Do I just not like latex?

I’m a 5’5", 160 lb combination sleeper (mostly stomach, but a little side, which is absolutely the worst combo!)

I’ve been working on my latex build all summer, and I think I may just not… like… latex?

I tried every possible combination with three split 3" slabs of latex (D85 38ish ILD Firm, D75 30ish ILD Medium, D65 25ish ILD Soft).

  • All my 6" builds were too firm (perhaps too close to the ground).
  • All my 9" or higher builds were too jiggly and made me feel seasick.
  • 9" or higher builds with soft on top tended to be too soft and I’d wake up with lower back pain, while any build with medium on top or with two layers of firm was so firm that it felt like it was pushing back against me. It was worse than sleeping on the floor, which is merely the absence of softness. Instead, it felt like a fully present firmness that was actively dislocating my hips, knees, and ankles.

The closest I got to good was a 8"-ish build of soft over firm latex with 2" of wool as a comfort layer. (Admittedly still a bit too soft.) I loved the feel of wool (medium firmness, but not “actively” firm in the way that latex can be, just nice and supportive but pressure relieving). Unfortunately, I had to get rid of it due to an allergy.

It feels like with latex, I just can’t hit the sweet spot between too soft and too firm, and that either way it’s intolerable in a way that sleeping on a bad innerspring mattress is not. (For example, I often sleep over at my partner’s and their innerspring mattress, while too firm for me to comfortably side-sleep, is livable. Unfortunately, I can’t replicate it because it’s a no-name brand with no internet presence that they got for free from a former housemate.)

I feel like Icarus - in my pursuit of perfection I ended up worse off than if I’d just accepted mediocrity.

I think all this is ample evidence to throw in the towel on latex but I’m just not sure where to go from here. I sleep too hot for memory foam. My partner thinks I should just buy a regular innerspring mattress but it’s like I know too much now: when I look at what Serta or whatever is made of, I’m just like, “Ugh, it’s all just polyurethane foam with fancy names.” The nicer innerspring mattresses tend to involve a lot of latex and wool.

Questions for the forum:

Should I give up on latex or am I using it wrong?

Has anyone had any luck with a DIY innerspring?

Is there anything that’s not wool that feels like wool?

Hi BurrowingOwl.

It’s very possible that the feel of an all-latex configuration just isn’t for you.

Were the latex layers in a well fitted encasement? If not, perhaps this could remedy a little if that jiggliness.

But, you’ve done a fair amount of troubleshooting. It’s okay to know your limits and what you aren’t liking. Because you do not mind the feel of innersprings but need more softness than a traditional innerspring offers, a hybrid may be your perfect solution. You can get the coils and the proper fitting encasement for your entire build from Arizona Premium.

Your partner has an innerspring you find firm. Why not take your 3" comfort layer to their house and throw it on top of your mattress to evaluate your sleep for a few nights? If you find it comfortable, you’ll have some good data points for an innerspring DIY.



Results of my (admittedly only a nap each) trial of latex over innerspring: The 25 ILD soft is the most comfortable but I sink in too much and it prevents me from getting the full support of the spring mattress below. The 30 ILD medium feels too firm, that “pushing back” feeling.

I spent some time surfing Arizona Mattress’s site and ended up mentally designing what I think would be a pretty good fit for me. I wanted something that would work for both side and stomach sleeping and ended up with a 8" L&P Quantum Edge Bolsa coil unit, covered in no more than 2" of latex (between 25 and 30 ILD?? or maybe either of the above would work well at 2"?)

After going through that exercise and feeling sort of nervous to embark on a new DIY when my last project didn’t work out so well, I looked at some prefab mattresses using the QE Bolsa and found the Luma Original Hybrid, which seems almost identical to what I designed. Additionally, it uses a Tencel exterior, which should be great for both my hot sleeping and my wool allergy. I’m going to talk to the folks at Luma, but happy to have any advice if anyone here has experience with them, or what their various firmnesses translate to. I couldn’t find latex densities/ILDs on the site.

Never mind, answered my own question - per Q&A on the Luma site, their latex ILD’s are: “Plush is 24 ILD, Medium is 28 ILD and Firm is 36 ILD.”

So it looks like I’m choosing between either the plush (close to my comfy-but-too-soft 25, possibly a bit softer, though thinner so that could firm it up) or medium (between my too-soft and too-firm).

Hi BurrowingOwl.

It looks like you’ve been busy! I am glad you were able to find the information you were looking for. Are there any more updates for us? :slight_smile:


Ironic update a month later:

While researching the Luma bed as well as other hybrid options and thinking about what I want, I’ve been sleeping on a cheap old too-firm innerspring mattress. Just to make myself comfortable in the meantime, I began modifying with latex toppers. After some experimentation, I got to a comfortable spot with a 4" stack of medium-to-soft latex toppers over the innerspring mattress. After trying a shikifuton on the floor, I had the revelation that you can have a thin mattress that’s mostly soft if you’re thinking of the floor as your support material - the mattress itself just comfort/transition material at that point. So I tried my 4" of toppers on the floor, and honestly I think I’m 80% of the way there! Maybe just another 2" of medium-to-firm material underneath to ease the transition from the floor. So it looks like I’m backing into another latex mattress. XD

This theoretical build would solve the problems I mentioned above - since it’ll be only 6", it stays under my seasick limit (and aesthetically I just like thin mattresses). It should also be soft enough for me because it’s mostly softer material. I think before, my 6" builds were too firm because I took it as gospel that your bottom layer needs to be very firm for support. I didn’t realize I could just make the whole stack a lot softer if it was going to be so thin.

The Current Question

I’m pondering now if I build a 6" soft latex mattress that works on the floor, it may not work on my slatted frame with slats 3" apart. I wouldn’t be getting as much support from the slats as the floor, and I might get sagging between them and be able to feel them in a way that’s probably more bothersome than a flat floor. I’m wondering if I should:

  1. Use a stiff/rigid material on the bottom of my mattress instead of/in addition to the firmish transition layer I proposed. Would a high-density polyfoam be stiffer than latex?
  2. Put a piece of plywood or pegboard over the slats to give me that floor feeling. Would this work? Are there other issues (e.g. I’ve heard plywood can mold in humid environments. I live in an intermittently humid environment - very humid in summer though dry in winter.)
  3. Ditch the frame altogether and sleep on the floor (but again might have moisture issues).
  4. Splash out for a new flat platform frame. Maybe one of those fancy tatami frames.

Any other ideas/considerations welcome!

Hi BurrowingOwl.

I love this update. I grew up in the Tokyo area and am all too familiar with a shikifuton :slight_smile:

6" on a slatted base is doable but, yet, you will have a different and less firm experience. The closer the slats are together, the more support you’re going to feel from your base.

In thinking of shikifutons - they are aired and rolled frequently as the sleep space is often also a living space and so they need to be put out of the way. You could certainly get away with a 6" build on the floor or a platform base. The chances of your latex becoming moldy is unlikely, but you can also regularly flip or air your latex to help prevent that from occurring should it be a concern. A tatami frame would be amazing!

I’m hoping others will weigh in with advice and ideas as well.