Latex mattresses -- firmness and support

I’ve been trying to find a comfortable new mattress over the past few months, without much success. I’ve bought and had to return two mattresses (“S Brand” innersprings) already and things aren’t looking good for #3 (a foam “bed-in-a-box”), so I’m exploring options for #4. It’s been really hard to find a bed that provides good alignment for me and is plush enough for comfort.

After perusing the forum here, I’m thinking a latex or latex-hybrid mattress might be right for me, so I’m going to try a few out this weekend at a local mattress store. However, I’m a little befuddled about how firm I should be going for.

I’m a side sleeper, 5’9" and about 225 lbs, with pretty broad shoulders and a thick build. (I’m hoping to lose a few pounds, but aren’t we all?)

I emailed Sleep On Latex to ask which of their Pure Green mattresses would be ideal, and they recommended the “Soft” model, which is 2" of soft dunlop over 6" of medium-soft dunlop. But I also tried the online “Mattress Configurator” on the Sleep EZ website, which suggested 2" of medium talalay, 3" of medium dunlop and 3" of firm dunlop – a much firmer build! To top it off, the Spindle website said I probably wouldn’t be comfortable on their mattress at all!

I know not every latex mattress is alike, but these seem like pretty disparate results. To make it even harder, my weight of 225 lbs is right on the edge of what most reviewers consider “heavy” – most say “over 230 lbs” is heavy, but others say “over 250”, “low 200s” or don’t give a weight at all.

So yeah, what should I do? As a broad-shouldered side sleeper, I need softness and contouring, but as a relatively heavy dude, I also need support.

What level of firmness should I be looking for in a latex mattress? Or should I avoid all-latex beds and look for a latex-over-springs hybrid for extra support?


Hello and thank you so much for the inquiry! If you have wide shoulders, the 9" mattress you referenced from Sleep EZ may not be the best choice because it would only have 2" of medium Talalay latex and wouldn’t provide much give for your shoulders. A top layer of 3" of medium Talalay over 3" of medium Dunlop over 3" of firm Dunlop would have the best chance to be successful for you. The 3" of medium Talalay will provide all the contour and pressure relief needed for your hips and shoulders and will also provide some “secondary support” as well (secondary support is what helps fill in the gaps between your body and the mattress). The medium and firm Dunlop layers will provide the support needed to maintain proper spinal alignment and avoid lower back aches. One of the major benefits of our DIY latex mattress or Sleep EZ’s layered mattress is the adjustability it offers. If you sleep on the recommended setup and find that it’s not supportive enough, the first change I would recommend would be to unzip the cover and rearrange the layers so that the firm layer is in the middle. This will retain all the contour and pressure relief that you’re getting from the medium Talalay layer but will offer much more support because the firm layer is closer to the surface. If you try the recommended setup and find that it’s still giving you shoulder pain, you could request a layer exchange where we send you a medium Talalay layer to replace your medium Dunlop layer. Please note that we use our 43 years of experience to make recommendations for our customers, so there is an outstanding chance that the above recommendation works perfectly for you. If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to respond to this post or call us at our office at 1-800-637-0872. Thanks again and have a great day!

Thanks so much!

Just to confirm, you agree that medium Talalay would be a better comfort layer than soft for me?

“What level of firmness should I be looking for in a latex mattress? Or should I avoid all-latex beds and look for a latex-over-springs hybrid for extra support?”

Dunlop Latex has 5 firmnesses to choose from, so you 100% can get a firm enough mattress if you choose the right layers.

One missing piece to this question is what type of mattress do you like to sleep on? Do you like it firm, soft, middle of the road?

Since heavier people put more pressure on the latex, they sink in farther than a lighter person would, thus they tend to choose firmer layers such as a medium rather than a soft layer for a topper, but really, there is a lot of personal preference involved. A medium over a firm over an extra firm would give you a comfort layer on top and a graduated support toward the extra firm. A soft over a medium over a firm is also commonly chosen in your situation too though, so fine tuning your preferences would be helpful.

Depth is to be considered too. 9" would probably give you enough room to play with the layer firmnesses unless you choose something very soft. I would stay away from just 2" of comfort layer on top because broad shoulders need a thorough comfort layer and 3" would give you that much more to work with.

Thanks! I’ll make sure to get at least 3" for the top layer. As far as the surface feel, It’s a little hard to know exactly what I want before I find it, but probably something on the plusher or softer side.

Ah, in that case, a soft layer on top, might be more up your alley.

How comfortable are you on Hotel Beds? They are typically not plush and lean toward a medium to firm firmness, I think.

I sleep quite comfortably on most hotel beds! But the ones I really love have some kind of surface plushness. That’s why the first mattress I purchased back in February was a pillowtop. (Unfortunately the pillow seemed to be supported by a slab of granite.)

That is a great observation. It means that whether you DIY your mattress or choose one premade, make sure to pick on that has a graduated firmness, such as a soft, medium, firm instead of jumping from the soft to a firm and then extra firm. That way you will subtly be supported instead of sinking through the top layer right onto the support.