Long post about my bedding tribulations and final relief through our purchase from Custom Sleep Design
Jul 2, 2011 5:25 PM
Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Points: 25

I spent weeks reading through posts on the 'what's the best mattress forum' as well as any other websites I could before I took the plunge to buy our new bed.  Furthermore, I've had our new bed for a few months, so I think that the 'new purchase glow' has worn off enough to allow me to give a balanced review of our new bed.  I thought I'd put the review here as well as in the review section in case there are questions or anyone wants to enter into dialog.


First a quick history: 

I'm a woman in my mid. thirties who has had chronic pain issues that have been worsening significantly for the last few years.  Aside from a bad choice of bed, I may just have a  predisposition exacerbated by a couple of MVA's, and postural issues.  Blood tests show high rheumatoid factor (my father has rheumatoid arthritis), as well as a fairly recent Lyme infection.  I've only been in the US for 5 years, and my native Australia does not have Lyme infected ticks as far as I know.

I have had chronic daily migraine and a lot of neck/shoulder/low back/hip pain for four years.


After first moving in with my husband it was apparent that the King size bed we had was not working.  The dip in the middle caused it to feel like each of us was camping on a steep hill and was fighting all night not to roll down.  Exhausting and uncomfortable.  I wasn't so much into Internet research at that point so although we loved the feel of a latex bed we tried and we were impressed with what we'd heard about them, it was a very expensive choice at the time, sofell prey to the marketing hype and bought a Tempurpedic mattress.  After the chemical haze settled, we were in Heaven.  Traveling showed up just how comfy our own bed was and coming home was always bliss.  Somewhere along the way this changed.  I don't know when it happened as it was a gradual process, but I do know that I started to be uncomfortable in our bed at least two years ago, which is two years after we bought it, but strangely my chronic pain/migraines started around the time we got the TP (this of course does not mean it was the cause - but who knows?).  What I now know is that the memory foam softened up to the point that the lack of support gave me severe lower back problems, but it seems I was also going 'through' the memory foam to the very hard pu foam because my shoulders and hips were hurting like hell every single morning.  I awoke in agony, and before opening my eyes I reached for the pills and waited for them to start working before even considering waking up fully.  I hurt that much.  Well, this went on and I never once considered it could have anything to do with our 'heavenly' bed.  These things last twenty years, right?  Ah, no.  They don't.


Something else annoyed me about our bed.  I've loved to read in bed since I was a child, and it isn't something I'm prepared to give up.  Also my husband works until ten in the evening, and we have an enjoyable routine of watching a movie (or at least half a movie) every night before bed with a cup of herbal tea.  Well, if you are happy with two years max out of a mattress, and don't like to do anything except sleep in bed (which I commend you for your good habits - except the sex thing - it's really hard work on memory foam) then the tempurpedic might just be the bed for you.  For us though, it was an endless struggle trying to stay propped up.  I spent hundreds on gorgeous quality down euro pillows for propping, but nothing would help.  Within minutes we'd slide back down the bed, and find ourslelves sipping our tea and watching the movie flat on our back with our necks craned uncomfortably.  I don't know why this happens on tempurpedics, but trust me, it does and it's annoying as hell.  Anyway, this is getting really long winded and sounds like a tempurpedic bashing session which was not my original intention.  I loved that thing in the beginning.


What got me thinking that all the daily agony I was awaking in might be something to do with the bed started as simply as buying a new pillow.  I had been suffering crippling neck pain for years (funnily enough, soon after starting using the tempurpedic neck pillow.  But I never equated the two.  They're meant to help, right?).  I had been through cortisone injections, facet block injections, strong daily medication, regular : chiro, acupuncture, massage.  I felt like I'd been kicked in the back of the neck by a big man in steel cap boots.  Constantly.  I only bought the pillow because I'd purchased a beautiful goose down comforter from a company, and I loved it so much I wanted to try more of their products.  It was amazingly stupid, but every night as I lay my head on the tempurpedic pillow, the neck pain would go through the roof, so I would have to knock myself out with muscle relaxers.  Why I didn't think of changing pillows I'll never know.  Might have been that the MRIs showed two herniated discs and other damage, so I just assumed it was going to be there regardless.  Anyway, first night with the new goose down pillow, I didn't have the usual piercing neck pain.  Didn't pay too much attention other than I decided I loved the new pillow.  After about a week, I suddenly realized that my neck pain was gone.  I still get the odd muscle spasm etc, but the mind numbing booted in the back of the neck pain was entirely gone, and it hasn't come back.  That got me to thinking about my other bodily pains.  They also increased when I lay down to sleep, and were at their peak in the morning.  That's not so unusual for pain conditions for a number of reasons, which is why I didn't think the bed was anything to do with it, but after the pillow experience, I became convinced the bed was certainly not helping.  By this time my love for the bed had long since turned to loathing.  Usually it would be difficult convincing my husband that we needed a new bed especially as we had expected it to last 20 years (ha!), and it had been quite an outlay for the tempurpedic just four years ago, however being privy to my daily agony and treadmill of doctors, I didn't meet too much resistance from him.  He just wanted me to do the work to find the right bed.


I decided pretty quickly that our new bed would be latex, as I'd regretted for some time that we hadn't shelled out for latex back when we bought the TP, and also because I was attracted to the fact that these beds actually do last, and don't just tell you they do and have some dubious clauses that prevent anyone holding them to the promise.  I also considered Carpe Diem, and some other high end hand made beds.  Trying a latex bed to figure out what might be comfortable for each of us wasn't going to be so easy in the small town we live in upstate NY, so I spent much time reading others' experiences.  I was concerned about 'pushback' and other potential issues, so although tempted to buy from some of the cheaper latex sellers and put together a DIY, I thought given my pain issues, it was probably going to be better in the long run to work with a retailer that had a generous comfort guarantee. 


Almost by mistake I came to find out that Custom Sleep Design was just a two hour drive from where we were.  I was calling those on one of the exhaustive lists that the wonderful Phoenix put together to find a retailer that would also do a good deal on an adjustable base.  My reading habits and our nightly movie routine had me thinking that it would be bliss in an adjustable bed with a latex mattress.  Whilst speaking to Caroline, she gave me a quote on two twin xl adjustable beds and latex mattresses that put the cost in the ball park of just a kingsize mattress from Flobeds (who was a strong contender because of the unlimited exchanges).  Her price on the top of the line Legget and Platt Prodigy was unbelievably good, and their latex mattress comfort policy not to mention personal delivery were all pluses.  We live in a big old Victorian mansion, and my husband was not interested in having our adjustable beds installed by a  local delivery company as we've had many bad experiences in the past.


I was thrilled that we could go and try the mattresses (although as you will see this actually led to problems for me!).  I decided we'd check out another place in Connecticut as well, although the prices weren't competitive,  the other store had an adjustable bed that we could try.  We definitely loved the adjustable bed although the price quoted was exorbitant and they weren't prepared to deliver, and even made out that it was too much of a bother to use a third party to deliver.  The latex mattresses were fine, but they used polyfill in the cover which was also sewn shut.  So, onto Custom Sleep Design we went.  From the moment we arrived at the store and laid on one of the beds, we were sold.  They had four beds of varying firmnesses to try, and after choosing our preferences, Caroline measured us for customizing to our body shape.  Although Caroline had suggested for me  6' 36ild base with 3' of 28ild under hips and 24ild under shoulders with a 2' top layer of 14' under the shoulders and 19' under the hips after filling out the online form, in the store though I found the similar firmness comfy, I looooved the ultra soft one.  I knew deep down it was probably a bad idea for alignment, but I chose the softest bed.  With the pain I was in, I just wanted to be swaddled in soft latex with nary a pressure point to be found.  I'd read the warnings on this forum that people often go too soft with latex in the beginning and it ends up causing low back pain etc etc, but of course I thought I was an exception to this rule.


Well, we ordered the beds on the spot as we loved the passion they really seemed to have for latex, not to mention the great price and comfort policies.  Caroline's family has been involved in the latex industry all her life as her Uncle was one of the developers of the talalay process and in fact held the patent.  Caroline has slept on latex all her life, and in fact her first twin bed is still going strong (although she has a larger bed she uses now).  One of her uncles works in thier small factory putting the mattresses together.  As they are built to each persons body specs its a bit more work than just sending out the layers.


The owner, Bob (who delivered our bed) is also great to talk to about all things latex given he used to be the VP of one of the Latex International branches until there was a terrible fire a few years ago which completely wiped out the entire building he worked in.  They actually came up with the unique custom design they now fit for each person after working with an orthopedic surgeon customer who was very passionate about latex and helped them come up with the concept of having the top dual layers softer under the shoulders and firmer under the hips to keep the spine in proper alignment by avoiding the issue of the shoulders causing a bend in the lower spine.


We had the same issue as others here in that we waited for 5-6 weeks for our beds to be delivered.  Apparently they'd just been incredibly busy this year, and at this point are a very small operation (although I hear that they are expanding to meet the demand).  I was so desperate to get relief from the pain I was in, and was pinning so much hope on the new beds, that the wait for me was excruciating.  They kindly sent me a complementary latex topper in the meantime which helped considerably.  


Just as I feared, I had in fact gotten my bed too soft.  It's taken a while to get my bed to the perfect place, but CSD was incredibly helpful and obliging, and followed through with their promise to make us comfortable no matter what.  My husband's bed has been perfect from day 1, and he loves it.  Mine ended up being what Caroline had suggested in the first place before I became intoxicated by sinking into the delicious softness of the soft one in the store. It felt lovely, but just like everyone else on this forum, I woke to lower back pain.


Latex definitely takes and adjustment period, especially if you are coming from memory foam.  It's just a completely different feel.  But it feels 'good for you' (sort of like linen sheets, for those linen sheet fans that just love the natural feel of them that just feels 'right').  It's a change going from a king size bed to our adjustables which are two twin xls so that they can operate independently but still fit inside our bed frame.  Not as easy to roll over and cuddle, but we both love our beds, and love how they're made especially for our different bodies, and different needs.  We're both slim, but I have bony hips which are also hypersensitive just like a couple of other forum members, so finding the perfect balance between support for my spine and pressure relief for my bony bits was some trial and error, although I will say that the standard design concept of CSD seems to be bang on.


The mattress covers are gorgeous.  They sound every bit as good as flobeds. The top can zip right off, which is good if you ever want to air them out (which I think is a bonus), they are made of organic stretch jersey, an inch or so of organic wool, and the inner layer holding the wool in place also has stretch and give, so they work perfectly with the latex.  


I can't think of anything more to add to this exceptionally long saga of finding a comfortable bed except that I highly recommend getting adjustable bases, too!  The bases get into any position imaginable to take the weight off.  Coffee in bed in the morning is easy now!  The bed is just like one big extra comfy chair for watching our movies, reclining to read, or sitting up to have tea/coffee.  We love our new beds, and have been very happy with CSD.  I believe that you can't go wrong ordering your bed through them.


I hear they have a new and improved website that should be ready in a couple of weeks, as well as a new investor that should allow them to do the expanding they need.


Fire away if you have any questions. 




Re: Long post about my bedding tribulations and final relief through our purchase from Custom Sleep Design
Reply #1 Jul 2, 2011 10:18 PM
Joined: Aug 5, 2010
Points: 227
Congratulations on finding a comfortable mattress.   I have become a firm believer that the zoned latex mattress, such as CSD's and Flobed's, has unique advantages, especially for side sleepers.  Being an engineer it make the most sense.  I only wish CSD were closer and I hadn't bought a non-zoned mattress about a year ago so I wouldn't have to convince my wife that we should try them.  I have actually tried to mimic the CSD design with latex toppers on my mattress with some success but it would have been easier and probably less expensive and more effective to have bought one from them in the first place.  I am keeping them bookmarked for future consideration even if I have to drive 8 hours to try them out.  Thanks for letting us know about your success.  It confirms my belief in the zoned concept. 
Re: Long post about my bedding tribulations and final relief through our purchase from Custom Sleep Design
Reply #2 Jul 2, 2011 11:15 PM
Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Points: 25
I agree that the zoning custom sleep design uses is pretty genius.  I also tried regular layering.  The problem was if I had the latex as soft as I needed it for my shoulder comfort (I'm a side sleeper, too), I would hammock under the hips.  With the layers softer under the shoulders, they sink in just enough to keep your spine perfectly straight when your hips have more support where most of your weight is.  I think that working with the orthopedic surgeon they happened on a great and unique idea.  Bob told me this surgeon is quite devoted to alignment and comfort to the extent that he has his own pillows made to a specified shape/size and that they're very expensive because they need to be cut from a thick slab of foam meaning a whole layer is used.  We're glad we happened upon CSD, as I think latex can be quite tricky to get 'right', and I'm not sure if I'd be as comfortable otherwise.

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