Need new latex mattress but have some complex requirements (long post)


I have some pretty complex needs and have read a lot on the web site and the forum, so I hope my post is informed enough to receive good feedback. I apologize for the length.

  • Age: 53
  • Height: 5’10.5"
  • Weight: Normally floats between 138lbs – 145lbs, but developed gastrointestinal issues a few months ago so I am now floating between 133lb-140lb.
  • Sleeping position: back
  • Temperature: I sleep hot
  • Relevant medical issues: glaucoma and low back pain
  • Current mattress (purchased 2008): Twin-sized Natura 8” natural Dunlop latex with wool stitched cotton zippered cover. I believe it consists of a single 6” block of latex and the cover brings it up to 8 inches. Model on bill of sale: Natura Soma XI 8” twin mattress.
  • Foundation (difficult to describe): 2 rectangular wooden sets of drawers that act as a base with a separate matching twin mattress-sized wooden frame with a raised edge that lays on top of the sets of drawers. I have the wooden frame propped up at the head end with Costco-sized bags of road salt so that I sleep on an incline approaching 30 degrees.
  • Preferences: I am not wealthy, so I prefer value (bang for the buck) over certifications, but without compromising on quality.

I purchased my current mattress from Soma Organic Mattresses in Toronto in 2008. I reached out to them and to Natura to try to get the specs for my current mattress so that I could try to aim for something similar, but neither were able to provide the details (e.g., ILD of the latex, quantity of wool). Since I am a relative lightweight and the cotton/wool cover functions as a comfort layer, I assume that my rubber is of medium firmness (which feels firmer on my foundation). I don’t think I have any pressure points with the Natura today, but with my advancing age, I think it makes sense to aim for a little more comfort this time. I saw that you recommend a 1” comfort layer for back sleepers which I think would meet that requirement.

I was wondering if I could get suggestions for the ILD of a 1" comfort layer and the 6” core (both natural Dunlop latex)? I am also interested in vendor suggestions. Soma’s prices have gone up a lot. The rep I spoke to when I asked for my specs laughed when he looked up how much I paid in 2008 (to be fair, I got a boxing week discount). I would prefer to go local, so that I can test out the comfort, and swap layers, if required. Reading the forums, it seems like MFC/Nature’s Embrace/Majestic are the best online options? However, to keep it to Toronto, I see possible value-leaning options for Springmade, Ideal mattress, Galaxy bedding, Dreamstar bedding? Any better suggestions?

This time, I will also purchase a mattress protector to delay the degradation of the rubber. I will probably go with the forum recommended St. Dormier. I would prefer to get something with a semi-permeable membrane to best protect the rubber this time, but because I sleep hot, I hope the St. Dormier is a good compromise. For sheets (I only need a fitted mattress cover), I can’t afford the coolest material, linen, so I will go with lower thread count cotton as the next coolest material at a more reasonable price point.

Within the last year, I have been experiencing low back pain which presents itself typically in the last 2-3 hours of my sleep and disrupts my sleep. I first tried turning my mattress 180 degrees horizontally, but that only offered temporary relief (I do it every 6 months anyways). For the first time this past January, I unzipped the cotton/wool cover to flip the latex over, so that I could sleep on the side that I have never slept on directly. I discovered that there was some disintegration of the rubber. I attribute it to the fact that I never used a mattress protector. However, since I don’t weigh a lot, there are not really any large depressions. I experienced a modicum of improvement in the back pain for a few months afterwards, but the pain returned.

I recently tried sleeping on another bed in my home, consisting of an ancient, traditional mattress (and that is not inclined). My back pain improved. So, I assumed I needed a new mattress and swapped the ancient mattress into my room as a stopgap measure. On my foundation, it became rock hard, so I threw some blankets over it to create a makeshift comfort layer. Unfortunately, the back pain returned. However, because neither mattresses are optimal, I cannot say for certain whether the problem is the incline or the mattress (or both).

BTW, the reason I sleep on an incline is prevent progression of glaucoma. I have slept this way for many years without back issues. The bags of rock salt were a cheap solution to keep my head raised while I sleep. Plus, because my whole body lays flat on an incline, it seems to me to be a healthier way to sleep as compared to an adjustable frame that only raises the torso and/or the knees.

If the back pain problem could be resolved by simply replacing the mattress, then it is a relatively simple fix; buy another twin mattress and be done. However, if the incline is also a problem, then I would need to get an adjustable frame that I could flatten for the last few hours of sleep. Unfortunately, most adjustable frames do not come in twin sizes, only twin XL. Hence, if I buy a new twin mattress (to see if it alone can resolve my back pain) to fit my current foundation, it won’t fit an adjustable frame. Conversely, if I jump straight to a twin XL, I can’t use it in my current foundation, so would have to purchase an adjustable frame (huge added expense), without knowing if a) the frame resolves the pain and b) prevents progression of glaucoma as well as my current setup.

I considered trying a wedge pillow on the flat non-inclined bed. Instead, I used a bunch of pillows to elevate my torso in the same manner. I tried it for one night. The back pain returned at the usual time, so I shoved the pillows out of the way and slept flat the rest of the time. Unfortunately, my glaucoma was worse the next day (pressures were higher). This leads me to believe that both a wedge pillow and an adjustable frame may not be effective at addressing the glaucoma. Plus, while the cost of a wedge pillow vs an adjustable base is appealing, I can’t get over the fact that sleeping on the crappy materials in the wedge after spending good money for a new latex mattress just seems wrong.

So, I guess I am seeking ideas on whether I have missed anything. Perhaps, there is a vendor that can allow me to trial a new twin mattress, and if it doesn’t resolve the pain, allow me to switch to a twin XL? Then I would have to find an adjustable base and hope it helps both the back pain and the glaucoma.

If you made it this far, then thanks!

Hi Wool9349, and welcome to the Mattress Underground :slight_smile:

First off sorry to hear about your gastrointestinal issues, along with the glaucoma and back pains…sounds very frustrating to manage!

I would say not to worry about the specs for the Natura Soma XI, as your sleep profile has likely changed over the last 15 years. You have created a unique solution to accommodate your health conditions!

As I’m sure you know, any mattress you choose will be based on your Stats (height, BMI, sleeping position(s) and any underlying health conditions) - thanks for providing those! You have indeed done your research! - and your PPP (Posture & alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences). As you want to continue with latex, as you know from comparing the Mattress Specifications You Need To Know to the Mattress Durability Guidelines, latex is one of the most durable materials you can have in a mattress.

It sounds like the combination of time, your ‘DIY’ foundation solution, and change in your needs is resulting in your current bed not being as supportive as it was. Since you want to reuse the frame, you may want to consider slats, or some sort of bunkie board with holes, as it sounds like you might not be getting adequate air flow under the mattress with your current set up. Also keep in mind that using foundations outside of those recommended by the mattress manufacturer can result in voided warranties/exchange policies.

Aside from that, the local retailers and manufacturers you listed all appear to have good latex mattresses - you might want to consider price and warranty terms to decide. Basically any good reputable manufacturer will have good durable latex products…it boils down to how they feel for you when you test. Remember, Dunlop latecomer rubber and Talalay latex rubber have quite different ‘feels’, with Talalay being considered a ‘bouncier’ latex (think of the difference between angel food cake and poundcake), so that might be another consideration, as you try some mattresses in your area. Since you have a lower BMI, any good latex mattress should provide support, you just need to ‘zero in’ on the right comfort level. It’s hard to make any recommendations on ILD as comfort levels are quite subjective: another sleeper, same age, size, and health conditions may find a particular ILD too firm while you find it too soft!

You might want to try out Talalay as well as Dunlop to determine what might be a better feel for your back. You would probably want a medium firm to firm, but exact ILDs would be a personal choice; at least firm enough to allow you to use the same ‘incline’ system you have to relieve the pressure from the glaucoma, but not firm enough to exacerbate your lower back pain….and too soft of a latex and you won’t have the same effect. Anything from 6” to 9” should work for you, as long as the comfort layers don’t allow ‘Sinking’ and bottoming on the firmer layers below.

One solution might be to try some different firmnesses of all latex mattresses at a retail showroom like Sleep Country Canada that have a few locations in the Toronto area - this would allow you to determine the type and firmness of latex you most prefer, which would allow for more choices in online manufacturers, like MFC and the like. I do agree the St. Dormier protector would be a good choice and would help keep moisture, dust etc off the latex. Any good mattress manufacturer or retailer should allow a reasonable ‘sleep trial’ period between 90 -100 days, as it takes time for a sleeper to ‘break in’ a new mattress and likewise for the mattress to ‘get used’ to your body profile. Make sure you review the warranty of any mattress you are thinking of purchasing to avoid unpleasant surprises. You don’t give a budget you are looking at for bedding, but you might want to review the offerings at Takasa who have a wide variety of sheets and bedding, and with the TMU discount you may not have to ‘settle’ for a lower thread count or less cool sheets.

As you have a complex set of needs, please feel free to drop in and share your experiences once you make a decision for the benefit of other forum members who may be in similar straits. I do wish you every success in finding a new ideal mattress!

~ Basilio

Hi. I hear you with low back pain issue. I still can’t decide on which latex and/or firmness. So afraid of making a mistake. I do have a suggestion for you & your foundation. Can’t you or somebody build a slanted foundation? No need for bags. Just a thought.

Hi Kaye,

Thank you for your reply. I share your fears. As for your foundation idea, I’m afraid I don’t have the skills to do it myself. I suspect that having someone build one would cost more than I paid for the bags of road salt which have served me well over the years. The key is that for glaucoma, it is recommended that we sleep with our heads elevated to 30 degrees to mitigate the rise in eye pressure that occurs when lying down. I’m not sure how to calculate elevation for my setup, but I’m pretty sure I am close.

Hi Basilio,

Thank you for your lengthy reply. I haven’t had time to fully process all your points, but when I do, I plan to provide a more detailed reply.

Hi Wool9439,

Understood! Please take your round…and thanks for the suggestion @K2166! Nothing beats a fellow forum member who has had similar challenges for possible solutions!

~ Basilio