This is certainly a possibility. Polyfoam and memory foam go through an initial period (first few weeks or say 90 days) of more rapid softening (to different degrees depending on the actual manufacturing process), followed by a more gradual softening, followed by the breakdown of the polymer material itself. If you decide to give this a try (to accelerate the transition between the 1st and second stage) then it would be important to walk on the entire surface so it softens more evenly rather than develops soft spots beside areas that remain firmer. This is a common suggestion with memory foam (which often will soften more initially than polyfoam) but can also help polyfoam. It can also however, depending on the type of foam and how it was made, speed up the third stage which is responsible for the actual impressions or dips that develop in a mattress. It would be worth a try to see if it will soften to a place that is within the range of your pressure relief needs. Walking in an even pattern would be better than bouncing.
The Jeffco topper is (to my knowledge) a Dunlop process latex which means that while it may be firmer with initial compression (where the rating is assigned), it may also become firmer with deeper compression. This is why sometimes ILD ratings alone can be misleading. For a Dunlop topper to be rated at 15 to 19 … it would need to use a continuous pour process that is poured in thinner layers than other types of molded Dunlop. This process can result in softer ILD Dunlop but if this ILD is measured on a thinner layer then the ILD rating is not directly comparable to latex measured on a 6" core. The feedback that I have had from this from various sources is that the 15 - 19 ILD rating is firmer than a layer of either molded Dunlop or Talalay that has the same rating. How the rating is assigned (the testing method used) isn’t always consistent between different materials.
Layer thickness is also important to how a material performs. Thinner layers will “take on” the feel and characteristics of the layers below them more than thicker layers. In addition to this … each person has a specific “comfort zone” which is the thickness of the materials on top which primarily provide pressure relief. What is below this thickness (what I have called in other places the “critical zone”) is primarily responsible for support. If your “critical zone” is say 3" (and this would depend on your weight, height, body shape, and sleeping positions), anything below this would be more in your “support zone”. If you take a mattress with say 4" of foam on top … this foam would be mainly responsible for your pressure relief. If you then add say 2" of foam on top of this … only the top two inches of the mattress would be part of your “critical zone” which provided pressure relief and the lower 2" would now become part of your support zone. This is why adding a topper can increase pressure relief (if the material is soft and pressure relieving enough to make the average ILD of the comfort zone soft enough) but decrease support (because part of what was your comfort zone but was too firm for comfort now is part of your support zone and is too soft for that purpose).
This is why it’s so important to know exactly what is the cause of what you are experiencing on any particular mattress (by knowing the materials and specs of the comfort zone layers) and also to know the material and specs of any changes or additions to the mattress.
The person you are referring to is very loyal to certain brands and tends to “translate” the information he provides into branded information. He normally calls anything he doesn’t know about an “off brand” which is a way of saying that the brand is more important than the material which of course it isn’t. He also tends to believe that the materials in the brands he sells are the “best” even when they aren’t. While he certainly has a great knowledge of the brands he sells and even shares some of the opinions I have about certain materials … his opinions tend to be more biased towards the brands he sells and he makes some statements that are quite frankly misleading (such as SBR latex is “better” than natural latex). He certainly provides a very helpful service for those who are more focused on buying a major brand. My own belief which is backed up by a great deal of research into materials and alternative sources are that the entire genre of major brands should be avoided for those who are looking for the best quality and value in a mattress.
Hotel mattresses are not a single “type” of mattress and have a wide variety of different feels to them. They do however tend to be in the general category of what many would call “medium firm” which means that they have a fairly plush layer over a firmer support core. This “feel” tends towards the average preference of a wide cross section of the population and that in combination with the fact that a majority of people are sleeping on a “bad” mattress means that any “change” in combination with good support (firmer support layers) and good pressure relief (better quality comfort layers) means that the “hotel experience” is generally perceived as being an improvement. In the same way a large percentage of people see improvement in the short term with any new mattress purchase because almost anything is an improvement over what they have in the short term. These feelings of “improvement” along with the change in subjective perceptions that come with sleeping in a different environment and the reasons behind the hotel visit in the first place lead to sometimes subjective perceptions being interpreted as objective perceptions. It is also common that people sleep better on friend’s mattresses as well. The other side of this same coin is that some people hate hotel mattresses just as much as some love them … even though hotel mattresses as a group are not a single type.
White Dove for example is an independent manufacturer which may use different materials than Simmons in their consumer mattresses … but when they bid on supplying a hotel mattress they will be targeting a certain type of construction that the hotels know works well for the majority of the population in short term use. This again is typically a firm support layer with a comfort zone which is both soft and thick enough for most people “on average”. So the answer is that in comparison to what they are used to … most people that sleep on a “good innerspring” with a comfort layer that is both thick and soft enough for the average person will feel like their sleep experience is an improvement over what they have even though hotel mattresses as a group have a variety of different materials and types of construction inside of this main “average” type of construction.
[quote]I am 5’6", 135", and a side sleeper. I agree with you about the ridiculous airbed prices but it also seems the airbeds aren’t the only ones doing that, unfortunately.
Strangely enough, the chronic low-back problem I had improved right awya 16 years ago when I got the air set. I guess I will have to stay on my old one longer while I shop. After being on it so long I’m sure other beds will take an adjustment. [/quote]
An airbed may be an improvement over what people have but the unfortunate fact is that someone who finds relief on say an airbed with a “firm” setting will often find that a mattress with a similar firmness using a better and more appropriate material than an air bladder would do just as well or better. The choice of layers used above an air bladder are the same as any other mattress and this is a big part of what people “feel” on any mattress. The only thing different about them is that they use air as the support layer. The problem with air is that it is either completely compressed as far as the setting will allow or not compressed at all. There is no variability between nothing and fully compressed at each setting so air doesn’t adjust as well as other materials to the changing needs of different positions and weight distributions while people sleep. To fully take advantage of air a person would need to readjust the setting for the best alignment for each change in position while other materials which have progressive firmness do that automatically. Even then a particular “firmness” setting may be chosen because of comfort needs but the air is more about the supportive qualities of a mattress. Air is “best” used at the highest possible setting and with better quality comfort layers above it that lead to a suitable “differential” construction because it is not progressive enough to be or even really help with comfort/pressure relief.
In the same way that people believe that an innerspring has more effect on what they feel than they really do … most people also believe that the choice of an air bladder as a support core has a bigger effect on their comfort than it really does. They attribute what they are feeling to the air bladder when it really is more about the materials over the air bladder. This lack of in between compression with air bladders is why they are more an expensive gimmick that most people purchase because they are told misleading stories about what air really is and how it really performs. Most of them are bought because of how the comfort layers feel or through sales techniques that “manage” perception. An example of this would be to set the air bladder too soft for most people and then when they are lying on it to “firm it up” so people will go “wow” and believe that this combination of comfort and support isn’t available on any other type of mattress because their perception has been “managed”. This would be similar to a person who sells a mattress on an adjustable bed and once people are lying on it to raise the legs slightly and improve the tension in the lower back which they would then translate into a benefit of the mattress rather than a benefit of a different position. There are many ways to manage a customer’s perceptions when they are mattress shopping and these managed perceptions then become self re-inforcing and even self justifying beliefs long after the mattress is purchased.
The surest way to “solve” the provlem is to work with an outlet and a person who really knows the qualities of the different types of materials, why they are put together the way they are, and how each type of material can be used to “fit” your own unique needs and preferences. Outlets and people like this can replace the need for a consumer to learn this knowledge themselves because someone who already has it and is working in your best interests will likely know and share a lot more than most people can learn in a short time. With a focus on materials it also becomes much easier to compare value between different mattresses.
Your height and lower weight in conjunction with your sensitivities and side sleeping would indicate a need for softer than “normal” and higher quality comfort layers that were also thick enough (say in the range of 3") for side sleeping in combination with firm support layers underneath them that will keep you in alignment and won’t “break down” or soften as quickly.
While you have some “better” outlets in your area that will do this and in conjunction with your testing help you understand the general types of materials and layering that is best for both your needs and preferences … I believe that the best values using these materials would likely be found in Richmond (although I don’t know of course the types and prices of every mattress in every outlet so there may be local value i don’t know about). So local testing in combination with Richmond purchasing may be the “best” way to go.
I know this reply was rather long but you brought up some interesting points