Latex Comfort Layer

I am looking to replace my 2" memory foam topper with a latex topper. I think that the memory foam is making me really hot at night. In addition, it’s not helping with my lower back pain as I hoped it would. Beneath it I have 6" of high density foam (1.8) that we just bought last year. So I have a few questions that I’m hoping you can help me with.

  1. Should I keep the memory foam under the latex as an additional comfort layer or will it continue to make me hot? If I do keep it, what depth latex would you recommend? If I remove it, what depth would you recommend?

  2. Will Dunlop be noticeably hotter than Talalay?

  3. I like the “softer” feel of the memory foam (it’s 4lb). Which latex would get closest to that? That being said, if I try to replicate the “softer” feel of the memory foam, will I still be left with back pain? Is there a latex type that may be better for me (e.g Dunlop with the denser feel?)

Thanks so much for any help/suggestions you can offer.


Hi kate,

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 that can affect how each person sleeps on a mattress (or a mattress/topper combination) in terms of “comfort” and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) or any “symptoms” they experience so a mattress and topper combination that may be “perfect” for one person may be completely 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.

The most common (although not the only) reason for lower back pain is a mattress that is too soft (either the comfort layers are too thick/soft or the support core is too soft) so I would be cautious about adding any additional softness to a sleeping system that is already causing you lower back pain unless you are confident that what you are sleeping on is too firm.

Whether you use the latex on top or the memory foam on top would be strictly a preference choice depending on which combination your personal experience indicates you tend to prefer. Having the latex on top would probably be a little cooler for most people and would provide a more resilient sleeping surface that may be less “motion restricting” with some of the feeling of slowly sinking in to the memory foam underneath it and having the memory foam on top would give you more of a memory foam and slow response feel that transferred a little less motion with some of the additional “spring” and resilience of the latex underneath it but it would also depend on many other factors as well including the specific properties of the memory foam you are using (there are many different versions of memory foam with different properties) and the type and firmness of the latex as well because sleeping on thicker layers of soft foam of any type will “allow” you to sink in more which can be more insulating and can lead to temperature regulation issues for some people.

While it’s not possible to quantify the sleeping temperature of a mattress for any particular person with any real accuracy because there are so many variables involved including the type of mattress protector and the sheets and bedding that you use (which in many cases can have just as significant an effect on temperature as the type of foam in a mattress) and on where you are in the “oven to iceberg” range and because there is no standardized testing for temperature regulation with different combinations of materials … there is more about the many variables that can affect the sleeping temperature of a mattress or sleeping system in post #2 here that can help you choose the types of materials and components that are most likely to keep you in a comfortable temperature range. In very general terms … the layers and components of a sleeping system that are closer to your skin will have a bigger effect on airflow and temperature regulation than layers and components that are further away from your skin.

I don’t have any specific suggestions or recommendations because you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress/topper combination and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion about which topper would be the best “match” for both you and the mattress you are using it on in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more accurate than your own personal testing or sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here). The specifics of the mattress under the topper can also make a significant difference in which topper will work best for any specific person since every layer and component in a mattress/topper combination will affect the feel and performance of every other layer and the “sleeping system” as a whole.

A topper can certainly be an effective way to add some additional softness, “comfort” and pressure relief to your sleeping system but adding a second topper only to improve temperature regulation (rather than using it to soften your mattress) would be more risky. The only way to know whether a specific topper in combination with your mattress and your current topper is a good “match” for you in terms of PPP would be based on your own careful testing or personal experience. If you can’t test the combination in person then there is always some risk and uncertainty involved in adding a topper because the specifics of the mattress itself and the topper you are already using along with your own body type, sleeping position, and preferences can affect which specific topper would be a suitable choice on any specific sleeping system.

While it’s not possible to make specific suggestions because of all the many variables involved that are unique to each person and your own experience is the only way to know for certain whether any mattress/topper combination will be a good “match” for you in terms of PPP … there is more information about choosing a topper in post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to which along with a conversation with a reliable supplier that can provide you with good information about how their toppers compare to each other or to other toppers they are familiar with that are available on the market can help you use your sleeping experience on your current sleeping system as a reference point and guideline to help you choose “how much” additional softness you may need and the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the least possible risk and the best chance for success. It also includes a link to a list of some of the better online sources for toppers I’m aware of as well.

When you are uncertain about which topper will work best with your mattress and you can’t test the combination in person then the return/exchange policy can be one of the most important parts of the “value” of a topper purchase just in case the topper you choose doesn’t work out as well as you hoped for.

If all else is equal … Talalay tends to be more breathable than Dunlop so there are some people that may notice some difference between them.

It’s impossible to know whether any combination of materials will lead to back pain but as I mentioned the most common cause for lower back pain is a sleeping system that has softer comfort layers that are too thick and/or soft or a support core that is too soft … regardless of the type of materials.

Memory foam and latex are very different materials with very different properties but the choice between them would be a preference choice not a “better/worse” choice. There is more about the pros and cons of memory foam vs latex in post #2 here.

The choice between Talalay and Dunlop is also a preference choice vs a “better/worse” choice and there is more about how they compare in very general terms in post #7 here.

Memory foam and latex will feel different regardless of their firmness level and the firmness of memory foam can also vary with temperature, humidity, and the length of time it is continuously compressed … to the degree that it’s possible to compare them at all then softer versions of latex (in the range of about 14 ILD - 19 ILD) would probably feel closer to memory foam than firmer versions of latex.


Hi Phoenix,

Thanks so much for your comprehensive response. I’ve spent the last couple of days reading the posts you recommended and looking further into this topper situation. I am very much considering getting a 2" Latex (Dunlop) topper from Sleep On Latex. After speaking with them, they recommend a “medium” (30ILD).

My questions/concerns now are:

  1. That it may be too big of a jump in feel from our current 4lb “sink in” memory foam topper to a medium “sit on” Dunlop topper. But the flip side is that getting a “soft” topper may not offer me the secondary support that my lower back needs. Could I get a 2" firm now and then maybe a 1" soft later to supplement? (The support layer is a 6" polyform).

  2. Will I need to flip the Latex topper, and can I flip it if its Dunlop?

  3. There is so much on the web about how Talalay is more “preferable” because its a newer process, lighter and more breathable. It makes me nervous about buying a Dunlop topper. I know you say that it’s not a matter if better or worse, just preference, but the propaganda is persuasive and I’m worried that I won’t be getting the “best” Latex experience.

The good news is that Sleep on Latex just changed their return policy so that it’s even better than before (totally free) so that helps a lot!!

Any and all thoughts are appreciated, and thanks again!!!


Hi kate,

The only way to know for certain whether any topper or combination of layers and components will work well for you will be based on your own personal experience.

Unless you have a specific reason not to I would stick with their suggestion as a starting point and then try it both over and under the memory foam (or by itself if you wish to) to see which combination works best for you. I would also be cautious with choosing firm … especially if you are considering sleeping on it directly.

You can certainly add another inch later if you need to.

You won’t “need” to flip it but you can if you wish to and it may slightly extend it’s useful life.

On the web anything that is repeated a few times tends to become “fact” … even if it’s not. There really isn’t anything that I can add to my comments and link in my previous reply. My daughter for example sleeps on an all Dunlop latex mattress because she preferred how it feels vs the Talalay latex options she tested.


Thanks Phoenix. I’ve continued to read and research and am now officially in the vortex of mattress research and shopping! I have pretty much decided on a Dunlop topper but based on what I’ve read I’m still not sure about the ILD and thickness! Any thoughts or advice you can offer would be much appreciated. I know that I am the only one who can ultimately decide but I’m hoping for a second opinion on what would give me (and my SO) the best shot at comfort.

Here is the scenario: we have a 1.8 slab of polyfoam. It is pretty new and in good shape. It is very firm. Currently there is a 2" memory foam topper on top but I think I’m going to remove that completely and put it elsewhere. I am 5’8 weighing 130. Mostly slim build with a tiny bit extra in the hips. My SO is also 5’8" weighing 160. He is not particularly broad at any point - just “regular” as he calls it. I have lower back pain in the morning. He is pain free.

I’m concerned that the 2" 30ILD will feel too firm but that if I go for a 20ILD it will not alleviate my back pain because it wont offer enough support. I guess I can always add on and adjust but it would probably be more expensive and additionally I only get one free return a year.

So at this point I’m wondering what the “best guess” would be. Just looking for a second opinion based on the current scenario. Like I said, I know its a personal experience but just based on what we know now, what would you recommend for a plan of action regarding thickness and ILD?

Thanks again .

Hi kate,

I’m not sure what I can add to my comments earlier in this topic except perhaps to encourage you to have some more detailed phone conversations with several of the online suppliers you are considering who will be your best source of guidance and will know more about “matching” the toppers they have available to different people and mattresses than anyone else.

If you are planning on removing the memory foam completely and if your base layer is very firm then I would probably consider a topper that was a little bit thicker (say 3") so that it will isolate you more from the firmness of the base layer and I would probably go with something a little bit softer than the 30 ILD you are considering as well so that you have a little bit better pressure relief and secondary support that can “fill in” the more recessed parts of your sleeping profile.


Thanks Phoenix. When you say a little bit softer than 30, are you referring to the 20, or are there more options? (I didn’t realize that if there are). And, if 20 is on the softer end, is it still capable of providing that secondary support and pressure relief? Thanks again so much.

Hi kate,

Both Dunlop and Talalay latex come in a wide range of firmness levels. As an example you can see the ILD ranges for the different firmness levels for Latex Green 100% natural Dunlop in post #2 here although not every manufacturer or retailer will have all the different firmnesses available.

I would also keep in mind that ILD/IFD ratings don’t compare well between different types of materials or between different types and blends of latex partly because ILD/IFD is tested differently with polyfoam than it is with latex and produces different results (see post #6 here) and partly because there are other specifications besides ILD that can affect how soft or firm a layer feels (see post #4 here).

Every layer and component in a mattress (including the cover and quilting) will affect the feel and performance of every other layer above and below it and the mattress “as a whole” so it would really depend on the body type and sleeping style of the person and the overall design of the mattress (not just a single layer).

“Support” is often misunderstood because the goal of a “supportive” mattress is to keep the spine and joints in good alignment and this requires the type of contouring support that allows some parts of the body to sink in more (softer) and some parts of the body to sink in less (firmer) and this will vary on an individual basis. There is 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/alignment” and “comfort/pressure relief” and “feel” and how they interact together.

If you sleep on your side or are in lower weight ranges then based on “averages” you will tend to do better with softer comfort layers (or a softer topper) than someone that sleeps on their back or stomach or that is in a higher weight range. Since both of you are in a lower weight range then the odds are higher that you may do better with softer comfort layers than someone that is heavier but the only way to know for certain whether any sleeping system or combination of materials and components is a good “match” for you in terms of PPP and how well you will sleep on them will be based on your own personal experience.


Thanks so much Phoenix. This truly is like a worm hole. Not sure if iI mentioned that I’m (ideally) a back sleeper, my husband is a side sleeper. We both have less than ideal posture I’m sure. (The link about posture was fascinating and makes a lot of sense. I actually sleep with a wedge because it rounds out my lower back and decreases the morning lower back pain)

I’d like to stick with SleeponLatex because I haven’t been able to find a better return policy. They only offer 20 and 30 ILD (Dunlop) so it’s limiting my options. (If you know of others who offer comparable return policies I’d love to hear about them). Because of that I’m thinking of starting with 2" of 30 (despite my fear that it will be too firm) and then adding 1" of 20 if necessary. I’m not entirely comfortable with this plan but it seems like my best option at this point. I wish I could find a middle ground (24-26) with similar return flexibilty but havent had any success. Any thoughts on this plan? Possible pitfalls that I haven’t considered?

Thanks again Phoenix!

Hi kate,

there is more information about choosing a topper in post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to which along with a conversation with a reliable supplier that can provide you with good information about how their toppers compare to each other or to other toppers they are familiar with that are available on the market can help you use your sleeping experience as a reference point and guideline to help you choose the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the least possible risk and the best chance for success. It also includes a link to a list of some of the better online sources for toppers I’m aware of and a link to the online suppliers that have good exchange/return policies as well (although you would need to check with them about any costs involved since I don’t know them off the top of my head).

There really isn’t anything that I can think of that I can add to my comments in my previous replies.


Hi Phoenix,

Well, we got our topper (2" Dunlop “soft”, 20ILD) and have been “sleeping” on it for 2 nights. This next thought may be a direct result of a couple of sleepless nights, but I can’t shake the image of the Earth as a rubber ball that we are sleeping on top of. I love the support, it feels much better than the memory foam on my lower back, but it feels like it’s “pushing back” a bit too much. (It’s kind of like punching us in the gut at this point). Excuse the humor. Anyway, just wondering what you thoughts are. I get that there may be an adjustment, or breaking in, period but I’m not sure if this is that or maybe related to the Dunlop vs. Talalay or an ILD issue. I guess I’m just wondering if I should just return the darn thing and get a 3" Talalay topper. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Hi kate,

“Pushback” is another word for resilience and latex is a highly resilient material so it’s likely that what you are feeling is just the “feel” of latex (see post #136 here). Different materials can have very different properties (outside of just firmness levels) and some people will prefer the properties or “feel” of one material and others will prefer a completely different material. For some people it can certainly take some time to get used to the “feel” of latex.

Talalay is also a highly resilient material (more than Dunlop). There is more about how Talalay compares to Dunlop in general terms in post #7 here but the best way to know whether you would prefer it over Dunlop will be based on your own personal experience.


Thanks for your response Phoenix :slight_smile: Some progress has been made over the past few days! We have tried various combinations:

  1. 6" firm polyfoam with 2" Dunlop 20 ILD

  2. 6" firm polyfoam with 2" Dunlop and 2 eggcrate toppers

  3. 6" firm polyfoam with 2 eggcrate toppers.

  4. 6" polyfoam

The least painful was definitely #2. My lower back still hurt but not as badly as the other options or the 2" memory foam we used to use.

From the hours of reading your website and phone calls to manufacturers, I think that means that the comfort layer is not thick enough and that I’m bottoming out. My lumbar is not hitting any secondary support. Therefore, I’m leaning toward a 3" talalay as my next option. (I plan on returning this topper - thank goodness I can!)

Would you agree with my assessment?

My only other question is what firmness? I’m really struggling between soft (19 ILD) and medium (28ILD). I’m sorry to beat this issue to death, but I have called several people and I’m getting mixed advice. Some say medium, some say soft. Maybe we’re kind of in the middle with our weight and sleeping preferences? (Me: 5’8" 120, back and side, lower back pain; Husband: 5’8", 160, side and back, no pain).

Or maybe its a tough call because we dont have a transition layer? I’m not sure, but I would really appreciate some “tie-breaking” advice. I realize that I’m probably your worst nightmare, and I REALLY appreciate all of your advice so far. It’s just that this is not cheap and I’ve already erred once.

Thanks so much for all of your help and any advice. FYI, I thoroughly read every and all that you’ve suggested so far. At this point, I’m not sure what else I can learn, I really am just looking for your advice - what you would do in our situation…

Thanks again, Kate

Hi kate,

It certainly makes sense but again the only way to know for sure would be based on your actual sleeping experience.

This type of mixed advice isn’t unusual at all because nobody can tell you for certain what you will sleep well on because there are too many variables involved and they are just providing you with their “best guess” based on the information you provide them and based on their experience and since there isn’t a “formula” that can predict how you will feel it’s not uncommon at all that different people will have different opinions.

Unfortunately nobody has a crystal ball that can predict which specific mattress or combination of materials you will like best or that you will sleep best on with any certainty based on specs or “theory at a distance” and I would be very skeptical of anyone who claims that they do because it just doesn’t exist.

If it was just for you I would probably tend towards the softer layer because of your lighter weight but this could also be more risky for your husband.

I don’t know the specifics of your polyfoam base layer but it may also be worth considering a softer 2" top layer and then a medium 2" transition layer underneath it on top of your polyfoam support core. People with different weights will sink into a mattress differently and “come to rest” on different layers in a mattress. A medium transition layer may provide some additional softness and pressure relief and secondary support that you need (compared to just a 2" layer on top of the support core) and with your lighter weight may also be firm enough to partly “act” as a primary support layer for you as well. With your husband’s higher weight the two top layers together would “act” softer for him and would function primarily as comfort layers to provide the pressure relief and secondary support he needs and the base polyfoam layer would provide most of the primary support function. This may have less risk for alignment than using just a single thicker/softer comfort layer.


Thank you very much Phoenix.

Thanks again Phoenix. Your last post really gave me something to think about. I’m wondering: If I keep my 20ILD 2" Dunlop layer, could that act as “medium” layer? Then maybe I could get a softer talalay layer on top? I don’t know if this math works, but if I compare densities, it seems that a 20ild Dunlop will be comparable to a 36ild Talalay (putting aside the “feel” aspect of things). 36 talalay is on the medium end of things, no? Thanks again, and in the meantime, we continue to tinker with and track various combinations to see if we can figure out what’s going on! Last night I folded over the 2" Dunlop and although it felt GREAT initially, I still woke with lower back pain. The journey continues! Thanks again :slight_smile:

Hi kate,

While firmness is very subjective and relative to different people’s perceptions … I think that most people would probably consider 20 ILD Dunlop to be in the soft range but the only way to know whether any layering combination will work will be based on your own personal experience.

36 ILD would be a firm layer whether it was Talalay or Dunlop and comparing densities between Dunlop and Talalay isn’t an effective way to compare their firmness. A 36 ILD Dunlop layer would probably feel a little firmer to most people than a 36 ILD Talalay layer.


Hi Phoenix, I’ve been searching the forum for a post you wrote about how sometimes sleeping postures may need to align with waking postures. I can’t seem to find it anymore. Can I ask you to send me the link?

My lower back still hurts a lot when I wake (on the 20ild Dunlop and 1 inch eggcrate). My husband looked at my alignment last and it looked good. So I’m thinking that the reason I got relief when I used to sleep with a wedge under my shoulders and head was becease it rounded out my back. Don’t know what else to do. Thanks

Hi kate,

Your description isn’t ringing a bell for me but perhaps it’s this one or this one or this one or this one?

If it’s not one of these links it could also be one of the posts that are linked in post #2 here or in post #10 here.


It was the third one, but they all look like they will be very helpful!!! Thanks so much…