Help us decide on a mattress

We have been looking for a new mattress and have tried several in-store, but none has been right for both of us. Now we are leaning towards a king split with 3 layers of latex on each side, and customize to our preferences.

Some background:
DH is 5’10" 175lb, side sleeper, has shoulder problems.
I am 5’2", 120lb, stomach/back sleeper, sleeps hot and has right hip problems (sciatica, arthritis).

Our current mattress is a firm orthopedic spring mattress, bought in Asia. Over the 20 years we had it, it was rotated and flipped, but it is worn and ready to be replaced.

What we learned so far in our mattress shopping:
DH doesn’t have as much problem getting comfortable as I do. Most beds feel too soft to me. Eg. Zenhaven firm and Saatva classic firm felt too soft. Either my back or hip felt unsupported and I kept tossing to find a comfortable position. The only one that felt comfortable was the Loom & Leaf firm, but I’m concerned about sleeping hot and durability of memory foam.

We tried Naturepedic EOS Trilux, in-store. The store recommended FMS for DH and FMM for me, but we both felt that these were a bit soft & unsupportive. In playing with the layers, FMM feels good to DH, whereas FFM or FFF feels good to me. From the salesperson, I understand their latex is Dunlop, but I wasn’t able to get the ILD ratings.

I sleep well in a sleeping bag on a Coleman cot when we are camping.

My questions are -
How valid are our response from these brief in-store mattress tests?
If we were to get a split latex mattress, what layer choices would you recommend for us?

Hello madaboutcitrus and welcome to the forums and thanks for the inquiry! I’m so sorry for the delayed response but the person that answers our Mattress Underground posts on Fridays and Saturdays had a family emergency. Please keep in mind that even if you lay on a mattress for hours in a showroom, you still won’t know if it’s right for you until you actually sleep on it and allow your body time to adjust. I’m concerned that you may be putting too much emphasis on the initial feel of something as opposed to how your body adjusts to it, and that information is something you can only get from time spent sleeping on a mattress. Our initial recommendations have a 90% success rate (we only have a 10% layer exchange rate) so there’s a 90% chance that our recommendation works perfectly for you. But, most importantly, if you try that set up and find that it’s too firm or too soft, you can unzip the cover and rearrange the layers or request a layer exchange to adjust accordingly and get the mattress fine-tuned for your specific preferences & needs. As such, the best thing you can do is pick the setup that has the best chance to be successful for you and adjust from there (if needed).

With that said, based on just your heights, weights, and sleeping preferences, we would normally recommend the same setups that the Naturepedic rep recommended. However, with your extra feedback, I think DH would be just fine on m/m/f (top to bottom) and you would be fine on medium/firm/extra firm (top to bottom). If you’d like to order all firm layers for your side, you’re certainly welcome to, but I wouldn’t be able to say in advance whether you’d do best with a medium or firm top layer, and that’s really only something you can find out by sleeping on the mattress. Just keep in mind that, if you start with medium/firm/extra firm and it’s too soft, you can unzip the cover and move the medium layer down to the middle or even bottom of the mattress to make it firmer.

Conversely, if you start with f/f/xf and find that it’s too firm, the only way to fix that would be to switch top layers with your partner, or to request a layer exchange within the first 90 days of having the mattress, which $30 and a bit more work than just rearranging the layers. So it’s always easier to make the mattress firmer than it is to make it softer. But again, whatever you’d like to order for the top layer is really up to you at this point (sorry about that!).

Regarding the choice of Dunlop or Talalay for the top layer, there is a noticeable difference between Talalay and Dunlop, and it’s not really that Talalay is softer than Dunlop. Most people and companies say Talalay is softer just because that’s an easier way to explain it. You can actually have a soft Dunlop layer that’s softer or firmer than a soft Talalay and a medium Talalay that’s softer or firmer than a medium Dunlop, etc. The real difference comes down to how they react when being compressed. Talalay is bouncier and springier and is generally better at contour and pressure relief on your hips and shoulders. Dunlop is denser and firmer and is generally better at support and maintaining proper spinal alignment so our most common configuration is Talalay for the top layer and Dunlop for the bottom 2 layers. We will recommend Talalay for two or more layers for customers that have things like fibromyalgia, shingles, chronic hip pain, chronic shoulder pain, or anything where they’re sensitive to pressure, or for customers that just prefer a bouncier / springier feel. Outside of those circumstances, a combination of Talalay and Dunlop offers the best chance to be successful for the average person. Again, the best way I can summarize the differences would be to say that Talalay is better at pressure relief on your hips and shoulders and Dunlop is better at maintaining proper spinal alignment and avoiding back pain. However, Talalay can also be helpful in avoiding back pain because it provides more of what we call secondary support. Secondary support fills in the gaps between your body and the mattress. For side sleepers, this is normally the area between a person’s ribs and waist. For back sleepers, this is normally the area between the small of your back and the mattress. If these parts or your body aren’t being held up by the mattress, your muscles will work all night to hold those parts of your body up, which can lead to back pain. Aside from that, women tend to be curvier, especially around their hips, and having a top layer of Talalay can help avoid hip pain and keep the mattress from pushing their hips up, which can also lead to back pain. This doesn’t really apply to female stomach sleepers, though. Nonetheless, most of our customers definitely benefit from having one layer of Talalay on top, and Dunlop for the rest of the mattress, but again it’s completely up to you what you would like to order.

Thank you Shawn, for such a detailed and helpful response.

We like your recommendations, especially of M/F/xF for me, for the reason you cited, ie. being able to swap the medium and firm layers if needed. DH is now interested in trying out the Talalay top layer for more pressure relief in his shoulder.

We will reach out to Sleep EZ to order in May, as we will be traveling in April and won’t be able to give the mattress a fair trial. In the meantime, we will keep an eye out for any showroom that might have Talalay mattresses. Once again, thanks & we look forward to trying out your mattress.