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Sealy Embody Introspection 25 Aug 2011 14:42 #1

  • SleeplessinDallas
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Hi Phoenix!

I have been reading some of your older posts on another mattress forum and am very interested in your thoughts/feedback for our situation.

Background:

- I am 5'7" ~160lbs stomach/side/back sleeper and my husband is 6'1" ~220lbs side/back sleeper. We are not obese, but we are certainly not small people. In our early 30's.
- We had a Westin Heavenly bed for about 18+ months. It was great for about 12 or so months. Then, it started sagging and causing me a good deal of back pain. Nordstrom replaced it and the second one did the same exact thing, but quicker the second time. I have never had back pain sleeping prior to this.
- Then we tried the 8" latex bed on wood foundation from SleepEZ. I had such high hopes!! But, we just could never get the combination correct on the layers. First it was WAY to hard. Then sort of too soft. I also sort of struggled with the amount of push back, which seemed to cause muscle fatigue in my back- the only way to really describe it. So, after 60 days, we finally returned it. No small project as you know. In hindsight, I wonder if 8" was just not enough on a solid wood foundation and didn't give enough pressure relief?
- Now we are temprarily sleeping on a very cheap ($300) king very firm 8" flippable mattress by Night Therapy from Sam's club. It's ok, but not really a long term solution. My back hurts less, but still not great. But, it's SO firm, that it's hard for me to get comfortable to fall asleep.
- I LOVE sleeping on my stomach and snuggling in to fall asleep. But, I can sleep happily on my back if I am comfortable enough. And I can also sleep on my side a good deal of the time. My husband is easy- he lays down on his back, and promptly falls asleep anywhere.

Now:

- I have always liked the feel of the firmer tempurpedic models. Particularly the Deluxe! But, my husband was not on board- b/c of the "sleeping hot" and the slow recovery time.
- I thought I was finally going to talk him into the Deluxe only to find out they have been discontinued and you really cannot buy them in a king anymore. And the "Contour Select" replacement model feels much softer to me and I dont love it. I like the Advantage ok, but my husband isn't crazy about it.
- THEN the sales guy introduced us to the Sealy Embody Introspection. He told us that while he isn't one of them, many people do prefer the feel of the Embody. Sure enough, we both liked it quite a bit.

- The Sealy Embody Introspection:
- Supposedly it sleeps cooler
- Supposedly it is of high quality similar to Tempurpedic rather than cheap knock off
- It definitely has a faster recovery time than Termpurpedic
- This is their firmest model which we prefer, but with just enough contouring it seemed
- 1/2" 2.5 lb. Ventilated Memory Foam
- 2.5" 5.0 lb. Memory Foam
- Correct Back Support System
- Support System: 7'' High Density Laminated Poly Core (salesman told me the core they carry is soy based?)
- Mattress Firm here in Dallas has it now for $2099 with one year full refund (no exachange/no restocking fee)


Phoenix (and others)-- I am wondering your thoughts on the Sealy Embody Introspection. I'm very interested in giving this one a try! But-- I do want a mattress that is not going to sag and leave body impressions in less than a few years!

PLEASE HELP! THANK YOU!!!!

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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 25 Aug 2011 20:35 #2

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Hello SleeplessinDallas,

Your post really has 2 separate "parts" so I will reply in 2 posts to keep them separate. The first of these is the idea of "pushback" itself and what it really is which I will "explore" in this post. The second is about the specific mattresses you are commenting on or asking about which I will reply to in the next reply.

So first of all ... about pushback ...

What some people describe as pushback is really about some combination of resilience, resistance, shear forces, and pressure distribution along the body.

If for example I carved out a piece of wood that was a perfect replica of your body profile in perfect alignment while you were sleeping on your side, it would spread out the weight of your body and could provide great pressure relief. There would be more of your weight on your hips than on your lumbar but you would not feel this pressure as your hips are "designed" to hold more pressure than your lumbar area.

If I now carved out a thin (say 1/4") slice under your hips ... they would sink in more deeply which would in turn shift some of the pressure from your hips to your lumbar as your hips would "pull" your lumbar area down onto the wood. This would decrease the pressure on your hips but increase it on your lumbar (waist) area. If this increased the lumbar pressure to a point where it was uncomfortable for you (greater than your comfort threshold) ... it would not be because the wood was "pushing back" but because the wood was "resisting" the change in position and the hips were sinking in too far for your comfort and transferring more pressure to your waist area.

In the same way if you shifted position on to your back ... the "perfect" shape while you were on your side would now be "not so good" as the lumbar area (small of your back) is not as recessed on your back as the lumbar area (waist) is on your side so your lumbar would be bearing more weight on your back than on your side. This too would not be "pushback" but because the wood could not adapt to a new position. Your hips would be sinking in too far "relative" to your lumbar in that position and there would be too much "pressure" or "support" under the recessed part of your lumbar spine.

Of course a "wood" mattress is not practical since it would only relieve pressure and keep you in alignment if you were perfectly still in the "perfect" position all night since it does not adjust to changes in a sleeping profile. Even the smallest movement would put pressure on parts of your body unlike a material that can "adjust" to changes.

In the same way, if you were to lay on your side or back "across" a large pipe that was under your waist/lumbar and that had no "support" under your hips or shoulders ... them most of your body weight would be supported on your lumbar/waist because your shoulders and hips were not being "held up" and this would be very uncomfortable not because the pipe was "pushing back" but because your hips and/or shoulders were sinking down too far and were not bearing enough weight.

"Pushback" is also a term that some people use to describe the "resilience" or "springiness" of a material ... and latex in general is the most resilient of all the foam materials (although springs are more resilient than latex and some types of latex are more resilient than others). Resilience is related to the ability of a material to store and return energy and is measured by the percentage of the rebound when a steel ball is dropped on a material rather than its opposite which is hysteresis which is the ability of a material to absorb energy. Lower resilience and higher hysteresis produces less bounce. A more resilient sleeping surface can also result in higher shear forces (forces that "act" in opposite directions) which some people are sensitive to.

Resilience is something that you can only feel with movement because when your body is at rest on a mattress the compression forces of your body pushing down are balanced by the increasing resistive forces of the mattress (regardless of the resilience of the materials in the mattress) and there is no longer any "direction" to the forces which are in equilibrium.

So in essence ... when people describe a feeling of "too much pushback" that they connect to a certain material, can be because of it's resilience or because their hips or other body parts are sinking in too far and the area of the body where they are feeling too much pressure is holding up too much weight.

The "fix" for the "feeling" that the mattress has too much resilience or shear forces on the sleeping surface can be to use a less resilient or more "relaxed" material with less shear forces as a quilting layer, as the top layer, or as a topper on the mattress (see post #18 here )

The "fix" for issues that are connected to feeling too much pressure in certain parts of the body could be to have a firmer material under the hips (occasionally the shoulders) so they don't sink in so far and shift the pressure away from parts of the body that are not as comfortable with bearing weight. All materials can lead to this feeling in certain constructions but it is often believed that it is a "function" of latex (which has a higher progressive resistance and higher resilience than other foam materials) rather than a function of a construction or layering that is not suitable for a particular individual.

This feeling of "too much pushback" can be particularly aggravated when people are used to sleeping in multiple positions and have a mattress which accommodates (distributes pressure) in some of their sleeping positions but not others. This can often be "fixed" through changes in thickness or ILD of the comfort layer, by adding a softer topper, or through an increase in firmness under the hips in the support layers. I have seen many people try to "fix" the wrong thing or problem (this is very common in the forum you were referring to) and change the "hardness" or "softness" of the wrong layer which can often aggravate the problem rather than fix it. This in turn leads to the belief that certain materials are "not for me" rather than "certain types of layering" or construction are not for me.

The Westin bed for example would have a thicker very soft foam on top and a much firmer innerspring underneath it. This indicates that the "fix" for a correct latex layering would be to use a much softer layer of latex on top and a firmer layer underneath it. Adjustments in layer thickness can also play a big role in this. This would lead to less pressure on the lumbar/waist area in the "problem" sleeping positions (what people generally call "pushback").

The Night Therapy would likely have the "opposite" problem ... it has a very firm innerspring (12 gauge) with only 1" comfort layer which means that there would likely be too much pressure on your hips (which is the feeling you get that it is "too firm" and uncomfortable) even though it doesn't have too much pressure in the lumbar area.

The "secret" to mattress construction is to balance weight distribution with spinal alignment using different ILD's and thickness of layers so that the construction "fits" the unique body profile and pressure tolerances of each individual. Each type of material has different reactive qualities or what is called "progressive resistance" which also need to be taken into account in layering thickness or softness. This is often difficult in people with multiple sleeping positions but certainly in my experience there is almost always a "solution" if the correct "problem" is addressed.

Hope this helps a bit with the understanding of what "pushback" really is and I'll address the rest of your questions and comments in the next post :)

Phoenix
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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 26 Aug 2011 01:55 #3

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Hi again sleepless,

On to your questions about the Sealy Introspection.

First of all ... this mattress has a total of 3" of memory foam (1/2" less dense and 2.5" of 5 lb density) over a much firmer support core. While memory foam certainly feels different from polyfoam ... this mattress is closer overall to the Westin Heavenly bed that you liked (until it softened) in its general construction. Since all memory foam qualifies as "very soft" and has a very low ILD (usually 15 or less) it is not surprising that you liked the feel of this mattress.

The tempurpedic deluxe also has 4" of denser memory foam over a firm support core so this too would be "in the range" of mattresses that were comfortable for you although I believe that this would be too thick over the long term for someone who was primarily a stomach sleeper.

In general terms ... those who sleep on their stomach need the thinnest possible comfort layer that is comfortable for them. This is because stomach sleeping is a much flatter profile and the hips tend to sink into the mattress much more than the lighter parts which leads to sleeping in a swayback position which can cause back issues. If the foam on top of a mattress is very soft (like very low ILD latex or polyfoam or memory foam) and allows the lighter parts of your body to sink more deeply into the comfort layer and into the support layer under it ... this is less of a issue since the hips are still in relative alignment with the lighter parts (your whole body would be more "in the mattress" and still relatively aligned in a deeper cradle). It's only when the comfort layer is firm enough to "hold up" the lighter parts while the hips are going through the comfort layer and into the support layers below where misalignment becomes a bigger issue. Back sleeping needs more thickness than stomach sleeping while side sleeping needs the thickest comfort layer of all.

My sense is that 3" of a good quality memory foam comfort layer would be the absolute maximum thickness that could work for you and that any thicker would almost certainly cause misalignment while sleeping on your stomach. Slightly less (say 2") would perhaps be even better if this didn't cause pressure problems when you were sleeping on your side. This should be on top of a relatively firm support layer to prevent the hips from sinking in too far in any position. This thinner and softer comfort layer would not likely lead to a feeling of pressure in the lumbar area that was uncomfortable no matter what material was used ... as long as it was a very low ILD.

What this means is that the Introspection could work for you. The memory foam is a little more open celled and breathable and the ticking (cover material) also encourages cooling evaporation so heat would likely be less of an issue than some other memory foam mattresses.

My only "concern" would be that memory foam can tend to slowly allow your heavier parts to sink in deeper over the course of the night as it warms up over time which means that if you were in alignment when you went to sleep you may "shift" into an out of alignment position over the night and end up with a sore back ... especially if you stayed on your stomach (or perhaps your back) with a 3" memory foam layer. Memory foam also tends to become softer over time faster than other materials however this could work slightly to your advantage let the lighter parts sink in more while your hips would still be "held up" by the firm support layer underneath.

So overall, given your preferences and history, the Introspection could work well although it would be a thicker layer of memory foam than I would normally recommend for someone who was primarily a stomach sleeper (and secondarily a back sleeper) and I would "keep an eye out" for back issues that came from sleeping in a swayback position for too long over the course of an average night.

I hope I've answered most of your questions but if not feel free to ask for any clarifications you may need.

Phoenix
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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 26 Aug 2011 02:22 #4

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Phoenix,

Wow! First let me say thank you so much for taking the time to provide such a thorough response, I truly appreciate it!! This must be the most helpful and most thoughtful explanation I've ever received. I was actually pretty close to purchasing the Embody this evening, but there is no immediate rush and I really wanted to hear your input first. Glad I waiting, very helpful.

You are exactly correct on your points re: history and pushback, the Night Therapy, etc. I think maybe our top 2" layer of latex just wasn't soft enough. But then 3" of soft was too much too close. So I moved 3" soft to the middle, 3" firm on bottom, and 2" medium on top. Which intially felt good, but then wasn't enough support, thus sinking in some places causing pushback in other places. And while the Night Therapy is not so awful, it's hardly luxurious ;)

So here we are contemplating memory foam. At least at the store, we do like the Embody Introspective quite a bit. My major concern with this one is just that it's a pretty new line with not much history on durability, premature sagging, etc... As you know for a stomach sleeper, even a relatively small sag/impression creates a big hammocking effect and cause great middle back pain. So, I'm nervous that it'll be ok for a year (1 year full refund policy), but then might lose it's shape in year two or three and then I'm stuck. There's just no way to truly know since there are no real long term reviews on these.

At nearly every store I have been to, all the sales folks rave about Tempurpedic. Even when I am looking at more expensive non-Tempur beds. They swear they have practically a 0% return rate, hardly ever sag, great to deal with warranty, and really do last 15+ years. Too good to be true?? I will admit that the people I know with Tempurpedics do indeed love them. And they do have a longer track record to review. That said, I realize they are not perfect. Just they they have a longer track record. But, most models are also more expensive than the Embody Introspection.

Regarding Tempurpedic- do you have any thoughts on the Rhapsody? The sucker is pricey, but sure does feel nice ;)

Costco does also offer a few Sleep Science memory foam beds with nearly unlimited return time. But, the Ara 13" has like 6" of visco, and the 10" only uses 3lb foam, which I was under the impression was not particularly durable.

Again, I truly appreciate your time here! This is most helpful!!!

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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 26 Aug 2011 19:05 #5

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Hi Sleepless,

My thoughts on the embody is that it is likely good quality and durable memory foam (5.0 lbs and up is generally regarded as being good quality) and the lower density memory foam is a thinner layer meant mostly for fine tuning the feel and characteristics of the mattress. The problem I would have with a mattress like this (or any other mattress made by one of the major brands) is that even if it uses the absolute highest quality materials (which they generally don't) ... that they are priced way too high and you will pay far more than a mattress that uses the same or better quality materials made by a local independent manufacturer.

Not all "S" brand mattresses are necessarily "bad" ... although the vast majority of them do use foams which will wear out much too quickly. IMO however ... even the "good ones" represent poor value when compared to what else is available. They rely on consumers who have no simple way to compare materials between their mattresses and other brands. As long as consumers purchase any mattresses from any manufacturers or outlets which do not provide accurate information about the specific materials and construction inside them which can be used to make meaningful comparisons between different mattresses ... these major manufacturers will likely continue to dominate the market through misleading advertising and sales practices.

Tempurpedic is another brand which has taken real advantage of the general confusion about memory foam mattresses. They are certainly very good quality (to their credit) in terms of the materials they use (although even here they are not necessarily the "best") however because the memory foam "industry" itself is in such a state of confusion and most of the manufacturers do not reveal the details of the memory foam they use; and because there are so many "cheap" and poor quality memory foams being used in mattresses, consumers tend to lean towards one of the few manufacturers which makes their own foam and is a known quality with the thought of "rather safe than sorry". They then pay for this "safety" by purchasing a mattress which is no better than some other manufacturers who use the same quality and in some cases better memory foam (and in many cases even better quality polyfoam or latex foam under the memory foam) and which can save them humdreds or in some cases thousands of dollars.

The overall confusion about memory foam in general, in combination with massive advertising, has led to Tempurpedic becoming the second largest mattress manufacturer in North America (and likely to soon be the largest over Sealy if they aren't already). While in a way I can somewhat admire a business strategy that has allowed them to charge at least 50% more than they are worth, this strategy has as much to do with the confused state of the marketplace and consumers themselves than it does with the actual value of their mattresses. Overall it is sad to me that consumers are so willing to pay so much for a mattress only because they have so few ways to make meaningful comparisons. Here again ... local independent manufacturers who are transparent about what is in their mattresses are really the only way to break through this cycle which is "self perpetuating"

This popularity is not in any way because their mattresses are better than some others that are selling for a much lower cost ... but because of the general confusion and the consumers lack of ability to make meaningful comparisons between mattresses based on accurate information about the materials they use.

There are many "surveys" than show that in general ... about 75% of consumers are happy with a new mattress purchase. The main reason for this is that all new mattresses are usually compared to what they had before and almost anything would be an improvement. The consumer satisfaction level of almost all mattresses is based on a lack of ability to make comparisons in any meaningful way and so they are generally "happy" in the first little while after the mattress is purchased (when almost all "reviews" are written). Educated consumers who have learned how to make meaningful comparisons between mattresses are not nearly as "happy" with the major brands and would rarely buy them. Even those who are initially happy do not "connect" some of the "sleeping issues" they may have down the road that is caused by their mattress as they believe it is "just them". Very few consumers truly realize what a significant difference a truly customized mattress can have on both the quality of their sleep and the quality of their "waking" lives as well. They simply do not connect the "symptoms" of a poor (for them) mattress choice with the mattress itself so they remain "happy" even when the mattress is causing them problems which they don't realize is coming from their mattress.

By the time these "problems" become obvious and they begin to suspect that their mattress is due for replacement (usually way too late), then once again almost any mattress purchase will be an "improvement" and the cycle repeats itself.

In terms of the Rhapsody ... I believe that even with the Tempur HD memory foam (which is a very high quality memory foam) that 4" of memory foam of any kind would be very risky in your circumstances. I understand how "nice" it feels as the tempur HD foam is very dense and very conforming and "soft" because it forms a deep cradle around you however I really do believe that it would likely not be appropriate for someone who spent a lot of time sleeping on their stomach. I in no way believe that any Tempurpedic would truly last for 15 years (although many may use them long past their "due date" when they should be replaced) except in very rare circumstances. They certainly will last longer however than many other cheap or lower density memory foams on the market. In the "world of memory foam" ... the Rhapsody is a great mattress. This does not mean however that it has good or even "average" value and it certainly does not mean that it is suitable for any particular consumer.

For what its worth, I also believe that many of the "airflow" systems used by many memory foam mattresses are not nearly as "breathable" than the better open cell memory foams such as Aerus (made by Foamex).

If you do decide to "bite the bullet" and buy a Tempurpedic ... I would make sure that you don't fall into the trap of "trying to like the mattress" during the 90 days refund period or buying into the idea that it takes more than a few weeks to "break in". While it is true that some memory foams (including Tempurpedics) do soften significantly in the first few weeks of ownership ... too many people IMO learn to "adjust" to their new mattress and "overlook" the signals that they have purchased a mattress that is unsuitable for them rather than purchasing a mattress that "adjusts to them".

I know I sound like a "broken record" sometimes but all my research and experience indicates that independent local and even regional manufacturers are generally the best source for a quality mattress of any type that has real value. It is only the lack of transparency of the major manufacturers and the outlets that sell them and the "designed confusion" that they advertise and promote and that is "built in" to the marketplace that perpetuates their popularity ... and the prices that consumers are willing to pay for them.

Phoenix
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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 28 Aug 2011 18:23 #6

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Phoenix,

I just wanted to thank you again for your time and insight here. And I wanted to let you know that we did order the king Sealy Embody Introspection today. The one you and I have been discussing with 3" memory foam. We are very excited and I sure do hope it holds up well!

We were able to get the king brand new set for $2099 less $200 for our current box springs, so $1899. And 0% financing, and one year full refund, no exchanges, no restocking, just 100% full refund return for one year. So, we figured we'd give it a shot and see how we like it and how it holds up for the year.

My husband still much prefers the feel of the Embody to Tempurpedic and other memory foam with slower recovery time. Embody is kind of interesting. We opened one up (the covers unzip) and the memory foam is ventilated- looking more like latex with holes in it. Which, might provide some of it's faster recovery time? And also supposedly better air flow, which shuold mean cooler sleeping.

I will keep you posted once we get it tomorrow. In the meantime, if you happen to hear negative things about the Embody, please do let me know if you remember. Not much history on these re: long term durability. But per the stats, and your opinion, I was willing to take the plunge and trust that it'll be good quality!

Thanks again!!!

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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 28 Aug 2011 18:24 #7

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Oops! Somehow I got logged out. The anonymous post above was from me!

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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 29 Aug 2011 01:25 #8

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Hi Sleepless,

Part of what gives memory foam its "slow recovery" is because the foam cells are more "closed" than other types of foam so air flows more slowly between them. Some of the newer more breathable foams have a more open cell structure which means that they recover a little faster and also are more breathable and cooler ... at least in comparison to other memory foams.

I believe that the holes in the Sealy are a better way to improve breathability than "air channels" under the memory foam that some memory foam mattresses use (including Tempur) which tend to get compressed when you lay on the mattress which somewhat defeats their purpose. The air channels also don't really solve the lack of breathability of the memory foam above them which is the layer where breathability is most important.

The ticking and quilting materials used can also help as well although a quilted cover over memory foam can reduce the ability of the memory foam to conform to the body shape so my preference with memory foam is a "temperature regulating" material such outlast, coolmax, or polartec, without quilting.

I'm glad that you found a mattress that works for the both of you and I'd love to hear how it works out over the next few weeks. I'm impressed too that you have a full year to return the mattress for a refund ... that's very unusual and great to see :).

Thanks for all your comments and questions

Phoenix
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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 29 Aug 2011 11:56 #9

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Hi Phoenix,

We just use a Dri-Tec cover. Waterproof, but very thin and soft. Will that work?
www.sleepys.com/en/Dri-Tec-Mattress-Protector_32109/

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Re: Sealy Embody Introspection 29 Aug 2011 14:12 #10

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One more quick question about mattress support--

We ordered a new bed also with this set. It's a king leather bed. It has 4 wood cross support beams under the mattress going side to side- each with one leg in the middle. Do you think that's enough support under this bed? Or should I add some additional under mattress supports with legs?

And I have to say- the Sealy Embody box- the sales woman told me it was wood reinforced on both top and bottom with steel in between. It is not. When it arrived, you can see through the covering- it's wood reinforced on the bottom, only steel going up from there to the mattress more like a traditional box. Is this enough support?? I know it's what Sealy made for the Embody, but I'm wondering if we'd be better off with either a wood slat box or like a Tempurpedic box that's more solid wood? Any thoughts?

Thanks again! Can't wait to sleep on this thing tonight!

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