Latex too firm. Layer suggestions?

Hello Phoenix, thanks for a great site. My husband and I used your site primarily in our research for a queen size bed. We ended up going with an 100% organic Natural Sense latex bed (from Foam Order in San Francisco), both for its durability and its eco-friendliness. And Foam Order in SF because it was within driving distance, offered the best prices and the most customization. A couple of things I’d like to note for future buyers of Foam Order:

    The Natural Sense website ( makes mention of a 10% discount on all organic mattresses while the FoamOrder website ( does not. I believe both sites are run by the same folks - we got the 10% applied to our order.

    We were told verbally by the floor rep before we purchased our mattress that exchanges were free as long as we personally dropped off the old layer and picked up the new layer in-store. However, when we went in-store to order, we were informed differently: while shipping was free if we dropped off/picked up the exchange layer, there would be a charge to increase in firmness and NO REFUND FOR DECREASES. See cut and paste below. It’s something to take into consideration for future buyers. Had we known, we would have been a little more strategic in our purchase selection to avoid/reduce “lost costs” from exchanges to a lower ILD.

---- NATURAL SENSE “PICK YOUR LAYERS”: Layers may be exchanged for 90 days from the ship date. There are shipping fees and a charge to increase in firmness and no refund for decreases. ----

And now, here’s my question for you, Phoenix. We purchased a 9" Natural Sense mattress just over a month ago. We custom-picked our layers (from top to bottom - each layer is 3" and all Dunlop): Medium (ILD 28), Firm (ILD 31) and X-Firm (ILD 36). As FoamOrder did not have this specific configuration in-store, we weren’t able to try this out before purchase. But we knew (or thought we knew) we wanted a medium-firm bed for better support. Prior to this, we had a slightly sinking old inner-spring (no support) with a memory foam topper that relieved pressure points but slept much too hot for me.

After a month of sleeping on the Natural Sense mattress, I am finding that it’s much too firm for me. It’s not relieving any pressure points in my lower back/hips, and I am waking up with a stiff lower back and shoulders. I’ve had some lower back issues before this bed and I am finding that the bed is not allowing my back to heal while I sleep as the mattress isn’t filling in the “gaps” along my side/back. My husband, on the other hand, hasn’t experienced any problems with the bed.

What are your suggestions for the layer exchanges? My husband and I are not big people. I’m 120lbs and he’s 150lbs. I’ve been trying to sleep on my back as its better for my back, but I’m usually a side sleeper; husband is a back sleeper. Would you suggest going down to 25ILD for the top layer, 28ILD for the middle and 31ILD for the bottom? We were also considering doing 28ILD for the top two layers (total 6") and keeping either the 31 or 36 as the bottom layer.

Thank you, in advance, for your time. I appreciate your input!

Hi NeelieOat,

Thanks for the information about their return/exchange policies and the 10% discount … I appreciate it and I think it will be helpful for other forum members that are considering them.

Unfortunately there is no “standard” definition or consensus of opinion for firmness ratings and different manufacturers can rate their mattresses very differently than others. Different people can also have very different perceptions of firmness and softness compared to others as well and a mattress that is firm for one can feel like “medium” for someone else or even “soft” for someone else depending on their body type, sleeping style, physiology, their frame of reference based on what they are used to, and their individual sensitivity and perceptions. This is all relative and is as much an art as a science. There are also different types of firmness and softness that different people may be sensitive to that can affect how they “rate” a mattress (see post #15 here). With your lighter weights most mattresses will feel firmer than they would to others that are in higher weight ranges because you will sink into the mattress less.

If your husband is sleeping well then it may be worth considering split layers if you don’t have them already so that each of you can have a different combination of layers for your side of the mattress.

While it’s not possible to make specific suggestions because the only way to know for certain whether any combination of layers would work for you will be based on your own personal testing or experience ,… based on your comments and the “averages” of other people that are in lighter weight ranges you would probably do better with a more “standard” layering which from top to bottom would be soft (17 - 25 ILD) over medium (26 - 30 ILD) over either firm (31-35 ILD) or extra firm (36 - 42 ILD) on the bottom (the bottom layer will have the least effect on how the mattress feels).

Even this layering may be too firm for some people in your weight range and you may still find that you need a softer top layer (depending on where in the range the top layer falls) to get your version of the “medium firm” feel that you are looking for but since this is their softest layer you may need to add a topper if you find you need any additional softness/pressure relief.

I would probably take a more “incremental” approach and start with exchanging only the medium top layer (which has the biggest effect on “feel” and pressure relief) for either a soft layer or a split layer that is soft on one side and medium on the other (to keep your husbands side the same) to see if that would be “enough” and then you can use your experience on this combination to decide whether you need any additional changes.

There are also some suggestions in post #2 here that may be helpful as well.