Another Latex Configuration Question

I am in the process of replacing an 8 year old Spring Air Back Supporter mattress. The support of the Spring Air is fine, but the pillow top seems to be coming apart. It isn’t so much that it has significant depressions, but it is getting lumpy.

I have decided to order a Model 13000 from Sleep EZ. I am 6’2" 185# and my wife is 5’2" around 120# (guessing as that’s not something we’re allowed to discuss). I always go to sleep on my stomach, but generally wake up either on my back or side, she is primarily a back and side sleeper. From what I’ve read, a medium top layer is recommended for a stomach sleeper. My concern is that it will be too firm when I end up on my side or back. My wife has some chronic lower back issues so I’m hoping the support of a latex bed can give her some relief.

Any suggestions as to a starting configuration would be appreciated.



I think the first thing I would tend to do in your circumstances is to do some testing on local mattresses that you know for certain have quality latex in the comfort layers. This can help you determine a prototype for an online order. Without this … you would be ordering based on “averages” that may have worked for many people of your height and weights but these averages may not necessarily be the best for your unique circumstances.

There are a couple of things in your post that would be a little different from the “norm” that would also affect how well a mattress worked for you.

The first of these is your choice of 12" of latex. Is there a reason you are going so thick? It is highly unlikely that there would be any benefit to having 4 layers of latex (and it could even work against you) and it could certainly make the layer arrangement choices much more complex.

Second it is possible that a “medium” latex in your comfort layer will not give you the pressure relief you will need on your side even in a 3" thickness. Generally when you are a combination side/stomach sleeper then the thinnest/firmest comfort layer that provides good pressure relief on your side is also the best compromise for the alignment needed while on your stomach but I would make sure that you personally tested medium latex before considering it as your best choice considering your weight and height. I would tend towards a thinner top layer rather than a firmer top layer and then adjusting the firmness of the layer immediately below it to help with any pressure relief you needed on your side.

I would also recommend that you look at a side to side split because your wife has different weight distribution and different sleeping positions and this can also result in the need for a softer comfort layer than would work best for you (lighter people generally prefer softer layers to get the same “pressure relief” and support as heavier people do with firmer layers). Your wife’s back issues indicate that the firmness of the support layers will be very important for her and she may also do better with slightly thinner comfort layers.

While an online purchase can be a source of great value and quality materials … some local testing on known constructions will go a long way to telling you about the general construction and layering that works best for you and will usually result in more accurate choices than going by the “average” experiences of other people which many not be the best match for your own personal needs and preferences. Both the thickness and the firmness of the comfort layers as well as the other layers of a mattress have a significant effect on how well a mattress works for any individual.

If you let me know what city you live in I may be able to point you to some local outlets where you could test some different latex constructions and create a better “blueprint” for the layering that worked best for you.


Thanks for the quick reply.

I should have included more info in my original post. I am in the Phoenix area and visited the Sleep EZ showroom on Friday. I stopped by because I was in the area and didn’t really have time to get into much of a discussion of options with them at the time. The young man there is the one that suggested the medium top layer to me.

As to my choice of the four layer model, for whatever reason, when going back and forth between the three and four layer models there, I found the four layer to be more comfortable. If I had to describe the difference I’d have to say the three layer model felt kind of dead compared the four layer model.

I believe the Model 13000 they had on display was split with M/F/XF/XF and S/M/F/F. I think I actually preferred the side with the soft top layer, but wonder if it would have enough support overall. Perhaps something the lines of M/F/F/XF or S/F/F/XF would be a better compromise.


Part of the difficulty with mattress testing is to separate the feeling of softness or firmness or “being comfortable” that is coming from the comfort layer from the feeling of softness or firmness or being comfortable that is coming from the support layers as each person is “sensitive” to a version of softness/firmness or comfort that may have a very different origin. This is why what feels soft for one person may require a change in the comfort layer thickness or softness while for another person may require a change in the thickness or softness of the middle or lower layers.

Given your overall weight and sleeping positions … your “ideal” comfort layer will likely be in the “soft” range if all other subjective or objective factors are equal. This would typically mean in the 19 - 24 ILD range.

A thinner layer of soft (2" vs 3") may work better for you for alignment in stomach sleeping.

What a thicker overall height of a mattress will do is allow you to sink “down” more in your heavier parts as there will be more latex to compress. A thinner overall mattress height will have less material to compress and will generally give firmer support if the top 3 layers are the same. The floor in other words won’t compress while any firmness of latex on the bottom in a 12" mattress will compress and take up more of the weight than a solid foundation under 9". This can worsen alignment by allowing the heavier parts to sink in relatively more than the lighter parts.

I believe that in most cases … the best combination of pressure relief and alignment can come from a thinner mattress vs a thicker one as long as there is “enough” thickness to build in a layering arrangement that can work for an individual in terms of pressure relief and alignment. When you go beyond “enough” … then the effect can be negative when you are on the mattress for long enough that alignment becomes a bigger issue (overnight). This is not to say that 12" can’t work … only to say it is more difficult if the extra layers aren’t necessary.

With thicker layers … there is more latex to “spring” and so it can feel more “lively” however this can also become a negative if the liveliness crosses the line into a “jello like” or “jiggly” feeling.

While I don’t know the layering you tested with a 9" mattress … and your own personal experience should be the final authority since everyone can be so different in both their objective needs and subjective preferences … it is well worth bearing in mind that as long as a mattress is “thick enough” … that thinner is usually preferable.

Of your two suggested options of M/F/F/XF and S/F/F/XF, I would suggest that determining the best firmness/softness of your comfort layer would be a good place to start and I would think that soft will do a better job than medium. If 3" of medium results in pressure issues when you are lying on it for an extended period of time (shoulder or arm numbness etc), then knowing that you need soft would be a beginning point regardless of which version created the best alignment. If you are OK with 3" of medium over an extended period of time … then this would be preferable for the next part of your testing which is alignment but this would only be true if you were only considering a 3" top layer. Most of your alignment comes from the layers below the top 3". Most of your pressure relief comes from the top 3". While these are certainly interconnected, separating your experience and feelings of “comfort” into either one or the other will help your testing be far more accurate. Regardless of which layering I chose … I would tend to make the bottom layer on a 12" mattress as firm as possible and would likely make the next layer up the same unless testing indicated clearly otherwise (both XFirm).

The final part of your testing is about subjective preferences and if there is a strong preference for a “more lively” feeling … then an innerspring with latex over top of it may give you this in addition to the benefits of having a latex comfort layer. While latex is quite “lively” compared to other foams and talalay tends to be more lively (for most people’s perceptions) than Dunlop … neither as a core material tends to be quite as lively as an innerspring core.



Some very interesting and informative points. I’ve read your response a couple of times and will probably read it once again before making a decision as to which configuration to start with. I found your explanation of the difference between the two thicknesses to be especially helpful. I suspect that with 60 some years of sleeping on innerspring mattresses my tendency to assume that thicker is automatically better needs some rethinking.

Thanks for taking the time to respond and thanks for a very informative site.



The whole “thicker is better” idea is one of the beliefs that has been promoted by the mainstream industry (both at the manufacturing level and also at the mass market retail outlet level) in their efforts to sell thicker mattresses that contain lower quality materials at a higher profit margin. The “benefits” of one sided mattresses using lower quality materials and the “benefits” of pillowtops and eurotops that use foams that tend to soften and break down too quickly are a few others.

Outside of the lowest budget mattresses … most of the innersprings used today are pretty good. Its the foams and fibers that are used over them where most of the “problems” exist … and of course the prices that are being charged based on “stories” that are created to add the perception of value rather than the actual benefits of the materials used.