Bear-proof Mattress-like Object.
July 28, 2009 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Mattressfilter: How am I supposed to fall asleep while my husband is intent on practicing his bear wrestling during the nighttime?

Our problem is that my husband vigorously tosses and turns in his sleep - I call it "wrestling bears" - waking me repeatedly through the night if I'm not already in a deep slumber. I am unpleasant to be around when I'm deprived of sleep.

My husband's method of turning to one side while sleeping is to literally sit (sometimes) bolt upright, shift his hips, and drop his body. Yes, this is while he's asleep. No, he's not graceful while doing this.

Once I'm awakened and begin to drift again, he "flails" and I'm wide awake. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. He does not have any indications of a sleep disorder - he just moves quickly and with force in his sleep and I'm apparently a light sleeper.

My husband (6'1" ~200 lbs) and myself (5'5") currently sleep on a queen-sized mattress, sans boxspring, on the floor. The mattress is a little over 3 years old and is in good shape and is also of good quality. It is not ideal for bear-wrestling.

We want to continue sleeping next to each other. My husband is adverse to pushing two single mattresses together (and I suspect that it would transmit the "shock" from his to mine if we had them touching). My husband briefly slept (alone) on two mattresses tied together while in college and also had the problem of falling in between the mattresses. While that would be less of a problem with two people sleeping, that could pose annoyances during recreational activities in bed.

With the ridiculous markup cost of a new one, we'd like to avoid buying another multi-thousand dollar mattress - especially as this one is *supposed* to have good isolation between sleepers.

Other details:
We prefer a medium firmness.
I have neck/shoulder issues.
We need queen-sized at minimum
We sleep in the basement and had difficulty getting our mostly
non-folding queen size mattress into our room.

Our first thought was to buy a thick, good quality futon mattress. I slept on one as a university student and loved it and I understand some now come in foam instead of cotton-filled (thus less-likely to compress and become rock hard). As they fold easily, we could even get a king into our room.

Are there any other options?

We're in Ontario, Canada.
posted by VioletU to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Body pillow?
posted by ostranenie at 11:06 AM on July 28, 2009

I am reliably told that I have a similar habit, and moving to an expensive new mattress seems to have addressed it. Pricewise, it was a bit of a bummer, but our old mattress was over 10 years old and sagging pretty bad. It was back pain on my part that drove us to start shopping.

We had actually started looking at adjustable-type beds along the lines of the sleep number kinds. They were way expensive and have a sort of ridge between the two sides, which (according to some reviews we read) can impact the other bedroom activities.

Futon-wise, we just replaced a double-bed futon mattress with a really good one that we found on It's very, very comfortable, if a bit more painful to fold. It's in our guest room/movie room, so we're sitting on it pretty regularly. I think the futon mattress is a good solution. Ours was shipped in a sort of roll, so we lumbered up the stairs and around the corner, unboxed/unwrapped it and let it sit for a bit before putting it on the frame. Our out-of-town guests have all given it high marks.
posted by jquinby at 11:15 AM on July 28, 2009

Forgot the was this futon mattress.
posted by jquinby at 11:22 AM on July 28, 2009

King mattress. Same length as a queen, but 16 inches wider. Lots of roll-over room.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:25 AM on July 28, 2009

I just sent this link to a friend who is mattress-shopping. Note that the writer speaks highly of the dense foam-type mattress (Tempur-pedic and similar) that absorbs movement from another person.

Best wishes for good sleep.
posted by rdauphin at 11:37 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would recommend a king sized bed. I am 5'4 - 120 lbs and my husband is 5'10 180 lbs. There ain't NO WAY we could co-exist in a queen sized bed. NO WAY, and my husband doesn't flail as much as yours does.

Your health and your SANITY are worth the cost of a new mattress.

Get a king sized and get one of those that you can bounce on without spilling a cup of wine (it's in the commercial, but I can't remember the name of it). It will at least cut down on the jarring-ness of your husband's motions.

A lot of mattress places allow you to try a mattress out for 30 days or something. Go ahead and try one.

Really, your health and sanity (and your marriage) are worth it.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:38 AM on July 28, 2009

ahh, yes, rdauphin has it: Tempur-pedic.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:39 AM on July 28, 2009

Have you tried a memory foam pad? My fiancee is somewhere in the Zuul-to-Regan McNeil spectrum, and getting a 4-inch memory foam pad for our queen sized bed has made all the difference in the world.
posted by Oktober at 11:42 AM on July 28, 2009

Can you keep the existing mattress for your husband to sleep on and for shared activities, and buy a separate twin-size mattress or futon pad for you to sleep on? You could put them side by side without having them touch.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2009

At the risk of going out of the box here, sleep behavior can be modified, and it might be worth trying before blowing money on another mattress.

I was a very thrashy sleeper as a kid, to the point where it became something of a joke during sleepovers. This irritated me. I got a large foam block and put it up edgewise, such that all I could do was lay my body along this narrow surface. I'd put blankets down, and a pillow, then go to sleep. At some point I'd thrash, go right off of the foam block, and hit the floor, which I had padded down with sleeping bags. It took a few nights and some bruises, but I stopped doing rolling off and thrashing about.

Since your husband is probably not a small, ten year old child, I'd suggest a very low to the ground foam block. The shock is probably more important than the impact.
posted by adipocere at 11:53 AM on July 28, 2009

Get a king sized and get one of those that you can bounce on without spilling a cup of wine

yeah I have a similiar queen-sized mattress I got from Costco for $500 and it really dampens the shocks. I really like the way the foam conforms to the body, it is sorta like floating on air.
posted by @troy at 11:57 AM on July 28, 2009

He should consider having a sleep study. Sometimes, apnea or RLS can manifest like the motions you describe. Heavy sleepers will kick, sit up, roll around, etc, just to get a breath in and fall back asleep.
posted by leapfrog at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2009

We have a tempurpedic mattress, and my wife doesn't feel it when I roll or thrash around at night. They really work well at not transmitting motion across the bed. I would strongly recommend one in your situation.
posted by markblasco at 12:56 PM on July 28, 2009

If you go the new bed route: Bed-in-a-box. You won't be sorry or disappointed.
posted by goml at 1:03 PM on July 28, 2009

How about making a king size out of two twin beds that are pushed together? That way, you can still be together, but his olympic events can remain on his side and you can snooze peacefully. You would probably do well to get a king size box spring underneath.
posted by Leezie at 1:30 PM on July 28, 2009

This ignores your wish to continue to sleep side-by-side, but a good night's sleep might be worth it. I snore and both my wife and I like our space, so she sleeps on the queen pillow top in the bedroom with a dog, and I sleep on my own air mattress with a mattress topper and pad in another room, either by myself or sometimes with a dog. We don't miss each other, since we're, you know, asleep, and we both sleep much better and can enjoy our waking hours together. You can layer a few cheap pads/toppers for less than a single memory foam pad and get results that are as good or better for less money. With the cost of the air mattress, you're looking at $100 - $150 depending on how fancy you want to get. For us, it was money well spent.
posted by owtytrof at 2:13 PM on July 28, 2009

My mom had problems with her hip, so she and my dad bought two single beds, and pushed them together (you can buy a strap to do this), so they could both move around independently, and it wouldn't really affect the other person.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:19 PM on July 28, 2009

If you're looking to buy a new mattress, I really suggest going to a local place that makes their own mattresses themselves. They are usually cheaper and of better quality than chain mattress places. They will bend over backwards to give you a good mattress at a great price. I would recommend a memory foam/latex foam mattress for you. The only complaint people have with foam mattresses is that they tend to surround you and make you feel hotter.
posted by Ramithorn at 7:49 PM on July 28, 2009

Ha-ha. Last time I was at my mum's she showed me her new mattress. We both hopped on to feel how comfy it was and she proceeded to thrash around (on his side) and remarked "See? You can't feel a thing, huh?"

And she was right. I could not. Not even a tremor!

She's tiny likes to sleep, he's massive likes to multi-task (sleep, keep active, torment wife) and for most of their relationship they have a king size bed with a decent mattress... :)

I think their new one was around $1000? It's not memory foam (at that price) but it does the trick so don't rule out normal mattresses. It's not exactly a rare and specialized problem you just need to find one that will solve it.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 11:43 PM on July 28, 2009

How "warm" are the tempur-pedic mattresses? I've heard that they aren't very breathable, and are therefore warm to sleep on. Not bad in the winter, but in my old, un-airconditioned house this could be a deal-breaker.

Watching with interest, as I am the bear-wrassler in my bedroom.
posted by sarajane at 2:04 PM on July 29, 2009

duh. Dealbreaker in the summertime.
posted by sarajane at 2:04 PM on July 29, 2009

Thanks for all the great ideas and suggestions (and commiseration, too). After following the links and reading up, we decided to that we absolutely needed a king size and that foam would be the best option for us.

Today we went to a semi-local custom foam store and bounced around for a while on their floor model. I couldn't feel anything and I think we're going to be very, very happy. The price was excellent (under $500).

The funny part? We had a foam mattress a few years ago - it lasted a little over a decade - and we had no problems sleeping together on it. It wasn't until we "upgraded" to our stupidly expensive, pillow-top monstrosity that the problems with bear-wrestling became noticeable. We didn't make the connection until everyone started pointing out the joy of foam..

Thanks all!!
posted by VioletU at 5:51 PM on July 30, 2009

It is now almost a month since I asked this question, and several weeks have now passed since we got our new mattress. .. There hasn't been a single night of interrupted sleep since the first night we sprawled out on the foam bed. We're both sleeping very happily and comfortably despite our height and weight differences, too!

I definitely recommend the high density foam to anyone dealing with bear-wrestling, flailing or other forms of rambunctiously sleeping spouses. The cost was far superior to our fancypants pocket-coil mattress and the results are excellent.

Thanks all!!
posted by VioletU at 12:16 PM on August 27, 2009

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