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Latex mattress help for a side sleeper with a history of lower back pain

28 Aug 2018 21:24 - 28 Aug 2018 21:53 #1 by Dormir7
In the past year my lower back pain, whose origin stems from a car accident many years back, has been exacerbated by a relatively cheap memory foam mattress. Said mattress was a Comfort Dream of Medium firmness (composed of: 2” 3.5lb foam, 2” 3lb foam, 2” 1.4lb urethane and 5” 1.5lb urethane), which while it lasted provided sufficient support and pressure point relief; unfortunately, the comfort layers broke down resulting in me bottoming out and becoming somewhat disabled by lower back pain. I should point out I’m a side sleeper who is 5.6 and ~190lbs (30.7 BMI).
Well, about 3 months ago, I purchased a Sleep on Latex (SOL) medium mattress (composed of 2” 4lb 20 ILD Dunlop latex, 1” wool cover, 2” 4lb 20 ILD Dunlop, and 6” 5.2lb 34 ILD Dunlop). The medium mattress’ comfort layer wasn’t thick enough (and my hips hit the support layer) so I ordered a soft SOL 3” topper (20 ILD Dunlop), which made me feel too lofty and undermined the support I need for my lower back. This led me to a 2” soft topper which helped with my back pain. I still have the mattress and topper but am nearing the end of the trial and need to make a hard decision. It hasn’t been easy adjusting to it but my lower back pain pretty much disappeared all day/night, which is phenomenal. Unfortunately, my shoulders get numb and tingle all day.
I have also tried a Bear Mattress composed of memory foam top layer and quick response foam transitional layer totaling 5” ranging from 3.5-1.8lbs and 9-22ILD, and a support layer that is 5” 1.8lb 36 ILD. Apparently Bear changed their layers and won’t divulge anything more than that. The mattress had too much comfort and like the 3” SOL Dunlop topper undercut the support I need. It did help with the pressure points however.
In your opinion, how can I keep the support of a mattress (preferably latex) and get rid of numb shoulders? I’m afraid a soft SOL latex mattress wouldn’t provide enough support. Would a comfort layer of latex <20 ILD help? Am I better off trying a memory foam mattress like a Novosbed whose composition somewhat resembles my first mattress but has denser layers of higher quality?
Thank you kindly for reading my email and for helping someone improve the quality of his life.
Last edit: 28 Aug 2018 21:53 by Dormir7. Reason: More detail on SOL medium mattress not sufficing

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29 Aug 2018 08:20 - 29 Aug 2018 08:28 #2 by Mike77
Dont wanna but in too much here, but what kind of mattress did you get again? It seems you listed a medium as

(composed of 2” 4lb 20 ILD Dunlop latex, 1” wool cover, 2” 4lb 20 ILD Dunlop, and 6” 5.2lb 34 ILD Dunlop)

Is that 2 x 2" layers of 20 ILD dunlop? Or is the mattress, as ive seen it, only has 1x2" soft layer above 6" inches of support with 1" wool cover.

I have experience w/ this, so i can throw my 2 cents in real quick. Dunlop gets firm relatively quickly compared to talalay. So if you have 2x2" inches of material, that can put more pressure on your shoulders if your body is sinking into the toppers more. Have you double checked your alignment side sleeping? The numbness and tinglyness can come from shoulder pressure and/or alignment problems. I get it if my upper back caves in too much (kyphosis). ARe your shoulders comfortable w/ the 2" topper on the medium latex mattress? Or do the feel compressed. Do they feel compressed w/o the topper? You may be experiencing a slight differential between hip and shoulder support. Trading one for the other. Something i have been struggling with for a long time.

Make sure you're aligned properly and your pillow is of the right thickness. Your ears should probably be somewhat in line w/ your shoulders. Neck not too bent either way. That's a good start.

Did you feel pain w/ the "bear company" mattress? Pain from the lack of support?

As far as what to do in the long run. I would say support and alignment should be your priority. SOL only sells dunlop processed latex material. So all their mattresses are dunlop in design. Your other option is to try talalay next. 2 inches or 3 inches may be a good start. That material is softer overall and has much more give to it. That may be all you need. That 3 " SOL topper is dunlop and can add to pressure points differently than talalay.

But i will defer to the expert if he thinks im wrong.
Last edit: 29 Aug 2018 08:28 by Mike77.

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29 Aug 2018 08:42 #3 by Dormir7

Thanks for the reply and the below correction.

Re: composed of 2” 4lb 20 ILD Dunlop latex, 1” wool cover, 2” 4lb 20 ILD Dunlop, and 6” 5.2lb 34 ILD Dunlop)

*The 2” above the wool cover is the topper, and not the mattress.

I have a new cheap pillow but have considered a SOL high loft Dunlop pillow wondering if this would help.

The Bear Mattress didn’t provide enough support and gave me lower back pain. The comfort is great, however. I felt like my hip sunk in too much and I got out of alignment.


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29 Aug 2018 08:45 #4 by Mike77
Yeah that's highly likely. If you feel out of alignment or different, than you probably are. Any pillow that keeps your head at a height high enough to not crush the shoulder is enough. Cheap or otherwise.

But do you feel like your shoulders compress at all on the new mattress? With or w/o the 2" topper on top?

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29 Aug 2018 09:36 #5 by Dormir7

Yes, the shoulder pain is with the 2” soft Dunlop topper on the medium Dunlop mattress. I can’t handle the mattress without the topper - it’s way too much on the pressure points as I hit the support layer.

My hips are relatively fine on the topper. I would think my hips would sink deeper than my shoulder so I don’t think my shoulder is hitting the support layer through 2” topper + 2” comfort of mattress. I think the 20 ILD may be too firm for my shoulders? I’ve read some articles that state Talalay being softer than Dunlop is a myth and the two are nearly identical in feel.


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29 Aug 2018 09:42 - 29 Aug 2018 09:47 #6 by DR
As someone who had lower back pain as well, the best configuration that worked for me was (bottom to top) F/M/M (all Dunlop) with the denser sides of the layers (large holes) facing up. I seemed to be experiencing lower back pain with both the Medium Talalay and Soft Talalay. These are SavvyRest's layers, so I can't tell you the ILD for them, though. They are somewhere in another thread in this forum.

For reference, I am 5' 10" and around 140 lbs. (female). I do not experience any shoulder issues with the configuration I have.
Last edit: 29 Aug 2018 09:47 by DR.

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29 Aug 2018 10:07 - 29 Aug 2018 10:10 #7 by Mike77
It is no myth. Talalay and dunlop are 2 different processes. Dunlop gets firmer faster. Talalay gets firmer more slowly. If you try them both you will understand. However, they can be very similar in feel depending on the layering and where you place them aswell as the person laying on them and their sensitivities. If you're talking about pressure relief, talalay can help better than dunlop if the dunlop is firming up too fast for your shoulders. The only option you have left since you have an all ready soft dunlop (and anything firmer would make problems worse) is to either try a softer dunlop, or to try a soft talalay. Which would allow you to sink in further, while helping to relieve PPs. But the firmness would be a guess. Medium maybe a bit better (22-27ish ILD), but soft (19ish ILD) might work too. I cant know for sure.

As far as DRs suggestion, you could try flipping it to see if that helps. Though the bottom layer may be too thick for that to work. But couldn't hurt to try it.

You could also try this. Put the 2 inch dunlop under the mattress. that might help soften it up where you need it to. While retaining the firmness and support you need.
Last edit: 29 Aug 2018 10:10 by Mike77.

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29 Aug 2018 10:23 - 29 Aug 2018 10:35 #8 by Mike77
Also how removeable are the layers? Is it glued on? Because you could also try that 3" inch SOL topper on the dunlop base if you can remove the 2" on the top.

And where are u getting the tingling in your shoulders? Head of the hummerous? Or the shoulder blade?

I have wide shoulders compared to my hips, so i have to put a pillow under my ribcage to keep it from sinking in further than my shoulders to help take pressure off. If my ribs sink in too far compared to my shoulders, i get shoulder pressure all night long. Very uncomfortable to sleep on. With dunlop this can be a problem because you need to sink in to get that relief.
Last edit: 29 Aug 2018 10:35 by Mike77.

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29 Aug 2018 12:00 #9 by Dormir7

I get the tingling down the shoulder throughout the arm during the day.

Good to know about Talalay. I will consider a topper. Any recommend for vendors?

Before doing so, I will flip the topper as recommended by DR; also insert under mattress to soften.

The layering of the mattress is glued so not much liberty there for variable combinations.

Thanks again,

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29 Aug 2018 15:01 #10 by Mike77
Talalay is more expensive, but i found good vendors on ebay. Low prices Ultimatesleepstores is one seller i use.

However, if you can afford it, other vendors exist if you can afford higher prices and return shipping for exchanges. A google search for talalay mattress toppers will bring up a few. Depending on where you live, it could be cheaper to use if the store is close by or return shipping is in the same state. Have you checked for local stores with returns in your area?

Yeah glue is an issue. Its better to find a good latex mattress that allows you to more freely configure and remove layers. Have you checked Savvyrest at all? They sell latex mattresses.

Lots of "mattresses in a box" too. You could easily return this and try some others, rather than forcing yourself to get stuck with this one.

Just a thought.

And finally, if you still have that 3" soft topper. You can try to flip the mattress, and place that ALONE on the dunlop support layer. If that provides relief, then at least you know you're probably in the right direction.

Good luck.

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