Bed & Mattress

The absolutely best thing I found for back and hip pain is to sleep on visco-elastic memory foam and it also feels like sleeping on a cloud.  I had a very hard mattress and realized that the hard mattress caused a lot of my back and hip pain.  After hearing Dux Bed commercials on the radio claiming that a hard mattress is bad for your back, I looked at two mattress pads at Costco (they now have several other products which I have not looked at).  I bought both the Novaform® Mattress Topper (made with visco-elastic memory foam) by SleepInnovations and the Down Feather Bed.  Both mattress pads are meant to go on top of your mattress.  I returned the Down Feather Bed pad without sleeping on it because it didn’t compare to the Novaform® mattress pad in comfort or in relieving pressure and hence, pain.  I initially purchased a 2″ Novaform® mattress pad at Costco.  Later when other stores started selling the Novaform® mattress pad, Costco started selling a thicker 2 1/2″ pad.  I then purchased one of those and and stacked them on top of each other, so now I sleep on a total of 4 1/2″ of memory foam. 

Visco-elastic memory foam was designed for the seats NASA astronauts sit in.  It is designed to mold to your shape, and when you move or get up, to slowly spring back to it’s original shape. 

Sleep Innovations informed me during a telephone call that the Novaform® Mattress Topper sold at different stores is actually a different product although it looks the same.  The Novaform® Mattress Topper sold at Costco is a better quality visco elastic memory foam (a heavier density is better), thicker and less expensive then Linen-N-Things (now out of business) or Bed Bath & Beyond.  As of this writing, the Queen size Novaform® mattress pad costs $111.79 at the Costco store or online at Costco, is 2 1/2″ thick (now 3″) and made with 4lb density visco-elastic memory foam; Linen-N-Things sells a Novaform® Mattress Topper that is 2″ thick and made with 3lb density visco-elastic memory foam for $299.99; Bed Bath & Beyond was selling a Novaform® Mattress Topper that is 2″ thick and made with 3lb density visco-elastic memory foam for $329.99.

The best bargain in mattress pads was at Bergad (no longer sold) where you can get even better quality visco-elastic foam (5lb density) and a thicker mattress pad (3″ thick Queen size with a cover for $202 or 4″ thick Queen size with a cover for $258).  If you buy a mattress pad from Bergad, I recommend that you buy the 3″ or 4″ pad rather than the 2″ pad which they also sell. 

Update: I bought a Blackstone 12″ Memory Foam Mattress from Costco for a housekeeper. I tried it out and it felt like I was lying on a cloud. 

What is Foam Density? Sleep Innovations’ web site says “Density is a measurement of the mass per cubic unit volume. It is measured and expressed in pounds per cubic foot(PCF) or kilograms per cubic meter(KG/M3). Density is largely the determining factor in judging the quality of foam products. The lower the density the lower the quality, thus reducing the durability and the life expectancy of the product.”  Foam with a higher density will give an initial feeling of a firmer mattress when you first sit down on it, but has better pressure relieving properties.  Bergad says that it’s harder to expand foam with a density over 4 pounds and that sometimes the foam does not expand properly, resulting in product that has to be thrown out.  Consequently, there is more waste in the manufacturing process and increased manufacturing costs.

Now that my two mattress pads made such an improvement, I decided to get rid of my old mattress and by a visco-elastic memory foam mattress.  I looked at two companies for a mattress.  Tempur-Pedic which is advertising heavily on TV, makes a very good visco-elastic memory foam mattress, but probably because they spend so much money on advertising, their mattress is very expensive.  Tempur-Pedic said, on the telephone, that the visco-elastic foam density in their mattress is 5.3 pounds.  The Tempur-Pedic Queen Classic mattress is $1,599.

The other company I looked at is Isoform®(no longer sold-formerly Bergad) which makes a mattress with 5.5 pound density visco-elastic memory foam.  Isoform® sells their Classic Queen size mattress for $799 (with a cover), which is the one I use.  It has 3″ of 5lb density visco-elastic memory foam and needs more, so I have two Novaform mattress toppers on top of it.  I strongly suggest that you buy the IsoformOpulence™ or if you want it to feel like a cloud, like I do, buy the IsoForm Luna Bed.

Concerns:  Several people who wrote to me have indicated that the Novaform® mattress pad has a strong odor, one person described as kerosene, and have asked me if this smell will go away.  The smell from the Isoform mattress went away quicker than Novaform, probably because the expand the foam at the factory.  I found that the smell is initially strong, but disappeared after several days.   The comfort and pain elimination is well worth the initial smell.  if the smell bothers you after opening, I would suggest that you let it expand and air out in another room for three to five days.  You should also note that the Novaform® mattress pad comes very compressed using vacuum and that it will start to decompress almost immediately, but can take 24-72 hours to fully decompress.  Allow it to decompress and air out in a warm room.  I recently bought two more Novaform® mattress pads at Costco, both of which failed to expand properly.  Sleep Innovations told me that sometimes occurs and told me to return them to the store.  Costco took them back without any questions.

One person recently wrote to me asking how the Novaform mattress pad has held up and whether it has lost its elasticity.  The pad I bought in January 2002 shows no signs of wear and has not lost any elasticity or resiliency.  My Isoform bed has not lost any elasticity and does not show any signs of wear.

Two Novaform pads I purchased at Costco in January 2005 did not expand properly and I returned them.  My Isoform bed arrived fully expanded.  Since Isoform expands their mattresses at the factory, this is not an issue with Isoform.

Some of my sheets have trouble staying on the mattress, while some seem to have more room and stay put.  You will probably have to use deep pocket sheets with a mattress pad.

The Novaform® mattress pad comes with a 10-year warranty from Sleep Innovations, so be sure to keep your box and staple your receipt to the inside of your box.  I’ve been using it since January 2002.  It does what it’s claimed to do, is very comfortable and I wouldn’t sleep without it.  It substantially improved my hard mattress and I found that it helped to substantially reduce my pain.   

Updates: November 22, 2005: I have been sleeping on the Isoform (formally Bergad) mattress since September 2005.  When sleeping on my back, it’s amazing.  I sink into it and feel fully supported.  I found it a little hard on my hip when sleeping on my side so I put the two Costco mattress pads, which I already had, on top of the Bergad mattress.  I now have 3 inches of 5.5 pound density memory foam in the mattress plus 4.5 inches of 4 pound density foam on top of that.  It’s like sleeping on a cloud!  The mattress had an initial strong odor which began dissipating quickly.  It never really bothered me, but reduced substantially of the first few days.  It took two months to completely go away.  May 12, 2005: After considering several mattresses, I finally decided to get a mattress from Bergad.  Bergad says their mattress is 5.5 pound density, which is just slightly better than Tempurpedic.  Bergad has the best quality and price.  I will update my review after sleeping on it.  I can’t wait!  January 2005: I decided to buy a memory foam mattress, but haven’t bought one yet.  I will update after getting one.  November 2004:  I just bought a second Novaform® mattress pad so now I have two on top of my mattress.  Now, it’s twice as comfortable!  This time the pad is now made a little larger and 2 1/2 inches thick instead of 2 inches thick.  Again, the smell went away in a few days.

Memory Foam Add-Ons:  Costco also sells a Novaform® Mattress Topper with a goose down quilted cover.  I haven’t tried this because adding anything on top of visco elastic memory foam will eliminate the benefits of the memory foam.  Placing anything on top of memory foam will inhibit its ability to conform to a particular shape, such as your body.  Additionally, placing an insulating material such as goose down, will inhibit the temperature sensitive qualities of memory foam.  Therefore, my belief is that the memory foam is most effective with direct contact to your body.  While it would likely be uncomfortable if used without a sheet and you would want to keep it clean, I believe that there should be as little as possible between you and the memory foam.  Therefore, I would personally choose not to have anything of any thickness or with insulating qualities, such as goose down, on top of a memory foam pad or mattress.

I tried the Novaform® shaped pillow, which used to be available at Costco, but I found it to be too thick for my comfort.  They now have another natural shape pillow.  I also tried the natural shape Tempur-Pedic pillow at a Brookstone store and found that to be much more comfortable than the shaped pillow.

Manufacturers Using Memory Foam (in alphabetical order):

Abed: Abed compares their mattress to Tempur-Pedic®.  Abed claims that their mattress has 3 inches of 5.3 pound density memory foam, as does the Tempur-Pedic, but they claim to have a breathable mattress cover, longer warranty and a lower price.  Their memory foam mattress pad is 2 inches thick. (I haven’t tried any of their products)

GoMattress®: (I haven’t tried any of their products)

Isoform® by Bergad (no longer sold):  (This is the mattress I sleep on) Their web site says that their mattress foam is 5.5 pound density visco-elastic memory foam.  Isoform® sells their Classic Queen size mattress for $799 (with a cover), which is the one I use.  It has 3″ of 5lb density visco-elastic memory foam and needs more, so I have two Novaform mattress toppers on top of it.  I strongly suggest that you buy the IsoformOpulence™ or if you want it to feel like a cloud, like I do, buy the IsoForm Luna Bed.

The page showing their mattress pads indicates that the foam is 5 pound density and that the pads are available in 2 inch, 3 inch, and 4 inch thicknesses.  Their prices are very competitive.  Their products are only slightly more expensive than Costco, however, they have a much higher foam density and thicker pads than Costco.

Isotonic® by Carpenter: (I haven’t tried any of their products)

Novaform®: by Sleep Innovations said, on the telephone, that the the Novaform® Mattress Topper at Costco is a 4lb density memory foam, however, the Novaform® products sold in other stores have only a 3lb density.  Their web site does not have any information on the Novaform products.  Costco sells a 2 1/2 inch thick pad.  Bed Bath and Beyond’s web site says its pad is 2 inches thick.  Linen-N-Things does not indicate how thick their pad is. (This is the mattress pad I use on top of the Bergad mattress I’m sleeping on)

SelectaBed®:  (I haven’t tried any of their products)

Sensus® by Foamex:  (I haven’t tried any of their products)

Tempur-Pedic®:  I tried the bed in a Brookstone store and thought it was very comfortable.  I have not tried this at home.  Their web site is not very helpful.  It doesn’t provide any useful information and their comparison tab does not compare their products.  They said, on the telephone, that the foam density of their mattress is 5.3 pounds, but I cannot find this information on their web site.

Traditional Mattresses That Can Relieve Pain: 

Kingsdown: Kingsdown is a very expensive mattress, but is worth every penny.  I tried one by lying on it in a Sleepys store.  The two Kingsdown mattresses that I liked were $2,800 and $4,800.  A friend of mine who is a doctor and a mechanical genius spent quite a bit of time looking for the most comfortable bed.  He purchased the $4,800 Kingsdown, at Sleepys but exchanged it for the $2,800 Kingsdown because his wife said that it was too soft for her.  He said he likes Kingsdown better than the Dux bed which is another top-of-the-line bed.

Important Insurance Note:  If prescribed by your physician to reduce back pain, hip, knee or joint pain or to promote better circulation, a pressure relieving memory foam bed may be covered by your medical insurance policy.  Check with your medical insurance plan for eligibility requirements.  Additionally, if you were injured in a car accident in a no-fault insurance state, you may be able to obtain coverage for your pressure relieving memory foam bed if prescribed by your doctor.  A no-fault insurance company may deny the claim, however, if properly supported the claim will have to be approved.  To properly support a no-fault insurance claim to pay for a pressure relieving memory foam bed, you need:

1) A prescription from your doctor prescribing a pressure relieving memory foam bed.  It will also be helpful to get a written report from your doctor explaining why you need a pressure relieving memory foam bed;

2) Medical documentation to prove you have an injury that will be relieved by a pressure relieving memory foam bed.  An example of good medical documentation would be an MRI report showing a herniated disk or a bulging disk and an EMG report, performed by a neurologist, which shows a nerve injury;

3) You need to prove that the injury was caused by the car accident.  This is accomplished by a written report from your doctor and can be addressed in the same report mentioned above.  To prove that your injury was caused by the car accident, the doctors report should say “the patient’s injury is causally related to the motor vehicle accident”, causally related being the magic words. 

Many times, the no-fault insurance company will require your doctor to write a report, before the doctor can be paid.  If the insurance company requests your doctor to write a report, you do not have to pay for the doctor’s report.  When asking your doctor to write you a prescription for a pressure relieving memory foam bed, make sure includes in his report why you need the bed.  If the insurance company does not request the doctor to write a report and you need the doctor to write a report so that you can get reimbursed for a pressure relieving memory foam bed, you will probably have to pay your doctor to write the report.