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mattress strategies: back soreness on the road to a good night's sleep
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Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
mattress strategies: back soreness on the road to a good night's sleep on 07/06/2013 11:15:11 MDT Print View

Hi,

I've been searching for a good air mattress and have tried many (Neo Air All Season, Synmat UL 7, and others). Some allow for marginally more comfortable sleeping than others, but I always seem to wake up with soreness on either side of the spinal cord mid-way down my back beneath my shoulder blades. I suppose this could have something to do with either mattress firmness or pillow thickness, but I have yet to find the magic formula for alleviating this pain--it goes away after an hour or so. I alternate between side sleeping and back sleeping.

Has anyone else experienced this (and, ideally, found a solution)?

Thanks,

rhz

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: mattress strategies: back soreness on the road to a good night's sleep on 07/06/2013 11:18:54 MDT Print View

What are you using as a pillow? Sounds like me when I don't have a tall enough one for side sleeping.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
My solution on 07/06/2013 11:19:09 MDT Print View

My solution, without a doubt, has been a hammock. No pad, mattress, 4"down...come close to the comfort I get in my hammock. It does not work for everyone and you need to try things out and fiddle with the set up a bit, but you may be a good candidate for " hanging".

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Hammock on 07/06/2013 11:32:40 MDT Print View

Kat P. is spot on. Hammocks solve the pressure point issues but do typically come at a weight penalty compared to ground setups. The more I hike, the more I think it's worth it.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 07/06/2013 11:33:13 MDT.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
mattress on 07/06/2013 11:35:39 MDT Print View

I turn constantly back to side as well, but I do that at home too. I will wake up with pain in shoulder, or back, or arm asleep, etc.

Overall, I sleep really well on my xlite. The longer the trip, the better the sleep gets. After a week, Im snoozing.

Edited by livingontheroad on 07/06/2013 11:36:09 MDT.

Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Re: mattress strategies: back soreness on the road to a good night's sleep on 07/06/2013 11:41:14 MDT Print View

Hi Ken,

You may be right. I'm experimenting with pillows also. I've used the medium exped air pillow (not ul version) which is not bad, but not great. I will try the thermarest down pillow (used with excess clothes underneath). At home, I may try just a regular home pillow to see if that helps.

Thanks,

rhz

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: mattress strategies: back soreness on the road to a good night's sleep on 07/06/2013 12:12:26 MDT Print View

I agree that the right pillow can make a difference. Sometimes I think a good pillow is more important than a cushy pad. In your case I would try to figure out what is different from home and on the trail. Is it the cushiness of the mattress or is it the pillow height/size/firmness? trial and error is the only way I think. Try the variations at home on the floor.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: mattress strategies: back soreness on the road to a good night's sleep on 07/06/2013 12:13:18 MDT Print View

IMO it is about sleeping often on the ground. Nowadays on short trips I am using a NeoAir and an air pillow -- still haven't devised a satisfactory method to secure a Kooka Bay or Exped pillow to the mat.

If out for 3 or more nights I can still get by with a foam pad, but the first couple of nights are not the most comfortable sleeping. Also site selection plays a big part to comfort.

On some trips I sleep on the floor at home for a couple nights prior to the trip.

Also keep in mind that I am a lot older than most of you young bucks, and I never needed much of a pad when younger.

John Marics
(Jammmin)

Locale: The North Coast
Hammock on 07/06/2013 12:37:21 MDT Print View

I too tossed and turned and still do at home in bed. Back pain is minor for me but the general discomfort sleeping on various pads kept me searching. A hammock changed all that for me. There is a learning curve and adjustment period, but I knew right away hammocks are for me. Be sure to get the right size hammock and pay attention to the angles. Borrow one first from a friend if possible.

John Taylorson
(heyjt) - M

Locale: SoCal
Pillow Solutions without adding more weight on 07/06/2013 13:06:07 MDT Print View

For me, a pillow is key for a good night sleep. Although I never bring a pillow; I sleep on a NeoAir and use my shoes under the NeoAir, plus a Platy and/or a down jacket as a pillow. My pillow system--if done right--is almost as comfortable as my down pillow at home. It's also duel purpose.

I am also a side-sleeper and toss all night. Regardless of the pad I'm using, I almost always wake up with sore hips, even at home.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Micro Site Selection on 07/06/2013 14:04:46 MDT Print View

There's two major factors that affect your sleep: what pad you're on, and what ground you're sleeping. Most people spend lots of time mulling over the former and disregard the latter.

Insulation needs aside, the worse the site you select, the better your pad needs to be. This relationship provides the classic UL opportunity of replacing gear with skill and knowledge. Virtually no one can grab a thin CCF pad and sleep well on wooden tent platform or horizontal bedrock. People who use these pads successfully having the skill and experience to choose a microsite that is conducive to comfort.

When I'm solo, I've got complete ability to choose where I sleep so I often take a torso sized CCF pad (mostly for insulation) and spend a few minutes at night finding a great bit of terrain. Soft ground with a depression under the hips is a good start, and ideally I like a bit of a hump under my knees as well (much like a dentists chair), which I find takes a lot of strain off my back.

When I hike with my wife we use a 2 person tent, so it's tougher to find the perfect natural terrain. Accordingly, we take softer mattresses (Exped SynMat UL7) but still try to choose relatively soft ground.

There's also the mental aspect to sleeping well, and the main solution here is simply more time in the woods.

Edited by dandydan on 07/06/2013 18:57:34 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Micro Site Selection on 07/06/2013 16:12:40 MDT Print View

Dan,

Excellent post. I did point that out earlier. This is the big reason I don't use a shelter -- unless I expect bad weather.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Micro Site Selection on 07/06/2013 16:33:17 MDT Print View

"Accordingly, we take softer mattresses (Exped SynMat UL7) but still try to choose relatively soft ground."

Why wouldn't you want harder ground when using a soft/thick mattress? At home, you generally have a solid foundation under your mattress. Why soft ground under a mattress while backpacking? (Serious question. Thought I'd add that since I'm not known for serious questions.....)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Good Night Sleep on 07/06/2013 19:14:15 MDT Print View

" At home, you generally have a solid foundation under your mattress. Why soft ground under a mattress while backpacking?"

Fair question. I think what I'm ultimately trying to achieve - and maybe this is just me - is my hips sinking down so they're the lowest part of my body. Dispersing my weight over a larger area of contact is important as well, but I think this can be readily accomplished with just a pad. Conversely, I can't sink my hips into my sleeping pad as much as I can into my mattress at home so I need some external help for an ideal sleep.

So the goal is to get the hips a bit lower, which can be accomplished through soft or shaped ground. A nice shaped depression for my hips is nice, but a bit harder to find when sleeping with two, so soft ground is an easier to find attribute that also helps. Ideally I'd have both.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Good Night Sleep on 07/06/2013 19:52:33 MDT Print View

Makes sense! Thanks.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Kookabay pillow on 07/06/2013 22:51:11 MDT Print View

Nick said: "still haven't devised a satisfactory method to secure a Kooka Bay or Exped pillow to the mat."

I've got a Kookabay pillow too. I used Silnet to glue two loops of grosgrain webbing on adjacent corners of the pillow. I then thread a thin piece of cord through these and tie the cord around my Neoair just like I do with my Katabatic quilt straps. Works perfectly and weighs almost nothing.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: mattress strategies: back soreness on the road to a good night's sleep on 07/06/2013 23:13:55 MDT Print View

i have moved beyond a mattress, and sleep quite nicely on a door. i just love the thing. best bed i've ever had.

the deal is. now that i have this nice (slightly padded) door to sleep on at home, i can right nod off on a cement slab if i care to.
don't zillions of asians sleep on mats ? and they're not dropping lie flies. so perhaps the concept of a mattress is in itself not that great an idea.

just a thought.