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Comfort + Support for Lightweight Person 15 Mar 2013 16:58 #1

  • raven
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Hi Phoenix,
I have learned a lot reading this website, and would appreciate your insights and advice on a mattress. I have read the information on how to choose the best mattress for my body type and have visited mattress makers in Calgary, where I live.

Background information:
My body profile: 5'1", 102 lb, more curvy than straight, equal width hips and shoulders
My husband's body profile: 5'11", 175 lb, lean and narrow

Pain Issues:
I get upper back/shoulder and pressure point pain if a bed is too firm, lower back/hip pain if a bed sags. The worst bed for me is one that is too firm, has a stiff comfort layer and sags. My husband prefers a firm mattress, but because of body weight differences, we rarely spend a whole night in the same bed together.

We had a bed that worked well for me for about 3 years - a high end Serta with a cushy comfort layer. However, after 3 years, despite my light weight, the foam in the pillow top compressed into body impressions that made the bed feel like a hammock. The store where we bought it sent out an "expert" who of course said the impressions weren't deep enough to warrant an exchange. A familiar story.

Seven years ago we purchased a queen split that we purchased from Halstead's (not Dean Halstead, but the people who bought his shop). It is made up of inserts that we can change and a topper that can also be changed. The original topper was low profile pillow top that is on the stiff side. We tried several inserts, and appreciated the opportunity: coils (too soft and deep - my hip caved in, hip pain), memory foam (same thing, plus felt like quicksand), various foams and latex. Settled on soft foam (1.5") over firm foam (1.5") on my side, latex (2 x 1" layer, ILD ?) on my husband's side. It never felt right - overstuffed, rolled toward the centre - but was the best we tried. It never was as comfortable as the Serta originally was, I suspect because the comfort layer was never right for me and we never got the right combination of support layers. Unfortuantely, the pillow top started to sag and hip pain reoccured.

We changed the inserts to M32 foam, the topper to a plush pillow top. Don't know why, but the bed gave me the worst back pain I've ever experienced, couldn't spend a whole night on it. For me, it was like sleeping on boulders - pressure points in strange places, including my ribs. Currently have the original latex (2 x 1"layers) over the topper, which helps somewhat, but still gives me hip pain. It's a strange combination of a stiff comfort layer with a saggy support layer.

We tried taking the topper off altogether, but can't seem to find the right combination of foam and/or latex that would give me the right combination of a cushy comfort layer with good support, and are thinking that we need to start over with a whole new bed.

Ironically, I have encountered good combinations away from home: 1) a custom made bed from Nova Scotia that has a cushy memory foam layer over good support. Unfortunately, the owners of the B&B couldn't remember how thick or dense the memory foam is or what is in the support layer. 2) a 1.5" layer of soft foam over a high quality, fairly firm bed at the Banff Centre 3) same 1.5" soft foam over a 6" foam (density & firmness?) on a wooden base at a rustic fishing camp.

My thinking is that I would do best on a comfort layer, perhaps a topper, that is soft enough to conform to my body, but not so deep or soft that I sink in too much and throw my back out of alignment, over a support base that is firm but has some give.

I have tried many beds in many materials, but am still not sure how thick a topper, how soft, what material or combinations, and what support base would work best for me. For example, would a 2.5" or a 2" topper be better, is 24 ILD talalay soft enough for my light weight or would a 14 - 15 ILD be better, would a combination topper (1"Aurius memory foam + 1.5 " latex) be better than a single material topper, would a 32 ILD Talalay support base be significantly better support than a 28 ILD that felt too saggy to keep me in alignment, how thick a support base do I need for my weight and body type, should I avoid natural fibres such as wool and cotton and bamboo because of their potential to compress and harden, how do Swedish coils compare with pocket coils in terms of support and lateral movement?

The mattress makers I have talked with are Dormir, Labbe and The Mattress Maker (Dean Halstead). The return policy at Dormir and Labbe is 30 days, except for a totally custom made. They both carry Talalay latex, though the softest is 24 ILD, Aurius memory foam, gel infused foam and high density poly foams. My impression is that they listen well and are open to trying different options. The lack of a return policy for totally custom made could be an issue. Dean Halstead claims that he keep working on a mattress until it's right. He has recommended a fibre canvas over 1" Aurius memory foam (6 lb) over 1.5" collapsing get over stiff Swedish coil. Unfortunately the cost is high: $4000-5000, and I wonder about the fibre. He is open to other materials as well - latex, Aurius, high-density foams etc.

Other beds I've tried: Essentia Classic 8 and Energie Opus (I see that you're skeptical about Essentia), and Zedbed's S-9 and S-11 (the only Zedbed models I can find in Calgary).

Thank, Phoenix. I look forward to your insights.

I can be more specific about the local manufacturers I've talked with, beds I've tried, but think that I need more information on

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Comfort + Support for Lightweight Person 15 Mar 2013 23:00 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi raven,

I think your circumstances and the information you have written is too complex and there is too much "missing information" for me to provide any specific suggestions on a forum based on "theory" alone. It would probably take a book on mattress theory and design to begin to address all the variables you have introduced and like a doctor trying to diagnose a complex health issue on a forum ... it would be outside the context of what is possible. At the very least it would require much more detailed and interactive conversations and probably the ability to see you in person to even begin to help you decide on your best options.

Having said that .. I may be able to provide some limited or generic help but I would need to take things in smaller steps and have more "baseline information" to build on. I would also suggest reading post #45 here and post #2 here and post #6 here and post #4 here and post #36 here and post #35 here . As you will see, complex situations may have multiple causes and may have no simple or obvious solutions and may require some trial and error. I would also suggest talking with Halstead Sofa and Mattress Makers where I believe you purchased your mattress and who are members here. They and the other "better" Calgary options I'm aware of (which you've probably seen) are included in post #2 here .

I'm also not clear if you are looking to make changes to the mattress you have or if you are looking to buy a new mattress completely.

The first step though is to know the specific details of what you are currently sleeping on layer by layer and then try to "connect" the specific symptoms you are experiencing (or have experienced previously) to some ideas about what type of changes ... either in your current mattress or a new mattress ... may help them. More specific layering information about the mattresses you have tried that "worked" for you would also be very helpful.

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Last edit: by phoenix.
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