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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 19 Jun 2014 18:53 #1

  • AnalogJ
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My wife and I have been doing quite a bit of shopping around, me more than her (to help winnow things down). I have also read quite a bit on this forum, so thank you to all who have contributed and who will contribute.

Meanwhile, this is my second posted thread, the first one a couple of months ago. We've been shopping for a queen size mattress. After first going to Gardner Mattress, whose factory is in my home city of Salem, Massachusetts, I was convinced that we should find an all wool/cotton pocket coil mattress (Our current mattress is a poly-pillow topped Simmons Beautyrest of about 15 years). The reason is due to the coolness of something like that vs. the warmth we felt coming back up at us in the latex/pocket coil they had. We went to a place that had Vi-Springs mattresses. Way out of our budget league, but very impressive in terms of build quality and comfort. Lots of latex and latex hybrids around different stores. We had gone to the Organic Mattress and the Clean Bedroom, both stores advertising Royal-Pedic, both stores essentially doing away the line because customers found those mattresses to be too firm.

We tried a couple of Green Sleep and a Natura (I think it was the latter which had "micro-coils" in the comfort layer but could be switched to latex for a softer layer.

To make a long story short, throughout all these trials I discovered an important thing -- what makes a bed comfortable and what makes it help align your body/spine for a good night's sleep are two different things. Something many of you, I'm sure, already know, but, like Dorothy Gale, had to discover for myself.

I began to realize that, aside from a Vi-Spring bed, the only mattress that really allowed my spine/body to relax was one where there was some sort of latex in the comfort layer, slight warmth be damned. With the Green Sleep Niu, it was the best my body has felt on a mattress in a store. Other mattresses came close, but this one really seemed to lock in the perfect position for me as a side-sleeper. (By the way, the pocket coils not only isolate my wife's movements from my movements, but better separates the areas of my body that need to sink into the mattress and the parts that don't.).

With the Natura, or whatever brand that was, the softer layer option was too soft, and the micro-coil firmer side didn't allow my body to stay balanced on its side. My body tended to lean backward, slightly twisting my spine, and I could feel that. On the Niu, it didn't.
The Niu uses two 1.5" layers of natural Dunlop latex over either a coir (rubberized coconut fiber) over pocket coil support layer, or you can flip the support layer to the side without the coir (but with an extra layer of wool) for slightly softer support. Another nice thing about the mattress is that the sides are split, so each person can decide whether they want firmer or slightly less firm support side. There is some additional anti-sweat layer in the mattress's design, and (I don't know if this is one and the same or not), wool and organic cotton next to the organic cotton twill encasing. Smartly, if any layer ever needs to be replaced, the bed doesn't need to be shipped out, just a new layer swapped in (as everything is exposed by unzipping the cover).

While the Niu was slightly warmer than a mattress with no latex at all, this one also didn't seem all that bad. BUT, I was still feeling a bit of pinching or pressure in the shoulder that was leaning into the mattress. This pressure was pushing my muscle next to the shoulder and the shoulder together. We tried a few different mattress toppers and settled on a 1" organic wool topper with a denser wool and organic cotton twill covering. Not cheap at close to $600, but it would allow us to remain relatively cool and it seemed to relieve the pressure point. Having a mattress/sleeping experience which allows us to remain cool and bodies to breathe is important, particularly since my wife is experience that heat/night sweat stuff from time to time.

The price on all of this, including the S-50 foundation, essentially a box with spruce slats encased in cotton/wool, is ~$3400, FAR more than we really want to pay. The thing is, while the $10,000 Vi-Spring cost would be ridiculous for us, we'd consider the Green Spring Niu if really necessary for not only a really good, quality night's sleep (over many, many, many nights, we hope), but because it's environmentally potentially more friendly. Not to mention the ease and likely relative lack of expense of swapping out layers if needed.

Went back to Gardner today. They have a new mattress design. A two-sided pocket coil design with wool/cotton comfort layers that is softer than the other wool/cotton one that have been carrying; and this new one is also less expensive for them to make. I tried it, and while better for a side sleeper like me than the other, more firm wool/cotton mattress, I still didn't feel like it really allowed my body to totally be at rest, in a stasis, if you will.

I also again tried their latex over pocket coil mattress. The firm version is 2" all-natural Talalay latex over the pocket coils. The GM, Kirk, has admittedly had some problems recently with the reliability with the latex they have been getting from Latex International, their supplier. Gardner will back up their products, but it's frustrating for him/them when they have to bring the mattress back to the factory (next door to the Salem showroom), open it up, replace the latex and then get it back to the customer the same day (that's their goal, an admirable one, and one that you can only get from a local manufacturer).

And THAT'S that quandary for me. Their 2" Talalay latex over pocket coils queen mattress with foundation (their solid foundation is comprised of steel slats and beams, but they also have a box spring if desired, which would give a bit more bounce) goes for about $1700, half of the price of the Green Sleep Niu. From my memory, I'm not sure I'm quite as absolutely perfectly aligned/balanced as I was on the Niu, but it's close. I'm going to have to try both again. But the Gardner one feels bouncier and a bit softer than the Niu (with the coir over coil side up). I worry with the potentially faster breakdown or depression of the Talalay, the experience I have in the showroom may not last nearly as long as the experience I get with the Niu. Sure, at some point, if there is a real problem and my body feels awfully supported, Gardner will replace the latex. If they don't exactly determine that the latex layer is officially defective, at the worst, they'd take the mattress back to their showroom and fix it at cost ($200-300 if it means a replacement of the 2" latex comfort layer). Not terrible, and certainly cheaper than the Niu in the short run. But given its features and build quality, is the Niu the better long-term purchase?

I do appreciate Kirk's honesty. He had never heard of Green Sleep, but he looked at its design via the internet. He actually said that it looked like a really good design, and smart on their part to do it modularly. By having two separate 1.5" latex layers rather than one 3" layer, he said that it would more likely be the top layer, rather than both top and bottom latex layers, that would fail (if either were to fail at all). In that case, only a 1.5" layer needs to be sent out, which saves Green Sleep money in its warranty service, and makes it easy for the customer. In Kirk's experience, he said that it's rarely the support layers (i.e, the pocket coils) that fail. When there is a failure, it's usually the support layers, and then you can add toppers and such.

In the smaller details, there's not as much handwork in a Gardner mattress than in the Green Sleep. Much of Gardner's work is done on machine. They use poly-foam traditionally to form the support edges of their mattresses. The new two-sided mattress, however, was designed with a new small spring frame from which the pocket coils can be attached. This new option is actually cheaper for them, as the poly-foam, a petroleum based product, is getting really expensive for them with the price of oil going up.

He said that he would be willing to make the Talalay latex/pocket coil mattress with the spring frame design instead of the polyfoam for us. He'd also replace the sateen cotton/poly enclosure with an organic cotton twill. All at no extra charge. This would help the entire product be more "natural".

I really appreciate how accommodating Gardner is, and how hard they try, as well as how honest they seem to be. Interestingly, he shared with me that they're continuously trying out new options. He showed me a whole bunch of coir and saris and jute samples that were sent to him, as well as horsehair samples. He then opened a couple of boxes that contained different Talalay and Dunlop samples, all with different densities.

He personally went away from latex entirely for his own sleeping. He ultimately found them to be too warm for himself and his wife. Up on their top floor where their bedroom is, it gets really warm (as warm as 90 degrees without air conditioning, and the A/C isn't always on when they're not there). They found the latex mattress just too hot. The new two-sided pocket coil wool/cotton one, which they've had for about a month, has been great for his personal use. That one goes for about $1300 for the mattress. In comparison, their other wool/cotton model which is one-sided and has a 2" pocket coil unit over a standard pocket coil unit, goes for $2000 in a queen size.

Our bedroom can also get hot when the A/C isn't running. And where the bed is, it can get some direct sun, which I understand isn't so good for latex in the long run.

Are there any other good options for us? Any advice on which way we might want to go here? I don't think buying online would be a good option. Clearly I feel even minute differences. I feel a bit like the Prince and the Pea.

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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 19 Jun 2014 20:25 #2

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Hi AnalogJ,

To make a long story short, throughout all these trials I discovered an important thing -- what makes a bed comfortable and what makes it help align your body/spine for a good night's sleep are two different things. Something many of you, I'm sure, already know, but, like Dorothy Gale, had to discover for myself.


I couldn't agree with this more (as you know from the tutorial post which talks more about the two basic functions of a mattress) and I think that half the battle with shopping for a new mattress (and testing mattresses) is differentiating comfort/pressure relief from support/alignment. If anything alignment is a more important factor than "comfort" since the comfort can be adjusted if a mattress is too firm.

By the way, the pocket coils not only isolate my wife's movements from my movements, but better separates the areas of my body that need to sink into the mattress and the parts that don't.


Point elasticity and the ability to contour to the body shape is certainly one of the "strengths" of pocket coils compared to other types of innersprings and is one of the reasons they are so popular.

The Niu uses two 1.5" layers of natural Dunlop latex over either a coir (rubberized coconut fiber) over pocket coil support layer, or you can flip the support layer to the side without the coir (but with an extra layer of wool) for slightly softer support. Another nice thing about the mattress is that the sides are split, so each person can decide whether they want firmer or slightly less firm support side. There is some additional anti-sweat layer in the mattress's design, and (I don't know if this is one and the same or not), wool and organic cotton next to the organic cotton twill encasing. Smartly, if any layer ever needs to be replaced, the bed doesn't need to be shipped out, just a new layer swapped in (as everything is exposed by unzipping the cover).


As you may know from reading the site ... I'm a fan of component designs that can be customized to the individual needs and preferences of different sleepers on a mattress both side to side and top to bottom. While the Niu is in a higher budget range than other types of component mattresses that also use similar high quality materials ... the most important part of the "value" of a mattress purchase is always PPP (see post #13 here ). How well you sleep on a mattress (suitability) and how long you sleep well on a mattress (durability) are the two most important parts of a successful purchase and if the Niu is in a budget range that someone is comfortable with and it's the best choice out of all your finalists based on the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you then it would certainly be well worth purchasing although I would always make some careful value comparisons when you are in a budget range that is higher than the norm.

And THAT'S that quandary for me. Their 2" Talalay latex over pocket coils queen mattress with foundation (their solid foundation is comprised of steel slats and beams, but they also have a box spring if desired, which would give a bit more bounce) goes for about $1700, half of the price of the Green Sleep Niu. From my memory, I'm not sure I'm quite as absolutely perfectly aligned/balanced as I was on the Niu, but it's close. I'm going to have to try both again. But the Gardner one feels bouncier and a bit softer than the Niu (with the coir over coil side up). I worry with the potentially faster breakdown or depression of the Talalay, the experience I have in the showroom may not last nearly as long as the experience I get with the Niu. Sure, at some point, if there is a real problem and my body feels awfully supported, Gardner will replace the latex. If they don't exactly determine that the latex layer is officially defective, at the worst, they'd take the mattress back to their showroom and fix it at cost ($200-300 if it means a replacement of the 2" latex comfort layer). Not terrible, and certainly cheaper than the Niu in the short run. But given its features and build quality, is the Niu the better long-term purchase?


Whether the Niu is a "better" long term purchase is a question that can only be answered in retrospect (how well you sleep on a mattress and how long you sleep well relative to the price you paid) so this is something that only you can answer based on your testing and "best judgement" and the criteria that are most important to you. I know that there have been some issues with some of the latex that comes from Latex International over recent years but for what it's worth they appear to be "over the hump" (and hopefully this will continue with their chapter 11 bankruptcy which should remove some of the financial pressures) and there have been many fewer reports of issues that I have heard about in the last few months. There are also other component innerspring/latex mattresses that may also be worth considering either locally or online although latex/innerspring component designs are less common (two examples are Bay Bed & Mattress and Berkeley Ergonomics ). I think that the closest dealer for BE would probably be Fly By Night if you wanted to test them in person (they use Radium Talalay).

I really appreciate how accommodating Gardner is, and how hard they try, as well as how honest they seem to be. Interestingly, he shared with me that they're continuously trying out new options. He showed me a whole bunch of coir and saris and jute samples that were sent to him, as well as horsehair samples. He then opened a couple of boxes that contained different Talalay and Dunlop samples, all with different densities.


This is part of the reason that I think highly of them as well.

Are there any other good options for us? Any advice on which way we might want to go here? I don't think buying online would be a good option. Clearly I feel even minute differences. I feel a bit like the Prince and the Pea.


I don't know all the specific mattresses that are available to you locally and I don't have any specific advice other than to continue doing what you are doing and following the steps in the tutorial post until you believe that you have done "enough" research and are ready to make a final choice . Based on the care you are taking and the thought you are putting into this and of course the research you are doing I think you will certainly end up choosing between some great options :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 20 Jun 2014 12:44 #3

  • AnalogJ
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Well, Kirk at Gardner still has that concern about the latex, but it's good to know that LI's issues may have subsided and their quality return.

1) What is the sense of users having heat issues with regard to latex in their comfort layer? Is it more of a problem with solid latex beds as opposed to hybrids? Does the material in which the coils are wrapped make a difference? Again, in his situation, he just gave up on having latex in his bed because it was just too hot for him and didn't breathe enough.

2) Is the quality of the Dunlop latex that Green Sleep harvests from their own Malaysian trees (this is what they say, right?) add to the value of Green Sleep's beds? As I have seen you state before, Phoenix, Green Sleep doesn't have the exclusive on THE finest latex in the world, but can you confirm that their latex is of the highest quality, and if so, is that a consideration in terms of possibly paying more?


That place in Northampton, Fly By Night, is about 2 1/4 hours or so away from where we live. Not the most convenient place to drive to, but I suppose we could consider it.

Again, thanks for your advice, Phoenix. A well done site on your part.

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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 20 Jun 2014 14:11 #4

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Hi AnalogJ,

1) What is the sense of users having heat issues with regard to latex in their comfort layer? Is it more of a problem with solid latex beds as opposed to hybrids? Does the material in which the coils are wrapped make a difference? Again, in his situation, he just gave up on having latex in his bed because it was just too hot for him and didn't breathe enough.


There are many variables that can contribute to the sleeping temperature of a mattress besides just the type of foam used in a mattress but latex is generally the most breathable and "coolest" of all the foam categories so you will generally hear less complaints about latex sleeping hot than any other type of foam but of course none of the foam materials will be as "cool" as natural fibers. There is more about the many variables that combine together to affect sleeping temperature in post #2 here (including the type of quilting in the mattress cover and your mattress protector, sheets, and bedding).

2) Is the quality of the Dunlop latex that Green Sleep harvests from their own Malaysian trees (this is what they say, right?) add to the value of Green Sleep's beds?


In my opinion no. The hybrid clone that they use on their plantations are one of the most common Hevea Brasiliensis clones that are planted in South East Asia. You can see some comments about this in post #6 here . The "value" of a Greensleep mattress would be based more on it's design and the benefits of that design and the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you but not because their 100% natural Dunlop latex is higher quality than many other manufacturers that also produce 100% natural Dunlop.

Phoenix
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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 20 Jun 2014 15:05 #5

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hey phoenix,

this is the only post i could find using a search referencing Bay Bed & Mattress and I was wondering if I wasn't searching properly or something. I live 2 blocks away and was going to check them out but was looking for some of the members experiences or any other information directly regarding the company.

Thanks

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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 20 Jun 2014 15:12 #6

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Hi ctarango,

this is the only post i could find using a search referencing Bay Bed & Mattress and I was wondering if I wasn't searching properly or something.


I'm not sure why your search didn't produce any results (see the help tab here ) but a forum search on Baybed (you can just click the link) will bring up more comments and feedback about them.

As you probably know from reading the information on the site they are one of the members here which means I think very highly of them and they compete well with the best in the industry in terms of quality, value, and the service they provide to their customers.

Phoenix
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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 20 Jun 2014 15:23 #7

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Hi AnalogJ,

That place in Northampton, Fly By Night, is about 2 1/4 hours or so away from where we live. Not the most convenient place to drive to, but I suppose we could consider it.


You've probably already seen this but just in case ... the Boston list is here and there may be some other manufacturers or retailers that make or sell latex/innerspring hybrids as well (although they may not be component mattresses that can be customized after a purchase).

Phoenix
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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 20 Jun 2014 19:46 #8

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Another question, Phoenix, if I may. What importance do you put on having a 2-sided mattress? The Gardner latex mattresses (including the hybrid) are not 2-sided or flippable. Kirk there thinks that mostly what wears out in a mattress are the comfort layers.

As we have discussed, all the layers of the Green Sleep Niu (as well as other compartmentalized mattresses) can have all layers be "flipped", if desired. Even with the support layers (and if I sleep on the firmer side of the support layer and my wife sleeps on the softer side), we could essentially flip those by us sleeping on the opposite sides by flipping them internally.

So what, in your opinion, is gained by having a flippable mattress? What is getting the more even wear -- the comfort layers, the support layers, or both? And how much importance do you place on this in the equation?

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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 20 Jun 2014 23:14 #9

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Hi AnalogJ,

Another question, Phoenix, if I may. What importance do you put on having a 2-sided mattress? The Gardner latex mattresses (including the hybrid) are not 2-sided or flippable.


You can read about the pros and cons of a two sided mattress in post #2 and #3 here and the posts it links to. Latex is a very durable material even in a one sided mattress but a two sided mattress will certainly last longer than the equivalent one sided version.

Kirk there thinks that mostly what wears out in a mattress are the comfort layers.


I think most people that are knowledgeable about mattresses would agree with this. Mattresses will soften and break down from the top down and the weak link of most mattresses is in the comfort layers not the support cores.

So what, in your opinion, is gained by having a flippable mattress? What is getting the more even wear -- the comfort layers, the support layers, or both? And how much importance do you place on this in the equation?


The comfort layers are the weak link and the most subject to wear and tear from constant compression so the comfort layers will be the biggest beneficiary of a two sided mattress that can be flipped. With more durable materials such as latex a two sided mattress may be less important for some people than the ability to use more complex designs that may be a better match for them in terms of PPP but this is a matter of each person's preference between the tradeoffs involved. With less durable materials in a comfort layer then a two sided mattress would be more important. You can see some of the foam quality/density guidelines I suggest in post #4 here and as you can see a lower density less durable foam would be suitable in a two sided mattress but not as suitable or durable in a one sided mattress.

Phoenix
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Hybrid Latex Advice Sought -- Green Sleep Niu vs. Other Options 22 Jun 2014 17:01 #10

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Hi Phoenix -

So we went to Fly By Night. VERY nice people there. We looked at the Berkeley Ergonomics needs. The closest to our liking was the Alpine Firm. My wife is less picky. They couldn't quite get the mattress with the base dialed in for me. It was pretty good, but couldn't get it to be exactly just right. While lying on my side, I either felt aligned horizontally, but felt my body want to pivot backwards a bit, slightly twisting my spine in the process, or I felt balanced, but one hip felt like it was jutting out a bit as though I were administering a hip check. Paul and Jill there kept playing with the base, but could only get one aspect right, but undo the other in the process. Pretty good, but I recall that the Green Sleep Niu nailed it. I'm going to go back and recheck that mattress.

In the meantime, BE as well as Gardner uses polyester fabric casing on their pocket coils. They said that it would be more durable than cotton. Green Sleep uses cotton, instead.

Does what is wrapped around the pocket coils affect breathability? I would think cotton would be better, yes?

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Last edit: by AnalogJ.
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