Comfort and Alignment problems with latex bed.

Hi Phoenix,

I have been lurking on this forum since last Sept… I have read a great deal including your shopping tutorial and many of your articles in addition to a large number of post. I purchased a split king bed last Nov. from Spindle. It has a F, M, and S layer which as you know is all natural, continuous dunlop… Later on, I got a second M layer. I like the feel of the latex but so far I have not been able to find a configuration that gives me enough comfort while keeping me in alignment. I am 5’4", 138 lbs and my husband is 5’10 140 lbs; I am primary a back sleeper but also side and my husband is the reverse… The initial configuration (bottom to top) was F/M/S.- all 3" thick. It didn’t fill in the small of my back, felt slightly too firm, and gave me some hip pain by the time I woke up in the morning. Then I tried MMS but if I recall correctly I think it gave me some lower back pain. So then I tried a number of configurations using either a M or a S as a topper. It seem like it was either too firm where the small of my back was not supported or too soft where my hips sank in too much resulting in pain in the sacroiliac area by the time morning came around. I do think I am OK with the F/M layers the suport.

So am I correct in thinking that that a topper is the way to go but that I should try 2" as opposed to 3".? I tried a 2.5 " talalay dual sided topper that was suppose to be 14/25 ild. I sank right thru it and felt the firmer layers. I tried a 3" 4lb memory foam topper and for a few nights it felt comfortable in terms of how my body sank in but it was hot and after it was broken it I found myself sinking in too much and getting the lower back pain. I tried a 2" 4lb memory foam for 1 night and it seemed better but it must have been a cheap foam because it still had an indentation later the next day. I also slept in an iComfort Firm Savant for a few days while on vacation. It didn’t feel as hot but after a few nights I was beginning to get lower back pain. I should also tell you that when I was initially trying latex beds I found the talalay ones to be too soft - more of a hammock effect.

So I seem to like sinking into the mattress some but I dislike the heat from the memory foam. I have become somewhat leery of trying another 3" topper. Can you make any topper recommendations for me? Do you think a 2" gel memory foam topper like or perhaps I should consider the Energia Are there any other toppers out there that sleep cool but will conform better than latex?

I am also considering purchasing a second bed, but am hesitant about another latex bed because of my current issues. Do you think I might do OK on the T&N as it sounds like the top layer although initially firm seems to soften some and conform to the body more like memory foam would without being hot. Or my other choice is the Dreamfoam 12 in 1 but I suspect that the foam might not conform to my body as much although I like that it is adjustable. Can you give me some information on how the ild of polyfoam compare with that of later? Specifically for the spindle latex vs that of dreamfoam which I was told was 36.28/19? That is, will the 2.o lb 19 ild polyfoam be firmer or softer than the soft layer of the spindle latex? Do you think I will face the same issues of comfort and alignment with a polyfoam mattress?

Any suggestions as to how to proceed are welcomed. I was able to return the memory foam toppers because I purchased them locally but I do want to try to keep my costs down. Thanks so much.

Hi kymist,

When you are trying to “fine tune” a mattress so that it’s a better match for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) I tend to take a more “symptomatic” approach which is generally more effective than trying to guess whether any part of your body is sinking in too far or not enough or how much pressure or support you may have under any part of your body (such as the small of your back) which would generally require more specialized testing equipment.

There is more about the most common symptoms that people may experience when they sleep on a mattress and the most common (although not the only) reasons for them in post #2 here.

There is also more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel”.

These posts are the “tools” that can help with the analysis, trial and error, and detective work that may be necessary to help you learn your body’s language and “translate” what your body is trying to tell you so you can make the types of layering changes that have the best chance of reducing or eliminating any “symptoms” you are experiencing.

It’s very unlikely that a 3" soft top layer wouldn’t be “filling in” the gap in the small of your back and you won’t be able to measure the pressure under the small of your back to know how well it’s being supported (although you can slide your hand underneath to make sure that there is good contact between the small of your back and the mattress) so I would tend to go by any symptoms you are experiencing rather than on more technical or “theoretical” assessments or what a mattress “feels like” which are all more unreliable than the actual symptoms you experience.

The most common cause for hip pain is a pressure issue but hip pain can also come from a mattress that is too soft where your hips are sinking down too far and are outside of their neutral range of motion. You will generally feel pressure issues fairly quickly and if the symptoms you are experiencing take more time (after several hours of sleeping or when you wake up in the morning) and go away when after you get up and have moved or stretched a little then they are most often related to alignment rather than pressure issues.

Did you experience any lower back pain on this combination?

It would be worth exchanging the firm and medium layers so that the firm layer is in the middle to help you firm up the support of the mattress and prevent you from sinking down as far. When you have slept on this configuration for a few days (long enough so that your experience shows a “pattern” and isn’t just an anomaly) then the changes in your symptoms on this layering compared to what you experienced on your original layering will help tell you whether you are going in the right direction and help “point to” any additional changes that may be necessary.

The most important priority is always good alignment and once you are sleeping without any alignment “symptoms” then you can focus more on any pressure relief issues you may also be experiencing.

This may be an indication that you are making changes in the wrong direction and softening up the support instead of firming it up. Lower back pain is most often a “symptom” of a mattress that is too soft and is allowing your hips/pelvis to sink down too far.

I would need more specific descriptions of each of the combinations you tried because your descriptions of the layering combinations and the specific symptoms you experienced on each of them aren’t specific enough or descriptive enough for me to know what may be happening. To be able to guess what may be happening I would suggest making small incremental changes and I would need the specifics of each layering combination and a description of how your specific symptoms changed in comparison with the combination before it to be able to make any meaningful comments or guesses about any other combinations that may be worth trying. The “changes” in your specific symptoms with each combination are the most important part of the process of “learning” to translate what your body is trying to tell you.

At this point I don’t have enough clarity about the causes of your “symptoms” to be able to make any meaningful suggestions that may be worth trying.

It would be helpful if you could describe your experience on the S/M/F more “symptomatically” and then it may be worth trying the S/F/M to see how your symptoms and sleeping experience changes in comparison so I have a better idea of the effect of firming up the support of your mattress.

I would also talk with Spindle so that they can provide you with any suggestions they may have as well since these types of issues are much more effective to discuss on a phone call than the more “linear” and less “nuanced” type of descriptions that are possible with written communications.

Overall … you have tried too many different combinations and I don’t have enough information about the specifics of each of them or how your experience and “symptoms” changed with each of them compared to the one before it to have a clear idea of what may be happening.


Hi Phoenix,

Thank you for the quick reply. I should have explained my symptoms better. The initial arrangement of the layers (B to T) was F/M/S. I had no pain initially but I wouldn’t say I liked how the the bed felt. The hip pain (top backside) began several hours into the night and was still there in the morning. It went away fairly quickly the next morning; I did not have back pain with this arrangement but maybe I didn’t keep that arrangement long enough for it to develop. At first, I didn’t realize this could be an alignment issue (hadn’t read those posts at the time) and assumed the bed wasn’t soft enough. So I proceeded in a manner to try to have a firm support (F/M layers) but make the top layer softer. My hip pain changed to more serious lower back pain - again the bed feeling OK or good initially but pain developing during the night. So I must be going in the wrong direction.

Furthermore, I have realized that I want to be as close to the latex as I can so to have the cover on and zipped does not work for me. It dulls the feel of the latex which explains why I didn’t like the feel of the bed initially.

I did contact Neal about my issues but he wasn’t feeling well so it took him a few days to get back to me. He made suggestions based upon my initial incorrect assessment that the bed was too firm. So I will try the M/F/S arrangement for a few nights (unless it makes my back really hurt!) and report back. I also have 2 layers of M so if the M/F/S still leads to lower back pain do you think F/M/M might be the next configuration to try? I think the S layer may just be too soft for me but I will take one step at a time focusing on alignment first as I am very tired of not being able to sleep well. :frowning:

Hi kymist,

Most mattress “symptoms” can be the result of multiple causes so it can take some detective work and trial and error to “learn” which of them are most likely in any particular case.

I would also suggest making a single small incremental change at a time so that when you are comparing two combinations to see how the changes affect your “symptoms” there is only a single variable that has changed which makes it much easier to assess the effect of the single change.

Your hip pain could be the result of several variables. One of them could be from a pressure point which would generally “point to” a comfort layer that is too firm.

Another could be the result of rotational alignment which can come from “twisting away” from pressure which could also be from a sleeping surface that is too firm.

Another could be the result of alignment issues where your hips are sinking down into a mattress that is too soft that puts your hips out of their neutral alignment.

You can test for all of these options by rearranging layers in different ways.

You could exchange the medium and soft layer so you would have F/S/M (bottom to top) which would give you a firmer sleeping surface to see how that affects your symptoms and how they change.

You could also exchange the firm and medium layers so that the firm is in the middle and you have the same sleeping surface to see the effect of firmer support with the same top layer (which is probably the combination that I would try next).

After you have slept on each of these for a few days (unless it becomes obvious that you are going in the wrong direction very quickly) then you can decide on any further changes based on what your body and any change in your symptoms are telling you.

This would also be the combination that I would try next as well and then I make any decisions about where to go from here based on the results of this combination and how your symptoms change.

I would make any decisions about what combination may be worth trying next based on the results of your M/F/S combination and what you “learn” from it and I would avoid speculating about what may be next until the results are in.

One small incremental approach at a time and then carefully assessing how things change is the most effective way to identify the types of changes that will be most effective.


Hi Phoenix,

Since 4/29 I have tried the following arrangements, all bottom to top:

  1. MFS - had lower back pain but less pain than FMS.
  2. FMM - still had lower back pain. Not sure if it was more or less than 1.
  3. MFM - this was the best so far, little back pain and some pain in the area of the posterior gluteus medius. I would also have like more pressure relief with this arrangement.
    4… Zoned: Upper Body (M/S) and Lower Body (FM) - only tried this one night because I found myself shifting too much. However, I did feel like the FM really supported my lower body and the MS gave me good pressure relief although I found it difficult to place myself properly. I had no pain as long as I was properly positioned but I only tried it one night.

So it seems like my back pain is due to alignment. It also seems that my alignment issue is not only due to a softer comfort layer but also because the comfort layer is 3" as the 3rd choice is still causing me pain while I had no pain with just FM for the lower body in the 4th choice.

Do you have any suggestions as to how to proceed? I am not keen on trying zoning - the layers are already zoned albeit minor zoning plus I am not that adventuresome. Do you think I should try a 2" comfort layer over FM? What do you think of trying 2" of a HR foam? I already tried a 2.5" talalay topper that was double sided (14/25) and I sunk right thru it and felt the firmer layers. I could try to get my S or M layer cut to either 1.5 or 2" as there is a foam supplier not far from my house. I sure hope I can make some changes that will allow me to sleep comfortably thru the night.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Hi kymist,

I would agree with your assessment here. I’m not quite clear though how you were able to zone your mattress with combination #4 though. Did you cut the latex into different sections and where were the cut lines? If you could attach a picture it may make it more clear. If you cut the latex then it could also change the placement of the zones which could make a difference as well. Overall though your feedback seems to be pointing to an alignment issue that comes from a mattress that is too soft overall (either comfort layers that are too thick/soft or support layers that are too soft) and was allowing your hips/pelvis to sink down too far.

It’s also possible that a F/F/M may work well for you as well because it would be firmer and more “supportive” than the M/F/M layering that seemed to be the best of the first 3 “non zoned” choices.

I would probably try the zoned approach that you mentioned in #4 for a few more nights to see if it works for you for longer than a night although I’m not clear on exactly how the layers were arranged or zoned. If you can clarify the specifics of this combination then once you can provide more feedback about it (for longer than a night) then it may help make the next step clearer.

I would also have a more extended phone conversation with Spindle who will probably be a more reliable source of guidance than I would because they have much more experience with the different combinations they have available and also have the benefit of much more customer feedback about their different combinations as well.


Hi Phoenix,

Here is what I did for the 4th zoned option. Split KIng: one side MS and the other FM, slept turned at 90[sup]0[/sup] to the length of the latex (or one could turn the bed). I may come back to trying it again, but this morning I had some time to try inserting firmer support underneath the top layer in the pelvic area. I tried 3/16 and 1/4 pieces of pressed wood under various arrangements of layers, but the sudden change in firmness was too much for me. I finally settled on a FMS arrangement with a thin rubber mat (about 3/16" doubled over) plus a 3/8 layer of a cheap exercise mat. under the pelvic area of the soft layer (total of ~3/4 insert). I laid on this arraignment for 20 or more minutes (almost fell asleep) and when I got up my lower back felt somewhat restored; it felt good when laying on my side too. I tried this arrangement on the floor so I’m hoping it will feel the same on the home built platform (slats are 3.5" wide, spaced 2.5" apart).

If the above doesn’t work, I think I will continue to look for other support materials that I can insert because I like the comfort of the soft layer when on my side. I may still try the FFM, but I am fairly certain it will be too firm for the upper body as the MFM doesn’t quite give enough while on my side. I suppose one would correct for the comfort aspect with a 1 or 2" topper.

I report back in a few days - with good news I hope!

Hi kymist,

That makes sense … but the only challenge with turning your layers or your mattress sideways is that it will add some additional complexity because you would be sleeping on a unizone mattress (the zones would be the same from top to bottom) but the firmness you were sleeping on would change in different areas of the mattress if you changed where you were sleeping from left to right so you would need to take into account the firmness of the particular zones that you were sleeping on.

[quote]If the above doesn’t work, I think I will continue to look for other support materials that I can insert because I like the comfort of the soft layer when on my side. I may still try the FFM, but I am fairly certain it will be too firm for the upper body as the MFM doesn’t quite give enough while on my side. I suppose one would correct for the comfort aspect with a 1 or 2" topper.

I report back in a few days - with good news I hope! [/quote]

I agree that the FFM may be too firm in terms of pressure relief but with PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) I would generally suggest a “bottom up” approach that prioritizes posture and alignment which is the most important part of a successful sleeping system. Once you have posture and alignment right and you aren’t experiencing lower back issues or other alignment issues then it’s much easier to fine tune the pressure relief by adding a topper which would be the second most important priority and then your preferences and the “feel” of the mattress would be the last and least important priority for fine tuning.

I’m looking forward to your feedback about the results of your experimentation with zoning inserts.


Hi Phoenix,

I am just about ready to wave the white flag and try another bed. :frowning: Since 5/13, I have tried the following all arranged bottom to top:

  1. FMS arrangement with a thin rubber mat (about 3/16" doubled over) plus a 3/8 layer of a cheap exercise mat. under the pelvic area of the soft layer (total of ~3/4 insert). While this felt great for pressure relief it was no good for relieving the lower back pain. Just to clarify this pain is in the sacroiliac area. It develops as the night progresses and disappears the next day as the morning wears on.
  2. FS arrangement with the thin rubber mat. This felt somewhat OK for 2 nights (less low back pain) but by the 3rd night the lower back pain was increasing.
  3. I next arranged the layers as FFM and lay on it for a while but did not sleep on it because I could tell by how much my pelvis sunk in relative to the rest of my body that it would not work.
  4. I moved on to FM and thought the same thing as choice #3.
  5. Last night I slept on FF and again woke up after several hours with the same low back pain. I did check with my hand in the lumbar area and it was fairly difficult to slid my hand under so it seems my lumbar area is supported.
  6. This morning I laid on just the F layer by itself - my back was still sore from the previous night so it isn’t the fairest test. My pelvis did sink in and I found there was still resistance when I tried to push my hand under the lumbar area although not as much resistance. While I laid there the back pain continued to increase although it was already aggravated.

Can having the support too firm cause the same type of symptoms? (I don’t think that is the problem but I want to make sure I’m not missing something). Is it possible that latex just doesn’t work for me? I am not overweight (5’4", 138 lbs). I will add that I probably have stronger, more compact gluts than the average person because I was a skater for many years. And the curvature in my spine might be more than the average person.

Do you have any suggestions? I will be contacting Neal again. Should I be considering a much firmer support like HR foam in a high IFD with a 1 or 2" soft comfort layer? Can you tell me how the IFDs of HR foam compare with those of latex? It seems I need a firm support but a top layer that will allow all of my body to sink in equally as opposed to my hips sinking in the most.

Hi kymist,

There is more about the different symptoms that most people experience on a mattress and the most common reasons for them in post #2 here and while it would be less common … it’s certainly possible that a mattress that is too firm can cause lower back issues as well (sleeping on the floor for example can cause lower back issues as well as pressure points). Anything that puts your lower back out of alignment can cause lower back issues (see the diagram here).

There is also more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel” that may be useful as well.

This really isn’t possible to know because there are hundreds of different latex mattress designs that use different types and blends of latex, different layer thicknesses, different firmness levels, in some cases different types of zoning, or that may have other components that are different as well (such as the type of cover or even a different support system under the latex such as an innerspring) and some of them may be a perfect match for you and others wouldn’t (see post #13 here and the posts it links to for more about the difference between innerspring/latex hybrids and an all latex mattress). This would be the same as any category of mattresses such as an innerspring mattress where you may try many mattresses that don’t work for you but there are some that do.

All that can really be known with any certainty is that the specific combinations that you’ve tried aren’t a good “match” for you in terms of PPP.

You are well outside the “averages” of most people’s experience and with 3 layer component latex mattresses the majority of people will be well inside the comfort/support range that is suitable for them either with the original layering or by rearranging the layers that they have. There are also a smaller percentage of people that may need a layer exchange because the combinations that are possible with the layers that they have available aren’t working well for them. Beyond this there will always be a very small minority of people where nothing they try with the layers they have available seems to work and with this small percentage of people it can be very difficult to “diagnose” the reasons why and in some cases it can involve issues that aren’t even related to the mattress itself (such as physiological issues or pillow issues for example) or it could be that they are much more sensitive to very small changes and would do best on combinations that aren’t possible with the layer thicknesses and firmnesses that they have available.

While I don’t have any specific suggestions outside of the ones I’ve made in my previous replies … I would make a more general suggestion that I would try any new combination for a few days at least so that you can identify a “pattern” of experience rather than what can sometimes be an “anomaly” for a single night and it can also take some time for your body to “catch” up to the changes you are making and you may still be experiencing symptoms from a previous combination. Even the process of “change” itself can cause issues (regardless of the specifics of the change) if you don’t try each combination for “long enough” for your body to catch up. Slow and incremental changes where you spend “enough” time to identify how your symptoms changed in comparison to the combination before it is usually the most effective approach so that you can “learn from” how your symptoms changed with each combination compared to the one before it.

A more detailed conversation with Neal would also be a very good idea so you can take advantage of his knowledge and experience from hundreds of his customers that have provided feedback on his mattresses and all the possible combinations that are possible and he may have experience with other customers that have slept on their mattress that are similar to your own and be able to make some suggestions that may be helpful.

While anything is possible … you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components would be the best “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more accurate than your own personal testing or sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here). Without a reference point of a specific mattress or combination of layers that has worked well for you to use as a reference point the only way to know will be based on your own personal experience.

ILD’s are often not directly comparable even between different types of latex so when you are comparing polyfoam to latex it would depend on the type of latex you are comparing it to and in addition to this the methods for testing ILD/IFD are different with polyfoam than they are with latex so they aren’t really comparable generically either (see post #6 here).

In very general terms … IFD with polyfoam is tested on a 4" layer and latex ILD’s are tested on a 6" layer so when you are comparing a polyfoam layer with a latex layer and assuming that the testing method that was used with each of them are the same then a polyfoam layer with the same IFD rating as the ILD rating for a latex layer would be firmer (see post #6 here).

I would also keep in mind ILD/IFD by itself is only one of several factors that can affect the softness/firmness of a material or a mattress as a whole and there are several specs besides just ILD/IFD that can affect how soft or firm a material or a mattress feels. In many cases using ILD/IFD by itself as the only point of reference for firmness/softness can be very misleading (see post #4 here and post #2 here).