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Issue with Latex and Pocket Coil Mattress 07 Jul 2014 12:32 #1

  • tim408
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My wife and I recently purchased a mattress at a local store that specializes in custom mattresses consisting of talalay latex over pocket coils. The mattress has three 1" layers of talalay latex (3" total) over the coils with a cotton cover that has approx. 1" of wool on top. We have a Luna waterproof mattress protector over the cover because we have a toddler who occasionally comes in the bed with us.

I am 6'4", 195lbs and my wife is 5'3", 110lbs. I am mostly a stomach/side sleeper but occasionally sleep on my back. My wife is a side sleeper.

We initially ordered the bed with a "medium" spring with the following 1" layers of talalay latex: 14ild, 24ild, 24ild. This combination is perfect for my wife but I immediately started having back pains which I attributed to my hips sinking down too far causing my back to arch when sleeping on my stomach. I could feel the pain when lying on my stomach in the bed for any period of time.

Consequently, I swapped out the "medium" spring on my side for a "firm" and also changed the 1" talalay layers on my side to: 24ild, 24ild, 32ild. The firm spring seems to be a much heaver guage and my side is now considerably firmer. I experimented with some other latex layer combinations using 14/24ild latex on top of the firm springs but felt like I could feel the hard springs when laying on my side.

I no longer seem to have back pain when sleeping on my stomach. At least I don't notice it when I'm sleeping like I did with the softer configuration. Side sleeping is not as comfortable as before but I do not have any major pressure points or discomfort. However, I do still have lower back pain which comes on in the morning after waking up and stays with me through the day. I feel like this pain may be caused from lying on my back - either when I'm sleeping or reading in bed at night.

I'm wondering if the bed could now be too firm so that it is no longer properly supporting the curve of my back. There isn't really a gap but I can tell the mattress is not in tight contact with my lower back which I think is causing my back muscles to tighten up and become sore.

Do you think the firmness is what is causing the lower back pain? Any suggestions for how to fix? I've gone past the 60 day exchange period so I'm not sure if the manufacturer would allow me to swap any more mattress components.

Some ideas -

1) Add a thin latex or memory foam topper on top of the mattress cover - Potential issues are finding a thin enough topper (maybe 1") to avoid the initial issue I had with my back when I sleep in my stomach. I also don't want to make my wife's side too soft. I actually happened to sleep on a traditional firm innerspring mattress with 2-3" memory foam over July 4 weekend and this mattress felt really good to me.

2) Buy a 1" of high quality memory foam and replace one of the layers of 24ild talalay. Not sure if this would be different than what I tested with 14ild as the top layer over the firm springs. I don't want to sink through and bottom out on the hard springs.

3) Buy a 6" dunlop of HR poloyfoam core to replace the springs - The pocket coils only seems to come in medium and firm (which feels to me like an extra firm). Perhaps a firm foam core would support me better.

Thoughts?

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Issue with Latex and Pocket Coil Mattress 07 Jul 2014 15:34 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi tim408,

I no longer seem to have back pain when sleeping on my stomach. At least I don't notice it when I'm sleeping like I did with the softer configuration. Side sleeping is not as comfortable as before but I do not have any major pressure points or discomfort. However, I do still have lower back pain which comes on in the morning after waking up and stays with me through the day. I feel like this pain may be caused from lying on my back - either when I'm sleeping or reading in bed at night.

I'm wondering if the bed could now be too firm so that it is no longer properly supporting the curve of my back. There isn't really a gap but I can tell the mattress is not in tight contact with my lower back which I think is causing my back muscles to tighten up and become sore.


I can't know for certain of course because I can't feel what you feel or see you sleeping on the mattress but it's certainly possible that you have "jumped over" an ideal configuration by changing both the comfort and support layers at the same time and that your mattress is now a little too firm. This is especially challenging if you sleep on your stomach in combination with other sleeping positions because as you likely know stomach sleeping is a much more risky sleeping position and a mattress that is firm enough for stomach sleeping can be too firm for your other sleeping positions. This can be especially true for those that are more sensitive to smaller differences in a mattress.

While it's more common that lower back issues are the result of a mattress that is too soft ... it can also be true that a mattress that is too firm and doesn't fill in the gaps in your sleeping profile can result in alignment issues and the symptoms that come from them. Lower back pain that is there in the morning but then goes away after you are up for a while and your body stretches and loosens up can often be the result of alignment issues over the course of the night but lower back pain that lasts all day can also be from other issues as well so it's difficult to know what the cause of your pain may be. With 3" of latex that are 24, 24, and 32 ILD over a pocket coil it's less likely at your weight that you won't be sinking into the mattress enough but it's certainly a possibility. It's also possible that it's still too soft. It can take some detective and trial and error to identify what may be happening but there is more about some of the more common symptoms on a mattress and some of the possible causes behind them in post #2 here and the posts it links to that may be helpful.

Any suggestions for how to fix?


If the cause of your issue is that the mattress comfort layers are too thin or firm then a topper will add some extra thickness/softness and what I call "secondary support" under the small of your back which can certainly be helpful and it will also add some additional pressure relief but with your stomach sleeping I would be cautious to add as little as possible to minimize the risk of alignment issues on your stomach. If you decide that you need or want to try some extra thickness/softness then post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to will also be helpful.

I would also suggest a more detailed conversation on the phone with the manufacturer so you can take advantage of their knowledge and experience with their own mattresses and the materials and components they use because you can cover a lot more ground and "talk through" your situation in more detail in a phone conversation than you can on a forum.

1) Add a thin latex or memory foam topper on top of the mattress cover - Potential issues are finding a thin enough topper (maybe 1") to avoid the initial issue I had with my back when I sleep in my stomach. I also don't want to make my wife's side too soft. I actually happened to sleep on a traditional firm innerspring mattress with 2-3" memory foam over July 4 weekend and this mattress felt really good to me.


This is certainly a possibility that may be helpful if you like the "feel" of memory foam. When you are uncertain whether a topper will help you then I would also make the return or exchange policy a much more important part of your buying decision so that you can experiment to see if it works for you with little risk outside of time (and of course sleep quality if it doesn't work).

2) Buy a 1" of high quality memory foam and replace one of the layers of 24ild talalay. Not sure if this would be different than what I tested with 14ild as the top layer over the firm springs. I don't want to sink through and bottom out on the hard springs.


I would agree with your assessment and comments here because you wouldn't be changing the thickness of the comfort layers ... only the type of material.

3) Buy a 6" dunlop of HR poloyfoam core to replace the springs - The pocket coils only seems to come in medium and firm (which feels to me like an extra firm). Perhaps a firm foam core would support me better.


This would be a much more "radical" choice and it's not a direction I would tend to go until I had tried a few different combinations and changes in the comfort layers to see if they are "pointing you" in the direction of the layering that is ideal for you. The choice between an innerspring and a Dunlop latex core is a personal preference but would be more risky at this point because it's a complete unknown. There is more about the differences between an innerspring core and a latex core in post #2 here . There are people that I respect highly and that could choose to sleep on anything they wanted to that do much better on either one or the other when it comes to a pocket coil vs a latex support layer (in both directions) and only sleep well when they use the support core that they do best with so I wouldn't tend to assume that one will work better for you than the other. I would tend to work with what you have a little more first and add a little additional thickness in your comfort layers before making these types of larger changes.

Phoenix
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Issue with Latex and Pocket Coil Mattress 12 Jul 2014 20:41 #3

  • tim408
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Thanks Phoenix.

After some detective work I'm now thinking the mattress may still be too soft - either because the comfort layer is still be too thick/soft or because the support layer is not sufficient.

In terms of the comfort layer -

Is 3" inches of Talalay (24/24/32) considered too thick/soft for someone of my size who sleeps in all positions? I'm not sure I could go much firmer without running into pressure point issues on my side.

In terms of the support layer -

The firm pocket coil can be flipped which is supposed to make it even more firm/supportive. The other side has pocket fabric sewn over the top of the coils which I guess prevents individual coils from pushing down too far as the pressure is distributed to other nearby coils through the fabric. I will try this adjustment and see how I feel.

I am also wondering if I should consider some sort of additional support on top of the coils and below the latex. This mattress did not have any sort of insulator pad. Is that typical on a mattress of this construction? Would adding something increase the support of the springs? What type of material would you recommend? Should this be added the full length of the springs or zoned to only provide additional support around my hips/waist where I am sinking in the most. I'm thinking of trying a soft latex pillow under my hips tonight to see if that improves things.

The other thing I didn't mention in my original post is my bed/foundation. I have a RoomandBoard California King bed that has around 12 steel slats spaced around 4.5" apart. The slats are 2" wide. On top of the slats I have two Bunkie Boards to provide a flat surface. There is no center support legs under the slats. I've looked under the bed while my wife is on the mattress. There is some flex in the slats but I'd say no more than 0.5". However, it could be more when I am in the bed as well. The flex appears to be distributed fairly evenly across all the slats due the Bunkie Boards (ie the slats under the heavy parts of the body are not flexing more than the other slats). Do you think this amount of flex in the foundation could be causing the issues with my back pain? We had a hotel bed pillowtop mattress on directly on the metal slats for 8 years and I never had any pain issues.

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Last edit: by phoenix. Reason: edit for search terms

Issue with Latex and Pocket Coil Mattress 12 Jul 2014 21:53 #4

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Hi tim408,

Is 3" inches of Talalay (24/24/32) considered too thick/soft for someone of my size who sleeps in all positions? I'm not sure I could go much firmer without running into pressure point issues on my side.


This would depend on the rest of the design and on how all the layers and components interact together but the only way to know with any certainty how well any mattress matches your specific needs and preferences in terms of PPP would be based on your testing or personal experience. There is certainly nothing inherently "wrong" or "too soft" with this comfort layer but there are so many variables and unknowns involved that it's impossible to know based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or on "theory at a distance". It could work very well for some and not nearly as well for others that are in a similar weight range and have similar sleeping positions.

I am also wondering if I should consider some sort of additional support on top of the coils and below the latex.


If this is one of the options available to you and if your more detailed conversations with the manufacturer of your mattress indicate that it would have a good chance of resolving any of the issues you are having then it would certainly be worth trying. I would personally tend to wait for a few weeks before making any changes though if that's at all possible. If it's not because your symptoms are too uncomfortable then I would strongly encourage you to "talk through" your experience with the manufacturer of your mattress because they will have much more knowledge of their mattresses and the options that have been effective for other customers in similar situations than I would.

This mattress did not have any sort of insulator pad. Is that typical on a mattress of this construction?


Yes ... pocket coil mattresses commonly don't have or need an insulator pad. They are most commonly used with innersprings that use helical coils to connect the coils together.

Would adding something increase the support of the springs? What type of material would you recommend?


I really don't have enough details or clarity about what you are experiencing or the underlying reasons for them to make any specific recommendations. Adding a firmer layer on top of the coils may improve the resistance and support under the heavier parts of your body and "lift them up" but may also reduce the ability of the pocket coils to contour to your body which may reduce the contouring support under other parts of your body (such as the shoulders or the more recessed gaps in your different sleeping position). It could be full length or zoned depending on the specific effect you are looking for but again this would generally need a more in depth conversation to "talk through" your experience and and the options you have available that would have the best chance of resolving any issues you have.

Having said that ... a zoned construction can be helpful if the main issue you are having is that your hips/pelvis are sinking in too far in some or all of your sleeping positions (especially with stomach sleeping). This can be with zoned springs or with a "belly band" which would slightly raise the center of your mattress and provide some extra support under the hips and pelvis. Any material can work for this if the firmness is suitable for your circumstances but memory foam or latex can be a good option because it can be firmer and help "hold up" the heavier parts of your body but it can also provide good contouring.

I'm thinking of trying a soft latex pillow under my hips tonight to see if that improves things.


This would be a good idea (I would use a relatively flat pillow) and it may also be worth considering using a pillow under the center section of your mattress between the bunkie boards and the mattress to see if this helps as well and if it does it would point to center zoning as a potential solution. There is also more about zoning in post #11 here .

Do you think this amount of flex in the foundation could be causing the issues with my back pain? We had a hotel bed pillowtop mattress on directly on the metal slats for 8 years and I never had any pain issues.


Its certainly possible although with two bunkie boards it's less likely but the best way to tell would be if you can sleep with the mattress directly on the floor and compare your experience with the mattress on your bedframe. With these types of issues it's always much more reliable to try and isolate the issue based on actual experience rather than using theory or "possibilities".

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.
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