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The great mattress experiment

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26 Nov 2013 08:09 - 29 Nov 2013 21:49 #1 by dn
Summary
I am setting up this thread to detail the outcomes of different layerings of a variety of different materials within my mattress, and comparisons both subjective and objective about the outcomes. It's going to take me a bit to get all of the information in here and I will be editing the first (and maybe second) posts with all of the details so you need to check back if curious. It will take some time to accurately test, since any modifications to mattresses take some time to allow the materials and your body to adjust. If you're curious about the outcomes, or want me to test or comment on various combinations, let me know.

Background
My starting point is a wonderful Green Sleep Vicence mattress, bough from an equally wonderful company and member here tmasc.ca. The green sleep has 3 layers of Dunlop, 3" each. It's amazingly comfortable and has done wonders for me by reducing or eliminating back pain which I have had chronic issues that have been reviewed and treated medically for >20 years. I have seen back pain be significantly reduced, neck pain significantly reduced (although likely related to having a more suitable pillow also), restless leg syndrome eliminated, and sleeping too hot eliminated (in fact sometimes I sleep too cool now). I speak exceptionally highly about green sleep and tmasc.ca. It is a more premium priced product.

Unique and helpful for me to do this kind of review, I have 2 identical green sleep mattresses. I have half a king in our master, but I snore bad and wake my wife up so I also have a twinxl green sleep bed to myself in a different room. The testing is being done on the twinxl, which conveniently leaves the master bed as a consistent 'control'. Also, buying material to test is significantly less expensive for a twinxl.

Objective / Why
That said, I'm a perfectionist, enjoy comparing to determine what is the "best", and am interested to see what impact different materials will have. I see many people post here and wonder what it'd be like if they had or could try something different (what ild, what kind of latex, wool or no wool, what kind of foam, topper or no topper, what kind of mattress case, etc.), and I think the same thing - so my answer is to try it and see for myself. i.e. stop wondering and try everything that appeals to me.

The requirement I have is to maintain all/most of the benefits of the green sleep, while adjusting for the only shortcoming I have with it.... I'm a side sleeper, and I have light pressure point pain/ache at hips which causes me to wake up at night that I want to eliminate, and I have a preference to have more pressure point relief at my shoulders (although I seldom have pain from this).

Evaluating Criteria
I'll be evaluating using Phoenix's amazing tutorial post on selecting the right mattress. In particular, I'm evaluating PPP and trying for perfection.

Materials and Options
The materials I possess, have purchased, or agreed to purchase are:

Mattress layers
- 3" plates of green sleep dunlop latex as follows: firm, medium, and 2 soft plates (own)
- 3" plate of a softer dunlop (waiting on delivery and pay when received)
- 3" plate of latex international talatech talalay, 24 ild (waiting on delivery, paid)
- 3" wool topper (own)
- 2.5" convoluted polyfoam, 2.8 pcf density, 35 ild (own)
- 0.5" polyfoam, 2.8 pcf, 50 ild (own)
- topper cover, organic cotton, quilted 4-way stretch knit, 3" depth (waiting on delivery, paid)

Coverings
Since the covering of a mattress also makes a difference in the 'feel', I have a number of means to try different covering:
- place layer into mattress, and leave bare, with mattress protector only
- place layer into mattress, and put mattress cover on, which has a wonderful wool quilted into organic cotton. The wool is compressed
- place layer above mattress as a topper, contained inside topper cover. Since a layer will behave slightly softer as a topper vs in the mattress, this allows me to test that impact as well.

In all instances, I will be using my mattress protector, which is an organic stretch knit cotton. It is designed to work well with latex mattresses and not significantly interfere with the feel. Since I've bought many organic and premium priced products, ensuring to protect the material and treat it really well is critical to me.

Foundation
The foundation for all testing is the same. I have the Green Sleep S-200 foundation.

Other design criteria and principles
- Simple designs are better than complicated designs. i.e. 3 layers is better than 4. 4 layers is better than 5.
- Natural materials are preferred to man-made materials (i.e. if I can do 3 layers but one is polyfoam, or 4 layers with organic latex and wool, and they feel the same, then the 4 layers option will be better).
- more durable is better than less durable / a mattress that will feel consistent for a longer period of time is better than one that will change enough to affect PPP. Since I cannot evaluate durability in this, it will be a subjective determination based on info from this site.

Disclosures and no warranty
I have no business or financial interests in the mattress or bedding industry, and don't work in it myself. Any information you get has absolutely no warranty of any kind. I don't have any allergies or chemical sensitivities I'm aware of.

Also, as Phoenix has written.. I'm most definitely not doing this to try to save money. I'm doing it to find the best mattress for me, to enjoy the process, learn something along the way, and hopefully provide information that other people can consider.

About me
Male, 185 lbs, 37 y/o, side sleeper with preference to resting on my right side, and spend time in bed on back reading and working.

0 - Baseline
Top to bottom: mattress case / soft dunlop / soft dunlop / firm dunlop
What I like: very comfortable, especially back resting (which is incredibly comfortable). Cool. Excellent alignment it seems (or more important, measurable pain reduction, and no restless leg syndrome).
What I want to change: reduce or eliminate minor hip ache from side sleeping.

1 - 2.5" convoluted polyfoam with and without 0.5" firmer polyfoam - Nov 25, 2013
Top to bottom: mattress case, 2.5" convoluted polyfoam, soft dunlop, firm dunlop
I've removed the top soft layer of Dunlop, and replaced it with a layer of egg crate polyfoam. 2.8 pcf density, 35 ild. The foam is pointing with valleys and ridges upwards. I've re-encased it in the full mattress cover, so they're the built in layer of wool. My objective with this is to recreate the feel of the Simmons Beautyrest Westbury II Plush which I slept on for a week out of town on business. I originally started by placing the 0.5" of firm polyfoam over it, as that's how the westbury is... But once it became apparent the feel wasn't even a little bit close, I removed the 0.5"

Posture: it seems ok.. Slightly less favorable than before, the polyfoam lets my hips sink a bit extra which sometimes seems to bother my back a tiny bit, but, I've not been waking up any pain or stiffness that is new compared to the baseline. Laying on back less supportive than before, less amazing of a feel, but not bad. If I did polyfoam again, I might test without convoluted and try a soft also.

Pressure relief:
Hips: seems slightly better. I generally don't have hip pain, although if I concentrate on it it seems I'm on the very verge of having hip ache, but I don't. So that's an improvement. I'm liking that I'm not waking up needing to flip over to avoid hips aching!
Shoulders: seem slightly better also.

Preferences:
I find the feel of polyfoam rather unremarkable/boring feeling on top. I used to enjoy the feel of the latex. Polyfoam is pretty 'plain'. It's more 'deadening' I find / less resilient. I definitely didn't come close to the westbury II, so that portion of the experiment didn't work out ;) the foam is CertiPUR, but the smell was horrible the first 2 days (and still lingers a bit)- the room it's in is small, and enclosed/always has door closes. I'd have been wise or let it air out somewhere in the open a couple days first. Initially it seemed like there might be heat issues or restless leg bothering me, but that seems to have been the first night only.
Last edit: 29 Nov 2013 21:49 by dn.

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26 Nov 2013 08:10 - 27 Nov 2013 21:01 #2 by dn
Replied by dn on topic The great mattress experiment
Reference material and links

- The mattress & bedding store I recommend to everyone, where I've bought most, and member here: The Mattress and Sleep Company ( tmasc.ca )
- Green Sleep Vicence mattress, Vincent: www.tmasc.ca/natural-latex-foam-mattress...rganic-mattress.html
- Green Sleep mattress protector: www.tmasc.ca/organic-mattress-pad-protec...on-mattress-pad.html
- SleepTek Classic 2000 Wool Topper, 3": www.tmasc.ca/wool-mattress-toppers/sleep...000-wool-topper.html
- PolyFoam, Convoluted, 2.5" HD36-HQ (note: there are concerns about buying from Foam By Mail, especially latex, see post FIXME by Phoenix. I had a fine experience ordering polyfoam from them): canada.foambymail.com/EC_/eggcrate-foam-topper.html
- PolyFoam, 0.5", LUX-HQ (note: there are concerns about buying from Foam By Mail, especially latex, see post FIXME by Phoenix. I had a fine experience ordering polyfoam from them): canada.foambymail.com/LHQ_2/lux-hq-foam-mattress.html
Last edit: 27 Nov 2013 21:01 by dn.

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26 Nov 2013 10:11 #3 by Toro
Replied by Toro on topic The great mattress experiment
DN:

This is going to be a great experiment! Look forward to your reviews. Even if you do not find "perfection", I am sure the testing process is going to be a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing through this forum.

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26 Nov 2013 11:13 #4 by Phoenix
Hi dn,

A big "ditto" to Toro's comments ... and I'm also looking forward to hearing about your experiences, thoughts, and impressions :)

Phoenix

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26 Nov 2013 11:29 #5 by brotherloo
Hi dn,

Great idea to chronicle your experiment from the beginning. It will no doubt give wouldbe DIYers some interesting information.
Your doing the forum members a service. As a side sleeping tinkerer myself, it will be interesting to see the directions you take to solve the shoulder/hip dilemma.

Good Luck,

brotherloo

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26 Nov 2013 13:02 #6 by dn
Replied by dn on topic The great mattress experiment
It's going to take me a bit to fill in all the info for sure, but to those that have responded, feel free to let me know if there's a particular thing or combination you want me to test. I may even be game for acquiring new materials if I think I might like it. i.e. feel free to be involved and ask if you'd like to see me try something. I hope to treat it a bit as a pro-active experiment that people can find useful.

Thanks for the positive words everyone :)

Full pictures will be coming also.

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26 Nov 2013 16:47 #7 by Annmarie
Hi dn,

What a fun idea with benefits for all of us too. Now don't forget to record your changes so you don't forget what that real good combination was that you tried the other night. He-He. Now, will you be giving yourself a few nights on each combination or will one night be enough to tell if it's not a good fit for you? Look forward to your posts on the experiment. Have fun.....

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26 Nov 2013 19:50 - 26 Nov 2013 21:29 #8 by dn
Replied by dn on topic The great mattress experiment

Annmarie wrote: Hi dn,

What a fun idea with benefits for all of us too. Now don't forget to record your changes so you don't forget what that real good combination was that you tried the other night. He-He. Now, will you be giving yourself a few nights on each combination or will one night be enough to tell if it's not a good fit for you? Look forward to your posts on the experiment. Have fun.....


I plan on trying to stick with each configuration about a week. Breaking in a mattress takes time, and even with the green sleep it took about a month to two. I'm hoping that with careful attention to detail, armed with lots of knowledge, and by changing only 1 layer at a time, I don't need to do the full 1 month... That'd be too slow for me. I also know certain things won't 'break in'. So if something isn't suitable and I know it immediately, I'll post it and move on. If something seems to be working, I'll probably focus more attention there :)
Last edit: 26 Nov 2013 21:29 by dn.

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27 Nov 2013 10:36 #9 by brotherloo
Hi dn,

The Westbury II is an innerspring, trying to match an innerspring with latex might be tricky. To me, the only way that latex layering resembles the feel of an innerspring is with dominating layers. You stop sinking in to the firmer upper layer, but continue sinking down with the softer lower layer. The lower layer acts like the springs.

I think you're doing the right thing by critiquing the feel of your set up on your shoulders and hips separately. That way if you get to a point where one feels great but not the other, you have a good basis if you decide to try zoning.

Good Luck,

brotherloo

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27 Nov 2013 10:48 #10 by dn
Replied by dn on topic The great mattress experiment

brotherloo wrote: Hi dn,

The Westbury II is an innerspring, trying to match an innerspring with latex might be tricky. To me, the only way that latex layering resembles the feel of an innerspring is with dominating layers. You stop sinking in to the firmer upper layer, but continue sinking down with the softer lower layer. The lower layer acts like the springs.

I think you're doing the right thing by critiquing the feel of your set up on your shoulders and hips separately. That way if you get to a point where one feels great but not the other, you have a good basis if you decide to try zoning.

Good Luck,

brotherloo


So very true... and it was very much a gamble. What I liked about the westbury II is that, in terms of perceived feeling, it behaved like what I imagine buckling column gel should feel like. The westbury ii seems to have a thin layer of a firm foam over a 2.5 inch layer of no doubt super soft foam (accentuated by the fact they says it's all convoluted), over their pocket coils. What I found is that I sank nicely into it, and I either sunk deeply in, or not much at all (a bit more of that all or nothing, which the buckling column gel advertises as what it does).

I was hopeful that a 3" layer of soft convoluted, over which a firm layer, of which the firmness of the wool in the mattress top I have, would duplicate the portion of that feel where I'd either 'break through' the firm top polyfoam and land in the soft center, or not break through and remain on the top. That's how the westbury felt to me.

I note, the westbury ii is probably made from complete crap and wouldn't last long. That said, I note that I have at least 1 twinxl topper that is as expensive as an entire queen westbury ii mattress ;) I consider it the 'mcdonalds' of mattresses ;)

Needless to say, that's the point of my experimentation - to take the theory out of my head and turn it into real life experience. I can say, absolutely, that a 0.5" firm layer of poly over a 2.5" layer of soft poly foam does not feel like that 'either on top' or 'broken through' into a soft core feeling that I had with westbury ii. As experimentation goes, I was not successful at recreating any relevant aspect of the westbury ii (it was a long shot). Note: I've also tested intelligel buckling column gel, and found it less apt to feel like I thought it should feel, and from my perception the westbury did a better job of what I thought the buckling column should feel like. Again, mental perception is nothing compared to real world experience :)

I'm definitely planning on trying a dominating layer, although at present I don't have any non 3" layers. But I fully expect to try soft dunlop over very soft dunlop, and soft dunlop over soft talalay (in addition to the more classic 'softer on top' approach). If I had a 1" layer of a firmer latex, I would try it over a 3" layer of soft too. All in due time of course ;)

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