Memory Foam Nightmare

First, thank you for this forum. Extremely informative and helpful for what can be a very confusing subject.

I have major back issues (ruptured lumbar and cervical disks) plus osteoarthritis and a lot of general aches and pains; however, I had always slept on any old innerspring mattress as long as it was firm, plus a couple cheap foam toppers for pressure point relief. This worked fine for decades. When we bought our new house last October, we decided to “treat” ourselves to a new bed and pay a little more for something that was really supposed to support and provide pain relief. Long story short, a mid-priced memory foam mattress that was supposed to be medium firm did not provide enough lumbar support for either of us. It felt wonderful when we first laid down and I’ve never fallen asleep faster, but I’d wake up with that awful lower back pain that means not enough support. My partner as well, and he’s one of those people who can sleep on a pointed stick. :slight_smile: I also seemed to have some kind of reaction to the mattress, with headaches and sinus issues. Anyhow, we gave it almost 3 months and then returned it. We’re both now basically crippled with pain…ugh…sleeping on a sofa bed, desperate for a good night’s sleep, but afraid to make another mistake. I was more than ready to go back to a simple innerspring/topper combo, then I did some research and learned about the FR chemical issues, the decline in quality and general sleeziness of the mattress industry these days, and realized we were now in deep moneywise for a comfortable, quality, “natural” mattress. Would give anything to have my old no-FR innerspring mattress back! I’d just add a 3" latex topper. Oh well…

Decided on latex “in theory” and then tried the Savvy Rest at our local store…amazing! Just felt fantastic. Thanks to your mattress forum and some other research, we knew what questions to ask. The salespeople commented that we were very well informed and really put them through their paces. Unfortunately, we won’t be buying from them, as it appears we can get the near-identical set from SleepEZ for almost a thousand $ less. And this is very important, as even $1,500 is about 3 times more than we ever dreamed of paying for a mattress.

The stats: We’re looking at SleepEZ’s Natural Latex and Organic Latex 7" or 9". He’s 6’ 2" 240 lbs; I’m 5’ 11" 145 lbs. Both athletic build with broad shoulders. As stated before, I need a VERY FIRM support layer. The mattress will be on a hardwood platform bed, with 2.5" wood slats placed 5" apart plus a center support beam with 4 legs.


  1. Do we really need three 3" layers? or would two be enough? Obviously the cost savings is an issue here.

  2. Is the difference between “natural” and “organic” worth paying for?

  3. What we tried and liked in the store is two 3" layers of firm Dunlop, topped with one 3" layer of medium Dunlop. Good and firm, but I’m thinking a top layer of medium Talalay might give better pressure relief as Talalay is inherently a bit more conforming. I’m afraid to go any softer than that, for fear of losing support but wonder if I should. Any thoughts?

Again, thank you so much for this forum.

Hi Sleepy1,

For you 2 layers would probably be enough to provide the pressure relief and alignment you needed (even if it didn’t “feel” as good as 3 layers). For your partner though “theory” says that 3 layers would be much better. You could test this for yourself though by testing a 2 layer Savvy Rest or even a 6" latex mattress that may be available locally because your own testing will be more accurate than any “theory at a distance”. My tendency though would be to suggest that you would be happier with a 3 layer mattress.

Unless you had specific preferences or compelling reasons to choose otherwise … in most cases and for most people I would say the answer is no and I think that they would also suggest the same thing. You can read more about some of the different types of latex and blends available and which may be better “value” for most people in post #6 here.

I would remember that primary support doesn’t come from the top layer which is mostly about pressure relief but from the deeper layers which are the ones that “stop” the heavier parts of the body from sinking down too far. The reason that Talalay often provides better pressure relief for some people isn’t because it is inherently more conforming but because it is generally available in softer ILD’s than Dunlop. This really is a matter of preference and not a “better worse” comparison. The top layer does provide secondary support by filling in the gaps in the sleeping profile and helping to support the more recessed areas of the body which require much lower levels of “support”.

If both of you have broad shoulders then you may need a comfort layer that is a little softer to allow" the shoulders to sink in far enough if you sleep on your sides and this may be more important for your lighter weight than for your partner who ill sink in deeper with higher ILD’s. I would test specifically for this in your local testing along the lines of this article. If you don’t sleep on your side … then a firmer comfort layer would probably be more appropriate given the circumstances and preferences you’ve mentioned. Your own experience will be the most accurate indicator though (either with local testing or your experience with the mattress after you sleep on it) and since a comfort exchange is capped at a $30 cost … I would do my best to make the best possible choice initially in consultation with Shawn or Jeremy but there would be little worry or cost if you do need to exchange a layer.

I would also strongly suggest adding some slats to this or some type of firm more evenly supportive base such as a bunkie board (see here) or even this bed rug. 5" gaps are too far apart for a latex mattress IMO. You will also need support to the floor under the center beam and 4 legs won’t be enough if you are buying a queen or a king.


Oops! Mismeasure! The slats are 3.75" apart; Is that better? Also, the center support beam has four legs to the floor; IOW the bed has 8 legs total. :slight_smile:

In a lot of pain and hoping to place my order over the phone today… THANK YOU so much for your help.

Hi Sleepy1,

This would be a typical difference between Talalay and Dunlop. ILD is measured and “rated” at 25% compression (1.5" with a 6" layer) and if you were compressing each layer exactly this amount then they would be very similar but very few people sink in exactly 25% and Dunlop is denser and has what’s called a higher “compression modulus” which means it gets firmer faster with deeper compression than Talalay. If you were compressing a layer by 65% for example then the Dunlop would be much firmer. The depth of your pressure relieving cradle is an important part of pressure relief so that the “bony prominences” of the body (hips and shoulders) can sink in far enough so that the areas of the body that have more surface area can make firmer contact with the mattress and take up weight to relieve the pressure on the more “pointy parts”.

I would also be careful if you have tested a 3" top layer and you are considering a 2" top layer instead because the thickness of the softer top layer can make just as much difference as the ILD or the compression modulus of a layer and can make a significant difference in how a mattress feels and performs. A 2" comfort layer will not have as much softer latex on top to allow your lighter shoulders to sink in as much before you “hit” the firmer layers below it. I would tend to stick as closely as possible to what was successful in your local testing.

I would also keep in mind that the type of cover that you use will also play a role in pressure relief so a different cover than what you tested in the store can also make a difference. Shawn will give you good advice and information on all of this when you talk with him and let him know both your own “specs” and the results of your local testing. It may also be worth considering a split layering where each side of the mattress can be customized for each of you separately.

It helps to think of the top layers (cover, quilting, and soft comfort layer) as providing most of the “feel” and pressure relief and then the deeper layers (the middle and lower layer) as providing most of the “support and alignment” of the mattress. Each of these are interconnected but have different main functions. Some people like a soft “feel” and good pressure relief but firm support while others may like a firmer “feel” but not quite as firm support.underneath. The two “standard” layering combinations that most people end up with initially are S/M/F (which would be the “norm” for your weight and M/F/XF (which would be the “norm” for your partner) but of course your testing and preferences may change this and re-arranging or even exchanging layers are part of the fine tuning process if necessary. All of this is the reason that a more detailed conversation with the manufacturer is an essential part of the purchase process. They have more knowledge about the effect of the materials, components, and layering they have available and how they fit different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences than anyone else.

The legs and support to the floor would be fine but the slat spacing is still a little bit too far apart for an all latex mattress (although it would be fine for most other types of mattress). It would probably be fine over the short term but longer term durability can be affected by gaps that are wider because of the tendency of latex to sink into any gaps over time because it is so elastic. The ideal is to have a maximum of 3" between the slats and preferably a little less. If there is more than this then something over the slats can provide more even and larger support surface.


[quote=“Phoenix” post=12890]
I would also be careful if you have tested a 3" top layer and you are considering a 2" top layer instead because the thickness of the softer top layer can make just as much difference as the ILD or the compression modulus of a layer and can make a significant difference in how a mattress feels and performs. A 2" comfort layer will not have as much softer latex on top to allow your lighter shoulders to sink in as much before you “hit” the firmer layers below it. I would tend to stick as closely as possible to what was successful in your local testing.[/quote]
Yes, I see what you mean. However, the mattress we tried and loved locally had 3" med Dunlop as the top layer; you could argue it had no “comfort layer” at all! Yes, extremely firm. So I guess I want to “blow through” the comfort layer and hit that med Dunlop that I loved, to make sure I don’t lose alignment. And having 2" of softer latex over the med Dunlop will certainly be softer than the med Dunlop alone. Does this make sense? I’d just rather err on the side of too firm, given my own needs/preferences.

[quote=“Phoenix” post=12890]
I would also keep in mind that the type of cover that you use will also play a role in pressure relief so a different cover than what you tested in the store can also make a difference. Shawn will give you good advice and information on all of this when you talk with him and let him know both your own “specs” and the results of your local testing. It may also be worth considering a split layering where each side of the mattress can be customized for each of you separately.[/quote]
The cover on the SleepEZ appears to be nearly identical to the SavvyRest cover: 1" wool quilted to cotton. I loved this too. And yes we will definitely be doing split layering, as I mentioned above.

Yes, no one seems to believe that I need a harder mattress than my DP, who weighs 100+ more than me. But it is thus! :slight_smile: I’ve already had one conversation with SleepEZ and he said the same thing, that DP will need firmer layers than me. Oh well. And I am sure about my preference for firmness; for example, years ago I helped my mom select a twin guest bed, and since I would be the most frequent guest, I chose what I liked. I finally had the guy pull out a hotel-quality extra firm w/ no pillowtop that he swore no one wanted because it was rock hard. I loved it, we bought it, and I’ve never slept better than on that mattress.

Thank you. We can purchase a coir bed rug at our local SavvyRest dealer for $79 queen. Seems like a decent price and at least we can give them some business. Will this take care of the problem?

Hi sleepy1,

The 3" layer on top would be the comfort layer in this case. Even a mattress that uses a single 6" layer of latex would have a “comfort zone” even if it wasn’t a separate layer. I use “layer” because the most common design is a separate layer on top but this isn’t always the case and “comfort zone”, “critical zone”, or “depth of cradle” would be more accurate. Either way … the top few inches are the comfort zone (which in this case could be called the “comfort layer” regardless of its firmness). I would tend to lean towards the design that your personal testing indicated works best for you in terms of the balance between pressure relief, support and alignment, and your personal preferences. A mattress that used exactly the same layers with the single exception that the top layer was an inch thinner would have a different feel and performance than a mattress that used the same layer thickness.

The goal of a “comfort layer” is not so much to “blow through” it (although in some cases this is part of the design goal) but to control the degree to which the layers below it contribute to both the depth of the cradle (for pressure relief) and secondary support (the support that “fills in” and more lightly supports the more recessed parts or “gaps” in your sleeping profile). All the layers in a mattress affects how every other layer both above and below it reacts and they all interact simultaneously even though it can help to visualize how a mattress may perform by imagining them compressing sequentially from top to bottom. This is all part of the “art and science” of mattress theory and design and people who have been designing mattresses for decades will tell you that their learning curve is still ongoing.

The advantage of using a thinner layer as you mentioned is that it will be a little firmer (all else being equal) and the depth of compression would be a little less. This means that primary support would be higher (the deeper support that “stops” the heavier parts from sinking down too far) and pressure relief and secondary support (that come from the depth of the cradle) would be a little less. You would retain the option of adding a topper if your experience on the mattress indicated that you needed it. As soon as you start changing a design from what you have tested there is some fairly complex "translation"involved in terms of how it will affect different people (variations in layering will affect different people differently because each person will feel the effect of different layers differently based on their perceptions, body type, and sleeping positions).

Yes … they are very similar although I have seen feedback that he SleepEz cover is a little nicer and less “stiff”. Each of these may also change their cover from time to time as well as new designs and components become available but they are certainly “similar”.

This seems to be counterintuitive but it’s not unusual at all. People who are lighter … especially if they are fairly slim and tall … will often fall on either end of the firmness scale. Some tend towards softer than average because their lighter weights need softer foams to sink in to the same degree as heavier people. In other cases those who are lighter don’t experience pressure issues to the same degree (their weight and muscle tone reduces the likelihood of pressure issues which comes from compression of capillaries) and they prefer to be more “on” the mattress and have more freedom of movement. This again is part of the 'art and science" of mattress design and theory and how each different design can work very differently for people who are otherwise very similar.

This is a good “risk reduction” idea IMO and yes it would take care of any potential problem.


I guess I should clarify that when I say we “loved” the 3" Firm/Firm/Med Dunlop; I loved the feel and springiness of the latex, loved the support and am sure I could sleep on it with good alignment, which is the most important comfort issue for me. However, I believe I could achieve even better comfort if I could couple this with some kind of softer topper, or perhaps a softer layer on top for some shoulder relief–but only if it doesn’t get too soft for my lower back. Anyhow, we’re going back to the store tomorrow to try out some more combinations (and pick up the coir bed rug). I certainly want to “try before I buy” to the extent possible.

Thanks again!

Hi sleep1,

Lower back issues are generally more connected with the deeper layers in the mattress and there is usually lots of “room” to design in enough surface comfort to provide a good pressure relieving cradle (which also provides secondary support to fill in the lumbar gap) without affecting alignment.

Given your experience and of course subject to further testing … the two lower layers of Dunlop with a slightly softer medium Talalay (instead of Dunlop) may work better. If you go with a thinner top layer … then it would be considerably firmer in terms of pressure relief and adding a topper may be less economical than getting the thicker layer in the first place (which would 'match" the Savvy rest except it would have a little softer comfort layer). This would allow more sinking in of your broader shoulders and provide better pressure relief and alignment on your side especially than if your shoulders weren’t being allowed to sink in as far as they need to. I would somewhat “disconnect” the comfort layers with your need for firm support. A mattress that is too firm in the comfort layers may not allow you to sink in evenly enough and can lead to alignment issues just as much as a mattress that is too soft.

Again though … Shawn is the expert on his mattresses and his advice combined with your input from testing is the “best” advice to follow.


Finally made our decision and our purchase. We went back to the local SavvyRest dealer and fine-tuned the latex mattress, then ordered the comparable product from SleepEZ for around $1,600 less.

A few final thoughts on our “Memory Foam Nightmare.” Thanks to this forum and Phoenix’s excellent advice, I’ve learned about how mattresses function, the differences between the different mattress types and qualities of materials, and basically how to shop for and choose a mattress. So thank you for that. I’ve experienced the three most common bed types: a lifetime of firm innerspring + foam topper, a few months sleeping on memory foam, and now latex at least briefly twice in the showroom. So I think I understand a little better why memory foam didn’t work for us.

For the record, the MF mattress we had purchased was the Spa Sensations 12" Theratouch Memory Foam Mattress sold by Walmart for around $346 mattress-only. This mattress contained “3” of Theratouch premium memory foam plus 3" of ventilated Aircool foam plus 6" of Support HD foam." It had over 2,400 reviews, 92% positive, with over 1,700 giving the mattress 5 stars. Sounded pretty good. And it felt wonderful when we first laid down in it; I’d fall asleep instantly! But we both had nagging back pain every single morning; the kind that comes from sleeping on a mattress without enough lumbar support. Our problems were clearly not due to “foam softening” as we had major issues from the very first night. Likely the 9" of polyfoams under the memory foam were simply too soft for us, or the 3" of memory foam was too thick or too soft, or all of the above. But also, with memory foam being a slow response material, once you sink in, you create a body impression in the foam and if you want to turn over, you have to “climb out of” that impression, turn over, and then your body sinks in again and creates a new impression. I do wonder if that didn’t create a bit of back strain. It certainly is an odd sensation that some people may not like. Interestingly, the majority of the few complaints about the mattress were that it was “too hard”! Well, everyone’s different. Of course, memory foam has the weird quality of being “hard” and “soft” at the same time. Touch it with your finger and it feels hard; lie on it and you sink in like quicksand. I should also add that we both seemed to have a reaction to some chemical in the mattress: headaches, sore throats, congestion, general feeling of being unwell, etc.

Of course, the bottom line is that it didn’t work for us. But I think the real bottom line is that we didn’t shop for this mattress properly. We bounced on a few memory foam mattresses in the stores, assumed they were all pretty much the same and that if 2,000 people liked a mattress, we would too. THAT will never happen again thanks to this forum. There’s no guarantee our new mattress will be perfect, but this time we made an educated decision, and if we do need to make any adjustments, we’ll know how to do it, or at least we’ll know where to come for help. And for that, thank you so very much!

Hi sleep1,

Wow! … what a great review.

I think your post touched on almost all the reasons this website was put together and I am very grateful for the thoughts and insights that you took the time to express. I believe they will help many people

Running the site and the forum is especially gratifying to me when I see feedback like yours and it certainly puts a smile on my face.

Most of all … congratulations on your new mattress :slight_smile: