Sealy Embody Introspection

Hi Phoenix!

I have been reading some of your older posts on another mattress forum and am very interested in your thoughts/feedback for our situation.


  • I am 5’7" ~160lbs stomach/side/back sleeper and my husband is 6’1" ~220lbs side/back sleeper. We are not obese, but we are certainly not small people. In our early 30’s.
  • We had a Westin Heavenly bed for about 18+ months. It was great for about 12 or so months. Then, it started sagging and causing me a good deal of back pain. Nordstrom replaced it and the second one did the same exact thing, but quicker the second time. I have never had back pain sleeping prior to this.
  • Then we tried the 8" latex bed on wood foundation from SleepEZ. I had such high hopes!! But, we just could never get the combination correct on the layers. First it was WAY to hard. Then sort of too soft. I also sort of struggled with the amount of push back, which seemed to cause muscle fatigue in my back- the only way to really describe it. So, after 60 days, we finally returned it. No small project as you know. In hindsight, I wonder if 8" was just not enough on a solid wood foundation and didn’t give enough pressure relief?
  • Now we are temprarily sleeping on a very cheap ($300) king very firm 8" flippable mattress by Night Therapy from Sam’s club. It’s ok, but not really a long term solution. My back hurts less, but still not great. But, it’s SO firm, that it’s hard for me to get comfortable to fall asleep.
  • I LOVE sleeping on my stomach and snuggling in to fall asleep. But, I can sleep happily on my back if I am comfortable enough. And I can also sleep on my side a good deal of the time. My husband is easy- he lays down on his back, and promptly falls asleep anywhere.


  • I have always liked the feel of the firmer tempurpedic models. Particularly the Deluxe! But, my husband was not on board- b/c of the “sleeping hot” and the slow recovery time.

  • I thought I was finally going to talk him into the Deluxe only to find out they have been discontinued and you really cannot buy them in a king anymore. And the “Contour Select” replacement model feels much softer to me and I dont love it. I like the Advantage ok, but my husband isn’t crazy about it.

  • THEN the sales guy introduced us to the Sealy Embody Introspection. He told us that while he isn’t one of them, many people do prefer the feel of the Embody. Sure enough, we both liked it quite a bit.

  • The Sealy Embody Introspection:
    - Supposedly it sleeps cooler
    - Supposedly it is of high quality similar to Tempurpedic rather than cheap knock off
    - It definitely has a faster recovery time than Termpurpedic
    - This is their firmest model which we prefer, but with just enough contouring it seemed
    - 1/2" 2.5 lb. Ventilated Memory Foam
    - 2.5" 5.0 lb. Memory Foam
    - Correct Back Support System
    - Support System: 7’’ High Density Laminated Poly Core (salesman told me the core they carry is soy based?)
    - Mattress Firm here in Dallas has it now for $2099 with one year full refund (no exachange/no restocking fee)

Phoenix (and others)-- I am wondering your thoughts on the Sealy Embody Introspection. I’m very interested in giving this one a try! But-- I do want a mattress that is not going to sag and leave body impressions in less than a few years!


Hello SleeplessinDallas,

Your post really has 2 separate “parts” so I will reply in 2 posts to keep them separate. The first of these is the idea of “pushback” itself and what it really is which I will “explore” in this post. The second is about the specific mattresses you are commenting on or asking about which I will reply to in the next reply.

So first of all … about pushback …

What some people describe as pushback is really about some combination of resilience, resistance, shear forces, and pressure distribution along the body.

If for example I carved out a piece of wood that was a perfect replica of your body profile in perfect alignment while you were sleeping on your side, it would spread out the weight of your body and could provide great pressure relief. There would be more of your weight on your hips than on your lumbar but you would not feel this pressure as your hips are “designed” to hold more pressure than your lumbar area.

If I now carved out a thin (say 1/4") slice under your hips … they would sink in more deeply which would in turn shift some of the pressure from your hips to your lumbar as your hips would “pull” your lumbar area down onto the wood. This would decrease the pressure on your hips but increase it on your lumbar (waist) area. If this increased the lumbar pressure to a point where it was uncomfortable for you (greater than your comfort threshold) … it would not be because the wood was “pushing back” but because the wood was “resisting” the change in position and the hips were sinking in too far for your comfort and transferring more pressure to your waist area.

In the same way if you shifted position on to your back … the “perfect” shape while you were on your side would now be “not so good” as the lumbar area (small of your back) is not as recessed on your back as the lumbar area (waist) is on your side so your lumbar would be bearing more weight on your back than on your side. This too would not be “pushback” but because the wood could not adapt to a new position. Your hips would be sinking in too far “relative” to your lumbar in that position and there would be too much “pressure” or “support” under the recessed part of your lumbar spine.

Of course a “wood” mattress is not practical since it would only relieve pressure and keep you in alignment if you were perfectly still in the “perfect” position all night since it does not adjust to changes in a sleeping profile. Even the smallest movement would put pressure on parts of your body unlike a material that can “adjust” to changes.

In the same way, if you were to lay on your side or back “across” a large pipe that was under your waist/lumbar and that had no “support” under your hips or shoulders … them most of your body weight would be supported on your lumbar/waist because your shoulders and hips were not being “held up” and this would be very uncomfortable not because the pipe was “pushing back” but because your hips and/or shoulders were sinking down too far and were not bearing enough weight.

“Pushback” is also a term that some people use to describe the “resilience” or “springiness” of a material … and latex in general is the most resilient of all the foam materials (although springs are more resilient than latex and some types of latex are more resilient than others). Resilience is related to the ability of a material to store and return energy and is measured by the percentage of the rebound when a steel ball is dropped on a material rather than its opposite which is hysteresis which is the ability of a material to absorb energy. Lower resilience and higher hysteresis produces less bounce. A more resilient sleeping surface can also result in higher shear forces (forces that “act” in opposite directions) which some people are sensitive to.

Resilience is something that you can only feel with movement because when your body is at rest on a mattress the compression forces of your body pushing down are balanced by the increasing resistive forces of the mattress (regardless of the resilience of the materials in the mattress) and there is no longer any “direction” to the forces which are in equilibrium.

So in essence … when people describe a feeling of “too much pushback” that they connect to a certain material, can be because of it’s resilience or because their hips or other body parts are sinking in too far and the area of the body where they are feeling too much pressure is holding up too much weight.

The “fix” for the “feeling” that the mattress has too much resilience or shear forces on the sleeping surface can be to use a less resilient or more “relaxed” material with less shear forces as a quilting layer, as the top layer, or as a topper on the mattress (see post #18 here)

The “fix” for issues that are connected to feeling too much pressure in certain parts of the body could be to have a firmer material under the hips (occasionally the shoulders) so they don’t sink in so far and shift the pressure away from parts of the body that are not as comfortable with bearing weight. All materials can lead to this feeling in certain constructions but it is often believed that it is a “function” of latex (which has a higher progressive resistance and higher resilience than other foam materials) rather than a function of a construction or layering that is not suitable for a particular individual.

This feeling of “too much pushback” can be particularly aggravated when people are used to sleeping in multiple positions and have a mattress which accommodates (distributes pressure) in some of their sleeping positions but not others. This can often be “fixed” through changes in thickness or ILD of the comfort layer, by adding a softer topper, or through an increase in firmness under the hips in the support layers. I have seen many people try to “fix” the wrong thing or problem (this is very common in the forum you were referring to) and change the “hardness” or “softness” of the wrong layer which can often aggravate the problem rather than fix it. This in turn leads to the belief that certain materials are “not for me” rather than “certain types of layering” or construction are not for me.

The Westin bed for example would have a thicker very soft foam on top and a much firmer innerspring underneath it. This indicates that the “fix” for a correct latex layering would be to use a much softer layer of latex on top and a firmer layer underneath it. Adjustments in layer thickness can also play a big role in this. This would lead to less pressure on the lumbar/waist area in the “problem” sleeping positions (what people generally call “pushback”).

The Night Therapy would likely have the “opposite” problem … it has a very firm innerspring (12 gauge) with only 1" comfort layer which means that there would likely be too much pressure on your hips (which is the feeling you get that it is “too firm” and uncomfortable) even though it doesn’t have too much pressure in the lumbar area.

The “secret” to mattress construction is to balance weight distribution with spinal alignment using different ILD’s and thickness of layers so that the construction “fits” the unique body profile and pressure tolerances of each individual. Each type of material has different reactive qualities or what is called “progressive resistance” which also need to be taken into account in layering thickness or softness. This is often difficult in people with multiple sleeping positions but certainly in my experience there is almost always a “solution” if the correct “problem” is addressed.

Hope this helps a bit with the understanding of what “pushback” really is and I’ll address the rest of your questions and comments in the next post :slight_smile:


Hi again sleepless,

On to your questions about the Sealy Introspection.

First of all … this mattress has a total of 3" of memory foam (1/2" less dense and 2.5" of 5 lb density) over a much firmer support core. While memory foam certainly feels different from polyfoam … this mattress is closer overall to the Westin Heavenly bed that you liked (until it softened) in its general construction. Since all memory foam qualifies as “very soft” and has a very low ILD (usually 15 or less) it is not surprising that you liked the feel of this mattress.

The tempurpedic deluxe also has 4" of denser memory foam over a firm support core so this too would be “in the range” of mattresses that were comfortable for you although I believe that this would be too thick over the long term for someone who was primarily a stomach sleeper.

In general terms … those who sleep on their stomach need the thinnest possible comfort layer that is comfortable for them. This is because stomach sleeping is a much flatter profile and the hips tend to sink into the mattress much more than the lighter parts which leads to sleeping in a swayback position which can cause back issues. If the foam on top of a mattress is very soft (like very low ILD latex or polyfoam or memory foam) and allows the lighter parts of your body to sink more deeply into the comfort layer and into the support layer under it … this is less of a issue since the hips are still in relative alignment with the lighter parts (your whole body would be more “in the mattress” and still relatively aligned in a deeper cradle). It’s only when the comfort layer is firm enough to “hold up” the lighter parts while the hips are going through the comfort layer and into the support layers below where misalignment becomes a bigger issue. Back sleeping needs more thickness than stomach sleeping while side sleeping needs the thickest comfort layer of all.

My sense is that 3" of a good quality memory foam comfort layer would be the absolute maximum thickness that could work for you and that any thicker would almost certainly cause misalignment while sleeping on your stomach. Slightly less (say 2") would perhaps be even better if this didn’t cause pressure problems when you were sleeping on your side. This should be on top of a relatively firm support layer to prevent the hips from sinking in too far in any position. This thinner and softer comfort layer would not likely lead to a feeling of pressure in the lumbar area that was uncomfortable no matter what material was used … as long as it was a very low ILD.

What this means is that the Introspection could work for you. The memory foam is a little more open celled and breathable and the ticking (cover material) also encourages cooling evaporation so heat would likely be less of an issue than some other memory foam mattresses.

My only “concern” would be that memory foam can tend to slowly allow your heavier parts to sink in deeper over the course of the night as it warms up over time which means that if you were in alignment when you went to sleep you may “shift” into an out of alignment position over the night and end up with a sore back … especially if you stayed on your stomach (or perhaps your back) with a 3" memory foam layer. Memory foam also tends to become softer over time faster than other materials however this could work slightly to your advantage let the lighter parts sink in more while your hips would still be “held up” by the firm support layer underneath.

So overall, given your preferences and history, the Introspection could work well although it would be a thicker layer of memory foam than I would normally recommend for someone who was primarily a stomach sleeper (and secondarily a back sleeper) and I would “keep an eye out” for back issues that came from sleeping in a swayback position for too long over the course of an average night.

I hope I’ve answered most of your questions but if not feel free to ask for any clarifications you may need.



Wow! First let me say thank you so much for taking the time to provide such a thorough response, I truly appreciate it!! This must be the most helpful and most thoughtful explanation I’ve ever received. I was actually pretty close to purchasing the Embody this evening, but there is no immediate rush and I really wanted to hear your input first. Glad I waiting, very helpful.

You are exactly correct on your points re: history and pushback, the Night Therapy, etc. I think maybe our top 2" layer of latex just wasn’t soft enough. But then 3" of soft was too much too close. So I moved 3" soft to the middle, 3" firm on bottom, and 2" medium on top. Which intially felt good, but then wasn’t enough support, thus sinking in some places causing pushback in other places. And while the Night Therapy is not so awful, it’s hardly luxurious :wink:

So here we are contemplating memory foam. At least at the store, we do like the Embody Introspective quite a bit. My major concern with this one is just that it’s a pretty new line with not much history on durability, premature sagging, etc… As you know for a stomach sleeper, even a relatively small sag/impression creates a big hammocking effect and cause great middle back pain. So, I’m nervous that it’ll be ok for a year (1 year full refund policy), but then might lose it’s shape in year two or three and then I’m stuck. There’s just no way to truly know since there are no real long term reviews on these.

At nearly every store I have been to, all the sales folks rave about Tempurpedic. Even when I am looking at more expensive non-Tempur beds. They swear they have practically a 0% return rate, hardly ever sag, great to deal with warranty, and really do last 15+ years. Too good to be true?? I will admit that the people I know with Tempurpedics do indeed love them. And they do have a longer track record to review. That said, I realize they are not perfect. Just they they have a longer track record. But, most models are also more expensive than the Embody Introspection.

Regarding Tempurpedic- do you have any thoughts on the Rhapsody? The sucker is pricey, but sure does feel nice :wink:

Costco does also offer a few Sleep Science memory foam beds with nearly unlimited return time. But, the Ara 13" has like 6" of visco, and the 10" only uses 3lb foam, which I was under the impression was not particularly durable.

Again, I truly appreciate your time here! This is most helpful!!!

Hi Sleepless,

My thoughts on the embody is that it is likely good quality and durable memory foam (5.0 lbs and up is generally regarded as being good quality) and the lower density memory foam is a thinner layer meant mostly for fine tuning the feel and characteristics of the mattress. The problem I would have with a mattress like this (or any other mattress made by one of the major brands) is that even if it uses the absolute highest quality materials (which they generally don’t) … that they are priced way too high and you will pay far more than a mattress that uses the same or better quality materials made by a local independent manufacturer.

Not all “S” brand mattresses are necessarily “bad” … although the vast majority of them do use foams which will wear out much too quickly. IMO however … even the “good ones” represent poor value when compared to what else is available. They rely on consumers who have no simple way to compare materials between their mattresses and other brands. As long as consumers purchase any mattresses from any manufacturers or outlets which do not provide accurate information about the specific materials and construction inside them which can be used to make meaningful comparisons between different mattresses … these major manufacturers will likely continue to dominate the market through misleading advertising and sales practices.

Tempurpedic is another brand which has taken real advantage of the general confusion about memory foam mattresses. They are certainly very good quality (to their credit) in terms of the materials they use (although even here they are not necessarily the “best”) however because the memory foam “industry” itself is in such a state of confusion and most of the manufacturers do not reveal the details of the memory foam they use; and because there are so many “cheap” and poor quality memory foams being used in mattresses, consumers tend to lean towards one of the few manufacturers which makes their own foam and is a known quality with the thought of “rather safe than sorry”. They then pay for this “safety” by purchasing a mattress which is no better than some other manufacturers who use the same quality and in some cases better memory foam (and in many cases even better quality polyfoam or latex foam under the memory foam) and which can save them humdreds or in some cases thousands of dollars.

The overall confusion about memory foam in general, in combination with massive advertising, has led to Tempurpedic becoming the second largest mattress manufacturer in North America (and likely to soon be the largest over Sealy if they aren’t already). While in a way I can somewhat admire a business strategy that has allowed them to charge at least 50% more than they are worth, this strategy has as much to do with the confused state of the marketplace and consumers themselves than it does with the actual value of their mattresses. Overall it is sad to me that consumers are so willing to pay so much for a mattress only because they have so few ways to make meaningful comparisons. Here again … local independent manufacturers who are transparent about what is in their mattresses are really the only way to break through this cycle which is “self perpetuating”

This popularity is not in any way because their mattresses are better than some others that are selling for a much lower cost … but because of the general confusion and the consumers lack of ability to make meaningful comparisons between mattresses based on accurate information about the materials they use.

There are many “surveys” than show that in general … about 75% of consumers are happy with a new mattress purchase. The main reason for this is that all new mattresses are usually compared to what they had before and almost anything would be an improvement. The consumer satisfaction level of almost all mattresses is based on a lack of ability to make comparisons in any meaningful way and so they are generally “happy” in the first little while after the mattress is purchased (when almost all “reviews” are written). Educated consumers who have learned how to make meaningful comparisons between mattresses are not nearly as “happy” with the major brands and would rarely buy them. Even those who are initially happy do not “connect” some of the “sleeping issues” they may have down the road that is caused by their mattress as they believe it is “just them”. Very few consumers truly realize what a significant difference a truly customized mattress can have on both the quality of their sleep and the quality of their “waking” lives as well. They simply do not connect the “symptoms” of a poor (for them) mattress choice with the mattress itself so they remain “happy” even when the mattress is causing them problems which they don’t realize is coming from their mattress.

By the time these “problems” become obvious and they begin to suspect that their mattress is due for replacement (usually way too late), then once again almost any mattress purchase will be an “improvement” and the cycle repeats itself.

In terms of the Rhapsody … I believe that even with the Tempur HD memory foam (which is a very high quality memory foam) that 4" of memory foam of any kind would be very risky in your circumstances. I understand how “nice” it feels as the tempur HD foam is very dense and very conforming and “soft” because it forms a deep cradle around you however I really do believe that it would likely not be appropriate for someone who spent a lot of time sleeping on their stomach. I in no way believe that any Tempurpedic would truly last for 15 years (although many may use them long past their “due date” when they should be replaced) except in very rare circumstances. They certainly will last longer however than many other cheap or lower density memory foams on the market. In the “world of memory foam” … the Rhapsody is a great mattress. This does not mean however that it has good or even “average” value and it certainly does not mean that it is suitable for any particular consumer.

For what its worth, I also believe that many of the “airflow” systems used by many memory foam mattresses are not nearly as “breathable” than the better open cell memory foams such as Aerus (made by Foamex).

If you do decide to “bite the bullet” and buy a Tempurpedic … I would make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of “trying to like the mattress” during the 90 days refund period or buying into the idea that it takes more than a few weeks to “break in”. While it is true that some memory foams (including Tempurpedics) do soften significantly in the first few weeks of ownership … too many people IMO learn to “adjust” to their new mattress and “overlook” the signals that they have purchased a mattress that is unsuitable for them rather than purchasing a mattress that “adjusts to them”.

I know I sound like a “broken record” sometimes but all my research and experience indicates that independent local and even regional manufacturers are generally the best source for a quality mattress of any type that has real value. It is only the lack of transparency of the major manufacturers and the outlets that sell them and the “designed confusion” that they advertise and promote and that is “built in” to the marketplace that perpetuates their popularity … and the prices that consumers are willing to pay for them.



I just wanted to thank you again for your time and insight here. And I wanted to let you know that we did order the king Sealy Embody Introspection today. The one you and I have been discussing with 3" memory foam. We are very excited and I sure do hope it holds up well!

We were able to get the king brand new set for $2099 less $200 for our current box springs, so $1899. And 0% financing, and one year full refund, no exchanges, no restocking, just 100% full refund return for one year. So, we figured we’d give it a shot and see how we like it and how it holds up for the year.

My husband still much prefers the feel of the Embody to Tempurpedic and other memory foam with slower recovery time. Embody is kind of interesting. We opened one up (the covers unzip) and the memory foam is ventilated- looking more like latex with holes in it. Which, might provide some of it’s faster recovery time? And also supposedly better air flow, which shuold mean cooler sleeping.

I will keep you posted once we get it tomorrow. In the meantime, if you happen to hear negative things about the Embody, please do let me know if you remember. Not much history on these re: long term durability. But per the stats, and your opinion, I was willing to take the plunge and trust that it’ll be good quality!

Thanks again!!!

Oops! Somehow I got logged out. The anonymous post above was from me!

Hi Sleepless,

Part of what gives memory foam its “slow recovery” is because the foam cells are more “closed” than other types of foam so air flows more slowly between them. Some of the newer more breathable foams have a more open cell structure which means that they recover a little faster and also are more breathable and cooler … at least in comparison to other memory foams.

I believe that the holes in the Sealy are a better way to improve breathability than “air channels” under the memory foam that some memory foam mattresses use (including Tempur) which tend to get compressed when you lay on the mattress which somewhat defeats their purpose. The air channels also don’t really solve the lack of breathability of the memory foam above them which is the layer where breathability is most important.

The ticking and quilting materials used can also help as well although a quilted cover over memory foam can reduce the ability of the memory foam to conform to the body shape so my preference with memory foam is a “temperature regulating” material such outlast, coolmax, or polartec, without quilting.

I’m glad that you found a mattress that works for the both of you and I’d love to hear how it works out over the next few weeks. I’m impressed too that you have a full year to return the mattress for a refund … that’s very unusual and great to see :).

Thanks for all your comments and questions


Hi Phoenix,

We just use a Dri-Tec cover. Waterproof, but very thin and soft. Will that work?

One more quick question about mattress support–

We ordered a new bed also with this set. It’s a king leather bed. It has 4 wood cross support beams under the mattress going side to side- each with one leg in the middle. Do you think that’s enough support under this bed? Or should I add some additional under mattress supports with legs?

And I have to say- the Sealy Embody box- the sales woman told me it was wood reinforced on both top and bottom with steel in between. It is not. When it arrived, you can see through the covering- it’s wood reinforced on the bottom, only steel going up from there to the mattress more like a traditional box. Is this enough support?? I know it’s what Sealy made for the Embody, but I’m wondering if we’d be better off with either a wood slat box or like a Tempurpedic box that’s more solid wood? Any thoughts?

Thanks again! Can’t wait to sleep on this thing tonight!

One of the things I like about the Introspection is that they don’t use a quilted ticking as part of the mattress itself. With materials like memory foam (or soft latex), a quilting built into the mattress itself can reduce the ability of the memory foam or latex comfort layer to conform to the body shape and distribute pressure. This quilting can also “compress” over time and as it does it’s effect on the memory foam’s performance can increase. I also like that it uses a “temperature regulating” material (polartech) which is also elastic enough to not interfere with the properties of the memory foam and at the same time helps with the inherent problem of heat retention that is shared by most memory foam comfort layers. Many memory foam mattresses use a stretchy non quilted material in the ticking for this reason.

A protective cover or mattress pad is also important of course and if the mattress itself does not have a quilted ticking … then this cover can be used to fine tune the feel and properties of the mattress.

For example … there are mattress pads that are made of a waterproof/breathable membrane bonded to a fabric (like cotton) and which also contains wool. The wool can add to the breathability of the mattress (allows for airflow close to the body) however this also can reduce the ability of the comfort layer to conform to the shape of the body, particularly as the wool compresses over time.

Since wool is water resistant (but not waterproof) some people may choose a wool mattress pad without the membrane and give up some of the protection against liquids and some of the ability of the comfort layer to conform to the body shape for the sake of the improved breathability of wool (since the membrane is not quite as “breathable” as many fabrics or as wool itself) as wool can improve air circulation and temperature regulation close to the body. This is a common choice for people who find that memory foam is “too hot” and are willing to give up some of its pressure relieving qualities for the sake of better breathability.

Still others (like yourself) will choose a mattress protector which has a waterproof/breathable membrane bonded to a stretchy fabric which allows for the best combination of liquid protection and memory foam performance but may not be quite as breathable as sleeping on wool.

The choices here are always a compromise and a way of fine tuning a mattress’ performance. Because memory foam is “activated” to some degree by heat … a thinner mattress pad or protector such as the one you chose is often preferred by people who like memory foam as it “interferes” with memory foam performance to a lesser degree than other choices and still protects the mattress from accidental spills or moisture which is important. If breathability and/or temperature regulation becomes an issue down the road, it is always possible to add a more breathable layer (such as wool) at any time.

Regardless of the best “compromise” for each individual … it is certainly more flexible to be able to make these choices as an “add on” and as a form of fine tuning through a mattress protector or pad rather than having them “built in” to the mattress ticking or quilting itself. For most people who choose memory foam and don’t have a problem with sleeping hot … the choice you made would be a good one. It also of course has the advantage of encasing the whole mattress which can be important to those who are concerned with dust mites and bedbugs “taking up residence”.

So both the ticking/quilting materials of the mattress itself and the protective cover/pad that is chosen to go on top of (or around) the mattress can be an important part of fine tuning and accommodating different preferences.


PS: I’ll reply to your last post in a separate reply :slight_smile:

In general terms … there are 3 parts to a sleeping system. One is the mattress itself, one is the boxspring/foundation, and the last is the bed, bed frame, or surface which the mattress and boxspring/foundation sits on.

Most mattresses (not counting air bladders or waterbeds) use either an innerspring or foam as a support core. Most innerspring mattresses are designed for use with a box spring which has a stiffer version of coils and which is part of the mattress support system itself. In other words … the boxspring is an “active” part of the mattress’ design. There are exceptions to this which the mattress manufacturer will explain as appropriate but in general this is the “norm”.

Mattresses which have a foam core are usually designed for use on a more firm and passive or “unyielding” foundation. The most common of these are various versions of slatted foundations. The individual cross slats should be about 1.5 to 2" apart (less is better) to prevent the foam from going through the slats and to ensure both proper mattress support and to prevent damage to the mattress. Variations of a rigid slatted foundation include adjustable slatted foundations of various kinds that can adjust in position (adjustable bases) and/or in terms of varying the resistance of certain sections of the base to help fine tune the support profile of the mattress. Some people use a sheet of plywood instead of closely spaced slats which provides a good unyielding base for the mattress but does not allow any airflow under the mattress and could reduce the breathability of the overall sleeping system. This could lead to moisture retention and mold or mildew depending on the sleep environment. For the same reason, placing a foam mattress directly on a floor is also not a great idea except for short periods of time. Foundations usually come in different heights (low or regular profile for example) to accommodate different preferences for the height of the whole sleeping system.

Finally a metal bed frame or the bed itself is usually designed to hold the foundation or the box spring. It generally has two side supports or rails that support the foundation or box spring and legs to raise it above the floor. With wider sleeping systems (such as queen size or king size) these bed frames need a head to foot center rail with leg supports under it that rest on the floor to prevent the foundation or box spring from sagging in the middle which in turn would lead to the mattress sagging. They could also have several cross supports each with a leg in the middle (like yours).They do not need the same closely spaced slats as a foundation since the foundation or innerspring is quite strong and rigid enough to rest on 2 or 3 rails (or several cross supports) and will not “go through” its support like a foam mattress.

Of course some of these components are often combined into one. Many foundations or box springs have screw in legs which can eliminate the need for a separate frame … as long as the legs provide adequate support and are placed in the appropriate positions (including middle legs) for the width of the box spring or foundation. Many beds as well can accommodate slats that are placed side to side in the bed itself with whatever spacing is needed which means a slatted foundation would not be needed to support the mattress as long as the slats in the bed are supported with a center rail or have enough center legs to support the middle of a wider mattress. This is often done when a bed holding a foundation with a mattress on top of it would be too high.

So the bottom line is that your mattress needs to rest on something that has enough cross slats that are closely spaced (which I’m sure the sealy foundation has since it was designed for the embody). This foundation (or in your case two foundations or a “split king” that make up the king size) needs to rest on a bed or frame which has a center rail or cross slats which are adequately supported in the middle which yours has (the 4 cross rails with center legs). If you wished to eliminate the foundation completely for the sake of the overall height of your bed … then the bed itself would need more closely spaced cross slats since it would be supporting the mattress directly rather than supporting a foundation which in turn supports the mattress.

Hope this answered your question.


Good morning,

I thought I’d provide an update on what was an interesting first night in our new bed. A few observations…

  1. Soft- this mattress certainly feels much softer/more plush that the firm as a rock Night Therapy from Sam’s- so that will take some getting used to. I couldnt tell at first if I liked it. Soft sometimes causes me some muscle fatigue almost? But, it was comfortable.

  2. Insomnia- I could NOT fall to sleep last night. Went to bed ~10:30-11pm and was still awake after 3am. But, I was just laying there resting, and I was generally pretty comfortable. I am not the world’s best sleeper anyway, so it could be entirely unrelated. We’ll see how tonight goes. But for whatever reason last night, I just could not fall asleep. My husband of course fell asleep in minutes!

  3. Heat- This bed does sleep much warmer than our previous innerspring beds. I am normally a COLD sleeper- with pants, socks, two blankets, etc. b/c my husband sleeps with the AC cooler and I freeze. Well, last night, I was quickly peeling off layers until I was down to minimal PJs and the sheet! This is almost unheard of for me. I was warm. Ironically, my husband (who always sleeps hot) said he was fine.

  4. No back pain- The good news is that my back doesnt hurt this morning. Even though I wasn’t really sleeping well, I was laying in bed all night, and no sore back today. So, hopefully that will continue.

  5. Smell- The bed does have some of that memory foam fume smell. But, it’s not terrible. I wondered if somehow that was keeping me awake.

  6. Incline sleeping- We normally sleep with the head of our bed inclined 2" or so. But, I have not set that up with the new bed yet, so we were sleeping flat, which we haven’t done in a while. I also wondered if maybe that change was keeping me awake.

I guess time will tell! Will try again tonight and hopefully will actually sleep!!!

Hi again,

Quick update… after the first night with this bed, things are working out much better. :slight_smile: I almost wonder if Monday night’s heat and insomnia may have been unrelated to the mattress, but just not a good night in general.

The past three nights have been quite good! I’ve slept very well, not hot, very comfy, and no sore back. And my husband continues to sleep cool enough and also happy. We’re going to incline the head of the bed 2" today since that’s what we’re accustomed to.

Still cautiously optimistic here- time will tell. But, I’m very happy that it’s been a good sleeping week :slight_smile:

Hi Sleepless,

So far so good :). Thanks for the updates … I certainly do appreciate them and any that are yet to come.


Hi Phoenix,

Another quick update. Three more nights with zero back pain! That of course makes me extremely happy.

A few things we did to the bed on Friday:

  • We elevated the head of the bed 2", which I do like for a number of reasons, but is certainly a personal preference.

  • More importantly, we reinforced the support under the bed. King bed, 4 legs at each corner. There were four wood cross supports (going side to side) each with one leg in the middle. When my husband laid in it, I could see it bow a little bit under the core of his body. So, we added two more legs to each cross support. So now there are four wood cross supports going side to side, each with three legs. So, there is now a total of 12 legs supporting the mattress & box springs, plus the four legs on the bed at each corner.

This did firm up the feel of the bed a little bit, but I prefer that!

So, three mornings in a row since these adjustments, zero back pain! Also, I have been comfortable enough in this mattress that I have been sleeping on my side and back more, and less on my stomach, which is probably better in the long run.

I just hope this mattress holds up well!!! If the 5lb memory foam holds up, is there much risk of the poly core sagging underneath in the near term (like in the next few years)? Honestly, I’d be thrilled to get 5 years out of a mattress these days without sagging!!!

And I certainly appreciate all of your time, help, and insight!!! :slight_smile:

Hi again Sleepless, and thanks for another update.

Polyfoam used in a support core is not nearly as likely to develop impressions as it would be in a comfort layer. This is because the support core poly is (or at least should be) HD quality polyfoam of at least 1.8 density and above and is also firmer than the lower density and softer poly so often used in mattress comfort layers. While it is not as durable or supportive as latex of course in a mattress core … it is certainly not as big an issue when used in the support (deeper) layers as it is in the comfort (upper) layers.

It’s also important to make sure that the mattress is properly supported which as you’ve outlined you have done.

Thanks again


Hi again Phoenix,

Well- so far still so good on the Introspection. I am noticing that it’s softening up just a little, but not bad. No smell, normally doesnt sleep warm, and most importantly, still no back pain!

I have high hopes for this mattress, but remain slighly nervous about the long term durability/body impressions based on previous experiences and reading too many massage boards about bad experiences :wink:

I wondered if you actually much about the Sealy memory foam that came before the Embody?

Was is the same quality- or better/worse? Why did they discontinue them- say the Trueform models, etc? On, they seem to have good reviews. But, there much be some reason why they discontinued the other Sealy memory foam lines and started into the Embody line. Just long term durability wise, wondering if Sealy has a reputation on their other memory foam mattresses - positive or negative for quality?


Hi Sleepless,

I’m glad to hear that things are still going well for you.

Memory foams in general will soften much more in the first few weeks of use than later on when the softening “curve” is more gradual so after about 90 days or so the “initial” softening will be over and then the more gradual process will continue. If you are still in good shape by this time … then things will be looking even better :slight_smile:

I believe that any changes in memory foams used by the major manufacturers (in the case of Sealy supplied by Carpenter) are being driven by several factors … not all of which have anything to do with the durability of the foam itself but more to do with market share, branding, marketing, and perception.

All of these are a combination of financial pressures and consumer perceptions and trends in combination with the need for each of the majors to differentiate themselves from the others in spite of the fact that they all use similar materials and methods. There are very few “secrets” in the industry that stay secret for long. The differentiation is based on what their marketing research believes will sell and the story they can create to improve consumer perception of their brand. Many of the changes from one model to the next or one year to the next have less to to with using better materials and more with using materials that can be attached to a different story.

Most of the real changes are incremental. The customers of the foam suppliers (and other suppliers) are the mattress manufacturers. The value they provide is in their ability to improve the profit of the manufacturers. They provide materials and “stories” that are the basis of value as defined by manufacturers. The customers of the major manufacturers are the stores that sell their brand. The value they provide is based on their ability to improve the profit of the stores that sell them. They pass on and refine the stories that are attached to the materials in the products they sell and turn them into “mattress stories” that are “unique” to their mattresses and brand. The customers of the outlets that sell mattresses are the consumers. This is the step where stories are “amped up” to compete with actual quality and value and are used to sell products to consumers. Most of the manufacturers that sell to stores will also spend a great deal of time teaching the stores which stories should be used to sell their mattress and how to avoid and discourage meaningful comparisons based on the material or construction itself.

When there are more steps between the manufacturers of the “raw materials” and the consumer … stories and perception has to replace real value (from a consumer perspective) as there are more layers of “customers” along the chain that need to make a profit. Mattresses are one of several “methods” to sell foam for example from the perspective of a foam manufacturer. This is the basic reason that minor incremental changes are marketed as being “revolutionary” advances by major companies which need the perception of value to sell mattresses more than they need actual consumer value based on quality, performance, and durability. If they competed on actual value … they would lose all their market share to smaller manufacturers who have a shorter supply line with less “customers” along the journey towards the final consumer.

The major trends in memory foams are also related to a gradually growing perception of the weaknesses of memory foams in general which includes issues of of durability, supportive qualities, and thermal properties. They also include the growing awareness that other materials can be just as pressure relieving as memory foam so the “feel” and “name” of memory foam needs to be connected to a “perception” of pressure relief rather than pressure relief itself. As other segments of the market that manufacture materials that don’t have these weaknesses increase market share, then the producers of other materials will make changes in their stories that are designed to create the consumer belief that what they produce is “just as good” or “better than” the materials they are competing with. While these stories are often based on incremental changes, some of which are small improvements in quality and some of which are primarily improvements in profit margins regardless of quality, they are completely exaggerated through marketing stories in order to make up for the length of their supply chain and improve brand perception. The “competitors” of memory foam comfort layers include latex, polyfoam (to a lesser degree), natural fibers, microcoils, buckling column gels, and to a lesser degree water. Memory foam needs a competitive story to “compete” with each of these materials just like each of these materials needs a story to “compete” with each other an memory foam. The stories are designed to cater to and create perception and discourage meaningful comparisons much more than fact.

So the “cool memory foam” stories and the “natural memory foam” stories and the “supportive memory foam” stories and the “durable memory foam” stories are being introduced by using various production and manufacturing methods to help memory foam compete with other materials that are and will continue to be inherently cooler, more natural, more supportive, and more durable.

Some of the incremental changes that are behind these “new” stories are primarily meant to sell to customers along the supply chain in the belief (and fact) that consumers at the end of the chain will continue to believe and buy stories instead of real value. Branding stories work much better in an atmosphere of confusion and conflicting claims than they do in a market of education, knowledge, and fact. They are mostly “perception” based rather than real changes that produce higher quality or higher value materials.

The incremental changes that are “behind” the stories include …

Using lower density foams on the top of a mattress which are by nature more breathable and have a faster response which can translate into a “softer feeling” in certain circumstances … even though they are less durable.

Another is to use various “gel” formulations which in theory helps memory foam to sleep cooler because of the thermal conduction qualities of the gel (just like rocks or kitchen counters feel cool to the touch because they draw heat from the body). Because they are also very dense, they create the story of denser “more supportive” memory foam even though the base foam used can be less dense (lower quality) to get to the same density of the final product. The theory (and story) sounds great … the actual real life results seem to be mixed at best. These have been used for several years by many manufacturers although the awareness of them has increased because of Serta’s marketing efforts with the iComfort.

Various fabrication methods are being used including holes in the foam itself, various combinations of “air channels” under or in the foam, and various types of foam “inserts” are being used both to build a “cooler” story and a “more supportive” story. Again … most of these are dubious or small incremental changes at best meant to create competitive stories rather than competitive quality and consumer value.

Different foam combinations or “mixtures” of several foams are being introduced into memory foam (and other foams) in order to “move” the perceived qualities of the foam towards other competing materials. These combinations can add certain qualities to memory foam but there is always a tradeoff for this “benefit” which is not part of the marketing story.

Various temperature regulating tickings are also being developed and used which can make a difference to foams or construction methods which tend to sleep hot. Even various quiltings such as wool are being used in spite of (or because of) the fact that they can change the thermal and performance properties of the memory foam.

Different foam formulations are being developed and used to allow for the creation of more “open celled” memory foam that allows for greater air circulation or faster response. The difficulty here is that the actual “memory” of memory foam depends in part on restricted air flow within the material. These formulations are more breathable but they also speed up the foam recovery and make it less “memory foam like” which now has to have a story that competes with other materials that respond more quickly to changes in position.

Alternative polyols are also being introduced in a weak but seemingly successful attempt to portray memory foams (and polyfoams) as being “natural” or “green” when in fact they only replace a small part of the petrochemicals used in regular polyfoam. Polyfoam and memory foam will never be truly “green” or “natural” no matter what the source of the chemicals that are used in their manufacture.

Various different foam “combinations” are being used as well either through fabricated layering or through actual pouring mixtures used in foam manufacturing to change its qualities and make memory foam a little more resilient or less “dead” feeling. In effect they are trying to make memory foam more like other foams while retaining (or gaining) the market share of memory foam itself.

All of these are efforts to compete for the perceptions of consumers and to reduce the cost of materials in most cases more than they are about actual improvements in performance.

So the simple answer to your question is that the current models by Sealy and other major manufacturers certainly have much different stories than “previous versions”. Some of these stories are exaggerations of incremental improvements in materials. Some of them represent lower cost, quality, or durability with a “benefit” story attached to them. Some of them represent efforts to “redefine” competitors successes with new stories about old materials or methods to gain market share. Most of them however are based on the primary need to maintain branding differentiation and market share based on brand perception rather than factual information about the materials and manufacturing methods used.

Independent manufacturers with “less mouths to feed” tend to focus more on materials, quality, construction, and final value to consumers. Larger manufacturers tend to focus more on what stories can offset the disadvantages of their supply chain and the perceived advantages of their competitors at the expense of real information about the quality and performance of the materials and methods they use. There is “just enough” truth in them to protect or increase market share … at the cost of “the rest of the story”.