Hybrid Mattress Options for Heavy Side Sleepers

I’m 6’3”, 240 lbs. and spouse is 5’7”, 300 lbs. We are both side sleepers but spouse sleeps hot and wakes with elbow and shoulder pain.

Currently have a 10 year old Verlo Ashford with medium cushioning which is still in pretty good shape. However, we need to replace a soft foam guest mattress so we’re going to move the Verlo and get a new mattress for us. We had a good experience with Verlo, but our local dealer closed a while back.

I’ve been focusing on hybrid beds with latex top layers as I think that a memory foam layer will be too hot.

We’ve looked at some of the BIA Brands (Eclipse Wellness, Eastman House, Hemingway) but aren’t able to get detailed information on their construction. A couple of vendors in a 90 minute drive sell the Timeless Bedding line from Mattress Tech which look interesting but I don’t see much experiences with them.

Spouse would be very hesitant to order any bed which we don’t have a chance to test out even if it’s returnable.

I’ve looked at the TMU tutorials but am frustrated that many referenced posts (e.g., pressure relief, alignment testing, general mattress testing) lead to a 404 error.

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Hi BedRuffles,
Welcome to TMU.
Sorry to hear about the frustration with the referenced posts. As we continue to upgrade the site, some posts referenced in other threads have gotten knocked off. Here is a link to our tutorial that should allow you to find a plethora of information that you may be looking for.
Complete Tutorial

5 Steps to the perfect mattress 5 Steps to the perfect mattress

Any mattress you choose is going to depend on your body profile and PPP’s.
I am a little familiar with BIA as they are located about 30 minutes from my home. They do make a variety of mattresses under several marquees. You are correct, they are very silent about giving out detailed specifications on each level of construction. That makes for a frustrating experience as it is difficult to fully know how the product will perform over the long term, regardless of what marketing they spin on it. Their Millbrook and Hemingway mattresses look quite impressive.

When it comes to heavier sleepers a few things come to mind. When it comes to materials, if choosing anything with viscoelastic memory foam, at least 4 and 5lb foam is where you need to be as most anything less will not be durable enough to handle the heavier weight placed on it. HD foams are very commonly used. Normally you would find that many manufacturers will taut 1.5 or 1.8lb foam, but for your weight category, 2.2 or 2.4lb would certainly be better. Coils systems can be a little tricky as the combinations are varied. There is gauge thickness, the amount of turns each coil has, the number of coils, how they are placed in the mattress, are they hardened, and so on, you can read more about coils here All about coils.

I find that when companies are using 12.5-to-13.5-gauge coils, they are basically saying our mattress is designed to have a core that is firmer and more supportive, particularly for the larger sleeper. Now this is not always the case, and you also want to be careful for some of the brands out there that taut an exorbitant number of coils. Mostly you they will have a core support layer and then potentially thousands of micro coils. Sometimes those micro coils are warranted and thoughtfully used and placed in the mattress. Particularly, when they are used to replace memory foam layer/s to increase air flow, reduce heat retention, and increase longevity. Other times, when you see mattress anatomy breakdowns, you will find that the micro coils are barely 1/2" thick, poorly placed in the mattress and were gratuitously placed to increase the coil count to gaslight their usefulness.

I would never suggest anyone purchase a mattress without testing it first, if they were uncomfortable without having that as part of the process. Coincidentally, there are a couple of sleepers who have inquired about Winston’s. They do all their sales are line and utilized seemingly higher quality British natural fibers and foams, with quality support spring core layers, and boast about the fact, there is no need to try them first.

There can be a pretty good argument made from both sides. I firmly believe that trying a mattress in a showroom/store is primarily to eliminate what you don’t like. The kind of quick assessment that, “this mattress will never work” and from my perspective it is usually ones that are way too soft, or simply not firm enough. Just as a side note, I am 6’ 220 (formerly 250+), after trying dozens of mattresses, the one I purchased, never saw, touched, tried, slept or knew it existed. I googled firmest mattress on the market. I compared the specs to other mattresses, researched the company, reviews, reputation and bought it sight unseen. Still love it after a year of sleeping on it. May be the best mattress ever in my adult life and I am 63.

Having said that, there are companies such as @Sleep_EZ that are super efficient at getting it right about 90% the first time. @foxmattress when you look at their on line web-site Fox Mattress, they dont have any pre-built mattresses to show you, they educate you about the types of mattresses they offer and compile information about your body type, profile and PPP’s and custom make you a mattress. Sure their showroom has samples of mattresses to get a baseline as to what direction to go, but they too have a satisfaction rate i the upper 90% range. When it comes to latex, it can be used as a core layer, but in your case, I would suggest it as a lower comfort layer above a supportive core layer.

The bottom line here is with two larger sleepers, you need a superior core support layer. Then build around that with either HD polyfoam, or natural foam such as dunlop and top it off with an upper comfort layer that suits your PPP’s. Given your weight disparities, you may want to consider a split comfort mattress that offers an interchangeable comfort layer options.

Since you were looking at BIA mattresses, you have a nice budget to purchase your perfect mattress. I have moved to the talk to the experts category as I know that a few of our Trusted Members may be able to offer you a few solutions in your mattress search.

For additional point of reference. I did some research on the Timeless Bedding Line by Mattress Tech, but there was very little on them. Very few places that sell them, although there is one here in NJ, and virtually no information on materials. Something that you wont find with our TM’s here. Our Trusted Members are very good at explaining, matching and educating on all the specifications of materials being used so you can make an informed decision on your bedding selection.

Our goal is to put you on the right track in selecting a new mattress. No one can really tell you what you like, but with your input can steer you in the right direction.

All the best,


I greatly appreciate the detailed reply. I’ve gone through the tutorial but I’m greatly interested in the links to the explanation of PPP’s that would help us make an informed decision.

From what you are saying, can I surmise that our upper comfort layer should be made from a material that best dissipates (or at least doesn’t trap) heat due to our sleeping hot? Are there materials in addition to latex that would meet this criterion?

We went to a small local shop and were pointed to beds from Sealy and Eclipse which all had cooling or gel-infused memory foam as the upper comfort level but I’m a bit leery about their cooling claims. At a regional chain, I saw some BIA models with latex comfort levels but when I asked about sleeping cool, all the salesperson could tell me was to “test them out” in the showroom.

I think our next step is to take the hour or so trip to our nearest Trusted Member, @Magic_Sleeper . It looks like they may carry some of the BIA lines as well as Timeless Bedding models so I’m hoping they can provide us with more detailed construction information and comparable alternatives.

Thanks again.

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Yes, there are materials other than latex, such as cotton, wool, horsehair that can be used. Wool and Cotton independently or in combination are among the best natural fibers to avoid the heat brigade. Horsehair is the best at that, but horsehair is not as commonly used by many manufactures. Wool and cotton are readily available and more commonly used.

Just a short story about horsehair. When I work on my laptop sitting in my bed at night, I will often take a pillow and place it under my laptop to give it a bit more height. I have used a tempurpedic pillow, latex pillow and conventional polyurethane pillow, and I can hear my cooling fan on my Alienware kick in and the pillows get quite hot. When I place my horsehair pillow under the laptop, the pillow barely gets warm.

Trusted Members such as @TheCleanBedroom offer mattresses with horsehair in their comfort layer should you ever want to experience the unique feel and experience of horsehair in a mattress.


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Yes, there are models in the Vispring line as well as our Naturally Organic line that feature horsehair, or as it is sometimes called, horsetail. I’ve heard it said that it is like adding a million springs to your mattress because it is so resilient and bounces back time and again.

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Horsetail hair mattresses have often been pasted down through generations of family member owners and have be known to last 100 years. It is an interesting mattress and pillow material as you can run horsehair under water and just shake it off and the water is magically gone. Which it is why it keeps you cool, dry and is like nothing else you can rest your body or head on.


@Maverick @TheCleanBedroom What are you’lls thoughts on horse hair and natural fibers in general for side sleepers?
Based on my testing recently those mattresses have felt quite nice but I see the info page on here about natural fibers warns against natural fibers for side sleepers:

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From the time I was able to sleep in a bed until the time I graduated college in 1982, I slept on a mattress made with horsehair.

Unfortunately, I left that mattress in the apartment after graduating (obviously I had no idea what I was doing at the time).
This weekend, I exchanged my current topper ActiveDough™ Mattress Topper - (which the shop where I purchased the Plank Luxe, sent it to me for free to help my wife.)

for this new one

https://biosleepconcept.com/product/3-inch-wool-mattress-topper/. For no other reason that I just wanted to try it.

The original Malouf activedough memory foam/latex alternative was given to me at no charge after I initially got my plank luxe mattress, and it was initially getting firmer during the first days of expansion and my wife thought it may be too firm. Turns out after a couple of weeks, my wife got used to the firmness of the mattress and I removed the topper. My gut instincts kicked in and I placed the topper back on the mattress, as I am a firm believer (valid or not) that a good topper will take the initial hit of the sleeper’s weight and preserve the internal layers of the mattress adding to the longevity of the mattress. At this point, since neither of us felt much different with or without the topper we left it on. The great thing about the Malouf topper was that it kept the concept of sleeping “on top of the mattress” intact. There was barely any sink at all, even for my 220lb body.

Both my wife and I are 80% side sleepers. When I did my nonscientific experiment taking my 5”- 6” wool pillow and horsehair pillow and placing each lengthwise under my hip to my armpit, I noticed how contouring and increasing in comfort it became.
Of course, if one were to attempt to purchase a 5 or 6” wool or horsehair topper, the cost would be pricey, and the topper would be almost a futon or mattress in and of itself. If the concept held true, perhaps either one of these natural fibers would increase the comfort of the sleeping environment.

Naturally, one would not expect these natural fibers to be as conforming and pressure relieving as latex or ve memory foam. Hence, the article here on the mattress underground. The point is, do they have to be as conforming, or conforming at all? If someone having an issue with a pressure point at the hip or shoulder when side sleeping is relieved with a natural fiber and if their ailing issues go away, what should it matter, if it was contouring support, unique pressure relief or just soften up the upper layer to make things a tad more comfortable.
I like to put most things in that 80/20 rule. Most will be satisfied with the standard of things and then you have the other 20% that need modification.
After much debate about the new wool topper, I switched them out, even though my wife does not like change.

After the first night on the mattress, she slept through the night, not waking up at all. What was interesting, when we first got into the bed, you could see the sinking of our body into the topper. Neither of us bottomed it out, but it was noticeable sink. I could see the hairs on the back of her hair stand up, as she hated the sinking feeling from the Tempurpedic 3" topper I had put on our previous mattress, before it died. It did not save the mattress and we gave it away recently as she was hell bent on never using it again.

The sink of the new 3" wool topper may have been about the same depth you might expect from a latex or memory foam topper, but the experience was completely different. Latex as you know, pushes back, like you are floating. VE memory foam swallows you with no push back, some pressure relief but surrounds you like quicksand.

The wool topper despite the obvious and visibly noticeable depression at the hip and shoulder, the 3” thickness did contour below the hip and above the waistline. Not the same way latex or ve memory foam does, but surprisingly soft and comfortable, although the wool was compacting under the weight of our bodies.

We could debate whether natural fibers are better for side sleepers or not, but at the end of the day, what matters is how comfortable one is. You can talk all day about latex this, memory foam that, natural fiber, something else, when it works, it works. I suspect that horsehair would produce even better results as horsehair is a bit springy as compared to wool even though it compacts when you place weight on top of it.

Quite frankly, I was extremely comfortable with my Tempurpedic ProCloud hi pillow. Now, I cannot give up my horsehair pillow. My head feels more comfortable when sleeping.

I am not sure if I liked this natural fiber topper and pillow better because of the nostalgia aspect, some sensory memory thing, subjective certainty, illusory truth effect, or just actual real increase in comfort. What I do know is that despite the appearance of an uneven mattress surface, we both had a comfortable and great night’s sleep.

At the end of the day, it gets down to what makes each of us comfortable regardless of the “rules.” Sure, when a manufacturer or moderator, such as I, makes suggestions for folks, the advice is based on a lot of factors, mostly from the “rules” of fibers, foams, springs, experiences, body profiles, BMI and so on. Some folks though, need to either break from the traditional rules, or rewrite them altogether.

I know it may look like there is a lot of writing with no real conclusion, but sometimes the answer is not the same for everyone, and that is the point.

All the best,


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