Trying to salvage a too firm latex bed!

Hello - thank you for all the wonderful advice and expertise on this site. I am hoping someone can help me.

Two years ago, my spouse and I bought a Nature’s Embrace Alto latex mattress (all Dunlop) from a dealer in a mid-size Canadian city. We wanted to buy a natural material mattress and latex sounded great. There was only one local dealer of latex and we did not want to take the risk of purchasing online. Unfortunately, the local dealer was not a specialized furniture store with expertise on the mattresses. This, combined with our own lack of knowledge, limited opportunity to test the mattress in store and no comfort guarantee, meant we were stuck with a mattress that was too firm.

We now believe the layers of the mattress are as follows (Nature’s Embrace seem to have changed their model names and now provide details on ILD and layers on their website - they have a “Classic 10 inch” mattress in Firm like the Alto we purchased):

6" core 40 ILD
2" transition 30 ILD
2" comfort 20 ILD
1" wool and organic cotton cover

After a few months of sleeping on the mattress (which I lovingly refer to as the “block of concrete”) we added a 3" Dunlop soft (ILD 20) topper from an online retailer to try and get me a bit more “distance” from the firmer layers. It seemed to help a little but not enough.

It is still much too firm for me and we are in search of a topper to make the bed more comfortable. I am a back and side sleeper (5’6" 145 lbs) and I get lower back pain when on my back and shoulder pain when on my side.

My spouse is 6’0 190 lbs, also a side and back sleeper. He likes a firm mattress but he wouldn’t mind a comfort topper on top.

While we research toppers, I have been sleeping on 2 old feather duvets folded in half and stacked one on top of the other. It has improved my sleep and provides pressure point relief and more comfort, not my dream topper and only temporary.

We have just recently completed 8 nights sleeping on a 3" Eco wool topper that I hoped so much would be the answer to our mattress problems. Night one was a disaster as we had a too-taut protector and fitted sheet over top (learned from this site how that can affect surface tension!). For nights 2 and 3, we loosely tucked the protector (Berkeley thick, stretchy organic cotton) and fitted sheet around the topper only (not mattress) and I had great sleeps - the fluffy, nest-like feel I was hoping for. However, the last several nights have been underwhelming. I have pain in my mid to upper spine (the bed strangely feels “bowed” under my back where the wool must be compressing) and just not as comfortable. I have to more frequently switch to my side. We have been flipping and rotating the topper to try and evenly compress, as advised, but cannot get the comfy feeling back. We also removed the Berkeley protector as it is quite thick and seemed to emphasize the “bowing” feeling because it is elasticized and was bunching along the sides underneath where the topper has not been compressed (outside sleeping zone). Knowing how wool compresses over time (even with periodic air and sun to fluff it up), I only see this topper becoming even less comfortable for me than it is now (my spouse really likes it but wants me to be comfortable, so open to something else).

Since I have been reasonably comfortable (moreso than on the wool) sleeping on a feather topper of sorts with my folded duvets, and wool doesn’t seem to be working out, is a feather topper our best bet? I would expect a high-quality feather topper would be more comfortable than my old, stacked duvets. I do not want another latex layer (and not interested in Talalay) and want only natural materials that provide pressure point relief and nest-like comfort.

Any advice and insights would be most welcome!

Thank you,

Hey Brenda,

Welcome to the Mattress Underground :slight_smile: ! Thanks for your kind words on the site and for your question.

Sorry to hear about the frustrating experience with your Nature’s Embrace Alto; two years is a long time to endure a too-firm sleeping environment. It does sound as though dunlop latex is a little too firm for your comfort/ support preferences. Also equally frustrating is a lack of a comfort exchange from the dealer, an important policy that should have been explained clearly before your purchase.

I’ve condensed excerpts from you post a bit to get to your question on feather toppers, hope that’s okay. I did some searching here on the forum to see what others’ experience has been with feather toppers, feather beds, etc. and found several posts out there but thought this response by Phoenix on topic “Pros and Cons of a Featherbed” interesting as a discussion of Down vs Feather initially but in the end relating to your question:

[i]"Down lasts longer and is more “comfy” and less “crunchy” but it compresses more; feathers are more resilient and don’t compress down as much (although they don’t retain their loft as well as down in the long term). Both can sleep warm … especially if you have a down comforter as well.

The fabric needs to have a tight enough weave so that any small feather quills don’t poke through the material and the down and feathers needs to be washed in production well enough that there are less issues with smell and allergies from dust mites. Some suppliers have return policies if you discover that you are allergic to their product but most allergies are not to the feathers themselves but to the byproducts of the dust mites that they can contain. An actual feather allergy can be tested with an allergy test.

Both can take some maintenance and need to be protected from any buildup of moisture (which can damage them quickly with mold and mildew) and body oils (which will damage them over a longer period of time). I would also suggest a separate cover that can help with feathers poking through and can also be removed and washed.

Overall they are more for “feel” and outside of cushioning pressure points don’t provide the same level of pressure relief as foams and aren’t nearly as “supportive”.
With your describing your preferred comfort as “fluffy” and “nest-like”, going with a feather topper over your current dunlop mattress could solve the firmness situation you’re experiencing. You will definitely want to be sure that the manufacturer/ retailer offers an exchange/ return policy that gives you confidence to purchase from them :wink: . Looking forward to hearing what you decide and good luck.


Many thanks for your reply and warm welcome, Sensei! Thanks also for pasting in the pros/cons post - I did see it the other day and it’s a great synopsis.

Feather does seem to be our best option at this point. I have 2 questions to help us make our decision:

  1. Given the layers/firmness of the mattress, our weights/heights and sleep patterns, and how the wool was too firm, is there an optimum down/feather ratio we should be looking at? I’d rather not have a crunchy feel but also want to have enough loft/softness.

  2. I’m thinking the chance of an exchange or return will be pretty slim for a feather topper in Canada so we want to try and get it right the first time. Are there retailers/specific products in Canada that you can recommend? Traceable/ethical practices are important to us.

Many thanks,

Hey Brenda,

It’s my pleasure; glad you found the featherbed pros/ cons post helpful :slight_smile: . Please accept my apologies for the delayed response, things have been a little crazy the past couple of days. Now for your questions:

I wish I could better answer this question, Brenda; I honestly don’t have much experience with this category, other than the few times I’ve slept on one, it was an amazing experience. Noticed a previous poster suggested asking the manufacturer the same sorts of questions you would for other components, except in a more “feathery” fashion: ask about the fill weight, type of down, thread count of the cover, and perhaps the country/ continent of origin.

From an earlier topic Down Bedding? Post #2, I found these links for your research. All but the last one are US based but do ship to Canada for an extra fee, and several list natural certifications:

Pacific Coast Feather Company

Down & Feather Co.

All About Down


Canadian Down & Feather Company

You’ll want to review their return policies and what shipping costs are involved, as well as review what certifications, if any, that are offered as you mentioned traceable/ ethical practices concerns. Hope this helps start your research and looking forward to hearing more when you narrow choices down.