Putting the layers together - overview

Hi needsleep,

What you are describing is part of the “feel” of latex. Some people call it "bouncy, some people call it “springy”, some people call it “jiggly” and sometimes it seems there are as many different descriptions as there are people. The same is true for memory foam, innersprings and almost every material. This is why the first “step” in finding a mattress is to determine the initial and general feeling of different materials and layerings. These different “feels” are the reason why some people love a materials and some people don’t. How a mattress “interacts” with different people or couples and the amazingly wide variety of different perceptions between different people to describe the same thing is also an important part of choosing a “perfect” mattress. I am always amazed how different people or couples who test the same mattress will describe it in so many different (and in many cases opposing) ways. Some will call it “too firm”, some “too soft”, some “perfect”, some “too jiggly” some “too dead” and many other descriptions and yet they are all talking about the same mattress and in many cases the same “feel”. This is why personal testing is so important.

There is also a difference in feel between different types of latex such as Talalay and Dunlop and even different “feels” between different combinations of materials or layering patterns. All of this can create strong feelings in people about which one is “best” when in reality it is simply a matter of preference.

There are certainly people who don’t like the feel of latex in any of the combinations they have tried and I think that the most common reasons for this are first of all the feel itself (don’t forget it is a rubber foam with the overall characteristics of rubber) and secondly that it is often firmer than they are used to (most manufacturers use very soft polyfoam on the very top of their mattresses just because people are used to and often like the feel of ultra soft foam on the very top of their mattress … at least in the showroom).

I’m guessing that the mattress you are referring to at the Natural Sleep Store in Denver was the GreenSleep and it makes a very good example of exactly what we are talking about. It uses Dunlop latex (a denser and firmer form of latex which is not as lively) and has a very thick wool tick. It is a very high quality latex mattress but is significantly overpriced IMO compared to other mattresses that use similar materials. It also has an adjustable dowel system underneath it which can also change the feel of the mattress (similar to other adjustable slat foundations that are used under a thinner mattress). For some people … Dunlop latex is just too firm even in its softest versions as a comfort layer and they may choose softer Talalay or something else. They may even come to believe that “latex is too firm” rather than “latex is too jiggly”. Having said that … if it is the “perfect” mattress for someone in terms of pressure relief, alignment, and feel, then it would certainly be a good investment in better sleep although I personally would tend towards a lower cost option which used the same or similar layering and materials for half the price even if the “feel” wasn’t exactly the same (it would be “similar”).

In addition to this … there is a huge range of different feels that can be created by varying the ILD’s of the layering in a mattress and through various combinations of ticking, quilting, and construction methods such as tufting (as you mentioned) This last “piece” in particular has been the topic of many discussions on the forum and is the subject of several pages on the site as well. Just to further confuse the issue … many manufacturers will call a mattress a “latex” mattress when in fact it often has only a very thin layer of latex in it and what people are feeling is another material completely. This is the reason that knowing what is in your mattress is so important. If any of the 8 stores you visited for example were chain stores or the mattresses you tried were national brands … then it is unlikely that what you were lying on was really “all latex” no matter what you were told. Many places will use the “value recognition” of the word “latex” to mislead people into thinking that what they are lying on is latex when it is “partly latex” at best. Words like “organic” and “100% natural” are often also signs that the prices for a mattress are higher than mattresses that use the same materials but don’t focus so much on the “natural” or “organic” part of the market as they do the “comfort” part of the market. It is well known that those who are looking for more “natural” or “green” or “organic” sleeping options will pay more for a mattress at a store that specializes in “natural” even if what they are buying uses exactly the same materials as another mattress being sold by an outlet or manufacturer who is focused more on other aspects of a mattress and the “natural” part is secondary.

For those who just don’t like the feel of latex by itself but still want some of its other benefits … then a latex comfort layer over an innerspring or a combination of latex with memory foam in the comfort layer is often the “answer” they are looking for. This last one for example is one of my personal “alternative” favorites in terms of feel but even here there can be a wide variety of different “feels” and what one person likes can often be the worst possible choice for another.

There are quite a few pages on the site itself about memory foam (which is actually the least supportive foam of all but very pressure relieving) including this one. If you search the main site for memory foam you will find 34 pages which mention it … some of them in quite some detail. If you do a search on the forum for memory foam there are 533 results. A forum search for Tempurpedic will bring up 131 results. Some of the memory foam and Tempurpedic theads have some very detailed and even technical information in them including many examples of my thoughts on Tempurpedic and its “value” in general. Some examples among many others are here and here and here. There is also a lot of memory foam information inside the longest thread in the forum which is the iComfort thread here.

In terms of memory foam offgassing … there is a huge amount of information about this … much of which is conflicting. Part of this is because there is such a wide variety of different types of memory foam and different chemicals and variations in the methods used to make it. My own personal experience is here. A forum search for “offgassing” will bring up 13 hits. Some of the “offgassing” symptoms that have been reported and discussed on many places around the web are here and here. These issues are part of the reason why I normally recommend only using memory foam which has been tested and certified by a reputable agency and are part of the reasons for the “guidelines” I normally recommend (such as in post #2 here) when people are considering including memory foam in their mattress.

Hopefully I have dealt with some of the rather “complex” issues and questions you have raised and rather than start a new thread on “memory foam” when there are already so many … I’d certainly be happy to answer any more specific questions you may have or “point you” to any other information that may be important to you.