Leg & Back Rests
Building Arm Slings
Tch Typist Armrest H&P Typist Armrest
Building Stilt Keybd
Building Kbd Holder
Build Laptop Holder
Build Laptop Cover
Build Paper Holder
Make Back Support
Computing on Back
Building Foam Desk
Build a Book Holder
Recliner with Desk
• Leg and arm rest bolster
The size I recommend is 46 inches by 7 inches by 10 inches. Cut it from medium softness and medium density foam—that's what I did. I trimmed down all corners (from one 90-degree angle to two 135-degree angles) until they felt comfy.
Then I sewed a soft cloth cover onto the bolster, and created a pillow case (out of two long pillow cases) with a Velcro fastener on the open end. This latter is changed occasionally.
The bolster can be used under or over the covers, and during computer use as well. I like to use a bolster identical to the one just described for sleeping, except that it is of softer, lighter foam so it's easier to manipulate under the covers, as well as more comfy, although it will give way to the weight of one's legs a bit more than you may like—especially after months of use. So you might want to buy thicker foam proactively.
By the way, armrests and leg rests are good for most bad backs, according to several physical therapists I've known.
General Sleeping and Reading-in-Bed Accessories
• Latex pads
I found great latex mattresses at Flobeds. Ask for their softest stuff with the holes. I don't know if they will sell individual pieces any more—they used to. Also, they only sold me pieces that were their standard size cuts.
However, I also bought latex at Rest E-Z (in Springfield, OR) and they got me the exact size I wanted. Their phone number is 541-736-9091. I've found nothing better on this planet than 3-inch latex mattresses covered with normal mattress pads for a comfy surface on which to sleep, as long as one has at least one other soft mattress underneath them. I've also found that they're the best way to go if you're side-lying or back-lying a lot for whatever reason.
• Extra convoluted pad
To add even more comfort to mattresses, get a convoluted foam pad from a local discount store. It's $8 to $10 for the narrower/twin size. I use them under latex mattresses as well as over magnet pads—they're easy to cut to size. I find them most comfortable with the smooth side up.
• Back support
Get a 3-inch by 4-inch by 18-inch piece of soft foam and tuck it behind your back to prevent that feeling of being about to roll backward.
Here's where to find a discussion of a fancier and even more effective back support.
• Pillow modification
If your pillow hurts your face even though it's the softest made, change it. By lying on a pillowcase-less pillow and marking all the spots that hurt the most (roll sideways for access), one can establish a high-density pain area. It's easy to push all the feathers away from an area to let the surrounding area bear more of the head weight, and then sew stitches to surround the pain area so it stays feather-free. This may compact the down enough so that you'll want to open the pillow and remove some down—do it outdoors.
• Bed raising
To minimize the stress put on a bad back, it is important to ensure that bed mounts and dismounts are as comfortable as possible. I find that raising a bed allows mounts and dismounts to be quite a bit less stressful as less squatting, sitting, and bending is required. And dismounts are further aided because the weight of one's legs can help leverage one's upper body to a standing position (the pivot point is the back of the upper thighs just below the butt).
I used 1 ½-inch angle irons as leg extenders on a bed whose legs were already formed from angle irons. If you try this, make sure you use plenty of overlap for strength. I fastened them with 1-inch-long ¼-inch bolts. My other bed raising strategy (used in my bedroom) was simply adding more mattresses and foam. The amount to raise a bed depends upon one's leg length.
• Magnet pads
To hedge your bets about health, use Norso Magnetic mattress pads. I use them 2 weeks on then 2 weeks off. Some sleep clinics have even recommended them.
If the pads tend to rumple up, you can do what I do: duct tape them directly onto a foam mattress. The tape must completely encircle the mattress, since it sticks to itself but not to foam. Also, make sure you tape every foot all the way up and down the mattress and in both directions.
The pads use Damask fabric, and 3950 gauss rated magnets. Norso has several models. If you're sensitive, you may want a convoluted foam pad or even a latex one (see the next section) between you and the magnet pads, due to the feel of the tape. This also makes sense if the gauss rating is high since you'll get fairly significant magnetism a couple of inches away from their stronger magnet pads.