Help Tuning up my mattress purchase

After much reading of the forum here and shopping around I purchased a Talalay latex mattress from one of the online vendors that are a member here. I love the construction of the mattress and the anticipated longevity but it appears I made poor choices on firmness level. I am hoping to get suggestions as to where to go from here.

I am mostly a back sleeper but tend to end up on my side as well. I am 5’11" and 210 lbs.

What I have is a Talalay latex mattress with a Medium #32 ILD core and a 3" #19 ILD topper. Initially when I purchased this I tried it for several weeks and had hip and shoulder numbness when sleeping on my side. I was also experiencing pain in my lower back when sleeping on my back. Thinking it was too firm I ended up buying another topper that was 3" thick at #19 ILD. Although my back looks to be in better alignment when laying on my side this arrangement seems worse yet especially on my back.

Any ideas or suggestions of what adjustments to make to help with the back pain would be greatly appreciated. I really appreciate all the help!


My thought was to replace my #19 ILD topper with a #28 and see if that would help.

Thank you again for the great information throughout your site!

Hi Jrogers,

Unfortunately it’s not possible to “diagnose” mattress comfort issues on a forum with any certainty because you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unique unknowns, variables, and complexities involved including body type, sleeping positions, health conditions, and individual sensitivities and preferences that can affect how each person sleeps on a mattress in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) or how they may affect any “symptoms” you are experiencing and a mattress that would be “perfect” for one person or even a larger group of people may be unsuitable for someone else to sleep on. Having said that … there is more 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 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 also 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 that have the best chance of reducing or eliminating any “symptoms” you are experiencing.

Resolving mattress issues usually involves a process of differential diagnosis that uses probabilities along with assessing how your symptoms change with each combination you try to help identify which “direction” of firmness changes or which combination of materials would have the best chance of success.

The most common reason for lower back pain is a mattress that has support layers that are too soft or comfort layers that are too thick and/or soft. When you added the additional soft layer it seems that your back “symptoms” became worse so this seems to be pointing to the most likely probability that the additional soft topper was moving you in the wrong direction and you may have needed either a firmer top layer, a thinner top layer, or a firmer support core although only your actual experience can know whether any combination of materials will work well for you because each person can be unique and may not fit the “averages” of what would work for others.

I would try turning the mattress upside down so you are sleeping on the 32 ILD layer and see how your back symptoms change with sleeping on the firmer side of the mattress. Your experience with this will provide the information and “feedback” from your body that you will need to help you decide on any additional changes that may be needed after that.

Perhaps most important of all though I would make sure you have a more detailed conversation with the manufacturer of your mattress who may also have some suggestions based on their experiences with other customers that are similar to you.


Thank you again for your input!

I have talked to the manufacturer a couple times and implemented his suggested changes with mixed results.

First, he told me to take off all comfort layers and sleep on the #32 ILD support layer directly and see how that worked. As soon as I laid on my back with this layering I had intense lower back pain. I tried it that way for several nights to make sure it wasn’t a one time event. All through the night I was awake on and off either with intense lower back pain or a tingling shoulder and hip from laying on my side. This led me to believe the it was too firm.

Second, I put the #19 ILD layer back in the mattress and slept with both layers as the bed was originally purchased. My low back pain was still present through the night but not as intense. The same applies to the hip and shoulder pain. The tingling was there but maybe not as intense.

That is where I left it with the manufacturer. His final suggestion was to maybe try a firmer comfort layer. Before I spent any more money I was just trying to read a bit more and get any other suggestions.

If I was to leave the mattress as two layers as originally designed and increase the comfort layer to a #32 ILD which is the same as the support layer wouldn’t that be the same as sleeping on the 6" #32 ILD support layer? Well, except for the fact that it’s 9" of latex instead of 6"

The one thing I have learned though is there is a lot to be said for this type of mattress in which the cover can be removed and layers be moved/changed as necessary without replacing the whole thing.

Thank you so much for your time.


Hi Jrogers,

While the most common cause of lower back pain is a mattress that is too soft … as you read in the posts I linked it’s certainly not the only reason and in this case I would also have guessed that with the combination of a thinner mattress and a firmer sleeping surface that you would have needed some additional thickness and softness on top of your mattress.

This would seem to confirm that additional thickness and softness seemed to be moving you in the right direction (your back symptoms and side pressure points were better) although it still wasn’t ideal for you.

Greater thickness and lower ILD’s both have a softening effect on a mattress so a 9" mattress that uses all 32 ILD latex would feel softer than a mattress that only has 6" of 32 ILD latex (assuming that all the layers are the same type and blend of latex because this will also have an effect on firmness/softness). There is more about the effects of thickness in post #14 here.

It’s possible that your symptoms are coming from both thickness and softness issues. Your 19 ILD top layer may be too soft to isolate you from the firmer support core (although this would be unusual at your weight range because 32 ILD isn’t particularly firm) so this may be contributing to the pressure issues you are experiencing and you may also need some additional thickness to provide better secondary support to fill in the gaps in your sleeping profile. It’s also possible that any shoulder issues are connected to the firmness and thickness of your pillow so it may be worth trying a different pillow to see how your upper body symptoms change as well.

It may be worth considering a layer in the medium range (around 28 ILD or so) to use as the top layer of your mattress and then it could act as a transition layer if you use the softer 19 ILD layer as a topper and then you also wouldn’t have to change the thickness of the cover. This would provide additional pressure relief for your shoulders and would it would also be less risky than having two softer top layers on top of your mattress which would increase the chance of experiencing alignment issues and back pain from a mattress that was too soft.

Since you have the option available it may also be worth trying your mattress with the softer layer under the firmer support core just to see how your body reacts to this configuration so you can “learn” as much as possible from any changes in your symptoms with the layering options that you currently have available before deciding on any other changes.