Tuft and Needle

Tuft and Needle

Mattresses for Migraines

While shopping for a mattress from Tuft and Needle I was reminded of that Shakespeare once said, “There are perhaps three things in life that I really and truly hate shopping for … houses, cars, and mattresses.”  As an aside, I’ve never felt more like Goldilocks than looking for a mattress.

Since both Stephanie and I get migraines due to lack of sleep, we spent months of our lives going around and trying out various mattresses at different big box stores, reading online reviews (including Consumer Reports), and many others to find “the best mattress”.  We settled on a Serta Beautyrest Black, the Evie, and although the mattress significantly more than we wanted to spend … we felt that spending some extra dollars on a great night sleep was worth it.  You do spend about 1/3rd of your life on your mattress, so making sure that it is comfortable for your body is the key to ensuring you don’t get a migraine from lack of sleep.

Last November, I started noticing that Stephanie’s headaches and full-blown migraines were becoming more frequent.  When I asked a few more questions, she let me know that her sciatic nerve was causing her pain – something that often goes away with yoga stretches.  Of course, yoga in general helps her headaches.  As the sciatic nerve pain progressed, we determined that the issue at the core was the fact that we had rotated our mattress, which had more compressed springs where I had slept, than where she had slept (not too surprising, since I weigh almost twice as much as she does).  We’ve rotated the mattress every year since we got it, trying to evenly wear the springs.

I’m not sure about your house, but migraines from lack of sleep are a real problem at my household. Broken sleep patterns combined with long nights and restless sleep can trigger a migraine in a New York minute, and is one of the reasons that we ensure all the LED’s are covered with electrical tape and the windows have black out curtains over them.  Our teenagers have been trained to be very, very quiet as they make their way through the house late at night and to not slam doors or drawers.

So, when Stephanie’s hip started hurting, I knew it was time to start looking around at our options.  The first that I ran down was the warranty on the Serta.  Warranty’s and mattresses are a royal pain, not necessarily because of the manufacturers, but because of the size and bulk and weight of a mattress.  It’s like shipping a pool table back to have an adjustment to the felt.  In addition, we couldn’t find our original receipt, and I’m not sure that the dip in the springs was more than 1.5 inches (the minimum required for Serta to replace our mattress).

I travel about thirty weeks of the year, and I sleep on all kinds of mattresses from high-end plush hotel mattresses to cheap, rock hard mattresses, so I’m not quite as sensitive as my lovely bride.

Tuft and Needle

The first mattress we tried was the T&N Mattress from Tuft and Needle.  We were working with “as cheap as possible” for this mattress (most of our married life, we had a cheap King mattress from Sam’s Club – it was awesome), and the promise of a foam mattress.  Plastered on their home page is the slogan “The Mattress that Started it All”, and about 130,000+ reviews split in between Amazon, Google, and Tuft and Needle (not sure where that number comes from, as far as I can tell, there’s 80,000 or so).

At $700, this looked like a steal and there’s a 100-night guarantee and return policy with a 10-year warranty.

This mattress shipped immediately and showed up in just three days – we ordered on a Saturday, it was here Tuesday.  I came home at lunchtime, opened it up, and put it in a large room to deal with the off-gassing which is common for mattresses that get made from foam.  The mattress was easy, though a bit unwieldy, to unpack and it expanded without any problems.  It would be amazing if Tuft & Needle could figure out how to put handles on this mattress!

Pro tip:  Off-gassing foam mattresses can trigger migraines through their unusual smells and aromas (which is often used in the packaging of the foam), even if the chemicals used in the foam are safe.  Put your foam mattress in another room where you don’t frequent, and open a window, or turn on a fan.

After letting the foam mattress off-gas for a few days, we pulled it into our bedroom and replaced our Serta with this new foam mattress.  We noticed that while it’s about 10 inches tall, it’s actually a few inches shorter than the old mattress (that’s good if a dog wants to jump up with you!).

We both immediately jumped on the foam mattress – having never owned one before, we wanted to see the “bounce”, and there was very little.  I couldn’t even tell (from the motion) that she was bouncing up and down on her side of the bed.  That was awesome!  At least four months of the year, she gets up two hours before I do.  And often, I’m catching an early flight, and she’s trying to sleep through me moving around and getting ready for the day.

According to their website (and after looking at it and unzipping the cover), the mattress is made of two layers of foam – one is their base layer, which is about 7 inches of poly foam, and is the foundational support of the mattress.  Sitting on top of the foam is 3 or so inches of their proprietary poly foam.  This part of the foam mattress provides the pressure relief and is the “secret sauce” for the mattress.

Stephanie is a light side sleeper, and I alternate between being a side sleeper and a stomach sleeper.

We laid down on the mattress and noted that it was harder than we thought it might be.  Other online reviews showed that the mattress is a 7 out of a 10 in the firmness scale (where 10 is a fence picket, and 1 is a cloud).  The exact words from Stephanie were “this is going to be like sleeping on a board”.  We decided to suck it up for a night and try it out.  I would rank the mattress at closer to an 8 or a 9, personally.

… The following morning, Steph was groggy – she hadn’t slept at all, and I had tossed and turned most of the night (to be expected on the first night of a new mattress).  However, she no longer had back or hip pain.  Generally, as far as sciatica is concerned – harder mattresses are better to make sure your spine and lumbar discs are compressed enough to not get out of alignment.  Of course, I was wary because you can get a migraine due to lack of sleep, and we wanted to make sure we got to sleeping fast.

After a few more days, we were mostly sleeping through the nights and the sciatic nerve pain stayed away.  Yeah!  We were also cool when we slept – the Tuft and Needle foam has graphite and cooling gel, and kept us plenty cool and relaxed throughout the night.

Unfortunately, after several more weeks – we still were not quite content with the bed.  It still seemed too hard, and while I started sleeping through the night, Stephanie never did quite get to wear the bed slept well.  In fact – she would often move from our bed over to the couch or the recliner to get comfortable.

After nearly 5 weeks with the Tuft and Needle, we’ve decided to send it back … a process they make super easy!  They call a local charity, in our case that’s Habitat for Humanity, and the charity comes and picks up our mattress and donates it to a needing family.

For an experiment, while we were waiting on the pickup by the charity we moved the mattress to one of our teenagers – a soon to be 18-year-old.  After his first night on the mattress he exclaimed that it was the best night of sleep he’d ever had.  That may be the difference between old bones and young bones.

While the mattress worked fine for me, it never was quite comfortable for my wife.  It did completely solve her sciatic nerve pain, and migraines for both of us were kept at bay while we trialed the mattress – which is a fantastic start.  If you’re a back sleeper or a deep side sleeper, and you like a firm mattress, then I would highly recommend trialing the Tuft and Needle mattress.


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