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I've noticed that mattresses (and pillows) in hotels tend to be softer than I'm used to, and I don't get a good night's sleep like I do at home. I don't have anything super-special going on (no weird medical stuff); I just have a firmer mattress and pillow at home and I notice the difference at hotels, sometimes waking up with a bit of a backache. Is there anything I can do in a hotel room, or when making a reservation, to firm up the bed, within the constraint that when I fly I try not to check baggage? (So if I bring something, it has to pack down.) I don't want to sleep on the floor (that's too firm).

  • Weird thing is that softer mattresses should not give you backaches. Anyhow anything that modifies the firmness of a mattress must at least be the size of a one-person mattress (90x190). I doubt you can fit that in a carry-on. – JoErNanO Nov 6 '14 at 17:12
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    @JoErNanO Not at all. Too soft bed brings back ache and can bring long-term troubles. When you buy a mattrace, they should ask you how tall and how heavy are you, and choose one for you according to this. – yo' Nov 6 '14 at 17:59
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    @pnuts That just results in a headache, compounding the problem. – Michael Hampton Nov 6 '14 at 20:01
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    A lot of the hotels I stay in offer two sets of pillows, one hard, one soft. Doesn't help with the mattress, but can make a difference. Otherwise, phoning the front desk can often get you other pillows (though not usually other matresses) – Gagravarr Nov 6 '14 at 21:56
  • Gabapentin or Zopiclone will do the trick – Gayot Fow Oct 28 '15 at 16:01
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I found a helpful video for exactly this problem - and it's an easy solution: just put a pillow under your midsection and your spine will be much better supported. http://youtu.be/DQgpE3DIcXs

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One thing I noticed is that more expensive hotels tend to have softer mattresses and fluffier pillows.

While probably not universal, it might be worth experimenting with selecting a slightly lower class hotel, or just a different chain.

In extreme cases, sleeping on the floor is of course an option, even at home I have to do that sometimes when I've a severe attack of back pain (and my mattress there is pretty hard indeed).

But if your back is healthy, the aches waking up in a strange bed have more to do with the bed being strange and not shaped/moulded to your body as the one you have at home is than with the specific firmness of the mattress and bottom (the stiffness, shape, and movement of the springs or wooden slats the mattress is sat on have a big influence as well on your nightly comfort).
You will notice the same thing the first several days to weeks after purchasing a new mattress for your home.

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    Please note that a hard mattress is not necessarily the cure for back pain. Depending on the type of pain, your sleeping position, your body shape and a bunch of other factors, you might actually be doing yourself more harm than good. – JoErNanO Nov 7 '14 at 9:56
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    @JoErNanO of course, it's personal. But at least for me, a harder sleep is beneficial (and I've over a decade of experience with chronic back problems). – jwenting Nov 7 '14 at 10:14
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Some hotels offer a choice of mattresses, not advertised but it is worth asking.

I had an uncomfortable night at one large hotel because the mattress was too hard for me. I called the front desk to complain. The next night there was a much softer mattress on the bed.

  • They changed the mattress, as opposed to moving you to a different room? Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. Is it possible that they added a pad to the existing mattress? – Monica Cellio Aug 21 '16 at 17:05
  • @MonicaCellio It was a change of mattress - I happened to be leaving my room as they were wheeling in the new mattress, on an obviously designed for the purpose cart. – Patricia Shanahan Aug 21 '16 at 17:09
  • I'm impressed; that's a level of service I wouldn't have expected. Next time this happens to me I'll try asking. (Meanwhile, the pillow trick worked ok for me on my last squishy-mattess trip.) – Monica Cellio Aug 21 '16 at 17:14
  • @MonicaCellio It is always worth asking. The worst that can happen is the front desk people say "no". – Patricia Shanahan Aug 21 '16 at 17:19
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Check for online reviews about the bedding. When I see "too hard" I think, "perfect for me." Also, you can call the front desk of hotels before you reserve a room and ask what guests typically say about the beds.

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