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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 13 Dec 2020 07:57 #1

I am so grateful for the wealth of information on this site! My old mattress was very comfortable but starting to sag, so I removed the mattress springs, discovered that they were not what was sagging, and decided to DIY a latex hybrid mattress. I added a firm (36ILD) 3 inch topper and a soft (20 ILD) 2 inch topper. It is insanely comfortable! However, I checked my spinal alignment, and it’s off, with my shoulders higher than my hips. The misalignment is more pronounced with only the firm topper, so the soft topper helps, but not quite enough.

Here is my question: given that my alignment is better with the two inches of soft latex, would another inch of soft latex potentially fix the problem? I realize no one can guarantee anything, but is my logic sound? TIA!

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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 14 Dec 2020 07:46 #2

Hey WildIris,

Welcome to the Mattress Underground :) ! Thanks for your question.

I am so grateful for the wealth of information on this site! My old mattress was very comfortable but starting to sag, so I removed the mattress springs, discovered that they were not what was sagging, and decided to DIY a latex hybrid mattress. I added a firm (36ILD) 3 inch topper and a soft (20 ILD) 2 inch topper. It is insanely comfortable!


Thanks so much for your kind words on the site and happy to hear that you're finding the TMU resources useful for your research. Congrats on the success of your DIY latex hybrid, WildIris :) ! You must be quite happy to have created a mattress suitable for your comfort preferences and that it too is "insanely comfortable" is a cool bonus. The DIY path can be extremely rewarding or quite challenging (and sometimes a little of both, lol) Well done!

However, I checked my spinal alignment, and it’s off, with my shoulders higher than my hips. The misalignment is more pronounced with only the firm topper, so the soft topper helps, but not quite enough.


How did you go about checking your spinal alignment? Some more questions: what is your current pillow situation like? Are you using the same pillows from your previous set up or did you update them too? Also, could you share your height, weight, body profile and preferred sleep position(s)?

Here is my question: given that my alignment is better with the two inches of soft latex, would another inch of soft latex potentially fix the problem? I realize no one can guarantee anything, but is my logic sound? TIA!


Yes; "potentially" another inch (as in a 3 inch topper, not adding 1") may resolve the problem. Replacement of your current 2" soft topper with a 3" version could help your shoulders sink into the topper a bit more, but again it would be helpful to know the answers to the above questions regarding your personal statistics to better understand how your height, weight, weight distribution and preferred sleep positions combined interact with the latex layers. Looking forward to hearing more on your research.

Thanks,
Sensei
Sensei(@ TMU Team)
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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 14 Dec 2020 08:33 #3

Hey WildIris,

Welcome to the Mattress Underground :) !
How did you go about checking your spinal alignment? Some more questions: what is your current pillow situation like? Are you using the same pillows from your previous set up or did you update them too? Also, could you share your height, weight, body profile and preferred sleep position(s)


Ugh, I should have included that! I suppose it’s the nature of this forum that you’re constantly teaching newbies how to use it!

In order to check my spinal alignment, I set up my cell phone camera to photograph my mattress, making sure it’s level, and set a 10 second timer, which gave me enough time to go lie down. I realize you’re supposed to lie down for 15 minutes to relax into it, but this is the best I could do during the pandemic. I then compared the photo to one of my back standing up straight. I have a birthmark near the center of my upper back that serves as a handy marker.

I have both my old pillow and a new shredded latex pillow that I’m trying out to see what works best.

I am a woman, 5’10” tall, 150 lbs, so not light weight, exactly (thanks, COVID), but not super curvy. I sleep almost exclusively on my side, though occasionally I wake up on my back. Mostly a side sleeper, though.

I will also add that I did notice a little extra pressure on my shoulder last night, since my post yesterday. No pain, just not as cushy as under my hips. To me, that says my comfort layer probably isn’t deep enough, for one, and possibly not soft enough either. Alternately, I suppose I could try a medium topper underneath, with an average ILD more like 30 instead of 36, but my shoulders probably aren’t bearing enough weight for that to make a difference. What are your thoughts?

Thank you, Sensei, for helping me to think through this! I so appreciate your expertise!

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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 14 Dec 2020 09:56 #4

Whoops, forgot body profile! I’m pretty slender. I don’t have particularly broad shoulders or wide hips. Happy to take measurements, if you need them.

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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 15 Dec 2020 05:40 #5

After another night: yep, too firm! Hips slightly sore. Any advice on how to shake things up? A 3” comfort layer, probably, but soft or extra soft? And is the middle layer potentially too firm? I’d appreciate any help, Sensei or Phoenix or other folks wise in the ways of layering latex!

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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 16 Dec 2020 15:46 #6

I’m looking at a soft, three inch, talalay topper. Do you think that would be a good place to start?

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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 17 Dec 2020 18:02 #7

I’m looking at a soft, three inch, talalay topper. Do you think that would be a good place to start?


Alternately, I could get another two inch soft topper and add it to the stack. I take it from Sensei’s previous post that there’s a difference between a three inch topper and a one inch and two inch combined, so I could use some guidance on how to stack these suckers. Please help!

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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 20 Dec 2020 14:46 #8

Hey WildIris,

Thanks for your reply :) .

Ugh, I should have included that! I suppose it’s the nature of this forum that you’re constantly teaching newbies how to use it! In order to check my spinal alignment, I set up my cell phone camera to photograph my mattress, making sure it’s level, and set a 10 second timer, which gave me enough time to go lie down. I realize you’re supposed to lie down for 15 minutes to relax into it, but this is the best I could do during the pandemic. I then compared the photo to one of my back standing up straight. I have a birthmark near the center of my upper back that serves as a handy marker.


Good work on your personal photography session, WildIris :) ! Please forgive the wording of the question as its not so much directed to a TMU newbie's process as much as it is screening for an open interpretation of checking spinal alignment, there are some who offer details based on aches and pains rather than evidence-based images.

I have both my old pillow and a new shredded latex pillow that I’m trying out to see what works best.


Excellent that you have included a new pillow option; often pillows and other supporting cast members (linens, mattress protectors, etc.) are not considered in the overall sleep environment when updating a mattress.

I am a woman, 5’10” tall, 150 lbs, so not light weight, exactly (thanks, COVID), but not super curvy. I sleep almost exclusively on my side, though occasionally I wake up on my back. Mostly a side sleeper, though. I’m looking at a soft, three inch, talalay topper. Do you think that would be a good place to start? Alternately, I could get another two inch soft topper and add it to the stack. I take it from Sensei’s previous post that there’s a difference between a three inch topper and a one inch and two inch combined, so I could use some guidance on how to stack these suckers. Please help!


Thanks for the feedback on your personal stats, WildIris. A 3" soft talalay latex topper could help your shoulders sink into the mattress a bit more, but that is better discussed with the manufacturer you choose to work with when outlining your other components used. The thought earlier regarding a 3" layer vs a 1" over 2" layer combination is more from the resulting height of the stack of layers and how they would be best contained to minimize potential shifting within layers of the group, the resulting snugness of the cover you use could also result in a degree of firmness to your DIY setup. Hope this helps and looking forward to your updates as your DIY path progresses ;) .

Thanks,
Sensei
Sensei(@ TMU Team)
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 19 Jan 2021 18:35 #9

I return with an update—and questions, naturally! I decided to nix the coils and go all latex. My alignment looked better (though still not perfect) with only the soft talalay directly on the springs, but it just didn’t feel as luxurious as multiple layers of latex, and since a shorter mattress lets me see more of my nifty vintage headboard, I didn’t want to pile up a bunch of layers of latex on top of the springs.

So I folded over the firm talalay layer to make a 6” support layer and plopped the soft on top. Seemed like a good place to start.

First problem: I think the firm is too firm, because a few minutes after initially lying down on my side, it feels really hard under my hip and shoulder. I’m waking up uncomfortable multiple times every night, and I think that’s why. Slight soreness in hips as well.

Second problem: my back still isn’t quite straight when I take pictures. Sigh.

I emailed the vendor but never heard back. I’m at a bit of a loss.

So here’s what I’m thinking: try a medium Dunlop layer from Sleep on Latex (stress free, thanks to their return policy) as the middle layer, and see if that softens it up enough. Just so you don’t have to look it up, that would mean ~36ILD talalay at the bottom, then ~30ILD Dunlop, then ~19ILD talalay on top. Please let me know if there’s any reason not to alternate between the two types of latex.

Hopefully that will be sufficient, but if it still feels hard under my hips, I can return the medium and try a medium-soft talalay layer in the middle instead. If the medium layer fixes the hard sensation but not the alignment, I will consider replacing the soft top layer with an extra soft talalay layer to let my shoulder sink in more.

What do you think? I fully understand that you can’t predict anyone’s subjective experience of any mattress, but is my strategy at least theoretically sound?

Thank you again, Sensei!!!

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DIY latex hybrid: adjusting spinal alignment 20 Jan 2021 12:26 #10

WildIris, the problem you're having with your DIY mattress is the same issue most of us are struggling with as well and that is how to best balance spinal alignment and comfort at the same time. If you use single sheets of (latex/poly/memory/etc) foam that go across the entire bed then ultimately you will likely end up trying to reach an acceptable compromise between the two. In order to actually get the best possible outcome you would need to effectively tailor each area on the mattress it to your specific height/weight/shape/feel/position/etc. I know you are asking about just adding/subratcing a layer or making one softer/firmer but most people don't really stop to think about what's actually happening in their design to make this work well for them. If you are a side sleeper then stand straight up and have someone measure you across the shoulders, waist (smallest part) and hips. Now take all these measurements and divide by two. Typically the difference between the shoulders/hips and your waist will be quite distinct and this is what you are asking your mattress to account for and support while not providing too much pressure on the other areas which creates pressure discomfort. It's also why sleeping position matters because if you are a side, back AND stomach sleeper this causes alot of issues trying to get the mattress to respond well to all those different situations. This is why folks that are lighter and less curvy find the exercise of looking for a bed far less challenging than folks that are heavy like me with wide shoulders, big legs/bum with a relatively smaller waist. This is also why we talk about BMI (which is kg/m2 or even easier I just use lbs/inch height so the conversion is easy to compare) when looking at mattresses. The one issue with applying this idea of BMI or lb/inch across the entire mattress is that the distribution of people's weight is not linear so for instance the hips/trunk likely carry alot more of the weight per inch than say your feet or head and so the foam you use needs to account for this difference too. Obviously people aren't shaped like cylinders either so we need to account for these differences when designing a mattress that works for us.

Ideally you are trying to get something close to this in terms of spinal alignment (hers is not perfect but likely quite comfortable, minus the pillow)


The reality is that most of the time you end up somewhere between these two since some areas of your body carry more weight (per inch of height) than others.


So bottom line, if you use springs as a base layer and you lie on those springs with no additional comfort layers then those springs will cause you to have a certain spinal alignment (likely not correct because otherwise you could just put a soft latex layer on top and be done with it). What you are asking the comfort layers to do is to make up the difference to create the perfect alignment you need and provide pressure relief (no small task). When dealing with an all latex mattress, then all those layers are working together to provide both alignment and pressure relief. It's also helpful for it to be progressive (meaning it gets firmer the deeper you push into the mattress) so that's why you will often see the firmer latex layers at the bottom and the softer ones toward the top. Now I'm not sure how curvy you are but you have to take into account the difference between the shoulder and waist at a minimum to create the support you need then add additional comfort layers as needed to give you pressure relief to keep those protruding parts (shoulders/hips) from getting sore while sleeping. You may be able to achieve this with just changing out layers for firm or soft and stacking (increasing overall thickness) will help with both alignment and comfort but it also adds to the number of possible combinations involved (which can be expensive and frustrating). As you build the mattress up layer by layer I would be checking your spine alignment at each level so you know if adding the last layer made things better or worse.

Another way to potentially solve this alignment issue with less layers is to use zoning where you put different firmness in different areas depending on what support/relief characteristics you need specifically. This can be combined with a flexible slat base to help take up some of the conforming you need for proper alignment. I wish there were more vendors that sold latex layers that were precut into strips to make it easier for us DIY folks to try multi-zoning within layers but I don't know of any offhand (maybe Sensei or Phoenix do?)

Multi zoning of layers like this design (Flobeds) can help achieve both alignment and comfort (top comfort layer is missing in this photo)


You can see the design can get complicated on how wide the sections are and what firmness to use in each


Good thread on how to create zoning if you're interested.
www.themattressunderground.com/mattress-forum/flobeds/22783-zoning-measurements#83680

Anyway there are plenty of options to get a solution that works for you but it all requires patience and perseverance to make it happen. If it were me I would start with trying to get it perfect with single layers first but don't dismiss the idea you may need to move on to more elaborate designs if none of the simpler options work for you. I know it's alot to take in but hopefully it will help you figure out what direction best to go from here in terms of strategy and layer choice for your specific situation.

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