Switching from air to Brooklyn BME - Questions

A little over a year ago, we purchased a Novosbed Aria and were generally pleased with it for some time… (You can see my comments on it in the Novosbed review thread). In the end, however, the memory foam just wasn’t for us – realizing that the properties of the memory foam mattress were highly dependent on room temperature… Over the winter months when our room temperature was about 66 degrees at night, the Novosbed felt great… But once summertime came, and room temperature was more like 78 degrees F, the mattress became too soft, and we would wake up with lower back pain. Since we needed a new mattress for our guest room, we moved the Aria into there to replace an old innerspring mattress.

About 6 weeks ago, we decided to opt for a Personal Comfort A8 sleep-number-like air mattress. On top of the air bladders, it came with 2" of convoluted foam of questionable quality and unknown specifications… On top of that, it had 2" of gel memory foam – again, no specifications. Needless to say, the trial period has not gone well with it. I have removed the two 2" foam layers, and have replaced them with 2 dunlop latex toppers. The layer next to the bladders is 2" dunlop, 30 ILD. On top of that, I have 2" dunlop 20 ILD. We’re happier with those comfort layers as opposed to the foam that came with it – but theres a problem… For reasons that I believe Phoenix has gone into regarding shortcomings of air as a support layer, we’re having problems. With the air mattresses set on the lower side, the comfort layers feel fantastic – but we’re waking up in the middle of the night with back pain. I more or less feel like I’m being folded up like a cheap suit and end up with lumbar pain, to the point where I just end up getting out of bed. If we set the bladders a little firmer, we end up with pressure point problems - hip and rib pain. I sleep primarily on my side, sometimes on my stomach. I’m 5’7", 175 lbs. She falls asleep on her back, but quickly changes to stomach or side. She’s 4’10" 145 lbs.

So… We’ll be initiating a return of the air bed… This morning, I ordered a queen medium BME from Brooklyn Bedding. Of course comfort is highly subjective – but from an objective point of view, do you think the BME will be a better choice to take care of the support issues we are having, while at the same time providing a comfort layer that is compatible to our sleep habits? While the latex toppers we are using have an ILD of 20 on the top layer, it is dunlop - and I expect the BME to be a little more bouncy due to the use of talalay…From the information I’ve seen, the medium BME has an top ILD of 28 for the talalay, and 30-32 for the dunlop.

I do suspect in some ways, this is like comparing apples to oranges due to the current use of the air bladders in our current mattress.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Hi RickNY,

Your right that this would be comparing apples to oranges because of the many differences between the designs of the two mattresses you are comparing.

Unfortunately the first “rule” of mattress shopping is to always remember that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved that are unique to each person to use a formula or for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components or which type of mattress would be the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort” or PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) or how a mattress will “feel” to you or compare to another mattress based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more accurate than your own careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial) or your own personal sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here).

“In theory” the firmness level that they suggest for their customers would work well for “most people” based on averages but of course not everyone is inside the averages of other people … even if they are in a similar weight range.

I can certainly confirm that the BME uses high quality materials and there are no lower quality materials or weak links in the design that would compromise the durability or useful life of the mattress but in terms of “comfort” and PPP the only way to know whether you will sleep well on it for certain will be based on your own actual experience.

While I can’t speak to comfort and PPP … I certainly think you made a great quality/value choice … and congratulations on your new mattress.

I hope that the BME works out better for you than your previous two mattresses and I’m looking forward to your feedback once you’ve received it and have had the chance to sleep on it for a bit.


Out of curiosity – is the problem I described regarding the “too soft/too firm” typical of air bladder systems? Where the comfortable soft setting results in lack of support, while a more firm setting to get more support ends up in pressure point problems? And that you can never seem to find a happy balance?

Hi RickNY,

Yes … it’s one of the reasons that I’m not a big fan of airbeds (see this article). People that use softer airbed settings are usually looking for more “comfort” and pressure relief but changing the firmness of the air bladder is only adjusting the support core of the mattress not the comfort and transition layers which are more directly related to comfort and pressure relief. Softer settings for the air bladder can lead to sagging in the middle of the air bladder under the heavier parts of the body which in turn can lead to sleeping out of alignment while it doesn’t change the firmness of the comfort and transition layers on top of the air bladder.

There is more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel”.


So, our BME arrived yesterday and we got to spend the first night on it. We ended up going with the medium at the advice of Mario, who was extremely helpful and patient with my questions. The mattress arrived perfectly, and expanded without issues. After about an hour, it seemed to filled in, but I do expect it to continue expanding very slightly over the next 24 hours.

So, the initial verdict – My first night of sleep on it, I absolutely loved it. For the first night in many months, I slept like a baby until 6:30… I had been awake by 3:30-4:00 every night due to back pain on our previous mattresses. (Novosbed Aria, then a Personal Comfort number air bed). The initial feel of the mattress is quite plush on the top, and I was concerned there would be an issue of support… But the mattress seems to be designed quite well with appropriate thickness on the quilted top layer to make sure the underlying layers do exactly what they are supposed to do. Clearly, a lot of thought went into the design. The first thing my fiancée said when she got in it was “this is going to be too soft” – but she ended up sleeping quite well, and was also surprised at how the mattress properly supported her through the night.

I think someone else had mentioned that the feel of the mattress is more like you’re laying on top of the mattress instead of laying IN the mattress, and I would say that’s accurate. My only hope is that we get at least 5 years out of this mattress, as the Novosbed we had started to lose its support after only 6 or 7 months.

Time will tell, and we’re hopeful we continue to love the mattress. Thank you Phoenix for answering my questions, and also much thanks to Mario and Brooklyn Bedding for making our experience a pleasant one.


Hi RickNY,

Thanks for taking the time to share your comments and feedback … I appreciate it :).

It’s also good to hear that the firmness choice you made seems to be working well for you as well.


I’ll likely post an update a few months from now in the main BME thread, fully aware that one night isn’t indicative of anything other than me getting one full night’s sleep.

Hi RickNY,

That would be great … thanks :slight_smile:


So, we’ve had about a month with the BME in medium firmness, and I’m running into a problem with pain in my hips and ribs… I’m also continuing to have moderate lower back discomfort as the night progresses. I sleep on my right-side 90% of the time, and thats the side where I am experiencing the pain. Unlike previous mattresses that I have had that felt too firm, the BME almost feels as if the top comfort layers are too soft, and my hips and ribs are reaching the polyfoam layer… Is that possible? I’m 5’7, 180 lbs… I’m not sure what direction I should go to here… My line of thinking is that if I go to a soft, then my lower back issues may become more problematic, while relieving the pressure points – but if it is an issue of me bottoming against the polyfoam, then the firm would be a better choice… Curious about thoughts on this.


Hi RickNY,

All the layers of a mattress compress simultaneously not sequentially and they will each compress to different percentages of their thickness depending on their position on the mattress, the firmness of each layer, the compression modulus of the material, the thickness of each layer, and the compression force that they are exposed to (which depends on the weight and surface areas of the part of the body in contact with the mattress and the surface area that is bearing that weight which is constantly changing as you sink into the mattress more or change sleep positions). The layers closer to the top will generally compress more than the deeper layers and softer layers will compress more than firmer layers but what you are feeling would be a combination of all the layers and the “mattress as a whole” more than the effects of a single layer. The properties and firmness of materials and components that are closer to the top surface of a mattress will tend to have a bigger effect on the overall “feel” and firmness of a mattress than materials that are deeper in the mattress.

While it’s not possible to “diagnose” mattress comfort issues on a forum with any certainty because there are too many unique unknowns, variables, and complexities involved that can affect how each person sleeps on a mattress in terms of “comfort” and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) or any “symptoms” they experience … there is more about the most common symptoms that people may experience when they sleep on a mattress and the most likely (although not the only) reasons for them in post #2 here.

There is also more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel”.

These posts are the “tools” that can help with the analysis, detective work, or trial and error that may be necessary to help you learn your body’s language and “translate” what your body is trying to tell you so you can identify the types of changes that have the best chance of reducing or eliminating any “symptoms” you are experiencing (at least to the degree that any symptoms are from your mattress rather than the result of any other circumstances or pre-existing issues you may have that aren’t connected to a mattress).

Having said that this type of analysis can be very complex and in the end the only way to know whether any mattress or combination of materials or layers will work well and will be a good “match” for you in terms of PPP with any certainty will be based on your own careful testing or personal experience anyway no matter what type of analysis you have done on the design of a mattress because “theory” doesn’t always predict how well you will sleep on a mattress. The advantage of the simplified choice mattresses (and other online mattresses that have good return policies are that they allow you to test a mattress in your bedroom instead of a showroom with little risk outside of the time you spend sleeping on it or returning/donating it.

While the firmness of your mattress is certainly inside the range that would be suitable for a large percentage of people in your weight range … not everyone is inside the averages that works for other people that have a similar body type or sleeping positions.

It would also be well worthwhile to call talk with Brooklyn Bedding since they would be the best source of guidance about their mattresses and different firmness levels than anyone else and may also have some suggestions that would be helpful based on their experience and feedback from other customers that are similar to you.