Pressure relief for body pain

Hi Phoenix,

After your reply regarding the ILD comparison, we thought we had made up our mind on which natual latex mattress to buy. But there is one thing we forgot to consider about the aches and pains that we have. We were to buy a 100% natural talalay mattress with ILD# 33 - 6" core and a ILD#22 - 2" comfort layer with wool padding and bamboo/cotton cover. I’m about 120lb with upper hemstring muscle pain - a back sleeper most of the time and my husband has lower back pain and he’s around 180lb and a side sleeper. Shall we consider ordering the split core mattress to suit our needs? We both felt comfortable when trying a mattress with ILD#32 - 6" core and ILD#18 - 1" comfort layer, with wool padding and bamboo cover. I read about mattresses with different zones, do you think that will help? (Is there such thing for natural talalay mattresses?) Also, do more people prefer Latex Internal’s products as opposed to Radium for natural talalay mattress? Thank you for your advise!

Hi roadrunner,

From your previous post it seemed that a similar mattress with a 1" comfort layer using 18 ILD worked fairly well for both of you (and I’m making the assumption that this was carefully tested for both pressure relief and alignment). This would indicate that 2" of 22 ILD would be a little softer and slightly more pressure relieving (the latex is a slight bit firmer but it is also thicker which would allow a little more sinking in). The difference in alignment would probably also be small (There would be a little more sinking with your heavier parts but it would probably still be evenly). Which was better would depend on the underlying cause of the pain (pressure relief or alignment) and what you were trying to achieve (better pressure relief or better alignment compared to what you tested).

You are lighter and a back sleeper which generally indicates a thinner comfort layer than a side sleeper (@ 2" vs @ 3" would be “typical” for lighter weights) and your weight indicates that you would do better with a slightly softer support layer so the medium would seem appropriate. He is heavier but a side sleeper which would generally mean either a slightly thicker comfort layer (@ 3-4") or a slightly softer support layer (to “help” the comfort layer with pressure relief a bit more) so in this case the medium would also seem appropriate (as opposed to firm). Of course your own specific testing along with the recommendations of the manufacturer of the specific mattress you are considering would be the “best” recommendation but based on your testing and “specs” it seems to me that you are in a reasonable range.

The advantage of a split core (even though they are the same) would be that if your actual experience was different from your expectations and one of you wanted to adjust the firmness level that you could do so by only exchanging half of the core layer if this was part of the options offered by the manufacturer. In a two layer mattress which has a single comfort layer over adjustable support cores … the normal way to make adjustments would be by changing the 6" core layer to either softer or firmer which would affect the combination of pressure relief and support.

The advantage of a zoned mattress would be that it would normally be slightly firmer in the middle area which can help alignment in some cases, especially if the comfort layer was on the thick side for your particular weight and sleeping position to compensate for sinking in too far, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Because of the “specs” of latex and it’s ability to adjust to multiple weights and sleeping positions it would be less necessary than if you were using other materials or a thicker comfort layer unless there was a particular or specific reason that you were looking in that direction (based on a clear difference in your testing between zoned and unzoned similar layering). Bear in mind too that zoning may involve a different type of latex (Dunlop vs Talalay) and there would be a difference here as well.

I would also bear in mind that ILD is not exact in either Talalay or Dunlop although the range of ILD’s across the entire sleeping surface is generally smaller with Talalay than with Dunlop. Most people would have a hard time detecting a difference of 3-4 ILD. Generally the zoning in a zoned latex core (and they are usually but not always Dunlop latex) is a small differential so it would be more a matter of “fine tuning” rather than a necessity in many cases and the difference in materials may make more difference than the zoning itself. This doesn’t mean one is better than another … only different (with Dunlop being firmer and having a greater sag factor meaning you won’t sink into it quite as far with similar ILD’s). This would be one of the tradeoffs that are part of each person’s value equation and I would base a decision on the results of your testing along with the recommendations and thoughts of the mattress manufacturer(s) you are considering.

I don’t think most people could tell the difference if the layer thickness, type, and ILD was the same. Some manufacturers do prefer one over the other for various reasons but I tend to treat them as equals and let the manufacturers decide which best suits their circumstances. They are both high quality sources of Talalay latex.


Thank you for such a quick reply. I really appreciate your help!

Hi Phoenix,
After I read your post RE: Cheapest source of Latex International Natural Talalay dated Mar 23, 2012 21:10,
I called SleepEZ to find out about their LI products and talked to Shaun. I was told I can order their All Natural Organic Line for all natural talalay (all layers) from LI for the same price. Their configuration is a little different than the ones I was considering before.

  1. Instead of 2" ILD 22 comfort layer over 6" med ILD 33 core layer, their 9000 series has 1.5" comfort layer and two 3" middle and bottom layer ILD range from 20,30,40,44 soft to extra firm. Shaun also said that I can order one 6" layer instead of two 3" layer for the middle and bottom. Will the 1.5" ILD 20 comfort layer over ILD 30 feel much different?

  2. I’m also considering their 10000 series with three layers of 3" each. I’m seeking your advise again on how do I construct the three layers. If I order middle and bottom layer with the same firmness, does it matter if it’s 2 pieces instead of one. I’m a back sleeper and my husband is a side sleeper as stated above. Thanks a million.

Hi Roadrunner,

To my knowledge, the SleepEz 9000 has a 2" layer of latex over the two 3" layers. It used to be a 1.5" comfort layer when it was called the 8500 model so it would now be the same layer thickness as what you were considering before. Because the latex ILD’s are only approximate and most people wouldn’t feel a difference of 3-4 ILD … the feel would be very similar to the 2" of 22 ILD over 6" of 33 ILD you were considering in your previous posts if the layering was the same (if the two 3" cores were medium over medium ILD and not progressively firmer as in medium over firm). If the layer on top was slightly thinner … then you would feel the firmness of the lower layers a little more.

My “best” advice would be to go with the recommendations of the manufacturer of the mattress because they have the most specific knowledge and experience of the mattresses they manufacture and the feedback of thousands of customers with different needs and preferences to specific layering patterns. Typically though … an average recommendation would be to go with soft/medium/firm as that is the layering that is most commonly “in the range” for most people that are not particularly heavy and it also gives you the most flexibility to re-arrange layers for any fine tuning that may be needed.

The advantage of having 3 layers that are progressively firmer is that you have more options to rearrange the layers and exchange layers to get to the “best” layering for your circumstances. A 3" layer of medium over firm will also have firmer support than a single 6" layer of medium or can help with pressure relief more than a single 6" layer of firm. For example … you could switch the positions of the medium and firm layers on the bottom to create a slightly firmer support underneath the soft comfort layer. You could also exchange the soft with the medium layer if you wanted a firmer sleeping surface. With this kind of flexibility and the ability to also exchange layers rather than just re-arrange them (replace one firmness level with another firmness level)… you have more options in terms of a final layering arrangement that works best for you than you would with a single 6" layer.

Sometimes though a single 6" layer which is a consistent ILD can be the best arrangement for someone (and of course two 3" layers of the same ILD would be similar to a single 6" layer). Sometimes the “danger” of this kind of flexibility is that it can be easy to become over analytical and over sensitive to anything you feel on a mattress on a day by day basis (regardless of it’s cause) and end up “reacting” by making too many changes too quickly without ever giving yourself time to adjust to any single layering. Sometimes simplicity and fewer choices also has its benefits :slight_smile:

One other comment I would make is that based on your testing … the 2" layer would be closer to what you liked (and would put you closer to the support layers for slightly increased support of the heavier parts of your body) and the reason you are considering a thicker comfort layer would be an important part of your “best” choice. I would personally stick as close as possible to what your “lay on mattress” testing indicated worked best for you unless there was a specific reason you are thinking of changing it to something else. For example if the 2" layer was “not quite enough” in terms of pressure relief then going a little thicker would make more sense but more pressure relief also slightly decreases support (pressure relief and support are opposites). Having 2" of soft over 3" of medium (about the same as the 33 ILD) and then 3" of firm under that would give you slightly more support with a similar degree of pressure relief.

Hope this helps


Hi Phoenix,
Thank you for the in-depth analysis, that really helps. I think 3" comfort layer would be too soft for us since we have been sleeping on a firm inner spring mattress (with a 2" memory foam topper) for years. Part of the reason we were considering the 3" top layer is because we thought the 9000 series only has 1.5" top layer (from their description on the website, they still have the 8500 series).
Regarding the wood foundation, I looked at several different manufactures such as Veriflex, CPS wood and K D mattress foundations. But I can’t find the reviews of these products. CPS wood foundations for cal king actual size is 71.5"x83"x8". Does it matter that the foundation is a little bit shorter than the mattress?
Some of the mattress factories also have their own foundation at much higher price. Do you have any sugguetions for moderately priced slatted wood foundation?
Thank you very much!

Hi Roadrunner,

The SleepEz site has been updated to show the specs of their 2 9000 models here (natural) and here (organic). There are still some pages that show the 8500 title but the descriptions here also show 2". They are working on updating their website and bringing everything up to date but I know from personal experience that this can be an ongoing project :slight_smile:

The KD (knock down) types of foundations appear to be quite variable in their quality and there have been many reviews that indicate some of them use “inferior” wood from time to time (it seems to be variable) and sometimes the spacing is further apart than they should be (over 4" instead of a maximum of 3" apart). In cases like this it isn’t that difficult to add some slats to the foundation but they don’t all seem to be consistent in their quality.

Some of the better or more reasonable foundation options are listed in post #60 here (which also includes other posts with more options if you follow the links).

Foundations are often a little less than the dimensions of mattresses so that they can fit into the frames that support them so this is “normal”.

Local outlets will sometimes also have some foundations with good value but it’s important to make sure that the slats are close enough together and not just buy “any” foundation that they say is good (for latex they shouldn’t be more than 3" apart and less is better because latex is very flexible and will more easily sink into wider gaps).


Hi Phoenix,
Thank you for the reply. I was looking at their website :

about the description for their 9000 organic latex mattress but did not notice that was for the 8500 series. Can you please tell me how can I find your post #60? I’m interested to read it. Thanks again.

Hi Roadrunner,

Oops … I forgot to add the link … corrected now :slight_smile:

The page you listed is one of their old pages which has the old 8500 description even though it’s listed as the 9000. Their links on the front page go to the new descriptions. I also fixed your link in case you were wondering why your post was edited (it didn’t go anywhere and got an error).


Hi Phoenix,

Thank you for the quick reply and the correction. I’ll read the post. Thanks!