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chronic pain and latex toppers 02 Jan 2016 15:58 #1

I have fought chronic pain at night for 18 years. When this began, one of the first things I did was replace my mattress, which made no difference. A dozen doctors and a dozen years later I still could not get more than 4-6 hours of sleep per night.

When my daughter left for college, I tried sleeping in her bed, and was amazed that I slept all night without pain. It was an old hand-me-down from my in-laws that probably dated back to the 60's. I slept great for a couple of years, and then the pain came back again.

Since my daughter's bed proved to me that it was possible for me to sleep without pain, I reasoned that an air bed would allow me to experiment until I found the equivalent of my daughter's bed before I wore it out. I found a setting I liked, and slept good for about a year before the pain came back.

The mattress seemed soft in the middle and I thought it was a problem with the air system. Comfortaire's support people said it was the foam topper, and when I checked it out, they were right. The foam had broken down, so I ordered another topper from Comfortaire. When it arrived, the foam was different than the original equipment, and I only slept better for about a week before I could feel it breaking down and the pain was back. So I ordered Comfortaire's thickest foam pad, 4", and slept OK for about a month. Then it started to break down and once again the pain was back.

Researching for help online led me to this site. After learning about latex, I thought perhaps a latex topper was the next thing to try instead of a whole new mattress since I have been able to sleep well on the Comfortaire with their original polyfoam topper until it broke down. Since dunlop is supposed to last a bit longer than talalay, I thought I'd go that route. Here's my dilemma: should I get a 2" or 3" topper, or perhaps a pair of 2" toppers with different densities so I could swap densities if I'm not comfortable with whichever top layer that I try first? I am assuming that I need a rather firm topper since I seem to be so sensitive to the foam breaking down even a little bit. Any insight or educated guesses you might have would be appreciated.

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chronic pain and latex toppers 02 Jan 2016 16:41 #2

Hi madefree,

Researching for help online led me to this site. After learning about latex, I thought perhaps a latex topper was the next thing to try instead of a whole new mattress since I have been able to sleep well on the Comfortaire with their original polyfoam topper until it broke down. Since dunlop is supposed to last a bit longer than talalay, I thought I'd go that route.


The choice between Dunlop and Talalay would be a preference and budget choice not a "better/worse" choice and I would treat all the different versions of latex as close equivalents in terms of durability. There is more about some of the more general differences between Talalay and Dunlop in post #7 here but the best way to know which type of latex you tend to prefer at least in general terms would be based on your own testing and personal experience.

If you prefer the feel of other types of foam (such as memory foam or polyfoam) then as long as you make sure they meet or exceed the minimum quality/density guidelines here then they can also be a durable choice as well.

I would also keep in mind that even lower quality foam materials won't generally break down in a week or a month (unless they are defective which is uncommon) so it's very likely that there were other causes for the pain and discomfort you were experiencing ... possibly that the topper was on the edge of being too soft for you so that once it had broken in then you were outside the comfort/support range that was suitable for you. I would also make sure that the support system under your mattress is providing suitable support and doesn't have any soft spots or sagging (it should provide firm, flat, and even support that is similar to the floor).

Unfortunately you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress/topper combination and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion about which topper would be the best "match" for both you and the mattress you are using it on in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or "theory at a distance" that can possibly be more accurate than your own personal testing or sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here ). The specifics of the mattress under the topper can also make a significant difference in which topper will work best for any specific person since every layer and component in a mattress/topper combination will affect the feel and performance of every other layer and the "sleeping system" as a whole.

If a mattress is too firm by itself and there are no soft spots or sagging in the mattress then a good quality topper can certainly be an effective way to add some additional softness, "comfort" and pressure relief to your sleeping system but the only way to know whether a specific topper in combination with your mattress is a good "match" for you in terms of PPP would be based on your own careful testing or personal experience. If you can't test the combination in person then there is always some risk and uncertainty involved in adding a topper because the specifics of the mattress itself along with your own body type, sleeping position, and preferences can affect which specific topper would be a suitable choice on any specific mattress.

There is also more about airbeds in this article and I would keep in mind that the air bladder itself may be sagging under the heavier parts of your body (hips pelvis) and may not be providing suitable support if the firmness of the air bladder is too soft.

Here's my dilemma: should I get a 2" or 3" topper, or perhaps a pair of 2" toppers with different densities so I could swap densities if I'm not comfortable with whichever top layer that I try first? I am assuming that I need a rather firm topper since I seem to be so sensitive to the foam breaking down even a little bit. Any insight or educated guesses you might have would be appreciated.


While it's not possible to make specific suggestions because of all the many variables involved that are unique to each person and your own experience is the only way to know for certain whether any mattress/topper combination will be a good "match" for you in terms of PPP ... there is more information about choosing a topper in post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to which along with a conversation with a reliable supplier that can provide you with good information about how their toppers compare to each other or to other toppers they are familiar with that are available on the market can help you use your sleeping experience as a reference point and guideline to help you choose the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the least possible risk and the best chance for success. It also includes a link to a list of some of the better online sources for toppers I'm aware of as well.

When you are uncertain about which topper will work best with your mattress and you can't test the combination in person then the return/exchange policy can be one of the most important parts of the "value" of a topper purchase just in case the topper you choose doesn't work out as well as you hoped for.

Phoenix
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