Pillow (and Mattress) Talk

No, this post isn’t going to contain that kind of pillow talk.  Sorry if I disappointed you.

My husband and I just purchased a new memory foam mattress and new memory foam pillows. We’re trying to adjust.

Before going into that, I’ll tell you about my first experience with memory foam.  Last year I developed a painful neck condition after getting my neck hyper-extended while leaning back in a shampoo bowl at a hair salon. Ladies, seriously… watch that!  The pain was severe and intense.  I went to my doctor who sent me for cervical spine X-rays (and later an MRI) which showed arthritis, bone spurs on the vertebrae, and a herniated disc, but no nerve impingement.  He thought my pain was musculoskeletal.  I was given pain pills, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxants.  He also referred me for physical therapy.

pexels-photo-576831 (1)I took the pills as prescribed, I did my physical therapy faithfully, I laid in bed alternating ice packs and the heating pad, and I used Icy Hot and Bengay ointments until I almost ran my husband out of the house with the overpowering smell of menthol and camphor. My pain lasted for nine months and let me tell you that during that time, I developed a newfound respect for people who endure chronic neck pain.  It’s debilitating.  After weeks of pain, I was referred to a highly respected neurosurgeon for a consultation.  He agreed there was no nerve impingement and said surgery would be of no benefit.  I was thrilled to hear that, but still, I had neck pain.  So he in turn referred me to an anesthesiologist/pain management specialist.  I had painful nerve block tests so that they could further localize my pain to see if I was a candidate for nerve ablation.  I wasn’t.

During all this, my doctor recommended a memory foam pillow.  Willing to try anything to relieve the pain, I bought the pillow.  He told me it would take a while to “bond” with the pillow, but that he thought it would help my pain.  It was my first experience with memory foam.  Did you know that NASA invented memory foam for their test pilots and astronauts to be more cushioned during flights?

Long story short, I hated that pillow.  After weeks and weeks of trying to like it, I quit using it.  As a matter of fact, I quit the pillow, I quit the meds, I quit the physical therapy.  None of it was helping and I was tired of it all.  And you know what? My neck got better.


A few weeks ago, hubby and I decided we needed a new mattress.  We had been sleeping on the same mattress for almost 33 years that we had purchased as a newly married couple.  It was a Simmons Beauty Rest and it was obviously a good mattress.  Hubby had been experiencing some hip and back pain though which seemed to bother him more while he slept.  Everyone was in awe that we had slept on the same mattress for 33 years. I think the current recommendation is to change them out every 5-7 years but we figured why change something we like that’s working for us and is comfortable?  But when his back and hip pain started, we decided maybe a new mattress would be beneficial.  We decided we would get a pillow-top mattress. When we mentioned that we were ready to mattress shop, we were surprised how many people told us to go with a memory foam mattress.

Even the saleslady at Sleep Outfitters we ventured into recommended a Memory Foam mattress.  Thirty three years ago, about the only decision we needed to make when mattress shopping was whether we wanted a firm, medium or soft mattress.  Now?  The options are overwhelming.  Mattress shopping is like buying a new car now.  I walked around and browsed and when the saleslady walked off to answer the phone, I whispered to hubby with wide eyes, that I had seen a mattress with a $10,000 price tag!  For. A. Mattress.  I thought we might be on Candid Camera.

We tried several mattresses– memory foam, pillow tops, and hybrids.  We tried firm, medium, and soft.  We ended up purchasing a Tempur-Pedic Adapt Medium.




Here’s the description given of the mattress.


A part of the TEMPUR-Adapt series, the Adapt Medium offers a medium-soft feel and is great for both side and back sleepers. With two layers of innovative TEMPUR material that conform to your body, it provides legendary comfort and support all throughout the night, unlike ordinary memory foam which don’t continuously adapt. The new cool-to-touch cover provides exceptional knit technology that moves the heat away from the body for a cooler night’s sleep.

The saleslady threw in two of these pillows. S1401710335F00

TEMPUR-Cloud_Breeze_Dual_Cooling_Pillow_Queen_5x7I was a little skeptical since I had not had a good experience with the previous memory foam pillow.

We’ve had the mattress now for about two weeks.  And I haven’t had a good nights sleep since.  I toss and turn all night.  It does conform to your body, but then those areas of your body that sink down in the mattress get hot.  I learned that memory foam retains heat.  And heat is never good in a postmenopausal woman who lives in the southeast U.S. where we have very hot and humid summers.  I’m sure the heat retention has been a common complaint because I’ve noticed that almost all memory foam mattresses have a cooling layer or a cooling pad, as do most of the memory foam pillows.

The Tempur Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow was like sleeping on a rock.  I tried it for a few nights and woke up with headaches the first two nights.  The third night I woke up with throbbing jaw pain and I knew it was time to ditch it.

We returned to Sleep Outfitters last week after 10 days of me not sleeping.  Our nice saleslady wasn’t there so we dealt with another, very nice and patient salesman whose aim was to please us.  I explained I did not like the memory foam mattress and couldn’t tolerate the pillow.  I told him I felt like I was sleeping on a slab of hot concrete.  I wasn’t trying to be spiteful by saying that, only truthful.  Sleep Outfitters has a 120-night comfort promise.  They will exchange your mattress for one of equal or greater value within 120 days of purchase, provided you have slept on it for a minimum of 30 nights. I told him I didn’t think I could stand another 20 nights of not sleeping, of getting hot and sweaty, of tossing and turning.  He told us the first two weeks are usually a big adjustment period, especially if one has been sleeping on the same mattress for 33 years.  We decided we would go with a pillow top mattress and tried several out until we found one we thought was comfortable.  We decided we would keep trying the memory foam mattress though and give it the full 30 days.  That was a week ago and I’m still not sleeping.  I knew it was bad when I tossed and turned one night and got up in tears.  The salesman did tell me I could go home and get my pillow and he’d exchange it for a softer memory foam pillow and admitted the dual breeze pillow is a very supportive, firm pillow.  He gave me a Tempur Cloud pillow.


It did feel much softer but I couldn’t tolerate it either.  It also gave me headaches and the old familiar neck pain returned.  I’m usually not so hard to please, really, but I swear I was starting to feel like The Princess and the Pea.  I sure didn’t want to aggravate that neck pain again, so I ditched that pillow and went back to my old foam rubber pillow.

I might be the only one on the planet, but I’m afraid I’m just not a fan of the ever popular memory foam.  Most people think of memory foam as being soft, and while it does conform to the body, it’s designed to be supportive and I’ve learned in the mattress world that supportive = firm.  One thing I do like about the memory foam is that you don’t get bounced around or jostled awake when your bed partner rolls over or gets out of bed. The memory foam absorbs that motion and doesn’t transfer it.

We also purchased an adjustable base and we like it.  It has a wireless remote and you can raise and lower both the head and feet.  It also has a zero gravity setting which is the optimal position for your body and is supposed to improve circulation, promote muscle relaxation and ease the tension on the spine.  The saleslady said it’s good if you read a lot in bed (me) or you have sleep apnea (hubby) or you have acid reflux (me) or back and hip pain (hubby).

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It is nice reading in bed without having to prop up on multiple pillows (which is bad for the neck).  Yes, I think I’m going to really like the adjustable base.

What about you?  What do you think of memory foam?  Have you slept or do you sleep on a memory foam mattress?  


About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
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2 Responses to Pillow (and Mattress) Talk

  1. Billy Mac says:

    I let my wife keep our memory foam mattress, I didn’t want to deal with the memories or take them with me. I was afraid my mattress would start yelling at me about something I did wrong 20 years ago. Sorry, bad joke

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