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Need help tweaking a DIY latex mattress 08 Jun 2022 18:14 #1

  • Amyrinthe
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Hello! Long-time reader, first time poster here on the forum. Thanks so much for all of the great info you share!

I'm currently sleeping on a fairly comfy DIY mattress. But, after several months of sleeping on it, I've become concerned that I'm not getting sufficient spinal support.

I'm a combo sleeper (side, stomach, and back). I'm 5'3" and weigh about 135-140lbs. And, I'm curvy; so contouring support is a big deal for me.

But, I'm waking up to SI joint pain. This is by far the "cushiest" mattress I've ever slept on. So, I suspect I'm sinking into the mattress too much, putting strain on my lower back.

My current stack is:
1" 4.5lb memory foam
2" soft talalay latex (19 ild)
3" medium dunlop latex (25-32 ild)
3" firm dunlop latex (33-39 ild)

After doing some research, I think I need a firmer support layer than the medium dunlop I currently have. But, I tried swapping the medium dunlop for a firm dunlop support layer and it was much too firm for me.

I'm wondering if an extra firm talalay layer (36 ild) would be a good "Goldilocks" compromise between the medium dunlop layer that's too soft and the firm dunlop layer that was too firm.

Option 1:
1" memory foam
2" soft talalay (19 ild)
3" extra firm talalay (36 ild)
3" firm dunlop (33-39 ild)

But, I know that talalay allows for more compression. So would swapping from dunlop to talalay in the middle layer leave me sinking into the mattress too far anyway?

Would it be better to keep the medium dunlop support layer and replace the soft talalay comfort layer with a medium talalay comfort layer?

Option 2"
1" memory foam
2" medium talalay (28 ild)
3" medium dunlop (25-32 ild)
3" firm dunlop (33-39 ild)

For providing more spinal support, without sacrificing the squish I need for side sleeping, which of these options makes more sense?

Thanks in advance!

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Need help tweaking a DIY latex mattress 09 Jun 2022 03:09 #2

  • lantern71
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1) when you say you are "waking up to SI joint pain" does this happen in the middle of the night or generally in the mornings?
2) do you experience the discomfort in all or just certain sleep positions?
3) any reason you called out the SI Joint in particular?



based on the info you gave first try removing the memory and laying on the 3 latex layers by themselves. At worst you get some more data points to inform your next move.


for the two options you listed.......I'm not sure option 1 would turn out much different than when your switched the firm and medium dunlop. Option 2 is a logical alternative but I can't tell you if it will work for you. Another option is to find some latex with a firmness that sits between soft and medium talalay.

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Need help tweaking a DIY latex mattress 09 Jun 2022 09:10 #3

  • MattressToGo
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Amyrinthe:

A few quick thoughts:

-As for the layering order, try moving the medium Dunlop up one level, and then move the soft Talalay down one level (basically swapping the position of these two layers in your current configuration). See if you respond a bit better to something that doesn't allow for "quite as much" point elasticity in the uppermost layers. This is a nice test to do, as you don't have to go out and purchase any new materials - one of the advantages of a configurable component style system.

- As for SI joint pain, there are so many reasons for pain in this area, and sometimes a different sleep surface can "trigger" some of these issues. Besides considering adjustment of your sleep surface, you may wish to investigate the evaluation/assistance of a qualified medical professional to see if there are strengthening and/or flexibility exercises that might also assist you. There's a really good YouTube channel out there called Bob and Brad, and they're Physical Therapists and they have quite a bit of really good information about SI joint issues and provide helpful advice. Here's one of their videos that recently helped me with a chronic low back tightness issue (YMMV).

I'm sure others will chime in with some suggestions for layering on your mattress set. I would tend to try these things for a few weeks and objectively analyze one thing at a time.

Good luck!
Jeff Scheuer, The Beducator™ Owner of Mattress To Go
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Need help tweaking a DIY latex mattress 09 Jun 2022 18:50 #4

  • Amyrinthe
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Hi there!

Many thanks to both of you for your feedback. :)

In answer to your questions, Lantern71...

1) I wake up in the morning with my pelvis literally out of alignment. I feel it along my right SI joint because it's the right side of my pelvis that tends to shift.
2) I usually wake up on my back, but sleep on my side and stomach through the night. I suspect it's the side and stomach positions that allow for the shifting. I've been using a body pillow (with limited success) to mitigate.
3) I focus on the SI joint because I know I have an unstable pelvis, with the most common point of movement being my right SI joint. This isn't a new issue (I've worked on it in the past with a PT and am working with one again now. Thanks for the video suggestions, MattressToGo!)

But, I didn't wake up constantly misaligned until I switched to this much softer mattress.

Thanks so much for the stacking suggestions! I'll try removing the memory foam and also swapping the medium and soft latex layers to see what I can learn from that.

In case neither of those yield the results I'm hoping for, can either of you help me understand how to estimate the difference in feel between talalay and dunlop of the same ILD? I've been reading about compression modulus, hysteresis, and ILD.

I understand that most latex is only guaranteed within an ILD range. And without knowing where it falls in that range, it's tough to make direct comparisons even between two layers of the same ILD range and manufacturing process (dunlop to dunlop, etc).

Combine that with the varying compression modulus and hysteresis levels between talalay and dunlop and estimates seem impossible to parse out.

For instance, is it reasonable to assume that firm talalay would be comparable in feel to medium dunlop? Or, is there a numerical span in ILD that makes for reasonable equivalence in feel? (Ex. Dunlop ILD 28 = Talalay ILD 32)

Any insight would be appreciated.

Finally, if the issue is spinal support, is the solution always adjusting the support layers? Or can that issue be solved in the comfort layers?

Many, many thanks!

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Need help tweaking a DIY latex mattress 10 Jun 2022 01:43 #5

  • lantern71
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In case neither of those yield the results I'm hoping for, can either of you help me understand how to estimate the difference in feel between talalay and dunlop of the same ILD?

For instance, is it reasonable to assume that firm talalay would be comparable in feel to medium dunlop? Or, is there a numerical span in ILD that makes for reasonable equivalence in feel? (Ex. Dunlop ILD 28 = Talalay ILD 32)

I don’t have a great answer for this other than to reiterate what you have probably already read. If you have dunlop and talalay of the same ILD, talalay will allow for more travel, i.e let you sink in more. Because it has more give, talalay will feel slightly softer. Talalay is also bouncier. One is not better than the other. The goal is to find the solution that provides pressure relief and alignment.


When comparing dunlop products it is often recommended to use the density spec instead of ILD. Someone else would have to confirm, but maybe you can to the same when comparing talalay and dunlop.


If your latex has a label affixed, it might also contain quality control data for ild. Might help you out since the dunlop has such a wide range.


Finally, if the issue is spinal support, is the solution always adjusting the support layers? Or can that issue be solved in the comfort layers?


It can be both. If the comfort layer is too soft or too thick, it can cause alignment issues regardless of what the support layer looks like. As you may have read, general recommendations for comfort layer thickness are 2” for back sleeper, 3” for side sleepers. Stomach sleepers tend to be thinner as well as firmer.

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