Latex Recommendation in NW Michigan?

WOW! Thank you for an incredibly informative website!

There is probably more on the website than I can assimilate, especially in our time frame - - I need to buy a mattress within the next 24 hours, – company coming next week – mattress is for us, company gets our old one, but I think that we’ve got some of the basics.

We are a mid 50s couple, located in northern Michigan (Traverse City) average size, me 6’0, 190, her 5’7, 150.

I sleep on my stomach mostly, or sometimes side because I don’t breath well on my back during sleep, wife sleeps on her back.

We have done some basic research and flopped around on a lot of mattresses and here is where we are at:

Comfort is obviously very important, probably like medium firm but not rock hard or feathery soft, but also very important is motion isolation – one of us tosses and turns a lot and it can really be annoying for the other.

The memory form seems to offer the best motion isolation by far but we don’t like the Tempupedic – too much effort to move – feels like sleeping in quick sand.

We have found that another foam mattresse that like most foam, offesr excellent motion isolation, seems to be comfortable, and is manufactured by a small local/regional manufacturer like you suggest (I understand your reasoning on this on the website and it makes sense).

What do you think of this company

and specifically this mattress

I am also somewhat considering the Serta icomfort foam line but hesitant because it is one of those larger companies with all the disadvantages that entails, including maybe most of all, maybe not being real responsive if we had a problem, as compared to a smaller, family owned company that is motivated to keep their Customers happy. I need to review some of your other threads on that.

The Capitol Bedding Pure Essence seems great at the store but the thing that probably scares me the most are the many reviews that I read for foam beds that say that they started out great, but within a few weeks or months, lost their memory and support. That would be a disaster.

It makes me just a little tempted to go tried and true with a coil that has good motion isolation, but none of those seem to come close to the foam for motion isolation, and based on what I read and have tried, it really seems like foam is the way to go, but it scares me to take a flyer on its long (or even short!) term durability.

In light of all this, what do you think of the model above, and if you have concerns, what would you recommend for us, probably in a foam?

Have to do something within the next 24 hours. Help please! :slight_smile:

Thank you!


P.S. And what about latex? I read good things about it on your website and noticed that the higher priced Serta icomfort had it. What would you recommend in a latex that I could try out locally?

I just want comfortable (I know, totally subjective), excellent motion isolation, excellent durability, and not feel like I am in quicksand with the Tempurpedic.

Thank you!

Hi PhilinNMI,

I think in cases like yours where there is some urgency and not enough time to do enough research … the choice of outlet can be just as important as the choice of mattress. Finding an outlet that carries a good selection of good quality and value mattresses and where the people “know their stuff” and can help fit you to a mattress that best meets your long term needs and preferences in your budget range can lead to much better choices.

I did a bit of research in your area and these are the better options that I’m aware of. Of course I don’t know these well from a single conversation … they are the ones that most impressed me in terms of their value, selection, and knowledge. Traverse city, Cadillac, Big Rapids, Houghton Lake, MI. I talked with Rita here and you are probably already aware of them and know they carry Capitol bedding mattresses (along with Simmons and Tempurpedic which I would completely ignore). IMO, Capitol bedding is one of the better manufacturers in the country in terms of providing meaningful specs about all their mattresses. they use higher than average quality materials in their mattresses which would give them better value. I wish every mattress manufacturer did as well as they did in this department (I actually called them just to tell them how impressed I was with their updated website and they said there was “more to come” as they continue their website project).

The specific mattress you linked to uses 4 lb memory foam and 1.8 lb density base foam which are both good but not the best quality/durability materials and the “value” would depend on the price they are charging. 4 lb memory foam tends to be more responsive and more breathable and cooler than many higher density memory foams and they are often preferred for this reason even though they will be less durable than higher density memory foam. 1.8 lb polyfoam is certainly suitable for use in a base layer.

I should mention though that the base layer has a low ILD (firmness level) and that base layers are usually firmer than this one (typical support layers are around 28 on the soft side and go up into the 40’s or sometimes higher). This is not good or bad … but just a caution to make sure that your alignment is good when you test this mattress because a softer support layer in combination with 3" of memory foam may allow your heavier parts to sink in too deeply. This could also be a little risky for stomach sleeping which generally can use a thinner comfort layer and a firmer support layer to prevent the hammocking (and back issues) that is so common for stomach sleepers. Lighter side sleepers may do well with this mattress because it is soft and “cushy” … but again theory is not as “accurate” as your personal experience. Just make sure you are testing specifically for alignment in all your sleeping positions and not just for a subjective sense of “comfort” which may not tellyou how well this mattress may work for you in the long term. Traverse city, MI. They sell their own house brand (which is their own design) made by Clare Bedding (a Restonic licensee which I like) and this includes Talalay latex and latex hybrid mattresses. I talked with Jim here and he is both knowledgeable and helpful and happy to provide any specs you may want (as long as they are given to him). I would focus on their Michigan mattress line here. Suttons Bay, MI. They carry Lady Americana and Beds By Design. Lady Americana can also have better than average materials and value (depending on the store) and Beds by Design which are very high quality mattresses that use a firm innerspring with layers of cotton, latex, high density polyfoam and wool on both sides (they are two sided). They also make their own true boxsprings that go with them. Traverse City, MI. They carry Vivetique which makes a range of latex, innerspring, and natural fiber mattresses and Savvy Rest which are component latex mattresses where you can choose your own layers. They both make high quality mattresses but again the prices may be more than you are comfortable with. Factory direct manufacturer in Harbor Springs, MI. They make a range of two sided mattresses that use a firm innerspring with layers of cotton, wool, high density polyfoam, and latex on each side and make their own true box springs as well. They also make custom sizes and custom designs and can make custom adjustments to your mattress if it needs to be a little softer or firmer after a purchase. Their mattresses are also inner and outer tufted which adds to the quality and durability of the mattress as well. They are in a higher budget range but would make good value choices because of the quality and durability of their materials and construction.

If I was in your shoes … these are the outlets that I would focus my attention on and that have the best odds of buying a high quality and value mattress and getting helpful information about what is in the mattress you are considering (which is the only way to know the quality and the value of a mattress).

There are many different quality levels of foam and they can range from being more durable than an innerspring all the way to being for temporary use only. The key is to know the difference and this is where knowing the density of the foam is so important. It’s usually the upper layers of a mattress that softens first and makes a mattress unsuitable for sleeping on (softening isn’t covered by a warranty) and most mattress support cores (whether they are polyfoam, latex, or an innerspring) will outlast the comfort layers (which are the weak link in most mattresses). Latex is the most durable of all the foams whether it is in the comfort layers or in the support core.

The higher priced Sertas only have a bit of latex and would still be subject to the softening of the type of gel foam and other foams they use in their comfort layers. I would not recommend any of them as being good value. You can read a bit more about some of the lineup in post #11 here.

Because you are somewhat in a hurry … you really won’t have the time to do the research that would be best and I would talk to the outlets I mentioned on the phone in detail about your needs and preferences … narrow down the choices you have that may be suitable at each outlet, and then pick the best 2 or 3 of them and rely on your sense of the knowledge of the person that was helping you to make a decision (along of course with budget considerations). If they are knowledgeable and helpful and committed to helping you make your best decision … then some time on the phone can save you a lot of time in the store.



Both your exptertise and all the legwork and phone calls that you made to help me is truly mindblowing. Thank you very much!

A couple of followup questions:

  1. How do the attached specs from a bed from Michigan Mattress stack up against the previous specs from the bed from Capitol Bedding (Capitol Bedding - Michigan Mattress Manufacturer - Capitol Bedding - Hand Crafted Michigan Mattresses, PLEASE NOTE: The Plush version is the one that I tried) Both are coming in just a little under $ 2k.

  2. I have visited and/or talked with most of the places on your list. When I asked about latex matresses, I really felt like I was from Mars. The strange thing is, and reading at other websites confirms this, latex may be the best but it is almost impossible to find in a store. So I am torn between abandoning my quest for the best and instead getting one of the 2 locally manufactured gel foams (Capitol Bedding or Michigan Matrtress) or abandoning both my time line and my need to try before I buy, probably buying latex sight unseen (very scary way to buy a mattress) because I can’t find it in a showroom, because of a possible, unquantified, durability advantage of the latex. Is the purported durability advantage of latex worth buying it sign unseen (this is a big leap) or is the possible difference so potentially insignificant that I should go with the flow and just buy the readily available gel foams? Your thoughts on this? How does someone who is not in a very major metropolitan area buy a latex mattress when they aren’t in the showrooms? Are we relegated to mail order/buying sight unseen if we want latex?

Thank you again for a great website and for all your help! Incredible!


Hi PhilinNMI,

There are really two separate issues you are looking at when you buy a mattress.

One is the suitability of a mattress for your personal “stats” (height, weight, body shape), your sleeping positions, and your preferences (sleeping temperature, motion isolation, “on” or “in” the mattress, ease of movement and other personal preferences).

The second is the quality, amount, and cost of materials that are in the mattress. This goes to durability and value.

Even the best quality and value mattress may not be suitable for a particular individual in which case it may be a great “deal” but it may lead to a lot of uncomfortable nights.

The Capitol Bedding you linked to uses Future Foam gel memory foam which IMO is a good quality gel memory foam and infused in a way that can strengthen regular memory foam. It also has a thinner layer of memory foam (3") which may be a better choice for stomach sleepers although as I mentioned before this is somewhat offset by the softer support core. It has a 2" better quality (1.8 lb) fairly soft polyfoam transition layer and then a support layer that also uses the same foam which is appropriate quality for a support layer but as I mentioned very soft (for a support layer).

Thicker layers of memory foam can be quite risky because while they may feel firmer and more supportive at first … over the course of the night due to heat, humidity, and constant pressure, memory foam will soften and what starts out as good alignment can lead to sleeping out of alignment. This tendency to soften over the course of the night (outside of the better known softening with temperature) is called creep and memory foam is the most subject to this property. Polyfoam and latex don’t have this (at least only to very minor degrees). Because all memory foam is soft (generally under 15 ILD which is considered soft in all other foams), even the ones that feel firmer at first or feel firm when you move are only suitable for use in a comfort layer and if the memory foam is too thick … then it starts to become part of the deeper support layers and it’s not suitable for this (it can’t “hold up” your heavier parts and keep you in alignment as well as innersprings, polyfoam, or latex).

The Michigan mattress has a few specs missing. It would be nice to know the density of the 3" of gel memory foam they use but if it’s the same as Restonic uses (and it comes from Clare Bedding which is a Restonic licensee) then it’s good quality and is also infused and doesn’t have the particles in it.

Underneath this is 2’ of “regular” 4 lb memory foam. Because this is deeper in the mattress … it will take longer for heat to reach it and for it to soften but it will eventually compress as well. Foam that is deeper in a mattress is also less subject to mechanical stress and compression and will generally last longer so 4 lb memory foam deeper in a mattress will likely be more durable than “regular” 4 lb memory foam on top of a mattress (This isn’t a comparison to the Capitol bedding which is strengthened with Gel but a comment on how slightly lower density materials can be more durable in deeper layers). This has a total of 5" of memory foam on top which could be quite risky for a stomach sleeper and even though there is “more” material and the cost of the materials would be more … I would be cautius with this and make sure it is suitable for you. Underneath this is 2" of latex which is used as a transition layer (between the comfort and support layers) which depending on the firmness would contribute to both the pressure relief and support of the mattress and then under this is 6" of High Density polyfoam which would be at least 1.8 lbs density (and it would be nice to know this as well).

It also doesn’t say whether each mattress includes a foundation or base which is included in the price as this too can make a significant difference in a value comparison.

If both mattresses are “mattress only” prices and are similarly priced … then it would seem to me that the Michigan Mattress has better value in the sense that the quantity and type of materials in it are more costly.

Having said all this … personal testing for PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Preferences) is very important because this is how you test for the suitability of a mattress. You need to spend at least 15 minutes on a mattress … completely relaxed and making sure your muscles have “let go” (just like the pre-sleep stage before you go to sleep) … to test for spinal alignment in all your sleeping positions. Normally you would also need to test for pressure relief in the position that has the most pressure points (usually side) but both of these are unlikely to have any pressure relief issues for you and the biggest “caution” is that there may be too much (upper part is too soft for best alignment).

So the bottom line is that your personal testing on these (or any other options) is the best way to determine the suitability of a mattress in terms of PPP but if these are mattress only to mattress only comparisons it seems to me that the Michigan mattress has better value.

I would also consider testing a mattress with slightly thinner comfort layers (in the case of Michigan mattress) or slightly firmer support layers (in the case of Capitol) but as always your own experience “trumps” theory.

Hope this helps


Thank you Phoenix! You and your website are incredible!

Here is where I am at: I want latex.

For various reasons which I won’t go into here, I think that TC bedrooms, the first on your list is the only place locally that I will be able to get it. Jim, who you talked to, is the owner and is extremely knowledgeable and helpful and has several custom designed latex beds ranging from $ 1,500 latex/box spring foundation hybrids to $ 4,000 total latex.

Unfortunately, when I visited his store earlier this week, neither myself or the rookie salesman that I spoke with were as informed as we should have been and it was somewhat of a wasted visit in that it was all about gel foam and nothing about latex, even though Jim was lurking in the background. It has taken multiple phone calls to the rookie sales guy, and then ultimately to Jim to even learn that they sell it.

Also unfortunately is that Jim refuses to provide any printed specs. He said that he will show me everything in person, but provide nothing by email or fax for me to study beforehand, which I don’t like because it is impossible for me to study and assimilate all the information on the spot and also run it by you.

So I am somewhat offended by that - like you, I am a big proponent of written disclosure, not just a verbal spiel, and it’s 3 hours of my time, travel time and visit, maybe to find that I either won’t even get the information that I need and/or be able to assimilate it. So I’m not happy about that but my options are few if I want latex.

2 questions for you:

  1. Before I go there this afternoon, if I do, what questions regarding the latex and mattress specs should I ask and what should I look for? What do you think about this latex/box spring hybrid?

  2. I am so frustrated by the difficulty in getting latex locally and the lack of written disclosure, that I am strongly considering order the Ultimate Dreams Latex on Amazon for $ 600, crazy as that seems. It’s not just about the price -it’s about the frustration. And the customer reviews for this mattress on Amazon are absolutely stellar, without exception. Rarely do you see this level of unanimous praise. What do you think about this option? This is for the mattress only, correct? Do I need a foundation? If so, what do I use for a foundation, where do I get it, and how much would it cost?

Thank you Phoenix!


Hi PhilinNMI,

This is one of those situations where the “type” of specs can make a difference in how likely or essential it would be for them to provide a printed list.

The “essential” specs should always be revealed on a phone call IMO. These include the types and/or density of materials in the mattress. It’s important to me that someone doesn’t have to spend travel time (even if they are local) to test a mattress that has materials that would exclude them from consideration even if they are comfortable. It should also include information about the thickness of any “questionable” materials which may be fine in thin layers but better avoided in thicker layers.

They also would include “value” specs which should also be revealed although this may be in a more general way. These include some basic information such as the amount of different materials that are used. For example this would include whether it has 10" of latex in the mattress or whether it has only a couple of inches mixed in with other materials. It would also include the details about the type of quilting/ticking used. It may also include any relevant information about construction methods such as hand crafting techniques (tufting or side stitching) and details such as whether the mattress is one or two sided which add to the cost and value of a mattress. They should also be able to confirm the budget range of the mattress (or if it’s within your budget range) but may not give you a specific “quote”. This will give you a sense of the relative value range of the mattress and whether it is (or should be) within your general budget range although it may not give you a complete sense of why a mattress costs what it does and you always need to think in terms of “ranges” rather than specific prices. This type of information will prevent you from visiting an outlet and testing a mattress that may not be within your budget or in the value range that you are looking for no matter how high the quality or value of the mattress.

Finally there are the “non essential” specs which includes the specific layering and the ILD’s of the materials which creates the specific performance of a mattress and is part of how well it may “fit” the needs of a particular individual. More general questions in this area such as …

Do you have models that are likely to be more suitable for a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper? or

What is the basic difference between the different models? or

How do you decide which mattress is best for my specific height/weight and sleeping positions?

… are more legitimate and also test the knowledge of the person you are talking to. Answers like …

“Just lie on a mattress and buy the one that feel best for you” without taking into account the type and quality of materials that create the feeling, how long it may last, or even disregard an obvious alignment issue on a mattress that may be very comfortable in a showroom but not appropriate for long term use may be a sign of lack of knowledge or willingness to provide the essential specs of a mattress.

While many manufacturers or outlets may disclose these types of specs (and these can be used as reference points) … the specifics of this type of information may be proprietary to a particular manufacturer or mattress and they may not want to provide this information that has taken them years in some cases to perfect. This is sometimes a legitimate form of differentiation. These are the type of specs that may be important for an online purchase but are fairly meaningless for a local purchase because they are based in “theory” and actually testing a mattress will tell you more about how a mattress interacts with you than knowing the specifics of the layer thicknesses or the ILD. For an online purchase this is much more important because they provide a way to “predict” which mattress may be most suitable for an online purchase but for a local purchase they can do more to confuse and encourage focusing on “non essential specs” when the focus needs to be on what is actually experienced on the mattress regardless of the specific layering or ILD.

So questions like …

Is there any polyfoam or memory foam in the mattress or quilting?

How thick are any polyfoam or memory foam layers and where are they in the mattress?

What is the density of the polyfoam you use in the various layers?

What type of latex do you use and is it blended or synthetic?

What type of ticking/quilting is used?

What is the total thickness or percentage (from the law tag) of latex in the mattress?

What is the general price range of the mattress (making sure it’s in your budget range)?

These are all either quality questions or value questions to make sure that the quality of materials used is what you want and that the general value range of the mattress is reasonably competitive with other choices you have available (bearing in mind that the foam layers may only be part of the reason that a mattress costs what it does).

Questions like asking for the specific ILD’s and thickness of each individual layer are nice to have but are not essential in any way for a local purchase where what you feel on the mattress is always more important than the specific ILD’s or the thickness of the layers. There are even many outlets that recognize this as a “warning sign” of their own which can indicate a customer that is so focused on specs that they can become paralyzed with indecision and not be able to make a good decision without going into levels of detail that do more to confuse than help or never be happy with any choice. A sense of “urgency” in a consumer may also be a warning sign to a better outlet or salesperson although it may be welcome to those who may be more likely to say what you want to hear or may sell you anything that they think you will buy because a decision needs to be made quickly.

This type of “non essential” information is more “optional” rather than “essential” and I would consider it a bonus (which many manufacturers willingly provide). They can also be a way to confirm that the materials in a mattress “add up” to the total thickness of a mattress if you are dealing with someone who doesn’t seem quite willing to provide all the specs that you really do need without “missing” a few layers.

I personally would tend to do my initial questioning verbally (I avoid emails or printed information in my initial conversations) and my questions would be partly about the mattress (essential specs) and partly about getting a sense of who I was dealing with and their level of knowledge and service. I would rarely ask for written information over a phone call unless there was a specific reason to have it and the outlet was happy to provide it.

So hopefully you have been able to get answers to the more general and “essential” questions over the phone which is an important part of deciding if a trip to visit them is worth the time. Your request for printed or faxed specs may have “triggered” a concern that he may be dealing with a customer who could be too “spec” oriented and more likely to make a “spec” decision than a more accurate “experience” decision. I don’t know if this is the case of course or what information he wasn’t willing to give you but this wouldn’t be uncommon.

If not … as you say … then there are always other great options … including the Ultimate Dreams latex/polyfoam hybrid and some of the many other choices that are available (post #21 here has a list of the members here which sell online).

The Ultimate dreams is a mattress only price yes and like all the members of this site … I believe they are great value. They will customize the comfort layer with the ILD of your choice but of course the tradeoff and part of the reason for the price is that there are no refunds or layer exchanges and of course the importance of this is part of each person’s value equation".

You would generally need a firm non flexible slatted foundation for a mattress of this type. The specifics would depend on your budget range but there are lots of options from very low cost to much higher cost. Post #47 here includes an extensive discussion of many options. Post #4 here and post #13 here, and post #2 here, and post #7 and onwards here all have links to some very good choices in any budget range.

Post #2 here also talks about the different types of foundations and box springs and which may be most suitable for each type of mattress.


Thanks Phoenix for another great treasure trove of information!

  1. What do you think of his hybrid latex matress, spring foundation concept?

  2. Does the Ultimate Dreams mattress on Amazon require an additional foundation and if so, what, or does it simply go in the bed frame?

Thank you!

Hi PhilinNMI,

I just edited the last post to include links to lots of information and sources about foundations and innersprings and which may be most suitable for each type of mattress. In general you would need a rigid slatted or grid foundation for an all foam or latex mattress (unless it was designed for something else) and there are quite a few inexpensive options that are linked in the posts I included in my edit. If your bed frame is the type designed to hold a box spring or foundation (with steel rails), then it wouldn’t be suitable for supporting a mattress and the mattress would just fall through the wide gaps in the frame (which is meant to hold a wooden box spring or foundation).

It also occurred to me that you mentioned a trip to TC bedrooms would be a 3 hour total journey. Is this just because of the time you would spend there or are you further away from Traverse City than I thought?


Thank you very much Phoenix! Great information!

I am about 40 minutes from TC Bedrooms, so with round trip and time there, it’s probably 3 hours.


Thank you again for all your help.

We visited TC Bedrooms last night and the good news is that they have been selling latex for a long time, the owner is very knowledgeable, loves latex, and they have latex beds on the floor for us to try.

Their beds are custom made by Michigan Matress and seem to use top quality products including 100% natural Talalay latex.

They have 2 different latex models that we might be interested in and 3 firmnesses in each, although we probably wouldn’t consider the softest, which they call “pillowtop”. As an aside, I didn’t question it because I didn’t want to go off a tangent, but I always thought that technically, pillowtop did not really refer to a firmness, but the covering on top of any given firmness.

The top model is 12" of natural latex, which includes a 6" latex core, covered by 2, 1" latex layers covered by I think another very thin latex layer, then wool and bamboo. Bottom side of the core is the same, so it is flippable. They only had the firm and it felt firm but very nice. Based on their descriptions on the link below, seems like really quailty stuff, custom made to TC Bedroooms specs by a small state company, Michigan Mattress aka Clare Bedding. I definitely felt “on” not “in” but I almost felt like I was floating, very little pressure which was nice, but for some reason it didn’t feel sleep inducing because I guess that maybe I have this association in my brain of “sleep” with “soft”. I had this feeling and picture in my mind that I was on this giant piece of bouncy foam (not squishy memory foam). That’s not bad, it was just a unique feeling and we’re trying to decide if that was too firm or really nice… $ 2,700 for mattress and foundation. 20 year warranty.

The other model is the same except the core is 6" of poly foam instead of latex and it’s not flippable. Owner did not know specs of foam, just that Michigan Mattress owner assured him that it was “the best available”. Can’t remember what’s under the core. $ 1,500, 10 year warranty. I guess the question mark is how well the poly foam will perform and hold up. They only had a “plush” which is their “medium”, “pillowtop” being soft.

So we were comparing 2 different variables: the all latex vs the latex - poly foam and the firm versus the medium (“plush”), so hard to get a handle on what we liked best, let alone whether it was the mattresses or the firmness differences causing them.

What are your recommendations on the all latex vs the latex poly foam hybrid?

And I know that this is really subjective, but what are your thoughts on the “on” versus “in” for a side/stomach sleeper and a side sleeper?

We know that we want latex. We just have to figure out which mattress and firmness.

This has been a real education and has not been easy. Thank you for all your help!


Hi PhilinNMI,

You’re right about this and a pillowtop is a type of construction rather than a firmness level. It’s similar to having a topper attached to a mattress. Because a pillowtop is usually firmer than a “tight top” it’s often used to refer to a softer mattress such as in “a pillowtop feel” even though a tight top using very soft foams can be softer than a pillow top that uses firmer materials.

This sounds like a very nice construction that uses good quality materials. Having a “flippable” mattress … even with latex which is already durable … is a “bonus” and would be a more durable construction although it also adds to the cost in terms of both materials and the cost of finishing a mattress on both sides. 100% natural talalay in softer ILD’s is likely to be less durable than blended Talalay so this would also help extend the life of the comfort layers.

The “on the mattress” feeling of latex (which is an instant responding foam) vs the more “in the mattress” feeling of memory foam (which is a slow responding foam) is one of the biggest differences between the two materials even though they are very similar in terms of pressure relief. This is one of the reasons that many people love it because it is more “movement friendly” and doesn’t create a feeling of being “trapped” in the mattress or restrict motion. The difference is a personal preference though and not a matter of “better or worse”. Different ILD’s, layer thicknesses, and layering patterns as well as different materials and components will interact with each other differently and can significantly change the feel of the mattress so even with latex you can choose layers that allow you to sink in more or less but it is never the same as memory foam … even if the softness level is the same. This of course is part of the “art and science” of mattress construction and good testing for both pressure relief, alignment, and preferences of feel and performance (along with some good guidance) is the best way to tell which is best for your unique needs and preferences.

Polyfoam with an appropriate density used in a base layer is usually quite durable because the upper layers of a mattress are the most subject to wear and softening. While polyfoam is nowhere near as elastic or as durable as latex …it (or an innerspring) can be a good lower budget alternative for the “latex feel” in a comfort layer. Typically a polyfoam support core should have a density of 1.8 lbs or higher and I would guess that it would be more of an issue of being the “best available” for the price range rather than the best (which is much higher density and also more expensive than the typical HD foam used in a polyfoam support layer). If it’s 1.8 density or higher then it should be fine. Lower than this would not be appropriate for a mattress in this price range IMO and there are many who would use higher density than this as well which of course would be better yet.

This is also a matter of preference and budget. Latex in a core has a wider range of response and greater elasticity and resilience so it would be better able to “adapt” to multiple sleeping positions and weights but as you know also costs more. It aso has a more responsive feel. In the end … your own experience on the mattress is the most important factor and the most accurate way to know the difference for you. If the difference in performance seems to justify the added cost then of course it would be worth considering. If you can’t feel any difference … then I would question the value of the significant increase in your budget except of course for the added durability of latex. Don’t forget that the two main functions of a mattress are pressure relief and alignment and everything after this is preference and a series of tradeoffs.

Stomach sleeping is the most “risky” sleeping position because of the significant risk of “hammocking” using comfort layers that are too thick and soft. Side sleeping is on the other end of the range because of the more protuding parts of the side profile which need thicker softer comfort layers for pressure relief and to “fill in” the gaps in the sleeping profile.

in general it’s best to use the thinnest/firmest possible comfort layer/core combination that provides good pressure relief for side sleeping to best accommodate the times when you are sleeping on your stomach. If two mattresses seem comparable then I would tend to err on the side of firmness. Firmer comfort layers can always be adjusted and made softer. If a mattress is too soft for best alignment … then this is very difficult (or perhaps not possible) to fix.

When you are testing mattresses … try to test very specifically for pressure relief and alignment independently and avoid testing for subjective ideas of overall “comfort”.

You should be spending at least 15 minutes on each mattress that you are seriously considering. Make sure as well that you are doing your testing with an appropriate pillow. The first step is to get into a “pre sleep” state where your muscles have completely let go and relaxed so you are testing the mattress not the ability of your muscles to support you (which can lead to soreness and back issues). Test specifically for pressure relief on your side in both the shoulder area and the hips making sure your shoulders are sinking in far enough to relieve pressure. Bounce very slightly to make sure that you are not feeling any “firmer” spots under the comfort layer. Turn from one side to another to sense if there are any areas where you can feel pressure ir discomfort.

When testing for alignment … test in all your sleeping positions and make sure your spine is aligned either straight on the side or in its natural “S” curve on your stomach. Try to sense any areas of tension where your muscles are doing the work of holding any parts up. it also helps to have someone help you to make sure that your “middle” isn’t sagging too far into the mattress. 15 minutes completely relaxed is a long time in a show room so make sure you don’t shorten it or are tempted to shorten the time you need to test accurately.

This diagram will give you a sense of the alignment you are looking for. You can test for any “gaps” under the recessed parts of the body having someone slide their hand under you. This should be fairly difficult if the area is filled in. If there is “air” under the lumbar curve … your comfort layer may be too thin or firm. Your body will tell you what is best if you listen and feel what it is telling you. Things that are more subtle in a showroom will tend to be more obvious when you are on a mattress for a whole night or over the course of days or weeks.

The guidance of someone with the knowledge and experience who can see how you respond and help you “fit” the mattress to your needs and preferences can also be very helpful.

Hope this helps.