Goodbye Latex Mattress - moving on

OK, time to say goodbye to this mattress. I’m ready. For 3 yearsIve gone back forth between true love and disillusionment.

Stats: 6 inch 36 ild talalay latex + 2 inch 24 ild + lovely wool padding with organic cotton cover.

It was comfortable at times, even though from the very beginning support level was always clearly too soft (butt sinking ) while at the same time there was a hardness to it that killed my shoulder joints (adding a new wool topper was just enough to fix that problem).

Curiously, my back seemed OK with it at times, but other times - usually summer - it wasnt, and Id start to get serious back pain again. Seems like latex softens in the summer? Not much maybe, but enough to put me over the edge.

This last bout of back pain was the last straw. I’m back to sleeping on the floor on my Luxury Map Thermarest (3 inches thick and zoned - I strongly recommend it to any campers out there with bad backs ) Theres an inch of 24 ILD fake latex foam topper over that and a cotton pad on top. And within a day my back is back to feeling good! Honestly, this set up is the most comfy thing Ive been on in years - since my old Sears-O-Pedic bit the dust

So I could go 2 directions. One is to just forget latex and get a new, different type of mattress. Theres a lovely, comfy… but kinda expensive… ortho mattress with springs/ about a layer of latex that Ive tested and like (shout out to Beloit Mattress). When your back goes “aaaahhhhh” that’s a good sign.

Or get something custom made in latex again, using my success with the Thermarest pad to guide me in designing something that would work better for me. I slept on my old latex enough to know that if only it had had adequate back support (no butt sinking, spine held in alignment) it wouldve been just divinely comfy… The rest of it was great I loved the the wool padding on top and the springy feel of the latex underneath the wool and the deliciously smooth top (without the annoying buttons and dips that a spring mattress has).

So the most obvious thing I would need in a new mattress is a firmer support layer. But what… one thing that’s occurred to me is that the thickness of the layers has as much to do with the feel than the ILD. What if my 6 inches of 36 ILD was reduced to 3 inches thick instead of 6, wouldnt it feel firmer and lessen the butt sinking hammock effect?

Or what about this - it seems dunlop is stiffer. I could have dunlop on the bottom, and keep my 2 inches of squishier 24/28 ILD Talalay and inch of wool on top

Ive been reading a while andI know you cant specify in much detail what people should do for mattresses, just wondering what thoughts you might have on what I might consider for a support layer because that’s really the only glitch.

And, what do you think about the idea of just going thinner with the bottom layer as a way to firm it up and straighten up my back alignment? It would only be a 6 inch thick bed not as attractive as a thicker one, but oh well. If it worked, one advantage of having less latex would be it would be more affordable. BTW not only is my current Thermarest comfy, but so was 20 years of sleeping on 6 inch cotton futons on a wood platform (they had a thin layer of foam inside and were nice handmade things - not like the cheap stiff lumpy things you see now that are only meant tobe kept folded up in a frame except when guests come. So that’s another reason Im thinking maybe thinner is better? Thanks in advance for any and all input

Hi Dreamer,

I’m sorry to hear that your mattress isn’t working out as well for you as you hoped for. While there are too many unknowns and variables involved for me to make specific suggestions based on “specs” (either yours or a mattress) … hopefully some of the information here can help you make a choice that is a better “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences).

There is more detailed information about the most common symptoms that people may experience when they sleep on a mattress and the most likely (although not the only) reasons for them in post #2 here.

There is more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel”.

These posts are the “tools” that can help with the analysis, detective work, or trial and error that may be necessary to help you learn your body’s language and “translate” what your body is trying to tell you so you can make the types of changes or additions to your mattress that have the best chance of reducing or eliminating any “symptoms” you are experiencing.

I would be very cautious about directly relating firmness to support and it’s possible that your mattress is both too firm (in the upper layers) and too soft (in the support layers) although unless you are in a much higher than average weight range it would be unlikely that a mattress that uses 36 ILD as a support core and only has 2" of 24 ILD latex as a comfort layer would be too soft based on “averages”.

Having said that … personal experience always “trumps” theory.

Latex isn’t temperature sensitive so it’s unlikely that temperature would make a difference in the firmness/ softness of your mattress. While anecdotally I have heard similar subjective feedback from a few people and higher humidity levels may make a small difference that some people seem to notice … it’s also possible that there are other issues involved that aren’t connected with the mattress.

Post #2 here has more about the different ways to choose a mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for that are involved in each of them.

There is also more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase in post #13 here that can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses.

As you probably know Beloit is one of the members here which means that I think very highly of them and I believe that they compete well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, service, and transparency.

If you are attracted to the idea of designing and building your own DIY mattress out of separate components and a separate cover then the first place I would start is by reading option 3 in post #15 here and the posts it links to (and option #1 and #2 as well) so that you have more realistic expectations and that you are comfortable with the learning curve, uncertainty, trial and error, or in some cases the higher costs that may be involved in the DIY process. While it can certainly be a rewarding project … the best approach to a DIY mattress is a “spirit of adventure” where what you learn and the satisfaction that comes from the process itself is more important than any cost savings you may realize (which may or may not happen).

If you decide to take on the challenge then I would either use the specs (if they are available) of a mattress that you have tested and confirmed is a good match for you in terms of PPP as a reference point (the same type and blend of latex in the same thickness and firmness levels and a very similar cover which can also make a significant difference to the feel and performance of a mattress) or use a “bottom up” approach (see post #2 here).

The thickness of the different layers or the mattress as a whole is just one of the specs that can make a difference in the overall feel and performance of a mattress. There is more about the effect of thickness in post #14 here and there is more about some of the other specs that can make a difference in whether a mattress is a good match for a particular person in post #2 here but trying to guess how all the different design elements and specs of the materials in a mattress will work together is very complex and can easily lead to information overwhelm or “paralysis by analysis” and the only practical way to know whether any mattress or combination of layers will work well for you with any certainty (particularly if you are outside of the “averages” that would work well for most people) will be based on your own personal experience.

There is more about the differences between Dunlop and Talalay in post #7 here. Both of them come in a wide range of firmness levels but in very general terms Talalay is more resilient and Dunlop has a higher compression modulus (the rate that a material becomes firmer with deeper compression). The choice between them is really a preference choice more than a “better/worse” choice.

Based on “averages” and depending on your weight, body type, and sleeping positions … I wouldn’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that you need a firmer or thinner base layer and I would keep in mind that “sagging” can also be the result of a mattress that is too firm and that doesn’t provide the secondary support that you may need to fill in the more recessed gaps in your sleeping profile and it could be the unsupported parts of your body that are “sagging” rather than the mattress. Having said that … your experience with the Thermarest and with futons seems to point in the other direction and your body may just be used to a firmer and thinner mattress and it may be a more suitable choice regardless of whether it would be the best choice for others that are similar to you in terms of body type and sleeping positions.

If your mattress is a component mattress it may also be worth trying just the 6" layer of 36 ILD latex inside the cover to see how it feels for you.

Post #2 here also has more information about futons and includes a list of some sources for futon mattresses that may be worth considering as well … some of which include latex, wool, and cotton in the design.



In reading your post about your latex mattress, is it possible to flip your mattress for a few nights and see if you like a firmer latex layer on top? If so, you’d have 6" of firmer latex on top and the softer layer would be on the bottom. Might be worth a try before you throw the 'baby out with the bath water." :slight_smile:

Even if you don’t end up liking that configuration, it would give you more information in evaluating alternative strategies.


Eagle, actually I did try flipping it over and what it did was validate that I am indeed sinking in too far at the hips and that the problem is in the support core… I was definitely feeling the 36 ILD though - ouch! Hard as a rock, while at the same time my butt/hips still sank too far. Guess Im hip heavy, and I wonder if distribution of weight may be a factor as much as total weight. I may be able to sell my mattress so it wont be a total loss - to someone for their young son who is straight as a board with no hips or butt tos peak of!

Phoenix, thank you for pointing me to the relevant articles/posts - most helpful as there is so much information on this website - its easy to get lost in it for hours! My alignment definitely looked (and felt) like the “too soft” picture that you linked to. But when I say soft Im referring specifically to that deep down primary" support, not referring to the comfort layers - my 2" of softer 24 ILD latex + the inch or so of wool padding (thick wool an integral part of my system - could not sleep directly on latex) was great - had some shoulder and joint pain which healed nicely sleeping on my side on this mattress so I know pressure point relief was good - its only this issue of poor support at the hips that I think was the problem.

I like the “building from the bottom” idea - maybe start out with 2 or 3 inches of 42 ILD … maybe in Dunlop…and go from there.

Hi Dreamer77,

I’m still not clear from your posts what actual symptoms you are experiencing on the mattress.

You’ve mentioned that you believe you are sinking in “too far” into the support core but unless you are in a very high weight range this is somewhat unlikely and is a more “subjective” assessment about the feel of the mattress that may not be an accurate way to know whether a mattress is a good “match” for you in terms of PPP (see post #6 here).

A mattress that has a 36 ILD latex support core and a 2" 24 ILD latex comfort layer would be in a firmer range for most people but it would certainly be suitable for a much wider range of people (including adults) than a young child with a “flat” body.

If the only issue is that your mattress really is too soft in the center of the mattress then some of the suggestions in post #4 here and the zoning information in post #11 here may be helpful as well.

While I don’t know your weight or body type … I have a nagging feeling that the firmness of your support core may not be the issue you believe it is.


Well, I guess I’m open to input but… Im telling you, there is a definite hammock effect going on. What else could cause that? I can feel it when lying on my back and my side on this mattress…, and what is really telling is that Im totally unable to sleep or lie comfortably on my stomach (which I usually like to do at times) because my back gets bent too far backwards- ouch!. (Feeling comfortable when lying on stomach is one test I’ve been doing of mattresses in the stores when I shopped recently.)

Symptoms:: Serious lower back pain - very intense in the a.m., clears up by evening, and goes away entirely when I sleep on another bed or the Thermarest., Have had herniated disk in the past so perhaps its more like it’s triggering an existing condition.

No problems with numbness or joint pain … had some of that before I added my additional wool padding but its all good now. (I would guess theres a good inch of wool now including some in the cover and some in the pad).

Hi Dreamer77,

[quote]Well, I guess I’m open to input but… Im telling you, there is a definite hammock effect going on. What else could cause that? I can feel it when lying on my back and my side on this mattress…, and what is really telling is that Im totally unable to sleep or lie comfortably on my stomach (which I usually like to do at times) because my back gets bent too far backwards- ouch!. (Feeling comfortable when lying on stomach is one test I’ve been doing of mattresses in the stores when I shopped recently.)

Symptoms:: Serious lower back pain - very intense in the a.m., clears up by evening, and goes away entirely when I sleep on another bed or the Thermarest., Have had herniated disk in the past so perhaps its more like it’s triggering an existing condition.[/quote]

What some people consider to be a “hammock effect” can sometimes just be a matter of how the mattress they are sleeping on compares to the mattress they are used to and is somewhat subjective so I would always go by what your body is telling you based on the actual symptoms you experience on a mattress.

Having said that … the most common (although not the only) cause for lower back pain is a mattress that is too soft so I would consider your actual symptoms to be much more reliable than more subjective assessments such as how much it “feels like” different parts of your body are sinking into the mattress. The symptoms you are describing are what I was looking for to confirm your assessment.

The “cause” behind one part of your body sinking in more than it should can include the comfort layers of your mattress (if they are too thick or soft, the support core of your mattress (if it is too soft), or the support system under your mattress. All of this would also be relative to your body type, sleeping positions, and other health and physiological factors that can be unique to you.

Stomach sleepers can be much more prone to lower back issues because of the risk of sleeping in a swayback position and it can be a good idea to sleep with a pillow under your pelvis/lower abdomen if you are a stomach sleeper to reduce the risk of sleeping in a swayback position. A thin pillow or no pillow at all can also help with keeping the head and neck in better alignment when you sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleeping has opposing requirements compared to back and especially side sleeping so if you are a combination sleeper its usually a good idea to have a firm support core (and “firm” would be relative to your weight) with “just barely enough” thickness/softness in the comfort layers to relieve pressure when you sleep on your side to reduce the risk of alignment issues when you sleep on your stomach.

It can also be a good idea to try and change the habit of sleeping on your stomach if possible because of the risks of lower back issues and neck issues as well that can be related to sleeping with your head turned to the side. A body pillow can also help forward leaning" side sleepers to maintain better alignment on their side and still have some of the “comfort” and familiarity of having something against their stomach which many stomach sleepers miss if they try to change their sleeping positions.


The best thing that you can do for yourself, regardless of the mattress, is to stop sleeping in the prone (on your stomach) position. Especially with a herniated disc, health professionals recommend you to avoid this sleeping posture.

Research shows that intervertebral disc injuries and their effect on the surrounding soft tissues are the main culprit for posture-dependent low back pain, and these are exacerbated by an incorrect sleeping posture. Ideally you’d want to relax the iliopsoas (hip flexor) complex and slightly flatten out the lordotic (forward) lumbar curvature and take some of the stress off of that area. Sleeping on your stomach does the opposite and is especially contraindicated with a low back disc injury, so do your best to change your sleeping position. It really will help you as time goes on.

Thanks again phoenix - I understand where you’re coming from in wanting to pin down the symptoms - its indeed helpful to look at it in a more scientific way … in addition to the more subjective “it feels this way.”

I have one more question before pulling the plug on this one - by flipping it over so the 24 ILD is on the bottom, is that going to give me a true ;picture of what my 36 ILD layer feels like… or will the softness on the bottom play into how it feels on top?

Actually Im more of a side and sometimes back sleeper. If I fall asleep on stomach I don’t stay there long. Just meant to say that back discomfort while lying on stomach was for me an indicator of the hammock thing going on.

Hi Dreamer,

No … the 2" softer layer on the bottom will have some effect on how much the heavier parts of your body are sinking down and the extra thickness would have some effect as well (even if it was a firmer layer) and if the cover material and quilting is different on the bottom of your mattress than on the top then this could have some effect as well so for most people flipping the mattress upside down would be different from sleeping on the 6" firm core by itself over the course of the night (the symptoms that you feel from alignment issues are usually more noticeable when you wake up in the morning)


This crazy mattress! Last night, I got fed up with my stiff plastic Thermarest, so I got up and flipped over the latex so the 36 ILD bottom side was up, put a sheet down and slept right on top of it with no other pad. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as rock hard as I remember it though ut wasn’t what Id call really inviting or comfy either. Butt and hips still sank, but not overly so = slept well and woke up without back pain.

Things I learned from this experience:

  • It may be the 24 ILD comfort layer is whats too soft & sinky, not so much the base.?
  • I definitely prefer sleeping on top of a mattress not in it. Should I just rule out any type of foam altogether?
  • Some amount of hip & butt-sinking is acceptable… even necessary, as its heaviest part of my body. I think I may be getting a better sense of how much is good, and how much is too much.

Options:/ ideas:

  1. Keep it turned over, maybe just get a nice cotton or wool pad to better cushion the pressure points. Sorta recreate my old futon experience (one with foam and cotton layers) Or replace the 24 ILD with 28 or 32. But imaybe that would be too soft too? And I wonder if its the stiff fabric on the bottom that’s giving the firm feel and straightening my alighnment - maybe not so much the foam? It’some sort of stiff fabric backed wpolyester batting. It doesn’t look like its meant to be slept on - may wear out fast if slept on.

  2. Sell the latex, and replace with a ZONED coil mattress topped with a 1 or 2 inch topper made of some combination of latex/cotton/wool… There is one nicely made zoned coil mattress I tested out in Beloit that had the right spinal alignment, but I would need some additional softeness and comfort on top for it to work for me - not much, but some… It would serve as the base of my new system. Its nicely made and all, but it makes me a little nervous to get it with the idea I’m going to have to find something else to p;ut on top of it - more trial and error. What appeals to me is that it would have the zoned support below, AND the smooth latex feel above - the best of both worlds, no? This would be in the spirit of your suggestion to “build from the bottom up” starting with support core… One thing I DONT want to do is mess around with zoned latex support bases - that just seems way too complicated and time consuming…

If all else fails there’s still that expensive one I tested that I know would feel good right out of the box !
Would appreciate any feedback - - otherwise will let you know how it works out.!

Many thanks for listening!!! My friends are QUITE SICK of hearing about mattress woes. They think I should just go to A1 furniture mart and pick something.

Hi Dreamer77,

That’s good news and it would probably be worth sleeping on your upside down mattress for a few days to see how it feels over a little longer period of time. The 2" layer of softer latex on the bottom would provide some additional flex and softness to the mattress but having the firmer latex on the top would also provide a more “on the mattress” feel that you seem to like.

If your mattress has loose layers with a zip cover then it may also be worth trying just the 6" latex core to see how it compares and a firmer top 2" layer on the same core may also be worthwhile considering (although I’m guessing from your comments that it doesn’t have a zip cover with layers that can be removed). Of course it’s also possible to remove the 2" layer even if it’s glued but it can be a little tricky.

That’s certainly possible and your experience, at least for a single night, seems to point in that direction (although a few more nights experience would be a good idea).

It would probably rule out memory foam which is a more “in the mattress” material but it may not rule out firmer polyfoam which is a more resilient and “on the mattress” material than memory foam and your experience seems t0 indicate that it wouldn’t rule out firmer latex foam either which is an even more “on the mattress” material than polyfoam.

This would certainly be worth considering and as I mentioned I would tend to sleep on your upside down mattress for a few days to see if your experience is consistent and not just an anomaly. The single 6" core with a relatively thin and firm natural fiber or foam topper could also be worth considering.

The only way to know would be based on your own personal experience so I would make sure that if you purchase a topper that it includes a good exchange/return policy so that if it is too soft you can exchange it for something firmer.

If the bottom fabric is stiffer than the top sleeping surface then it would definitely have some effect on the ability of the latex underneath it to contour to the shape of your body and would feel firmer.

You can also buy a new cover if you decide to keep the latex layers (or at least the 6" core) inside your mattress.

Based on your experience and lack of back pain it’s quitepossible that you may not need zoned latex but whether to buy a new mattress completely or a mattress/topper combination is a choice that only you can make based on your your personal testing experience and your willingness to experiment with toppers on a firmer mattress (if you even need one which you may not). If you do decide to go in the direction of a mattress/topper combination then post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to that can help you use your sleeping experience as a reference point and guideline to help you choose the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the least possible risk and the best chance for success. It also includes a link to a list of some of the better online sources for toppers I’m aware of as well although Beloit may also have some toppers available as well.

I personally would be hesitant to sell the latex mattress at a significant loss unless you are confident that there really isn’t a combination of layers and materials that uses the 6" core that would work well for you.


Well… maybe not goodbye after all?? Still sleeping on the upside down mattress no back pain … in fact I can feel the latex supporting in the curve of the lower back and its quite a pleasant feeling. Have not had that before on this mattress due to the too soft top layer. And there was only one morning woke up with a numb & tingling hand and arm,

So not quite sure where to go from here. I am not sure why this seems to be working and the one in the store that was 6 inch of 36 ILD with 2 inches of 42 ILD underneath felt way too hard… maybe I want that 24 ILD as the bottom layer after all???

Or why it felt too hard last time I tried flipping it over - might it have softened just enough from 2 years of sleeping on it?

The only problem is I wish the cover was just a tad softer and/or padded with a bit more wool. since Im sleeping on the fabric that was meant to be on the bottom. I have the natura wool pad on it but I can still feel. the stiffness of the upholstery material between me and the mattress. Im kind of tempted to open up the case for further experimentation (the cover is sewn, the layers not glued) but that opens things up to changing again… maybe for the better, maybe not… and then I have to get the cover re sewn or buy a new cover… …

Or… do I just call it a day and find some type of pad that’s slightly more cushy - doesn’t have to be much just an inch maybe…

Im guardedly optimistic… what if this worked after all! Would be nice to spend that 1K on something else besides another mattress!

Hi Dreamer77,

Personal experience always “trumps” any theory and if your mattress is working well for you then I certainly wouldn’t argue with success and there may be no reason to do anything except sleep on your mattress as it is … at least in terms of the latex layers :slight_smile:

This would be up to your “best judgement” and perhaps on whether you would be able to resew the cover (or have it done for you). In the worst case you could replace it and there are some good sources for zip covers (and toppers) in the component post here.

It sounds like you are very close and I would agree that things are certainly looking a lot better better than when you posted less than two weeks ago :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix and all,

Im still sleeping on my upside down mattress and liking it! Who woulda thunk. I think I’ll leave it as is and not mess with success - maybe the 2 inches of soft latex on the bottom is just what I need for comfort. (I was going to remove it but why bother.)

I still need to find just the right wool topper though- the natura mattress pad I have on now has maybe 1/2 inch wool max (and I believe there may be a little bit of poly fiber under the mattress cover) . Im thinking an inch or inch and a half may be ideal.

Im not seeing anything in between like that though Seems there are only mattress pads (thinner) and mattress toppers (3 inches or more).

Do you know of anything that might work for me? Do you have any feedback on the wool mattress pads that are more like a lambskin than a pad with cottoncover and wool filling? Do those matt down as much as people say and if they do is there a way to fluff them up?


Hi Dreamer77,

Thanks for the update … that’s great news. I wouldn’t mess with success either :).

I still need to find just the right wool topper though- the natura mattress pad I have on now has maybe 1/2 inch wool max (and I believe there may be a little bit of poly fiber under the mattress cover) . Im thinking an inch or inch and a half may be ideal.

Im not seeing anything in between like that though Seems there are only mattress pads (thinner) and mattress toppers (3 inches or more).

Do you know of anything that might work for me? Do you have any feedback on the wool mattress pads that are more like a lambskin than a pad with cottoncover and wool filling? Do those matt down as much as people say and if they do is there a way to fluff them up?[/quote]

There really isn’t a clear dividing line between what defines a mattress pad and what defines a topper but you can find mattress pads/toppers in any thickness that you may wish.

While I don’t have any specific suggestions because there is no way for me to know which specific topper would feel best for you on your specific mattress … there is more information about wool toppers and how they compare to various foam or latex toppers (at least in general terms) in post #8 here and in posts #3 and #6 here and there are some additional comments about wool toppers (including about wool fleece toppers) and a list of some of the better sources I’m aware of in post #3 here.

Wool fleece toppers will tend to pack or matt down more than toppers that use wool batting over time. While you can fluff them up a bit by brushing them or fluffing them with your fingers or by washing them (if they are washable) … this is a normal property of wool fleece toppers.

Comparing wool toppers can be difficult because while there are many different specs that you can use to make some generic or more technical comparisons between wool toppers such as the amount of wool in the topper (in oz/yd2 or gm/m2), different types of wool breeds or combinations of breeds that are finer or courser and more or less resilient, different densities of wool, differences in the process of cleaning, scouring, and carding the wool, different layering arrangements of the wool bats inside the topper, different ways of tufting the wool topper, and different fabrics used in the cover … they may not be easily translatable into how a particular wool topper will feel to any particular person or on a specific mattress.

When you can’t test a specific topper in person then your best source of guidance about any particular wool topper would be a more detailed phone call to the manufacturer or a knowledgeable retailer who sells them who will be in a better position to help you compare the specifics of their topper with other wool toppers that they are familiar with. The ones I talked with were all very knowledgeable about their toppers and were happy to provide as much information as their customers would want. A few also have a return/exchange policy which can also help reduce the risk of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for.