fine tuning comfort layers

After experimenting with many 3 and 4 layer latex configurations, I am close to finding a setup that will work for me. I am considering 2 different options to improve my setup and I would like feedback on what kind of impact reducing the thickness of the comfort layers in my setup might have.

Below are my personal stats, results of some of the configurations I have tried for context, followed by the information I am looking for.

Personal: 6’1, 185 lbs, athletic build, broad shoulders. 80/20 back and side sleeper respectively.

Some of the Configurations I have tried: Note all layers are 3" thick and sit directly on the floor. Configurations are listed from bottom to top.

F = Firm Dunlop ~36 ild
MF = Medium Firm Dunlop ~ 32 ild
Mt = Medium Talalay ~28 ild
St = Soft Talalay ~22 ild

#1) F, MF, Mt – Way too firm. Could not sink in enough for the latex to accommodate the curvature of my lower back and provide adequate support, let alone allow my shoulders to sink in. Resulted in lower back pain and shoulder soreness in the morning.

#2) MF, St, Mt – Feel was good in terms of being of soft/firm. However, when on my back, I was not able to sink in enough for my lower back to be fully supported. Not far off though. No real complaints when on my side. Result was mild lower back discomfort in the morning.

Note I also tried MF, Mt, St. Overall the feel and results were similar but I preferred lying directly on the Mt layer in this setup.

#3) F, MF, Mt, St – Too soft. I sank in too much and lacked adequate support for my hips. Result was lower back pain in the morning.

#4) F, MF, St, Mt – Definite improvement over configuration #3. The Mt on top provides more progressive resistance and therefore better support. However, when on my back, I still sank in just a bit too much and require a little more support. Result was minor lower back discomfort in the morning. No issues when on my side. This is the best configuration I have tried to date and is my baseline for further changes.

#5) MF, F, Mt, St – This configuration is just a little bit too firm in feel and, when laying on my back, does not allow me to sink in enough to fully support my lower back. Result was minor lower back discomfort in the morning. Not far off though.

Potential Changes
Using configuration #4 ( F, MF, St, Mt) as my baseline, I am looking to add a bit more support for my hips.

My question is how much of an impact would reducing the St layer by 1" have? My understanding is this would likely result in a minor change, which might still leave me wanting additional support?

What kind of impact would reducing the St layer by 2" have? My understanding is this would have a significant impact? My concern here is that I would be getting too close to configuration #1 which was way too firm.

The other option I am considering is replacing the 3" St layer with a Mt layer 2" or 3" in thickness.

I know only I can decide what works for me but In terms of replies, I am just looking for food for thought. I can also provide the results from other configurations that I have tried if that will help formulate a response.

Thank you in advance.

Great info here and good job trying/testing all the different configuration. Also excellent to keep good notes on each and how they feel the day after so you can make any adjustments needed after. Considering that your #4 combo was really close I think you are going to have a very hard time just using complete layers and varying thicknesses to hit your ideal comfort target. My suggestion would be instead to consider zoning the 2nd layer down (St layer in your #4 config) and cut the layer to allow a stiffer talalay (I would only use talalay here, start with Mt for your zone support) in the midsection/chest area. It takes a bit of experimenting to get it right (how big the zone is and what ILD provides the right support) but zoning will likely get you exactly the support you’re looking for without compromising in the other areas that need to sink into the mattress (like hips/bum/shoulders). Use a photo of yourself at bed level to verify your alignment is good for side sleeping (spine should be in a straight line for maximum comfort).

I was afraid the Z word would get mentioned. I’m not quite ready to go down that path. Since configuration #2 (MF, St, Mt) was a bit too firm and configuration #4 (F, MF, St, Mt) was a bit too soft, I was first going to see if I could split the difference by swapping the soft talalay layer in configuration #4 for medium talalay or playing with the overall thickness of the comfort layers.

Which brings me back to my original question. How much of a difference would reducing the total thickness of of the comfort layers by 1-2" make? My understanding is a 1" change is relatively minor, while a 2" difference is more substantial?

I should also note my real concern is finding a comfortable setup when on my back. I typically only move to my side when I am uncomfortable so I am more than happy to firm things up a bit in the shoulder area, relative to configuration #4, if I can fix the issues when sleeping on my back.

Reducing the thickness of your comfort layers would clearly make the feel firmer, since not only would you be closer to the firm base layers but you’d also be nearer the inflexible floor that you have the mattress placed on. Of course reducing 2" of the comfort layers would make a larger difference than only 1" which would be more subtle, it’s hard to predict which you would find preferable. The tradeoff can be that while reducing comfort layer thickness will firm up the feel and provide firmer support it could result in you finding it too hard and unforgiving with a lack of sufficient conformance and comfort. Unfortunately the only way to know definitively how a given change will impact your perception of the mattress is to try it. Generalizations can give you an expectation but there’s no substitute for personal experience.

Hope that helps!

  • Bill

Just to build on what Bill said. Zoning is not a bad word. Zoning is a potential solution to a compromise that arises from the limitations of the materials your dealing with. So while latex foam has some amazing properties, there is only so much support and travel it can offer at the same time. When you’re designing any mattress simpler is always better with the caveat that single layer arrangements (even when using all talalay) can only go so far until you need to start compromising. Zoning can help move you past that limitation but at the expense of complexity. You don’t have to cut the layers right away either, often you can mock up the design first to get a feel for how well it will work and then decide where you want to add a zone to improve performance in that particular area of the mattress.

As Bill said when you add or subtract layer thickness then you are creating a compromise between support and travel. So to answer your question there is nothing magic about 1" vs 2" vs 3" thickness of layers. When you add layers the effect is nearly linear (so if you get 1/2" travel on a 1" layer with a given force/area, you’d get 1" of travel on a 2" layer). I say nearly because in reality as you add thickness and sink into the mattress further your body is not flat (the layer is not compressed equally) and your surface area also changes which can make it feel more comfortable by reducing pressure (since pressure = force / area). Given that your back is the primary sleeping position then the bum/lower back transition will be a critical area to allow both travel and support (this is a common problem area on many beds). You could try and solve this with zoning in that area or if you are set on using single layers first then swapping the lower layers from dunlop to talalay (keeping the ILDs the same) can also help improve the travel/support issue as well. Let us know how you make out.

thank you both for the responses.

Mattrebuild could you clarify your suggestion for replacing the lower dunlop support layers with talalay of equal ILD ? If I am looking for additional support, what will that do for me?

I think the easiest way to understand it is visually. If you look at the graph below you can see that as pressure increases the talalay allows more travel than the dunlop. This is especially helpful in transition areas like the hips/lower back because where the bum pushes several inches into the mattress (assuming the person is muscular or curvy), within a very close proximity the mattress must then also come up to also provide good support in the small of the back. If you looked at a pressure map of someone lying down, the most comfortable mattress would be where it was most evenly distributed. So bottom line, for a given ILD talalay performs better than dunlop in this respect (and the graph backs this up). All the layers in the mattress also do work together so this is why I suggested swapping to all talalay should help you get closer to what you want but I still can’t guarantee that it will be enough to do what you need it to do without any zoning at all. Hope this helps.

That makes sense. I have experienced that sensation with the talalay I currently have. As you mentioned I’m not sure that would be enough for this situation.0

I’m headed to a showroom next week to try out a few configurations. I’ll report back when I find a solution. At some point, when all is said and done, maybe I’ll post all of the configurations I have tried with feedback on how each change impacted the feel and support. Maybe someone in future might find it helpful.

Always good to provide a follow up if you did or didn’t find a solution to your issue and what you tried to date. I’m sure others will appreciate it later. I’ve found it personally frustrating myself when you find a thread in a forum (could be any subject) that describes your issue/problem perfectly and there’s tons of discussion for how to solve it but you never find out how it was actually resolved (or not). Let us know what you find out.

When sleeping on my back., the configuration below provides good support/alignment but over time there is an increasing sensation of pressure which eventually becomes uncomfortable. I assume a common suggestion would be to slightly increase the thickness of the comfort layer to reduce pressure while maintaining support. Are there certain circumstances when it would be advisable to target the intermediate layer instead?

3" Firm dunlop - base layer
3" medium talalay - intermediate layer
3" soft talalay - comfort layer

separately, do natural and blended latex have a similar feel for a given ild? or do they differ?

I am getting closer to finding an acceptable all latex mattress configuration but I am in need of additional information.

  1. I have seen a few posts reference a couple default all latex configuration for people of average size and weight as a starting point. Are there any default recommendations for people of average size and weight looking for a more, plush mattress feel?

  2. Reminder my personal stats are 6’1", 185 lbs, athletic build, mostly back sleeper.

At present a configuration of firm dunlop, med talalay, soft talalay (bottom to top, all 3" layers) provides good alignment for me. However, this configuration presents with some minor pressure in the lumbar area. Interestingly I don’t seem to experience any pressure points when on my side.

Looking to alleviate this issue, I increased the intermediate layer to 6" of Med Talalay (2 x 3"). I opted to change the intermediate layer instead of the comfort layer because, as a back sleeper, I was not sure a comfort layer greater than 3" would be ideal. Although this was very comfortable when falling asleep, the result was lumbar pain in the morning.

I also tried Firm D, Med T, Soft T, Med T. This completely alleviated the lumbar issue. However, my upper back does not sink in evenly, resulting in slight discomfort in the middle of the thoracic area. This configuration is also slightly firm overall.

a) How might I alter the original 3 layer configuration (Firm D, Med T, Soft T) to alleviate the pressure in the lumbar area while maintaining proper alignment? As a back sleeper, would it be advisable to try increasing the thickness of the comfort layer beyond 3" of soft talalay? I might be able to get away with 4", but generally it seems counter to most advice I see on the forum.

b) Would increasing the thickness of the Firm support layer to 6" have any impact? I am a little confused about what the potential impact would be.

Would a thicker support layer make for a firmer mattress because there is greater structural support and therefore more force pressing up against the body? Or would a thicker support layer make for a softer mattress feel because body weight is being distributed over a greater amount of foam? Or would there be no appreciable difference in feel since the mattress system is likely to be compressed in a similar manner, regardless of whether the support layer is 3" or 6"?

I have tested a ton of 3 and 4 layer mattress configurations at this point. If additional information would be helpful, let me know.