery, even though my overall pain is reduced, I have started to feel intense muscle cramps in my lower back when I wake up in the morning. I am hoping to find a mattress that will help improve my health and the quality of my sleep.

I have an inordinately large curve between my glutes and my back, so one of the things I’m looking for is a mattress that will conform very well to my body and sink into areas like gap, thus reducing pressure. Based on the research I’ve done thus far, it seems like I should be looking for a memory foam mattress that has a density of 5lbs+. Is that correct or should I be looking for something else?

Any recommendations of stores in the Northern VA/DC region? If not, I’d be open to considering an online store with a good return policy.

I’d prefer to spend under $1200, but my budget is $2000 and I’d be willing to max it out if I thought it were worth it to do so. Also could go higher if they’re offering financing.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Hi VAsleeper,

The first place I would start is post #1 here which will give you the basic information, steps, and guidelines that will help you choose the mattress that best meets your criteria … and perhaps more importantly … help you exclude most of your worst choices. As you will see … the goal of the site is not to tell you what to choose but to help you with how to make the best choices and how to connect with the manufacturers and retailers that can provide you with the quality, value service, knowledge, and experience to help you make the best choices for you.

There is no one material that is inherently better for back issues or any other medical issues than another and the materials you choose are really a matter of preference and what your personal experience suggests works best for you. They each have their pros and cons and the “best” mattress for you is the one that provides you with the best PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) regardless of the materials or components inside it. Along with this … the quality of the materials, no matter which type you choose, will have the biggest effect on the durability of the mattress (especially the materials in the upper layers of the mattress) and how long it keeps it’s original properties and performance. Post #2 here and post #5 here may also help you identify in general terms what is the “best” mattress for you.

The DC area is not the best in the country in terms of the selection of high quality and value mattresses available but the better options and possibilities I’m aware of in the general area are listed in post #2 here.

If you do choose to go in an online direction (and as you will read in the first link I posted I would suggest some local testing first so you are familiar with various materials and mattress designs) the manufacturers that are members of this site and sell great quality and value mattresses online are listed in post #21 here. They include a very wide range of different designs and options that would be suitable for almost any budget. Your budget is certainly high enough to purchase a high quality and value mattress.

If after your local testing you decide that memory foam is your preference … some of the better online memory foam manufacturers or retailers I know of are listed in post #12 here.

Hope this helps


Hi, Phoenix–

Thanks for the info. I read the posts your recommended, plus the “overview for the different sections” parts 1 through 5 (the links at the bottom of the first post on this page: The basic functions of a mattress - Overview - The Mattress Underground).

You’re correct that the DC area does not have much of a selection, so I’m most likely going to buy online.

In the past month I have visited a couple of the regular “S” retailers to get a feel for some different beds. The one that I liked both different visits at two different retailers was the Tempurpedic Rhapsody ( The Rhapsody had a firm contour feel but I didn’t sink DEEP into it like I did when sitting on another Tempurpedic (I think it may have been their Cloud Luxe). Tempurpedic does not list the density of their mattresses-- does anyone here know of a mattress that is similar to the rhapsody that comes at a lower price? Or is Tempurpedic worth the price? I’m looking at $3200 for a queen bed, which I COULD do given their 4-year 0% financing, but if there’s a better value out there I’d prefer to go with that.

Hi VAsleeper,

The Rhapsody foam specs are …

1.2" of 7 lb Tempur HD memory foam
2.8" of 5.3 lb Tempur memory foam
Two 4" 2.2 lb polyfoam support layers (they don’t disclose the IFD / firmness level of their polyfoam)

There are really only 3 ways to match another mattress which you can see in post #4 here.

Because Tempurpedic is so widely available and is so well known … many of the manufacturers I listed in the memory foam list in my last reply will have a good idea of how well their mattresses match either the feel, the design, or the material quality of the Tempurpedic line and some of them will even “match” all three. The design and material quality of course you can see from their specs which are either listed on their sites or available on a call. They are well worth looking at their websites and talking to on the phone about which of their mattresses would be closest to the Rhapsody in terms of their feel and performance and then you can decide if matching the “feel” is enough (using lower density foams) or if you also want to also match the design and quality/durability of the materials. In other words … two mattresses may perform and “feel” very similarly even if they have a different design or use lower density materials but some of them would also match the quality/durability of the Tempurpedic materials as well at a much lower cost and better value.

While Tempurpedic uses “mostly” good quality materials, as you can see in the guidelines here they are not good value (like the other major brands).


Thanks for the info on the Rhapsody density and layering. I’m going to make some calls to the retailers on your list this week. I want to have a new mattress in my room within two weeks from now.

So I’m strongly considering purchasing one of Select Foam’s high density mattresses. Apparently they use memory foam made from soy. Is there any downside to using a soy-based memory foam?

Also, have the sellers on your list such as Select Foam already been analyzed for the quality of their mattresses’ construction and the quality and cleanliness of the materials they use, or is that something I should look into on my own?


Hi VAsleeper,

You can read a little more about “soy based” foams and other plant derivative polyols used in foam manufacturing in post #2 here and in this article. They are a small step in a good direction IMO.

Select foam is one of the manufacturing members here which means I believe they are among the best quality/value available. Most importantly though … their quality is self evident because they are transparent about the quality of the materials they use.


Just read both of those links. What a let-down. I wonder if we’ll ever reach a point where capitalism and what I call real prosperity (not just monetary prosperity, but prosperity based on health and happiness) will converge.

Hi VAsleeper,

I certainly share some of your thoughts and “concerns” about the general directions of our society and the billions of individuals that are part of it as a group.

While this is not really inside the context of a mattress forum … my own “one sentence” thoughts are when people change on an individual level and accept complete personal responsibility for their lives and relationships … and when the quality of relationships become more important than the other “dominant” pursuits of life in so many cultures … then the institutions that they knowingly or unknowingly support and affect them will also begin to change. Individual personal growth and change and inspiring and affecting others to do the same one person at a time is IMO is the foundation of all other changes.

I have always taught my children to live according to how they will likely most likely feel when they are about to die and that on their deathbed, they will be thinking more about the quality of their relationships and about who they loved and how deeply than about any of their “accomplishments” and personal or material gains.

More than this of course (and probably this as well ) is outside of the context of a mattress forum :slight_smile:

I also think we don’t really have capitalism … but corporatism … and there is a big difference to me.


Agreed. All good points.