My wife and I have both broken our backs while parachuting, but my wife seems to be having the most problems. She has L-5 issues, including herniation and a disc break. She is 5'4" and about 130 and well endowed. She likes to sleep on her stomach, but it is not recommended by her doctor. She usually has problems with leg numbness and "Someone hit me in the back right above my hips with a 2X4" in the morning.
I have broken my back and neck in various parachuting (military) accidents. I wake up at night with numb fingers and back pain between my shoulder blades, where a previous break occurred. I am 6' and 215. I also like to sleep on my stomach, but place a pillow under a shoulder/ upper chest to relieve pain.
We have a 8 year old piece of crap queen mattress with the plywood over the box springs right now. Initially the plywood helped, but no longer.
I did sleep on a hotel mattress, which after reading your site I found out to be a Sealy Posturpedic Reserve with what appeared to be a moderate pillow top. The hotel had finished construction less than a year ago, so I am fairly certain that is the model. Any ideas you may have will be well received.
There's no getting around the physical damage you've sustained. There isn't a mattress made that will make the pain go away. All there is, "is the best you can do".
The best you can do will involve understanding your bodies. Each of your bodies have arches...which dictate what is your natural alignment, and they are different from one another.
Both of you require firm support. As a stomach sleeper, your wife torso cannot be allowed to sink into a mattress, as doing so will exaggerate the arch in the small of her back...quite painful.
Her situation is further complicated by needing to make room for her girls...for lack of a better term.
Your situation is easier than hers because men are built more in a straight line. There are fewer curves that need to be considered when aiming form maintaining your body's natural alignment.
Then, there's the comfort issue. If the bed is too firm, there is pressure point pain and restricted blood flow...making for a restless night's sleep.
Right now, it sounds like your mattress has lost its shape and you are sleeping misaligned.
To complicate the process of buying a mattress, you have to also understand that it's an upholstered product that begins to wear almost immediately after you start using it.
How it feels when new won't be the same a year later and won't feel the same as the floor sample did, when you get it.
Having the misfortune of suffering with all this damage makes you sensitive to the changes a mattress will go through over time.
Weight and shape are also factors to consider when choosing a mattress. If you don't want to have to replace this mattress every year, you'll have to adapt, overcome and conquer.
The enemies are: your physical problems that you can do little about, and the mind set of mattress manufacturing that is now selling a product to be more disposable than they used to be.
The best way to go about this is to start with a reasonably firm, well made mattress that will keep its shape. If you start with a mattress that you perceive as comfortable, you will see that comfort beginning to wane within months.
Adjust the surface feel of that firmer mattress with a topper. In extreme cases like your, it may take more than one.
Latex is the most resilient material available. A layer of soft latex will make that firmer mattress much kore comfortable and add years to the longevity of that mattress.
Given you special circumstances, you may want to add a softer layer to that...perhaps a synthetic down topper. These wear out reasonably quickly, so you can expect to replace them as you need to.
Here are links to the mattress and latex topper that will work for you, as it has for so many others.
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