Sleep Number i8, terrible shoulder pain!

Hello everyone.

I started feeling pain in my shoulders a few months after I moved in with my fiance. After about 10 months of shoulder pain, I decided it was the mattress. I lay on my side, and I would feel pain in my shoulder when I was in bed, and my arm would occasionally go numb, causing me to toss and turn. Her mattress is like 16 years old (too bad I got rid of my old one).

We tried out a sleep number bed at the store because both our parents own these beds (5000 and 9000 series), but at 3k, we couldn’t justify that cost. A few weeks later, someone posted a nearly new i8 on craigslist for 25% of the price of a new one. I bought this bed and have been using it for not even a week.

On this bed, my shoulder pain is much, much worse! I can lay there for about 10 minutes and feel my shoulder hurting, shortly after, it goes numb. I’ve tried just about every number. Funny thing is, I hurt my back the other day, and the sleep number supports it so great that after a night on number 70, the pain is nearly gone. The bed is good (she sleeps fine and we no longer have the issue of me waking her when I roll around), but there seems to be nothing I can do about my shoulder pain.

I am 5’11’’ 165 pounds. My shoulders measure 50 inches around, I have a 31 inch waist and my hips are like 38 inches. Is there anything I should be doing different with this bed? I’d hate to buy something else as she was very skeptical about buying the bed off CL… i’d get a lashing if I get rid of it.

Hi cokewithvanilla,

The first place I would start is reading this article.

As you will see every mattress has two basic functions which is pressure relief (which is the primary job of the upper layers of the mattress) and support (which is primarily the job of the deeper layers).

Shoulder pain generally indicates an issue with pressure relief and is fairly common with men (with side sleeping) because they have wider shoulders than women which need to sink in a little deeper so that the torso makes firmer contact with the mattress and can take the weight off the shoulders. If this is the case … then a suitable topper will generally solve the issue. Post #8 here has some guidelines about choosing a topper.

If you do decide to go with a new mattress (although I would suggest trying a topper first) … then post #1 here and the information it links to will give you the basic information you need to have the best odds of success. I would also suggest reading this article before you consider another airbed (although now that you have one I would probably try to make the best of it).

Hope this helps.


Thanks for the reply.

I found out that the owner replaced the original padding with a 3inch gel foam pad. This seems pretty suspicious to me, but I can’t do much about it. I am trying to hunt down the original padding. I have found padding for a 7000 series bed, which may well be the same as the original padding. It would be $140 for 3 layers of padding that come in the 7000 series bed. If I did this, I would also have the extra 3’’ gel foam pad that I currently have. If I couldn’t fit all the layers within the mattress, I could use the gel foam as a topper. Do you think this is a worthwhile idea? I really hate having the bed with this mysterious gel foam pad instead of the original (though, of course, the 7000 series pad isn’t the original either). Is there a place that sells padding for this purpose?

Hi cokewithvanilla,

An airbed uses the same type of materials in the comfort layers as any other mattress.

In the case of the sleep Number i* … you can see the comfort layers listed on their website here.

the mattress cover is quilted with 2 layers of some kind of fiberfill and an inch of super soft polyfoam.

Under this there is 3" of some kind of memory foam. They don’t provide any specifics about the type or density/quality of the memory foam. It’s quite possible that the gel memory foam that was used to replace it (assuming here it’s a version of gel memory foam and not some other type of gel foam) is higher quality than the original memory foam. You could see if it was gel memory foam by pressing it and seeing if it is a slow recovery foam (it doesn’t come back instantly)

Most larger manufacturers don’t provide details of their foam layers but you could always call them to see if they will provide you with enough details of the type and density of the 3" memory foam layer that you could replace it with a memory foam layer that was similar or better quality. If they do (which is very unlikely) then there is a list of better online sources for any type of memory foam, polyfoam, or latex in post #4 here.

If you call them at the number listed here … they will also give you a quote for a replacement layer of the same kind although you still won’t know the quality of the memory foam they are using.

It’s probably not a good idea to add an extra 3" of foam inside a cover that isn’t designed for it … assuming it would even fit in the first place. Adding an extra 3" of gel memory foam to an existing 3" of memory foam in the mattress itself along with the inch of supersoft foam and the fiber layers would give you a very thick comfort layer (with 6" of memory foam) and the risk of alignment issues that can come from your heavier pelvis sinking in too far would be very high IMO. Of course it doesn’t do any harm to try it but it certainly seems to me to be a risky construction. If you needed some extra memory foam on top it would be 'safer" to use a thinner topper. The thinner the topper … the less the risk of support and alignment issues.