Need help to find chemical-free mattress in Texas

We had an old double sided Stearns and Foster pillowtop mattress since 1991. It was great for a very long time, and after 21 years it developed divets where we had slept for so long. We (mistakenly) bought a Simmons Beautyrest Black Ansleigh mattress to replace it, and I had a terrible reaction to something in that mattress. I experienced a very dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, anxiety and a feeling like my brain was “turned on,” not unlike one would experience when drinking way to much caffeine. The first night I could not believe it was the mattress, but after the second time of trying to sleep on it, I had to leave my bedroom and go to another part of my house just to get relief. After 6 days, the emissions from the mattress had infiltrated my whole house and we ultimately had to remove the mattress and air out our house for 3 days before I could not feel any effects. We have been sleeping on the floor since Oct. 1 because they had taken our old mattress away when they delivered the new one. We even tried a mattress a friend had stored (also a Simmmons from 2008) and I had the same reaction to that.
I believe that my body is reacting to the flame retardant properties of these new mattresses and now I am back to starting all over to find a new mattress. The problem is that I live in East Texas, so there are not any organic, chemical- free options available here at all. In Dallas, I found a company called Sovn that carries an organic mattress and in Austin I found a few places that carry organic mattresses such as those made by White Lotus, OMI, and Natura.
Can you make any recommendations for a chemical free mattress in either Dallas, Austin or Houston that would be suitable for us. We are in our early 50s. I am 5’10" 145lb. and my husband is 5’11" 160lb. on our olld mattress I had started noticing that I have hip and shoulder pressure points so I may need something less firm.
Please help me with finding a reputable manufacturer that I can try here in TX!



Hi imcgehee,

You have some great choices in all three areas.

Dallas/Fort worth is in post #4 here.

Houston is in post #2 here

Austin is in post #2 here.

As you probably already know … it’s difficult to know what you may be reacting to because it could be fire retardant chemicals, chemicals in the polyfoam or memory foam itself, or the adhesives in your mattress. There is a great series of articles here about fire retardant chemicals and the fire regulations that were put in place in 1997.

With a prescription from a medical professional, you can also purchase a mattress without fire retardants at all and avoid sales tax as well.

For most people that are sensitive to chemicals, latex, natural fibers, and innersprings without any added chemicals are the “safest” way to go.

Sovn sells the Berkeley Ergonomics line of mattresses but unfortunately their pricing is higher than any of the other dealers in the country.

White Lotus, OMI, and Natura can also be “safe” choices (although they are not necessarily the best “value”) but for those that are looking for organic (rather than just natural or “safe”) … then the OMI factory is the only one of these three which has a certified factory. Their mattresses are very high quality but they are also sold at a premium price. In most cases … knowing the details of what is in your mattress and choosing materials that are known to be safer (or natural or organic depending on the person) is one of the most important parts of choosing a mattress for those who are chemically sensitive and and of course in making meaningful comparisons between mattresses in terms of quality and value. There is more in post #6 here about the different types of synthetic, natural, and organic latex.

There are also some good online manufacturers listed in post #21 here that use either “safe”, natural, or organic components in their mattresses and which can also be a good “value reference” for local purchases.


Dear Phoenix,

 Thank you for your reply and for the links that you posted. I have a question about the difference between a prescription mattress and a "safe" mattress. The way I am understanding it is that with a prescription, there are absolutely no fire retardant chemicals added to the mattress fabrics. I am also assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that a prescription mattress would be absolutely safe for someone with sensitivity such as mine, since I am not exactly sure what it is that my body rebels against.
  Is it correct that a mattress can be made without fire retardant chemicals because it uses a wool layer instead? I have run across a few places that make this claim. Some say that the wool does not have to be treated to be fire retardant and others say that the only way that you can get a mattress without chemically treated fabrics is with a prescription.
  I am concerned primarily about "safe" after my recent experience. Is organic the same as "safe" for someone like me?Value would be a huge concern for me as well. Can you make any recommendations about manufacturers that would be considered the best "value" is in looking at chemical- free, "safe"  mattress? Any advice that you could give would be greatly appreciated as I am really needing to get a resolution to this problem so I can sleep again.



Hi imcgehee,

You are getting into some complex, confusing, and controversial, issues here and I’ll do my best to unravel them a bit.

Prior to 2007 … mattresses in most states had to pass 16 CFR 1632 which was often called a “smouldering” or “cigarette” test because mattresses had to be fire resistant enough to withstand a smouldering cigarette without going up in flames. Some states (such as California) also had some tougher regulations that mattress manufacturers had to comply with.

In 2007 … an additional regulation 16 CFR 1633 which was called a “blowtorch” test was introduced which meant that mattresses had to withstand an open flame or blowtorch applied to the top and sides of the mattress for about a minute without bursting into flames (they measure the heat release for 30 minutes and it can’t exceed a certain limit). This new regulation was in addition to the old regulations so now a mattress manufacturer had to destroy 2 mattresses and pass two tests before it could be sold to the public. Mattresses are always tested and need to pass as a complete unit rather than the individual components being tested.

Because this second regulation was much more difficult to pass (and there is some controversy about its necessity at all and the reasons it was introduced) … the use of various chemicals and fire retardant methods became more common.

There are many methods that are used to pass these regulations and in many cases it is a combination of methods that are used together to pass a particular mattress or mattress foundation combination. The methods that are necessary and the combinations used depends on the combustibility of the mattress materials and ticking and quilting and the mattress has to be self extinguishing so that it doesn’t create “flashover” as it keeps burning

Some of the methods and materials include foams that have chemicals or other materials (such as carbon fibers) added to make them less combustible (although fire retardant foams are uncommon with mattresses and more common with furniture), a “sock” that encloses the inner components of a mattress or a quilting material that is part of the mattress cover that are made from non woven fabrics that have fire retardant chemicals added, various types of inherently fire resistant fabrics or combinations of fabrics (such as rayon and polyester impregnated with silica) that don’t contain any added chemicals (this is very common), and natural fabrics such as cotton that has boric acid added to it. Wool can also be used in certain densities and weights to the quilting of a mattress to pass the regulations but this is a more expensive fire retardant method even though it is the most natural. In many cases a mattress uses a combination of these methods to pass the regulations. There is some more information about fire barriers in this page and in post #2 here and in post #4 here.

A prescription allows a manufacturer to build a mattress and sell it to an individual that hasn’t passed the fire regulations. In most cases this involves the removal of the sock or the viscose layer in the quilting but they may still use the fire retardant foams or synthetic fibers in the mattress rather than special ordering these materials without the fire retardant components or removing them and changing the feel and performance of the mattress.

So a prescription mattress may be “safer” because some of the fire retardant layers or methods aren’t used (if the fire barriers that are removed were “unsafe” in the first place) but it doesn’t guarantee that all the materials are safe.

Safety is the real issue that most people want to address and this has much more involved than just any possible fire retardant chemicals that some mattresses use. Different materials can be more or less “safe” than others in terms of what is in them or any potential harmful offgassing or harmful chemicals that may leach or become part of household dust . Even though in North America most polyfoam and memory foam has been tested for offgassing and harmful ingredients (through programs such as CertiPur) … some batches of foam may not be fully cured so they may be more “harmful” or affect more sensitive people even though they have been spot tested. The manufacturing of foam is not as "exact’ a science as most people may believe and there may be unreacted chemicals or uncured foams that slip through. In other cases … some people are much more sensitive than the testing protocols so they may still react to certain types of materials or foams or glues used in a mattress even though for the large majority of people they are considered “safe”. There has also been very little research done into the long term effects of chemical combinations rather than just specific chemicals by themselves.

Offgassing itself is only one of the issues involved as well (and what you actually smell may not be harmful because some of the VOC’s that can be most harmful have no obvious odor) because as certain materials degrade and break down over time … they can become part of the household dust and could cause harm with ongoing exposure to the chemicals used to manufacturer the foam itself even though there is no more “offgassing” involved at least at detectable levels.

So with all of this … the question becomes “how safe is safe enough for me” for any individual and unfortunately there is little documented information that will allow consumers (or anyone for that matter) to answer that question in all cases.

There is an interesting discussion about some of these issues here :huh:[url=]issues here[/url] and the Chem-Tox site here clearly shows that some people can be much more sensitive than others.

Because of this … for those who are unusually sensitive … then choosing materials that don’t use harmful compounds can be particularly important. The “safest” of these materials are innersprings or microcoils, natural fibers (that aren’t treated in their manufacturing), rubberized coir, latex, and even densified polyester (see post #2 here) or “soft solid” gel materials (see post #4 here) although neither of the last two are natural materials. Most people who are more sensitive than the “norm” would probably choose to avoid polyfoam, memory foam, and synthetic fibers completely regardless of whether they have fire retardant chemicals added to what is already a large number of chemicals used to manufacturer the foam.

Beyond this there is the additional “layers” of information about whether a material is synthetic, natural, organic, or green … all of which are often used in misleading ways in the industry. For example … blended latex uses a combination of synthetic and natural latex in its manufacturing but has usually passed various types of testing that are more stringent than CertiPur (such as Oeko-Tex) and are considered to be safe for close contact with babies because they don’t use the same harmful chemicals that are used in polyfoam and memory foam. Most people with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) will do well with blended latex even if they can’t tolerate polyfoam or memory foam but some people want the additional safety margin of using latex that is made with natural latex only. There is more information about differentiating between all these types of “labels” in post #2 here.

Organic is another level of certification yet that mostly has to do with the growing and agricultural methods used to produce the raw materials (no pesticides and organic farming methods) that are used in natural latex layers although there is now organic latex as well (see post #6 here). In addition to this … the actual production methods used to manufacture latex cores can also be certified as being “organic” and a factory can also be certified as well. This means that you could use an “organic” raw material (such as liquid latex) but that the product or layer that was produced from it would only be natural (if the production of the latex core wasn’t certified). in most cases … natural latex and organic latex are very similar except one is certified and one isn’t. The organic certification provides some assurance that there are no pesticides or harmful methods used in the production of the material but these same methods can be used in materials that don’t carry an organic certification. There are some types of wool for instance produced in the US that are probably “purer” and use more organic farming and husbandry methods than may types of wool that are certified as organic … even though the manufacturer didn’t want the added expense (to themselves or the consumer) of having it certified as organic.

So if I had certain health issues or sensitivities and was looking for a mattress that was “safe enough” … I would focus on more natural materials or materials that are known not to cause any issues with even sensitive people such as natural fibers, latex (blended or 100% natural depending on preference and the degree of assurance someone is looking for), coir, innersprings or densified polyester. Sometimes this can involve some real research into which “natural” materials are really natural and which organic materials or products are really organic and which synthetic materials are really “safe”.

The safety of mattress materials can be a complex and difficult issue with a great deal of conflicting or uncertain information. Post #2 here also has more information and links that can help answer the question of “how safe is safe enough for me?” in more detail yet.

So hopefully this helps to unravel at least some of the confusion into “safety” and if I was sensitive and looking for the “least risky” mattress … I would not only make sure I had a prescription so that a mattress didn’t have to pass the fire regulations for me to buy it … I would also make sure that the materials in the mattresses were within my personal tolerance or belief in terms of “potential harm” and safety as well.


Dear Phoenix,

Thank you for your very thorough and informative reply. This is so very helpful for me and does clear up some of the confusion that I have regarding what is “safe” for me. I am going to go back and do some more research about what is available within a 4 hour radius of East Texas and gather information before I make the make the trip to actually try mattresses in person. I am very grateful for this assistance.



Dear Phoenix,
Thanks again for the wealth of information on your site and for your precious feedback re: chemical free. I made a list of the mattress stores in Austin that had what I considered “safe” mattresses and went down to try them out. I am needing some feedback after making my trip to Austin to try out mattresses in person.

Here is what I found:

Urban Mattress:
Neither of their urban organics mattresses really felt very comfortable to me. Also I did not feel comfortable in the same room with all the Temperpedics due to my chemical sensitivity issue.

Tried the innerspring with latex over top. Too bouncy. Ruled this out

Tried Grace mattress with 6" dunlop core and 3 1" toppers, (ILDs unknown) was one that fit my budget, but seemed a bit firm and “dead” to me. I wasn’t completely feeling that this was the best choice for me.
The owner of the store said that he “guarantees” the mattress would get divets in it over time. I guess he was just telling me that all latex mattresses do that. Is that correct information?

Austin Natural Mattress:
I liked OMI Flora Nouveau which was 2 sided: a 3" med. talalay core with 2" soft talalay toppers on either side. OMI does not tell the ILDs of their latex. It also had some latex quilted into the quilting. Ticking and construction was beautiful. Aesthetically very pleasing. Price was very high, but it did seem lovely (maybe a tad firm)

Also tried 3 layer Savvy Rest with 1 soft Talalay, 1 med Talalay and 1 firm dunlop, also tried with 1 soft talalay and 1 med and firm dunlop. ILDs unknown and not on Website. I think that I liked it better with 2 talalays but I wasn’t sure as I was distracted by the fact that the pad was not zipped and tight and I think that influenced how I felt when I was rolling over. I was not convinced this was the perfect one for me either.

Wildflower Organics:
Tried the Royal-Pedic innerspring: Beautifully made but way too hard for me. Ruled this one out.

Tried the Suite Sleep Vesta: At first I thought it would be too soft, but when I stayed on it was comfortable and well supported. I ended up feeling pretty good about it, partially due to the fact that Angela the rep was there to tell me all about it. This mattress had 2" soft dunlop 18-20 ILD, 4" med dunlop 23-26 ILD and 2" firm dunlop 28-32 ILD.
I liked the extra wool that this mattress had in the quilting. Seemed very comfortable to me. Aesthetically, it bothered me that the cover seemed to “mushroom” out at the sides, but I guess this would not affect how one sleeps. I also had it in the back of my mind that it might be too soft if the latex softens over time.

So, in trying to make sense of all of this: I am 51, 5’10" and 145 lbs. I definitely a mattress with no chemicals. I tend to get stiff in my hips when sleeping on a hard surface. I tend to have some shoulder & neck issues as well. With 3 kids coming into college in the next 6 years, I am not on an unlimited budget.

I tried to analyze the “data” after my testing and here are my conclusions:

-Soft on top is good for me. 2 mattresses I liked (Flora Nou. and Savvy) had talalay on top 2" and 3" respectively (ILD’s unknown) and 1 (Suite Sleep) had 2" dunlop with 18-20 ILD
-The thicker wool in the Suite Sleep and the extra latex quilted into the Flora Nouveau felt better to me the Savvy Rest that did not have those
-Medium in the middle seems good to me: 3" Flora Nouveau and 3" Savvy Rest (ILD’s unknown) and Suite Sleep 4" 23-26 ILD
-Firm on the bottom seems to work for me too as the Savvy Rest had 3" firm dunlop and the Suite Sleep had 2" firm dunlop 28-32 ILD. The Flora Nouveau had 2" soft on bottom as it was two sided.
-These mattresses are all over $3000. which is more than I really wanted to spend.

On the 4 hour drive back home, I kept feeling like there must be a way to get what feels good in latex for less that the cost of a vehicle. The next day, I looked at the SleepEz site and found their prices are much less. I also called the Mattress Factory in Fort Worth and the owner said that he can make a chemical free latex mattress for me with my precription. His would be 2" of med. dunlop (approx 28 ILD) on either side over a 6" med. dunlop core of same ILD.

Here are my questions:

  1. Is a two sided latex mattress (as in the OMI Flora Nouveau or the Mattress Factory) going to be more long lasting and get less divets than a 1 sided latex? Are all latex mattresses “guaranteed” to get divets?
  2. Does the latex soften significantly over time?
  3. If a piece of 28 ILD dunlop latex is cut into smaller thinnesses, as in the Mattress Factory latex mattress described above, does that mean that the 2" layer of med. dunlop is going to feel softer than the 6" core of med. dunlop?
  4. How likely is it that one could duplicate the feeling of a mattress that you tried in a store if you purchased it through a place such as Sleep EZ or Mattress Factory? Would you have to know the ILD’s of the talalay or would soft, med, firm be enough information for them?
  5. In your opinion, is organic latex worth the extra price? Is it not true that the only difference is in how the trees are grown and the latex it self does not have more or less chemicals? In your opinion is regualr natural latex any less “safe?”
  6. Do you know whether Sleep Ez has certifications for their cotton and/or wool? I did not see them on website.
  7. Do you see any commonalites in my descriptions of themattresses I liked above that might help me zero in my choice?
  8. Any other suggestions?

I thank you in advance for your reply. This site is truly a blessing to me.


Hi lmcgehee,

I’ll leave most of the suggestions (except a few general ones at the end) about layering, “comfort specs” and the most suitable mattress to a combination of your body and the retailers you are working with who will be much more accurate than any “theory at a distance” I could offer but I’ll certainly add some thoughts to some of your other comments and questions.

All foam materials will soften over time but latex will do this more slowly and to a lesser degree than other types of foam. It will also depend on many other factors including someone’s height/weight, their sleeping style, the type of latex, the softness of the latex, and the position of the latex in the mattress. The upper layers and softer foams will soften faster than layers that are firmer or deeper in the mattress. You can read more about durability and latex in post#2 here along with post #2 here which relates more to the different types of latex. 100% natural Talalay in the softer ILD’s is probably the least durable of the types of latex you are looking at.

I also liked some of the OMI mattresses I tested (particularly the Terra). If you call them they will usually tell you the ILD’s of their latex and the options they have available.

[quote]Tried the Suite Sleep Vesta: At first I thought it would be too soft, but when I stayed on it was comfortable and well supported. I ended up feeling pretty good about it, partially due to the fact that Angela the rep was there to tell me all about it. This mattress had 2" soft dunlop 18-20 ILD, 4" med dunlop 23-26 ILD and 2" firm dunlop 28-32 ILD.
I liked the extra wool that this mattress had in the quilting. Seemed very comfortable to me. Aesthetically, it bothered me that the cover seemed to “mushroom” out at the sides, but I guess this would not affect how one sleeps. I also had it in the back of my mind that it might be too soft if the latex softens over time.[/quote]

This is also a high quality mattress and is much softer than the typical Dunlop mattress. Of course … like many mattresses that are targeted at a more “organic niche” … they tend to be more costly than many similar mattresses that use similar materials … although the thicker layers of wool are also very nice for those who like this and add to the cost of the mattress as well.

Don’t forget that the thickness of the top layer along with the layer below it will have a lot to do with how the mattress feels for you and on how well it relieves pressure. The tendency to look at the top layer only in terms of pressure relief without taking into account the layers over (quilting and ticking) and under it can be very misleading. All the layers of a mattress interact together.

As you discovered … there certainly are lower cost latex options that may be just as safe … but this would depend on the preferences and sensitivity of the person. For example … the OMI factory is also certified which means that they don’t mix different types of materials when they are being made (although they still use Talalay which is not organic). If someone had the degree of sensitivity where they could react to a material that had the “dust” of another material on it because it was being made in the same factory then a certified factory may make sense from a safety point of view but this would be very rare.

One of the alternatives would be to use 100% natural Dunlop (or blended Talalay) instead of paying extra for the certification (in the case of Dunlop) or 100% natural raw materials (in the case of Talalay) when the benefits may not justify the extra costs unless “safety” was not your main concern and either “natural” or “organic” materials were more important than “safety”. There is of course nothing wrong with consumers preferring organic materials and there are certainly some who do for many reasons but in many cases an “organic” certification is confused with “safety” and while they are interrelated … they are not the same thing.

Yes … a two sided mattress that is maintained by rotating/flipping it regularly will be more long lasting than an equivalent one sided mattress all other things being equal. It will slow down the foam softening even with more durable materials like latex. I think that “divots” is a bit of an exaggeration (with most types of latex) and foam softening would probably be more accurate. If actual “divots” were an issue with latex … then most of the warranties that only had a .75" exclusion would be problematic for the manufacturer. of course if there are layers of super soft polyfoam or wool or other fibers on top then they would comprerss faster than the latex itself and in these casesw the exclusion is more typically 1.5" to compenstae for materials on top that are more likely to soften (foam) or compress (fibers) under the heavier parts of the body.

Depending on the other factors that I linked to … it softens much less than other types of materials. You can see a thinner single layer Dunlop latex mattress here (probably fairly firm) that has lasted over 40 years without significant impressions or degrading. I talked with a manufacturer a few days ago that was still sleeping on a single layer Talalay latex mattress that was well over 20 years old (again on the firmer side) that was still in very good shape. The softer comfort layers though would not have this kind of durability and were not the norm with these types of mattresses which were usually just a single latex layer with a quilted ticking on both sides.

A latex core is tested for ILD with a 6" core and all the layers that are cut from that core have the same ILD. The thickness of the layer though will have a significant effect on what you feel. For example … if you put a 2" layer of latex on the floor you would go right through it and feel much of the firmness of the floor but if you replaced this with a 6" layer of the same ILD … you wouldn’t feel the floor. Thickness and softness work together in combination with the layers above and below to produce how soft/firm a mattress feels and how it performs.

Latex is easier to duplicate than other materials because it tends to be more “standardized” and there are fewer types of latex and fewer manufacturers. For example … there are only two main Talalay manufacturers and most of the Dunlop that most manufacturers use comes from about half a dozen or so producers. So if you know the details of every layer of the mattress you are testing (in terms of ILD and/or density and type of latex) and these same materials were available from the manufacturer of a mattress you were considering, and the ticking/quilting were also very similar … then the resulting mattress would be very similar. The difficulty is making sure you get accurate information about the mattress you are testing (which may be difficult because there really isn’t any logical reason that a manufacturer needs to provide their “comfort specs” or ILD if they are being sold locally) and then these same or functionally similar layers (thickness and ILD) are available from the manufacturer or retailer you are considering.

Without “matching specs” and the cover/ticking … then there would be no way to really know how well a mattress “matched” except from personal experience and even then it may not be accurate because our memory for the subjective “feel” of a mattress is not that accurate over a longer period (even a day or so in many cases). If you were matching by more generalized descriptions such as soft/medium/firm … then this may or may not match depending onhow these were rated and on the sensitivity of the person. Some people wouldn’t notice even fairly large differences and others seem to notice even the most minute differences between mattresses.

One of the factors involved in certifying the latex raw materials is that there has to be a period of years that both the plantation and the surrounding areas are free of any pesticides. If pesticides are used at all with latex … it’s generally in the earliest years of the tree. There are other qualifications as well. You could read more about this on the GOLS site and on the USDA site. In addition tothis … to be labeled as “organic” each step of the productioin and distribution chain needs to be certified. Certifying the raw materials doesn’t mean that a 6" latex core can be labelled as “organic” until the core itself and it’s production methods and the factory is also certified.

Where all of this is worth it is for each person to decide. On a value basis … I personally (personal opinion only) would go with either 100% natural Dunlop or blended Talalay and I have no doubts or issues with the safety of either of these but there are many others whose “value equation” would be very different from mine.

As far as I know … all the SleepEz quilted covers are organic. They use either 100% natural Talalay or “organic” Dunlop layers in their organic line and either 100% natural Dunlop or blended talalay in their regular line. They don’t promote their “organic” Dunlop as being organic because there was a law suit about organic dunlop when many people were claiming it was organic when only the raw material had been certified (the core itself has not become certified) and they tend to be very conservative with their claims … even though they are buying and using the same material that others are promoting as “organic” in their “organic” line and this is different from the 100% natural Dunlop that they use in their regular line.

Yes … you seem to prefer thicker softer layers on top (even the thinner 2" layer that you liked was over a softer middle layer which increases the effective thickness softness of the comfort layers). You also seem to prefer softer latex in general in the transition and lower layers. In a “typical” layering … you would probably prefer 3" of soft in a typical S/M/F layering or a 3" soft layer over a medium/firm 6" layer or a 2" soft layer over a slightly softer 6" core (to increase the softness thickness of the comfort layers). Oc course each manufactuere would know more about the materials they were using and may make different suggestions based on the materials and components they have available. If you like thicker layers of wool … this can be added as a mattress pad or topper which can be replaced if the wool compresses more than you are comfortable with over time or you want to replace it without replacing the entire mattress.

I think you’ve pretty much covered most of it and the hardest part IMO will be narrowing down some very good options you have to only one.


Dear Phoenix,

I am really amazed that you are able to answer so many questions. What a Godsend this forum has been. I only wish I would have spent more time on this site before purchasing the toxic Simmons mattress. Thank you again for all of your help. 

I have another question: The Suite Sleep Vesta mattress had “socks” around each layer of the latex that was inside. The rep. said that this cuts down on the friction between layers and prevents them from rubbing bits of latex off of each other. In your opinion is this something that would significantly extend the life of the mattress?

 Regarding trying to narrow it down, I am going to attempt trying the two sided latex mattresses at Mattress Factory in Fort Worth this weekend and see how they feel. I am also going back to try the layers of the Savvy Rest again (this time with my husband) so I can see if the layers I liked the first time still feel good. Then, perhaps, I will be able to decide what to get. I like the price and idea of the two-sided mattress at the Mattress Factory. If you did not like it after it was made, however, I believe there is no turning back. I am also needing to understand the certification of their organic cotton and wool.
 On the other hand, I like the fact that SleepEZ has a money back guarantee and that it is not that expensive to switch out layers, but it makes me slightly nervous to buy a mattress without trying it first. I am hoping that feeling the layer configuration of the Savvy Rest again will give me more confidence that I could replicate something quite similar with SleepEZ. I saw that others in this forum had tried these Savvy Rest mattresses in the store and then purchased from SleepEZ with some success. I also need to find out about the certification of their cottton and wool as I did not see it on the website. 
 Regarding the thicker wool, you mentioned having a wool topper as option to having the thicker wool in the mattress quilting itself. How long does it usually take for wool to compress to a point where one would want to replace it?

Again, many thanks for all of your assistance.


Savvy Rest=India Latex (COCO Latex)
Sleep EX- Sri Lanken

Will be a differance, feel a medium in the suite sleep then in a Savvy and you will see what I mean.

Hi lmcgehee,

There are differences of opinions about this and some manufacturers believe that it does however latex is “sticky” and layers don’t slide over each other so while it may make a very small difference … it wouldn’t be significant IMO. On the other hand … latex can tear easily with handling and using covered layers can reduce the odds of tearing or damaging the latex if you are re-arranging layers or otherwise handling the mattress. It may also make a subtle difference in how it feels and responds because every component in a mattress will make a small or large difference in how it may feel and respond. It may also make some difference in protecting the latex layers from oxidation and ultraviolet light and solvents that may otherwise speed up the degradation of the latex but in most cases … if the ticking is suitable for latex this wouldn’t be necessary either.

Like many questions of this type … it depends on the degree of “safety” or “protection” you are looking for and while for most people it may not justify the extra cost of individual covers for every layer … for those few that are willing to pay a higher price for the smaller possibility of a smaller benefit … it may be a worthwhile part of their personal “value equation”.

In a different way … the differing opinions about a slatted base vs a solid base is similar topic. A slatted base can improve ventilation and reduce the risks of higher humidity levels in a mattress (mold, mildew, and dust mites) and have some benefits of temperature regulation as well. This doesn’t mean though that people that use a solid MDF, cardboard, or plywood base will have these issues … only that the odds are less that they will. In the case of separate covers vs a well made mattress that used a good quilting/ticking … the difference in the longevity of the latex would be very small IMO but it may help in situations where the possibility of damaging the latex through handling was higher.

I think you will find that many local manufacturers will open up a mattress and make adjustments when necessary at a very reasonable cost. Careful testing and good guidance can also reduce the risk of needing to “turn back”. In the same way … some local retailers who don’t offer “comfort exchanges” or any type of returns because of the costs this can add to a mattress and because of the care they take with their customers their satisfaction rate is very high and they replace the need for a comfort exchange and the costs connected with it with the knowledge and ability to help their customers make good choices in the first place that don’t need to be changed.

If the “value” of a local purchase is similar to an online purchase (and you can see more about “value” in post #46 here) … then the risk is certainly lower. Many online manufacturers have exchange or return policies that certainly can lower the risk of an online purchase but they are always more risky than a local purchase that you can test for yourself and this is part of the “value” of a local purchase. There are also local manufacturers where the cost of similar mattresses may be less than many online purchases and even if there is a premium to some degree attached to a local purchase … it becomes a tradeoff between the amount of the premium and the degree of risk you are comfortable with. All of these “tradeoffs” are part of each person’s “value equation” and once you have eliminated your worst choices and are making choices between “good and good” … then the final decision would be based on the objective, subjective, and intangible benefits of the mattress itself along with the retailer or manufacturer you are buying from. As in many other things … its the balance between risk vs reward that most suits the person.

The goal in any case is to test or “measure” a mattress for comfort/pressure relief (what you feel when you lie down on a mattress) … for support/alignment (what you feel … or don’t feel … when you wake up in the morning), for quality (the quality/durability of the materials and construction of the mattress) … and for value (based on all the things that are part of your value equation including the benefits of what you are buying and where you are buying it from compared to your other choices). Each person may have different thoughts about the risks they see or are willing to accept in the process.

I would also keep in mind that some of the “non organic” wool that is produced and used in North America may be better quality and more “pure” than some of the organic wool that is produced around the world in the same way that some farming co-ops may produce more natural foods and use more “organic” farming methods than some other products that have an “organic” label and where you may be paying for the label itself or the certification process rather than the purity or quality of the product.

This will depend on the thickness of the wool and on your tolerance to compression. Wool is very different from foam and impressions are a natural part of how it wears (it doesn’t indicate that the wool is wearing out). Wool will compress about 30% but it will retain it’s resilience and properties even when compressed (and this varies depending on the type and breed of wool that is used and on how it is made because finer wool will compress more than courser wool). Wool and other natural fibers will also become firmer over time. Unlike wool … the impressions that develop with foam are an indication of its softening and wear.

You can see some of the wool manufacturers I’ve talked with in post #3 here and they all have differing opinions (some have told me 5 years or longer, some 10 years or longer, and some have said longer yet). I think that more than anything it depends on the person and as long as the wool layer is still comfortable and in hygenic condition (and this will depend on whether you put it out in the sun once in a while so it can “self cleanse” and refresh itself and on how well you take care of it by flipping and even cleaning it) then wool can last decades … even though a particular person may not feel completely comfortable with it for that long and may feel like they want to replace it sooner for comfort or hygienic reasons or even for aesthetics. It is certainly true though that the greater ease and ability to flip and maintain a thicker wool topper vs a similar amount of wool in a mattress cover has some benefits over having the wool in the mattress cover where it’s not as easy or in some cases even possible to maintain, turn, and flip the product and extend it’s useful life.

Hope this helps


Dear Phoenix,

 I spent yesterday in Dallas/Fort Worth trying some other options in my quest for a chemical free mattress that is comfortable to me. 
 One stop I made was the Original Mattress Factory in Fort Worth, which I believe is a member of this site. The factory showroom was small and factory-like. We were there to look at & try the two sided latex mattresses. I had been told by the owner earlier in the week that they could make one with organic cotton and wool to meet my prescription and my need for something chemical free. The owner was not there and the guy who was helping us was nice, but did not know about this, so he had to call the owner on the phone. As we were in the showroom, unfortunately for me, all the symptoms of the reaction that I had had to my new Simmons toxic mattress started to develop. I knew that I really had to get out of there pretty quickly. The salesperson and I went into the factory to look for the bolt of the organic cotton fabric that the owner had told us we could find via phone. When we found the fabric, it was quilted with the wool and then--sadly--had a backing that was definitely not cotton or anything natural. When we called the owner back and I asked him what this backing was, he told me that it was the fire retardant layer, but for me not to worry as they would just tear it off before they put it on the mattress. This manner of approach to creating a chemical-free mattress was simply not "safe" enough for me at all. The chemicals of the fire retardant were already touching the wool and to me that would contaminate the whole mattress. Meanwhile my allergy symptoms were getting worse, so even thought the prices were very good there, I had to walk away since they could definitely not meet my needs for a chemical free mattress. I would not recommend this manufacturer to anyone with chemical sensitivities based on my experience.
 We also visited a store called Green Living in the design district where they had the Savvy Rest serenity on display. Mainly I wanted to see if my impressions of this mattress would be the same as they were the previous week in Austin and also wanted my husband to try some different layering options to see what suited him, I still felt pretty good with the soft talalay over med. dunlop and firm dunlop. We also tried a soft talalay topper over soft, med, firm, dunlop layers. This arrangement was most pleasing to my husband and ok for me, but I still felt like something was "not right" even though I couldn't really pinpoint it. This was my reaction to this bed last week as well.
 At the Sovn store, we were taken through testing out our options with an excellent salesperson. She was just the right blend of knowledgable and knowing when to give a person some space. Each time, we were given the task of comparing only 2 mattresses and choosing the one that felt best for each of us. We eventually narrowed it down to the one bed that we both kept choosing over another each time. This was their I-Willow firmness level C, which is the innerspring with the honeycomb bi-level coils and 2" soft talalay over the innersprings (I think it was 24 or 25 ILD). We both liked the way this bed felt. I think I really liked it alot because it was very close in feeling to what I remember our old mattress that we had for 21 years being like before it wore out. I guess the innersprings had a familiar feel to me. Anyway, this mattress seemed very well constructed. The latex was in a "sock" like the Suite Sleep model last week. The cover was lovely and had a nice layer of wool. The flexible slatted base that we tried it with also seemed well crafted. I felt very comfortable with all of the materials in this mattress being "safe," mostly because I had read up on them in advance on their website. We also tried the mattress on the floor to see how it felt if it were not on the flexible slat base. I think that I really did prefer the give of the flexible slat base, but it felt great on the floor too of course I guess it is all relative when you haven't slept on a real mattress in a month.
 All in all, I think that this mattress might be "the one." Now, after coming home and reading up about Berkeley Ergonomics on this site and others, I am faced with the unfortunate fact that Sovn charges $3500 for this set (in Cal King) plus another $100. or so to get this to the Tyler, TX area where I live. I am definitely going to go back and lay on this mattress again one more time to make sure it is as awesome as I thought yesterday, and when I do, I plan to go armed with the prices that some of the other dealers sell it for in an attempt to see if they will come down.
 So far, through the posts on this site, I have found and carrying it with a different name for $2800. I need to find out what they charge for shipping. I also found for $2820 plus $395 shipping to any of the 48 states. What are some other dealer that I might check out that carry the Berkely Ergonomics mattresses?
Also, regarding the flexible slat base, do you have any opinion as to whether or not this is a good option? It felt good to me, but I guess I am old fashioned and used to an old school box spring. If my understanding is correct, you can make parts of it "harder" or "softer" by controlling the amount of 'give." Any thoughts?

Again, I thank you for your time and all of the work and knowledge you put into this site. I would like to make a donation. How does one go about doing that?


Hi lmcgehee,

Thanks for sharing some great feedback about your journeys,

As you mentioned … the Mattress Factory is not designed as an “organic” or “natural” mattress from the ground up and while they offer great value … I can also see why they don’t fit your “value equation”.

The Berkeley Ergonomics at Sovn is also an excellent mattress but as you mentioned they charge more for the same mattress than the other manufacturers that sell them across the country.

SleeplessinDallas’s posts (you can just click this) may also be helpful to you and while she originally chose the flexible slatted base … she ended up exchanging it for a firm foundation which was better for her in the long term. Hopefully she’ll notice your post and provide you with some of her updated insights about Sovn and her mattress as well.

I wouldn’t automatically assume that the tension adjustable slats are better but if the benefits are clear for you in terms of either pressure relief or alignment (compared to a firm slatted base) then the flexible base would be a good choice but of course like so many other things connected to mattresses … it’s always a tradeoff between the benefits it provides for you and cost. You are right though that the tension is adjustable and that the lower back and knee section of the base can be adjusted for firmness. You can see a description of it here.

The other Berkeley Ergonomics dealers across the country that I’m aware of (not all of which may carry every model or use the same names) are … New York, NY. They are a member of this site. Paramus, NJ. They are also a member of this site.
Calgary, Edmonton & Sherwood Park Mattress Stores | Mattress & Sleep Co. The only dealer in Canada and will ship across the country. They are also a member of this site. Northampton, MA Soquel, CA Yellow springs, OH Folsom, CA Dallas, TX Las Vegas, NV and Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach, CA San Pedro, Redondo Beach, CA Scottsdale, AZ Raleigh, NC Johns Creek, GA Will ship across the US for those that don’t have a store near them.

I think that outside of Sovn that most of these are in the same “ballpark” although there are some differences.

This post talks a bit about Sovn and my conversation about them with the BE main store.

From your experience with SavvyRest and others it seems that you may do better with an innerspring/latex hybrid rather than all latex (and you certainly wouldn’t be alone in this) unless of course one of the other all latex mattresses you tried compares well to the BE. How did some of the others compare in a “price no object” comparison with the BE or is it the clear leader out of what you’ve tested?

I put up a somewhat “hidden” paypal donation button here a little while ago as a result of several requests and while it’s in no way “necessary” … I’m very grateful for the thought … thank you!


How did some of the others compare in a “price no object” comparison with the BE or is it the clear leader out of what you’ve tested?

Dear Phoenix,

To answer your question, if I were going to rank my choices based on my field testing so far, with price being out of the equation, Here is my ranking: (I considered all of these to be “safe” for me)

3rd place: Savvy Rest–While pretty comfortable, I was not overly impressed with the cover’s texture and feel–it seems to be a woven fabric that was not extremely tight. It did not seem poorly constructed–that wasn’t the issue. It was more that made the woven fabric made it hard for me to turn over when I was testing it. While you would not feel the cover so much once you had sheets on the bed, I couldn’t quite get past this in my testing in Austin or Dallas. We even asked to try it with a sheet in Dallas, but none were available. In addition, never could feel like I got the perfect combination of layers. I worry that if I went this route I could go crazy trying to get it right. By the way, this was my one my husband liked the best with the topper over the soft, med, firm dunlop.

2nd Place tie: OMI Organicpedic Flora Nouveau and Suite Sleep Vesta: Both were very nice overall

Flora Nouveau was absolutely gorgeous in terms of craftsmanship and materials, but my initial impression was that it was a tad bit too hard for me in my recollection. If I were to purchase this mattress, I might need to use a topper. If I were to go back and try this again, I would be checking to see if my initial reaction about it being a bit too hard was duplicated in the second round. Beautiful though. I am an artist and these craftsmanship issues stand our for me.

Suite Sleep Vesta was very surprisingly very comfortable, even though my initial impression was based on first feel that it would be too soft. Once I laid on it I found it to be very supportive and soft at the same time. The questions that keep coming into my mind are about the cover “mushrooming” over the foundation, and the fact that the woman Angela who I believe is the owner of Suite Sleep, who happened to be in Austin representing the company that day, told me that the version I was trying was marked “firm” and that in her opinion is was really supposed to be “medium.” I was not entirely comfortable with this level of subjectivity–even thoug perhaps that really is the reality of it. If you try a mattress in the store and the mattress you get has a bigger chance of not being the same as what you tried, then you may not end up with what you thought you were getting. I was not comfortable with taking this chance. I was impressed with Suite Sleep’s quality overall and Angela’s dedication to providing a safe and pure product.

1st place winner: I Willlow C innerspring/latex at Sovn with soft talalay! I just couldn’t find anything that was “wrong” with it. There was nothing in the back of my mind that made me question this mattress except whether or not I really liked it better with the flexible slats or without. The fact that it was my husband’s first choice of the Sovn mattresses was an added bonus. It was very well crafted like the OMI and Suite Sleep. The materials seemed safe and very cozy. In my first testing on Sat. It seemed soft, yet supportive, and comfortably familiar–perhaps because of the innersprings which is what I have slept on for all of my 51 years. That is why I am leaning towards this choice so far. I just don’t have anything in the back of my mind that is bugging me about it.

I still am not perfectly sure about the choice of foundation, but my recollection is the slats really did feel better for me. I have read Sleepless in Dallas’ posts and hope that I hear back from her now that she got it right. I am also wanting to understand what made her move away from the flexible slats.

I am going to go back for a second extended test this week to see whether I still feel the same way the second time. I figure it is worth driving the 100 miles one more time to make sure. Of course, price is an issue and that is also what I am looking at now that I think I may have found “the one.” I really would like to buy it at Sovn as our customer service was excellent, but I am not in a position to turn over $600 or so more dollars more just to validate and support that. I am going to bring this issue up when I return to the store later this week.

Thanks for the info. regarding the other companies that have the Berkeley Ergonomics mattresses. I am going to explore the price issue. Thanks also for all of your feedback overall.



Hi lmcgehee,

I can certainly understand this. For most people with a wider range of tolerance or less sensitivity in terms of pressure relief or alignment then “average” layering usually works out very well but for those few that have a narrower range and are more sensitive to smaller changes then “playing with layers” can certainly be frustrating because the process can sometimes be quite counter-intuitive to get to the best possible balance of pressure relief and support along with the right “feel”. In these cases … it’s usually best to get as close as possible with local testing and if you are close enough … then fine tuning with mattress protectors or thin toppers can bring you to your ideal without having to exchange layers.

I also think that the OMI mattresses are beautifully constructed and use very thick and high quality ticking/quilting materials although as you mention they are also sold at a premium price.

As you mention this is the reality of it and when words like “soft/medium/firm” are used by a manufacturer they are very subjective and general. The “actual” firmness of a mattress is dependent on the person and what one person perceives as “too firm” another will perceive as “too soft”. Some of this has to do with different body types (firmer materials feel softer for heavier weights) and sleeping positions (side sleepers generally need softer/thicker top layers than back or stomach sleepers and may feel that a mattress that felt soft to a back sleeper was too firm for them) and with the types of materials used but some of it as well simply has to do with how different people have different perceptions of the same thing and it can also depend on what they use as a “reference point” (the softness/firmness of what they are used to). I think that she was probably talking about the model itself (rather than the specific mattress you were testing). You would find this kind of disagreement with almost any manufacturer who is using “averages” to describe their mattress and various different reps (or even owners) who may have their own opinions about how “accurate” the assigned rating really is. This would certainly not be unique to Suite Sleep. Subjective terms like soft/medium/firm are really open to each person’s individual interpretation.

I think that if you did order this mattress that the mattress you received would be the same as what was in the store and her “disagreement” was probably with the rating of the model itself rather than the specific one you tested (although I could be wrong here).

The mushrooming would be due to the nature of latex itself (it is very flexible, elastic, and flexes more “3 dimensionally” than polyfoam or innersprings) along with a combination of the layering softness of the mattress and the type and “stretchiness” of the cover they used. A more stretchy cover that doesn’t “hold” the shape of the latex as well can be softer and this would probably be more evident when you were either sitting on the edge or sleeping closer to the edge. It wouldn’t concern me though unless it was for aesthetic reasons.

Well it seems clear to me that this is the one that your body (and mind) has told you is the most suitable (and as you say “familiar” for you). It also helps that you and your husband like the same version even though they do offer a side to side split.

You can see some of the discussion we had about this in post #50 here and several of the posts that followed.

I hope you have success with this because they have been quite resistant to price matching in the past. Perhaps because you are not the first to bring the issue up your efforts towards a “matching” price reduction will be more successful.

I hope you let us know how it goes :slight_smile:


This is Angela Owen the owner of Suite Sleep and I am a veteran in the organic mattress industry which is a relatively young industry. It was a great pleasure to meet Lisa in Austin and I appreciate having the privilege of showing off our Suite Vesta Organic Mattress. I wanted to clarify a couple of things on our mattress to make sure no one is confused about the design and firmness issues being discussed.

First, the “mushrooming” is due to the fact that we use a European design zippered cover that is quite different from a tape-edged construction. All manufacturers that feature a zipper will have more stretching than when using a tight taped construction. This is because when a tape-edge machine is used to actually assemble the mattress and no zipper is used, the operator pulls the sides and top panels very tightly together creating a solid boxed tight seal around the mattress. In fact first the top panel is typically glued to the foam to hold it down firmly and the top will have a flange inside that is stapled tightly to the side of the foam before stitching it closed. When using a zipper, a seamstress will sew the cover based on dimensions and the cover is put on around the foam and is NOT glued or stapled to hold it together. All zippered covers will have some bulge for this reason. The European “waterfall” edge is more prone to this because it doesn’t have the visual line of a taped edge border on the top or bottom. We chose this type of cover because if offers a clean line Euro look that we find at Suite Sleep more pleasing and differentiates our brand. The second thing to take into consideration is that we use a stretch knit both on the top fabric and on the under-quilt to let the sleeper take advantage of maximum pressure point relief from the latex.

The question of latex firmness is a valid one. Dunlop latex is not made in the same way as Talalay and some settling of solids can occur while it is baking. All latex is made in a 6" thickness. For this reason when we use 2" and 4" slices of a 6" core the bottom 2" of a medium density latex or (75D) may have a firmer ILD than the top 2" - less solids more air = softer cores. Typically we will go through our latex when we receive it and make sure that the densities that are labeled truly match the feel we are identifying as Firm, Medium, or Soft. It is a difficult task when using sliced dunlop latex. Occasionally when we visit our retailers, we find that what the manufacturer of the latex labeled it doesn’t truly represent what we are selling as firm medium and soft and we will replace it with a new core that is more representative of what the customer will receive. In the case of Wildflower, I felt that the 2 cores in the bed were so similar, that the firm core was not a good representation of our current “firm” latex here at our factory. Therefore, I suggested that we go ahead and call it a Medium and if she ordered it that way it would feel the same as what she tried in the store. It is important to note that ILD and Density (D) are 2 very different measurements. The ILD is determined at the manufacturing facility of the latex (Sri Lanka for ours) for the 6" core. For dunlop it varies slightly throughout the core and therefore a range is given. Once the latex is sliced to smaller thicknesses it is impossible to get a truly accurate “new” reading for the thinner piece. This makes our work tricky and we do our best to make sure that what we are calling FIRM, MEDIUM, or SOFT is as consistent as possible.

I hope this helps and best of luck in your quest.

Angela Owen
The Sleep Diva
Suite Sleep, Inc.

After going back to the Sovn store in Dallas for a second visit in early November, I confirmed, after laying in it for over an hour, that the combination innerspring/latex Willow C mattress was definitely feeling very good for me. I want to mention that the fact that I could go into that store and feel comfortable to lay there for so long without feeling any sales pressure was really nice!

When I brought up the issue of the fact that Sovn’s pricing is higher than other Berkeley Ergonomics retailers in the country, I did receive acknowledgement of this fact and a reminder of the benefits of working with a local retailer. (Of course, I was keenly aware of these benefits since the first Simmons “luxury” mattress that I purchased in Sept.–the one that I am chemically sensitive to-- could not be returned because I purchased it online from out of state. I am still trying to sell that mattress set!) I was also reminded that having the mattress shipped from another Berkeley Ergonomics retailer reduced the price differences, which is true as well. In the end, the gentlelman told me that he could not reduce the price of the mattress set, but did add in some extras like a mattress protector and latex pillow.

After returning back to my doctor and getting a prescription, I purchased the mattress with the flexible slats at Sovn right before Thanksgiving. Having the prescription because of my chemical sensitivity, did save me paying the tax on the mattress so that was some consolation. I received word this week that, as of yesterday, my new mattress set is on it’s way and will be here sometime in the next week or two. I am very excited as I have been sleeping on an improvised pallet on the floor for over 10 weeks!

Phoenix, thank you for all of your help and all of the information that you have provided on this site. It has been very helpful. I tried to go an make a donation to your website using the link you had provided and I cannot get it to change from Canadian dollars to American dollars. Please advise as to how to overcome this. I will update when I receive the mattress and have had an opportunity to sleep on it.

Hi lmcgehee,

Congratulations on our new mattress :slight_smile:

Like you I find it somewhat unfortunate that they are charging more than other Berkeley Ergonomic dealers across the country (which would have similar shipping costs for example in Ohio or New York) but also like you I believe there is “value” in buying a mattress locally where you have actually tested it in person. The other BE dealers however have similar levels of service and are also a local purchase with the same “local” benefits so in an apples to apples comparison they would have the same benefits except they would be less costly. His point would be more valid in a comparison between an online merchant and a local merchant but not so much when comparing different local merchants … especially when the mattress is the same.

On the other side of the coin … it’s a very nice mattress and over time the value of how well you sleep will become much more important than how much you initially paid :slight_smile:

Waiting is sometimes the hardest part of all and it will be great when it finally arrives and you can sleep on it!

Thanks for bring this to my attention. I don’t know how I managed to do this and it just goes to show that the webmaster part of my job is not my forte. I’ve added a second button so there is one with both currencies.

I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback when you’ve had the chance to sleep on it for a while.


Dear Phoenix,

 We received our Berkeley Ergonomics mattress about a month ago. As mentioned previously, we purchased the I Willow C which is the firmer dual-level honeycombed pocket coils with a 2" layer of soft latex on top. The mattress is beautifully constructed and we are using it with the flexible slat foundation. It is definitely very "clean" and chemical free which was the biggest consideration for me, given my previous chemical sensitivity. The delivery process was excellent. I also received a latex 1.5 medium "oxygen" pillow at the same time as the mattress.
 What my husband and I both noticed about this mattress right away, are still noticing now, is that our mattress seems substantially firmer that the showroom mattress. Sovn said that this is common and that there is a break in period of a few weeks during which you body and the mattress become acclimated to one another. They also recommend looser sheets and their stretch mattress cover, both of which we are using. We have not noticed any "softening" of the mattress in the past month. In fact, it seems even harder. I opened up the mattress and verified with Sovn that I received the correct configuration of coils and latex, so I know that is not the problem. I also checked the slat settings to make sure they were the same as the showroom and they are, so there is no issue there.

 My questions regarding the difference in firmness are these:

What could account for the mattress feeling firmer?
Could it be that the latex on our mattress is softer than what is in the store and is allowing us to feel the firm coils more?[/li]
Could the latex actually have softened from sleeping on it and is allowing us to feel more of the firm coils?[/li]
Does latex “soften” over time and use?[/li]
Could it be that the firm coils actually will loosen up and feel softer over time? Do coils do this?[/li]

 While our mattress while firmer, is not totally uncomfortable. Actually the first few weeks it felt pretty good, even though it seems a little hard (and maybe even getting harder as the weeks go on?) Of course, we had been sleeping on the floor for 10 weeks so anything would feel better than that! What has happened, though, is that I have been having increasing problems with my neck. 
At first I thought is was because the new latex pillow was too high and perhaps too firm, so I went back to Sovn and tried a 1.0 soft latex pillow (softer and not as high) on the I Willow C in the store. When I was back in the store, I did confirm my impression that the showroom model of the bed is really significantly less firm than what we have at home. The softer pillow felt absolutely great on the showroom bed, so I went home thinking that this was the answer to my neck problems. Unfortunately, this new pillow was even worse--I could hardly move my neck without terrible pain the next day! I think since our mattress at home is harder, my head sunk down too low and bent my neck even further. I was so frustrated about it that, in desperation, I just got the original (firmer and higher) latex pillow back, enen though that one is not right either. 
 For the past week, I have been trying a different pillow every night without success or relief from pain. My husband took a picture of me lying on the bed with the pillow and we both noticed in the photo that my spine is angling up from the waist so that my shoulders are not sinking in. Isn't proper alignment going to be with one's spine completely horizontal?
 I am starting to think that my shoulders are getting pushed against the hardness of the mattress and scrunching up and that is causing the pain in the neck. I have not had any numbness in my shoulders, but am thinking is that if my shoulders sunk down into the mattress more, then that might relieve the neckpain which is on the sides of my neck behind my ears and between my shoulder blades.
 When I mentioned this to Sovn, they told me two things: First, that pain in the neck is usually a pillow issue, and second, I could try adjusting the slats for my legs to allow them to drop down more, and that in turn would lift my shoulders. I tried adjusting that slats last night and I think it did help a little with the shoulders, but it also changed my hips and created more pressure on them which I found uncomfortable. I did not need this since my hips were not having any issues. At this point, I think am going to put the slats back where they were at the preset settings and move on to trying other things.

 The first thing I am going to try is adding another latex layer. We have a 2" soft latex topper in storage and we are going to get that out and put it on top of the bed to try it. Do you think that the effect of adding an additional 2" of soft latex on top will lessen the pressure on my shoulders without changing the support on my hips?
 Since Sovn thinks the neck issue is from the wrong pillow, I am also going to order all 4 options of the latex Z pillow by Malouf. I am going to try these because they are $50. (instead of $140. for the oxygen pillow) and the Z pillows can be returned for a full refund. If I purchased another Oxygen pillow, and if it was not right, I would have to a pay a 20% restocking fee. You are only allowed one comfort exchange try with the Oxygen pillow or I would have done that already.
 The third thing we could try, if it comes to that, is changing out the mattress componenets. We are allowed to change the mattress components within 60 days of the delivery of the mattress. There are three options associated with that:
  1. Change the latex to firmer–My thinking is that changing the latex to firmer would only make the bed feel harder. Is that correct or would it work the opposite way and not allow you to feel as much of the hard coils?

  2. Change the coils to softer–My thinking is that the less firm coils offered in the Willow model would be too soft. We did not favor this in the showroom so I am really hesitant about this.

  3. Change the coils to softer and change the latex to firmer–I have no idea what this would feel like. Again this seems like a radical departure from what we liked in the showroom. What change could be anticipated here?

    The end of the story is this: I spent a lot of time both trips visiting and trying the beds. On my second visit, I spent at least an hour on the I Willow C bed in the store and it was so perfect! I am feelling a bit frustrated that after spending so much money our bed is firmer than we tried in the showroom.

Any insight that you can offer about the best way to solve the problem would be greatly appreciated!


Hi lmcgehee,

There seems to be several interacting issues or at least possibilities happening here and this can be made more frustrating (or even aggravating) for those who are more sensitive to smaller variations in a mattress. Some people are fortunate and seem to be able to sleep on anything … while some people have more “exacting” needs and preferences. This is just the nature of the many differences between people and different bodies.

The odds are very low that any possible difference between your mattress and the one in the showroom has anything to do with the innerspring and the odds are much higher that if there is a difference between the two mattresses that it would be in the 2" latex layer. It’s quite possible that the ILD of your latex layer may be softer than the ILD of the latex in the store. If this is the case then you would be “going through” it more and this could mean that you would be feeling more of the firmness of the innerspring below the latex. This is one of those cases where a softer comfort layer can lead to a firmer feeling mattress.

All foam will soften with use but latex does this much less than other foams both initially and over the longer term. The showroom model is probably not brand new and would probably have softened to the degree it will initially so once you have slept on your mattress for a few weeks they should “match” in theory. The fact that they don’t seem to could be either because of an actual difference between the ILD of the latex or from some difference between your experience in the showroom and your experience over the course of the night. You have spent a great deal of time in the showroom and your mattress has probably gone through it’s initial softening so this may point to a different ILD in the comfort layer.

While it would be unusual that there was a significant difference in the ILD of the latex … natural Talalay latex is subject to a greater ILD variation than a blend (it’s more difficult to manufacture to exact tolerances) so this is a real possibility as well as the possibility that a layer that was incorrectly rated was somehow used. This is true with Dunlop as you experienced with Angela but it is also true to perhaps a slightly lesser degree with 100% natural Talalay.

I would also suggest that before spending a lot of money on pillows is that you solve the mattress issue first. While it’s true that neck issues are often connected to a pillow … the softness (or thickness) of the mattress comfort layer will change how much you sink in with your shoulders and can affect which pillow would be most appropriate. If you find the best pillow with your current configuration then it may no longer work as well with a different configuration. it’s also true that the combination of layers and components in the upper layers of your mattress may also be responsible for neck issues and I would try to solve this first. Neck issues can also be caused by sleeping positions which cause twisting of the head and neck in an effort to avoid pressure or from “half and half” sleeping positions (such as partly on your side and partly towards your stomach)

If the comfort layer really is softer than the store … then either a firmer layer (closer to the ILD of the mattress in the store) of a thicker comfort layer may solve the issue (both would isolate you a little more from the innerspring although in different ways). I would certainly try the topper you already have as a first step to see if it “points to” a potential solution.

Although the initial softening of latex is less than other types of foam … it is still there to a degree and the fact that your mattress appears to be getting slighty or subtly firmer as a result of this would also make sense.

So overall … the first thing I would do because it’s easily available is to try your topper to see what differences this may make.

The next thing I would do is to see if you can solve the issue of why your mattress appears to be different from the store model because your experience seems to indicate that this may not just be subjective impressions and differences between your showroom experience and your experience over the course of the night.

This deepens the mystery somewhat. If your shoulders were in alignment in the showroom model and this is only a phenomenon that is happening with your mattress at home … then it would seem to indicate that the comfort layers or at least your “critical zone” (the amount you sink into a mattress) is firmer than your ideal (rather than the other pointers that indicate it may be softer). It can be difficult to see “straight spinal alignment” on your side but this can often be evaluated by the profile of the upper part of your body and noticing if it matches the profile when you are standing straight with good alignment. In other words your shoulders and hips should be close to the same position relative to each other.

Overall though … and if I had to guess … I would guess that your comfort layer is a little on the soft side and that either some extra firmness (which would probably be closer to the store) or some extra thickness may be the direction I would try and since you have the latex topper anyway … that’s the first thing I would try.

I would also test any changes you make for at least a couple or a few nights because if you make changes faster than your body can “catch up” to then you may not be able to identify the result of a change nearly as accurately.

I have tried to mention most of the possibilities that may be involved so that you have a few things to focus on in your “detective work” to solve the mystery.

I certainly understand the frustration that can come from dealing with complex issues and perhaps most of all I would make sure that you work closely with Sovn. They will generally make more “standard” suggestions at first and this is valid because for most people these will solve most issues but if it becomes more clear that there may be other issues involved beyond just a break in or adjustment period they should also be able to help you through a process of elimination where less likely possibilities and things that are not connected to a normal break in period … including the possibility that there is a difference between the store model and your mattress or differences between your experience or sleep positions in the store and in your home … are also explored.


Dear Phoenix,

 Thank you so much for your well thought-out reply. I am very grateful for your feedback. I wanted to thank you for pointing out individual differences. My husband has been sleeping just fine. He is one of those lucky people who is less sensitive.
 As mentioned in my previous post, I have been having pain in my neck and especially between my shoulders since getting my new mattress and pillow. At first, I attributed this to the pillow, but as of now, I am quite sure that it has to do with the fact that my spine is out of alignment--that is: my hips are lower than my shoulders. My shoulders are higher than my hips and are also getting scrunched against the hardess of the mattress. 
 When I tried the soft 2" talalay latex topper on top of the mattress and slats in their preset settings, I noticed something interesting: it seems to accentuate the feeling that my hips were too low. It did lessen the pressure on my shoulders, but I still felt out of alignment--perhaps even more so. I am beginning to think that the problem might be that my hips are sinking in too much, and as mentioned before, and my shoulders not enough. 
 With this in mind, my next idea was that if my hips needed  to sink less to create better alignment, then maybe I would need to do one of these things to bring the hips up:
  1. Try the mattress on the floor without the slats (which I am assuming would be the similar feeling for a non-flexible base foundation like Sleepless in Dallas ended up getting) in the hopes of better alignment and reducing the scrunching of the shoulders

  2. Adjust the slats to raise the hips in the hopes of better alignment and reducing the scrunching of the shoulders

  3. Try a firmer layer of latex to support my hips more to create better alignment and reduce the scrunching of the shoulders.

    So I tried the mattress on the floor without the flexible slat base. I woke up feeling much less pain in my neck and shoulders and I attribute this to the better alignment that was created from my hips not sinking down so much. My hips and shoulders were much more even. The only problem was that it was so hard that it created pressure points on both my hips and my shoulders–especially the hips. So I thought I might be making progress here.
    Then I decided to put the 2" topper on top of the mattress on the floor to see whether this alieviated the pressure points. After sleeping on that, I noticed another interesting thing: I felt like the soft topper made me less aligned and actually made me feel more pain than just the mattress on the floor. It seems like that softness makes my hips sink down even more and throws my spine back out of alignment causing my shoulders and neck to be out as well.
    Now my question is this: Since the mattress on the floor is too hard by itself, but is good in terms of evening out my spine, would you think that a firmer latex layer might relieve the pressure points? It sounds kind of crazy to add firmness to something already hard, but I have a hunch it could work. What is your opinion about this in theory?
    The gentleman at Sovn who is working very cooperatively with me on this problem said that I can also try the slats set so that the hips don’t sink so much and try a pillow that is not so thick. He suggested I do this before trying it on the floor but at the time I had not heard back from him so I tried the floor option first.
    I intend to try adjusting the slats again, maybe after I give the floor another night or two, but I am taking your advice to try to address the mattress first before moving onto the pillow. The gentleman at Sovn also said that I could change the inner spring base to the softer version which I believe uses coils made from a lesser gauge of wire. He said “The I-Willow A possesses a slightly less supportive base coil which tends to make the mattress feel less firm.” What effect do you think that would have? I am thinking that it would exaccerabate the problem by allowing my hips to sink down even further. Would that in theory be correct?

Thanks in advance for any feedback you might be able to provide.



The flexible slat base of the I Willow (aka Alpine) mattress comes with the slats preset to what works best for most people.