Designing the right mattress for us!

Hi Phoenix,

I have read many of your forums/blogs and seem to have a general idea of what I’m looking for. However, the major problem inherent in my search for the right mattress is the extreme differences between me and onemy girlfriend. I am 6’2" 260lbs with broad shoulders, while my girlfiend is 5’1" 120lbs. We are both side sleepers. I tend to get very warm at night and am looking for a bed that will at the very least not increase the heat when I sleep. Also, one of the issues we are facing is that we have slept on such a bad mattress for so long that every new mattress seems to “feel better” then our current one. We are looking for a King set

We recently went into our local sleepys to get a baseline for what we might be looking for. We used their machine that “selects” the right bed for you and naturally we ended up on a Kingsdown MySide mattress. Her side was between the two softer choices while I was way on the other firm end. Although I liked the idea of having a two sided mattress from what I’ve read I can do much better than a Kingsdown for a much better price. We also tried out the Tempurpedic Cloud Luxe. My girlfriend loved the Cloud Luxe and seemed to dismiss every bed after it. As a bigger guy who needs a good deal of support I wasn’t the biggest fan of the bed and even a lesser fan of the $5k price tag.

I haven’t gotten a chance to test out any latex beds but have seen the numerous positive reviews both here and on several websites. On one of your other forums you mentioned From what I can tell they give you the ability to choose not only your individual layers of the bed but also you can split it into sides. I was looking at the 13,000 bed and feel like it give you the most options. However, with all the options to choose from I need some help on deciding what layers would be best for both myself and my girlfriend.

Therefore, can you give me a start to designing my own 13000? Are there other manufacturers that give you the ability to customize each side? I don’t mind paying $3-4k for a bed if I’m getting the utmost quality.


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Hi BigManLittleLady,

As I mentioned in another post today … you are facing the classic dilemma of a couple with very different needs and preferences that need to be designed into the same mattress or “sleeping system”.

There are several approaches that can be used to solve these types of challenges but of course which one may be most effective for you depends on your own unique needs and preferences.

One of these approaches involves zoning which increases the support in the middle of the mattress and at the same time allows for the use of softer materials in the lighter wider areas of the body which need to sink in more but may not have enough weight to sink in as far as they need to with a material that is firm enough for the pelvis. This can increase the odds that the same mattress may be suitable for two people with different needs and preferences.

Another approach involves what could be called “vertical zoning” (although it’s not really zoning in the normal sense) which recognizes that people with very different weights will sink into a mattress differently and “come to rest” in different layers in a mattress. For example a mattress could have a top two inches of soft materials, two or 3 inches of a more medium material, and then a much firmer support layer. The lighter person would sink into the top layer and the top part of the medium layer and this could be soft enough for their pressure relief needs. The middle “transition” layer would be partly to add to the pressure relieving qualities of the softer thinner 2" layer and partly be for support (lighter people don’t need the same firmness level to “hold up” their heavier parts). On the other hand the heavier person would mostly “go through” the top 2" layer and use most of the next 3" layer for pressure relief (heavier people generally need thicker firmer comfort layers to achieve the same softness as a lighter person experiences on softer foam) and then the much firmer support layer (that wasn’t being utilized nearly as much by the lighter person) would be their support layer. In other words … different layers in a mattress can perform different functions for different people.

Sometimes just thickness can make a difference because thicker layers can “act” softer so with a slightly thicker mattress you can use firmer layers on top that are more adaptable to a greater range of weights and sleeping positions. See post #14 here for more about layer or mattress thickness.

Another effective approach is a “side to side split” where each side of a mattress is layered differently to take different needs and preferences into account. In effect you would have two different mattresses on each side combined into one cover (or in some cases a different topper on each side of the same mattress) and each side would feel and perform differently. You can read more about this in post #2 here.

A split mattress (most commonly available in a split king which is two twin XL mattresses but can also be made in a split queen by some manufacturers) can also be a good way to accommodate very different needs and preferences although of course the gap in the middle can be an issue for those who prefer to sleep in the same mattress and use the middle of the mattress. There is more about split king mattresses post #8 here and in this topic.

Which of these would work best would depend on the needs and preferences of each couple. Careful testing with both of you on the mattress can tell you whether any of these options would be a good match for both of you but if you are considering an online choice where you can’t test the mattress in person this is where the help and guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced manufacturer or salesperson who knows every detail of the mattresses they make and sell, how they interact with different people and couples, and that has your best interests in mind can be invaluable.

There are many factors which affect temperature regulation and in many cases a combination of factors can be much more effective than any one by itself. Some of these involve the materials that are used (more breathable materials are more temperature regulating), some involve how deeply you sink into a mattress (sinking deeper into foam can be more insulating and firmer more breathable foams that keep you more “on” the mattress than “in” the mattress can play a role in helping to offset this), and some involve the choice of both the ticking/quilting layers of a mattress or choosing mattress protectors, pads, toppers, or bedding that is more breathable or includes phase change materials that can also play a role in regulating temperature. Finally the environment and the person themselves can also play a role (for example certain foods, drinks, or habits can increase sleeping temperature and the heat and humidity levels in the sleeping environment can also play a role). There is more about the many factors that can affect sleeping temperature in post #2 here.

This is one of the challenges of mattress shopping because when anything seems better it is much easier to make quick choices or buy a mattress that feels great in a showroom but won’t feel nearly as good in the longer term. This is why good and specific testing for pressure relief, posture and alignment, and your personal preferences and spending at least 15 minutes completely relaxed on any mattress that you are seriously considering (or testing as a guideline for an online purchase) can be very helpful. One of the most important factors in buying a mattress is the knowledge and skill of the person that is helping you. The more they know the less you have to know to make better choices. This is where local manufacturers and the smaller sleep shops (as well as better online outlets) tend to shine and where you buy a mattress can be just as important as deciding on which mattress to buy.

These systems are primarily a marketing tool used to sell a particular brand of mattress and are not nearly as effective as the help and assistance of someone who has the knowledge and experience that comes with years in the industry. They also don’t take into account the durability of the materials used or the value of the mattress you are considering and they usually “point to” mattresses that are overpriced. Testing mattresses where the layers aren’t known does little to help you know the type of mattress and layering that may be best for you and Sleepy’s and the major manufacturers like Kingsdown are either not able or willing to tell their customers the details of the layers in their mattresses.

There are some guidelines here that may help you avoid most of the traps and pitfalls of mattress shopping and avoiding chain stores and major brands is a good first step in finding better quality and value. There is certainly no need to spend $5000 on a mattress that will work for both of you IMO when there are so many options available that use as high or higher quality materials and have the same or better performance as the higher priced brands.

You mentioned a couple of times my “other” websites so I should probably make it clear that this is the only website that I have. I was a very frequent poster on another forum called “what’s the best mattress” before I developed this website but I haven’t posted there for years (my account was “deactivated” which is a polite term for being banned :)) They were not comfortable with what I was doing, the information I was providing, or the people I was talking with, and were more interested in “dominating” the information part of the mattress industry for their own financial gain.

SleepEz is one of the manufacturing members of this site and like all the members here I think very highly of them and consider them to be among the “best of the best” in the industry. Shawn is one of the most helpful, patient, and hardest working people that I know in this industry. Like all the members here … they provide a discount/bonus of 5% to any of the forum members here who purchase a mattress from them and share and support the goals of this website.

They are also very good at giving guidance that can help their customers make the best possible choices out of the many options they have available based on their height/weight/body shape and sleeping positions and I highly recommend that you call and talk with them about which of their mattresses may be best for your needs and preferences. Local testing on mattresses where you know the materials and layering can also provide some good guidance and can help them help you more effectively.

There are some general guidelines here concerning height, weight, and body shape and some guidelines here about sleeping positions that can be a good starting point. The overview here and the more specific pages that follow will also give you some ideas of the effects of the different ways to put layers together. These are all based more on “averages” though and your own personal testing on local mattresses with known constructions and the guidance of a manufacturer that knows every small detail of their own mattresses and how every component interacts with different people, has a database and feedback from thousands of customers, many of which would be in similar circumstances to you, will always be more accurate and effective than the more general guidelines that I could provide without specific reference points such as a mattress you have tried and liked (and where the layers are known). Of course I’m always happy to make comments on any particular mattress you’ve tried or provide ideas about alternatives that may work for you or the possible effects that various changes in layering and construction may have :slight_smile:

There is a list in post #21 here of the manufacturing members of the site that specialize in online ordering for those that either have more limited local options or who prefer some of the advantages of ordering online. Many of these provide side to side split layering and provide the option of choosing your own layering. There is a wide range of choices there … each with different options, mattress designs, and budget ranges … but all of them make high quality and value mattresses and are among what I consider to be the “best of the best” in the industry in terms of knowledge, service, and value. Whether the same options are available locally would depend on where you lived and what was available locally but some local manufacturers or retailers provide this option as well.

Hope this helps


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Phoenix thanks for all the great info. Just to clarify, when I said other sites I meant when i went out to sites that you recommended I read customer reviews when available and most reviews were very positve. So I sort of used the transitive property with that one.

I think best next step for us would be to go out and test some latex beds out to get a feel for them. The only isssue like you said is finding a local place that will be able to tell us what the bed “is made of” (what sort of layers are in the mattress, size, density, material, etc). We live in SW Connecticut (06824 zip). Any recommendations as to where a good place to start would be? Most of the online sites you recommend are far away unfortunately.

Ultimately I think a side to side split would work the best. Right now my best reference point is the Tempurpedic cloud luxe. Again my girlfriend loves this bed. However, that is a memory foam bed and not a latex bed. Now I know the best thing is to go and try out both, but what are going to be the major difference i will notice both in the short run, but more importantly in the long run?

Thanks again!

EDIT…I just saw that Custom Sleep Design is located in Westport, CT about 15 minutes from me. We are going to check that place out. I couldn’t seem to find pricing online but hopefully they are comparable to SleepEZ.

Hi BigManLittleLady,

There are some very good options in Connecticut and some good feedback from some of the members here as well about some of them. A search on “Connecticut” (you can just click the link and scan the results) will bring up lots of options and comments, many of which are quite close to you. They include some high quality and value manufacturers with many different options.

It may be surprising what could work for you but a side to side split may very well work best of all. As you mentioned … memory foam and latex are apples and oranges but there are also combinations of these materials that may also work well. The major differences between them are that memory foam is slow recovery and latex is fast recovery. Memory foam is temperature sensitive while latex isn’t, and memory foam is warmer than latex. Latex can also be used in support layers while memory foam is too soft to be used in the deeper layers. Memory foam is also more tricky because it can get softer over the course of the night and it’s a little more risky than latex in terms of alignment … depending on the thickness of the layers and the types of layers both above and below it. Latex is also more durable and softens more slowly than even high density memory foam and and there is an even bigger difference when it’s compared to lower density memory foam. As you mentioned though … your own testing on various different types of latex layering (some softer and some firmer) will be more accurate in terms of the differences for you than anything else. There’s more about the pros and cons of memory foam here and the pros and cons of latex here.

Custom Sleep Design are a more “premium” mattress in terms of the degree of customizing and zoning that can be built into the mattress and they also carry a more premium price than SleepEz. While they both have great “value” … they are different in the type of layering they use and in their prices. Which is better for each individual depends of course on the parts of each persons “value equation” (the different options available that are part of each mattress design and different outlets).

Hope this helps.


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Definitely search a little. There is CSD, CSS and a few more in the Danbury area too. I feel comforatable (no pun intended) with CSS in Branford. Check out my thread for more information if you want :slight_smile: