One of my favorite websites/blogs, But You Don't Look Sick,recently had an article on the benefits of memory foam mattresses for people with chronic pain who are having trouble sleeping. (Isn't that redundant? I have yet to find anyone with chronic pain that doesn't have trouble sleeping!)
Apparently, the memory foam helps prevent pain in a sleeper's pressure points.
For me, I sleep best normally if I can sleep on my side. I use a ton of pillows -- it's a good thing we have a king-sized bed or either my husband or I would be relegated to the guest room! -- one between my knees, two in front of me to cushion my top arm, and one of those contour pillows under my head.
But since I got sick, within just a few minutes, I get severe pain in the shoulder and hip of the side I'm sleeping on. Those are joints that really don't bother me except when I'm trying to sleep on them.
So my solution is generally to sleep on my back (I'm sure Scott loves the increase in my snoring!), with a neck roll supporting my neck and two to three pillows under my knees. (My chronic back pain kicks in almost instantly if I try to lie flat on my back without pillows under my knees. I'm thinking of buying one of those foam wedges to prevent the pillows from sliding while I'm sleeping, which means more pain and stiffness when I wake up.)
The mattress on our bed is still in pretty good condition. (Scott bought as high a quality one as he could when he bought the bed before I knew him. It came with a 25-year warrantee, although I've warned Scott that that doesn't mean he can really wait 25 years before buying a new mattress!) And I didn't really want to pay for an actual memory foam mattress, which is fairly expensive, when I'm not sure that it will really make a difference.
So we decided we would experiment with a much cheaper mattress topper. I did a little Internet research, including checking Consumer Reports Online and a few other consumer-oriented sites, and found that a 3-inch-thick topper was pretty much the thing to get. Anything less, 1- or 2-inch toppers, weren't thick enough to offer real benefit. The 4-inch toppers were deemed an unnecessary expense without a real increase in benefit over the 3-inch ones. The consensus was also to look for a density of "4 pounds." I don't even know if that's 4 pounds per inch or per foot or what. Certainly, a 3-inch-thick, king-sized mattress topper weighed a lot more than four pounds!
So I went shopping online. I'm definitely not capable of visiting a bunch of stores to comparison shop these days, and I don't even feel well enough to make the tons of phone calls I would in my pre-illness days. (Scott used to laugh at me when I'd call every bark dust supplier in the phone book to compare prices and show him my spreadsheet to make our decision. :)
I ended up choosing to buy from Overstock.com based on both purchase price and their really cheap shipping rates.
I ended up not buying the cheapest one, but splurging for one that's supposed to be cooler to sleep on because it's "breathable." Several reviews I'd read about these mattress toppers and mattresses commented that sleeping on them was warmer than sleeping on a regular mattress. Since I almost constantly run a low fever these days, and I get uncomfortably warm very easily, I thought that one that keeps a sleeper feeling cooler would add a lot to my comfort level.
Anyway, it arrived this week, and has been airing out in our guest room for a few days as recommended. I'm hoping we'll get it on our bed this weekend and see if it really does help me sleep better.
And I'm really hoping it doesn't interfere with Scott's sleep either. It would really suck if it made a big improvement in my ability to sleep but made it hard for Scott to get a good night's rest.
We'll see. I'll definitely report back after I've had at least a few nights on it to get used to it.
If anyone else has already made the switch to memory foam, whether mattress or topper, I'd be interested in hearing whether you found it helpful or not. And also whether they really do run hot and if the ones they claim are "breathable" and therefore cooler really are worth the extra money.
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