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Help with latex mattress 25 Aug 2014 17:10 #1

  • vjane89
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I purchased a firm latex mattress (it is a solid 6 inch piece of latex) about 5 months ago from a recommended retailer (E Escondido Mattress Company ). I have lower back problems and purchased this latex mattress to help reduce some of my lower back pain.

When I originally made my mattress purchase, I mistakenly though that the words "supportive" and "firm" were synonymous. I assumed that a firmer mattress would be more supportive, thus more beneficial to my back. In the time since purchasing my mattress, I have heard and read so many conflicting opinions regarding mattresses. My orthopedic surgeon said that they don't matter THAT much. My chiropractor said that firm mattresses are bad for back pain (whoops, too late now! :P )

I spent a lot of time researching mattresses (including spending a lot of time on the Mattress Underground) prior to my purchase and I thought I had found the perfect bed. Now after months on my firm mattress, I am not sleeping well. I am a back sleeper, but my body (mainly my entire back) is sore when I wake up in the morning and I have started getting some numbness on my left hip. I thought that I just had a really bad back (mind you, I am only 24), but I recently went on a 5 day vacation and stayed in a hotel where I slept on an innerspring mattress. This particular mattress wasn't the greatest (in fact, when I first laid down on it, I thought "great, this mattress is going to screw up my back"), but surprisingly, it didn't. My back felt better than normal during those 5 days. I came home from my trip and I have just been feeling uncomfortable in my latex bed.

Now, I know that each individual and each situation is different and you clearly can't 'diagnose' my problems based off of what I explain in a forum, but I was hoping to gain some insight as to what may help make my mattress more comfortable. I read through many other posts (and your accompanying suggestions) regarding too firm of mattresses, but everyone's mattress was a little different than mine.

I went back to Escondido Mattress Products to look into getting a latex mattress topper. They sell 2" toppers in medium and soft, but they weren't very helpful in terms of helping me understand what might be a better option. What are the chances that a topper will help my problem….in other words, do toppers make a large difference or will the root of my problem still lie in my firm mattress? Besides "personal preference", are there any other factors that I should consider when deciding between medium or soft topper? If I already think that my firm bed is too uncomfortable, will medium make enough of a difference or should I lean towards a soft topper? If I have a 6 inch latex mattress with a 2 inch soft latex topper, will the firm part of my bed still be "supportive" enough for my back? Should I try the latex topper, or should I go another route (some other type of topper)?

I know the area of mattress is very difficulty because everyone's preferences are different, but I am really hoping for any insight beyond "whatever feels best for you" like I received at the store. I wish it was easy to figure out what was best for me while in the store, but unfortunately, it is so hard to figure this out until you have purchased and slept on it.

Thank you in advance for any help and advice! I look forward to your response.

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Help with latex mattress 25 Aug 2014 19:29 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi vjane89.

When I originally made my mattress purchase, I mistakenly though that the words "supportive" and "firm" were synonymous. I assumed that a firmer mattress would be more supportive, thus more beneficial to my back. In the time since purchasing my mattress, I have heard and read so many conflicting opinions regarding mattresses. My orthopedic surgeon said that they don't matter THAT much. My chiropractor said that firm mattresses are bad for back pain (whoops, too late now! :P )


The two basic functions of a mattress are good alignment and good pressure relief (see this page ) and you certainly aren't alone in mistaking "support" with firmness or not understanding the difference between support and alignment. A mattress that is too firm (or even the floor to use the most extreme example of a sleeping surface that is very firm) would have poor support under the more recessed parts of your body which wouldn't be in contact with the floor at all and would be supported by "air" which would lead to poor alignment as the unsupported parts of the body would sag down to the floor. In the same way ... a mattress that has comfort layers that are too thick and/or soft or support layers that are too soft would allow the heavier parts of the body to sink down too far which would also result in poor support under the hips/pelvis and would lead to poor alignment. This is the difference between what I call primary support (under the heavier parts of the body) and secondary support (under the more recessed parts of the body). There is more about primary and secondary support and their relationship to pressure relief in post #4 here and there is more about what good alignment "looks like" in post #6 here . As you can see from the diagram here ... a mattress that is too soft for you or that is too firm for you can both be unsupportive in one way or another and lead to alignment issues.

Now, I know that each individual and each situation is different and you clearly can't 'diagnose' my problems based off of what I explain in a forum, but I was hoping to gain some insight as to what may help make my mattress more comfortable. I read through many other posts (and your accompanying suggestions) regarding too firm of mattresses, but everyone's mattress was a little different than mine.


As you mentioned ... each person is different so the first step would be to decide on whether you believe your mattress is too soft or too firm. Post #2 here may be helpful if you believe your mattress is too firm and post #4 here may be helpful if you believe your mattress is too soft. If you aren't sure then you may have read this already but post #2 here and the posts it links has more information about the most common symptoms on a mattress that may help with the detective work that may be necessary to identify the underlying cause or causes behind what you are experiencing.

I went back to Escondido Mattress Factory to look into getting a latex mattress topper. They sell 2" toppers in medium and soft, but they weren't very helpful in terms of helping me understand what might be a better option. What are the chances that a topper will help my problem….in other words, do toppers make a large difference or will the root of my problem still lie in my firm mattress?


If your mattress is too firm for you then a topper can certainly be an effective solution and post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to can help you choose a topper that has the best chance of success. If your mattress is too soft then it's much less likely that a topper will be an effective solution because you can't really firm up a mattress that is too soft by adding toppers because they will just bend into the softer layers underneath them and any effect they have will tend to be partial or temporary at best.

I don't know anything about you or the mattress you purchased so I am completely in the dark outside of the generic suggestions I've linked but this topic (from post #13 onwards) may also be worth reading as well.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.
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