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DIY Latex Mattress Layer Advice? 01 Jul 2021 13:22 #1

Hello,

I'm looking to build a DIY latex mattress and could use some help thinking through the approach to layer selection.

Here's my info:
  • 5'8"
  • 160 (+/- 20) lbs - broad shoulders, bony hips, arms & legs, thicker at the waist/gut
  • Combo sleeper: start off on my back, spend most of the night on my side, then toss and turn and twist, somewhere between stomach and side by morning
  • Aches and pains in the lower back and joints (knees, shoulders especially); Tend to wake up with my arms completely asleep still.

  • My top priority in a mattress is something with a lot of support, to prevent sagging of my midsection, which drives me nuts regardless of position. I used to think that this meant I need a really firm mattress, as these feel a lot less saggy in the middle, but after reading more on this forum, I think what I really need is a very supportive mattress with enough softness on top to cushion my shoulders, arms, hips, etc.

    For the past 20 years, I slept on a DIY mattress with 3 layers of talalay latex. I don't remember the exact specs or brand, but I think it was roughly 3-4" each of soft/med/firm. This was by far the most comfortable mattress I slept on, but it definitely had a bit more sag in the middle than I wanted (especially the last 10 years, which is probably to be expected, but even from the start).

    For my next mattress, I'm thinking some kind of relatively firm Dunlop latex support and transition layers, with a softer Talalay comfort layer might provide the support and alignment my spine needs with the cushioning my shoulders, arms and hips could use. But what's the best way to actually implement this, particularly the base layer? Some ideas I've considered:
  • 3" soft/6" firm
  • 3" soft/3" medium/3" extra firm
  • 3" soft/3" firm/3" extra firm
  • 6" medium/3" extra firm

  • I suspect the interactions between the different layers is more complicated than just adding or averaging their ILDs, so I'm not really sure how to go about distributing the firmness throughout the mattress sandwich. I'm thinking it might make sense to start with two different layers, to which I can add a third based on how the first two feel, and hopefully get it right or at most only need one more layer exchange to dial it in. But even with that approach, which starting combo is going to give me the most flexibility and best chance of success?
  • soft/firm
  • soft/extra firm
  • medium/firm
  • medium/extra firm

  • I''m falling into the analysis paralysis rabbit hole... I'd appreciate any advice to help me climb out! :)

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    DIY Latex Mattress Layer Advice? 02 Jul 2021 12:48 #2

    When you say your arms are falling asleep, I completely agree with your assessment "I think what I really need is a very supportive mattress with enough softness on top to cushion my shoulders, arms, hips, etc." That top layer of softness will keep them from falling asleep, a condition which can be caused in side sleepers by too much body pressure on the lower arms. It also can be caused by low blood pressure and putting your hands/arms above your heart while sleeping.

    You ask what is your best chance of success with the following options.
    soft/firm
    soft/extra firm - not a good option because the jump from the soft to extra is so great you will sink through the soft immediately and completely feel that extra firm
    medium/firm
    medium/extra firm

    All the rest are equally good choices in general. Both soft and medium are frequently used as toppers, so you might want to start with the medium/firm or medium/extra firm because all of those firmnesses sounds like ones you want if you want both comfort and support. Softs are squishy! and are best used by people who like the feel of a soft mattress. People who simply want pressure point relief, often prefer mediums.

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    DIY Latex Mattress Layer Advice? 04 Jul 2021 08:08 #3

    My top priority in a mattress is something with a lot of support, to prevent sagging of my midsection, which drives me nuts regardless of position. I used to think that this meant I need a really firm mattress, as these feel a lot less saggy in the middle, but after reading more on this forum, I think what I really need is a very supportive mattress with enough softness on top to cushion my shoulders, arms, hips, etc.

    For the past 20 years, I slept on a DIY mattress with 3 layers of talalay latex. I don't remember the exact specs or brand, but I think it was roughly 3-4" each of soft/med/firm. This was by far the most comfortable mattress I slept on, but it definitely had a bit more sag in the middle than I wanted (especially the last 10 years, which is probably to be expected, but even from the start).

    For my next mattress, I'm thinking some kind of relatively firm Dunlop latex support and transition layers, with a softer Talalay comfort layer might provide the support and alignment my spine needs with the cushioning my shoulders, arms and hips could use. But what's the best way to actually implement this, particularly the base layer?

    I suspect the interactions between the different layers is more complicated than just adding or averaging their ILDs, so I'm not really sure how to go about distributing the firmness throughout the mattress sandwich. I'm thinking it might make sense to start with two different layers, to which I can add a third based on how the first two feel, and hopefully get it right or at most only need one more layer exchange to dial it in. But even with that approach, which starting combo is going to give me the most flexibility and best chance of success?



    Few comments......

    The issues you are running into are extremely common (at least on here). Most typically they happen because the hips and shoulders don't sink far enough into the bed and the midsection lacks the support needed to both help relieve pressure on the shoulders/hips (aching joints, tingling arms, etc) as well as not maintaining proper spinal alignment. There are many body types, shapes, weights, etc (your BMI is only around 25, not that high) so it's hard to make a sweeping statement that fixes every situation. Considering you were quite comfortable initially with a common latex soft (22)/medium (28)/firm (36) combination (I would also pick up a 32ILD in case you need to firm it up more) I'd suggest it would be a good route to follow initially again with a few changes to be made as needed. I would also suggest sticking with all talalay since it sounds like you will definitely benefit from the more conforming abilities of talalay over dunlop (make sure your mattress cover and sheets also flex with the bed as this can affect the comfort of the bed quite a bit). You may later need to look at zoning (in the hip, midsection and shoulder areas) as a way to fix your support/pressure point issues but you are absolutely right that all the layers work in tandem so it's alot more complicated than just averaging the ILDs and assume it will work well (there's alot of trial and error that goes into really dialing in your ideal DIY bed). I would try that first and then make changes/adjustments as needed to get what feels best.

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    DIY Latex Mattress Layer Advice? 07 Jul 2021 21:28 #4

    I have a similar issue, but I am not trying to buy an all-new mattress. I have a pretty firm inner-spring mattress that has only a super thin cotton softness layer on it. We bought it because my wife claims to need the firmest mattress possible to alleviate her lower back pain. We are both 5’8” and around 170 +/- (me a bit more, her a bit less) and in our 40s. In the last few years I have started having horrendous headaches likely caused by tight shoulders and neck muscles. I have occasionally woken up with completely locked up trapezius muscles, both before and after this current mattress. In the past few years I have started side-sleeping more and wake up repeatedly in the night with arms asleep. Based upon this thread and others, I’m considering a 3” topper in medium or firm. I feel like I need something to soften my side sleeping but not too soft to make my wife’s back hurt. Does this sound right?

    Thanks in advance!
    Hammie

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    DIY Latex Mattress Layer Advice? 13 Jul 2021 06:56 #5

    I’m right there with you in the rabbit hole of mattress research and numbness of my mind.....I’m two months in & have run myself in “google search” circles. Im over myself! I just want to find an organic mattress within my price range. I like the talalay and Dunlop latex with wool, a soft top layer with support. .....I recently found this site and I think I’m starting to see a light at the end of this mattress madness...who would of thought that purchasing a mattress could be this emotional & painful?!
    I wanted to thank you & acknowledge your post; wishing you the best in the mattress hunt.
    Sonja.

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    DIY Latex Mattress Layer Advice? 12 Oct 2021 08:35 #6

    I've had a chance to try some different mattresses over the past few months, and this is what I've learned:
    • Bear Mattress (memory and HD foams, reportedly 1" 9 ILD / 2" 18 ILD / 5" 30 ILD): Plenty of pressure relief, but not enough support. I sag deeper than I'd like
    • Purple Mattress (buckling column gel over HD foam): Loved the pressure relief, but no support. I'd bottom out the mattress every time I sat on it.
    • SleepOnLatex "Medium" (1" wool / 4" 34 ILD Dunlop / 4" 46 ILD Dunlop): I loved the support. Mattress felt very firm and bouncy, no sagging at all. But no pressure relief either, and lying on my side, it felt like the mattress surface was "springing" me out, rather than conforming enough to let me stay on my side without falling onto my stomach or back.
    • Previous SleepOnLatex "Medium" (1" wool / 2" 20 ILD Dunlop / 6" 30 ILD Dunlop): I tried this one a year or so ago and confirmed its specs with SOL when checking on their new "Medium". I recall it offering some pressure relief but feeling insufficiently supportive.

    Based on my experience with these different mattresses, I've learned that I want a very supportive mattress that won't sag under my midsection at all on my side and back (like the new SOL Medium), but with enough pressure relief to be comfortable on my shoulders and hips on my side (like the Bear or Purple). I'm going to try building my own SleepEZ mattress to achieve this, and I'm thinking a talalay comfort layer over two dunlop layers is the way to go. These are the combinations I'm leaning towards:
    1. 3" Talalay soft (19-22 ILD) / 3" Dunlop Firm (37-40 ILD) / 3" Dunlop X-Firm (44 ILD): This would be more of a differential build, something like a thick soft talalay topper over the relatively firm "medium" SOL mattress that I liked for its support. My concern with this one is that 3" of soft talalay might allow my waist/hips to sag down more than I'd like.
    2. 2" Talalay soft (19-22 ILD) / 3" Dunlop Medium (30-32 ILD) / 3" Dunlop X-Firm (44 ILD): This would be more of a progressive build, with less soft talalay for my midsection to sink through, but hopefully enough pressure point relief, with the comfort layer borrowing a bit from the top of the middle medium layer. My concern with this one is that the medium layer might compromise the strong spine-aligning support that I'm looking for.

    SleepEZ looks like it has good policies for exchaning a layer, so with option #1, I could exchange for a thinner top layer if I'm sinking too much, or a softer middle layer if it's not pressure relieving enough. With the second option, I could go softer with a thicker top layer or more supportive with a firmer middle layer.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts on which option is more likely to achieve what I'm looking for from the start, or if neceesary, with a single layer exchange.

    Thanks!

    BS

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