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Help me understand progressive 31 Aug 2014 12:42 #1

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I have read the guides explaining the purpose of the different designs and layers - thank you for writing them! Now I'm thinking about how they apply to me and would like some help. I'm female, 5'6", 135lb, and sleep only on my stomach. My husband is 6', 190lb, broad shouldered, and sleeps on his side. Our current bed is an innerspring with a pillow top. As the pillow top is showing wear, I feel less comfortable when I get in bed, but no aches and pains getting up. After reading your guides, this seems reasonable, as there is probably still the one inch of cushion needed for a stomach sleeper, and the springs are still in reasonable condition. My husband however is waking up with shoulder pain, which again makes since as using your measurement tip, he needs 3-4" of comfort layer for side sleeping, and our bed certainly does not have that now, and likely when new still did not have enough.

So how to find a bed for us both? I'm wondering if a progressive design might be the answer, something that has a thin very soft top layer for stomach sleeping, a medium middle layer that would give my back support, but also give my husband the extra depth needed for side sleeping, then a firm bottom layer. Does this sound sensible? If so, then I am next considering if the bottom layer should be a spring design, or latex? Or can both work for this sort of need? I am not interested in poly foam or memory foam due to chemical sensitivity, so I'm thinking latex for the middle and top layers would be best for me regardless of the material of the bottom support layer.

Or am I thinking about it too much and some form of 2 layer design might be able to handle our needs? If so, what might that be like?

Any guidance would be appreciated. My husband hates the "this one or that one" process, but I know he'll appreciate a good choice, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can about what might suit us before I go to the stores to look and play the "this or that" testing game.

Thanks,

Angela

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Help me understand progressive 31 Aug 2014 13:40 #2

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Hi awoods,

I have read the guides explaining the purpose of the different designs and layers - thank you for writing them! Now I'm thinking about how they apply to me and would like some help. I'm female, 5'6", 135lb, and sleep only on my stomach. My husband is 6', 190lb, broad shouldered, and sleeps on his side. Our current bed is an innerspring with a pillow top. As the pillow top is showing wear, I feel less comfortable when I get in bed, but no aches and pains getting up. After reading your guides, this seems reasonable, as there is probably still the one inch of cushion needed for a stomach sleeper, and the springs are still in reasonable condition. My husband however is waking up with shoulder pain, which again makes since as using your measurement tip, he needs 3-4" of comfort layer for side sleeping, and our bed certainly does not have that now, and likely when new still did not have enough.


I would avoid trying to use specs to decide on a mattress that is the best match for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) unless you have a great deal of knowledge about mattress design and theory or experience with many different mattress materials and components and different designs. Even the most experienced mattress designers will often be surprised at how a mattress was "supposed" to feel for any specific person and how it "actually" feels in real life and there are far to many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved to use specs (either yours or a mattress) to choose a mattress based on "theory at a distance". The only reliable way to choose a mattress is either based on your own careful and objective testing using the testing guidelines in the tutorial post or if you can't test a mattress in person then a more detailed conversation with an online retailer or manufacturer that can help "talk you through" the options they have available that would be most likely to be suitable match for you based on "averages" (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here )

I simple terms ... a progressive design uses several layers of materials and components (more than two) that use firmer materials on the bottom and then progressively softer materials as you move towards the top of a mattress. A "differential" design would typically be a more simple two layer design with a firmer support core and then a single softer layer on top of it that has a bigger "differential" between the firmness of the layers but these are just generic concepts and not specific guidelines that can be used to choose a mattress for any particular person.

So how to find a bed for us both? I'm wondering if a progressive design might be the answer, something that has a thin very soft top layer for stomach sleeping, a medium middle layer that would give my back support, but also give my husband the extra depth needed for side sleeping, then a firm bottom layer. Does this sound sensible? If so, then I am next considering if the bottom layer should be a spring design, or latex? Or can both work for this sort of need? I am not interested in poly foam or memory foam due to chemical sensitivity, so I'm thinking latex for the middle and top layers would be best for me regardless of the material of the bottom support layer.


The first part of post #2 here has more information about the different ways that a mattress or sleeping system can be designed to be suitable for a couple that has different needs and preferences. Again though ... your own personal testing or if you can't test a mattress in person then the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced online retailer or manufacturer would be the most reliable way to choose.

Or am I thinking about it too much and some form of 2 layer design might be able to handle our needs? If so, what might that be like?


Yes ... I think you may be thinking about it or "studying" it too much which can lead to "information overwhelm" and "paralysis by analysis". In general it's best to let your body and your testing decide on suitability (PPP) issues (or a more detailed conversation that includes information about your body types, sleeping positions, preferences, any unique health or other circumstances that you need to take into account, and mattresses you have tested or slept on that worked well for you if you are considering an online choice) and then use your mind and "specs" to decide on durability issues (by making sure you know the quality/durability of the materials inside a mattress).

Any guidance would be appreciated. My husband hates the "this one or that one" process, but I know he'll appreciate a good choice, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can about what might suit us before I go to the stores to look and play the "this or that" testing game.


Outside of any specific questions you may have ... my "best" suggestions would be to follow all the steps and guidelines in the tutorial post one at a time without missing any and this will give you the highest possible chance of making the most suitable, durable, and "best value" choice based on the preferences and criteria that are most important to you.

One of the most important parts of a successful mattress purchase is the knowledge, experience, and transparency of the retailer or manufacturer you choose to deal with and if you let me know your city or zip code I'd be happy to let you know about any of the better options or possibilities I'm aware of in your area.

Phoenix
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Help me understand progressive 31 Aug 2014 14:36 #3

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Thank you very much for the helpful response. The posts you linked to were very relevant. I'm an engineer - I like to think about stuff and read details:) In another post you already pointed me to locations in my area (Orlando) - thanks! I plan to go visit Fox mattress, but as it is far enough away to make multiple trips a little less convenient, I'm trying to collect my thoughts before going there, and at least know what issues I want my new bed to address, so I can ask good questions and get the most out of visiting. Original mattress factory is a bit closer, so I think I'll try to go there first to see how a latex comfort layer feels to me. I personally really like your mattress testing procedure, but the hubby isn't going to be real excited about making multiple trips. So I'm trying to get myself focused so I can at least minimize trip length to make the process as easy as I can for him. What got me thinking about how to choose layers was actually from looking at the latex offerings from Sleepingorganic in SC (an area I usually visit at least once a year). They have some very nice customizable layer models, which got me thinking about how to know what kind of layers I'd want...

So to sum up, I think that I've got enough info now to go out and do some informed testing. I've narrowed in on the materials that meet my allergy requirements, and better understand the possible solutions to my husband and I's comfort/support needs.

One further question. I currently use a dust mite encasement. Are there any mattress cover fabrics that use the tight weave fabric that doesn't let dust mites through? It would be very nice not to need a separate encasement.

Thanks,

Angela

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Help me understand progressive 31 Aug 2014 16:00 #4

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Hi awoods,

I plan to go visit Fox mattress, but as it is far enough away to make multiple trips a little less convenient, I'm trying to collect my thoughts before going there, and at least know what issues I want my new bed to address, so I can ask good questions and get the most out of visiting. Original mattress factory is a bit closer, so I think I'll try to go there first to see how a latex comfort layer feels to me.


It may be a good idea to talk with them first after some of your local testing so you can tell them a little more about you and your preferences and do a little bit of narrowing down about the mattresses they have on their floor that you may want to test. If you also try and meet with the same person you were talking to when you actually visit you would already have finished some of the "preliminaries" and you would probably be able to make much more effective use of your time when you were there.

I personally really like your mattress testing procedure, but the hubby isn't going to be real excited about making multiple trips. So I'm trying to get myself focused so I can at least minimize trip length to make the process as easy as I can for him.


Hopefully if you do some of the "work" on the phone then one trip will be enough to narrow things down to a "finalist" there but I think it's very important for a couple to test mattresses together because having two people on a mattress can feel different and can identify some possible issues (such as motion isolation or "roll together") that you wouldn't notice if only one of you was testing the mattress.

What got me thinking about how to choose layers was actually from looking at the latex offerings from Sleepingorganic in SC (an area I usually visit at least once a year). They have some very nice customizable layer models, which got me thinking about how to know what kind of layers I'd want...


Online manufacturers that sell component mattresses generally have "standardized" designs and firmness options that they use as a baseline to help their customers make choices that would have a high chance of success based on "averages" but I would keep in mind that as soon as a mattress you are considering has any significant differences (such as in the type, thickness, or firmness of the layers or the type of cover) then translating one design into another can be difficult and in some cases seemingly small differences between two mattresses can make a surprising difference in how they feel and perform in terms of PPP. If you test a local mattress that has the same type of materials or components in the same thickness and firmness levels and the same type of cover as an online mattress then they will generally be a close approximation but if there are differences then it's as much an art as a science to try and predict how the differences will play out in "real life" for any particular person. In the case of component mattresses though ... they often have the advantage of being able to rearrange or exchange layers so you can do some fine tuning after a purchase if your initial layer combinations don't work out as well as you hoped.

One further question. I currently use a dust mite encasement. Are there any mattress cover fabrics that use the tight weave fabric that doesn't let dust mites through? It would be very nice not to need a separate encasement.


Not that I'm aware of no (or at least none that are breathable because some mattresses do have completely impermeable or waterproof covers but these are usually more institutional or industrial mattresses or are made for children). You may have seen this already but there is more about mattress encasements in post #2 here .

Phoenix
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Help me understand progressive 01 Sep 2014 15:40 #5

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Thanks a lot for the very helpful advise! Good to know that there are no "built in" dust mite encasements, one less variable to think about while shopping for the mattress.

Today I went to Original Mattress Factory and did the "flop about" test. The top 3 that I liked were the Serenity latex model with a Poly foam core, and two of the Orthopedic Line innerspring mattresses, the Super Pillow Top and the Ultra Plush. I liked that they had little cross sections of each bed next to the bed, so I could see what is inside. What I learned about my preferences
* Like a springy feeling mattress - I was surprised how springy the latex really is and quite liked it
* Like a medium softness to the comfort layer.
* Like to feel like I'm "on" the bed rather than "in" it. My hubby likes to sink in a bit more than I do.
It was interesting that the two innerspring models I liked best had the exact same comfort layers, and the difference was purely in the construction, a European boxy pillowtop vs a plush tight top. My old mattress is a pillowtop, but it was a different kind of pillowtopy - rather than a side to the pillow top that has depth like the European one, it is a side with no depth, but still a separate pillow on the mattress top. Is there a name for that? I'm wondering if they are still made. I found that I prefer that style to either of the two I looked at today. I didn't really care for the high in the center feel of the plush, but I found that I sink into the boxy style pillowtop a bit more than I liked.

I also noticed that Original Mattress Factory uses a cotton pad inside their innerspring models. I remember in the Fox video on their website that they indicated this is a poor choice for the humidity of FL because it can trap moisture and cause mildew issues. Do you have any opinion on this? I definitely have issues with dust mites and mold, so I want to choose something that is not prone to either.

Thanks for the good description of the online seller configuration strategy. I do like the idea of being able to modify a layer if the original choice isn't quite perfect. I doubt I could buy something without trying first - that seems too difficult, but if I'm in SC any time soon, I will make a point to stop by their showroom and test some.

I like your calling guide very much - thanks for helping with "what to ask". I will think over what I've learned today and then plan a trip out to Fox to hopefully try out a couple more kinds of latex mattresses. The place today only had one model, so it would be nice to get to compare a couple different latex firmnesses.

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Help me understand progressive 01 Sep 2014 21:15 #6

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Hi awoods,

My old mattress is a pillowtop, but it was a different kind of pillowtopy - rather than a side to the pillow top that has depth like the European one, it is a side with no depth, but still a separate pillow on the mattress top.


If the mattress looks something like this (like a separate pillow with recessed edges sewed to the mattress) then it's a pillow top. If the mattress has flush edges like this with a "box" on top ... then it's a Eurotop or a box top. Post #2 here has more about the differences between them.

I also noticed that Original Mattress Factory uses a cotton pad inside their innerspring models. I remember in the Fox video on their website that they indicated this is a poor choice for the humidity of FL because it can trap moisture and cause mildew issues. Do you have any opinion on this? I definitely have issues with dust mites and mold, so I want to choose something that is not prone to either.


While it would depend on the specifics of the design and what was over the cotton and how well the mattress can breathe, having cotton deeper inside a mattress can make some difference and have a higher risk for mold or mildew in more humid environments yes. This doesn't mean it would be an issue ... only that the risk would be higher.

I like your calling guide very much - thanks for helping with "what to ask". I will think over what I've learned today and then plan a trip out to Fox to hopefully try out a couple more kinds of latex mattresses. The place today only had one model, so it would be nice to get to compare a couple different latex firmnesses.


I'm looking forward to your feedback after your visit and of course any comments or questions you may have along the way.

Phoenix
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Help me understand progressive 02 Sep 2014 15:25 #7

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Yes, pillowtop is what my old mattress is - thanks!

Thanks for the opinion on the cotton layer - I could see the cut away when I was there, and it was the insulator used right above the wire mesh on top of the box springs - so I think for me this might be an eliminating factor for this model. One of my goals with my new mattress is to reduce allergy possibilities.

After thinking about the feel of the latex mattress, I think that overall I like the material best so far in the intangibles, but from a comfort perspective it was a bit too firm. I want to try a latex model that feels "softer". The construction of the comfort layer on each side is
* 1" of Talalay latex blend (60/40), 16-22ILD 2.75-3.25lb density
* 2" of Talalay latex blend (60/40), 21-27ILD 3-3.5lb density
And the core:
* 4" HD FoamCore - 26-34 ILD, 2.5lb density
I understand from your excellent guides that ILD helps describe softness so I would want to try some lower ILD numbers I think to compare. What does the ILD given as a range mean? When I was there in person, there were no options to choose, so it wasn't that I could pick 16 or 22 for example for the top layer. Could you also describe if density has an impact on comfort? I think I've understood density to have an impact on durability, with higher numbers being of better quality. Does density also have an impact on comfort or support?

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Help me understand progressive 02 Sep 2014 15:48 #8

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Hi awoods,

What does the ILD given as a range mean?


ILD's are never exact with latex (or any material for that matter) and they are always in a range. There is more about this in post #6 here . Many retailers or manufacturers will specify a single number which is usually just the "target" ILD or the midpoint of the range. ILD variances in the range of about 2 or 3 ILD or sometimes even more would be undetectable for most people.

I would tend to avoid using comfort specs to choose a mattress since most consumers don't have the knowledge or experience to really know how to translate them into meaningful terms and with careful testing your body will tell you more about whether a mattress is a good match for you in terms of PPP than comfort specs. ILD is also only one of many factors that can affect the softness of a material or a mattress and by itself can be as misleading as helpful (see post #4 here ).

Could you also describe if density has an impact on comfort? I think I've understood density to have an impact on durability, with higher numbers being of better quality. Does density also have an impact on comfort or support?


Comfort is a very subjective term and involves a combination of pressure relief, alignment, the surface feel of a mattress, the overall feel of a mattress, and other aspects that affect how "comfortable" someone may be sleeping on a mattress such as motion isolation, motion restriction, and temperature regulation so it really doesn't have any specific meaning.

Having said that ... with polyfoam and memory foam density is mostly related to the quality/durability of a material and with these two types of foam any density can be manufactured in a wide range of firmness levels (and with other properties besides firmness). Density does have some relationship to compression modulus though (higher density polyfoams and memory foams tend to have a higher compression modulus) and since compression modulus is also one of the factors that can affect the softness of a foam material it can have "some effect" on how soft or firm a foam feels when you sink into it more deeply.

With latex on the other hand ... density is a comfort spec not a quality spec and is directly related to ILD so firmer latex will have a higher density than softer latex of the same type and blend. I would also keep in mind that because ILD is only one factor in the firmness of latex (or any foam material) and because ILD is sometimes tested using different methods or thicknesses of test material that different types and blends of latex that have the same ILD rating may not be the same softness/firmness, different types and blends of latex that have the same density almost certainly won't be the same ILD, and even different types or blends of latex that are tested in exactly the same way and have the same ILD may not feel like they are the same softness because of the differences in some of the other specs involved with how firm or soft a foam feels to someone.

I would also keep in mind that support isn't only about firmness or softness because the goal of a mattress is good alignment in all your sleeping positions and a mattress that is too firm can be just as non supportive as a mattress that is too soft depending on which part of the body needs to be supported. There is more about primary and secondary support and their relationship to pressure relief in post #2 here .

If you begin to focus on specs (other that the "quality specs" that you need to know that you can't feel when you test a mattress) then you may quickly reach a point of "information overwhelm" and "paralysis by analysis" and still be no further ahead in being able to decide which mattress is the best match for you in terms of PPP because your body will be much more effective at knowing this than your mind.

Phoenix
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Help me understand progressive 02 Sep 2014 18:20 #9

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Thanks a lot for the great descriptions! I understand what the numbers mean much better now. I'm trying to figure out what questions to ask Fox over the phone in preparation for a visit. My goal for the visit are
1) Find the comfort level of latex I like best - softness feel
2) explore the support core types available that can be combined with that type of comfort layer feel I like and test them for appropriate support for me
3) compare the result to the feel of to a pillowtop innerspring model to decide for sure if I want to go with latex

So would describing those goals and conveying then stats on the one latex mattress I have tried along with my impression that it felt supportive, bit a bit too firm be a good away to have them help me find models that I might like? What else should I discuss on the phone to try to make my in person visit efficient?

Thanks,

Angela

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Help me understand progressive 02 Sep 2014 18:55 #10

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Hi awoods,

Thanks a lot for the great descriptions! I understand what the numbers mean much better now. I'm trying to figure out what questions to ask Fox over the phone in preparation for a visit.


There really isn't a lot of prior work you will need to do because you already know they are knowledgeable and transparent and most of the testing will be done when you go there.

My standard opening "line" when I call a retailer or manufacturer is "can I talk with someone about your mattresses?" I would then tell them you are traveling a fair distance and wanted to maximize the time that you had available there so could you give them a little bit of information about you and the mattresses you have tested and liked so that they can help you narrow things down a little bit before you visit them. I would then tell them what you are looking for (along the lines of what you posted here) and see if you can set a time to go there that the person you talked with will be on the floor so you can deal with them when you are there (and not have to start at the beginning again).

I would keep things very general and leave the specifics for when you go there.

Phoenix
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