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Is our S&F with 2'' Memory Foam topper a good choice? 14 Jun 2012 14:49 #1

  • bbb_63
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Hi, everyone.

We've been working on a mattress purchase for 6 months now (VERY long story) with multiple fits and starts.

Reading another forum, I came to the conclusion that buying a "tank"-like mattress and using toppers would not be a bad strategy. (We did try a 100% latex bed and could not get it to work after many months of trying..that's a story for another post).

So, I purchased a S&F "tank" with individually pocketed coils and 2'' (I believe) of HD Foam in the comfort layer from US Mattress. It had a comfort rating of 3 (on a scale of 1-10), so feels like laying on a carpeted floor without something on it. I can sleep on it and am actually somewhat comfortable, but wife isn't - so we need to find a solution.

I'm 175 lbs, 5'10, 47 and prefer stomach sleeping. Some arthritic symptoms (shoulder, mostly). Wife is 5'4, 110 lbs and side / back sleeper. Has pressure points in her hips that bother her.

With all that as background, we tried 2'' Sensus memory foam (currently on the bed) with a baffled mattress protector with some fiber/down fill (not sure how much, but it's a bit 'poofy'). Combo feels nice and "cushy", and the S&F underneath provides great support. BUT - I can't sleep on my stomach, as my back "hammocks" a bit - and I wake up with very sore lower back issues. (I also tried swapping the protector for a Protect-a-Bed, and don't notice a huge difference, but it's definitely 'flatter' and I THINK more supportive).

I only have a week until needing to decide if I return this and go with something else. So, am hoping that Phoenix and others can provide some help and advice, including what better topper options might exist.

The other option recommended by US Mattress is the latest S&F "Suzette" with 2'' HD Foam and 1/2'' Memory Foam for the comfort layer. Not sure if this would be a good option in terms of long term wear or not..

www.us-mattress.com/stearns-suzette-firm.html

Also - I heard today from one of the smaller mattress manufacturers that Memory Foam is "terrible" for stomach sleepers..so, would be interested in any opinions about that.

Thanks in advance for any/all suggestions!

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Last edit: by bbb_63.

Re: Is our S&F with 2'' Memory Foam topper a good choice? 14 Jun 2012 16:23 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi bbb_t3,

It would probably be helpful to know the specific model of the S&F "tank" you are using as a base. Even the firmest mattresses will often have layers of supersoft foam and the firmness is often more about using layers that allow the firmness of the lower layers to "come through" the very soft comfort layers. Knowing the specifics of your mattress may make a difference in choosing the type of topper that may work best for you.

The other option recommended by US Mattress is the latest S&F "Suzette" with 2'' HD Foam and 1/2'' Memory Foam for the comfort layer. Not sure if this would be a good option in terms of long term wear or not..

www.us-mattress.com/stearns-suzette-firm.html


This is a great example of what I mean. If you look at the specs of this mattress ... you will see that there are 2" of hypersoft foam (even softer than supersoft) and a layer of soft polyester fiber in the comfort/quilting layers. In addition to this it doesn't give the firmness of the HD polyfoam and there is an additional .5" of memory foam which would tend towards initial firmness (because it's deeper in the mattress) but would gradually soften a little (although not as much as a thicker layer) over the course of the night.

The "firmness" of this mattress comes from the firmness of the HD polyfoam (which probably has a higher ILD but will soften over time depending on its density), the initial "firmness" of the 1/2" of memory foam (even though it will soften with hours spent on the mattress) in combination with the "firmness" of the innerspring. If you add a topper to a mattress like this ... then you would be putting the 2" of hypersoft and the polyester fiber deeper into your sleeping system and their "supportive" qualities (which are close to nil) would play a much larger role. I would not choose this as a "base" because it's firmness is due to the thicker top foam layers being so soft that you "go through them" and they don't "isolate" you from the firmness of the layers below it ... not because they are firm in themselves or suitable to support other layers on top of them. This is very common in firm mattresses which can have softer foams on top than less firm mattresses.

Also - I heard today from one of the smaller mattress manufacturers that Memory Foam is "terrible" for stomach sleepers..so, would be interested in any opinions about that.


This opinion would be shared by the majority of manufacturers in this country who tend to either not make memoy foam at all because of the risk associated with it or if they do tend to "sell against" it. Memory foam is a very risky material ... especially in thicker layers ... and this risk is compounded for stomach sleepers which is the "riskiest" of the sleeping positions. While the "appropriate" use of memory foam for a stomach sleeper would depend on the other materials in the mattress and on the preferences of the person themselves ... I certainly agree that it's probably not the best choice of material except perhaps in thinner layers that are used to modify the feel of other materials in the mattress.

When your needs are directly opposed to the "typical" needs of a lighter and probably more curvy side/back sleeper ... every layer of the mattress can be very important and things like "zoning" can play a role along with certain layering patterns that allow for the fact that each of you will compress the same mattress to different degrees. In other words ... what may be a comfort layer for you may be part of the transition or support layers for her.

I'd be happy to give you other ideas if you can let me know the layering or model of your "tank" :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: Is our S&F with 2'' Memory Foam topper a good choice? 14 Jun 2012 18:31 #3

  • bbb_63
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Thanks, Phoenix! Much appreciated.

The S&F we have today is a "Wethersfield" Luxury Firm from US Mattress. I unfortunately don't have the cutaway specs any longer, but believe there are 2'' of HD foam in the comfort layer and 2'' of HD foam in the quilt layer.

When I told my rep that this mattress is too hard for me and the Mrs., he suggested swapping out for the (bottom to top):

1/2'' memory foam + 2'' HD Foam (comfort layer)
1'' Hypersoft + .5 oz fiber + 1'' Hypersoft (quilting)
Same underlying (non-Intellicoil) pocketed coils.

..which is the bed I linked to in the post above.

So, I'm not sure if we should swap the 'tank' for this 2012 model with the softer quilting and (slightly) softer comfort layer, or keep the tank and play with different toppers.

Any ideas / suggestions would be much appreciated!

BTW, I'm also considering a Berkeley Ergonomics bed as I "think" the reason we were not able to get comfortable with the all latex bed (Flobeds) even after months of trying layer swaps of virtually every combination imaginable was a lack of springs - and the idea of individually pocketed springs under latex seems to be the best of all worlds. But I know I also don't like the pushback feel of latex, and that makes me a bit hesitant to go this route. (Wondering if BE from Design Sleep plus something softer on top would work?) That, and the nearest BE store is Design Sleep in Columbus - 4 and a half hours from here. So..ditto - any thoughts on that would also be very much appreciated.

Thx..

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Re: Is our S&F with 2'' Memory Foam topper a good choice? 14 Jun 2012 22:50 #4

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Hi bbb_63,

The S&F we have today is a "Wethersfield" Luxury Firm from US Mattress. I unfortunately don't have the cutaway specs any longer, but believe there are 2'' of HD foam in the comfort layer and 2'' of HD foam in the quilt layer.


You can see the specs for the Wethersfield Luxury Firm here .

As you can see ... there is already 2" of hypersoft and some fiber in the quilting along with another inch of "zoned" supersoft below it (likely firmer in the middle) and then an inch of "high performance" foam of unknown ILD (which would also be subject to softening). This is the "luxury" part of "luxury firm" which translates into "soft". With supersoft layers like this ... the extra 2" of memory foam would be too thick for a stomach sleeper both in "theory" and in your experience.

With 3+" of soft foam already on top of the mattress ... no matter what the firmness of the innerspring (and it's not particularly firm either with a 13.75 gauge pocket coil) ... adding soft foam as a topper (like 2" of memory foam) to this could easily turn the soft layers into either "transition" or "support layers" and they are way too soft for that.

When I told my rep that this mattress is too hard for me and the Mrs., he suggested swapping out for the (bottom to top):

1/2'' memory foam + 2'' HD Foam (comfort layer)
1'' Hypersoft + .5 oz fiber + 1'' Hypersoft (quilting)
Same underlying (non-Intellicoil) pocketed coils.

..which is the bed I linked to in the post above.


While this mattress may still be too firm by itself, it is also too soft for a topper with the thick soft layers on the top. I think that the first "decision" would be whether to go for a mattress that 'works" by itself or whether you are looking for a "base" mattress for a topper. If it's the first ... then going with something softer would make sense. If the goal is to use a topper on a "tank" ... then you would need firmer and thinner polyfoam layers.

Either way, this isn't much of an improvement over what you have now. While they don't list the ILD of the foam layers (Sealy rarely lists either the density or ILD) ... it seems to me that the Suzette may have layers under the 2" of supersoft that are actually a little firmer (2" of HD foam of unknown firmness vs an inch of "VRT supersoft and an inch of "high performance" HD) but they are also thicker with the addition of the memory foam and increased thickness acts softer and would also isolate you from the firmness of the coils more. The "rated" difference between them is 3.5 vs 4 so they're not much different. Of course the quilting and the fibers used can play a role as well. This would also likely be too soft for a topper and could also be too firm for use by itself.

So neither of these would seem to me to be suitable candidates for a 2" memory foam topper for you IMO and unfortunately neither would quality as a "tank" ... although I understand how it could feel like that for you. If I was going to add a 2" memory foam topper I would be looking more along the lines of this which is "extra firm" and uses less and firmer foams.

If you go in the direction of a mattress that "works" without a topper at all and removing the memory foam (which is risky anyway) and exchanging for a softer mattress then making sure it is firm enough for you and also soft enough for your wife is of course the "compromise" or tradeoff. Hopefully because she is smaller and lighter she may be OK with a thinner soft foam layer than a heavier side sleeper (depending on her shape) which would work better for you. For most stomach sleepers, being as close to the support layers as possible is important with "just enough" comfort being better than too much.

Unfortunately without the specs of the S&F (at least the meaningful ones that make a difference) and because of the design of their mattresses, it's difficult to know where to go except by your personal experience and testing which doesn't seem to be possible. These can be "risky" mattresses to buy online without someone who has enough knowledge and experience to know exactly what would work for a particular couple with different needs and preferences and most can only give you what they have been taught (which is more about selling than "fitting" in many cases).

So if you decide to keep the topper ... you would need firmer. If you decide to go for a mattress by itself ... as risky as that is ... then you would need to go softer and only the experience of someone who works with these specific mattresses and is familiar with how they interact with people with similar needs and preferences to you can improve the odds of making a good choice in the absence of any meaningful information about what is in the mattresses. In essence ... you are playing Russian Roulette.

My personal choice if you are committed to exchanging for something from US mattress would be to go with a real "tank" and then work on adding layers that seemed suitable unless I absolutely trusted the judgement of the person you were working with.

Do you have any other options besides exchanging for another S&F? Your comments about considering a BE also indicate the possibility of a refund and starting over again. Are you able to get a refund and head in a different direction completely? If this is a possibility then I would strongly consider it unless really have a lot of faith in the person who is helping you.

BTW, I'm also considering a Berkeley Ergonomics bed as I "think" the reason we were not able to get comfortable with the all latex bed (Flobeds) even after months of trying layer swaps of virtually every combination imaginable was a lack of springs - and the idea of individually pocketed springs under latex seems to be the best of all worlds. But I know I also don't like the pushback feel of latex, and that makes me a bit hesitant to go this route. (Wondering if BE from Design Sleep plus something softer on top would work?) That, and the nearest BE store is Design Sleep in Columbus - 4 and a half hours from here. So..ditto - any thoughts on that would also be very much appreciated.


I'll leave more detailed comments about FloBeds and layering for another time (which as you mentioned is a high quality mattress even if they are somewhat overpriced IMO) but an innerspring/latex hybrid could certainly work better for you. There are some "limitations" or in some cases "complications" (in the case of the Vzone) which can make getting it right quite complex for some people and there are always those who prefer an innerspring support layer anyway.

Every material or component isn't "right" for everyone as you know. Springs actually have more "pushback" (more resilience and less hysteresis or energy loss than latex ) but they also have a different feel and compress differently than latex foam. They can also have firmer and softer rates of compression in the same coil (variable spring rates) while a single layer of latex has a more linear progression (called compression modulus). While certain types of layering can somewhat "simulate" this, latex mattresses are typically made with progressive firmness levels rather than softer layers of an appropriate thickness under firmer layers also with an appropriate thickness. Even this however won't be the same because of the differences in resilience and hysteresis and also the differences in "point elasticity" and how compression affects both surrounding and deeper layers (this is a complex way of saying that while there are layering patterns that can help one design be a little closer to another ... they will always be different).

There are quite a few local manufacturers who make "latex/innerspring" hybrids besides Berkeley Ergonomics though although I don't know if any of them are close to you. If you let me know the city you are in I'd be happy to take a look.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: Is our S&F with 2'' Memory Foam topper a good choice? 15 Jun 2012 08:01 #5

  • bbb_63
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Thanks, Phoenix.

We're still within our exchange / refund period with US Mattress, and they seem like reputable and good guys - so hopefully there would not be an issue if we did decide to fully return and do something different. (They have a local storefront to us, and the rep there is VERY good and I do trust him. Problem is, he can only get the "core" line of S&F and not the Estate - so, I'm limited to my choices).

I did try out the "Judith" at Art Van Furniture (our big furniture chain here), which has (top to bottom):

Quilt:
1'' Ultra Soft
.5 oz Fiber
1'' Hypersoft

Comfort:
3'' HD Foam
1'' Memory Foam

Intellicoil

This seemed to be softer than the Wethersfield, so the wife may like better and it could therefore be a good compromise. But I STILL can't seem to get comfortable on my stomach as my back hammocks a bit.

I guess what we're ideally looking for is a bed where I can sleep on my stomach without hammocking and the resulting backpain, and my wife can sleep on her side without hip pain. So, if you can think of anything along those lines, that'd be awesome..but I feel like we're looking for a "two headed unicorn" here, which may not exist.

BTW, we did try zoning and "not-zoned" with the Flobed. The feel of all latex (we went with the natural) led to a feeling of way too much "pushback". We still have the Flobed and could potentially try to "adjust" that somehow as well..maybe by adding a polyfoam instead of the latex convolute layer that is in there now..note that we did try the memory foam (the Sensus, FoambyMail 5 lb AND Costco Gel) in place of the latex convolute layer inside of the Flobed, but none of that seemed to work, either. (I'm truly tempted to try PU foam of some sort instead, as that's what our bodies seem used to sleeping on..the good news is that I can unzip the Flobed, put it inside, and have the quilted top layer of the Flobed over the PU foam, just like we tried with the memory foam).

Flobed layers on my side (bottom to top) are: Super-Firm, X-Firm, Firm, Convolute.

Thx..

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Last edit: by bbb_63.

Re: Is our S&F with 2'' Memory Foam topper a good choice? 15 Jun 2012 15:17 #6

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Hi bbb_63,

(They have a local storefront to us, and the rep there is VERY good and I do trust him. Problem is, he can only get the "core" line of S&F and not the Estate - so, I'm limited to my choices).


Part of the problem as well is that all the S&F are low value mattresses regardless of model and they mostly use too much lower quality materials that are subject to early softening and breakdown. Those that don't are horrendously overpriced.

The list I linked to in the other thread has some much better options in the Detroit area IMO.

I guess what we're ideally looking for is a bed where I can sleep on my stomach without hammocking and the resulting backpain, and my wife can sleep on her side without hip pain. So, if you can think of anything along those lines, that'd be awesome..but I feel like we're looking for a "two headed unicorn" here, which may not exist.


This is the "classic" dilemma where a couple has very different needs and preferences that have to be incorporated into the same mattress. There are several approaches that can help with this and this is where the skill and knowledge of an experienced manufacturer or salesperson can help a lot.

One of the things that can help is zoning which can increase support in the lumbar/pelvis area which allows for softer materials in the shoulder area of the mattress. Two to three zones is generally the most effective approach here. A second approach could be considered "vertical" zoning which takes into account that each of you will sink into the mattress to a different depth and that a "comfort" layer for one can be a "transition" or "support" layer for another. A third approach (which flobeds offers) is a side to side split which can layer the mattress differently on each side.

BTW, we did try zoning and "not-zoned" with the Flobed. The feel of all latex (we went with the natural) led to a feeling of way too much "pushback". We still have the Flobed and could potentially try to "adjust" that somehow as well..maybe by adding a polyfoam instead of the latex convolute layer that is in there now..note that we did try the memory foam (the Sensus, FoambyMail 5 lb AND Costco Gel) in place of the latex convolute layer inside of the Flobed, but none of that seemed to work, either. (I'm truly tempted to try PU foam of some sort instead, as that's what our bodies seem used to sleeping on..the good news is that I can unzip the Flobed, put it inside, and have the quilted top layer of the Flobed over the PU foam, just like we tried with the memory foam).


One of the "keys" with zoning is that it is "beneficial" zoning rather than "detrimental" zoning and this can depend on the person and the design of the mattress. There is zoning which "stops" the pelvis and prevents it from rotating and sinking in deeper than the lighter/wider parts of the body and there is zoning which allows the hips to sink in a little more which shifts some of the pressure to the more recessed curve of the lumbar. While this increases "support" in the lumbar curve ... the extra pressure there can also be uncomfortable for many people and this is one of the "symptoms" that some people call "pushback". This is what I call "reverse zoning" and IMO is most beneficial only in certain specific circumstances or with certain body types. As you can see here and in this vZone video where they talk about "dropping" the hips for a back sleeper ... this is the "standard" zoning that flobeds uses (although the zones can be changed).

Because the vZone is usually the second layer down and there is only a very soft 2" convoluted layer on top, this is in effect a "comfort layer" zoning system (used for pressure relief) and used primarily to "fine tune" the comfort layers of the mattress. With a design that has a thicker 5" comfort layer though (the 2" top layer and the 3" vZone layer) there is a more pronounced secondary effect on alignment and a risk of dropping the hips too far ... especially for back and side sleepers ... and causing misalignment and/or adding too much pressure to the lumbar curve.

The phenomena of "pushback" is really a misnomer because once all the forces have come into equilibrium, there is no "direction" of force any more ... only surface pressure in various areas of the body. Each material distributes pressure differently and latex (like all materials) has it's own unique properties including high resilience and the "encouragement" of movement vs the "restriction" of movement of materials like memory foam. Some of these properties can also be "translated" or perceived as pushback which can be a "feeling" connected to how latex moves, how it compresses, or how it distributes pressure. There is a discussion in post #2 here about how for some people certain latex layerings can lead to more pressure (support) in the area of the lumbar curve than they are used to or comfortable with. For others ... pushback is more about the "feel" or latex and how it compresses and responds.

Sometimes ... an increase or decrease in thickness or firmness levels in certain layers or a quilting or topper material such as wool, memory foam, or even supersoft polyfoam can fine tune pressure distribution and the "response" of the mattress in a way that the "symptom" that they feel as pushback is dampened or no longer there. In other cases, different types of materials with a different type of response in either the support layers or the comfort layers can be the answer. One of the challenges and of mattress construction and design is how different everyone can be in their needs, preferences, and subjective perceptions of "comfort" :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.
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