Mattresses with reverse zoning

I read your zoning article with interest. I am a big guy with broad shoulders so I always assumed standard zoning would be good for me. But truthfully, I am overweight and I’d say most of that weight is around my middle (lumbar / belly). So now I wonder if reverse zoning might work better for me? Extra support under the lumbar. I’ve found many mattresses that feature standard zoning, wondering if you can point out any that do reverse zoning?

I sleep on my back and side. Currently having issues where things feel a bit firm on my side (shoulder pressure mostly) but not quite supportive enough on my back. Sleeping on a SleepEz latex bed. And if my name looks familiar, it’s because you helped me out before over on the other forum.

Thanks for your help…


Hi Steve … and welcome :slight_smile:

Your name is more than familiar … our discussions in the other forum were some of the more challenging … and enjoyable posts I wrote over there … and also the catalyst for some of the most technical. I felt rather bad that our conversation was cut off by circumstances (or more accurately forum management) before your issues could be resolved. I saw you had been recently posting again over there and I was hoping you would find your way here as well and I’m glad you did!

I’m heading off to bed tonight but tomorrow I’ll post some thoughts about how “reverse” zoning might work for you. For now though … typically 5 and 7 zoned layouts are reverse zoned with softer pelvis and shoulders and firmer under the recessed part of the lumbar. The Spring Air Back Supporter here is an example.

Given your overall shape and size … it could well work for you.

Good to talk with you again … and this time hopefully I’ll get to see you sleeping on a “perfect” mattress :slight_smile:


Thanks Phoenix, I was wondering what happened to you, glad you landed on your feet. I’m glad you remembered all that from the other forum. You certainly helped me a lot; although as I said, I’m still not totally satisfied yet. Same problem as lots of other people, can’t find the magic that lets me be comfortable on my back (need firmness) and on my side (need cushioning for shoulders). That’s why I think I might need zoning.

I tried a few inner spring mattresses that are set up to be firmer in the middle third; the new Sealy’s are that way, and I also tried a Royal-Pedic. I was so psyched that someone here carried the Royal, but it didn’t blow me away. The spring set-up on both the Sealy and the Royal didn’t make it feel like my shoulders could sink in more, it made it feel like my hips were being pushed up. The Royal latex is apparently reverse zoned, but it was very firm and I didn’t try the topper on it to see how it felt (I might go back and do that). I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Royal-Pedic is expensive!

I tried a bunch of S brand beds today at Macys. The Sealys just felt terrible, even though they had the new DSi coils. I actually liked the Simmons Beautyrest black Ava (Carmen) firm, its got pocket coils and some latex, although I’m sure its also got more than an inch of cheap foam. Still, I think that felt the best of what I tried so far. Even better than the Aireloom Vitagenic Macys had, which I am not sure how premium that line is supposed to be - again it seemed to have it share of cheap foam in it…


PS - Is there a section on this site where you have mattress or at least brand reviews? Like it would be very helpful to see even a short summary that says “Brand x mattresses all use this type of springs, in this gauge, and they hold up this well; they all have at least y” of poly foam which means I can’t recommend them; etc"

Hi Steve,

I have copies of all the posts we exchanged at What’sthebest (and I’m sure that they’re not part of the ones they deleted anyway so I could find them there as well) but I’m sure there has been some changes since that time so it would probably help if you brought me up to date in terms of what you are currently sleeping on (and any “spare materials” you still have) and any current symptoms so I don’t have to go over a LOT of old information that may be a little out of date :slight_smile:

Just as a “review” to set the stage for the thread, zoning as you know is to prevent the pelvis from sinking in too deeply while at the same time allowing the shoulders to sink in far enough for good pressure relief. In most cases … higher quality materials can do this without zoning but with more challenging circumstances then zoning is a great option.

With most people … more typical 3 zone zoning works well. It makes the middle third or so of the mattress firmer because the single biggest issue is supporting and holding up the pelvic girdle which is the heaviest part of the body. This allows for the use of thicker softer foam in the comfort layers to accommodate the shoulders without compromising support under the pelvic area. For most people this works well because the thicker and/or softer comfort layers also allows the “gaps” in the body profile to be filled in which gives lighter support under the lumbar in the waist or small of the back area which is not as heavy and usually doesn’t need the same degree of support as the heavier pelvis. Most back pain is when the pelvis sinks too far and the lower lumbar is either crooked or twisted causing lower back misalignment and pain.

In some cases however this isn’t the most suitable form of zoning. The two cases where this is most common is either people who are heavier in the belly/waist area or people who are much lighter.

In the first case … the heavier belly area may weigh down the natural curve of the spine and needs firmer support under the curved part of the lumbar which isn’t able to maintain it’s natural curvature when the sleeper is fully relaxed. This is similar to someone having a mattress that is too firm that doesn’t allow them to sink in far enough to fill in the gaps and the curved part of the spine can “collapse” causing discomfort and pain. In this case a smaller narrower zone with firmer foam or base support under the curve with softer foam under the pelvis and shoulders allows the more protuding parts to sink in deeper and allows the curved area of the lumbar to contact and compress the foam under it which creates better support. By taking up some of the weight of the lower body, this can also help with pressure relief in the hips. This zoning can be either on top, below, or both depending on the degree of zoning needed and the materials and layering used.

The other case where this can work well is with very light people who don’t weigh enough to sink into the mattress enough to fill in the gaps and/or may prefer a firmer mattress. Reverse zoning here allows the use of slightly softer foams under the hips and/or shoulders and keep the firmness under the curved part of the Lumbar so that it can support more weight and is better supported.

Different body shapes can play a role here as well with spines that are more curved having a bigger gap that needs to be filled in and supported.

So strangely enough … Reverse Zoning often works best for both ends of the weight spectrum … either much lighter or those who are larger and heavier with more of their weight in the belly area.

Having said all that … in the case of most zoned latex cores … the zoning typically only has a range of about 6 ILD from the firmest to the softest zone which is very little. This is often less than the normal surface variation of the latex layer itself.

Innerspring zoning can have a wider range and innersprings themselves have a different type of response than latex or foam so this may also be worth exploring (more to come on this later). With latex, zoning may need a manual version rather than zoning built into the layer itself.

So most of this is just to “catch up” to where you are in terms of what you’re sleeping on and an update on your symptoms before I explore more possibilities and turn this post into a thesis (not that that’s so unusual for me :))


Well, ok, you asked for it… :slight_smile:

I bought the extra firm layer we discussed but I never really liked it in the bed. I ended up stacking all mediums and that actually feels pretty good in terms of support. I think I may have that boundary sensitivity you’ve discussed, where I feel uncomfortable going from say soft to firm. The all medium stack seems to help with that.

My problem has always been adding comfort without giving up support. I’ve tried a number of toppers (as you probably remember), but either they don’t add enough cushion or they mess up support. I currently have an additional 2" of soft talalay in the mattress, which helps a bit but doesn’t eliminate the pressure points on my side. I also have a reasonably soft mattress pad.

I was getting to the point where I felt like I just wasn’t a latex guy, but after testing mattresses again I don’t think that’s true. I think I just need non-latex materials in the comfort layer. For example, a Pure Bliss Latex mattress didn’t feel very good to me; its all latex. But, OMI and Natura (latex) mattresses do feel good. As did the Simmons (coils). I think the difference is that these mattresses have toppers with very soft (ie 14 ild or so) latex or foam, mixed with cotton or wool or batting or something. At one point I tried adding a 1" layer of just super soft latex, but this did very little; I sank right thru it. Somehow the latex combined with other materials in a topper seems to be key. For example, I felt like my shoulder could have sunk in more on the Simmons and Natura, but at least it didn’t hurt; the soft comfort materials on top seemed to alleviate the pressure points. If only that mattress would last a decent time I might buy it!

So I’m actually considering buying a 3 or 4" latex and wool and cotton topper, although I have no idea which one, and I’m not sure I want to spend another $800 or whatever trying to make this bed work. I’ve also come to the point where I feel like I might benefit from a good box spring; right now my latex mattress sits on a platform, and it feels very dead and firm. I think a good box spring would help. But again, I’m not gonna buy a box spring to put under my old mattress. So those factors are moving me towards buying new. Oh, another factor is that I now have a werid combination of dunlop and talalay in my mattress (because I started all dunlop and swapped some to talalay and bought an additional talalay piece or two - honestly can’t remember). My conclusion after all this was that if I ever walked into a mattress store and found a mattress that I loved and that I thought would last I would pay almost any price happily. Thats why I was so disappointed with the Royal-Pedic; I really think its a well made bed that will last, its just didn’t seem that comfortable to me. I think zoning that allows the shoulder to sink in would be the magic bullet for me, but so far I haven’t found a zoning scheme that feels good on hips lumbar and shoulder…

Anyway, thats probably enough of a dump. Good luck! :pinch:

Hi Steve,

As you know (but just to bring any others who may be following up to date) … we had a private conversation because there is a lot of “history” to your search for the “perfect mattress” and our “forum conversations” in other venues and I thought it would be faster to catch up that way to what had happened in the year or so since we’ve last communicated than to go through the more laborious process of catching up with long and time consuming posts on the forum.

I know you are looking at several alternatives in terms of materials and layering so it would be great to continue here because I think your experiences can be very helpful to those who may be facing similar challenges to yours.

One of the things we talked about was the major differences that “seemingly” small differences in design can make (such as the thicker wool layers on the Natura and the OMI and how it can affect pressure relief, support and feel. This is part of the reason that many mattresses can’t be “duplicated” exactly because while the latex (or other materials) may be similar … the differences in ticking can be especially important in more sensitive people or those who are outside of “average” needs or preferences where small changes can make big differences.

This also brings up how differences between foam and coil support layers can make a difference for many people as well. Foam (including latex) and innersprings of various types react to pressure very differently and this can also make a difference in how someone feels about a mattress. this is also why there is no “right or wrong” choices but only choices that work best for a particular individual.

I know you are currently sleeping on 3 layersof medium latex (which is sort of OK but not great by any means) so there is no absolute hurry to get something that is really urgent … although of course the sooner the better when it comes to the difference between OK and “good” and “perfect”.

Like our conversations before … your feedback has always been really great and “accurate” and been a great excuse to explore options and ideas that most people wouldn’t think about or consider so I’m looking forward to your ongoing feedback and experiences about the next “round” of your search.


So I hit 2 more stores today.
First up was Complete Comfort in Bellevue. I went there mostly to try a Green Sleep mattress. Turns out it’s a very small store, and he mostly sells Tempurpedic. He had 1 Green Sleep mattress, which was a closeout Queen Vimala. This is essentially a very nice and very expensive customizable (layered) latex bed. It felt really nice. But I can’t buy this one (cause I need king) and he stopped carrying them. I’m not sure how / why this felt so nice. He said it was 2" soft over 4" medium over 2" firm, but that’s not what their website says.
I wonder if the reason was that the mattress was on their slatted foundation? It was split into 2 sides which could be individually adjusted, and motion wouldn’t be transferred side to side. As you may remember, my bed is on a platform, which is probably bad because it doesn’t allow any air flow. It also probably contributes to the “dead” feeling I get from my latex. I wonder if they make any sort of slatted foundation that can be placed in the platform? Or laid on top of drawers (I have the kind of foundation that is just a platform that sits on drawers)? And I wonder if this might help me?
I also tried the Pure Latex Bliss again (at the Sleep Store). They had the Pamper, Nature, and Beautiful. Without toppers, the Pamper was a bit too firm, the Nature about right, and the Beautiful too soft. With a 2" topper the Pamper was ok, and the Nature still felt pretty good (which surprised me because I expected it would be too soft). I didn’t like the 3" topper on either bed.
They also had a few Naturas. Most of them were the 7 zoned, I assume reverse zoned but the salesperson said no (she said firmest in the center and gradually softer as you move out from there, softest at feet / head). I can’t find anything on their site to confirm. I think I liked the EcoRevive the best. She made a big deal about the coconut coir; still not sure what that is? The biggest problem with this mattress for me was that they quilted the top into a pretty design that felt funny when I laid on it. You can see it here Not sure I would feel that with a mattress pad etc on top, but it really annoyed me in the shop.
Overall, I would say that I liked the Green Sleep best, Natura next, and PLB least. The Green Sleep and the Natura both had wool in the covers, which I think may be the key for me; I just don’t seem to like sleeping right on the latex (just like I didn’t like sleeping right on memory foam). Somehow it doesn’t feel cushy enough to me. So, having some wool (or maybe even poly foam) in the cover / quilting may be a key for me…

Hi Steve,

GreenSleep is an interesting mattress and there’s no doubt that it’s very high quality. It’s also is a good chance to talk about the adjustable dowel foundation that can be ordered underneath it.

Tension adjustable slatted (or dowel) foundations can make a difference with a thinner latex mattress first for alignment (by allowing certain parts to sink down more) but also for pressure relief (by bringing areas beside the “wider parts” of the body to come into firmer contact with the mattress and changing the weight distribution and pressure relief). Because latex is so “bendable” it will follow the contours of whatever it sits on but of course this is more effective with a thinner mattress. This is particularly helpful with areas like the shoulders to help them sink in more although most tension adjustable foundations will also allow areas to be firmed up as well similar to a zoned support core. The difference between these “zones” on the bottom of a tension adjustable foundation and zoned foam is that the amount of difference between the zoned areas can be larger and they can be adjusted and more “area specific” than built in zones. the Greensleep is particularly effective because the zones can be placed wherever you wish which can help those who may not “fit” more traditional zoning.

The down side of the Greensleep is of course the price (both the mattress and the base). They advertise that they use a “special” rubber that is unique to their mattress when in fact the North Malaysian 600 clone (or cultivar) is one of the more common clones in SE Asia. It is mostly being replaced by newer clones now and is used most often in non traditional areas (areas where the growing conditions are different from the norm). Their story about using special rubber doesn’t “hold water” and doesn’t justify their price IMO. Of course they do use very large amounts of wool (44 oz/sq yd) in their ticking which can feel very nice (this is much more than would be required for fire retardancy purposes only) and can add significantly to the price of a mattress … and in the end the most important part of the “value” of a mattress is how well it matches the unique needs and preferences of each person based on the parts of their personal value equation that are most important to them.

Of course if a mattress will do for someone what no other mattress will do and is truly unique … then a higher price would be justified IMO but I really don’t think that the Green Sleep is as “unique” as their marketing suggests.

I know that Ikea has a tension adjustable slat system that is very reasonable but as far as I know (I’ve never seen it personally but have read lots of more detailed reports about it) it can only firm up areas not soften them. It could probably work on top of your foundation (although it’s more designed to sit on the edge supports and center beam of a bed).

This is interesting because the Pamper is 1" of 19 ILD over 6" of 40 ILD. What’s interesting with this is to show that even very soft latex (the 2" topper 14 ILD) can make a real difference … even though it didn’t get to what you wanted. and was probably “too” soft.

Latex is somewhat unusual in that thicker softer comfort layers than normal can often work because of it’s more supportive nature (compression modulus) which is why the PLB mattresses are doing so well. It depends of course on the person and the layering under it but it can be worth trying for those who are going for a certain feel (more what they call “buoyant”.

I’m not sure what the zoning is either but typical 7 zones are firmer under the lumbar curve. Part of the problem with larger numbers of zones is that people of different heights would fit the zones differently and it may take some adjustment in where you sleep on the mattress to fit them in the most suitable way. An example of a 7 zone talalay core that’s reverse zoned is the Royal-Pedic here. Notice how the upper picture shows that the hip/pelvic zone is narrower (and you would need to lie in a certain position to “match” it). In the lower picture the zoning pattern looks different and the firmer lumbar zone 3 isn’t really under the curved area of the lumbar where it would belong and the softer pelvic zone could easily allow the pelvis to sink in too far and hyperextend the lumbar (which is the danger of reverse zoning). The curve of the spine in the lower back is controlled by the tilt of the pelvis (which is why a pillow under the knees will flatten out the curve of the lower back).

Rubberized coconut coir is coconut fiber (and more here) which has been compressed and coated with latex. It’s very breathable and the rubber gives it more resilience than the fiber would have on its own so it can make a good firm support layer which is probably what they were touting.

Did you get a chance to try the Greensleep without the dowel foundation? It would be interesting to see how much of your preference came from there and how much was the mattress itself.

Overall … it certainly looks like a thick wool layer may give you the more “point specific” cushioning you like.

As far as polyfoam goes … it would probably depend on the type of polyfoam and the support factor (higher quality poly would be very similar to latex while lower quality poly wouldn’t). Poly is also a little more dimensionally stable (meaning it compresses in less dimensions than latex). What I’m particularly interested in though is how an innerspring core would feel to you. Innersprings are even more “dimensionally stable” and they have much less hysteresis (energy absorption) than foam (meaning more pushback but this is a misleading term).

Latex is more highly resilient (stores energy) than other foams (although HR poly can be made similar) and more “point elastic” (meaning it can take on a body shape better and relieve pressure better) but the pressure also disperses more than innersprings as you go deeper into the mattress. Innersprings (particularly pocket coils) are more “cylindrical” (rather than cone shaped) in their compression meaning the pressure isn’t dispersed to the side and lost as heat as they are compressed and like the tension adjustable bases are more “area specific” than latex once compression reaches them. The “ride” or how far they compress with a given weight is more because of this. This is part of the reason for their different feel. In other words … a layer of latex on top for pressure distribution and relief over an innerspring which may help the more protruding “areas” once compression reaches them in the deeper layers may work well for you.


I didn’t really “test” the Green Sleep since I knew I wasn’t buying it; and I didn’t get to try it without the slatted base. My guess is the base really did help, which is why I am thinking of getting one now for my latex bed. Even if it doesn’t help a lot with feel, I keep hearing I shouldn’t have my latex right on my wooden platform anyway. My problem is my platform is cal king, Ikea doesn’t do that size and so far the other ones I’ve seen are very expensive. Can you recommend a cal king slat system?

Re the Natura, I think actually it was the EcoSanctuary firm that felt best (not the Revive as I said earlier). Honestly, other than feeling the pattern on top, I think this might have been the best bed I’ve tried lately. It seemed to be firm enough on my back but didn’t seem to crush my shoulders. This is a zoned latex so maybe that helped? Again, at 12" this seems like more mattress that I really need, and its expensive. And I worry about all the wool; even though I think I like it I’m also afraid I will compress it within a few months.

The weird thing is I keep going to these stores to try inner spring beds but most of the “specialty” stored now seem like they are mostly carrying latex and memory foam, so its hard to find good (non-S-brand) spring beds to try…


PS - The Naturas at the Sleep Store had the quilted top that looked like the link I posted above. The ones at Bedrooms and More look like this: is available at Call 888-694-6735
The ones at B&M feel much firmer and more tightly packed to me (which I didn’t like much). Do you know why these are different? Different years, or models, or what? Thanks again!

Hi Steve,

I think you’re probably right about the Green Sleep and it was probably a combination of the wool, the latex (which is on the firmer side being Dunlop) and the dowel foundation.

Once you get past the Ikea (now replaced by the Lonset) … then tension adjustable beds take a big jump in price. Berkeley Ergonomics The only place I know in the US that lists these is Adjustable Beds 'R Us Adjustable Beds Page (Relief Mart)

Röwa Beds, Bed Systems, Mattresses and Slatted frames They have several different lines some of which are quite unique but the only store that sells them in North America that I’m aware of is here.

You may actually do well with a 12" mattress. It will allow for the use of firmer latex and feel softer because the pressure and compression is spread out over more layers. It allows each layer to compress to a lesser percentage of it’s width and creates a greater range of flexibility between positions. This may be part of the reason it feels good to you even with the firm layers besides the wool. A thick wool pad can also be added after the fact so if it does compress it can be replaced. The trick is that it needs a cover that fits it rather than stuffing it into a smaller cover which will compress the latex and make it firmer (unlike when we first started our conversation a few moons ago :)).

A lot of local manufacturers are still making the spring/latex hybrids and they could also be a very good option to try. I haven’t talked with any of the Seattle manufacturers for a while so I think I’ll make a couple of calls tomorrow to see what they may have that seems to “fit”.

The Natura’s have different lines and the Solace firm is from the Naturalatex line and the Ecosanctuary is from the Organic line and they have different quilting. Having said that … the Solace firm at Eco-Mattress doesn’t look like the Solace firm on the Natura site (and looks more like some of the other Naturalatex models) so they may have the wrong picture (or the wrong description).

I’ll post here tomorrow if my calls lead to any promising possibilities.


Wow, those look amazing. Actually, most of them have full sleep systems (ie mattresses included, some even spring mattresses) that sound amazing. But they are pricey, and no way would I buy any of those without trying them out. Also, as I said in the other thread, I don’t want to spend much more money to try and make the SleepEZ work. If we can’t figure something out then I think I’ll start from scratch!

I was just thinking back, I don’t think I’ve been really comfortable on a mattress since we bought the platform (latex pillowtop, termpurpedic, latex kit). In other words the last time I really liked a mattress it was an S brand spring bed on a real box spring. Again, I think maybe that means a real box spring does something for me (that the platform doesn’t).

Just want to make sure I understand, are you cautioning against something like the Natura EcoSanctuary that has the wool in the topper? So you’d favor one without a topper, like the EcoRestore? I’ve tried a few wool toppers, including the one from natura, and they dont have the same soft feeling as the topper on the eco beds.

I don’t think the bed I saw at Bedrooms and More was a NaturaLatex; it looked different than both of those pictures! I’ll call them tomorrow to find out. I assume the difference in the lines is that the NaturaLatex isn’t as organic as the Eco line? I wouldn’t mind that (assuming its cheaper), but I can’t seem to find any stores that carry that line.

Thanks again!


Hi Steve,

I forgot that today was Sunday so I didn’t take the time to call some of the local manufacturers. Sometimes my days (and nights) just seem to bbbllluuuurrrrr into each other :). Is that an aging symptom? I’ll update from the calls where I can connect tomorrow.

I would be going in the same direction. On the other thread we were trying a lot to make what you had “fit” in the best way possible and to use various layerings to help identify some of the best “all latex” choices with your issues. I think this time with some additional testing of other options (such as zoning and innersprings etc) and why they may or may not suit you … I have a lot of confidence that we can get there. IMO … no matter how good something may be for most people … what works for most may not work for any individual. Of course on forums like this we get todeal with way more exceptions which is part of why I enjoy it so much … the learning curve for everyone goes exponential much more quickly.

I think this would be a good chance to explore some of the differences between different core materials and why some may work better or be preferable for some people … even when they may prefer to go with say “all latex”. There really are no choices that work for everyone and each material can have advantages. One of my friends that is one of the most knowledgeable mattress people I know and has worked for and with some very high end manufacturers all over the world in designing and building high end mattresses (including foam free natural fiber models) sleeps on latex over a pocket coil. For him personally this is his “best” choice.

My guess would be that the combination of innerspring and boxspring acting together would be the reason for your preference but the innerspring would provide much more of the performance characteristics with most mattresses than the boxspring. The boxspring is a “modifier” … although more essential in some design than with others … but not a “primary” part of the difference between a foam core mattress and an innerspring mattress. In many cases the box spring is more of a shock absorber to help extend the life of the springs than it is about making a dramatic difference in the feel of a mattress … even though in some designs it can.

As I touched on in my previous post, innersprings … or at least pocket springs … have a more two dimensional compression than foam which means that they react to pressure with a deeper “ride”. In a way … it’s like the difference between a valley and a canyon with pocket coils being able to compress deeper without affecting the surrounding coils while latex creates a more valley like impression with weight. This means that pocket coils can be more accommodating to bigger variances between narrower and wider parts of the body because they are less affected by the material (or coils) beside them. This is especially true if the upper layers above them don’t have quite enough softness and thickness to accommodate the variances in body shape and need more help from the lower layers. When there is relatively thinner layer of foam on top of the pocket coils, not only does the foam compress and form a cradle depending on its thickness … but it will also “bend” into the compressions formed by the pocket coils. Foams (especially latex) that are used in a support core are more supportive and can hold up heavier parts beter than a pocket coil which can sometimes allow the heavier parts to sink in too far and for most body shapes with a suitable comfort layer they work exceptionally well in terms of support and feel. For some though, a pocket coil with high quality foams like latex can be the answer when they just can’t get a foam or latex core to work or feel the way they way they want. Latex provides a more “supportive” core which compresses less because it absorbs more energy and so firms up faster. For most people this is an advantage. for some however … it can be the other way around.

Other types of innersprings will act more like foam or more like pocket springs depending on their construction and on the helicals that attach the coils together (which pocket coils lack). Some higher quality offset coils for example have a design that they can act more independently of other coils with different looser helicals and different types of offsets or free arms on top of the coils. These would not be “canyons” like a pocket coil but they can be “valleys” with steeper walls.

Tension adjustable bases have similar advantages but generally have a lower range of travel than pocket coils and have thicker layers above them which isolates them more and distributes pressure more above them (which is why they work better with thinner mattresses) but they have the advantage of being more custom adjustable in terms of their compliance and can be more targeted to specific areas (like zoning).

Another thought worth considering since you are experimenting are the microcoils that are being used in the comfort layers of a mattress. These are like a mini pocket coil with higher gauge wire (softer) and are usually used with a thinner layer of foam to cushion someone from the feeling of the coils. They could have the same advantage of accommodating a wider differential between adjacent areas although since they are “competing” with softer “comfort” foams the difference between them and softer latex wouldn’t be as much.

Not so much a “caution” as a “be aware of the tradeoffs”. All fibers will eventually compress depending on the quilting or tufting used and on the thickness of the wool. Thinner densified wool layers used for fire retardancy only are already compressed to comply with the fire code and typically used in thinner layers than the much higher wool content quilting such as used in the Naturas or the Green Sleep. With thicker wool … it has more resilience and cushioning ability and in a way actually acts as a “comfort layer” in it’s own right … again depending on how it is made and other factors. While these are more comfortable … they will compress over time and the compressed thicker wool has a greater chance of interfering with softer latex layers underneath it and affecting their ability to relieve pressure. A thick wool mattress pad on top with an equivalent wool content (as opposed to a thinner one like the Dormeir or even most of the Naturas which still have less wool than the quilting) can have the same benefits but can be changed when the wool compresses without having to re-cover the mattress or buy a new one. Of course a mattress pad is “loose” on top and wouldn’t be an integral part of the mattress which would mean that it may not be quite as resilient or stable (the edges would pull in with compression more) and couldn’t be tufted or quilted to other layers in the mattress itself to increase stability and durability.

I’m not sure what the answer is with the “mystery” Natura’s. The “Organic” line mostly uses certified organic Dunlop cores (although a couple are only all natural) and all natural talalay along with some higher helpings of wool and coir. The Naturalatex uses various combinations of regular talalay, non organic Dunlop, and “plant based” polyfoams and coir as well. The Naturapedic is where they add their memory foam and the GreenSpring are their innersprings.

I’ll post here tomorrow if I come across anything promising


Re the Naturas, the stores around here carry the Organic line but not the NaturaLatex line. I talked to someone at Bedrooms and More today and he said the NaturaLatex line used materials they weren’t as comfortable with and they didn’t expect them to last as well as the Organic. Maybe. At any rate, those are pretty much out of the equation…

Re the Organic Naturas, they only carry the ones with the separate pillowtops, but even the ones without (ie the EcoRefresh and EcoRestore) have 4.2 lbs of wool over the latex (same as the EcoSanctuary). So while I get the argument that its better to have the wool completely separate, any organic Natura bed is going to have at least that much wool in the top layers. Maybe a reason to avoid these beds. But I have to say, the EcoSanctuary was comfortable to me, and comes in a split firmness which might work well for my wife and me.

Re microcoils, I get the concept but I’m not familiar with any mattresses using them. Unless you mean like DUX?

Re whats going on now with my mattress and how to fix it - should I attempt to add that in here or start a new thread?



Hi Steve,

I had several conversations today with people around the Seattle area and one of these was a longer conversation with Nick at SlumberEase about your situation and some of its history and what you’d tried (although I still haven’t reviewed the thread and remembered incorrectly that there was some firm latex in the mix which you now have). He always impresses me when I talk with him and he is what I would call an “expert” in combining different materials for each person’s needs. He even mentioned that it may be well worth while testing a microcoil on top of a mattress with some foam over it (which he has) and I laughed and told him that I had mentioned the same thing.

He is not “attached” to any one design or material and is very up front about what he believes any mattress he builds can and can’t do. I think there is no better person in the Seattle area to work with in terms of being there personally and testing different ideas and layer patterns so you can get a sense of the differences and compare them experientially at the same time. I think this would be much more valuable than floor testing at this point (which would certainly be helpful if there was no better alternative available especially with the firm options) because it will give you more meaningful experiences that include different materials and which do what for you.

I also talked with mattress-makers who have a couple of pocket coils on the floor (one with latex and one with memory foam latex) but they are not nearly as comfortable with discussing the layering and materials in their mattress (which became part of what we talked about). I talked first with their outlet and then the factory and they believe it does more harm than good to identify every layer and of course I talked about the benefits of doing so within reasonable limits (so consumers don’t try to “analyze” beyond their understanding) and why this can differentiate the better manufacturers from the mass market outlets and manufacturers. She was open to what I said which IMO is a hopeful sign.

If I was in your shoes … I would definitely spend some time in Marysville and pick Nick’s brain and design ideas while he can help you “translate” any feedback you give him from your experience.

The Dux models use a latex topper in the comfort layers. A micro coil such as this one is a specially designed pocket coil that is used instead of say several inches of soft latex in the comfort layers of a mattress (usually with some foam over them). They are very durable and conforming and well worth trying as an option. They come in various heights. “Microcoils” can also refer to thinner pocket coils that can be packed more densely in a support layer in a high coil count mattress such as the Dux.

Another example of the microcoils are in the Berkeley Ergonomics mattresses (they have two versions).

I understand that thicker layers of wool are very comfortable and then this becomes part of the tradeoffs of the “value equation”. I personally would add the wool after the fact even though it too has a slight disadvantage compared to having it in the mattress itself. If there were no other alternatives available and there was a specific mattress like the Natura available that I knew would work … then I would consider it … but I would do this only after I strongly believed there were no other reasonable alternatives available because the wool in the Naturas’ in combination with their price (lower value) would give me two reasons to seriously try to find better alternatives that could provide the same benefits.


OK, thanks Phoenix, I will contact Nick at Eastside Mattress…

Hi Steve,

I wanted to “catch up” a bit with your journey and also introduce an idea that may help explain why some people are more comfortable with an innerspring mattress than with an all latex mattress.

A “warning” for those who read this first that this is more technical than most people would want to know (unless like you they have an engineering background or inclination and are interested in the more “technical” aspects of mattress construction) and in some cases it may tend to do more to confuse with its technicality than help with understanding of what any person’s “best” mattress may be. Bear in mind too that this comes from a lay person with a more “intuitive” understanding of the forces and mathematics involved rather than a more technical or scientific ability to express all of this through mathematical expressions like Hooke’s law or Young’s modulus and various torsional, compressive, and tensile deformations.

It’s also something that I’ve touched on with the concept of “dominating” layers in the other forum (and a bit here) but never really explored in either forum I’ve posted in. It is perhaps (at least IMO and experience) the most difficult part of mattress layering and design to completely understand and incorporate because it has so many variables in how it affects a particular mattress/person combination. It is also connected to zoning and the difference between “point” response, … “area” response … and “overall” response of different layering patterns and components.

The first step of this has to do with the nature of innersprings themselves and how they respond, deform, and compress under pressure. In general … innersprings store more energy and are more resilient than foam. This means they have more “pushback” because more energy is stored under the general area of compression. Foam has a greater hysteresis in other words (disperses energy throughout the material) than innersprings.

Innersprings have two common components to their basic design.

The first of these is the combination of an initial softer spring rate followed by a secondary firmer spring rate. This is accomplished through a combination of torsion and compression in different designs. Spring rate itself is the equivalent of a combination of ILD (or the newer term IFD) and compression modulus (how quickly a foam becomes firmer than it’s 25% ILD) in a foam. Spring rates are usually expressed in “weight per unit of length” of compression. Because most innersprings have design components where two different spring rates are combined … they would be most similar to two different layers of foam … each with different ILD’s (or IFD’s).

The second of these is how much the spring rate of individual coils is affected by the attachment or connection to the coils beside it or the degree to which other springs act in parallel with them (and to a degree with the insulators used over them) or the degree each coil can act individually. In other words … to differing degrees determined by their type and design … they all have one spring rate determined by the “softer” part of their design and how much each individual coil is initially affected by their “neighbor’s” compression and then a different spring rate determined by the “firmer” part of their design (which is also connected to differing degrees by the adjoining coils).

First … lets take a look at the “individual” springs used in each type of coil and how they act by themselves.

Bonnell coils have an hourglass shape and can be either knotted or unknotted. The larger diameter coils in the top and bottom are softer than the narrower diameter coils in the middle so the softer compression of the wider upper turns (which is affected by whether it is knotted or not, the shape and design of the upper turn, and the point outside or inside the lower coil diameter in the upper turns “end”) is the “softer” part which compresses first and once this has compressed enough then the compression of the narrower diameter turns of the spring is the firmer part.

Offset coils can also be knotted or unknotted (LFK coils) and also use various different designs to create a softer extended “hinged” part (torsion) and then a firmer part when the softer “hinging action” has become firmer and the “unhinged firmer part” (compression) comes into play. They also can use a slightly smaller diameter in the middle (although not as much of an hourglass shape) or can be more cylindrical from top to bottom (with the exception of the offset upper turn which extends beyond the underlying coil diameter). The offset part of the spring which uses the more pronounced hinging action creates most of the softer part and then the body of the coil creates most of the firmer part. In other words … the part of an offset coil that extends beyond the diameter of the turn below it uses more torsion while the part of a spring that is compressed within the diameter of the turns below it uses compression.

Pocket coils (or Marshall coils) also use various methods to create a softer firmer part and a firmer secondary part although they generally have less of a “double spring rate” than they do a “single spring rate” which more gradually firms up. Some of them however use different shapes, combinations of springs, or methods of pocket attachment to create different spring rates for different degrees of compression.

Continuous coils (or Miracoils) also use a combination of torsion and compression but because of their design (one continuous coil) generally have less of an ability to act alone than other coil designs.

So the “point” of this post is really the recognition that most innersprings have a combination of a softer response or spring rate and a firmer response or spring rate built into the coil and also have differing degrees of ability to act either individually or in groups (less conforming but more supportive) because of their connection to other parts of the spring assembly.

Both of these come into play whether the foam above them is softer than one or both spring rates or firmer than one or both spring rates. If it is softer … it would result in more “progressive” compression while if the foam above is firmer … it would tend to dominate one or both spring rates and would tend to “bend into” the softer part of the springs compression under it. When they once again “matched” in resistance, they would both continue to compress in parallel. Firmer foam that “bends” into the springs would create a wider “area” response with compression while softer foam that compressed before the spring would create a more point specific response of the foam above it.


Hey Phoenix,
So not that much to report. I changed my layers to 1" supersoft over soft over firm over medium, and I’ve been sleeping on that. Seems to be pretty good, although I still change positions a lot during the night and wake up with sore spots on my sides. It’s good enough that I haven’t gone out trying mattresses lately, not so good that I think I’ll wait that much longer :slight_smile:
Thanks for the continuing support!

While I don’t have nearly the technical knowledge of Phoenix regarding most foams and latex components, I do have a rather brief opinion of “zoning” in general.

Over the years there have been numerous attempts by numerous “s” brands to use “zoning” as a rather “catch all” solution to support where it’s needed most. Most “zoning” on a queen size mattress fits a man from say 5’11" - 6’2" really pretty well.

As happens with many purchases of bedding for two…it’s highly possible, even likely that a man will be significantly taller than a woman. With differing heights, this can become an issue. Serta used to have some P.O.P. (Point Of Purchase) demonstration materials that would lay on top of a floor model mattress to actually show where the “zoning” was in different Serta Perfect Sleeper models of that time.

A had a couple in my store that were interested in the “zoning”: features of those particular Serta models". The gentleman was fairly tall…about 6’3"…when he laid next to the Serta P.O.P. everything lined up absolutely BEAUTIFULLY…the conforming training Serta had provided was flawless at that moment.

Then his quite petite Japanese wife…looked at me…laid down next to the exact same P.O.P. and her 4’11" frame didn’t line up with the display…at ALL. She looked at me and asked me to explain how “zoning” worked for her. In a nutshell…it didn’t.


Back in the day…“s” brands other than Simmons were trying to re-create the conform-ability of the Simmons Beautyrest pocketed coil spring unit. Because of the rather static design of most traditional coil units of the time…“zoning” became the idea of the day.

Now…that’s not to say that “zoning” isn’t a good idea or doesn’t work when looked at a bit differently. Phoenix would likely be the first to tell you that the conform-ability of latex and even good quality memory foam provide the kind of support that “zoning” has always tried to create. And the height of the user makes no difference whatsoever.

I myself like a latex over pocketed coil mattress myself…but as with all things sleep…different strokes for different folks…


Happy Sleeping!

Bruce Burnett
Dreamland Mattress

Thanks for the edit Phoenix!