Latex foam is a marvelous product. You may be looking for pressure relief from a too firm mattress and need just a latex topper in a 2″ or 3″ thickness to go on top of your existing bed. Or you might be ready to select layers to make your own mattress with a mix of a softer comfort layer on top followed by firmer support layers underneath.
The beauty of latex is you can design your mattress as you wish to meet your own body type. With the layers you choose for your mattress you’ll also have the ability to interchange and rearrange the layers in the future to change the feel of your mattress. The key is to select the right type of latex and the correct thickness and firmness in each layer you choose. While there are some general guidelines of selection it is a fact that all people have their own judgement on what is comfortable “to them”. Here are some basics about latex.
Information that’s helpful for me to know when assisting someone in selection would first of all be the person’s height and weight. This shows how the body will utilize the surface of the latex and the degree of support needed in the layer.
Are you a side, stomach or back sleeper? Stomach sleepers need firmness so their back doesn’t bow when on their stomach which will happen if they are on a too soft mattress. Side sleepers need enough softness to allow their shoulders and hips to sink into the latex to the degree that makes the spine straight when looking from a side view. This is the position your spine wants to be in and if the mattress you’re on is preventing that the stress created on the spine will eventually catch up with you.
Dunlop processed latex – this is known as the “less lively” latex. It is denser and because of that density has a tighter feel. People who don’t like a plush lively layer will enjoy dunlop latex. This can be used as a topper or support layers mixed with a Talalay processed layer on top. Some people prefer their entire mattress consist of dunlop layers.
Talalay processed latex – this is known as the “livelier” latex. It is the best for pressure relief because it molds or conforms more to the body. You will sink in more with talalay and get the plusher feel.
Latex is measured by its ILD–Indention Load Deflection. In the simplest explanation possible this is the amount of rubber in the layer–the lower the number the softer or less rubber there is in the layer and the higher the number the firmer the layer due to a larger amount of rubber. Important to know you can’t compare latex by what the seller may call it such as soft, medium, firm etc. One seller’s medium might be a 22 ILD while another might use a 32 ILD as his medium in his lineup. As in this example the 22 ILD is going to be much softer/less support than the 32 ILD.
So for a jumping off point lets look at a person who is 5′ 8″ and weighs 165 lbs and is a side sleeper. Consider soft 19 ILD over a medium soft 22 ILD or medium 29 ILD over a firm 33 ILD in Talalay. That middle layer 22 or 29 will be your softer or firmer transition layer and will be chosen based on your preference of firmness.