Topper vs mattress for back/shoulder pain on a Nest

In short: can a MF topper help relieve back/shoulder pain versus having to get a new mattress?
My original buying thread: Nest Alexander Signature hybrid (foam, plush/soft)

To recap: About 3 years ago in 2020 I bought a Nest Alexander Signature Hybrid, which I believe is now a “Sparrow.” The best thing about the hybrid continues to be its temperature control, but unfortunately I wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning with low and mid back stiffness or pain, and occasionally shoulder pain. I went down a long DIY latex journey but my allergy to latex is sensitive enough that laying on test beds bothered me a lot.

I went with a “Plush” Nest mattress and am thinking maybe that was not enough support? My guess is shoulder pain is from having broad shoulders and not having enough travel room. Perhaps the back stuff comes from a lack of support? I’m certainly not knocking Nest as a company and I’d rather not go down the rabbit hole of mattress shopping again. Hoping a MF topper could make a big difference but wanted to ask the experts!

Will recap stats here:
Height - 6’2, Weight - ~180lb
BMI - ~23
sleeping position(s) - predominantly side, only brief periods of back when side becomes uncomfortable
underlying health concerns - mild TL scoliosis, but likely subclinical
PPP - very broad shoulders, slim waist and hips; I assume this would indicate thicker cushion comfort layers and firmer/more supportive support layers?

  • I prefer the memory foam feel and I’m pretty allergic to latex, so that makes the materials question a bit more straight forward.
  • I do sleep a bit hot so the addition of any memory foam topper would likely need to have some cooling tech (BS?) - but I’d rather be a bit hotter than in pain.

Current bed stats per Nest website at that time:
.1" - Super Soft Quilted Thermic Phase Change
.4" - 4 lb. Luxury Memory Foam
3" - 3.5 lb. - 4 lb. TitanChil Endurance Foam®
1" - 3 lb. SmartFlow Support Foam
8" - Quantum Edge Pocketed Support Coils
1" - 3 lb. Base Support Foam

Hi cgreen2,
Sorry, i misread the formula build for your bed, did not see the decimal point. Mistook .4 for 4". So my theory can not be correct regarding the memory foam sinking too much in relationship to your pillow loft. Almost wonder why they would only use less than a half inch of memory foam in the comfort layer in the first place, but back to the drawing board. Have to take another look at this. Sorry for my confusion on missing the decimal point, that makes a big difference. Perhaps that is the issue, not enough memory foam in the comfort layer for you, that .4 softened right up into bottoming out into the titanchill layer. Since that titanchill
comes in different firmness levels, perhaps the 4lb level they previously used was too firm, and a 2" layer of MF in the upper comfort layer would have been more appropriate for you. All the best.

Hi cgreen2 and welcome to the Mattress Underground :slight_smile:

Sorry to hear you are experiencing pain with your mattress; though you are not a high BMI sleeper, it is possible the ‘plush’ comfort layers are indeed allowing you to sink far enough into the memory foam to ‘bottom out’ somewhat on the firmer layers below…you might consider a firmer memory foam/Polyfoam or gel foam topper to see if the lack of support is the issue; I agree with @Maverick, the thicknesses don’t seem too great to cause this, but as you say with broader shoulders, this might be the issue. If possible you could try local showrooms if possible, just to see how a firmer memory foam feels - every sleeper is unique, after all…it really depends on the firmness levels of the foams in your comfort layer, but when someone says ‘plush’ and ‘back pain’ this tends to usually indicate the comfort layer needs to be firmer. Testing in person can give you some indication of which way to go, without having to possibly exchange any topper you buy while trying them out to find the right match.

~ Basilio

Thanks for taking a look, Norm! If the issue is not enough MF in the comfort layer, then perhaps a topper could be helpful?

Thanks for the reply, Basilio! My previous bed was a Tempurpedic Cloud Supreme, I think in the medium category. It was in the middle of comfort, so not the cushiest but not the firmest of that line, either. I loved that bed and had it for about 7 years, but it slept so hot it scared me off a full MF mattress.

Do you think local showrooms have those different toppers available to try? Or should I look for mattresses with various foam toppers included and extrapolate from there?

Not sure if these pics will help with PPP visualization:

Hey Cgreen2,
Thanks for the pics. I think the pics are doing a little hokus pokus to my eyes. One pic looks like you are at a 10 degree angle up, from foot to head, and I know that cant be, and the lower pic looks like you are sinking from the shoulders down the hips, but it is so hard to tell with the bedding on there. I kind of think that the plush titanchil is just not supporting you enough. I know is sounds crazy, but I think you need a medium feel rather than the plush. I think then no longer use Titanchil and it has become energex foam, which is basically a latex alternative. It is not so heat sensitive like memory foam and relieves some pressure points, without sinking. I feel like that .4 memory foam, which you cant do anything about, is a gratuitous add in for whatever reason they were thinking at the time, but just isnt doing anything except when added to the quilting raises the mattress a half inch. I think the issue you face is if you replace the 3" layer with a medium firmness energex foam, it could be costly, I wouldnt be surprised if they hit you for $500 bucks. I am actually wondering if you couldnt just get a titanflex foam topper from BB (3” Titanflex™ Topper - Mattress Topper) in a medium feel and insert that inside the alexander in place of the too plush titanchil. Probably the same thing just the sister brand. I would chat with BB and Nest to get a sense if they are the same product with a different name and the titanflex is 40% off now, and probably a lot less expensive and returnable. ( I am sorry that it is so hard to tell from the pictures, but my gut instinct is the support issue and I dont think the plush is doing it for you. I would ask them if you could use the topper inside the Alex, if so, that is what I would try. You could get the next 2" cooling topper, but I think adding too much foam, puts you further away from your support coil layer, and things will get worse as the plush layer will still be jammed in the middle of the who thing. I know you could also try a 3" memory foam layer in place of the Titanchil, but memory foam is hotter, it sinks, it gets softer and will be harder to isolate what the issue may be if something else arises. I would like to hear what @Basilio thinks. Hopefully, he will throw his 2 cents in. Good luck with this, sleeping in pain, just sucks.

Thanks so much for your help, Norm! It looks like I can’t change out the layers myself. Do companies like Nest change layers out like that? It’s going on 2 or 3 years so I’m sure I’m way outside any reasonable time frame for them to help.

Do people cut open mattress covers and change out layers? Trying to figure out how to get that firmer layer in there. Agree it feels like a support issue. Also agree just plopping it on top might not be the solution.

Appreciate your advice on this!!

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In doing my research, some of the nest Alexander’s have/had a zipper to swap out certain layers. It would have a zipper if yours is a version that does that. My understanding is not all versions had this option.

I know that there are some companies that will open a mattress, remove a layer or layers and replace with whatever style comfort layer you prefer. I have watched youtube videos of this happening. I saw someone tear down a mattress to the springs and rebuild from there. The other option is to do it yourself. You would have to open up the mattress. You need to be certain the FR does not have fiberglass in it, or you will have a mess. You dont want to go there. You have two choices. You can remove the cover entirely. Replace your layers and purchase a new zipper cover to match the final size and height of your mattress, the same way you would do a DIY mattress. The other option is to bring it to a local mattress manufacture if there is one in your area, they can remove the cover panel, replace the layers that you prefer and they can sew the cover panel back on. I have no idea what option 2 would cost, but you would have to query that first. I mean someone manufactured the mattress to begin with, so they would just be re-manufacturing it. I kind of think option one would be the most economical.

Thanks, Norm. Appreciate your insight with this. I’ll have to investigate the fiber glass aspect. It sounds a bit intimidating to tear down and put everything back together. I might be trying to talk myself out of doing the work, but I wonder if 3 years in, it might be worth just getting a new set up so each layer can proceed at the same wear age. I went way down the rabbit hole on latex DIY, but since that isn’t possible maybe I need to go back through DIY’ing a hybrid with MF or latex-alternative. Always tempting to buy something ready made but I know most are in favor of DIY on this site.

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It is very difficult when offering advice to stick one’s hand in other’s pocket. Easier said than done as everyone has their own situations to deal with. Personally, I would be biting the bullet, so to speak, and starting fresh. This offers you the benefit of a new trial, all new materials and a chance to try something that is made from the best quality materials you can manage. There are many mattresses out there that are very good and under $1500 -2000. So, you can look at this two ways. First, find a mattress that meets all your PPP’s and then look at the price. The other way to look at it is, determine your price range, and look for something in your range. My suggestion, is the first option. This is why. Lets say you want a hybrid mattress, with 6" 13.5g coils,
1.5" firm talalay latex 36ILD comfort layer and a 0.75" quilted cover. Perhaps brand ABC is $2800. Well now that we know what you like and have a price. You could then look at brand XYZ, say the firmer side of a Brooklyn Bedding Plank Natural where the firmer side of the King mattress equals those specs and it is a $1900 mattress. You then may be able to speak with say brand PQR who uses the same coil system, Talalay Global’s 1.5" firm talalay latex 36ILD and maybe they are $1500. Now, you get to choose the mattress preferences that you desire and meets your specs, and you can select which company meets your 4 R’s, Reputation, refund, return, restocking fee characteristics and you feel comfortable and confident to deal with should any issues arise down the road.

@Maverick or @Basilio do you guys think something like a @DLX premier hybrid in medium might fit the bill here? Latex still isn’t an option, but their foam option seems like it could be good?

Yes, @DLX remains an option, and I remember your latex allergy, which unfortunately means you can’t explore the Premier Hybrid now available in latex. However, it’s worth noting that it will soon feature a 3" 4lb memory foam comfort layer, though I am not certain of the timeline for it.

The DLX stands out as an excellent mattress choice. I purchased one for my 86-year-old mother-in-law, who deals with hip and knee replacements along with some spinal issues. Since transitioning to the Premier Hybrid, her pain has notably diminished.

Opting for a split queen in firm/medium since she couldn’t test it beforehand, but given her preference for firmness, I took the chance in splitting the comfort layer to play it safe. Thankfully, the firm side turned out to be a perfect fit. While I could replace the medium side if needed, she exclusively uses the firm side and only uses one side of the bed anyway.

This mattress offers a plethora of options. You could even customize the comfort layer as I did. It’s conceivable to split it with the same firmness, allowing for adjustments as your needs or preferences evolve, one side at a time.

When my wife and I laid on this mattress after i set it up, it was quite impressive regarding support and comfort.

They are a great company to work with, so the risk is very minimal.

Just for reference, sadly Basilio is no longer with us. Very sad, he was a good dude. I am sure his is watching down on us.


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Thanks, @Maverick! And thanks for letting me know about Basilo. Def hope he’s in a better place!

I did see @DLX was coming with the 3" 4lb memory foam comfort layer. That’s certainly more attractive than the 0.4” one I’m currently rocking :slight_smile:

I wonder if firm would be too firm, but I’ve already made the mistake of going too soft before. Maybe the 3” MF would offset that. I’m still primarily a side sleeper, though I don’t even last 10 minutes on my right side anymore. My back is the last resort when left side becomes too painful.

Either way, sounds like they’re a great company and could work with them to help figure it out.

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They are amazing to work with and really have your personal interests as a priority. Plus, the premier can literally last you quite a long time, all you have to do is change the insert as your preferences or needs change. The medium is pretty solid. But the whole mattress is built well and supportive.

That memory foam option has been announced and posted on the @DLX web site, so if memory foam is your preference, they have it ready and waiting.

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