BED TRAJECTORY: origTempurPedic --> air mattress --> DIY mem. foam --> indoor hammocks --> to ?? (new mattress) --HELP? (bonus constraints provided!)

Hi elle5,

Welcome to the Mattress Forum! … and thanks for the kind comments … I appreciate it :slight_smile:

This will be a long reply to deal with the many comments and questions you brought up.

Unlike most of the other major brands (such as Sealy, Simmons, Serta) … most (but not all) of the Tempurpedic mattresses use good quality materials but as you know they are in much higher (and mostly unjustifiable) budget ranges and for most people they certainly wouldn’t be in the best “value” range compared to many other smaller manufacturers that use similar (or in some cases better) quality materials that are in much lower budget ranges. You can read more about Tempurpedic in general in posts #1 and #2 here.

You can see my thoughts about airbeds in general this article. While any mattress can be a good match for a specific person because each person’s needs and preferences or the criteria that are most important to them can be very different … in general terms I would tend to avoid them unless there is a very compelling reason that an airbed would be a better choice for you in “real life” (outside of the many “marketing stories” that you will hear about them) than the many other options or types of mattresses that are available to you.

For those that are committed to an airbed and are convinced that there are no other types of mattresses that will meet your criteria then there are some other airbed options that are listed in post #3 here that may be much better quality/value choices than Sleep Number/Select Comfort.

Interestingly enough there is a hammock forum here that is amazingly active and it seems that there are many people who like sleeping in a hammock as their primary sleeping system!


For the time being, we are subsisting on one income where the pay comes in a significant lump sum at a variable and largely unknowable date, with no anticipated income in-between, so our lives are pretty much feast or famine, and we have to stretch money carefully. We’re currently rather low on funds, and this is an understatement, so our mattress options are going to be pretty slim, I’m afraid.

→ We are looking to purchase a new Queen-sized mattress. (Simple enough, that parameter.)
→ This mattress needs to cost $600 or under, ideally. $700 tops. This price has to include a low profile box spring/base, probably the recommended partner base to avoid voiding the, um, pointless warranty of an “S” brand. Yep, that’s what I said, an “S” brand – a no-no, I know. (Siiiiiigh; read on, pretty please.)[/quote]

There are some very general guidelines about what to expect in different budget ranges in this article but you should be able to find a good quality/value mattress in your budget range … even though it is quite low.

Outside of any local options that may be available to you … if you are considering online choices then some of the better lower budget online options I’m aware of are listed at the end of post #4 here and the other online lists it links to.

When you can’t test a mattress in person then the most reliable source of guidance is always a more detailed phone conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced retailer or manufacturer that has your best interests at heart and who can help “talk you through” the specifics of their mattresses and the properties and “feel” of the materials they are using (fast or slow response, resilience, firmness etc) and the options they have available that may be the best “match” for you based on the information you provide them, any local testing you have done or mattresses you have slept on and liked or other mattresses you are considering that they are familiar with, and the “averages” of other customers that are similar to you. They will know more about “matching” their specific mattress designs and firmness levels to different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences (or to other mattresses that they are familiar with) than anyone else and their guidance will give you the best chance of success.

Assuming that the materials in a mattress you are considering are durable enough for your body type and meet the quality/durability guidelines here relative to your weight range … the choice between different types and combinations of materials and components or different types of mattresses are more of a preference and a budget choice than a “better/worse” choice (see this article). The best way to know which type of materials or which type of mattresses you may tend to prefer in general terms will be based on your own careful testing and personal experience because different people can have very different preferences.

The major brands such as Sealy/Stearns & Foster, Simmons, and Serta all tend to use lower quality materials in their mattresses than most of their smaller competitors that will tend to soften or break down prematurely relative to the price you pay which is why I would generally suggest avoiding all of them completely (regardless of how they may feel in a showroom) along with any mattress where you aren’t able to find out the type and quality/durability of the materials inside it (see the guidelines here along with post #3 here and post #12 here and post #404 here).

This “avoid” suggestion would also include using them as a “base” mattress for a topper.


Mattress has to be purchased from Overstock dot com, a mattress or furniture store that provides AFFIRM Financing as a payment option, or from Walmart (who sell from several vendors besides themselves, like Wayfair for instance). Those are the only buying options that are possibilities for us at this time.[/quote]

I’m not sure why you are only limited to Overstock or Walmart since they won’t necessarily have the best quality/value choices. There are other local or online options that may be better choices than either of them.


My partner is 6’1" and about 230 lbs. I’m 5’2" and 135 lbs.

We are both primarily side-sleepers, but we each end up sleeping on our backs and stomachs fairly often as well.

Historically, we both have preferred a firm bed (not on-the-floor firm, but pretty darn close); however, we’ve both had issues, at times, with discomfort, numbness or pressure on hips and shoulders (him) and lower back and hips (me), especially if body weight fluctuates.

We prefer a “lively”-feeling bed with some bounce, rather than one that’s dead-solid like the typical foam/memory foam bed – or even an innerspring with absolutely no motion transfer (I get that this is usually a selling point). However, obviously a latex bed is not in the cards for us right now. A latex topper is, though.

Preference is for an innerspring with a separate latex topper, rather than a poly foam or memory foam mattress, even one that has built in a latex top layer. Additionally, the mattress edge needs to be sturdy enough to support body weight for sitting on the edge of the bed more than just once in a blue moon. Some innersprings don’t seem able to handle this well.[/quote]

While I can certainly help with “how” to choose … It’s not possible to make specific suggestions or recommendations for either a mattress, manufacturers/retailers, or combinations of materials or components because the first “rule” of mattress shopping (or in your case component shopping) is to always remember that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress. There are just too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved that are unique to each person to use a formula or for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components or which type of mattress would be the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, or PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own personal preferences) or how a mattress will “feel” to you or compare to another mattress based on specs (either yours or a mattress), sleeping positions, health conditions, or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more reliable than your own careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial) or your own personal sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here).

From your comments I know you’ve read the mattress shopping tutorial (which is the first place to start your research) but two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you’ve read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability (how well you will sleep), durability (how long you will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists based on all the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.


→ Mattress will have to be manufactured vs. any kind of DIY layered Frankenmattress this time (save for adding a simple latex topper or the like), since we’re limited to the above-mentioned retailers. That’s also why it’s got to be an “S” brand mattress or something decent I’ve never heard of that they happen to sell.[/quote]

That certainly makes sense although I personally wouldn’t consider a major brand mattress even as a base mattress for a topper.

I certainly think highly of the members here and some of them sell mattresses that are in your budget range but they certainly aren’t the only sources of good quality/value mattresses across the country that may be in your budget range. If you let me know your city or zip code I’d be happy to let you know about any of the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in your area.

You can see my comments about choosing a firmer mattress first with the intention of adding a topper later in post #2 here. In most cases I would avoid this approach because of the uncertainty involved with two purchase choices instead of only one and choosing a topper that would be suitable in terms of PPP for a specific person on a specific mattress can sometimes be almost as difficult as choosing a mattress that doesn’t need a topper in the first place. I would generally focus on choosing a mattress that is likely to be a suitable match without a topper (unless you can test the combination in person or you are purchasing both online as a “set” that is designed to work together and they both have a good return/exchange policy) and then use the option to add a topper as a “backup” strategy in case your initial choice is too firm and doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for rather than a “primary” strategy.

It would be difficult to avoid buying a major brand mattress (even if it’s ultra firm) that doesn’t have too much lower quality materials in the comfort layer that would be a weak link in the mattress/topper combination. Buying a separate latex topper may also use up a large part of your budget and may not leave enough “room” to buy a reasonable quality mattress and foundation.


So, for the time being, I’m thinking our best choice might be going with an “S” brand mattress, like a Simmons BeautyRest Recharge Extra Firm, Firm, or Luxury Firm tight top mattress, and adding a 2" mid-twenties ILD latex topper (in its own cover) under the mattress pad and sheets. I haven’t compared ‘S’ mattresses to one another in this price range, yet, having mostly just tried to narrow down the likely mattresses within each brand and then figure out their innards/guts, the relative “firmness” of each across the various retailers we can purchase from, and all that jazz. Figuring out the mattress model renaming thing for each retailer is going to be much more fun than I deserve. I can’t wait.[/quote]

Again … I would avoid this approach and focus more on finding a mattress in your budget range that uses good quality materials and that doesn’t need a separate topper.

While nobody can speak to whether any mattress/topper combination will be a suitable “match” for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP … if you can find out the information in this article about any mattress you are considering and post it on the forum I’d certainly be happy to let you know if there are any lower quality materials or weak links in the mattress that could compromise the durability and useful life of the mattress and be a reason for concern. Without this information about a specific mattress you are considering it really isn’t possible to make any meaningful comments about the quality, durability, or useful life of a mattress.


→ Does this sound like the best way to go if you were in our situation?[/quote]

As you can see in my previous comments … I don’t think so no.

I would tend to look for online or local choices that are in your budget range, that don’t use any lower quality materials that would be a weak link in the mattress, and that don’t need a separate topper.

I would also be very cautious about brand shopping in general because you are buying a specific mattress not the brand and most manufacturers have access to the same or similar components and materials. Many manufacturers make a wide range of mattresses that can vary from lower quality and less durable materials to higher quality and more durable materials in a wide range of prices. The name of the manufacturer on the label or the price of the mattress won’t tell you anything about whether a specific mattress is suitable for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP or whether there are any lower quality materials or weak links in the design that would affect the durability and useful life of the mattress. There is more about the risks of brand shopping in post #5 here and post #12 here.

In other words … it would depend entirely on the specifics of the materials in a mattress you are considering … not on the name of the manufacturer on the label.

Every layer and component in a mattress will have some effect on the feel and performance of all the other layers and components above and below it and on the mattress “as a whole” and different types of innersprings have different properties that can affect whether any specific mattress that uses them will be a good “match” for the specific needs and preferences of a particular person. The only way to know whether any innerspring mattress will be a good match for you in terms of PPP will be based on your own careful testing or your own personal experience when you sleep on it.

Steel innersprings in general are a very durable mattress component but the quality of the foam above the innerspring is usually the weakest link of the mattress and innerspring mattresses that use lower quality materials in the comfort layers is the biggest reason for the early softening, sagging, and breakdown that you read about so often … not the innersprings themselves. An innerspring mattress with high quality and durable materials above the innerspring can certainly be a very suitable and durable choice and they are still the most popular type of mattress sold in the industry.

There is more about the pros and cons of different types of innersprings in this article and in post #10 here.

In general terms … pocket coils will have the least motion transfer compared to other types of innersprings that have coils that are linked with helicals.

The only way to know this would be based on your own personal experience on the specific mattress/topper combination. A softer mattress may also have more lower quality foam materials in it than a firmer mattress (although this isn’t necessarily always the case).

While it’s not unusual at all for a couple to have different needs and preferences … it can also be surprising that depending on the specific design, the same mattress can sometimes be a suitable choice for a couple that has a significant weight difference. There is more information in the first part of post #2 here about some of the different ways that can be used to accommodate a couple that have very different body types or different needs and preferences in a mattress.

If the only issue with a mattress is that it is too firm and there are no soft spots or sagging in the mattress then a good quality topper can certainly be an effective way to add some additional softness, “comfort” and pressure relief to your sleeping system but the only way to know for certain whether a specific mattress/topper combination is a good “match” for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP is based on your own careful testing or your personal experience on the combination. If you can’t test the combination in person then there will always be always some risk and uncertainty involved in adding a topper because the specifics of the mattress itself along with your own body type, sleeping position, and preferences can affect which specific topper would be a suitable choice on any specific mattress.

If you do decide to go in this direction then I would probably sleep on the mattress by itself for a while first to get a better sense and reference point of “how much” additional softness and pressure relief you may need.

There is more information about choosing a topper and a link to the better online sources I’m aware of in post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to which along with a conversation with a reliable and knowledgeable supplier (that can provide you with good information about how their toppers compare to each other or to other toppers they are familiar with that are available on the market) can help you use your sleeping experience as a reference point and guideline to help you choose the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the least possible risk and the best chance for success. A good exchange/return policy can also reduce the risk of an online topper purchase so I would make sure you are comfortable with the options you have available after a purchase just in case the topper you choose doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for.

If a mattress/topper combination turns out to be a good “match” for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP then having a separate topper also has the advantage of being able to replace just the topper without replacing the entire mattress if it softens or breaks down before the upper foam layers in the mattress (which is very likely because the upper layers of a sleeping system tend to soften or break down before the deeper layers) or if your needs or preferences change over time. A suitable topper can also help extend the useful life of the mattress underneath it because it will absorb much of the compression forces that can soften or break down the top layers of the mattress underneath it over time.

You’re very welcome … and I hope that my equally long (or longer) reply was helpful.