Mattresses; if your issue is pressure, and you are heavy...

Mattress options are dizzying. What seems obvious isn’t always.

I have piriformis syndrome and sciatica. I am also obese.(About 275, carried in the ass and thighs) I have been a mostly left-side sleeper for decades. In the last year I have found that in addition to the aforementioned pain-producing issues, I get insanely uncomfortable, mostly around my hip, which is where the weight/size is greatest. It happens on both left and right, just worse on the left. I sleep on a meh mattress with a little bit of pillowtop and a pathetic bit of egg foam, none of which makes a difference, to my hip, it feels like I am lying on a wood board.

So… 2 inches enough? 3? 4? temperpedic topper? Whole hog on the mattress? VERY hot sleeper so I am super bummed about having to do some kind of foam… I feel like I have to do some gel-thing… do they really help with temperature?? I need to have a decent pain free night of sleep soon or I will lose it. I am pretty sure that in order to get real relief I will probably find myself struggling with sinking in deep, but I can live with that if I don’t cook to death and I get genuine pain relief.

Because of my weight I feel like perhaps I should, counterintuitively, be looking at firmer, rather than softer, because I will just flatten a super soft mattress or topper…am I right?

Also, money is an issue, I cannot sink a thousand bucks into this. Currently looking for a topper, I will do a mattress if I can afford it.

What are you experiences?

I don’t know if it’ll help your issues, but I’ve used this mattress topper and had very good experiences with it. It made an old innerspring mattress that was past its prime feel like a decent foam mattress. I’ve never had an issue with it holding in heat either.

I had similar back problems but I don’t have the weight issue. I changed mattresses 4 times in 2 years until I found one that agreed with my back. I am still sleeping on it. I went to a medium firm where i had always used firm. My sciatica still acts up but when I does I make it a point to get a little extra bed rest, maybe just watching TV in bed and it seems to resolve it. Too bad they don’t have a loner mattress program to experiment with.

When we were setting up caregiving for my fully bedridden MIL, (same weight as you), we were facing similar pressure issues. Only in her case we could end up with bedsores and all the numerous accompanying complications!

We purchased ($120, over a decade ago now!) an inflating, alternating pressure, mattress topper. It plugs in, comes with a silent pump, installs under the sheet, and has two air channels woven across and up and down. The channels alternate, inflating and deflating which means no pressure build up. My MIL had a replaced hip, so this was her painful spot too! I’d never heard of such a thing, but they are widely used for bedridden persons.

It def kept her comfortable. Six years, nary a bedsore!

A google search brings up several from full mattresses, hospital beds to the types we used! I can’t recommend it highly enough!
(Ours came with a free trial period too! Thinking back though, I’m remembering we did have to replace it once. But, unlike yourself, she was on the thing 24/7!)

Good Luck!

Pure latex rubber mattresses come in three inch slices. You can make your own by using 3 or add one to your matterss. They are resilient but also comfortable.

I wish you luck finding a mattress topper that solves your problem but it is possible to train yourself into a better sleep position. A person with sciatica/piriformis problems is distinctly better off sleeping on their back so that their hips aren’t twisted all night anyways.

There is no substitute for going to a mattress store and trying them out for yourself.

I do, but I have to have support for the bad leg. I have a buckwheat pillow for that, which is excellent, but someimes I just go nuts and have to switch. Plus I am in bed awake a lot because sitting in a normal position is a massive pain trigger.

I would love to,but so many are onlne only!

Someone will have a showroom near you.

I am also a big, curvy, side-sleeper. I bought a cheap 10" memory foam mattress from about six or seven years ago. I think I paid under $300 for it,thinking it would last me a year or two until I could afford something better. I still absolutely love it. I sleep cold, so the heat issue is a plus for me. They say the gel foams don’t have that problem, but I’ve never tried one.

Sinking into memory foam is not the same as sinking into an unsupportive regular mattress. There is no “hammocking” so it doesn’t end up twisting and hurting the hips and lower back. Instead, you end up with support under every surface, including the waist that used to hover in the air. It was the best thing I ever did for my back.

The only caveat is: be ready to air it out for a good 3-4 days before sleeping on it. When I first unpacked mine it really smelled bad, but after three days it was just fine.

I was in the mattress business up until last fall, so for what it is worth…

Wow, that got long, fast. Executive summary…

A topper probably isn’t going to work. Check the mattress and if you see a body impression over 2 inches the mattress is likely dead. If no depressions, a thick topper with cooling tech might help.

If you were in my store, I’d steer you towards a medium to soft mattress and an adjustable base. With the right sale, you should find something that works for $1200-1500.

Long version…

Toppers are just a bandage. Look at your mattress and see if there are dips and depressions greater then about 2 inches (1 inch if a foam mattress). (Why those numbers? That is where, if the mattress is under warranty, the depressions are deep enough to require warranty replacement.) If there are depressions then the mattress structure itself is not supporting you properly and a topper isn’t going to do much good because they don’t fix the underlying issues with the coil pack.

If you have to go that route, I’d go with 2-3 inch thick memory foam and make sure it has a cooling top (either moisture wicking or one with what’s called phase change material (PCM)).

Since you are curvy and a side-sleeper, you’ll want a medium to softer mattress over all. Too firm and you’ll find all the pressure on the hips and shoulder as you described.

For your situation, I’d recommend shopping for either an all foam mattress or a quality hybrid mattress. The hybrid is often a good compromise that is less expensive then an all foam mattress. Hybrids use a traditional coil base for support with a deep layer of foam on top for pressure relief. Since coils are a very mature technology, you get comfort similar to an all foam mattress but at about two-thirds the price.

I’d also recommend an adjustable base that lifts your head and feet.

I have a friend with sciatic symptoms and she found that a bed that lets her lift her feet up at night significantly reduced the discomfort. Consider an adjustable base (they can be found for under $1000) and it will make any mattress (even a very inexpensive one) feel more comfortable.

Most retailers are offering a free adjustable base with mattress purchase now, especially over holiday sales periods. The free base usually raises just your head. However, they will discount the entire selection of bases by about $500 (the cost of the head only one) so you can get a basic head and foot base for about $500 during those sales.

If you are buxom, I have had several reports (customers will tell you everything) that having your head up at night can keep the girls from trying to smother you in your sleep.

You can get the mattress at a store or online. Granted, as a former retailer, I am biased to the store route but there’s a reason stores might have 40 mattresses on display. One-size most certainly does not fit all. I’d also recommend reading The War to Sell you a Mattress is an Internet Nightmare

Ask about clearance pieces and returns. Returns should be mattresses that went to someones house. The customer slept on it for the trial period (anywhere from 30-120 days depending on who you are dealing with) and decided they didn’t like it for whatever reason. Returns are often sold without a manufacturer’s warranty (aftermarket warranties are sometimes available) and cannot be returned.

The mattresses are sanitized prior to resale and you can get them extremely cheap. For example, one of our very high-end mattresses might have a price brand new of about $4000 with an associated cost to the rep of about $2500. However, once it was returned, it hit the clearance side and the cost went to about $800 and we would sell it at $1000 if that’s what it took to get it out of the store.

Good way to get a high end mattress for a modest price as long as you can find something you like. (And while clearance pieces are technically not returnable, we’d often let you swap for something at the same price or more.)

My mattress set-up is an all foam mattress by Dormeo I bought off clearance with a head and foot adjustable base with massage (vibration). I was a side sleeper and it took about 3 weeks to adjust to sleeping all night on my back. With a good foam mattress under you, you don’t get the pressure and I sleep through the night with my head and feet raised and no urge to turnover. (The cat certainly appreciates the lack of movement.)

Other advantages I have found is that during allergy season I can set myself at a comfortable level to help with drainage and the massage is great for those days when my whole body was aching from the flu.

Lastly, in a store setting, do not be afraid to negotiate and ask for free stuff. On average, I’d say the mattresses and bases have about a 40% mark-up in them. A lot of accessories are marked up even higher. Ask for discounts or bundle pricing. Take advantage of the no interest financing if you can.

You are not going to insult the sales rep by making an offer as long as you know you want that mattress and will do the deal if we agree. Most reps are nice people, although there are a few sharks, but they all have quotas to meet and want to you to be happy with your purchase. Work with them and they’ll find you the best deal in your budget.