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help with mattress choice 28 Oct 2012 23:52 #1

  • shawninarlington
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We have decided to buy a new mattress but have no experience except for buying cheap mattresses as students. I had no idea good mattresses cost so much, so we have been reading as much of this site as we can to avoid wasting $1000+. Please let me know what you think of the options we identified so far:

We went to try the Pure Latex Bliss line at Healthy Back in Alexandria, VA based on some posts from this site. We really liked the Elegance model and found it more comfortable than the Essence model, so I think that means we need a somewhat soft comfort layer. The price tag is quite high for our budget (I think ~$2700 on sale). Also, the salesman was not very knowledgeable, and I didn't see any actual ILD ratings for the various mattress layers. Are there similar, less expensive brands/models?

We saw a 'Mattress Discounters' near Healthy Back, so we stopped there, too. A Stearns and Foster model felt best in their showroom. They called it the 'Callie' and said it was titanium, pocket-coils with a Talalay latex comfort layer. I'm having trouble verifying the latex part. They quoted a price of $1260, including the box spring. I think S&F may be one of the brands not endorsed by this site, but I'm curious if this model is an OK value. I've heard stores like this one will also negotiate.

If I'm priced out of the market for a truly high quality mattress, I think my next best option may be to get a cheaper, firm mattress and put a nice latex topper on it. I was thinking the IKEA natural latex mattress could work, or perhaps a entry-level innerspring mattress. Have others succeeded with this approach? Any recommendations on the topper?

Thanks for all the information on the site. I definitely felt better informed while browsing.
- Shawn

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Re: help with mattress choice 29 Oct 2012 01:54 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi shawninarlington,

The PLB Elegance at Healthy Back would be similar to the PLB Beautiful which both have 12" of latex. The new versions of the Beautiful also have the Active Fusion Talalay top layer which used to be called Celsion (which is used in the Healthy Back Elegance).

They are very high quality mattresses and if you compare them to mainstream brands they would be better than average value but they are not in the same "value range" as other latex mattresses with similar layering made by smaller manufacturers either locally or online. It does however indicate that you prefer quite soft layers because the Beautiful uses a combination of 19 ILD and 24 ILD in the comfort layers which is very soft and the Elegance would be similar. Of course this is assuming that you have carefully tested for alignment on this mattress and not just chosen it based on comfort.

It would be a good choice in terms of materials IMO but you would a paying a fairly substantial premium compared to other similar mattresses that are available online (the list of members here that specialize in online sales is in post #21 here ) and perhaps a lesser premium compared to other similar mattresses that may be available locally at some of the other Washington outlets listed in post #2 here . The premium may not be as big an issue compared to knowing that you have found a mattress that fits your needs and preferences and pro-rated over the years that you will have this mattress it may not be as important but I would personally compare it to some of the other choices that are available in the area or online before pulling the trigger because there are similar choices available for less.

We saw a 'Mattress Discounters' near Healthy Back, so we stopped there, too. A Stearns and Foster model felt best in their showroom. They called it the 'Callie' and said it was titanium, pocket-coils with a Talalay latex comfort layer. I'm having trouble verifying the latex part. They quoted a price of $1260, including the box spring. I think S&F may be one of the brands not endorsed by this site, but I'm curious if this model is an OK value. I've heard stores like this one will also negotiate.


I think you are being sold a bill of goods here. According to their own specifications (which are incomplete) ... the Callie Doesn't have any latex at all and not only that it is probably missing several layers of polyfoam in the description which would be the weak link of this mattress. You would need to get a layer by layer breakdown of the mattress to evaluate it in any meaningful way (and the layers would need to add up to the thickness of the mattress) but this is not a mattress I would normally consider. You can check the law tag for any latex content but this still wouldn't give you the layering or the quality of the layers which you would need. This is certainly not comparable to the Elegance (or a similar latex mattress) in terms of the quality of the materials. Stearns and Foster also don't use Talalay latex in their lower end latex models and use a much lower quality and cost type of latex called "smart latex" which is mostly synthetic Dunlop.

If I'm priced out of the market for a truly high quality mattress, I think my next best option may be to get a cheaper, firm mattress and put a nice latex topper on it. I was thinking the IKEA natural latex mattress could work, or perhaps a entry-level innerspring mattress. Have others succeeded with this approach? Any recommendations on the topper?


This would depend on your budget (and there are some high quality choices for significantly less than what you have been looking at) but if you do go in this direction then the Ikea (or a similar online latex choice that had better value yet) would probably be better because an entry level innerspring may still have several inches of softer polyfoam on top and the innerspring may not be great quality. You would also be designing your own mattress which may involve some trial and error (which can be costly if you choose the wrong layers) because you won't know the details of the foam used in the innerspring mattress. You would need to sleep on it for a while to have a reference point to help you decide on the topper that would work best for you and estimate what extra layers you may need to provide good pressure relief.

While I would consider this direction with a latex core if good value wasn't available elsewhere ... I would hesitate to do this with an innerspring mattress that would add some low quality foam and some guesswork into the mix. Others have succeeded with this approach but it's usually a choice of necessity (such as with a mattress exchange) rather than a preference. You would normally be better off with purchasing a complete mattress rather than designing your own mattress/topper combination both in terms of value and and in many cases you would also have better exchange options available to you if you made a wrong choice.

Phoenix
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Re: help with mattress choice 03 Nov 2012 20:17 #3

  • shawninarlington
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Phoenix,

Thanks for the thorough response! It took us a while to absorb all the information and look through all the links in the other posts.

The Sleep EZ 8" special ($1245 Queen) seems like a popular choice on this forum, and the price is pretty good. The Ultimate Bedding store on Amazon is cheaper ($900 Queen) but less customizable and not 100% latex, so Sleep EZ looks like the best value right now.

I called Shawn at Sleep EZ, and he recommended Soft-Medium-Firm layers for our body types. I'm quite thin, so we are also considering Soft-Soft-Medium. I'm assuming neither of these will feel quite as soft as the Pure Bliss Elegance, but after your comments I did realize that we did not check spinal alignment on the Elegance as carefully as we should have checked. We may split the layers and order both configurations and test them out. $30 for 1 layer exchange is a good deal!

Do you have any advice on foundations? Other posters seem to have problems with the Sleep EZ foundations, and I forgot to ask if those have the same nice return policy. I think it might be better to buy a foundation at Ikea or another local furniture store. Anything to keep in mind?

Sleep EZ has a latex consumer guide webpage with some useful information (www.sleepez.com/latex-mattress-buyers-guide.htm). It is also confusing because it seems to claim that 100% natural latex is not really superior to blended, yet the 8" special has all 100% natural latex layers. Do you recommend requesting a blended talalay layer instead of 100% natural?

Thanks,
Shawn

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Re: help with mattress choice 04 Nov 2012 01:36 #4

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Hi shawninarlington,

Do you have any advice on foundations? Other posters seem to have problems with the Sleep EZ foundations, and I forgot to ask if those have the same nice return policy. I think it might be better to buy a foundation at Ikea or another local furniture store. Anything to keep in mind?


There is a foundation thread here which has many foundation options available.

Some of the KD slatted foundations seem to have had some quality issues recently (which has also frustrated Shawn as well because he provides a refund when this happens and he has told me that there have been more complaints than normal lately) and you will also find that they may have gaps that are wider than 3". For an all latex mattress ... the gaps should be 3" or less.

This one in post #4 here has come to my attention recently and it very good value (it has 19 slats) and the better quality wire grid types in the foundation post are also very strong and suggested by several manufacturers (I would make sure it was one with more longitudinal wires in it).

It is also confusing because it seems to claim that 100% natural latex is not really superior to blended, yet the 8" special has all 100% natural latex layers.


There is a difference between Talalay and Dunlop when it comes to different blends and types of latex ( see this article along with post #6 here ). The 6" special uses 100% natural Dunlop layers and the 8" has 100% natural Talalay (not blended as was originally stated in this post) in the top 2" layer. With an ILD in the range of 22-24 ... the 100% natural Talalay would be similar to the blended talay in terms of durability although the blend may still have a slight advantage.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: help with mattress choice 04 Nov 2012 10:52 #5

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Phoenix,

Regarding the latex composition, the descriptions on the Sleep EZ website (see below) for the 8" special imply 100% natural talalay instead of blended talalay. I'll ask for clarification when I call again.

"Our 8" All Natural Latex Mattress is built from 6" Natural dunlop latex core + 2" 100% natural soft latex + cotton zipper cover"

"Two 3" Layers of 100% natural "Dunlop" latex + one 2" Layer of 100% natural "Talalay"latex encased in 4 way zipper cotton cover."

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Last edit: by shawninarlington.

Re: help with mattress choice 04 Nov 2012 14:24 #6

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Hi shawninarlington,

You are correct ... their Special uses 100% natural Talalay for the top 2" layer.

In the years I have known them I have been under the incorrect assumption that it used blended Talalay and never looked or asked them specifically (even though I talk with them fairly regularly) and even though their site says otherwise (which somehow I glossed right over previously). Just goes to show how the devil is in the details sometimes and how important it can be to talk with a manufacturer directly for specific answers.

I was even so "certain" that even reading it on the site didn't completely satisfy the lurking thought that it was blended so I called them this morning (and there was Shawn answering the phone on a Sunday morning) and confirmed that it was 100% natural and always had been. So much for "assumptions" that stick in people's minds (or at least in mine in this case)!

Now I need to search and check the forum to make sure that I haven't described it as blended elsewhere :)

Thanks for bringing this up and clarifying what they use!

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: help with mattress choice 09 Dec 2012 10:11 #7

  • shawninarlington
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Hi Phoenix,

We received our queen size 8" special from SleepEZ a few weeks ago, and I can now report the results. First, we also bought an IKEA bed frame along with their narrow, arched slats (www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60160217/#/00160215). The top 2" of the mattress is natural talalay latex. The middle and bottom 3" natural dunlop layers are split.

My girlfriend's experience was nerve-wracking at first, but great now. Her side is medium in the middle and firm on the bottom (Shawn's recommendation for both of us based on body type). She woke up in incredible pain and stiffness after the first night, and it only got slightly better the next couple nights. Based on Shawn's advice, she kept at it and now feels great. She wakes up in no pain and no longer uses a "back pillow" like she did with previous mattresses.

For my side I chose a soft middle layer and a medium bottom layer mostly so we would have more options to reconfigure, but I also thought it might be better because I am quite thin and often side sleep. I went in fully aware that I might need to exchange this for more firm support layers. I started off sleeping pretty well - OK one night, some stiffness the next, OK again. But, this hasn't gone away after several weeks, and the stiffness and now lower back pain is even more regular. I often don't have time for a full night's sleep, so this problem is even more evident on the weekends when I cannot sleep in at all because of the pain.

I tried reconfiguring my side to be a bit more firm by moving the medium layer up to the middle (so the soft in now on the bottom), but I haven't noticed a difference. Out of curiosity (and a little desperation), I slept on the girlfriend's side last night (M middle, F bottom), but still woke up with pain. Obviously one night is not enough to evaluate a mattress, but I'm starting to get concerned that increasing the firmness is not going to help. Is there a good way to evaluate the cause of my symptoms to see if more firm support will help or if I really need a different solution (like a thicker bed or topper)?

Thanks again for all your advice,
Shawn

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Re: help with mattress choice 09 Dec 2012 23:04 #8

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Hi shawninarlington,

I would suspect that it's the result of support layers that are too soft and you are sleeping out of alignment and your muscles are working too hard to keep you in alignment instead of the mattress.

It's also important to give any changes long enough to identify a pattern because a night or even a few nights experience is not usually indicative of what you will experience over the long term. Your body can take some time to adapt to changes (as evidenced by your girlfriend's experiences).

The best suggestion is usually to work with the manufacturer of the mattress who has much more experience with the specific mattresses they sell and the effect of any changes than I do but based on a "best guess" ... I would suggest that your support layers are not firm enough and the heavier parts of your body are sinking down too far. If it's possible ... I would spend at least a week or so on your girlfriend's side (hopefully she will be OK with your current layering for the short term which if I understand correctly only differs from hers in the layer on the bottom) and test out Shawn's original suggestion to see what type of changes they produce in your "symptoms". If you see an improvement ... then you will have a better frame of reference to know if any other changes would be beneficial.

At this stage I wouldn't consider a topper or any extra layers when it's probable that the main issue is the firmness of your support layers rather than the thickness/softness of your comfort layers (which usually produces more pressure relief types of symptoms such as numbness or tingling from lack of circulation). With your lighter weight ... it's also unlikely that a thicker mattress would be much benefit.

It's always best to make one change at a time though so you can better evaluate the effect and if it does turn out that you need a little more thickness or softness on top as well and the firmer support layers are providing better support/alignment (and reducing the pain) ... then you can always add this later.

Phoenix
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Re: help with mattress choice 03 Mar 2013 12:58 #9

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Hi Phoenix,

Here is another update about our 8" mattress from SleepEZ.

First, my girlfriend still loves the bed.

Second, I am still have some lower back soreness issues. As I mentioned previously, I tried moving my 3" medium firmness layer up to the middle of my side, and after many nights I felt that this did not significantly change the amount of support I was getting. I called Shawn about exchanging for firm and/or extra firm layers. He suggested that I swap out the 3" soft layer for a 3" firm layer, but he cautioned against also swapping the medium for extra firm. He thought the change would be either too great (extra firm in the middle would feel "like a brick") or not significant if I put it on the bottom.

So, my new configuration is 2" soft on top, 3" firm in the middle (new layer), 3" medium on the bottom, IKEA bed frame with their narrow, arched slats. I do think my back has improved, but I still have soreness that will not go away. I often feel very obvious soreness when I wake up and if I do simple stretches such as child's pose or twists.

I don't know if need even more support, or if I tweaked something during this transition that will not heal. I did get an extra 30 days to evaluate the mattress, so I can still return it or exchange layers again (for another few days). I don't want to return the mattress, but I'm wondering if the extra firm layer is really such a bad idea. I'm also wondering if I should put more slats under the mattress or a thin board between mattress layers in the lower back "zone".

I'd love to give SleepEZ and latex a glowing review, but it's not quite working out for me yet. Please let me know if you have any further suggestions.

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Re: help with mattress choice 03 Mar 2013 13:18 #10

  • Sleepy1
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...IKEA bed frame with their narrow, arched slats..

That may be the culprit. A latex bed is supposed to rest on a firm, flat surface. There was another person here recently that also had a problem with this type of slats. Before you tweak your mattress any more, why don't you either replace the slats if you can, or put the mattress on the floor. Go back to your original layering too, and see if that helps.

I just can't imagine the supposed benefit of these arched slats. Either they compress flat once you're in the bed, in which case why not just have a flat surface to start with? or they don't, in which case you're sleeping on an arched surface....yikes! Hope this helps.

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Last edit: by Sleepy1.
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