latex toppers for lightweight, curvy people

Just a quick, partial reply for now:

Yes. Which is why I don’t understand why the 24 ILD piece, under the 2" of super-soft stuff, would be a problem as far as my shoulders not sinking in enough.

Sometime in the next few days, I might, very carefully, try folding the toppers over in different combinations to get a better sense of what might work and what I might be able to do with what I have now.

I’m half-tempted to get the Oodles topper thing (with the latex “noodles”; there’s an old thread about that topper on the other forum) out of my attic and try again to sew more baffles into it to prevent the noodles from shifting. It’s unwieldy to spread out, and the few baffles it came with are in exactly the wrong places, so they exacerbate the cratering caused by the shifting of the noodles, but the poofy parts of that thing are incredibly comfortable. Could have been a great product if it had been constructed right.

Hi Catherine,

The weight on your shoulder area is less than your hips even though shoulders are wider and need to sink in further for side sleeping. When someone is much lighter … then 24 ILD is often too firm to allow lighter wider shoulders to sink in deeply enough even with 2" of soft stuff on top. You will likely need 3" of soft stuff on top for your shoulders. For a much lighter weight … 24 ILD if it makes up any part of the comfort layer is often not soft enough for the shoulders to sink in as far as they need to (even though the hips will).

Part of the reason for this is that ILD by itself is a little misleading without taking layer thickness into account as it only measures compression at 25% of a tested 6" layer (for talalay latex) while in real life … a person will sink into a comfort layer more deeply than 25% and the comfort layer will be thinner than 6"with something firmer underneath. For example … if a comfort layer came from a 16 ILD 6" talalay core (it would take 16 lb to compress a 50 sq inch foot 1.5" into the 6" core) … then it would take about 48 lb to compress this same layer 4" (65% of the thickness). If the comfort layer is only 3" and the layer underneath is firmer than 16 ILD, then this would be even higher. ILD at deeper compression in other words is much firmer. Latex gets firmer much faster than poly so very soft latex in a comfort layer is often necessary to allow deeper compression for the shoulders (especially with lighter body weights that are side sleepers). When the soft stuff on top compresses enough … it becomes firmer than the layers underneath it and this is when the lower layers start to compress (and they get firmer even faster which is what holds the hips up).

So if your comfort layer is BOTH thick enough AND soft enough, then your shoulders will sink in enough. If either the thickness is not enough or the ILD of part of it is too firm … then they won’t. The sinking in of the hips in other words should be “controlled” (stopped) by the support layers. The sinking in of the shoulders should be controlled (allowed) by the comfort layers. If the comfort layers are so firm that they stop the hips instead of the support layers (for side sleeping) … then there would be both too little lumbar support and the shoulders won’t sink in enough. In other words … for side sleepers … the comfort layers are mostly about the shoulders and need to be soft AND thick enough to let them sink in enough. The support layers are mostly about the hips and need to be firm enough to stop them from sinking in. The “middle” layers are about fine tuning both and easing hip pressure since the hips will always “go through” (actually sink deeper) than a comfort layer that is soft enough for the shoulders.

The position you sleep in the most and the depth of the pressure relieving “cradle” needed in that position (to fill in the “gaps” or recessed areas in that position) determines the ILD and the thickness of the comfort layer. Its main function for side sleepers is to allow the shoulders to sink in enough and support the lumbar … not to stop the hips (which will always tend to sink in deeper anyway). The layers underneath are where the fine tuning of hip pressure and hip support is designed.

If the comfort layer is firm enough to prevent the hips from “going through” to the support layers … then it will almost certainly be too firm for the shoulders to sink in enough on the side. At a lighter weight … 24 ILD would be similar to a higher ILD for a heavier person in terms of how far it allows the shoulders to sink in.

Just to let you know too … I checked on the construction of the dynasty super firm and it has an inch of 1.8 density 35 ILD poly (and densified fiber under that) under the quilting along with the quilting poly which is probably compressed even firmer over time so you really do have a firm base to work with.

So the bottom line is that I believe that 24 ILD (or more) anywhere in the top 3" may be too firm for you (for the shoulders) and that 24 ILD right below the top 3" may possibly be too soft (for the hips) depending on the 3" above it. Since we will need to use the 24 ILD (since it can’t be exchanged), then the goal is to use some “tricks” to “make it work” with the 24 ILD in the mix. This could include using the 24 or the 29 over the 2" of softer stuff. I would also suggest that the 29 is “out of the range” of what you need and you will likely need another inch of much lower ILD talalay. While testing the models at Jamestown would certainly help … I am suspecting that 3" of soft (for you) talalay over the 24 on top of your mattress will be much closer than your current setup and that with 3" of much softer talalay over a much firmer base (your mattress) … the 24 may be OK as a transition layer.


Hi Phoenix,

I appreciate all your research & analysis. Couple quick responses, below, and I sent you a PM.

I think you are right about that.

Huh. Interesting.

That all makes sense to me.

I definitely need those top couple of inches of softness for my hips, too, though; without that, I can wind up with some significant hip pain. Didn’t used to be much of an issue, but it is now, in middle age.

And that’s what I have noticed (the hips sinking in deeper, I mean) that makes me think I might still need to do some zoning.

I’ll try flipping the toppers so the 24 is on top of the soft stuff (but not tonight). I suspect that I’ll wind up putting the soft stuff back on top and adding a bit more to it, at least under the shoulders; but we’ll see.

Thanks for all your help.

Hi Catherine,

If the comfort layer is thick enough for the shoulders then the hips will usually be fine as well. The real challenge for the hips is to make sure that the layer underneath is both firm enough to stop the hips and that the transition between the firmer compressed comfort layers and the layer underneath isn’t so sudden that it feels like you are “hitting” a firmer layer underneath and causing pressure. This is more common with 2" comfort layers than it is with 3" or thicker comfort layers. With a 2" comfort layer … you would need a softer support core for both the shoulders and hips (a progressive approach) while with a thicker comfort layer you can use a firmer support core (a differential approach). Since your comfort layer looks like it will be 3" or more and you already have a firm support core … then it would be OK if the 3" was all soft which will compress deeper and be firmer by the time your hips reach the layers under it so this would also be a gradual transition even with a firmer support layer.

Because your hips and shoulders are both relatively even (one isn’t significantly wider than the other) and because latex has a degree of “built in zoning” … I doubt that zoning will be necessary as long as the top layer is thick and soft enough. Zoning is more commonly needed when the shoulders are significantly wider than the hips (like many men) and they need to go deeper than usual (to stay in alignment with the narrower hips) or when the hips are heavier and wider and the shoulders are narrower (more common in women) and they need to be held up more than usual (to stay in alignment with the narrower shoulders).

Let me know how your experiment with the 24 on top works and if we can “trick” your comfort layer into acting softer :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix,

Yeah, I’m built more like an hourglass. Only thing is, the hips part of the hourglass is still heavier than the shoulders part of the hourglass.

I just flipped over the top couple of toppers, to put the 24 ILD piece on top of the soft stuff, and then lay on it for a bit. Shoulders were still crunched.

At this point, the easiest, simplest thing for me to do is probably to go back to Jamestown Mattress and get another inch of the soft stuff. (Their prices are good, I’d be supporting a local independent business, and I wouldn’t have to wrestle another topper into a box for shipping.)

If that works, great. If I still need zoning after that, then I can double that inch of soft stuff over and use that on the top half of the bed, and double the 24 ILD piece over and use that on the bottom half of the bed. (Though I’d have to measure where the hips actually hit, on the bed, and adjust accordingly.)

Who knew bedding could get so complicated…

Did you flip the top 2 layers over onto the other soft stuff or was it directly on top of the N3 layer? In other words were you testing 1" 24 ILD over 2" 14-17 ILD flipped over 2" 14-17 ILD over 1" 24 ILD over 1" 29 ILD (total 7" with the top 2 layers flipped over) or was it 1" 24 ILD over 2" 14-17 ILD over 1" 29 ILD (top 2 layers flipped onto the 29). The first one would be way out of kilter but the second one would give valuable feedback … especially about whether the 24 could fit anywhere in the mix.

I would test the 3 mattresses I mentioned at Jamestown before buying anything else as they too will give you a great idea of what you need and a blueprint of what may work for you.


Hi Phoenix,

Right now, I have 4" of latex, total. In the most recent experiment, I kept the N3 piece (1") on the bottom, and flipped (reversed the order of) the other two layers so that the 1" of 24 ILD was on top of the 2" of 14-17 ILD. So it was still 4", but the soft stuff was the middle of the latex sandwich. :slight_smile: And my shoulder was still crunched on whatever side I lay on. Does that help?

Oh, wait, I see what you mean; sorry if I wasn’t clear. No, I didn’t fold over the soft stuff. Even enclosed in the terry cover, it’s delicate, and there’s a limit to how much I want to flip & roll & fold all this stuff. The 24 ILD piece is showing signs of wear and almost ripping, so I don’t want to handle that anymore than I have to, either. (Those two pieces are now back in the terry cover, with the soft stuff on top. The N3 is still on the bottom of the stack.)

I think that I was thinking about folding over the 2" soft layer to see what that felt like (to have 4" of it), but I haven’t done it.

Maybe I’ll pop into Jamestown Mattress this weekend; I’ll see how the time goes.

Edited to add: While I’m in there (at Jamestown), I might as well lie on their memory-foam mattresses, too. I’ve been avoiding memory foam, because of the petrochemicals & off-gassing, but waking up with my hip throbbing is making me reconsider. (My right hip is troublesome sometimes.) I’d prefer to stick with the latex, if possible, but I know that some people have had some success with mixing layers of latex with an inch of relatively dense (4-5 lb) memory foam.

Hi Catherine and Phoenix,

Being lightweight and curvy is a difficult combo. I simply could find the right latex combination that works for me. Sore shoulder and hip if I sleep on the side, and sore buttock when I sleep on my back.

Although I am purchaser a all latex mattress with configurable layers rather than just a topper. But from reading your thread, you are pretty much build your own mattress at this point.

I have these layers: x-soft 16ILD, soft 22-24ILD, med 30-32ILD, firm 38-40ILD

Here’s what I tried:
s-m-f: way too firm
s-m-m: pressure on hip and shoulder
xs-m-f: pressure on hip and shoulder
xs-s-f, xs-s-m: sink in too much and eventually still hit the bottom firmer layer.
xs-m-s: better than xs-s combination, but putting a soft layer on bottom layer of bed compromised integrity of the bed.
xs-m-s-f, xs-m-m-f: was probably my best combination with one slightly softer than the other, but I don’t love it and the most expensive combo possible.

I wanted to all latex mattress, but I want a good night sleep as well. I am start to experimenting with putting a 2.5" 4lbs memory foam topper on top of latex mattress. I noticed immediately is there is immediate pressure relieve with shoulder and hip with a memory foam topper, I will sleep on it for a few night a see if it works out.

Cathrine, good luck with your topper saga.

Pheonix, feel free to give me your two cents.

Hi Phoenix,

I popped into Jamestown Mattress and ordered another inch of the super-soft Talalay. The factory will need to cut that for me, so it’ll take a couple weeks to get here. I’ll come back & report on the results after I have the piece.

I did briefly lie on a couple of the mattresses there again, but I can’t tell the difference between the various latex models (not without spending a lot more time than I have right now, anyway; and some of them have some poly foam in the mattress quilting, so that confuses the issue). So I’m just going for (relatively) simple here: I’ll try 3" of the soft stuff. If that doesn’t quite do the trick, I’ll try zoning, using the new inch of the soft stuff with the 24ILD piece (cutting them both & doubling them up, with soft under the shoulders & torso, and medium under the hips). Seems like one of those setups has got to work. (Famous last words…)

I briefly lay on a couple of the memory foam mattresses, just to see what that kind of foam feels like, and my initial impression was that I did not like it at all. Just a weird feeling (sorta like wet cement that might trap you if you stay there too long); maybe it takes some getting used to.

I’ll “see” you again after I have results to report. Thanks again for all the help.

(searching for comfy pillows now, too; oy veh)

Hi Catherine,

My “gut” tells me that you will likely be pretty close … even without zoning … but on the off chance you do need the zoning, you at least have the ILD’s you would need to make it effective. Things are looking hopeful, at least from my end … but then I’m the one theorizing and not sleeping on the mattress and we both probably know that experience trumps any theory (hedging on my own version of “famous last words” :)). I agree with you too about the feeling of memory foam although I would consider it in thin layers mixed in with latex if I had to.

I’m looking forward to your next report. In post #8 here there’s a few good resources on pillows although there’s lots more and pillows are probably even more “personal” than a mattress. I’d love to hear what you end up with here as well.

Hi Britanyy … and welcome

One of the difficulties that some people find with latex layering is the difference that layer thickness can make in how the layers interact and how “softness” is perceived so it would be helpful if I knew the layer thicknesses of your layers as well as your height/weight (as in my earlier comment to Catherine it always feels strange to ask people this but it really does make a difference). I’m assuming too that each layer is Talalay and that none of them are convoluted?

I’ll be happy to offer my 2 cents … but the extra info would certainly help :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix,

Thanks for the response. I am 5’2, 120-125lbs. Medium frame, broader around hip and shoulder. I have all talalay layers non convoluted, about 3" thick each encased in a zipper mattress cover on a flat slatted foundation.

At this moment, I am trying 2.5" memoryfoam topper with xs-m-f latex. I am still wanting an all latex solution if possible. I even considered cut up mine medium and soft layer to make zoning. But I suspect that might not even work due to when I lay on a soft layer, my hip and shoulder sinks in which compresses the latex so my lumbar area is getting enough support as latex push up between the two depressed area.

Hi Britanyy,

Because you are not very heavy … you would typically need very soft latex to sink in to the top layer enough for pressure relief … particularly on your side. Your 16 ILD 3" layer would qualify here. You will also need a thick enough layer to form a good cradle for your side sleeping. 3" here would also be “in the range” for someone of your weight (heavier weights would typically need higher ILD and/or thicker layers).

So it’s clear to me that the 3" of 16 ILD should be on the top.

Beyond this … you would likely need only 2 more layers as having 12" of latex for someone of your weight is usually overkill unless there is a specific reason for it. Even much heavier people of 250 lbs or so will usually do fine with about 8-9" of latex. The thicker layering can contribute to your hips sinking down into the mattress more relative to your shoulders and putting you out of alignment. They will not help with pressure relief as much as more of the foam in the middle and bottom is compressing which reduces the amount of compression on the top of your mattress (which is where you want it for pressure relief).

3" of soft latex is usually thick enough to provide good pressure relief and allow the shoulders (which are wider and lighter than the hips) to sink in enough so the layers under it would be more about alignment than pressure relief. This means that they would typically be firmer leading to XS over F over F or Xfirm.

If 3" wasn’t quite thick enough for a comfort layer (lets say 3.5" of soft latex would be “perfect” for you) … then a medium layer over a F or Xfirm would help the comfort layers with pressure relief more than the firm. The very top part of the middle layer is softer than the ILD indicates because ILD is measured at 25% compression. With only shallow compression (when the upper layer does most of the compressing but isn’t quite enough) then the effective ILD of the middle layer is softer than its rating. If the middle layer is compressed more than 25% (you go “through” the top layer and deeper into the next one), then its effective ILD is firmer than its rating. The curvier the body (very narrow waist relative to the shoulders and hips) the more necessary it may be to have a slightly softer middle layer. It’s a matter in other words of balancing weight and weight distribution with curviness, each of which “point in” different directions. The ILD and layer thicknesses “interact together” through what I call “order of compression” (which layer compresses first and how deeply does it let you sink in before the next layer starts to compress) to create both enough sinking in (of the top layer) for pressure relief and stop the sinking down (into the deeper layers) for alignment.

The type of cover that you are using may also make a big difference with soft or x-soft latex on top … particularly if it has quilted wool in it. If this is the case … then a XS-M-F or XS-F-XF layering may not give you enough pressure relief (which seems to be happening) even though this would usually be thick and soft enough if the latex on top was soft enough.

So to get a little more specific and make a few “memory foam” comments in terms of thickness as well, it would help to know the type of zip cover you are using.


Hi Phoenix,

I do have a cover with some wool quilted inside. The cover zips in the latex layers tightly. I agree with you, latex does feel firmer when it’s inside the cover than using it just as a topper.

Regarding to the memory foam topper. It’s 2.5" 4lb density foam that sits on top of xs-m-f layers inside the mattress cover. When I lay on it, it’s firm at first but immediately warms up and making an impression of my body. I can still feel the latex mattress underneath after I sink in deep enough. Memory foam definitely sleeps warmer, but it could have been wool quilted cover make it cooler. I attempted to stick the memory foam inside the cover, but that didn’t work because the insulation from the wool and cover does not transfer my body heat enough for the memory foam to soften up.


Hi Britanyy,

OK … tight fit and especially the wool over the soft latex helps explain the pressure relief issues you are having. It will prevent you from sinking into the soft latex as deeply and conforming to your more curvy shape and reduce the pressure relief you would otherwise have from a 3" soft latex layer. This would be especially true because of your lighter weight.

In a case like this … I would tend to use as thin a memory foam layer as possible (1-2" max) on top of your 9" of latex as you are likely just “on the edge” of what you need. Thicker than this and you may be risking having a comfort layer which is too thick and since you will sink deeper into memory foam over the course of the night and there is only soft latex underneath this … you may end up out of alignment if your hips sink down too deeply. This is especially true because the memory foam is 4 lbs (although they do tend to be a little more breathable and faster recovery when they are lighter). Part of the reason it will be warmer is because you are sinking into the memory foam and the latex so you would be somewhat “surrounded” by foam so even cooler memory foam will tend to be hotter in this configuration. Your “saving grace” with a memory foam layer that thick over the latex is the wool quilting which may help “hold you up” a bit … but probably not enough.

Depending on the type of zip cover you have … it may be worth unzipping the wool quilting for a night or two and putting a thinner stretchy blanket or something similar over the latex and a thin stretchy type of mattress protector over that (if you have one to protect the latex) and then your sheets and see if removing the quilted wool cover makes a difference. If it does … it may be well worth buying a non quilted cover for your latex layers such as the 4 way stretch zipper cover here or the cotton bamboo zip cover here which could be less expensive than buying more layers to go over the mattress.

Is your 16 ILD 3" layer all natural or a firmer version of 14 ILD? I’m asking because the Latex International blended Talalay usually comes in 14 or 19 ild although these are only “averages” over the surface of the mattress so you may have a “firmer” 14 ILD as well.


Hi Phoenix,

I think you are right about the wool cover causing the problem. I originally thought the wool quilting would make it more cushy, but I guess I was wrong. I do like the cooling effect of a wool cover. I guess putting a memory foam topper on top of wool cover defeats that purpose.

I will try to sleep on the mattress unzipped sitting in the cover without a topper. I do have a stretchable mattress protector (one of those bedbug proof ones), but put it on would be difficult since the mattress is so heavy. I was planning to put it on after I commit to a configuration. Would it be okay if I just left it unzipped with the wool cover and fitted sheet on top of that?

Regarding to the 16 ILD latex. I don’t know if they are blended or natural, most likely blended. I am pretty sure they are not make by latex international since they are stamped with made in Netherlands.

Hi Britanyy,

It would be fine to use the unzipped protector for a couple of nights sort of “tucked in” with sheets on top. It may come loose from the edges a bit and not stay tight on top (and of course the latex wouldn’t be held together as tightly with the unzipped cover so may be a bit more “squishy”) but for a few nights of testing this should not be a problem. I would use this without the wool quilting on top though (unzipping the wool quilted cover and folding it back) and with the protector on the latex so you can see how the latex without the wool on top feels even though this may give you a couple of nights of an awkward mattress. A thin stretchy blanket over the latex and under the protector may also give a closer approximation to a non wool quilted mattress ticking.

I suspected that the latex was from Radium (part of Vitafoam) as they make different “standard” talalay ILD’s from Latex International. Like Latex International, they also make high quality talalay latex that is often found in North America but is more popular in Europe.

Let me know how your testing goes.


Still working on this one.

Took a chance on two latex pillows from – both of them are made by Latex International (& came in the LI packaging) & were reasonably inexpensive for latex pillows.

One pillow is firm – turned out to be very firm, too firm for me to sleep on, and too high, but it makes a good pillow to lean against while reading in bed, so that’s OK. The other pillow was billed as “medium,” but it’s actually very soft – too soft for me to sleep on (I sink too far into it and it gets hot), but I’m leaning against it right now, in my office chair, and it seems to be helping some with posture control (i.e., making it harder for me to sit slumped over).

I’ve tried using some of these pillows as extra seat cushions on my ancient office chair, but they don’t work well for that. I need to go to the local wholesale foam place (they have a retail outlet) and check out various foams there. Maybe a high-density memory foam would work, or a combo of that & latex? Have to experiment a bit. (Periodically, I look at new office chairs, but have yet to see one I like. They all seem to encourage rounded spines & bad posture.)

For sleeping pillows, I’m concluding that solid latex doesn’t work well for me (& probably won’t even if I could get the right firmness). Shredded latex, wrapped in wool batting, might work. Or I can just keep scrunching up my cheap, soft polyfill pillow. (So-called “firm” polyfill pillows turn out not to be firm enough or they just flatten or are otherwise uncomfortable.)

The hunt continues… (I swear that I was not so picky about this stuff when I was younger…) (Also didn’t have allergies when I was younger.)


I tried one night based you advice folded back the wool top cover and protected mattress with a stretchy protector and fitted sheet. The latex definitely feels softer and I don’t really get that achy feeling that the latex is pushing back against my curves. No sore hip in the morning. Yay!

After laying there for a while, I can definitely feel that the latex retain heat. My back was getting warm and toasty when I lay on my back, might be good for the winter but could be kind of hot in the summer, we always have a/c on in the summer, so may not be a really big deal. I woke up a few times during the night and woke up earlier than normal but not really sure why. Let’s try one more night at see how it goes.

Hi Catherine,

I plan to do some pillow shopping of my own over the next few weeks when I get a chance so we can compare notes :slight_smile:

I’m a side back sleeper and like a plush feeling pillow but it needs to support my head and neck on my side. I’m tending towards zoned latex like the Malouf here but I’m a little curious about the technogel as well because I tend to like cooler sleeping pillows. Problem is the nearest place to test the technogel is currently over 100 miles away … and they’re more than a little expensive.


PS: just showed the Malouf zoned plush to my DH and she went OMG … I want it … so I guess I’ll get to test it soon since we’re apparently getting it sight unseen .

Hi Britanyy,

So far so good :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t worry too much about the heating effect as it’s probably coming from having the protector so close to the latex. It’s not as breathable as a fabric (such as a thicker stretchable ticking) so by sinking in deeper and then having only a slightly less breathable barrier in between you and the foam … it’s probably creating a more insulating effect than usual. I’m guessing you wouldn’t be as hot if you had a mattress ticking under you as well.

Looking forward to seeing how the next night goes.