Can anyone who has tried several types of newer mattresses please make a recommendation before I purchase a new mattress? I currently sleepon an older pillow top and wake every morning with back pain. I have degenerative disk at S1 and need a good, supportive mattress. Confused about all the different options available…Please help!

Hi Tincar … and welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

The mattress that is best for any individual, including those with back pain, depends on several factors. The most important ones are your individual “statistics” such as height and weight and general body weight distribution and your sleeping positions.

When you are prone to back issues, the proper spinal alignment in all your sleeping positions is especially important. This means that if you sleep on your side, your spine needs to be straight and if you sleep on your back or stomach it needs to be supported in the natural “S” curve that it has when you are standing up straight with good posture. In addition to proper spinal alignment of course, it also needs a comfort layer that will provide pressure relief.

Traditional pillowtops, especially those which use inexpensive polyfoam made by most of the major mattress manufacturers, are perhaps one of the worst “offenders” for aggravating back pain as they do not “hold up” the sacral region as well as other types of construction and if you are sinking too deeply into your mattress in this heavier area of the body, the S1-L5 area issues could easily be aggravated due to spinal misalignment while you are sleeping.

If you could provide a few more details about your height/weight and your weight distribution (your general “shape”) and also your sleeping positions I can certainly be a bit more specific in terms of some types of mattress construction that would be well worth testing. If you know the brand and model of the mattress you are sleeping on now as well it could also provide a reference point that can help.


Thanks…I am 5’2" and weigh 120 lbs. Side sleeper. S1 degeneration. Normal “S” curvature of spine and smaller waist than hips…sleep w/175 lb husband with athletic frame- broad shoulders and he also is a side sleeper.

Thank you for your help!

Here are a few guidelines that should help you go in the right direction.

Since both of you are side sleepers, you need a little thicker comfort layer than other sleeping positions. In your case because you are lighter, you would probably be looking at a comfort layer of about 2" of softer material with a firm core underneath to prevent your hips from sinking in more than they should and putting your spine out of alignment. Your biggest issue would be how far your hips sink down into the mattress. If you try a thicker comfort layer than this … say 3", then I would make sure that the support layer underneath this was very firm.

In your husbands case … his biggest issue would be to allow his shoulders to sink in far enough to create a good spinal alignment. Shoulders are not as heavy as hips even though in his case they are wider and need to sink in more. He would probably do better with 3" for a comfort layer and again something firm underneath.

Several options that may help both of you. The first of these is zoning. In your case, a firmer zone under your hips would help prevent them from sinking in too far. In your husbands case, a firmer zone … also under his hips … would also allow his shoulders to sink in further than his hips which would help him with alignment as well.

Many mattress manufacturers will also custom build each side separately to accommodate different body shapes and weights.

In terms of materials, it would depend a lot on your budget. The mattress core could either be a good quality innerspring, zoned to be firmer in the middle, good quality polyfoam (for budget reasons), again with zoning in the middle section, or if your budget allows it, latex as a core … again zoned in the middle.

In terms of a comfort layer, I would definitely choose latex as it has the best combination of support and the ability to conform to a body shape for pressure relief. Normally an ILD (a measure of softness) that is suitable for a comfort layer would be in the range of 19 - 24. Talalay latex is generally preferable as a comfort layer over Dunlop latex (Talalay and Dunlop are two different methods of making latex foam and Talalay is generally softer and more conforming). Memory foam is another option for a comfort layer as it is as conforming as soft latex however it does tend to sleep hotter and it is also less supportive (doesn’t “hold you up” as well) as latex.

So a general guideline would be to test out mattresses that are zoned to be firmer under the hips, have 2-3" of a softer comfort layer using good quality latex or memory foam (good quality memory foam is 5 lbs per sq ft or more) as a comfort layer, and that keep both of you in good alignment.

If you have an idea of your budget range then I could be a little more specific as to which types of materials you could reasonably expect to include in your mattress and if you could let me know the city you live in then I could also give you some ideas for specific outlets near you that would carry mattresses that are worth trying out to determine the exact construction that works for both of you. While theory is a good starting point, trying out a few mattresses will really help you to narrow your best choice down.

Hope this helps a bit and I’d be happy to get more specific yet if I know your area and budget range.


I thank you for taking your time to help me with this important decision!
Our budget is between $2000-$3000.
You mentioned latex-I am familiar with Tempur-Pedic - which I guess is considered memory foam.
Who manufactures latex? Not too familiar with that product.
Zipcode is 28601.

Hi Tincar,

Your budget is in the range of an very high quality mattress in both queen or king size (with King being more expensive of course). It is well within the range of the highest quality mattress materials.

Latex is a foam made from either natural or synthetic rubber and is perhaps the highest quality foam that can be used in a mattress. It has similar pressure relieving qualities to memory foam but it is much more supportive and much longer lasting. Almost all good manufacturers have either partly latex or all latex mattresses in their higher end.

Every mattress has two basic functions which are comfort/pressure relief and support/spinal alignment.

The first of these is the job of the comfort layers which is the upper few inches of your mattress. For a list of the different materials that can be used for the comfort layers and a bit about each there is an overview here https://mattressunderground.com/mattresses/comfort-layers.html. More details if you wish about each can be found in the individual articles about each material in the comfort layers section under the mattresses link in the main menu.

The second is the job of the deeper support layers of a mattress and a list of the different materials that can be used for this and a bit about each can be found here https://mattressunderground.com/mattresses/support-cores.html. Again, more details about each material used as a support core can be found in the individual articles in the support come section under the mattresses link in the main menu.

There are also more detailed and technical articles yet about both latex and memory foam in the detailed articles section of the main menu.

In terms of actual outlets where you can go to either test or purchase mattresses, there are several near Hickory and more yet if you are willing to travel to Charlotte.

I usually suggest dividing your mattress purchase into two sections. One is the actual testing of mattresses which can be done at any store that will give you accurate information about the mattresses you are testing (the cutaway or diagram of the actual construction of the mattress). This way you will know the actual materials used in the mattresses that work best for you.

The second is to decide on the actual place to buy your mattress using your testing as a guideline. The best value and construction quality for the actual purchase is almost always a local mattress manufacturer who will suggest a mattress that is based on the construction that you found was best in your testing.

If there is a local manufacturer that is near you then both steps can be done there. These types of manufacturers are usually owned by “mattress people” and the information and help you get from them is far better than the information you will get from a typical chain store or furniture store and their regular prices using better materials are also usually better than the best sale prices at the larger mattress stores. You will also not be subject to all the “mattress shopping” tricks that will entice you to buy an overpriced mattress that will not have the kind of quality that is available from a factory direct mattress manufacturer.

In your area (within about 100 miles) there are several mattress manufacturers who sell factory direct. They include …



Original mattress has an outlet right in Hickory and makes a complete range of mattresses of all types and they are a high-quality regional manufacturer that provided good value and is highly regarded so they may be your best choice to test various different mattresses. Most of their outlets are also staffed with knowledgeable sales people who will give you accurate answers to your questions about their mattresses. Their choices include both latex and memory foam.

Once you have determined the best type of mattress for your needs, then you could either purchase it from the outlet that you used to test various mattresses or several of our manufacturing members specialize in online sales and could “duplicate” the construction of the mattress you liked the best.

Hope this helps you and if you have any other questions or need any clarification feel free to ask.


Phoenix, are those among the companies you’ve spoken to in the past? I’m also in NC(Winston-Salem) and was wondering what kind of value and types of latex they have. I have e-mailed B&L in the past with no response. I’ve found that to be fairly common with mattress manufacturers though. Phone and in person really are much better.

I’ll also add two others for tincar.

I have not spoken to either, and I am not even sure Walker carries latex, but they may be worth contacting just to see what they do have.

Another bit of information is that Jackson Mattress Company of Fayetteville builds Restonic mattresses. So if you happen to check a Restonic mattress out in a typical retail location, like it, and they don’t have a lot of information, you will probably get the information you want by calling Jackson Mattress Company.


Thank you for the two additions to my list. My database includes over 90% of all the manufacturers in North America and it is really a pleasure when someone adds not just one but two that I didn’t already have. I really appreciate it. I will certainly make a point of talking with both of them.

Of the manufacturers I listed, I have personally spoken with originalmattress, myluxurymattress, and dilworth an all of these produce latex mattresses and have good value. I have not yet had the chance to speak personally with either Colton or BandL however they are certainly on the “todo” list to talk with and I have done some research on both of them. There are also quite a few others in NC but I didn’t list them either because they are not factory direct retail, only produced lower end mattresses, or because they are too far away. I agree with you too that personal conversations are by far the best way to gather information about manufacturers and also to get a “feel” for the type of people and company they are.

I have also done extensive research and talked to quite a few of the Restonic licensees. Restonic is an interesting company as the different licensees make their mattresses differently in each area and I was interested in those that did not use several inches of polyfoam on top of their latex mattresses. Before buying a Restonic in any area, I would certainly check with the licensee who produces them there (they are listed on the Restonic website). IMO, Restonic is one of the “better” national manufacturers even though there is some inconsistency in construction in different areas. .Several of the licensees I have talked with have shared the frustration of not having consistent guidelines in all areas and I believe they are “working on it”

You certainly seem well informed and again, I appreciate the information you have shared.

Welcome to the Mattress Forum! :slight_smile:


Phoenix, I should clarify why I even mentioned the Restonic location for you and for tincar. I did not intend my mentioning Restonic to be a recommendation. I would actually advise against it as the Restonic mattresses I’ve seen my city have polyfoam in them. The salesman knew nothing about them, but they did have some models cut open. I remember two models in particular. One model was quilting, poly, memory, poly, springs. The other model was the same thing except it had latex in a pillowtop above identical layering. I would imagine these would be the same Restonic mattresses tincar would come across in Hickory.

The reason I mentioned the Restonic location was because of the potential issues when it comes to getting accurate information with Restonic. Thanks to posts Ive read by Phoenix over on whatsthebest, I knew about the inconsistencies from region to region, which Phoenix has now pointed out on this forum as well in his last post. Those regional differences, the potential for a retailer to have minimal worthwhile information, and the likely manufacturer being named Jackson Mattress Co. are why I went ahead and brought them up. It was meant as a “just in case tincar liked the feel of a Restonic she knows who to call because they have the highest potential when it comes to difficulty in finding out what you need to know” scenario. In my first post, it did seem kind of random and out of place to mention the Restonic manufacturer without the added information.

Thanks for the clarification … and any reason that provides a chance to add more information to the forum is always welcome and appreciated.


I’ve been having back pain almost every night. The pain doesn’t start until about 5 am and is pretty bad by the time I wake up at 7:30. I’m a back sleeper.

I prefer a very firm mattress (I have been sleeping on the carpeted floor for the past year, and it feels good). I tried the firmest of the Serta iComfort memory foam mattresses, and it was too soft for me (although that could be because the weather is warm). That iComfort felt firm in the store, but within days of sleeping on it, it got really soft.

I now assume that I will have to get a coil innerspring mattress because I doubt there is any foam mattress out there that is firm enough for me. I have an adjustable base, so wouldn’t a coil spring mattress have a more limited range of motion (45 degrees) than a foam mattress? I am 5’11, 170 lb, and I am looking to spend $1000-1300 on a queen mattress.

Hi Soco11,

The back issue you are describing is unfortunately very common and usually indicates that during the course of the night you are somehow becoming “misaligned”.

This could be because of changing positions (most people don’t sleep in the same position all night) and the alignment you started in was fine but the alignment for your other sleeping positions was not and your mattress is only “supportive” in one of your sleeping positions.

It could be because the “out of alignment condition” was ok at first and not enough to cause “instant pain” but only caused pain as your muscles became more relaxed over the course of the night and “parts” of you that were being “held up” by your muscles are not being held up by the mattress … again causing misalignment.

It could also be because of “mattress creep” which means that the mattress slowly allows you to sink in deeper over the course of the night. This last one is a particular characteristic of memory foam which has much more “creep” than other types of foam such as polyfoam or latex foam. This will usually “aggravate” the other two and is the reason why I personally believe that memory foam is not suitable for most people who are prone to back pain.

While an appropriate innerspring may help, whether or not it solved or helped solve the problem would depend on the type of innerspring and also what was over the innerspring. In addition to providing most of the pressure relief of your mattress, The comfort layers are part of what “holds up” or supports the lumbar area (the hips are mainly held up or supported by the mattress core) so memory foam over innersprings could well create the same problem. The best material for a support core (because it has better “progressive resistance” than any other material) is latex … particularly Dunlop latex. Your next best choice would be an innerspring. Your least best choice would be a polyfoam core (which usually has the least progressive resistance of these 3 materials).

Another name for “progressive resistance” is “support factor” which means that a higher support factor gets “firmer faster” (doesn’t let your heavier parts sink in as far) than a material with a lower support factor. Testing for the right combination of support and pressure relief along the lines of some of the guidelines on the site (such as the five steps to your perfect mattress) along with choosing materials that don’t “creep” can make a big difference with back issues that can be aggravated by sleeping out of alignment.

Zoning can also make a big difference in certain body shapes, weight distributions, or more “extreme” sleeping positions. With men in particular … zoning that is firmer under the hips and softer under the shoulders (which in men with broader shoulders in particular will allow the shoulders to sink in far enough to create correct alignment while stopping the hips from sinking in too far) can make a big difference. In the case of back sleeping though which has less pronounced “recessed areas” in the sleeping profile … zoning is not quite as important as with side sleeping although it can still certainly help with stopping the hips from sinking in too far if the materials in your mattress don’t have enough progressive resistance to do the job by themselves.

Some general guidelines are (subject to confirmation with actual field testing of mattresses) are …

For a support core

A suitable higher quality and firm polyfoam (1.8 lbs or higher with an ILD of about 36 or higher) for a smaller budget.

An appropriate innerspring (such as a firmer offset coil or a firmer pocket coil) for a slightly higher budget

Latex (particularly Dunlop latex with an ILD of 36 or higher) is best of all.

More information about the different support core materials can be found here

For a comfort layer

HR polyfoam (technically 2.5 lbs or higher but slightly lower may work as well in an ILD in the range of 19 - 24)) for a tight budget,

Latex foam (in the range of about 19 - 24 ILD with Talalay latex being preferred by most people in the comfort layer).

More information about the different comfort layers can be found here

I would avoid memory foam completely and be wary of lower quality polyfoam (less than about 2.2 lbs) in the comfort layer as it will begin to break down and lose the qualities that made it “right” in the showroom and develop depressions much sooner that latex foam.

Both of these can help keep you supported and won’t “creep” as your muscles relax or you change position over the course of the night. Of these two comfort layer materials … latex has the best support characteristics and is the most likely to “help” a mattress core keep you in alignment as you change positions over the course of the night.

The thickness of the comfort layer is also important and a rough guideline for a back sleeper is to begin with about 2" and then adjust this up or down depending on what your field testing tells you.

Hope this helps a bit. Back pain is certainly not fun … which I know from personal experience.


Hi again Soco11,

Just to answer your question about the firmness of a mattress core and its “bendability” which I didn’t address in my last post … There are innerspring mattresses which are made specifically for use with adjustable bases. While they will bend more than 45 degrees in most cases (depending on how they are made), they still do not work as well for conforming to the adjustable base as a foam core. They also do not tend to wear as well with constant bending as a high quality foam.

Foam itself … both polyfoam and latex … can come in many different ILD’s (firmness rating) and if the firmest ILD is chosen for a support core material (the firmest latex usually comes up to about 44 ILD while polyfoam can go even higher), they can actually be firmer and more supportive than an innerspring. In terms of durability, latex is generally more durable than an innerspring which in turn is usually more durable than polyfoam.