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,