Time for a new mattress - Lower Back Pain

First off, let me just applaud all of those involved in this forum. The amount of information available here is incredible. That said, I’m also a bit overwhelmed and definitely in the “analysis paralysis” phase of mattress shopping. Hoping I can get some guidance to set me on the right path.

Let me start with the background. My wife and I are in our late 30’s. We’ve spent the past 12 years sleeping on a Sterns & Foster Pillow Top (Provincial Collection). It’s a mattress we both found very comfortable for many years but feel it’s coming to the end of it’s life.

For the past year or so I’ve been dealing with some lower back pain. I’m very active and could easily attribute it to serval different things in my life. I didn’t give the mattress much thought in terms of root cause until recently. The pain has recently gotten worse so I’ve spent a bit more time analyzing when I feel it, and what I’ve done that day to aggravate it. It’s typically the worse in the middle of the night. I typically mutter a few choice words when I roll over in pain. I don’t notice it at all once I’m settled in place on the mattress, it’s just when attempting to move after being positioned for a while. I’m also noticing the pain is only on my lower left. Coincidentally (or maybe not), I’m a side sleeper and 90% of the time am sleeping on my left side. Once I get moving in the morning the pain mostly goes away, but will come back when sitting or slouching on the couch for a while.

To add the details, I am 6’4" and around 190lbs. My wife is 5’10 and around 145. She has zero problems sleeping.

Fast forward to today, I took all of this information and thought, ok maybe it’s time for a new mattress. Wife and I headed to Jordans Furniture to look at options. We tested the traditional inner box spring style, tempur pedic memory foam, and finally PranaSleep full latex (I didn’t even know that was a thing). My wife immediately said “heck no” to the memory foam option. I was personally leaning towards the PranaSleep (Thoreau model). My wife didn’t have a strong preference other than no memory foam.

I then started looking up reviews which brought me to this fine site. At this point I feel more informed, but also more confused than ever (ignorance is bliss right?).

I suppose at this time, my questions are….

I feel my first step is to narrow down to either full latex, inner box spring, or some type of hybrid. Given my back conditions described, should I be leaning one direction or the other?

Regarding the PranaSleep brand, I initially read some negative feedback around materials used, but then read they’ve since changed their manufacturing and may be more recommended. Is this true? Is this a brand I should consider or avoid?

I read a lot about “alternative brands” that can be purchased online. I’m intrigued by that option, but also don’t think I can convince my wife to purchase something we can’t try first (albeit most have great trial programs). When comparing something like SleepEz or Saatv a (as examples) to PranaSleep, what’s ultimately the (besides $1000 more for the Prana)?

Any other advice or things I should be considering?

Thanks in advance!

Hi jaystang.

Welcome to our Mattress Forum. :slight_smile:

Sorry to hear about the analysis paralysis! You’re certainly not the first (nor the last) person to find yourself in this stage of mattress shopping.

While there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved for anyone to predict which mattress would be the best match for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) based on specs or “theory at a distance” (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here) … if your back issues are being caused or aggravated by your mattress (which seems to be somewhat likely because it goes away when you have been up for a while) the odds are high that you could find a mattress that will be a much better “match” for you.

The first place to start your research is the mattress shopping tutorial here which has all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that can help you with how to make the most suitable choice … and know how and why to avoid the worst ones.

There is also more about the most common “symptoms” that people may experience on a mattress in post #2 here that may help you identify why the mattresses you have chosen weren’t working well for you. The most common cause of lower back pain is an alignment issue from a mattress that either has a support core that is too soft or comfort layers (or toppers) that are too thick/soft for your body type or sleeping positions but a mattress that is too firm and doesn’t provide good support under the recessed parts of your body (such as the small of your back) can also lead to lower back pain.

The most important “requirement” for any mattress purchase regardless of any back issues is always to make sure that it provides good alignment in all your sleeping positions.

There is more about primary and secondary support and their relationship to pressure relief and firmness in post #4 here and in post #2 here that may help you visualize what good support and alignment “looks like”.

There is also more about the different ways to buy a mattress and how to minimize the risks involved in each of them if you aren’t confident that a particular mattress is a good match for you in terms of PPP in post #2 here that may also be helpful.

I feel my first step is to narrow down to either full latex, inner box spring, or some type of hybrid. Given my back conditions described, should I be leaning one direction or the other

A hybrid is going to retain the traditional “bounce” of an innerspring mattress and also sleeps slightly cooler as the spring allow for better airflow. An all foam configuration is great if you’re looking for motion isolation and the ability to easily swap out layers to customize the feel.

Many of our Trusted Members offer great sleep trials with ease of exchanges and/or returns (obviously varies by policy and company). Many of them are also happy to help you choose something from their inventory that they feel will be your best fit based on what you know you like, your height/weight and your pain points (like you’ve shared here). The difference between a brand like SleepEZ and Saatva is going to boil down to quality of materials, where materials are sourced, brands of materials (like innersprings), and transparency in terms of quality/durability of materials.

I hope this helps!