DIY Bed that feels like Sealy Astral Firm or Tempurpedic Rhapsody?

Great site, very informative - and for someone like me an absolute wormhole!

My soon-to-be wife and I have decided to get a King Size mattress as we will now be sleeping in the same bed, regularly, together. We made the obligatory trip to Macy’s and spent quite a bit of time laying on the various mattresses, just to get an idea of the feel that we liked.

There was one bed that really stood out above all others. The Astral (Firm) by Sealy Memoryworks. Another bed had virtually the same feel, the Rhapsody by Tempurpedic. I can only describe the feeling as very firm, that over the course of a few seconds allows your body to sink in a bit. I have back problems from an old injury, and a decently pronounced caboose, and these two beds, after trying dozens of others, well, these beds actually felt like they allowed my body to “release.” I literally have that “ahhhh” moment on both of them.

Of course, going in I had already started reading your site, and had a bit of skepticism. We are looking to get pregnant before too long so the materials are of some importance. The biggest factor, however, is comfort of sleep (the "ahh factor), limitation of movement disturbance (I toss and turn a lot and have sleep apnea from working the WTC site on 9-11), keeping cool (I tend to run much hotter than normal people) and finally price. I’m 5’11’’ and 190, stocky/muscular (not fat), and my wife-to-be is 5’8’’ 125 and very lanky and slender (and the woman of my dreams :)).

After reading your site we’ve visited the showrooms you mention locally (Dixiefoam and ScottJordan), and have pretty much confirmed that we don’t quite like the bounce/responsiveness of latex and prefer the feeling of the two beds we saw at Macy’s. Mark at Dixiefoam is really amazing, and we may still go with him if we can’t find anything better, but the issue there is that he has only one type of 3’’ memory foam that he calls medium firmness, and is frankly a bit too giving compared to what we’ve found we like, whether placed on top of polyfoam or latex.

The Sealy Astral Firm is virtually impossible to find detail about online, beyond a little blurb and picture Macy’s has on their site:

Mattress type: Memory Foam
Quality: best
Sleep style: stomach
Mattress height: 10.5"
No-flip mattress design
Quilting layers: 1" MD-3 Memory Foam provides optimum comfort & support to reduce pressure points and improve circulation & temperature balance
Comfort layers: 1.5" NuGel Memory Foam infused with tiny gel bears to provide added pressure-free support and a cool sleep experience; 2" MD-3 Memory Foam
Cover fabrication: knit picture-framed with chenille border

Some info is there, but nothing about weights etc. Perhaps it’s a new bed so there’s just not much info out there yet (including user reviews)? They seem to be sandwiching a layer of gel between a couple of other foam layers. I would think with this much memory foam (4.5 inches) that it would be much more giving/plush feeling but it is actually quite firm. I wonder if that’s a result of the layering itself, or perhaps the use of the gel layer which is firmer…? I’ve also read a decent amount about the newness of the mattress in the showroom affecting feel, so I hope to visit a few more showrooms in hopes that I can find one that’s been a bit more “broken-in.”

I’m assuming Tempurpedic is a bit more transparent, but I also can’t find weights listed. The Rhapsody is a 12 inch mattress with:

1.2" of highly-conforming TEMPUR-HD material
2.8" of TEMPUR® material
8" Dual AirFlow System™
TEMPUR-Tex® top and bottom with MicroSuede sides

It’s interesting to note that both mattresses had what I would call a bit more of a “tighter” surface cover (thicker as well??), and I imagine that might affect the feel in a way – and perhaps be contributing to the experience that we actually like.

We are willing to spend as much as $2000, but obviously would love to get the best value for our money. As such, I’ve started looking into potential DIY options. I understand how complex all of the layering and feels might be, but I would love any advice if you might have it.

I’d be willing to consider 8lb layers, gels, etc., etc. The notion of trying to recreate something like the Astral by layering some different foam products is appealing, particularly if we can do it for a decent price (I should mention that I just spoke to someone at Macy’s on the phone and that Mattress ,without the box-spring, is running around $1400 right now – which isn’t terrible).

I wonder if that Sealy Astral is also using some kind of high-density foam on the top layer. Would that be an 8lb foam?

I guess my big question would be this: are there any good sources out there where we could buy said layers and be able to return them if they aren’t right?

Aside from the comfort layers, I’m also wondering about the base layer. The polyfoam that Mark sells is reasonably lightweight – but seems expensive at around $550 for that density. We’d also consider a latex base, but that sounds like it might be a lot of coin for something that’s so far down (we have a platform base).

Lastly, I’m wondering if you know of any Therapedic retailers in NYC where we might be able to lay on them? The Blue Lagoon you’ve linked to on some other pages looks like it’s worthy checking out, and as they’re a national brand I thought we may be able to find something in the NYC area. Our zip is 11217.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have, and you can expect a donation regardless. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the epitome of what the web should be, and give me a little hope for the future of where it can go.

Hi restless,

There are several ways to “duplicate” the feel and performance of another mattress.

The first of these is by equivalence which is possible if a manufacturer with enough experience and knowledge designs and builds a mattress that is reasonably close to the softness and support of another mattress that is known to them and this is confirmed with their own personal testing (and preferably the testing of a larger group of people like their customers as well). These may not have the exact same layering or even quality of materials (there are many ways to achieve the equivalent performance and/or feel in a mattress that has a different overall design) but they would be made in a way that they would be very similar in the experience of most people in terms of softness and support levels. Of course this depends on a retailer or manufacturer being familiar enough with another mattress you were trying to match that they could give you a meaningful comparison that would be accurate in most cases. Most manufacturers would only do this with mattresses that are widely available and popular enough to justify the time, effort, and even risk involved to compare their mattresses to another manufacturer and take the risk that their comparison wasn’t accurate enough and many of their customers didn’t agree with their comparison (which could lead to returns with customers that were using their comparison as their primary guideline)

The second is by feel which is a more subjective comparison and can be tested with side to side testing in real time. This needs to be very close together without any other mattresses “in between” because our subjective memories are not very long lasting. We have all for example experienced testing half a dozen mattresses in a store and not remembering exactly what the first one felt like or realizing that the “feel” of it seemed to change as we tested other mattresses which became new reference points. This also won’t tell you how they may compare a year down the road because lower quality materials can have a similar “showroom feel” to higher quality materials and lower density/quality will soften and degrade faster than higher quality materials. Feel is the most subjective of all the ways to match a mattress and is the result of how all the materials and components in the mattress interact together with each person and their individual perceptions.

Third is by quality of materials. This means that both mattresses use the same quality of materials and would have similar durability but the feel or the softness and support may be different. The quality/density of the foams is the most important part of durability but it has little to do with how a mattress feels.

Finally a mattress can match by design. This means that the type and quality of materials and the layering are all the same and in effect you are duplicating every layer and component in the mattress in terms of quality of materials and layering with foams made by a different manufacturer. Foams that may seem similar in some of their specs may have different properties in other ways or different firmness levels so this may not lead to a mattress that “feels” the same or has the same softness and support. For example two different memory foams of the same density may have very different temperature sensitivities, response rates and recovery times, firmness/softness levels and other properties that would create a different feel and performance between two seemingly very similar mattresses. You would need to know not only the density and thickness of each layer but would also need to know the firmness level and other properties of the foam and how they matched to the foam you were using to “duplicate” it.

The Sealy Memoryworks is not a popular enough mattress to be the “target” for another manufacturer and they don’t disclose the detailed specs of the materials they use anyway (the ones they provide are pretty much meaningless). This means that to duplicate this mattress the only way would be through your own comparisons based on your memory of its performance and subjective feel. If there is more than a few hours in between your testing of both or there are other mattresses “in between” … this is not likely to be very accurate.

This is highly unlikely and it’s much more reasonable to think it would be closer to half of this.

Tempurpedic is a little more open about the type of materials they use (HD = 7 lbs, Tempur material = 5.3 lbs, and ES = 4 lbs and their base layers are in the range of 2.2 lb polyfoam) but their foam density is only part of the story because they can make different types of memory foam with each density (for example they can make a softer or firmer version of the 5.3 lb memory foam) and even various types of fabrication (like convoluted airflow layers) can change the feel and performance of a mattress. (NOTE: Tempurpedic is no longer disclosing the density/quality of their materials and has changed the density of the base layers in at least some cases to 1.5 lb polyfoam.)

It is usually much more effective to evaluate each mattress you test against a common set of standards that are a little more objective. You could for example rate each mattress on a scale of 1 - 5 for each of the criteria that are most important to you which would give you a way to compare mattresses a little more objectively than just subjective “feel” alone. There is more about “mattress matching” in post #2 here and a more inclusive list with more information about many of the “needs and preferences” that may be part of each person’s “value equation” in post #46 here.

In general these needs and preferences will involve things you can know with testing (things like pressure relief, alignment, motion isolation, overall feel etc), others that you can only “predict” through knowing the materials that are in the mattress (ventilation and temperature control, durability, and how long a mattress may feel and perform the way it did in the showroom), along with the other factors that are important to each person’s “value equation” (such as the relative cost of two mattresses with similar materials and components, the knowledge, service, and options offered by the retailer before, and after the sale, natural vs synthetic materials, and any other less tangible options that may be important to each person).

One of the most frustrating ways to buy a mattress can be to use the more “subjective” memories of the “feel” of another mattress as a “target” where the materials aren’t known or where the layering is too complex to be effectively duplicated without the knowledge, experience, and guidance of a manufacturer that can “translate” one type of mattress into another with different layering and different variations of similar materials.

In your case … this rules out duplicating the memoryworks (except through side to side testing). The Tempurpedic line is so widespread and well known however that there are many manufacturers that will use them as reference points for their own mattresses.

You will find some of them in post #21 here where you will see that some of the manufacturers listed compare their mattresses to Tempurpedic or other well known brands in one or more ways to help their customers get a sense of how their mattresses will feel or perform or how it compares in terms of quality. If a close match is important then a good return policy can be a good indication of how confident a manufacturer is in their claims because few manufacturers would offer a low cost or free return if most customers were likely to return it.

Of course all of these may offer advantages that are better than the Tempurpedic which not as obvious in testing such as better breathability and temperature control (among others) besides the obvious advantage of having the same or better quality, and similar feel and performance at much better prices.

I’m not sure what the density is but it would surprise me if it was “lightweight”. Did you ask what the density was? I thought I had asked at one point but don’t have it in my notes. Latex makes a great base foam and is highly adaptable to different weights and sleeping positions (besides being durable) but of course as you mention it’s more expensive. The benefits would depend on the person and their body type, sleeping style, and their perceptions and preferences. ADDED: I thought I would find out for sure (and make notes this time :)) and Mark confirmed that they use anywhere from 1.8 lb in their lower end (good quality) all the way up to 2.8 lb polyfoam (exceptional quality) in their higher end. They don’t use anything less than 1.8 lb in any of their layers.

The most effective way to find this would be to call the Therapedic licensee that is the manufacturer for your area and ask them which retail outlet close to you may carry them.

Hope this helps.


Hi Phoneix,
It does help, very much thank you.
In fact, we went back today to the only place we could really compare some things side by side (a Macy’s), and my girlfriend, who had no knowledge or didn’t even look at the mattress brand names immediately picked out the same two favorites of mine.

Again, we both picked the Astral Firm by Sealy Memoryworks. As I told her, it’s like the bed is dialed in to the frequency of my body, and as soon as I lay down on it it just… let’s go.

I was wrong about the Rhapsody, though. We went to another store today just to test, and this version was much softer and mushier than the one I remember (a testament to your subjectivity with time argument) and was not interesting.

However, the Contour Select by Tempurpedic was almost comparable to the Memorywoks Astral in terms of it’s feel and effect. It seems like selectfoam and (discovered through your links, thanks) provide beds that mimic tempurpedic, but for the Contour line they list Deluxe Bed as the equivalent of their Conform Select, instead of the Tempurpedic Contour Select. I’m assuming there’s just been some updating and name changing…?

I’m loathe to buy a Sealy, but it’s just soooo right for my bod. And it’s presently priced at around $1450, which is only a few hundred more than selectfoam’s Conform Select.

The other big issue was coolness, and though select foam says their foam is cooler, their was a noticeable difference, even within 20-30 seconds, of coolness with the Astral and the Tempurpedic (the Astral being noticeably different). Sounds weird but it was noticed by both of us separately.

I guess part of me just wants to believe that a company like Sealy has woken up and is putting better materials in their “top of the line” mattress…

Thanks again for your help.

Hi restless,

I wish this was true but unfortunately it is the other way around. The major manufacturers don’t sell mattresses as much as they sell profit margin to their customers (larger chains and outlets) and over the last decade they have consistently lowered the quality of their mattresses in favor of a “showroom feel” that uses lower quality materials that doesn’t last.

The difference you may have felt in the Tempurpedic (which at least uses higher quality materials) may have been from foam softening or from subjective memory. A mattress will go through an initial breakin period where the foam softens over the first few weeks at a more rapid rate and then this is followed by a more gradual softening over a longer period of time. This will happen faster with lower density/quality foams.

The Deluxe Bed is an older model name and part of their comparison section hasn’t been revised. In the description it says …

Tempurpedics are in the warmer end of the memory foam temperature range (less open celled) and there are many mattresses that use more breathable foam and are cooler. Tempurpedic has just come out with some new models to try to compete with all the cooler memory foams that are being made (after denying that their previous models slept hot). Lower density memory foams are more open celled and tend to sleep cooler but many of the higher density memory foams being made today are also more open celled and cooler than memory foams of a few years ago. The mattress cover, mattress protector, and sheets along with the thickness of the memory foam layers also makes a difference. There is more about memory foam and sleeping temperature in post #6 here.

I certainly understand this but the problem is that the Sealy uses lower quality foams and still charges higher prices. I normally don’t go looking for specs with major brands because they can be difficult to find and the outcome is always the same but in this case the Sealy Canada site gives the specs of the foams used in the MemoryWorks here and as you can see they use 3.0 and 3.5 lb foams (they all use different combinations of these two foams) which are very low quality. The base foam is 1.9 lbs which is reasonable. The gel foam uses particles much like the Serta iComfort which carries the risk of breaking down what is already a lower quality memory foam even faster. Overall … this mattress uses low quality materials and yet the price is more than a mattress (such as the Select Foam) that uses much higher quality materials.

What a mattress feels like in a showroom and what it will feel like in a year or longer is very different when they use low quality materials.


That’s great that you were able to find the info on the Sealy. The low weights definitely turned us away. As a result, we took the next route. We purchased the Conform Select by SelectFoam, which compares to the Tempurpedic Contour Select - which also had that significant pressure release feeling in the showroom. The added coolness benefits and other things about the company seemed appealing (along with your endorsement), so we are excited to receive it.

However, one thing concerns me. They are shipping the bed, and the FEDEX tracking info lists the weight of the Mattress (there was also an included 9 piece "bundle of sheets, pillows, etc) at 86 pounds. That was much lighter than I expected. The Tempurpedic is listed with a weight of 130.

Now at the end of the day, the one thing we’ve had to measure quality has been weight, and, when taking into consideration the other elements being shipped, this mattress appears to be RADICALLy lighter. I’m not an expert at calculating mattress foam weights (based on a cubic foot, as I’ve discovered), but my rough calculations would be:

Memory foam: 4 inches at 5.3lbs - (6.33ft x 6.66ft x 5.3)/(3inches/12inches) = 55.9 lbs

I can’t find info on the “Airflow layer”, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and weigh it at 5.3lbs: (6.33ft x 6.66ft x 5.3)/(1inches/12inches) = 18.6 lbs

Support Layer: 6 inches at 2lbs (?)(6.33ft x 6.66ft x 2)/(6inches/12inches) = 42.2 lbs

When I add those numbers, I get 96.2 pounds. If I assume that they use really high quality base foam (2.8) that’s an additional 17lbs, which frankly puts the shipping weight much closer to the Tempurpedic.

Am I missing something? At the end of the day, if the weight of the foam is the only thing we have to go on (because we can’t totally trust showroom feel), should I not be skeptical of a company that compares themselves to tempurpedic but sends a mattress that potentially only weighs half as much?

Hi restless,

The Comfort Select lists the following layers …

3" of 5.3 lb memory foam
An airflow channel (fabricated channeled polyfoam)
Base layer (HD polyfoam)

A California King is 72" x 84"

So the calculated weight for the conform Select would be …

3" x 72" x 84" / 1728 (cu in per cu ft) = 10.5 cu ft x 5.3 lbs = 55.65 lbs
7" x 72" x 84’ / 1728 = 24.5 cu ft x 2.0 lbs (its actually a little higher) = 49
Total calculated weight would be 104.65 lbs plus any higher density polyfoam difference less any difference in the weight of the channeled polyfoam plus the weight of the ticking.

If you do the same calculation on a queen … you come to a shipping weight very close to your 86 lbs.

My guess is that the shipping weight has been listed incorrectly. You could probably check this on receipt and if there is a major discrepancy then of course I would call them to question it but this is not likely.

From many conversations with him … I know Matt well enough to know that he is very focused on the quality of the materials in his mattresses and the weight difference would almost certainly be in the listed weight rather than the actual weight of the mattress and extra package you ordered.


Well, the mattress came today and it is definitely light. It’s also definitely a King (Eastern) size (although it’s a couple of inches short but they include a piece of paper that stipulates it will take 24-48 hours to fully recover).

The surface of the mattress is much more plush (less firm) than the Tempurpedic Contour Select to which they compare themselves. That was one of my biggest preferences about the Contour - and about the Sealy Astral Firm by Memoryworks. I’m sure much of it has to do with the wicking, as this “Coolmax” covering material is very thin and stretchy - whereas those two beds had a thicker, firmer material on top (more drum-like, if that makes sense). Do any of the wool covers on the market provide that kind of tight top firmness I’m talking about? Seems like that kind of thing would require some sewing. I’m still a little concerned about the weight, as this is the one thing that I probably won’t discover to be problematic until well after the trial period has expired.

The GOOD NEWS, however, is that it DOES give me that Ahhhh Feeling that only the Contour Select and Astral Firm by Memoryworks gave me in the showroom. Not something to go by, as we’ve discussed, but I guess its enough to make me decide to cross my fingers and ride this one out.

And of course, I’ll be sure to check back in 6 and 12 months down the line to give a proper long-term update/review.

Thanks so much for all of your help Phoenix!

Hi restless,

Thanks for your update and report :slight_smile:

I talked with Matt (the owner) the other day (after you posted) and he said that the shipping weights may sometimes be lighter than the actual weight of the mattress.

He is also very adamant that the specs of his materials meet his quality guidelines. He even told me that based on your single post (which I mentioned) he plans to sample some of the foam to make sure it meets specs (density) and verify that there is no issue with foam density that may be slipping through the cracks.

When they “match” a mattress to one of the tempurpedic lineup it can be very difficult without side by side testing because they need to “match” in the long term after the foam has gone through the initial softening in both mattresses. Until then … they will feel different depending on the degree of softening that had happened in each mattress you are testing or sleeping on. Some foams soften initially more than others and Tempurpedic often starts off firmer and softens more during the initial break in period than other types of memory foam. They also change the layering from the Tempurpedic specs because if they use the exact same layering and density but use different types or formulas of memory foam … the “feel” (which they are trying to match) won’t be the same in the long term.

If you have any concerns or questions about any of this … just call them (and ask for Matt if you need to) and they will certainly deal with any questions you may have about foam density, weight, layering, or anything else.


Thanks Phoenix,

I will call them. In part because they also failed to include the promised bed bundle. Not a huge deal, except that I held off on buying sheets etc., because it was supposed to be included.

I’ll also be very interested to hear what Matt discovers. I’m replacing another online memory foam Mattress that was bought just six months ago (a highly recommended one I found on Amazon before discovering this site), so unfortunately I’m feeling a little skeptical (it completely lost it’s resilience in about 3-4 months). But I have high hopes…