Suggestions to help relieve pain from new mattress

I posted this in another thread but wanted to start my own post with hopes of getting some suggestions on what I can do to correct:

We’ve had the Ultimate Dreams 13" Gel Memory Foam mattress for 2 weeks now. I am not happy with the mattress at all and trying to figure out what to do. The first week was extremely painful, shoulder and back pain for both myself and my wife. I put our old 3" fbm latex topper on and while that eliminated the pain it did not give the feel I was looking for (personally do not like the springy feeling of latex versus the sinking in the bed of memory foam). I took the latex off last night to see if it was just placebo or first week adjusting and it was a horrible nights sleep and frankly I am still sore all the way up my spine, neck, and shoulders. I woke up at 4:30am last night and could not go back to sleep because no matter what position I laid in I could feel the impingements, I almost made the wife get up to put the latex back on.

I came on this morning to figure out what to do. What I find really strange is the bed without a sheet on it does not seem bad at all, and we’ve changed sheets 3 times (all are 500-600 thread count 100% cotton) since getting the bed. Its almost as if the cover + sheet is too think to allow heat to penetrate to the foam and allow the proper moulding of the body. I came from a classic tempur and the differences are hard to explain, the first 2" are much softer, but it feels like brick underneath.

My issues aside, the bed seems to be very well built with a nice cover, and from the feedback here I would prefer too firm over too soft (which is the issue with most cheaper mf). I’m really hoping a cheap topper will help short term and the foam will break in over the next couple months.

Hi supermanx,

This is an interesting “sheet” phenomenon and based on speculation (I don’t know your height/weight or sleeping positions which would affect how the mattress feels to you) there could be one or more factors that are contributing to this.

The first is as you mentioned that the sheets are thick enough to prevent the amount of heat that is needed for the gel foam or the foam underneath it to reach its full “softness” potential.

The particles in gel memory foam are also meant to increase the support qualities of the memory foam (the beads make the foam firmer when it compresses more because they don’t displace like the memory foam) and that along with less heat and the 5 lb density foam underneath could be the reason you are feeling more softness in the upper couple of inches but then it becomes firmer as you sink in more. As you mentioned … it seems that you are not sinking in as far as you need/want to.

Next could be the depth of the sheet pocket of the fitted sheet. If this mattress is thicker and the sheets are fitting more tightly then it could be creating a drum like effect on the mattress.

Next could be the type of mattress protector or a mattress pad you may be using. Some are more or less stretchy and conforming than others and some allow more or less heat to go through them and there are many people who notice that changing their mattress protector or mattress pad they are using can make a real difference in the feel and softness of the mattress and the ability of the mattress to contour to the shape of your body (which can affect pressure points).

The type of cover or quilting in a mattress (or a topper) can also make a difference in how a memory foam layer responds for different people.

Upper back or shoulder and neck issues are often connected to a pillow as well and it’s not unusual at all for a new mattress to also need a new pillow because of the different way your body sinks in to the mattress and a pillow can be an important part of distributing weight in the upper body and maintaining good alignment.

The type of foundation or boxspring or other support system under the mattress could also make a difference (foam mattresses generally do best with rigid non flexing support underneath them).

Next could be the temperature and humidity of your room. As you know memory foam is heat and humidity sensitive and a cooler or cold room or less humidity can make the memory foam firmer.

Next could be the softening of the memory foam itself or the normal break in period for any new mattress as the memory foam will go through some initial softening (some more than others), covers will stretch a bit and lose their initial “stiffness”, and fiber materials will compress to a degree. Some types of higher quality/density memory foams take longer to go through their initial softening period to “break in” (some of the Tempurpedic HD mattresses are examples of this) and this can take up to 90 days or so although it’s normally 30 days or so and sometimes less. Walking on the mattress (covering the whole surface evenly) can help it to soften and break in a little quicker.

Next could be just the normal adjustment period that your body may need to adjust to any new sleeping surface. Like the break in period of a mattress, it can take some time to adjust to a new sleeping surface and for your body to “forget” it’s old sleeping habits and get used to a different mattress (see post #3 here). This is much like changing a “habit” where the body itself has cues and muscle memories that take time to change. This will usually take a month or less for most people but in some cases, like the initial break in period, it can take longer up to about 90 days or so. Because of this … it’s usually best to sleep on any new mattress for about 30 days or so or at the very least until it is clear that what you are experiencing is indicative of your long term experience on the mattress.

Many people are very surprised at how much their experience on a mattress can change over the first 30 - 90 days.

Finally (and this is less likely than the other possibilities when you have 5" of memory foam) the mattress may need a little more softer memory foam to “match” your body type and sleeping position (and slightly lower density memory foam that is a little softer could fit the bill here).

It’s difficult to say which of these it could be but it seems that at least the sheet (and possibly the protector/sheet combination) could be part of the issue.

Once you have ruled out the other possibilities mentioned here … the first step would be to talk with the retailer or manufacturer because they may also have some useful suggestions that are specific to their mattresses based on their experience with other customers that have purchased them as well.

If you can rule these out one at a time then the last option if necessary (outside of exchanging or returning the mattress) to add some additional thickness/softness and pressure relief to the comfort layers would be to add a topper to give you the extra softness and pressure relief you need and prefer. Post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to has more information and sources for choosing a topper.


[quote=“Phoenix” post=8609]Hi supermanx,
Upper back or shoulder and neck issues are often connected to a pillow as well and it’s not unusual at all for a new mattress to also need a new pillow because of the different way your body sinks in to the mattress and a pillow can be an important part of distributing weight in the upper body and maintaining good alignment.


Can you recommend some pillow for this type of situation (upper back pain) ?

Hi galapagos,

Unfortunately choosing a pillow is like choosing a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved in choosing a pillow to make specific suggestions or recommendations for someone else. There is no single pillow that is “best” for any particular situation or “symptom” because the goal of a pillow is to keep your head and neck in good alignment in all your sleeping positions and which pillow does this for any particular person or on any particular mattress will vary widely from person to person. In other words … a pillow that works well for one person with upper back, shoulder, or neck issues may not be suitable at all for someone else with similar issues.

Pillows are also a very personal choice and different people will have very different pillow preferences or different opinions about what they perceive as firm and soft or the general type of pillow that “feels” good to them but some of the information in the pillow topic here and the posts it links to can help you choose a pillow that is the best “match” for you and the mattress you are sleeping on.


choosing a mattress wasn’t easy. My logic was, we liked Mandalay Bay’s mattress.
So I call them up and say: what mattress do you use? They say: Serta Presidential Suite II . Ok, I go to RC Willey and buy this mattress, which was like $1300, special order cos they only make them for hotels. Guess what, not sure if its box springs or what, mattress got a 1 inch sag after 1 year of usage. Idiots at Serta won’t replace cos it needs to be 1,5 inch of sag.

So we got latex mattress now, first 2 nights were ok, but now I get upper back pain, found your thread about pillows and wanted to get some direction here :slight_smile: I’m a back /side sleeper.

I’ve read those links you gave me , seems like: buckwheat hull pillow and shredded latex ones are good, wanted to ask your opinion on those and other ones for this particular situation

Hi galapagos,

Unfortunately this is a fairly typical experience because the major brands (such as Sealy, Simmons, and Serta) tend to use lower quality and less durable materials in their mattresses that tend to soften and break down prematurely and this is the reason that I normally suggest to avoid them completely (see the guidelines here).

As you also unfortunately discovered … mattress warranties only cover manufacturing defects and they don’t cover the gradual (or more rapid in the case of lower quality comfort layers) loss of comfort and support that comes from foam softening that is the main reason that most people will need to replace their mattress. In other words the length of mattress warranties have little to nothing to do with the durability or useful life of a mattress or how long it will be until you need to buy a new mattress. If there is an actual defect in the materials it will usually show up early in the life of the mattress (usually in the first year or two) but knowing the quality/density and durability of the materials in your mattress is always a much more reliable way to assess the relative durability and useful life of a mattress than the length of a warranty. There is more about mattress warranties in post #174 here.

I would keep in mind that there will be a break in and adjustment period with any new mattress so I would wait a few weeks before making any changes or additions to your sleeping system (see post #3 here and post #2 here).

The type of material in a pillow is a preference choice rather than a better/worse choice and each person can have very different preferences. Some people may like the “feel” and response of a buckwheat pillow or a shredded latex pillow and some people may not like either one. In other words there isn’t a specific type of pillow material that is “better” than another one for any specific set of “symptoms”.

Having said that … every type of pillow will generally come in softer or firmer versions and thicker and thinner versions. Once you have decided on the type of pillow you prefer then it’s a matter of finding the softness and thickness that will keep your head and neck in good alignment in all your sleeping positions and this can be different for different people based on their body type, sleeping positions, and the type of mattress they are sleeping on (how much you sink into a mattress can affect the distance between your head and neck and the mattress). There isn’t a formula or “theory” that can be used to predict which specific pillow will work best for any particular person.

While I can’t make any specific pillow suggestions because this is such a personal choice with too many variables involved and I can’t feel what you feel on a pillow, see you sleeping on your mattress and pillow, or know whether a specific pillow keeps your head and neck in good alignment … in very general terms side sleepers need a loftier firmer pillow because the gap between their head and neck and their sleeping surface is larger, back sleepers need a little thinner pillow with some support under the neck, and stomach sleepers need the thinnest flattest pillow of all to keep their head as low as possible. Many people are combination sleepers and pillows that can be “scrunched” (feathers, down, shredded latex or shredded memory foam and many other materials) can help with this because they can be puffed up when needed on the side and flattened or molded when needed on the back or stomach.