Not sleeping comfortably with SleepEZ latex mattress

Hi Phoenix
Hope you have advice. I remember you from the other forum (won’t mention the name) and read many of your posts! Glad to have found you here!

We have a sleepEZ 8500 split Cal king. hubby likes his side. My original layers were SMF. I’m a side and stomach sleeper and I know this combo can be difficult but I have slept on beds at various Marriott hotels recently and I always find them comfortable, no lower back pain or shoulder/arm pain like on the latex. I think the Marriott beds i have been on are their foam beds with a foundation and feather topper. My mom has a basic firm Simmons from a discount store that i sleep fine on too - its a bit firm and could use a thin soft topper, but overall i sleep OK on it…so i have slept on other beds recently without issue…

My lower back and arms have been sore since I’ve been sleeping on latex. i find myself tossing and turning during the night with lower back pain and i have consistent upper right shoulder/arm pain so that it hurts to lift my arm and do other movements.

I’ve tried various combinations of layers. moving the Medium layer the top helped a little, definitely feels better than having Soft at the top. having the firm at the top was a little painful though…

the bed sitting is metal grid type foundation like this:

I’m thinking I need to try:
–more firm latex layers, and then add a feather bed topper, like the Marriott hotel uses. though I’m not sure how firm i need to go and if SleepEz would even be willing to do any exchanges, its been a couple years

–keep same layers i have and buy a really firm basic innerspring mattress underneath the latex - but then it seems like I’m basically buying a whole new bed after spending $$$ on the latex and i was trying to avoid innerspring in the first place…I visited Flexus mattress in Covina on your suggestion and the guy was nice enough but said to talk to his brother (hector i think?) because he knew more about latex and gave me his email address but then they never responded to my emails and i sent several.

–get rid of the latex and buy the Marriott bed? do you have any thoughts or reviews on this one? its VERY risky to me because no returns and I’m wondering if its terribly overpriced being that its from a hotel, also its comfy at the hotel, but will it be as comfy at home…? do you know who makes the Marriott bed, maybe there is a showroom with a similar model?

In general I like a medium firm bed with just a bit of softness. I don’t like mushy, too soft beds or very hard beds. at Sit N sleep they have a bed tester that you lie on and it ‘measures’ you and it suggested I needed a “medium firm” bed…

Thank you for reading,

Hi alopex,

I’m glad you found TMU :). My time at What’s The Best Mattress forum (and I don’t mind you mentioning the name) was certainly fun … and there are some good people that post there (along with lots of misinformation) … even though the people that own the forum are more interested in creating an information monopoly, google rankings, and advertising revenue than they are in helping people find a better mattress. They don’t allow links to other informational sites (especially this one) or even the mention of “Phoenix” in a post and they have done their best to co-opt the name of this site “The Mattress Underground” in as many of their links or key words as possible in a conscious effort to take advantage of the name and google search rankings that are connected to it and lower the rankings for their own benefit. I have little respect for their cutthroat tactics (even though they haven’t been successful) or the people behind it. When they “disabled my account” as they described it, it really was time to move on anyway once it became clear what the real interests behind the forum were.

You’re correct that side stomach sleeping is a difficult combination and it’s also difficult to use your experience on other mattresses (either at a hotel or at other homes) because sometimes if the mattress that you sleep on regularly is creating discomfort or pain … just the change itself can improve or even temporarily resolve it because it moves you away from your “body memory” even though if you slept on the same mattress for the longer term it may also have issues. This is why it’s quite common that people who find improvement when they sleep at hotels or at a friends home often find some improvement (when any change can lead to temporary improvement) but the improvement doesn’t last when they buy the same mattress for themselves.

Having said that … even though there really isn’t a “standard” hotel bed … most “hotel” beds are designed to be in a “sweet spot” that will be OK to the largest possible number of people rather than being good for any particular person. They generally are a combination of a firm support layers, a fairly “plush” top layer, and then some kind of topper or featherbed to add some further softness and a “luxurious” hand feel to the mattress. They could be classified as “plush” comfort layers over “firm” support layers which combined would be a “medium firm” feel which is the most common general type of construction that would “fit” the most people.

So comparing your “symptoms” to the mattress you have (and I don’t know your weight/body type which could make a significant difference) … it seems that you have a fairly standard mattress in the bottom two layers and then a thin comfort layer which would be most suitable for flatter sleeping positions (like your stomach). It seems to me that your symptoms are also pointing to “conflicting” causes of both pressure relief and support. The shoulder pain would usually be considered a pressure relief issue (most commonly from side sleeping) and the lower back pain would typically be a support/alignment issue (most likely from sleeping in a swayback position for too long on your stomach). It’s also possible that your shoulder soreness/stiffness is coming from sleeping in a “twisted” or “scrunched” position as your body tries to eliminate pressure.

So it seems to me that there are two changes that may be needed simultaneously (and again your body type/weight could shed more light on this). One of these is firmer support layers and this could mean a firm/firm or XFirm/Firm bottom two layers. It also seems to me that you may need either thicker or softer comfort layers to help you relieve pressure on your shoulders and letting them sink in more. This could be accomplished with a topper of some type such as softer foam, shredded foam, a thicker wool layer, or a fiberbed topper of some type depending on the degree of pressure relief needed and on how the different types of toppers may interact with the rest of the mattress and the pressure distribution you are looking for or need. If effect you are likely looking to “bring up” your hips/pelvis and to “allow” your shoulders to sink in a little more at the same time. All of this is assuming of course that some of the assumptions and interpretations I’m making are correct.

In theory … this may have improved your alignment somewhat so hopefully when you are mentioning “improvement” it was with the back pain because the medium on top would be firmer than having the soft on top and if this improved the shoulder pain then it could need some re-thinking about the cause of the shoulder pain.

[quote]the bed sitting is metal grid type foundation like this:[/quote]

The gaps in this “wire grid” model are quite far apart so hopefully the problem isn’t that the latex is sinking into the gaps. You could test this by testing the mattress on a firm surface such as the floor for a couple of nights (one night isn’t really a good test for anything) to see if it helps at all.

[quote]I’m thinking I need to try:
–more firm latex layers, and then add a feather bed topper, like the Marriott hotel uses. though I’m not sure how firm i need to go and if SleepEz would even be willing to do any exchanges, its been a couple years[/quote]

You are well past the exchange period for SleepEz so you will need to purchase a new layer which means that it can be more important to improve the odds that you are making a good firmness choice (unless you are buying a layer from a source that you can return it without penalty which is much less common with a single latex layer). I would agree though that firmer lower layers are probably the way to go. In addition to this … the featherbed or fiberbed topper would also add somewhat to local pressure relief in the shoulder area but it still may not allow the shoulders to sink in enough to re-distribute weight to other parts of the body because your comfort layer is only 1.5". This would be thinner than a typical mattress or a hotel mattress and you may need some extra foam or a thicker more resilient layer in addition to a featherbed (which helps more with surface feel and can also provide some localized pressure relief).

I agree that this would be a waste because there would be so much latex over the innerspring that most of it’s benefit (if any) would be negated and it could even make the support layers even softer (which could create a bigger problem).

The “latex expert” at Flexus is Henry and he is usually pretty good with communication although I would generally suggest more interactive voice communications with more complex issues and questions like these that can’t be answered in a single sentence. They also have zoned latex layers I believe which may be helpful in situations like these.

I would strongly discourage this (even though it’s made by Jamison which is a “better” manufacturer) both because hotel beds are generally poor value (very high profit margins), because it has lower quality materials than you already have, and because it is so common that the “hotel” experience isn’t duplicated in the longer term at home when people buy the mattress that they believed felt so good in the hotel. The only way to find a similar model is if you could find out the details of the layers on the mattress you slept on but this isn’t likely (except perhaps some generic information such as the thickness and type of the layers which wouldn’t be that helpful). It also may not be that helpful if it was just the change that helped rather than the specific mattress (which your experience on other mattresses that are quite different points to).

I wouldn’t put much faith in “bed tester” machines more than using them as a very general guideline. Terms like “medium firm” have very little real or specific meaning and have no definition. It may surprise you just how much “softness” there really is in a typical medium/firm bed and your current mattress may have much thinner/firmer comfort layers than a typical medium firm mattress which in combination with the possible need for firmer support layers may be what you need to “fix”.

Once again though … all of this may have little meaning or context without a more detailed discussion that can pinpoint the cause of the “symptoms” more accurately and especially without the context of weight/height and body type information.


Hi alopex,

I had a conversation today with SleepEz and the subject of layer exchanges came up and they told me that even in cases that are years after the purchase they are still committed to providing service and guidance to their customers and if a new layer is needed that they will provide assistance and a discount on their listed layer prices so it would be well worthwhile calling and talking with them first if you have one of their mattresses and need to make changes … even if the original exchange period is over.

I thought I should add this to my previous reply both to let you know and for the sake of others that may be in the same position :slight_smile:


I had this really long response to submit and then I lost it because I guess the web page was open too long? when trying to post I got an error saying the form was obsolete

So I’ll repost, but shorter than I had before…

Thanks for all your info Phoenix! I think you are right that I need firmer support layers so I just rearranged my layers again to XFirm, Firm, Firm from bottom to top. I realize this doesn’t include the softer comfort layers but I want to try it this way for a few nights and then see if its a least supportive enough and then see what next steps I may need to take. I am 5’3" and about 150 lbs, heavier than I would like to be at this point and mostly in stomach/hips.

Do you know approx what configuration of SleepEz latex would approximate what would be called a “plush firm” on innersprings? it sounds like you are describing a “plush firm” as the types of beds many hotels have and these are types I find the most comfortable when trying mattresses at the stores. I don’t like the very firm or the very soft pillow tops, or memory foam that has a “sinking” feeling…

I’m so frustrated by all this and about ready to chuck this mattress and try again. but I dread the waste of money, time and the thought of mattress researching/hunting again! and what would I even do with this latex mattress now?

but I feel I’m “in over my head” in having to figure out my own mattress and figure out what layers I need and then rearrange them.

I don’t know if I agree with you that sleeping on another bed can be just a temporary change and that’s why it feels better. I have slept on a basic Simmons firm innerspring at my Mom’s house frequently for sometimes a week at a time, both before and after buying the latex mattress and its always fine. i would like it to be little more “plush”, but in general I sleep well on it and I don’t experience pain on it…the irony is that they bought it at a discount mattress store and probably didn’t take a whole lot of time picking it out, and I spent months and months researching latex and spent top dollar and its not working…

I find myself thinking about the Marriott hotel beds a lot because I slept on 3 of them in the past year at different hotels and each one was really comfortable. I wish I knew what type of foam they use i would consider buying some. I may try to track down a Jamison store to see if they have anything similar in the store to try out.

Thanks for listening and trying to help Phoenix.

Oh I also checked the foundation and even though we had put cardboard between the metal frame and the mattress the mattress was “poking” through the grids a bit so we put particle board there now, its thin but fairly strong but i wonder if its sturdy enough, should we use plywood instead?

I will buy a nicer bed frame at some point but I couldn’t find one I liked in the Cal King size and in desperation bought this cheap one, which was recommended for latex/foam type mattresses, just to get the mattress off the floor.

btw, we had the mattress directly on hardwood floors for months after buying it, so I dont think the frame is a cause…but thanks for the tip of checking underneath!! I thought that the cardboard would be enough!!

Hi alopex,

I have made a habit of highlighting posts and copying them before I click “submit” with any forum after losing many long posts on many forums over the years because of timeout or logout errors. I know how frustrating they can be!

I think that the key word here is “sometimes”. I tend to think in terms of patterns rather than “instances” and in many cases sleeping on another bed either a a hotel or at friends are more “instances” which can have many other factors involved (including subjective factors) that are part of how they feel and when people actually buy the beds that seemed so comfortable elsewhere they are disappointed in their decision in long term experience.

In other cases … hotel mattresses have some kind of topper or pad on top that changes the feel of the mattress and is part of the reason it felt the way it did so the mattress itself isn’t all that is involved.

If your experience shows a clear and more consistent pattern however then I would certainly take that into account.

Some of the differences between polyfoam and latex that may account for different preferences are a lower sag factor (doesn’t get firm as quickly as latex so you will sink into it more), is less resilient, and less point elastic (less conforming to the body shape). It compresses more two dimensionally (up and down) than latex. It also comes in softer versions that latex. The comfort layers in the mattresses you like would also tend to be thicker than your SleepEz (which uses 1.5" of latex on top).

In general though … back issues involve deeper support which may need to be firmer (bring “up” the hips and pelvis). In some cases this may also involve using thinner soft comfort layers to brin you closer to the support layers but yours are already thin so this wouldn’t apply to you.

Pressure issues usually involve the softness and thickness of the upper comfort layers which “allow” the shoulders to sink in more deeply until the torso takes up some of the body weight.

Using the layers on your side of the mattress … if you use the medium on the bottom and then the firm in the middle this would firm up your support layers slightly. Your current testing is firmer yet although I would probably be tempted to test the XFirm/Firm with the softer layer over top of it. Either way though … any differences between a few nights experience with these and your current experience can act as a good pointer. The goal would be to alleviate the back symptoms and then add to the top (as thin as possible) to alleviate the shoulder issues.

A featherbed or wool type of topper may work well because it can add some localized pressure relief at specific pressure points and lower the surface resiliency of the latex but it would still be on a thinner comfort layer so it may not be quite enough because you may need some extra thickness to sink into rather than just some localized cushioning.

Shredded latex is also a good choice because it can displace somewhat under the shoulders to allow them to sink in a little more deeply while being a little more supportive under the hips meaning they may be less risky for alignment.

A thin polyfoam or latex topper could also do the trick. The key here would be estimating how much extra thickness/softness you need which can sometimes be difficult to quantify and can depend on how much time you spend in each position and on body shape. Sometimes this can involve “guesstimates” along the lines of “I think I just need just a bit more” or “I need a lot more” of something (like support or pressure relief in specific areas in certain positions) to get to my ideal.

Overall though the first step (besides talking with SleepEz) I think would be to firm up your support and then add some thickness/softness to the upper layers very carefully based on your experience of the step before after sleeping on each change long enough to evaluate it accurately and get a sense of how far away you were from what you wanted.

My guess is that the particle board on a semiflex or non flex wire grid would probably be fine.

It’s very difficult to translate one material into another because they interact differently. In general though it would involve a firmer bottom 6" (such as the XFirm./Firm you are currently testing" and then 3" or so of softer comfort layers on top … possibly with a featherbed or fiberbed on top of that. This would be what I refer to as a “differential” construction where the upper layers and the firmer support layers have a bigger difference. You can test something like this in latex if there is a local dealer that carries Pure Latex Bliss and they have the Pamper. It has a 40 ILD base layer and then 2" of softer latex on top (@ 21 ILD) and you can add another 2" or 3" of very soft latex over this (14 - 15 ILD) with one of their toppers. SleepEz’s standard softer layers would be slightly firmer than either of these (and some of the foam in your hotel mattresses probably would be softer as well).

The key with these types of more complex or difficult fine tuning experiments is to go very slowly so that you don’t make changes faster than your body can adapt to them and only make one change at a time so that the effect of each change can be known more clearly and be a better reference point for the next change or adjustment.


Hi Phoenix,
Thanks for all your detailed info on the differences between polyfoam and latex. I also get the idea of what you are saying about the support layers vs. comfort layers but at this point I’m losing hope that I will get this right.

You’re wealth of knowledge is amazing and the way you take time to answer everyone’s questions is wonderful but I’m feeling desperate because I’ve been trying different combos for months and if this doesn’t work out then I’m out the money and back to mattress shopping which puts me back at square one of what to buy and where from. i now find I’m dreading going to sleep at night…

I slept on ExtraFirm/Firm/Firm (all 3 inch layers of SleepEZ Talalay latex) a few nights and it was pretty much a disaster. :frowning: Although I like that the bed felt firmer, more solid and not so ‘mushy’ as before, it was very uncomfortable. It feels like my back is better supported when I’m on my back and to some degree when I’m on my stomach, but I still experienced the same lower back pain and right shoulder pain and now I’m also sore all over. My hips, legs, arms, neck, back, between my shoulders, all ache like nothing I’ve experienced before. I was tossing and turning and waking up exhausted and feeling sore all day long…so this was way too firm.

I decided to make one small change and am now trying ExtraFirm/Firm/Medium - again all 3 inch layers.

I’m just confused if this doesn’t work what to try next:

  1. Leave the ExtraFirm/Firm/Medium in place and try adding a feather bed? it would have to be a synthetic one because hubby has allergies and I won’t chance using feathers…I don’t think i want to buy any more latex toppers right now and i don’t like the feel of memory foam beds, though a thin memory foam topper might be fine…

  2. OR try ExtraFirm/Firm/Soft - all latex layers, using 1.5" Soft on top, instead of 3"

are synthetic feather bed toppers thick enough to offer any cushion?

btw, i have talked to SleepEz several times since I’ve owned their mattress but while they are nice to speak to, they haven’t really helped solve my issue, but it might be time to try calling them again…

I’m in the Los Angeles area and I will try to find a local dealer that carries Pure Latex Bliss Pamper model to try out - thanks for the tip!

I may also go back to Flexus Comfort Mattress in Covina and see if they can build me a completely new mattress (abandon this one) or take the latex layers I have and do something with them to make it more comfortable, though that seems risky to me if I don’t like what they do and they sew the layers into a cover, then I won’t be able to change them around anymore. also one downside is they only have a handful of beds to try in their tiny showroom and all of them felt very soft to me - very “pillowtoppy” so I don’t know if they vary from that.

One thing i wondered about Flexus - do you know if they use good quality coils in their innersprings? when i was researching them it seems they used cheaper, basic coils in their innersprings and that might be a reason their prices were lower than others, but I know little about coils…

Thanks Phoenix for all your help and advice…

Hi alopex,

A step by step approach is generally best and based on this …

you may be dealing with two separate issues and trying to solve both of them at once instead of one at a time. One of these is the firmness of your support layers and the other is the thickness/softness of your comfort layers. Both of these can produce different sets of “symptoms” and mistaking one for the other or trying to solve both at once as you have experienced can lead to real frustration. In these cases … one approach can be to start from the bottom up and find the best combination for alignment/support (firmer lower layers) and “expect” that this may cause pressure issues. Once you have the support issues mostly solved … then you can add “just enough” thickness softness on top to relieve pressure in all your sleeping positions with the least possible risk to support.

Making the entire mattress firmer (by using all firm layers) for support/alignment issues won’t solve both issues and may cause new ones (the sleeping surface is now too firm). In the same way adjusting the firmness or thickness of the top layers for pressure relief may not solve alignment issues. You may not even have the materials yet that can fully solve the pressure issues no matter what combination you try. A more incremental approach of identifying and solving issues one smaller step at a time is generally the most effective approach.

Keep in mind that the bottom two layers are mostly about support and alignment with a secondary effect (more the middle layer) on pressure relief. The top layer is mostly about pressure relief with a secondary effect on support/alignment (depending on the thickness/softness of the comfort layer and on how much the middle layer comes into play).

I would generally suggest starting with support alignment and then building on this to solve the comfort/pressure relief issues. This means using the soft 1.5" layer on top (which is all you have that is really “pressure relieving” (the 3" medium may be the next softest but still too firm) with firmer layers underneath. The thickness/softness of the 1.5" comfort layer may not be enough in any combination to solve pressure relief and surface comfort issues so I would “expect” that finding the best combination of support layers is only part one of a two step solution.

Once part one is close enough (and this is not an exact science) … then is the time to begin working on part two. This may involve a change in softness or thickness or perhaps just adding a cheap soft polyfoam topper (like in the hotel mattresses) from a source that is refundable and less risky to experiment with (such as a big box store) to see how this affects your pressure relief and overall experience (this would be a closer approximation to the mattresses you liked). The advantage of this is that the topper can be replaced at a very low cost when it wears out faster than the rest of the mattress. Once you have the best possible combination … then you can either stay with the combination that works (mattress plus cheap topper) or you could try to “translate” the topper into its equivalent in latex (bearing in mind that any latex topper will be more resilient than the polyfoam topper) if you want a better quality material on top.

So I would certainly talk with Shawn once again to see what he thinks and the options you have available.

The next step I would take is the layering I suggested with the 1.5" of soft on top. This is unlikely to be perfect or even comfortable but the specific symptoms it produces will be an indicator to what may be the next best step. To clarify … this was the suggestion to test medium on the bottom and firm in the middle with the soft 1.5" layer on top. The goal with this is not “comfort” (that will come in the second step) but good alignment. The alternative to this is borrowing one or more of the layers on the other side like you have been doing to create even firmer support than the firm over medium (which is the firmest possible with the layers on your side) but this “even firmer” support layering should still be with the 1.5" of soft on top and without the expectation that it will solve comfort issues. You would be strictly testing for support in both cases (how well the firmer layers “hold up” your heavier hips/pelvis in all your sleeping positions and your experiences and feedback about each position).

This is an example of “going for it all” based on only one of your “symptoms” and making some “good” changes and some “bad” changes all at the same time. While the lower two layers may be firm enough for good support … in combination with the firm comfort layers (when you need soft) you created a whole new set of symptoms. The good news with this is that it did seem to help support/alignment which is one of the two issues you seem to be facing.

Again this may be good for support alignment but a 3" medium layer on top is not likely to be good for pressure relief (even though it may be an improvement on the firm layer from before. Again … separating the symptoms of pressure relief and support/alignment is important so you deal with each separately and not all at once (and keep going from one side of the best “line” that is the best balance between them to the other)

This … along with the firm over medium with the 1.5 soft on top would be the step I would suggest with the expectation that it won’t solve your comfort issues but to assess how both work for your alignment issues. Each should be tested for long enough to show a pattern. If one or the other (or both) seem to produce good alignment … then the next step would be deciding on how to adjust the comfort layer which may need more thickness and softness (which you don’t yet have available in any combination).

I don’t know the details of the specific coils they use but in today’s mattresses … any coil can “work well” with the right combination of materials on top depending on the design goal, the circumstances, the construction (double sided vs single sided for example) and the rest of the mattress. The coils are not the “weak link” of most mattresses (except sometimes the very cheapest that have little in the way of comfort layers) regardless of the type. Bonnell, Continuous, Offset, and Pocket coils all come in a wide range of options and all of them can be suitable in specific circumstances with the layering on top that produces the balance of Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences that matches what someone needs and prefers. They also have double sided construction which significantly adds to durability and value.

So before jumping too far ahead about what to do if your current options fail … I would first test firm support layers (bottom and middle) with the soft on top to test alignment and then add or experient with toppers that can “emulate” the mattresses you know you like and will get you “in the zone” for pressure relief as well.

If you test this combination for long enough to produce a “pattern” … (and hopefully provide as detailed a description as possible) then this will be the best indicator of what the best next step may be.

For what you are looking for and probably “need” … by itself over layers that you have probably not. I think you will need some extra softness/thickness in the more resilient comfort layers (like the mattresses you liked) and then adding a featherbed to this as well may provide a bit more local cushioning and a “surface feel” that you like but it won’t provide the overall weight redistribution that is probably what you need and that would come from a thicker comfort layer. the mattresses you liked all probably had thicker comfort layers and the Marriott also had a featherbed on top of this as well. Because polyfoam has a lower sag factor … firmer layers can feel softer because it will start off firmer than latex but it won’t get firm as fast with compression. this leads to a different feel and is also the reason why polyfoam comfort layers will often have a firmer ILD but feel softer than latex.

One small step at a time and careful evaluation about how each step worked to identify the next small step will be the most effective approach.

Talking with Shawn and testing the soft 1.5" comfort layer over the two combinations of firmer lower layers and reporting on what happens (and a careful evaluation of the differences between them) is the “next best” step IMO. Once you have tested whether support alignment is close to being solved with either one or both … then depending on your specific experiences with each of the two “firmer support” options with the thin soft layer on top (with the expectation that neither will likely solve the comfort issues) … then the “comfort steps” will likely be more clear.