latex mattress too firm?

Hi Phoenix, I recently purchased The Performance latex mattress from Dilworth Mattress Factory. The configuration is:

1.5" 24 ild comfort layer
2" 28 ild support layer
6" 36 ild core
queen bed with split in all layers

I’m 5’8" weigh 215 lbs, have a small waist with full hips. I sleep on my back by default. I no longer sleep on my sides due to hip & knee pain, I have numerous health problems: low back surgery in 2008, severe lordosis of the lumbar spine, mild scoliosis and numerous muscular skeletal problems.

I’m having two main problems with the mattress. When I lay flat on the mattress my pelvis tilts forward a bit due to my full hips. This keeps my lumbar area from getting the support it needs causing back pain. If I elevate my legs with pillows my pelvis rotates into a neutral position and I seem to get adequate low back support. FYI, my hips don’t seem to bottom out into the mattress so I think I have enough support (could the mattress be too firm?). The other problem is that my upper body & shoulders don’t seem to sink in into the mattress enough nor do my legs.

The mattress I had before provided no support, and sagged under my hips… I’ve had the latex mattress less than a week. Does my body need more time to adjust before I try changing the configuration of the bed? Does the mattress need a break in period? Do I need more of a comfort layer to accommodate my sway back, shoulders, and achy muscles?

FYI. I’m using a waterproof mattress protector could this change the feel of the bed? I know my body type and back problems complicate everything. I’ll contact the owner of Dilworth’s for his thoughts. I would appreciate any recommendations you can provide. Oh, my Mom loves the mattress.

Thanks, Katia

Hi Katia,

Congratulations on your new mattress :slight_smile:

You certainly made a high quality choice but of course regardless of the quality or durability of your mattress how well you sleep on it is always the most important part of “value”.

Your mattress certainly seems to be “in the range” that would work well for many back sleepers with your weight and body type but as you mentioned your health issues can also significantly complicate the choice of which mattress works best for you and you may be well outside the “averages” that would work well for others with a similar body type or sleeping style. Since I can’t feel what you feel or see you sleeping on the mattress there really isn’t any way for me to know or “diagnose” how much of your lower back issues are coming from your back condition or how much they are a result of your mattress or the type of changes in your mattress that may help you (to the degree that any mattress is able to help).

Having said that … there will be a break in and adjustment period with any new mattress over the course of the first few weeks and you have only been sleeping on your mattress for a week which really isn’t long enough to consider making any changes yet (see post #3 here) so my first and “best” suggestion for the moment would be to spend a few more weeks on your mattress (30 days is usually a good idea) before deciding whether you need to make any changes or assessing your situation to help you decide on the type of changes to make.

If after about 30 days or so you are still experiencing “symptoms” on your mattress and you haven’t noticed any changes in your sleeping experience then it would be a much better time to start the “analysis” or “detective work” and possibly even some trial and error that may be required to identify the type of changes have the highest odds of success.

When the time comes I can certainly link you to some more detailed information that may be helpful and which in combination with a conversation with Alan and possibly some additional testing on other mattresses may help you decide on the next step but for now the best approach is probably to do nothing and give your mattress more time to break in and for your body to get used to a sleeping surface that is very different from what it is used to. Based on your comments about your previous mattress your body may have adapted to a “learned alignment” from your previous sagging mattress and it can take some time and you may experience some “symptoms” while your body is getting used to sleeping in better alignment.

Sleeping with a pillow under your knees can certainly help to flatten out the lower back and help with lower back alignment … especially if there are medical issues involved … and since this seems to be helping I would continue with this as well.

If it’s one of the thinner and more stretchy “thin membrane” type of protectors and it isn’t too tight and creating a “drum effect” on your mattress then it’s unlikely to be the reason for your symptoms but the only way to know for certain would be to try sleeping without it for a couple of nights to see if it makes any difference.

While the most common (but not the only) reason for lower back issues is a mattress that is too soft … I would avoid speculating about any of this until you have spent more time on the mattress to see how your experience changes over the course of the next few weeks.


Thanks for the advice, Phoenix. I’ll give my body a more realistic timeframe to adjust to the mattress before contacting Alan or messing around with the configuration. Everyone who has tried the mattress loves it so I know the problem is related to my chronic pain issues.

I’ll keep you updated.

Hi Katia,

I would keep in mind that each person is unique so a mattress that works well for other people or even a group of people may not be nearly as suitable for you to sleep on. Once you have slept on your mattress for a little longer if you are still experiencing “symptoms” then there may be some fine tuning that you can do that will help improve things so that your sleeping experience is the “best possible” with your back issues even though there may not be a “perfect” solution.

I’m looking forward to any updates you have the chance to share.


Hi Phoenix,
I’ve slept on the mattress for over a week. I’m waking up with shoulder and neck pain and sometimes my arms are numb. (I’ve tried using different pillows for proper alignment but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.) I can tell the latex is starting to “break in” but the upper body support seems much too firm.

A friend is coming by tomorrow to help me figure out if the mattress is providing proper spinal alignment. Considering the mattress configuration I described in an earlier post, I think I’m.getting sufficient support, maybe I need more pressure relief? I know my curvy body shape and musculoskeletal issues further complicate matters. I’m in the “princess and the pea” category.

I’ll keep you updated.

Hi Katia,

Thanks for the update.

As you know from my previous replies you really haven’t slept on your mattress for long enough to be able to reliably assess whether you need to make any changes yet or if you do the types of changes that may be most helpful but I can link you to some of the additional information that I mentioned in my previous post.

There is more detailed information 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.

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” and “pressure relief” and “feel”.

These posts are the “tools” that can help with the analysis, detective work, or trial and error that may be necessary to help you learn your body’s language and “translate” what your body is trying to tell you so you can make the types of changes or additions to your mattress that have the best chance of reducing or eliminating any “symptoms” you are experiencing out of the options that are available to you.

There are also some suggestions in post #2 here that may also be helpful if your mattress is too firm.


I would suggest you go to costco or wal-mart and try out a 1-2 inch memory foam topper. In my experience. memory foam is soft enough that it wont jeopardize spinal alignment (everything will sink evenly), but it will provide needed cush for your shoulders/legs (but dont go over 2 inch thickness). You can always return it if you dont like it.