Topper Question

I am a 64 year old owner of a 10" Tempurpedic Deluxe Adjustable Bed delivered in Oct of 2006. I have only slept on one side since then and as of last night have moved over to the other side. I am 5’5" and weigh 120 pounds. I am a side sleeper and have been forced to turn over onto my back several times during the night due to pain in my hips due to pressure from this mattress. Also have been getting up in the morning and have to move to a chair with a heating pad due to a bad back. Last night after having moved over to the other side of the bed I woke up with NO back ache but still have the hip pain and had to move to my back during the night. I used to have shoulder problems prior to getting the Tempurpedic but no longer have that probem even after falling off a ladder in April and having to go thru 2 months of physical therapy for shoulder impingement. I use the Tempurpedic 4" Neck Pillow since 2006 and that solved my shoulder problems.

Okay, my question is, would some sort of a Tallalay Topper solve my problem on this bed? Os should I start researching a new bed?

Love this Forum!!

By the way: I am in the San Diego City area.

Hi greyhoundgal,

OK … lets take a look at what might be happening so that we can identify the probable cause … and of course increase the odds that a potential solution may work for you. While this may be a little long … I thought it may be more helpful to share my thinking process and the rationale behind it than give you a more “this might fix it” type of answer.

I’m assuming first of all that once you solved the shoulder problems with the pillow … that when you first started using the Tempurpedic you didn’t have either the hip pain or the backache?

A few questions that would help as well …

Can you give me a rough idea of how long ago the hip pain started to happen?

Did you you sleep on your back before (with or without pain) or is back sleeping only recent as a response to the hip pain?

The specs of the mattress are always an important part of any issue so in the case of the Tempurpedic Deluxe they are … Deluxe are 1.2" of softer 5.3 lb memory foam over 2.8" of firmer 5.3 lb memory foam over 2 layers of egg crate polyfoam.

Side sleepers generally need thicker comfort layers but the smaller you are and the lighter the weight … the thinner the foam would need to be. “Just enough” is the key word and this mattress may have a little too much memory foam for your body shape, size, and side sleeping position. It would almost certainly be too much for back sleeping (which needs thinner comfort layers) as it would allow the heavier pelvis to sink in too far into the memory foam and the softer egg crate foam below it while the upper body didn’t. This is the typical cause of lower back pain (not supportive enough under the pelvis and lower back).

Memory foam will soften over time with an initial more rapid softening followed by a more gradual softening followed by breakdown (impressions that don’t come back to level with no weight on the mattress). The initial softening usually happens over the first few weeks and is often called the “break in” period which so many people talk about. This can be sped up by walking on the mattress and breaking open the thin windows in the internal structure of the memory foam.

It seems (pending your reply to the questions at the beginning) that after the initial softening period you were still fine with no hip or back symptoms. This tells me that the 5.3 lb memory foam was allowing your shoulders and hips to sink in far enough to relieve pressure but not so far that there was an alignment issue. It seems to me that as the foam gradually softened … that your hips started sinking in further on your side which could lead to the hips (rather than the spine) being out of alignment and that this may cause joint stress in the hips (a sideways “V” position). The reason that this is more likely than actual pressure problems is that the likelihood of pressure issues with 4" of softened memory foam with eggcrate polyfoam underneath is not so high. It the memory foam layer was thinner and had softened and there was a firmer support layer underneath it that you were feeling “through” the memory foam, then likelihood of a pressure issue would be greater.

So it appears to me that on either side of the mattress … there is just too much memory foam to keep your pelvis and lower back in alignment when you are on your back. It also seems that with the slightly firmer (hasn’t softened yet) foam on the unused side … that the memory foam is still firm enough to keep your hips in reasonable alignment when you are on your side (similar to when you first got the mattress and were (I’m assuming?) symptom free).

There is also a possibility that your hips are a little less flexible than they were 6 years ago and that the amount of misalignment was “within tolerance” then but isn’t any more. In other words the mattress had a little too much memory foam all along for your weight/height and shape when you were sleeping on your side but there were no hip pain symptoms of the slight misalignment 6 years ago. This would account for the hip pain now on the “new and firmer” side when you didn’t have it at the beginning when both sides were new and firmer. On the side where there are more “bony protrusions” … the hips will sink in more easily because the weight is on less surface area but your legs will still be up higher so the leg and hip joint will be bent inwards.

So on to possible solutions … which are difficult because it is more difficult to “fix” a mattress that is too soft and/or thick on top than it is to fix a mattress that is too firm and thin on top.

The good news is that you can affect the ability of memory foam to soften in response to heat by adding a thin layer on top of it that helps to isolate the memory foam from your body heat. This can be a layer of “non memory” foam (such as polyfoam or latex) or a wool or cotton mattress pad as examples. The effect of this will be that the foam will not sink in as far which could help with the alignment issues and the pain both on your side and on your back. The down side of this is that it may only delay how long it takes for the heat to reach the memory foam and the time that it takes to sink in over the course of the night. The odds are also good that even if the hips are fixed by holding them up a little more (the memory foam stays a little cooler) … that it may not fix the back sleeping issues (which I assume is new because until the hip pain you didn’t sleep on your back much?). This is because there is more “excess thickness” for back sleeping than there is for side sleeping.

So I would probably test this theory in a way that if it fails you haven’t spent much and whatever you did spend was refundable which of course means buying from a place like WalMart, Costco, or Sams Club etc. This way if the theory doesn’t pan out … it will tell you that it may be time to look at other options.

A thin latex topper (say 1") would help isolate you from the memory foam but the danger would be that it would only delay how long it took to sink in too far over the course of the night rather than stop it. The latex topper in other words would need to decrease the amount you sunk into the memory foam more than it it allowed you to sink into the new topper.

Looking at the 3 big box stores … it seems WalMart has the best options …

Robot or human? This is a low density soft 1.5" polyfoam topper. It is slightly firmer under the hips than in other areas which may help keeping them up higher. It is soft so it would allow some extra sinking in but it may also stop the memory foam from sinking in more than it “allows”. This would be a good low cost way to test the theory and it is also soft enough that it wouldn’t be too firm and add a new pressure issue.

Robot or human? This is a low cost cotton mattress pad which may help to keep your hips up by reducing the amount the memory foam softened while it would also have some softness itself.

Robot or human? This is a slightly thicker Dunlop latex topper which would isolate you from the memory foam even more. the “risk” here is that the foam itself may be a little on the firm side so while it may help with how much you sink into the memory foam … it may be a little on the firm side for the best pressure relief (it would somewhat take over the pressure relieving job from the memory foam). This would be a good choice if it was soft enough and is a good price and no risk.

A couple of wool options include … Also offers very nice thicker wool mattress pads which apparently are refundable and would be ideal if they worked (wool provides a very nice sleeping environment which regulates temperature). Check their return policy to make sure it is refundable after use if you decide to go in this direction. Another thicker wool mattress pad which says it is refundable (as long as it’s not washed) but check to make sure of the exact policy.

So I would try one (or more) of these options before you go in the direction of a new mattress since your Tempurpedic is not (or at least shouldn’t be) at the end of its useful life.

If you do decide to do a bit of shopping in the San Diego area to see what mattress options there are … then post #2 here includes some better options in the area.


WOW! Where to start here, LOL! I have never been a back or stomach sleeper. After I get relief from laying on my back I can fall asleep for a while and then feel the need to get back in the semi-fetal position. I have recently started sleeping with a pillow between my legs to keep my knees from hitting each other.

The pain in my hips is not caused by the mattress but is from plain old age and possibly arthritis. If I sit too long, then stand up, my hips hurt. My Dr. told me that I should try to go as long as I can before getting hip replacements. He said they don’t last that long at my age and the longer I wait the more they will have perfected the surgery. I walk 3 to 4 miles around a track almost every day as my exercise. I was not having hip pain when i first got the mattress. I did have the shoulder and back pain before the mattress. Only recently has the back pain started back up. It was just amazing that using the new side of the mattress stopped the back pain. The hip pain started around 2009-10 and is slowly getting worse.

I went to a Mattress Discounters a week ago and tried the Tempurpedic Cloud Supreme and it seemed much softer but so expensive. The plain Cloud did not seem that soft. Salesman put me on the Serta I-Form, I believe it was, but compared to the Cloud Supreme it seemed too firm. Didn’t spend that much time in the store, just passing by and had not read anything at that point from this great website. I came home and started researching Latex this morning and came upon your website.

That answers some of your questions and I am going to have to read and re-read your suggestions. Thank you for taking the time. I find it incredible that you are taking the time to help so many people like this. God Bless You!

Also forgot. Don’t know if it makes a difference but I am using the Tempurpedic waterproof mattress cover over the mattress.

[quote=“Phoenix” post=2629]Hi greyhoundgal,

Memory foam will soften over time with an initial more rapid softening followed by a more gradual softening followed by breakdown (impressions that don’t come back to level with no weight on the mattress). The initial softening usually
A thin latex topper (say 1") would help isolate you from the memory foam but the danger would be that it would only delay how long it took to sink in too far over the course of the night rather than stop it. The latex topper in other words would need to decrease the amount you sunk into the memory foam more than it it allowed you to sink into the new topper.

So if I have a slight hollow on the slept-on side that does not spring back and is noticeable when the sheets are on the bed does this mean that the useful life of the mattress is only the unused side and all I need to do is soften that side? I will try the suggestions you have given me and if it helps I CAN live with just the one side for now or until it caves in too, LOL!

Also, since I do have this “cave-in” of sorts (unless you tell me this is normal) would Tempurpedic give me a prorated warranty amount to put on another mattress (this would be my absolute last resort).


By the way, woke up for the second morning with absolutely no backpain!! And the hips were not quite as bad as the first night.


Hi greyhoundgal,

Your comments help to clarify the situation a lot :slight_smile:

It seems to confirm that the hip pain is not a pressure relief issue (weight distribution) as much as it is an alignment issue (joint tension) which would not be caused by the mattress as much but can be aggravated by certain mattress constructions such as thicker softer comfort layers that have softened.

In the same way that a pillow between the knees can help relieve hip tension by putting the upper leg in better alignment (less joint flex), sinking in a little bit less in the hip area can also put the lower leg and hip joint into a little bit better alignment and could help ease the tension on the joint.

To do this you would either need a little bit less memory foam and/or other softer layers on top of the mattress or you would need to use a mattress pad or topper that reduced the tendency of the softened memory foam to compress as much by isolating your body heat to a degree from the memory foam.

In addition to this … the topper would also need to be soft enough that it didn’t cause pressure issues by itself and also thin enough that the net effect of the topper didn’t cause your hips to sink in even deeper than they were relative to your legs and torso.

While there are many variables in all of this including your unique makeup, underlying conditions, and how a mattress interacts with each person’s body … my tendency would be to use a mattress pad with a thicker layer of wool (an actual pad rather than a protector). Some of the advantages of this would be that it would help cushion the joint and is soft enough that it wouldn’t create pressure issues on its own and would reduce the amount you sink into the memory foam. It’s also very breathable and temperature regulating and can somewhat offset the tendency of memory foam to sleep hot. There is also some evidence that wool can help with joint pain.

I would tend to avoid a cotton mattress pad because it would be much firmer than wool.

If I was choosing latex … I would choose soft talalay and about 1-2" maximum. The Dunlop latex topper I listed earlier (it was the only big box latex topper I saw) might be too firm and with 2" thickness you would likely feel the firmness although with the refund policy there is certainly is no risk in trying.

The polyfoam topper might also be worth a try but with 1.5" thickness and being so soft it may end up adding to the amount you sink in more than it reduces how much you sink in to the memory foam. It too would be a low risk experiment.

Your protector is very thin and would have little effect on the performance of the memory foam although it may increase the warmth of the memory foam because the waterproof membrane is not as breathable as natural fibers like wool. If you go in the direction of wool … I would remove it because wool is water resistant and would protect the mattress well but is much more breathable and temperature regulating on its own.

The Tempurpedic Cloud supreme has about the same amount of memory foam as yours but the top layer is a lower density memory foam which is more responsive (faster reacting) and has an initial softer feeling but my sense is that the thickness could easily create the same problem over time. The lower density memory foam will also soften more quickly than the higher density foam that is in your mattress. The plain cloud has less memory foam which makes it feel firmer even though the alignment would be better. The difficulty with foam is always to balance softness and thickness of the comfort layers with the firmer layers underneath. The initial feeling of soft/firm in a showroom doesn’t always correspond with actual sleeping when the foam warms up more and allows the heavier parts to sink in more over the course of the night.

the Serta iComfort series (which I’m guessing you meant) has 5 different models with different levels of comfort and would be similar to the cloud series in terms of the range of comfort available although the one you tried may have been one of the firmer versions (with less foam on top).

Overall though … my “gut feel” and best guess is that a thicker wool mattress pad would have the best odds of helping you the most with the mattress you currently have. If it’s purchased from an outlet with a good return policy then it’s probably the first thing I would try.