New member seeking purchase advice

Just joined the Mattress Underground, found through research about which mattress is best for me. None of the Mattress Underground commercial members is anywhere near me here in Vermont, so I guess I’m just looking for direction on which mattresses I might be on the lookout for. I am 5’2" 110 lbs., 52 yrs., female, very physically active, side sleeper - it’s GOTTA be the side - when I sleep. I am a chronically bad sleeper, no matter what I’m sleeping on. But lately, probably b/c of a combination of age, long distance running and a nasty spill I took while running, I have regular shoulder and hip pain in bed at night - classic pressure points. I haven’t bought a new mattress in so many years that I am way out of the loop on prices, technology, everything. I learned a lot from visiting this site, but am wondering if anyone has recommendations for what I might look for in the $1000 or less range.
I am a small side sleeper with sensitive shoulders and hips…and an old mattress!

My suggestion is to go someplace that carries Tempurpedic and see if you like any of their mattresses. Then select one of the online vendors and order a comparable bed from them. I found Select Foam offered a great combination of price & quality plus they have a number of options.

Before ordering I would also suggest checking out Latex mattresses. If you like Latex they are more durable than memory foam.

Hi lora,

The best place to start your research is post #1 here which has all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that can help you make the best possible choices.

When you get to step 3 … if you let me know your city or zip I’d be happy to let you know of the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in your area.


I have to say that I was just in a mattress retailer yesterday, and after trying the Tempur, and various brands of memory foams, I am NOT impressed. The material does not “push back” and support a woman’s waist when sleeping on your side (necessary, since the weight of our hips should sink into the bed, and the waist needs to be supported for proper spine alignment). In addition, the material just compressed down, and felt like I was laying on a folded, compressed stack of laundry, for lack of a better analogy.

In my case, I was glad that I got to experience those types of mattresses, since it TOTALLY reinforced my decision to go with a latex bed. I am currently recuperating from extensive spine surgery and wanted a mattress that would allow my hips to sink, yet provide support at the waist when laying on my side – but without any pressure points on my shoulder or hip. The Savvy Rest mattress was the trick! I chose Dunlop firm latex for the base layer on my side of the bed, then Dunlop medium, and talalay soft for the top layer. It literally felt like I was suspended in a cloud!! Even my husband was impressed, and he has only used a spring mattress his entire life!! The fact that the latex bed was MUCH cheaper than the Tempur was a GREAT PLUS!!

I also question the longevity of the material of the Tempur and memory foams. From what I understand, their foams are petroleum based, and will break down rather quickly (as evidenced by the euro pillow top on my Sealy Posturepedic, which started breaking down after only 6 months of owning it. It’s now 4 years old, and you can see the ruts that our bodies lay in, quite clearly!!) The latex beds are made of pure, natural talalay and Dunlop, which doesn’t really break down, thus the 20 year warranty on latex beds. Funny how my Posturepedic is SHOT after 4 years, but the talalay pillow I bought at the same time, looks brand new and is still exactly the same as the day I bought it!

Of course this is just my opinion, but before laying out a lot of money, I suggest going to a retailer and giving the latex beds a try. You might just find you like them!! :slight_smile: Good luck either way you decide to go!! :slight_smile:

I have found your buying guide helpful-thanks. I am 5’4, 210 lbs, with some back pain. My doctor recommended a memory foam mattress or a regular mattress with a foam top. Years ago, before back problems I tried to buy a Tempurpedic. What felt great in the store left my hips unsupported and I woke up with a sore lower back every day. Fortunately they refunded my money, no problems. I like what I read about the Weightless select. It seems to have a thin layer of conforming foam, then 3" of what some say is latex. But
I am worried that once again, what feels good in the store, may be different at home.

I am open to the innerspring w/ mattress topper, but I have not seen a bed that has more than about 60% satisfaction rate (from sleep like the dead, Consumer Reports etc) as opposed to the 80% for memory foam mattresses.

I can’t seem to find non-major brands here in West Texas (79605) or the sales people are just pushing me to their national brands.

I don’t mind spending up to 1200 or so for a full sized mattress of either kind pr pillowtop that will last 10years or more, but if foam is going to soften and coils sag, I’d rather pay half as much for a five year bed.

Any suggestions? Thanks

Hi LAH7,

I think that these types of “review amalgamations” can be very misleading because there is a huge variety of innerspring mattresses (and every other mattress category) from low to high quality but most innerspring mattresses are purchases from major brands which usually use lower quality foams in the comfort layers so the satisfaction rate would be much lower than an innerspring that used higher quality materials and lasted longer.There is more about reviews here and as you can see I wouldn’t take them too seriously … especially when it comes to mattress “categories” where there is no specificity about any particular mattress. In almost all cases … the springs are not the component that fails or breaks down and if you make sure that the comfort layers are a good quality material then they can make a very good choice.

The “float” material is likely a high quality polyfoam. In most cases if the mattress you test is broken in then the one you purchase would feel the same once it has broken in as well as long as the materials are high quality. Of course none of the Tempurpedics are particularly good value and there are certainly other choices that use the same or better quality materials and have much better value.

I took a look in the Abilene area and based on the websites you certainly don’t have a lot of good choices. Time permitting I’ll make a few phone calls to the stores in your area to see how accurate their websites are and what they carry (I looked at about 15 different stores or chains) but in the meantime there is at least one I would consider as a possibility … Abilene, TX. They carry Pure Latex Bliss (latex), Royal Bedding, and possibly Sleep Designs among others and may be worth a visit.

I’ll add any others here if they appear to have some potential as well.

Coils don’t normally sag but the foam above them can certainly break down if it’s lower quality and this is the reason why it’s so important to make sure you know the quality of all the materials and components in a mattress … particularly in the comfort layers … because a mattress will soften and break down from the top down. Low quality materials in a pillow top are the worst offenders.


Hi LAH7,

I’ve looked at most of the stores or chains in or around Abilene (there were over 15 of them) and here are the ones that I would consider to be the better possibilities. I’ve also listed the brands they carry that I would consider on a “mattress by mattress” basis (of course always depending on your ability to find out the specifics of the materials inside them).

Denver Mattress® - The Easiest Way to Get the Right Mattress Abilene, San Angelo, TX. They are a regional manufacturer that tend to make higher quality and value mattresses than the major brands. They will disclose the quality/density of the materials they use and most of their stores are generally quite knowledgeable. They don’t carry the iChoice mattress locally. I would ignore the major brands they also carry.

Mattress Outlet - Home Zone Furniture - Furniture Stores serving Dallas, Fort Worth and Northeast Texas | Mattress Sets, Living Room Furniture, Bedroom Furniture Abilene, TX. They carry Restonic including their latex hybrids and gel memory foam mattresses. They also told me they would call the factory to provide any information their customers needed about foam densities and quality. They also told me that their Bree-O-Pedic mattresses use 4 and 5 lb memory foam and 1.8 - 2 lb polyfoam but they are made in China and don’t appear to be CertiPUR certified. San Angelo, TX. They carry Sleeptronic mattresses which may be worth considering here (and I would avoid the major brands they also carry) but make sure they can provide you with all the information you need about the type and quality of all the materials and components in their mattresses before making any purchase.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:


Thanks. I went to Sleeoing Giant and liked the Pure Latex Bliss. I wondered if you had any insights about their hybrid line. It has a 6 inch base made of foam bonded with latex which is supposed to be firmer and more durable than latex alone. I’m not a purist, so it doesn’t bother me that it contains foam (not sure what kind).

I tried the firmer bed in this line - Mezzanine , but decided I liked the middle firmness of the Harmony. It has 3 inch of fast response talalay latex over the same bonded base, and it didn’t seem too soft for me. (I didn’t like the feel of a firm innerspring with a PLB topper, but I did like their mattress.)

So I guess my questions are, are there reported problems of the top layer getting significantly softer or indented over time? Have there been reports of sagging/other problems from the base?

Thanks so much!

Hi LAH7,

You can read a little more bout the PLB hybrid support core in post #6 here. It’s a very durable material but I’m not so sure it would be more durable than latex in the equivalent firmness. The base layer wouldn’t be the weak link of a mattress anyway so it’s probably a moot point.

Outside of quality control issues at the time of manufacturing … latex is the most durable of all the foam materials. All foam will lose some of its softness and height to some degree over time but latex will do so less than any other foam material regardless of which manufacturer uses it in their mattress. There are other factors involved in durability and longevity though that you can read about in post #4 here.

None that I’ve seen and the base of a mattress is rarely the weak link of a mattress regardless of whether it is polyfoam, an innerspring, latex or any other material that is suitable for use in the base layer of a mattress. The weak link of a mattress is almost always in the comfort layers.


Hello again,

Do you know the ILD for the Harmony model from PLB? I found your info on the bonded foam base, can’t find specs for their hybrid models at PLB, and don’t know which density I would be getting for the top 3" layer


If you call PLB they are very helpful and informative. I ended up choosing the Nature model but if money had been more of a concern I would have gone with the Harmony. Since I got the Nature I have spent much more time sleeping on my side than stomach. That is a huge change for me. Our bed before our PLB was a bonded foam mattress and it served us well for ten years. The only complaints I had with it were that because it was only seven inches thick it was nearly impossible to find sheets and mattress pads that fit properly and because it was so light it moved around a bit.

Hi LAH7,

The density or the ILD of latex is a “comfort spec” not a “quality spec” so it really isn’t that relevant when you are testing a mattress in person. Your own testing will tell you if it’s “soft enough” or “firm enough” based on PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, or Personal preferences).

The layering of the Harmony is …

3" Talalay GL fast response (PLB calls this Active Fusion fast response)
6" bonded polyfoam/latex support core.

I don’t know the ILD of the Talalay GL fast response (it only comes in 15, 21, and 27 ILD so it would likely be either 15 or 21) but as Wavycat mentioned if you call PLB they would probably tell you if it’s of interest to you.


I received my PLB Harmony mattress 3 weeks ago, and it is MUCH firmer than the one I tried on site. They told me there was hardly any break in period for these mattresses, so I’m concerned that it won’t soften up.

I was planning to add a topper anyway to imitate the comfort of a previous mattress which had a pillowtop layer of no-name foam, which worked well for me until it wore out. My problem is that I now have a pinched nerve & stenosis that affects my low back and leg if things are too firm. Also, on the mattress alone, my shoulders feel “pushed up” while the area between shoulders sinks in, and hurts my neck.

I tried a Bodipedic memory foam topper, 2" of 3 lb. great for my low back and leg, but my shoulders sank in too much, and I started having neck & shoulder pain, even with different pillows.

Tried Comforzen 2.5" of 4 lb memory foam. Seemed just as soft and shoulders sank even more, w/more upper body pain. Still good for low back and leg.

Next, a dbl layer of down comforter. A little better on shoulders, hips sink into mattress comfortably, not too much, but still too firm to my leg (affects the stenosis)

Should I try a thinner, 1" of 4 or 5 lb memory foam? my reasoning is that I need a little comfort w/o sinking too far to affect shoulders.

Or a latex topper for my latex mattress? My hesitation is that the PLB topper I tried in store was so springy, I don’t want the feeling of my shoulders being pushed up. No other brands in town for me to try.

Or perhaps with my medical problems, I should forget about either type of foam and find something a little thicker than down (cotton filled comforter?). At this point, I’m not too concerned about losing the feel of the latex, as long as I can sleep w/o pain. And w/o excess heat.

Lastly, I’ve read your remarks about the shredded latex toppers. I’m willing to pay the money if one of them is what I need, but I’m not sure which, and can’t afford to buy it unless there’s a return option.

I am rather heavy, and sleep on my back. I know you can’t pinpoint someone’s else’s personal preference, but can you steer me toward the more probable options for my case, or even just away from any that would be less likely to help.

Thanks very much

Hi LAH7,

Unfortunately there are as many variables with a topper as there is with a mattress and the only reliable way to know which mattress/topper combination will work well for you is your own personal experience. A topper is a good option if you need extra pressure relief but it’s not a good way to improve support. Based on this comment …

It almost sounds like your comfort layer is already too thick/soft in which case a topper may not help much (and could even make things worse in some cases). You can make a mattress softer with a topper but it’s not a particularly effective way to make a mattress firmer.

I’m also not clear on how your shoulders could be sinking in too far with some of the toppers you mentioned because if you are a back sleeper then your shoulders aren’t in contact with the mattress and wouldn’t really be sinking in at all (shoulders sink in when you sleep on your side).

If you need some extra softness and pressure relief there are some guidelines in post #4 here that are based on your assessment of the amount of extra softness you may need that may help but I’m not clear that this is what you need.

Overall just not sure what you are looking to accomplish or what your symptoms are when you sleep on the mattress by itself (with no topper).

It would be helpful if you could let me know more about the specific symptoms you experience when you sleep on the mattress by itself (without a topper) and the areas you experience them. The first step in deciding on a topper is to have clarity about exactly what you want to accomplish and from your descriptions I’m not clear on the “symptoms” you are looking to “fix” or whether your issues are about pressure relief or alignment.


OK! I’ll try to be more clear. The mattress alone - my hips sink in just enough for my hips and low back to feel OK, but from the waist up it is almost like lying on the floor. I’m lying flat on my back and the area under my shoulders stays flat on the mattress. But unlike the floor, the area between my shoulders is sinking in a bit.

It feels like the Mezzanine model which had only 1 inch of latex foam on top instead of 3.It is definitely NOT too soft. Does walking on latex soften it, the way some people suggest on a memory foam mattress?

Another way to describe it is its as if someone put a towel under my shoulders and lifts the ends just enough to pull my shoulders/upper arms forward /up a bit without lifting enough to raise the area between the shoulders up. Or like a hammock, where the sides of your body are higher than the middle, on a vertical line. (But I’m only getting this feeling in the upper body).

The memory toppers I have tried (2"@3lb and 2.5"@ 4 lb) caused my whole shoulder area- side to side to sink too far, compared to my lower body.

So I’m wondering whether to try something like a thick wool or cotton comforter, and just sink in for a little comfort,

Or try a thinner or higher density foam to get the cushioning w/o sinking in too far in the shoulder area.
Thanks again

Hi LAH7,

This is generally a “symptom” of a comfort layer that is too soft or thick where the midback sinks in more than the lighter shoulders which are being “held up” more. As you mentioned this would be different from the floor where the area between the shoulder blades wouldn’t sink in at all (the floor would “stop” any sinking in) so you would sink in more evenly. From the sounds of it (and keeping in mind that I don’t know your specific body type) it sounds like you may need a little bit firmer layer on top of your mattress … not the extra softness/thickness that would come with a topper. If you add a topper then the risk is higher that it would affect the alignment of your pelvis/lower back. You can read a little more about “hunched” shoulders and other symptoms and fine tuning a mattress in post #2 here and in post #6 here and in post #6 here.

Mattress issues can be very complex and are often counterintuitive and difficult to “diagnose”. In general there are three types of “issues” with a mattress. One is connected to pressure relief, one is connected to alignment, and finally there are issues which are more about “feel” which is much more subjective. The first two generally have specific symptoms where people describe their experience as “I have” pain or discomfort in a specific area while the third (feel) is generally described as “if feels like” where they describe more subjective experiences such as “it feels like I’m sinking in too far or not enough” in a particular area or other more subjective descriptions. In general it’s easier to deal with specific symptoms that are more defined while the “it feels like” descriptions are often more a matter of personal preferences and the overall subjective experience on the mattress. Are you actually experiencing pain or discomfort in your upper back or is it more of a “feeling” that you are uncomfortable with.

You could easily check if your mattress is the correct one and has the correct foam layer on top by looking at the law tag, measuring the height of your mattress, or by checking the internal layers on the side of the mattress for thickness by feel. I should also mention though that I have talked with at least one retailer that I respect that had a customer where the mattress they received was clearly firmer than the mattress in the showroom and they suspect that the extra firmness is in the rebonded base layer … not in the comfort layer of latex. They actually went to their customers home to check their mattress in person. The firmer support layer would probably be more noticeable with heavier people that “went through” the softer comfort layers more. This would usually lead to more of a “feeling” of firmness more than actual pressure issues for back sleepers and a thin topper may compensate somewhat for this although increasing the thickness of the comfort layers by adding a topper could also lead to alignment issues because the real issue in this case would be in the firmness of the support layers. In this case a topper as thin as possible (say an inch or so) and slightly firmer would have less risk of alignment issues than a thicker topper and would still add to the softness of the sleeping surface and isolate you more from the firmness of the support layer.

Walking on latex will have a smaller effect and could help slightly but not as much as other foams such as memory foam that have more of a tendency to break in.

This makes more sense to me now. From your first description I thought you were describing that somehow your shoulders were sinking in more than your midback area which was confusing to me. This uneven sinking in where the heavier pelvis sinks in too far relative to the upper body is the risk of adding a topper to a mattress that already has several inches of softer foam on top. There is always a balance between “allowing” the upper body to sink in enough while at the same time “stopping” the heavier pelvis from sinking down too far.

A wool topper can “pad” the pelvic area which adds some surface area and can reduce how much it sinks down slightly while at the same time it can add some surface softness which may “feel” better for you although how wool interacts with foam underneath it can be fairly complex and depends on the specifics of body type, body shape, and the softness of the foam underneath it. It can be a little less risky topper than foam in terms of alignment issues. I think it may well be worth a try because it may even out how you sink in somewhat however I would also consider trying a wool topper that you are able to return if it doesn’t work because there are so many variables and unknowns involved in more complex “theory” and layering that only your own experience can really know if it’s successful. I would personally choose wool over cotton because cotton will compress more and be much firmer over time because wool is much more resilient than cotton … even when it’s compressed.

A relatively thin but firmer latex or polyfoam topper or a thin higher density memory foam topper may also be worth a try although trying to “fix” a mattress that is already to soft or thick in the comfort layers (vs the support layers) is not nearly as easy as adding more softness on top of your mattress. I know that it “feels” like your mattress is too firm but I think the issue may be in the support layer and not in the thickness of the comfort layer (assuming that you verify that the comfort layer is the right thickness) so you would really be trying more of a “workaround” in the hopes it will help. Sometimes a softer comfort layer over a support layer that is very firm can “feel” like the comfort layer itself is too soft but using a firmer comfort layer can actually “feel” softer because it can isolate you more from the firmness of the layers below it.

Perhaps the most effective suggestion of all would be to talk with your retailer to see if they have any suggestions as well and they may even be willing to come to your home and see if they can also feel the difference in your mattress compared to the floor model. It may also be well worth talking to Pure Latex Bliss itself because in my experience they are quite responsive to consumer issues wioth their mattresses.

Some of the other possibilities that would also be worth checking to rule out other possibilities besides the mattress itself are in post #2 here.

All of this can require some detective work so that you are confident that you have identified the actual underlying problem correctly which would give you much better odds of correcting it.

Fixing the “wrong” problem in the “wrong” layer can sometimes lead to a different set of symptoms or cause more issues than it solves.