DIY ultrathin mattress?

Here’s the background - my current bed is unusable as it makes me feel like I’m sinking, forcing me to tense up. I’ve taken to sleeping on the floor instead. Of course no pressure relief is uncomfortable but there’s something very nice about having proper “support” (by which I mean a firm upwards force) over my bed which makes me “swim” too much (in the sense I feel like there’s nothing really keeping me up).

Although I’m sleeping surprisingly well on the floor, I’d like to sleep on something a bit softer in the long term due to the pressure problem. This has got me thinking that maybe I don’t need that much of a mattress - rather than 12 inches or so of material, why can’t I get away with 6 or even less? In terms of body type I am essentially a stick figure with an embarassingly low bmi of 16 so frankly I don’t see why I need all this extra padding. I don’t want to spend money on something if I don’t actually need it, but will compromise the bed if it wears out. I suppose my aim would be to have a mattress that relieves a bit of pressure whilst still getting the “stability” a floor gives.

As such I think a DIY mattress made up of 2 thin toppers would suit me well. I have a soft memory foam topper that is 5cm - despite the sinking complaint I do like how it feels, I just don’t think it’s suitable on top of my mattress that already has a lot of give, so I’d like to keep this if possible. I think it’s unlikely that will sleep well directly on a hard surface so I was thinking I could buy a firmer 6cm latex topper as support. I’ve never slept on latex but I really like the concept (durable + organic) so keen to give it a go - just ideally from a place with a good returns policy :wink:

This would make a 10cm/~4inch mattress - which admittedly is quite thin, so perhaps a bit risky, but I honestly feel like it’s more than enough for me.

I’m still learning about mattresses so keen to hear thoughts from other people on this. Is this a good plan or completely stupid? Any clever advice or tips?

Hi f.fs.

Welcome to our Mattress Forum! :slight_smile:

The good news here is…you totally can. If that’s what works for you in terms of comfort and support, then why not? And, with your BMI, you really don’t compress layers the way a heavier bodied sleeper would. If you think about it, in Japan they sleep on 4 - 6" shikifuton floor pads. I think you could try adding a 2" medium topper in the material of your choice underneath, and if that doesn’t feel right, you can always add another 2" into the mix to bring it up to 6".

Would you keep the entire configuration on the floor? Or would you buy a bunkie board type base to support your mattress?


Hmm, yeah, maybe it is possible then!

Thanks for asking about placement. I think it would be ideal to have it on my existing bed base so dust and mold aren’t massive issues. I was actually under the assumption this base is a hard, flat surface, but seems it isn’t. I don’t know quite what it’s called, but it appears to be lots of bars in a criss-cross pattern (like a metal frame) with some padded fabric stretched over them. About 30 years old.

Not sure if this is suitable for latex and bottoming out may be quite uncomfortable - so might actually need to think about this a bit longer. I wonder if I could get by just placing a big, thin block of wood over it? Of course I could always go out and buy a new base, but I’d prefer to avoid that if possible.

So I have a little experience with shikifutons. I purchased a 6" one about a year ago. It is quite comfortable. If you have a solid surface beneath you, either floor or platform, it’s a good idea to have some air circulation beneath the shiki to prevent mold. Coir pads serve that purpose and are a lot cheaper than tatami mats. I put my coir pad right on the floor.

Sites for you to explore
Good luck

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Update: So after a particularly bad night of sleep I bit the bullet and bought a latex topper. I realised the memory foam topper was way too soft for me, so I’m no longer sleeping on that.

My sleep setup is now as follows: bed frame → 1cm eva foam (very firm) → blankets → 5cm D65 dunlop latex → blanket.

So far I’ve been comfortable on this. It’s firm and supportive, with just enough pressure relief that I’m not in pain but I’m not sinking into anything. Has only been two nights so will have to see how it holds up in the long run.

I do have some concerns about ventilation. It seems it’s recommended for latex to be on a wooden slat frame for breatheability - mine being some sort of metal frame with fabric pulled over it, I’m not sure how good the airflow is. The EVA foam is also closed cell, and as I understand that makes it difficult for moisture and air to travel through. I might have to rethink this setup to prevent any mould issues. Would appreciate any suggestions on how best to tackle this. Where I live it seems difficult to obtain either traditional tatami mats or coir pads :frowning:

Hi f.fs,

I think the mesh like frame is probably okay for your mattress. If you are particularly concerned about ventilation, you can air out the layers every few months by separating them and standing them up against a wall or laid out individually (this does require some space, of course).

Do keep us posted on how things progress!


Hello again! It’s been about a month since I got the new topper, so I thought this was a good time to share how it’s been going so far.

I’ve slept quite well on it so far. In the first few days there was a bit of aching waking up as my body adjusted, and I realised I couldn’t sleep on my side without risking pins and needles in my arms. Luckily, that has passed, and it is now quite comfy no matter how I sleep. Muuuch better than my old mattress, and at a fraction of the cost of a full-sized one!

Concerning ventilation - so I have noticed the layers at the bottom feeling a bit too damp for my taste, and have aired it out once already. I’m planning to do this every ~2 weeks to prevent any mould, so a bit of a pain. I might also look at cutting some holes out of the EVA foam to ensure good ventilation, and see what my options are if it remains an issue.

That issue aside, I’m altogether very happy about my decision. I had a feeling this would work for me, so I think there is a nice lesson about listening to one’s gut here.

My ‘frame’ also has lots of metal crossbars. Suggestion: rip the fabric & padding off. Then perhaps the following would be helpful: I went to the hardware store and bought ‘rabbit wire’ and spread it to prevent the lowest foam layers from ‘pooching’ through. You’ll probably need two pieces so be ready to plan your tetris approach. Also use pliers to fold the sharp edges over, so you don’t get poked. Voila - Fabulous ventilation and protection / support for your mattress layers.