An Introduction to Mattress Comfort Layers

Comfort layers consist of the upper few inches of a mattress and are a very important part of all mattress construction. They are primarily responsible for pressure relief which is one of the two main functions of all mattresses. The Comfort layers also include any quilting layers used in the very top part of a mattress since they act together to give a mattress its pressure relieving qualities. There is a wide variety of materials used in Comfort layers. Unfortunately, some that are quite commonly used are completely unsuitable for use in a mattress, and especially in the Comfort layers. Other materials have very high quality and effectiveness. Comfort layers can be made of a single layer or several layers of different ILD or materials.

Like the support layers, Comfort layers have a primary function and a secondary function. The primary function is to provide pressure relief while you sleep by forming a cradle that is shaped to your body profile. If you change positions as most of us do when we sleep, then the ability to quickly change the shape of the cradle with different sleeping profiles is also important. The secondary function of a Comfort layer is to support or help support the more recessed areas of the body (such as the lumbar) and prevent them from sagging.

There are also three main methods of mattress construction.

Progressive constructions  use a thinner Comfort layer which "borrows" from the mattress core to aid in pressure relief and in supporting the recessed areas of the body. 

Differential constructions  use thicker Comfort layers which provide most of the pressure relief by themselves and also contribute most of the support for the more recessed areas of your body profile such as the lumbar.  Zoned constructions may use either thinner or thicker Comfort layers.

For Comfort layers to be able to both relieve pressure and fill in and support the gaps in your profile, they need softness (to allow you to sink in deeply enough to form a cradle), progressive resistance (to increasingly stop the sinking so you don't go all the way through the layer), point elasticity (the ability to shape itself exactly to your profile), and resilience (the ability to push back and hold the more recessed parts of you up).

Different materials have different combinations of each quality and are suitable for different types of construction.

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kellyvotrenom's Avatar
kellyvotrenom replied the topic: #2 28 May 2018 12:19
I hope this is the correct way and place to post these questions.

I purchased a 10" Arctic Dreams mattress about 6-8 months ago and after an initial period of adjustment found it to exceed my expectations. I like the firmess and the slight bounce, as opposed to the "hot, quicksand" feel of memory foam. The only problem I have is with it being a little too hot in warm weather and the need for a little more comfort/ pressure relief.

I have read many of the posts in the forum regarding a topper and am not sure what direction to go. I don't want to invest a lot of money in a mattress that I only paid $200 for and right now I am still experimenting to learn what I really like and need. This mattress is the first foam construction one I have owned and will eventually buy a better mattress.

So far, my choice for a topper seems to come down to these:
- latex

- or wool (sort of)

-or bamboo mattress pad

- or even cheaper

- or any suggestions that you have that may be a better idea. I understand that these products are not the same but may accomplish what I'm trying to do in different ways

Most nights I get a decent sleep, the nights I don't is because I am too warm or unable to get comfortable because of pressure on my support areas (sleeping on my back is the hardest postion to get comfortable because of the pressure on my butt). I am about 5'7", 160lbs and physically fit and am pretty much a stomach sleeper.

Again, still in the experimenting stage so I'd rather make some relatively inexpensive mistakes as I figure this out but also don't need to waste money. I'd like to keep this mattress for a couple of years before I move on.

phoenix's Avatar
phoenix replied the topic: #3 29 May 2018 22:12
Hi kellyvotrenom.

Welcome to our Mattress Forum! :)

. Most nights I get a decent sleep, the nights I don't is because I am too warm or unable to get comfortable because of pressure on my support areas (sleeping on my back is the hardest postion to get comfortable because of the pressure on my butt). I am about 5'7", 160lbs and physically fit and am pretty much a stomach sleeper

In very general terms, the materials, layers, and components of a sleeping system that are closer to your skin will have a bigger effect on airflow, moisture transport, and temperature regulation than materials, layers, and components that are further away from your skin and softer mattresses or foam toppers will tend to be more "insulating" and for some people can sleep warmer than firmer versions of the same material. There is more about the many variables that can affect the sleeping temperature of a mattress or sleeping system in post #2 here that can help with the choice of materials and components that are most likely to keep you in a comfortable temperature range.

You probably read this, but I’d keep in mind that it's not really possible to quantify the sleeping temperature of a mattress/topper for any particular person with any real accuracy because there are so many variables involved including the type of mattress protector and the sheets and bedding that you use (which in many cases can have just as significant an effect on temperature as the type of foam in a mattress) and on where you are in the "oven to iceberg" range and also there is no standardized testing for temperature regulation with different combinations of materials ...

As far as pressure relief on your current mattress, as you sleep prone/stomach but also on your back I'd keep in mind that combination sleeping is more difficult to deal with than someone who sleeps in one position since the different positions have different basic requirements. Since most of us fall in this group, it is important to choose a mattress (and in your case a topper that goes with your mattress) so that the combination is able to keep you in alignment as well as comfortable in all your sleeping positions. Fortunately, you’ve made the right choice purchasing something that is firm enough to keep you well aligned when sleeping prone. It is much easier to add a bit of plushness to solve comfort issues than it is to firm up a surface that is not supportive enough.

. Again, still in the experimenting stage so I'd rather make some relatively inexpensive mistakes as I figure this out but also don't need to waste money. I'd like to keep this mattress for a couple of years before I move on..

I agree with you that the best approach is experimenting and seeing what works for you.
As this is so subjective and depends on so many other interrelated variables it would be only you that will be able to determine if the combination of the temperature regulating qualities and the level of plushness and thickness that you’d need are what you need and prefer. Because of the uncertainty involved with purchasing a topper where you can't test the combination in person ... a good exchange/return policy can also reduce the risk of an online topper purchase so I would also make sure you are comfortable with the options you have available after a purchase to exchange or return the topper and any costs involved just in case a topper you choose also doesn't turn out as well as you hoped for.

. Latex ~

You are on the right track with considering latex, Talalay latex and Dunlop latex are extremely breathable materials, and they would tend to be good choices for someone who is temperature sensitive. Latex, in general, is also the most breathable and "temperature neutral" of all the different types of foam materials but the firmness of a mattress and how much you sink into it can also affect sleeping temperature as well. As you probably are aware SOL is one of the manufacturing Trusted Members of this site and like all the members here I think very highly of and consider them to compete well with "the best" in the industry.

.or wool (sort of).

Wool is among the best temperature regulating materials but I would also keep in mind that it regulates temperature in both directions (it's used in the desert and also in cold climates because of this) so while it may not feel "cool" ... it generally doesn't feel "hot" either and it also helps to regulate moisture (which can trap heat) and reduce the perception of temperature that comes from higher humidity levels (similar to how temperatures feel cooler on less humid days than they do on more humid days). Wool may also reduce the amount of heat that reaches the memory foam so it can also firm up the memory foam or at least slow down the time it takes to become softer with body temperature.

As far as the two pads that you listed … bedding made from natural fibers or viscose materials (like bamboo) will also tend to be cooler than synthetic fibers but linen sheets along with silk are probably the coolest of all the natural fibers for those where sleeping temperature is a main priority. The filling in the first pad you listed is Revoloft Polyester Cluster/pellets Fiber Fill and I would be cautious about some heat trapping as well as the fact that both are relatively thin and may not be enough to accommodate your need for more plushness. On the bright side both of them have money back warranty and could be a good way to add more data points to your experiments.

Other than this ... materials (mattress pads or protectors) that are "more" breathable and temperature regulating that what you have in any of your upper layers (particularly natural fibers or rayon/viscose types of fibers), changing your blankets or the bedding above you, or changing the temperature and/or humidity of the room.

There is more information about choosing a topper in post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to which along with a conversation with a reliable and knowledgeable supplier (that can provide you with good information about how their toppers compare to each other or to other toppers they are familiar with that are available on the market) can help you use your sleeping experience as a reference point and guideline to help you choose the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the least possible risk and the best chance for success.

Hope this helps

smejenko1's Avatar
smejenko1 replied the topic: #4 31 May 2018 00:25
Hi i would like to build a matress for a dog made of normal cheap foam ruber but with a layer of memory foam... my questions is : how thick(high?) should be the layer of memory foam for a maximum comfort of the dog (is there some ratio?). the matress should be 16 cm high
thanks a lot
phoenix's Avatar
phoenix replied the topic: #5 31 May 2018 23:13
Hi smejenko1.

I have no idea what thickness (or firmness) may be best for any particular dog but I doubt you would need more than around 3 or 4" of latex that can be used by itself or with an added thin layer of memory foam. The latex rubber would be a good quality material and you can further differentiate the foams in terms of durability and feel in the same way as you would when choosing mattresses for humans. I would also probably use a good waterproof cover of some type. Post #6 here has more information about the different types of latex but all of them are durable materials compared to other types of foam.

Savvy rest has a 3” formed latex and a 6” shredded latex dog beds that could give you a few ideas of what most dogs like.

If any of the forum members have any experience with latex/memory foam dog beds it would be great to hear some feedback.

kellyvotrenom's Avatar
kellyvotrenom replied the topic: #6 03 Jun 2018 21:11
Thanks for your response. I had gathered much of what you said from other posts, but I do realize I need to be a little more discerning about which covers/ toppers I pick and the exact makeup of them.

Also - and possibly just as important - my sleep has been extremely comfortable in the past week. I live in Chicago and the weather changes radically from day to day; recently it just turned into summer. We had nights in the 30-40s as recently as a month ago, last week we had nights in the 70s.

So I'm wondering: could the recent warm-up have affected my mattress's comfortability? It seems to be more pliable and the pressure points that were bothering me recently seem to have abated. I might note that my top layers have become thinner and that is keeping me cooler at night as well.

The other thing that occurred to me is to have different pads/ toppers for the different seasons, or at least something more breathable when the weather gets really warm.

Thanks much for your help

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