I'm trying to figure out a good configuration for latex layers to alleviate some lower back pain, and I'd love to get some feedback from forum members experienced with this kind of thing. I have no local access to latex components, so I'm basing this on what I've read from others on the forum.
Our current mattress, the firmest we could find, began to sag and lose support shortly after we bought it. The addition of a 2" firm latex topper (and removal of PU foam) helped somewhat, but it appears the springs are the underlying problem. I wake up every morning with significant stiffness across my lower back and hips.
We're in our mid-thirties. At 6', 170 lbs, I'm the largest. I generally prefer to sleep on my stomach/back, but with our current mattress stomach sleeping is painful, so I've become a back/side sleeper. My wife is predominantly a side sleeper, but she's also more or less unaffected by our current problem.
I know we'll have to do some experimenting to get the right combination, but I'd really like to hear some suggestions about where to start. I already have 2" of firm from FBM.
--Firm vs. extra firm core?
--Do most people with overall firm mattresses still have some softer components?
Ultimately I'm wondering which components I should begin shuffling around. Something like the following (although maybe not in that order)?
Actually Jimsocal is the one who has dealt with many back issues. Fortunately, I can tolerate a variety of levels of firmness. I tend to like somthing plusher for side sleeping.
I think your basic plan sounds about right if you want a fairly firm mattress. If you want to go with all latex, you may want to consider some place like Sleepez, foamsweetfoam, or flobeds. You will be able to taylor something to both of your needs (both sides can be different), and it comes with a zippered case and return option.
If you are trying to save money, you can try to piece together yourself. Where are you thinking of buying the various pieces? Are you going to have a cover for them?
It is also good to speak in terms of ILD ratings. One places xfirm might be equivalent to someone elses firm. So, what exact ILD ratings are on the pieces you are considering?
It seems that each of us learn by trial an error, so you really will have to test for yourself. What I think is too firm, you might think is too soft.
I'm feeling a little burned right now by innersprings. The brand new mattress we bought (our first innerspring) began to sink almost immediately. Now, less than two years later, it's pretty much unusable (for me at least). Maybe we're just unlucky, but it makes me feel more inclined to try a complete latex setup. For most of my life I slept on rock-hard futons (often on the floor), so I was thinking (maybe incorrectly) that latex might provide a similar kind of dense stability, which I seem to like. Maybe my back just isn't accustomed to springs.
Because I already have a couple of components, and because I don't have a huge budget, I was thinking of piecing something together myself. My only buying experience so far has been with FBM. But having just looked back over my original invoice, it appears I have two 1" medium toppers. I thought they were firm. I'm almost positive I ordered firm. I guess I don't know what I have, since I have no means for comparison. As of now the FBM website lists no firm topper, so maybe they really are medium. If their info is accurate, they're 32 ild.
In looking around, about the only firm & extra firm components sold individually that I can find are at sleeplikeabear. They have firm and extrafirm 5.6" cores in 40 and 44 ild. And they have 1" 35 ild toppers.
So, I was vaguely thinking:
2" 35 ild
6" core 40 or 44 ild
plus to the two apparently medium pieces I have already, ~32 ild.
Does it sound like this would result in something viable?
I'll get a cover if that seems necessary. I've been reading other posts from people saying the layers stick together just fine without one. I'd definitely want a good wool pad, though, because I tend to be a hot sleeper.
I really appreciate the help. I desperately need to do something, and it's a little scary to spend this kind of money somewhat blindly.
32 is actually reasonably firm. Flobeds calls it firm. Their XF is 36. Alot of people who have Flobeds get the base levels of XF which is 36, so I think 40 is probably firm enough.
If you really want firm you can consider dunlop latex. I think 6" of around 40 dunlop would be very firm though.
Personally, I stick with talalay with a slight preference for the 100% natural over the blended.
Sleepez might be able to get you something in that firmness (38-40) as well for 6" if you call them. It looks like SLAB actually has a better price in 6" blended talalay.
It is possible that you might just want to get the 6" and add the 2" you have, and try to decide from that what else you want to add. I would think that combination would be pretty firm. Most people seem to like something even softer than 32 on top (Flobbeds for example comes with a 2" convoluted topper that is somewhat soft).
The layers do stick together, but kind of nice to have something over to protect them. I good mattress pad that tooks in might be sufficient.
A wool topper is a nice thing to have as well. This will add some comfort and temperature moderation. Gaiam has a sale on them right now, but not totally sure of the quality (seems okay). Natura is another brand. Also, you can find some on Amazon and walmart.com.
p.s. 6" of latex will be a very heavy and unwieldy thing. What size are you getting? You may want to consider to 3" pieces.
That's a good idea, starting with just the core and building up from there. That's just what I might do. We have a king-sized platform bed. I can imagine 6" being heavy. Just the 2" I have were hard to work with.
If I buy two 3" pieces I might have more options, too. SLAB seemed to be the only one selling 6".
Between the 40 ild or 44 ild, is there one people tend to prefer more? We do like firm beds, but I also don't have much of a frame of reference for how firm that might me. I don't want to go overboard.
If you go the 3" route, the 2 can be different. I think 44 would be too firm for 6", but everyone has different tastes. So I would tend towards the 40, or you could do something like 3" of 40 and 3" of 44. Or even 3" of 36 and 3" of 44. Putting the 44 over the 36 (or 40) would be a bit firmer than the other way around, so it gives you a little flexibility.
And if you really want firm, you might consider dunlop. 38-40 of that is probably like 44 talalay. I know, very confusing.
SLAB has a 30 day return policy. You lose shipping costs and maybe a restocking fee, at least if you totally hate it you can get most of your money back.
Sleepez does carry 38-40 and 44 when you buy the whole mattress (see firmness choices), so I am pretty sure they would sell 3" layers of those to you as well. They will charge some shipping, where SLAB won't. Not sure if you could return to sleepez either, so SLAB is now looking pretty competitve. Foamsweetfoam use to sell the individual layers, but I don't see on their website. You could call to find out. SLAB and foamsweetfoam will charge tax within California.
I bought a "medium firm" latex mattress from a local maker (not sure what the ILD was). It was 8 inches thick and I found that I was bottoming out on it. I opted for my comfort exchange and the owner made sure I did NOT bottom out on his next try. I saw the factory specs and it was 6 inches of 40 ILD and 2.5 inches of 32 ILD talalay LI latex. Trust me, you do not want anything firmer than 40 ILD! I felt like I was sleeping on a rock even with the 32 ILD top layer. I ended up ordering another 3 inches of 24-28 ILD from "FoamSweetFoam" online in all natural Talalay latex. It works pretty well for me now, though I haven't had past major back issues.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think 6 inches of 40 ILD would be plenty firm enough for anyone as a base. Just make the top comfort layers what you need for you individual back issues. I'd suggest something in the 28-32 range on top with thickness depending on your weight.
I guess there's a strong argument to be made for building it 3" at a time. I could order 40 ild and see how I like it. Then get another 3" of 40 or 44 or 36, depending. The drawback is that it's more expensive to buy two 3" pieces than one 6." But it might be worth it avoid having to return things.
Is it feesible to sleep temporarily on just 5" (the other 2" would be the 32 ild pieces I have already), while I'm waiting for the next 3" to arrive? All of this will be going on a slat bed (with peg board, if needed).
I am not aware of anyone sleeping on just 5" of latex, but I have never tried. It will be firm for sure, but probably not enough depth to be very comfortable. However, people sleep on the ground with a thin mat while camping or on thin cotton futuns, so I think it would be better than that. I think you are coming accross the issues of piecing it together your self, and the beauty of buying a completed latex that allows you to exchange layers and customize. Maybe keep your springs around as a backup
If you get just the 3" of 40, you can try folding it half ( for testing purposes) and putting on your 2" of other latex. That will help you tell what you want to do with the next 3". However, there is nothing like sleeping a whole night on it to really know. Maybe one off you could try it on your own if you have a spare bed.
How thick, wide and far a part are your slats? Is there any center support?
Are you sure your current springs are bad? How old and what brand? Did you remove all of the foam and put in your 2" of latex and it is still too soft? Does it sag in a lot if you like directly on the springs?
The slats are 3" apart and there is good center support.
To be fair, the springs probably aren't completely shot. But where we each sleep there's a noticeable dip, with the usual hump running down the middle. They springs have lost the firmness we bought the mattress for. It was made by a local company, their "top of the line," and we got it about two years ago. It's possible there are Serta parts. The company seems to have some sort of partnership with them.
Several months ago I ripped out the original foam and replaced it with the 32 ild from FBM. That improved things somewhat, but the dip is still there, if less significant. As far as my back is concerned, though, it's more or less the same.
I just rolled back the latex to check the springs themselves and I realize that when I pulled up the PU foam I left the gray, woolly looking stuff that directly covers the springs. I assumed that needed to be there to protect the latex from tearing. I wonder if some of the dip might be in there. There's at least an inch of it. Maybe 1 1/2". Is it safe to rip that out?
I suppose it's possible that a firmer piece of latex on top of the springs might lessen the dip more than the 2" of 32 ild currently does. Maybe the topper just isn't firm enough. But it still feels like some degree of dip will be there no matter what. But maybe with something firmer between me and the springs it can be mitigated to the point that my back doesn't mind.
Proviso: My suggestions are not based on personal experience with latex.
I'm in the process of returning a spring mattress I've had for a month due to it being too oft and causing some lower back pain. To my knowledge, I have no experience sleeping on latex, but I have been following thread here for a couple weeks and reading up on various ways to skin the cat. I am very slender, 5'10" @ 135lbs., however I am very muscular with broad shoulders. I like a firm mattress for support (I too have spent much time on futons and floors). I sleep on side, back, and stomach, but my current spring mattress is too soft for stomach sleep. The crux seems to be arriving at something firm enough to be supportive, while still relieving any pressure points and remaining comfortable to sleep.
You might consider the ‘zoning’ method whereby different body areas receive different firmness levels. To use my example, since I like a firm mattress but have broad shoulders – which have been injured in the past – a firm mattress that provides sufficient back support might be too firm to allow enough deflection for my broad shoulders, potentially forcing my spine out of alignment as well as causing a pressure point at the shoulder area. You could zone both your side and your partner’s side separately, or just zone your side. I believe it could be done as a DIY construction without too much difficulty.
Also, if you buy a 3” thick piece as part of a foundation, you can fold it in half to make a 6” piece for testing purposes, ditto with your topper…that may give you enough feedback before buying additional pieces.
One additional thought (I will start a new thread on this in a day or so) is the use of a stiffening layer, of different material other than foam, between two foam layers. This may be another way to increase firmness, and might also be used if you try a zoning approach.
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