Another latex bed question


First, thanks! Your website has helped my wife and I go from frustration (getting the hard sell from ignorant salespeople at Raymour and Flanagan and Sleepy’s) to wonderful experiences with honest, committed craftspersons. I’m in the Hudson Valley in New York, and got great customer service from Scott Johnson and Dixie Foam, but ultimately think I’m going to work with Restopedic as they’re a bit more convenient (ie not down in the city) and offer such high value. Anyone in NYC should talk to Mark at Dixie Foam before buying a bed. I never would have found these excellent businesses without your hard work on this site.

Background for my question: Me: 6’ 2", 160lb, so very thin; wide shoulders and tend to have mid/upper back pain, mostly side sleeper. My wife: 5’ 11", 210lb, also side sleeper.

We first tried a 9" talalay latex mattress at 36 ILD throughout. We both found this too firm–didn’t let our shoulders sink in enough. Joe at Restopedic put a 3" 20 ILD talalay topper on it, and that was closer, but we still both felt like our shoulders weren’t as comfortable as we’d like.

Next, Joe put together 6" of 28 ILD under the 3" of 20 ILD. My wife and I found this really comfortable (though she thought her shoulder could still use a little relief), but when I checked her spine with a yardstick as per your suggestion, it seemed to curve up from her upper back through her neck. My guess was that the support layer needed to be a little more firm to keep her hip from sinking down too much–that this might be the problem. Joe’s getting in some 30 or 32 ILD so we can try that as a support layer. I wonder whether a progressive construction might not make sense for us? Maybe 6" of 32, 2" of 20 or something a little firmer, and another 2" of something a little softer (like 16")? I guess I’m just trying to figure out how to solve that puzzle of keeping enough support for spinal alignment but making sure our shoulders sink in enough.

Also: we’re thinking of having the bed made with wool quilting and are trying to decide between cotton and bamboo ticking. Is one more durable than the other?

Thanks again, and I’d definitely recommend Restopedic to anyone in southern CT or my part of NY–Joe’s offering us a very good mattress for a very reasonable price.


Hi Gibbon,

You’ve talked with some very good manufacturers and Restopedic are good people.

I think you are probably be wiser to work with suggestions made by Joe because he can actually see you on the mattress whereas I can’t. That in combination with what you feel on the mattress will be much more accurate than any guidance I could give or what I call “theory at a distance” which is really only a starting point based on “averages” and once you are testing your own experience should “trump” general guidelines. There are not many people who are really “average”. I’d be happy to make a few generic comments though.

The 36 ILD by itself would be very firm for most people (although I hear New Yorkers like their mattresses very firm :)) and with the 3" of 20 ID on top would be “better” for most people although for some it may still allow the firmness of the 36 ILD to come through more with the big differential between the ILD’s.

I would also be cautious for your wife with a 28 ILD core if it was talalay. This would be on the soft side for a support core and while many would be fine with it … I would be cautious (as you have been) and I would suspect that your perceptions with the yardstick as a guideline (and she may feel the sinking in as well with a tendency to keep her muscles more tense) were likely accurate. I would think it may be better for you (based on “averages”). The shoulder area is generally much lighter than the hips/pelvis and she may have also felt that they weren’t sinking in far enough “relative” to her hips and if a slightly firmer foam brings her his/pelvis up a bit she may feel like her shoulders are OK. I would also make sure she was testing with a thick enough pillow for proper head and neck support because this will also make a difference in how her shoulders feel. Averages (but not necessarily actual experience) say that this “should” be soft enough for her shoulders with a good supportive pillow. Was her sense that her shoulders weren’t sinking in far enough based on pressure relief (which would surprise me) or based on her sense of alignment?

This may do the trick. I would tend to avoid ILD’s in the 16 range for her weight but again personal testing and the “eyeballs” and experience of a manufacturer would be much more accurate because he can use what he has seen as a reference. Bear in mind that a mattress that is too soft is much more difficult to “fix” than the other way around.

With your shoulders I would focus more on pressure relief because if the pressure relief is OK and you are testing with an appropriate pillow then the alignment is probably OK as well. The “trick” is to provide good pressure relief for the shoulders by “allowing” them to sink in enough and to “stop” the hips/pelvis from sinking in too far. The best test of whether your shoulders are being “allowed” enough for side sleeping is good pressure relief. There are many variations of side sleeping which will all affect this (arms up or down, under the head, slight twisting of the upper body etc) and all of this is best done in person. If there really is a pressure issue … then a softer comfort layer may help but this is not as likely to be an issue for her and I would avoid this unless really necessary.

There’s a good diagram here which may also be useful. If you look at your wife when she is standing you will see her “normal” side profile and this curved shape should be roughly duplicated along the upper surface of her body when she is lying on her side. Again though … you have a good guide there and I would trust his judgement along with your own perceptions on the mattress.

Bamboo is more moisture absorbent, breathable, and “smoother” (has a nicer hand feel) but it’s an artificial cellulosic fiber and not as natural or environmentally friendly as cotton if that’s important. I have seen mixed comments about bamboo’s durability all the way from sites like this which has some fairly technical information saying it’s stronger to sites like this saying that it will break down much sooner than cotton. My thought is that in normal use both would be durable enough and can make high quality choices and that the choice between them is probably more about the superior breathability, moisture absorbtion, and feel of bamboo vs the fact that it’s more environmentally harmful and less natural. Cotton is certainly proven fabric and has good durability so it’s unlikely that either choice (especially considering that most bamboo is a blend) would be a “weak” one.

As you probably know … I also think highly of them and there is no doubt about their value :slight_smile: