Is my Latex Mattress too firm?

Hi Phoenix.

I have a latex mattress that i ordered from Sleep EZ about 4 weeks ago. It is constructed of 3" firm dunlop, 3" medium dunlop, and 2" of soft Talalay. I am a petite female, 5’ 3" tall and weigh 117 lbs. waist is about 27 inches, hips about 36 inches. I mainly sleep on my side (but often find myself rolling onto my stomach in the middle of the night). And due to fibromyalgia and Chiari, I spend quite a bit of time in bed on my back as well. The issue that I am having is that when i first laid on the mattress, I found it to be very comfortable but within a week of the top layer softening, I find it to be very uncomfortable and it makes my back very stiff and feel as though it is on fire. When I lie on my side, my hips feel fine but my back still hurts. When I lie on the side of the mattress that I have not slept on then it becomes very comfortable. And I also rotated and flipped the 2" layer and it is comfortable for a few more days and then becomes uncomfortable as it softens. This is not the first latex mattress that I have had, as I had a similar mattress that I got from Tranquility, that was 6" of Dunlop, and 3" of Talalay, and i had the exact same problem and sent it back. I have tried various poly fiber toppers and either they were too soft or the backing on the pads were too stiff. I even tried a 1.5 inch layer of soft memory foam from Simmons Beauty Rest (still felt firm). I was thinking about a 0.5" wool topper but not sure that this would be soft enough. I am also thinking about ordering a 14" ILD latex topper but not sure that adding more latex is the way to go either as my daughter suggest that maybe the latex is to springy for my spinal issues that is causing nerve pain. Is there a mattress pad that you know of that is really really soft but thin enough to feel the support of the latex mattress? I want to keep the latex mattress as I believe that the support works great for me but I need to find a comfortable soft layer…I think. Please advise.

Hi Lodavis7,

It seems you and I have similar issues when it comes to mattresses. I would like to share my experience with you in the event that you may find it helpful.

Like you, I am 5’3" and lightweight (105 lbs, hips 34", waist 24"). I have scoliosis so the perfect mattress seems like an elusive dream at times, though closer now that I have found this website. I tested a mattress in a local store (Los Angeles area) that is 6" 32 ILD with 1" 24 ILD on top and another with a 2" ILD on top. I felt quite [u]uncomfortable [/u ]on the 2" because I felt like I was just experiencing that layer without getting much support from the firmer layer underneath, I simply don’t weigh enough for 2" of a soft layer. The 1" was so much more comfortable because it was soft enough to conform to my curves but not so soft that I “hammocked”. I’m not solely a side sleeper, but also sleep on my back and stomach, which is why I haven’t decided between that mattress and one without the 24 ILD layer (just 6" of 32 lLD). All the mattresses I tried were latex blend: 70% natural 30% synthetic.

I know that you already purchased a mattress, but in case you were interested in something similar to what I tried out, (which Phoenix suggested in one of his posts) has the option of getting a mattress with a 1" layer on top. I spoke with Tim, who was very nice. He carries 100% natural latex.

I wrote in more detail about my situation here Post #1

Good luck!!!

Hi Vita108, Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. I think that you are right about 2" 20 ILD latex cushion layer being too much as I was thinking the same thing. I definitely feel a hammocking effect which hurts my back. As my support layer is 30 ILD Medium and core layer is 40 ILD Firm, I am thinking of purchasing a 14 ILD 1" latex topper to put on top of the 30 ILD and see how that works. I have tried sleeping directly on top of the 30 ILD but found it too firm and a bit painful. My bed frame is an adjustable bed base which makes the latex seem a bit firmer than a conventional bed frame. I realize that with nerve pain, finding the perfect bed is unrealistic but if I can find a solution that does not set my nerve endings on fire, I will be a happy camper (as well as sleeper). Thanks again for your input.

P.S. I was wondering if anyone else slept halfway on their back and side. I don’t know if this is healthy, but is the most comfortable when I am in pain.

Hi Lodavis7,

The first step when you are considering making any changes to the layering of your mattress would be a more detailed discussion with SleepEz (or for others who read this the manufacturer or retailer of your mattress). They are more knowledgeable about their mattresses and have more experience helping people make changes than anyone else and this is always the first step to take when there are any issues with a mattress. They may even have other customers in similar circumstances that you could benefit from what helped them.

Post #2 here will also be helpful to help eliminate some of the other possibilities that may be involved other than changing layers (including checking the effect of your pillow which can contribute to upper back issues). Of course your medical issues also make things much more complicated as well because your circumstances may be outside the range of the “usual” suggestions that would work well for the majority of people who don’t have any complicating factors.

Once you have eliminated the other causes that could be contributing to your issues … then the next step would be to clearly identify any cause of your symptoms that could are related to your mattress. It’s easy to speculate (such as thinking that somehow the “springiness” of a material could be a factor) but if you make choices based on a theory that you don’t know for certain is valid for your circumstances then things can get very confusing much more quickly as you make decisions based on information that may not be accurate which can quickly lead into a never ending series of changes based on random chance alone which never seems to work.

It may also be important to recognize that if there are medical issues involved that there may be no perfect mattress solutions because your symptoms may go through cycles and vary over the course of time and what works for one week or month may not work as well for the next. Post #45 here has more about this.

So your next step would be to talk with SleepEz and work towards identifying the underlying cause of what you are experiencing and determining if they are caused by a pressure issue or an alignment issue (of either your spine or joints) or a combination of both. This may take a combination of analysis and trial and error.

If your issues are caused by pressure issues then changes that lead to a softer or thicker comfort layer would be the solution with the highest odds of success.

If your issues are caused by primary support (the firmness of the deepest layers that “stop” your heavier parts from sinking in too deeply and putting your spine or joints out of alignment) then the most likely solution would be to use firmer layers either in the middle or on the bottom of your mattress.

Finally there is what I call secondary support. this is the thickness and firmness of the comfort layers that “fill in” the recessed curves of the spine and help the primary support layers maintain spinal alignment and that control the distance that your heavier parts have to 'travel" before they are stopped by the firmer layers below them. This is very closely connected to pressure relief and involves adjustments in the thickness or firmness of the middle or top layers.

Your own self assessment about whether the issues are caused by pressure relief or alignment issues and the accuracy of the information you provide to SleepEz or anyone that is making suggestions will be an important part of the process because if your assessment or description of your symptoms is not specific enough or is not accurate then any changes you make based on them would have a lower chance of being effective. Part of this is making sure your alignment on the mattress is good (and having someone to take pictures of your alignment when you are on the mattress so you can look at them afterwards to see if any areas of your body are sagging into the mattress may be helpful with this).

Symptoms that take time to appear are usually from alignment or from smaller issues that “accumulate” and take time for symptoms to appear. If I had to guess (and a guess is the best I can do because I can’t feel what you feel or see you on the mattress) I would guess that this “being on fire” was the result of an alignment issue where there was some stretching or strain of the tissues that were “burning”. If this is the case (and I have no way of knowing because there could be many causes of any symptom including medical issues I’m not familiar with) then it may indicate the need for a firmer sleeping surface that would let you sleep in a 'flatter" position were tissues and joints weren’t stretching or flexing as much. It may even be worth trying removing the soft top layer completely and seeing what difference it makes.

A couple of posts that may be worth reading are this one and this one to help give you some insights into the possible causes behind your symptoms.

It may also be helpful if you can relate your symptoms to other times or circumstances that you know are connected to the burning feeling you experience as well so that a “pattern” can be identified about the most likely cause behind them.

I would hold off on making changes until you have some assurance that this would be the best direction to go. If it was very thin it would do more for the “hand feel” of the mattress and I think you may be looking for changes that affect your alignment on the mattress. You may need a mattress pad to lower the resiliency of the mattress surface though if that is part of the issue (I’m guessing you have the SleepEz special which has an unquilted cover?) in which case a thinner natural fiber or memory foam topper may work well but again all of this depends on first accurately identifying what you need to change to be more comfortable.

Again though … my first step would be a conversation with Shawn and if I had to guess the first thing I would change (at the risk of providing “competing suggestions” that may confuse more than help) would be to sleep on the lower two layers without the top layer for a few days and see what happens.