On the road to better sleep

Hey there,

I’ve worked through the information on the main site, now I am trying to translate all that I’ve learned into an informed decision. We live abroad and will be returning to the Texas (Plano area) next summer. We are selling everything and completely starting over - so along with all the other furniture to buy I have to buy five beds (1 queen, 4 twins - mattress only, we’ll be using bunk beds). So, my budget isn’t super crazy high.

I feel pretty convinced to go with a custom latex bed through Arizona Mattress Factory - my husband is 5’9" 200lb back sleeper, and I’m 5’3" 115 side sleeper. This just seems to make sense, but it means I’m stretching the budget for our bed. In the long run it makes sense, but we’re facing a big hit at once. Which I’m willing to do - I mean can’t be your best during the day if you’re not getting your best at night. The tricky thing will be figuring our softness/firmness. I can’t seem to find an all latex mattress to try out in the Plano area. I’ve found a few hybrids - would that be acceptable? At least to get an idea of what Latex feels like? We’ve had a traditional innerspring mattress for years - and when the pillowtop compressed (as now I see of course it would!) we topped it with a memory foam topper (4", 4lb") and have been reasonably comfortable since.

That leaves the four kids. I’ve read the posts on small children, but I haven’t seen anything address slightly older, pre-teen children. My kids are 4, 6, 9, and 11. I understand the need for a firmer mattress, though my older daughter (9) has been sleeping several years on a polyfoam mattress a friend gave us here in Mexico. At what point is a child’s body ready for something a little more comfy?
I was looking at Dreamfoam’s budget mattress. I emailed them to get more information on what exactly is in the comfort layers and to learn whether it can be customized, but I still haven’t heard anything back. I want something that is suitable to their changing needs, but also durable. My budget is much more limited when it comes to the twins, I don’t want to do much more than 200-250 apiece.

Can you make some suggestions?

Also, what’s the whole memory foam vs. latex? I get that the two foams do different things, but it seems not a very popular choice and that some mattress makers offer it simply because consumers don’t know any better. Is there something I’m missing?

Finally, I understand how a mattress is supposed to relieve pressure points and maintain spine alignment. Correct my understanding, but ideally would that eliminate the need for pillows? Pillows under/between knees, neckrolls, etc.? If, in the end, I find that perfect conforming, pressure-relieving, spine-aligning mattress - what kind of pillow should I look for?

Thanks heaps - I have learned so much here!

Hi Toddandleah,

Some of the better options and possibilities in the Dallas / Ft Worth region are listed in post #4 here.

There are quite a number of latex mattresses available in the area and this would give you the options you need to get a sense of the general “feel” of different styles of latex mattresses (and just like with innerspring mattresses or any other mattress category there is a huge range of different mattresses available that are very different from each other). It’s unlikely though that you will find an exact match between specific mattress manufacturers or in many cases be able to find out “comfort specs” like ILD (which aren’t important in a local purchase) so a more detailed conversation with an online manufacturer may be necessary to “approximate” a mattress that you tested locally (see post #9 here about matching one mattress to another and mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here about making comfort choices.).

This depends on the child themselves (and what they find “comfy”) but there are some general guidelines in post #2 here.

[quote]I was looking at Dreamfoam’s budget mattress. I emailed them to get more information on what exactly is in the comfort layers and to learn whether it can be customized, but I still haven’t heard anything back. I want something that is suitable to their changing needs, but also durable. My budget is much more limited when it comes to the twins, I don’t want to do much more than 200-250 apiece.

Can you make some suggestions?[/quote]

You are looking in a good quality/value direction for a limited budget range but I don’t make specific suggestions about “what” to buy because this would be based on my own preferences and circumstances which could be very different from someone else. My goal is always to help the members here with “how” to choose and to identify what’s most important to them.

Your budget if very limited for a twin mattress so you would be limited to lower cost/quality and probably less durable materials but a local foam shop that can sell you a 4" - 6" layer of good quality polyfoam and cover it with a reasonable quality material (such as cotton) or a futon would be lower budget options that may be worth considering besides what you are looking at.

I would also suggest a phone call when you are dealing with online manufacturers because you will generally get much more detailed and useful information much more quickly than using email.

Memory foam is one of the most popular choices in the mainstream market but it’s also the most heavily advertised material and in many cases consumers don’t research different materials or even know they exist so they can make more informed choices between them. They often buy a mattress on a “me too” basis and choose based on marketing instead of meaningful information. Once consumers realize that they have a wider choice of materials than they may realize and that the choice is a personal preference and not “better worse” and that no matter what material they prefer there are higher and lower quality versions … they are in a much better position to make meaningful comparisons. I would personally tend towards more resilient, faster recovery, and firmer materials with children because they are more “motion assisting” than “motion restricting” and the ability to easily change positions is an important part of healthy sleeping. I believe memory foam or other slow response materials are better used as an option when they are old enough to make their own informed choices and more fully understand the differences between them. Like food choices … they often won’t make the best choices until they have a more mature and informed outlook.

A suitable pillow is an essential part of good alignment for the head and neck and upper body because the gaps between the head and the mattress and the curve of the cervical spine needs to be supported just like all other parts of the spine. Like mattresses … there are certain “needs” that depend on body type and sleeping positions but with pillows, personal preferences play a more important role because the face is much more sensitive to textures, temperature, smells, and other more subjective “feel” based properties of a pillow. There is more about pillows in the pillow thread here. The only position that often doesn’t need a pillow (or a very thin pillow) is stomach sleepers where a pillow can lift up the head too much and put the cervical spine out of alignment.


Thanks Phoenix for clearing things up for me, and pointing me in the direction of local retailers.

As I look back on my question about children’s bed, I see that I didn’t express myself very clearly. I was hoping to find out whether a certain compilation of materials is more suitable to a child’s growing body. Is an innerspring mattress preferable to a high density foam core? Memory foam isn’t really a good idea, but is Latex all right? Are natural fibers a better choice in the comfort layers, even though they won’t have the same kind of longevity as, say, latex?

Looking more carefully, I know I will probably have to bump up my twin mattress budget. For all its affordability in the long run, it is still a big hit all at once in the present.

Thanks for clearing up the memory foam/latex thing.


Hi Toddandleah,

As long as the sleeping surface is relatively firm and has some flexibility to it then it can be suitable and the choice of materials would be more about personal preference and durability than it would about one being “better” than another. The spines of children are still growing and their spines are more flexible and subject to alignment issues so good alignment is always important with children’s mattresses. The relative “safety” of materials or the choice between natural or synthetic materials also plays a role in many parent’s decisions but the answer to the question of “how safe is safe enough for me?” is a complex question that only each parent can answer on an individual level. (Post #2 here has more links to many good sources of information about this) even though there may be no definitive answers.

Natural fibers (and semi synthetic fibers such as viscose types of materials) are great at maintaining the sleeping microclimate in terms of humidity control and temperature regulation because they are very good at wicking moisture and ventilation but they are also more costly so there is always a tradeoff between natural materials or better performing and more durable materials and cost.

The children’s threads I linked earlier go into this more and include some good sources for children’s mattresses as well but for those who are more concerned with more natural or “safer” materials then innersprings, latex, and natural fibers can all make good choices yes. If you do choose to use polyfoam because of the lower cost (and of course in some cases this is necessary) then I would make sure it is CertiPur certified for harmful substances and VOC’s. Natural fibers are also very durable and in most cases are more durable than synthetic fibers (although all fibers will compress and compact down over time).


Thanks for the thorough reply! I will keep studying,