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How firm is too firm? 15 Apr 2013 23:27 #1

  • Ivehadit
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Hello! New guy here. Going to Oklahoma Mattress Co. tomorrow for 2nd visit with Jim. Looking at all latex. Started with 6" firm core with 2" each med and soft Talalay. Got up after 20 minutes and my back hurt. Everything I tried after that, my back hurt. Wife and I tried different combo's for 2 hours, but I think once I started hurting, I was not able to really feel anything correctly. I'm 6'2 and weigh 300lbs. Jim said we will start tomorrow with 6" firm core with 4" med, then try xtra firm core with 4" firm. My wife is afraid I'm going for too much support and no comfort. She's 5'10 and 200 lbs, and she wants lots of smoosh on her half. I'm afraid she'll have all comfort and no support. This will be our 3rd bed in 5 years. First 2 were big chain big S beds that were firm. About 6k worth. The tops surrendered w/i a few months. We're both side sleepers, and my shoulder hurts when I sleep, and I get up with back pain that soon dissipates after I move around. A few months back wife bought soft 4" dunlop topper to try to help my shoulder. No luck. So, we are nervous about getting this right for us. Whew. Wife thinks we need all latex, and Jim doesn't sell latex over innerspring, so all latex it is. Getting ready for tomorrow, studied tons of info and feedback over the last 2 weeks! I hope we get this right! Thank you all so much for the education. My wife says that Phoenix is a genius. Your advice is calm and logical and smart. We appreciate anything you could say that might help us before going back. This site deserves an award!

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How firm is too firm? 16 Apr 2013 01:08 #2

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Hi Ivehadit,

There is really no easy or specific answer to this question because it depends on the design of the mattress and which layers you are talking about as well as how each person interacts with each design based on the differences in their body type, sleeping style, and individual sensitivities and even physiological differences. As you can read in post #4 here and in post #5 here ... the goal of a mattress is to provide you with the PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) that is closest to your personal ideal. This will take a combination of firmness and softness in different layers that work well together with your body type and sleeping style.

I will say though that at your weight much firmer than the norm would be a better choice because heavier weights will perceive firmer layers as being softer than lighter people.

Your experience of testing is also not unusual in terms of the "residual effect" of testing some mattresses and it's usually a good idea to wait a bit before testing more when this happens or when you lose the ability to differentiate between mattresses because of "testing fatigue".

You are in good hands and I would take your time. I would also remember that a little firmer is usually a little safer choice than a little softer because you can always soften up a mattress that is too firm over time but you can't improve the support of a mattress that is too soft by adding layers on top and you would need to remove or replace layers in this case.

In general terms ... most people today are used to mattresses that are probably too soft for their needs although mattresses that are too firm (firm enough that they produce symptoms of pressure relief or alignment issues when you sleep on them) are also not good choices. It's always the balance between the conflicting requirements of pressure relief and alignment which produces the "ideal" mattress for each person.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

How firm is too firm? 16 Apr 2013 01:25 #3

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Just want to thank you for your time and response. So that was testing fatigue. Hope we get a better feel tomorrow for whats right for us. Does the number of layers affect things? Do I even need a little soft layer on top? Again-Thank you

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How firm is too firm? 16 Apr 2013 01:35 #4

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Hi Ivehadit,

The place to start is always post #1 here and the information it links to. As you can see from this article and the other posts I linked, all people need some degree of softness (relative to them) on top for pressure relief and to help fill in the gaps in the sleeping profile and maintain alignment in each of your sleeping positions and also deeper firmness to help stop the pelvic girdle from sinking down too far and causing either joint of spinal misalignment. The key in both cases is to use your testing to find out what is "enough" which will vary in both cases based on the many differences between people. This is where the help of experienced and knowledgeable people who can help you in person can be very valuable.

The number and type of layers can change the feel and performance of a design as well as layer thickness and even the thickness of the mattress itself along with many other factors but these are only some of the considerations that may be involved in a mattress design and getting too involved in more complex "theories" won't really help you make the best choice when your body is the most accurate testing tool you have.

The overall combined effect and the quality and value of the materials is what you are looking for. There are many "pathways" to a mattress that can provide you with your "needs" although some of them may have a different "feel" and suit your preferences more or less than others.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

How firm is too firm? 16 Apr 2013 22:32 #5

  • Ivehadit
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Hello Phoenix! Got back from Okla Mattress Co. this afternoon. Tried 4" of 25 ILD Talalay over 6" 38 ILD Talalay for about 20 minutes and got up with lumbar pain. Then I tried an innerspring Xtra firm with 3" of compressed cotton. The innerspring felt better, but I think I was still goofed up from latex bed. Going back Friday to try a full 10 inches of 38 ILD latex, and then the xtra firm innerspring again.Am I heading in the right direction? Is this much firmness good for a body? Jim also mentioned a semi-flex foundation instead of boxspring for even more firmness under innerspring. I have been sleeping poorly on a bad bed for months, and I wonder if my perception is skewed and I won't be able to recognize the right thing when I try it. Thank you for helping me and so many others who are desperate to get it right.

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How firm is too firm? 17 Apr 2013 03:35 #6

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Hi Ivehadit,

Am I heading in the right direction?


By working with a excellent local manufacturer ... I would say yes.

Once you have connected with people with the years of experience and knowledge that Jim has ... any advice I could give you (or advice from other forum members with little knowledge or personal experience with mattress design or theory) would not be nearly as helpful as what he can provide in real time and in person that is specific to your circumstances.

As I said before ... you are in good hands and as the saying goes ... too many cooks will spoil the broth :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

How firm is too firm? 18 Apr 2013 19:13 #7

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Hello Phoenix! Going back to OKLA Mattress tomorrow. I'm going to try a Bonnell xtra firm innerspring with 75 lbs of compressed cotton that we were told would not get body indentations. No foam, just cotton. I thought ALL upholstery would compress sooner or later, sooner if you're big like me. (And trying all latex again.) Any thoughts on the cotton thing? Thank you again

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How firm is too firm? 18 Apr 2013 19:57 #8

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Hi Ivehadit,

Oklahoma mattress would have the most accurate information about the specific versions or construction of the materials they use and I would go by their guidance, information, and experience

Cotton can compress and become firmer over time but if it is pre-compressed or tufted it will do so much less and their own experience over many years would be much more accurate information that any speculation on my part about the specifics of the cotton layers and construction (such as tufting) that they use to minimize impressions. There are many variations of mattresses that use cotton and making a cotton mattress is a very specialized skill that few manufacturers today still possess. Cotton itself is very durable and will last for a very long time. It may also be on the firm side compared to foam constructions but with your weight and back issues you may also find that the mattress provides good support and alignment for your body type because the springs will be doing much of the conforming. It will feel and respond much differently than a mattress that uses foam ... although only your own testing can tell you how well the mattress works in terms of PPP.

I am really not the best source of specific information about more specialty mattresses made by knowledgeable and experienced local manufacturers who know their mattresses and how they perform over time (often decades) much better than anyone else and when there can be so many variables in the specifics of the materials, design, and construction they are using.

My role is to help you provide you with more generic information and to connect you with the type of knowledge and experience that they have gathered over very long periods of time so you can use their knowledge and experience to your best benefit. When it comes to their own mattresses and the materials and designs they use (outside of things like foam density etc) ... they are much more informed and in a much better position to help you and provide you accurate and specific information than any "theory at a distance" I could provide.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

How firm is too firm? 24 Apr 2013 08:17 #9

  • Ivehadit
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Hello Phoenix! Been a tough week. Made 3 more visits to see Jim at Okla. Mattress. Trying different ILDs of latex toppers on xtra firm innerspring. Every time, at about the half hour mark, i'd get up with a twangy lower back. Without the topper, my back is fine, but my shoulders hurt. So Jim is making me a custom topper. A 3" king size piece of latex, half (for her) in about a 19 ILD, the other half xtra firm except for the top 24" , which will be about 35ILD for under my shoulder's. my own personal zoning. I have to say it . I wouldn't have found Jim without this website, and I never could have made good decisions w/o your advice.
We haven't had a good nights sleep in a while, so we're looking forward to getting this new bed. Jim said if this doesn't work, we keep trying till it does. ( I hope this doesn't mean twin beds)What a guy. I've told my friends at work about you and Jim, cuz they hate their beds and want new ones. They are thrilled to know there are decent folks out there that really want to help, so they're here getting educated.
When the bed gets here, I'll tell you how it goes. Thanks again

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How firm is too firm? 24 Apr 2013 12:13 #10

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Hi Ivehadit,

Thanks for your great feedback ... and that's what I call personal service :)

Manufacturers like Jim are true gems both in terms of their quality and value and their service and as you know are a pleasure to deal with ... even in difficult and challenging circumstances.

I'm looking forward to your feedback when you've slept on your new mattress.

Phoenix
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
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