Ultimate Latex Mattress Topper Guide: Pain Free Deep Sleep

A Latex mattress topper will stop you from tossing and turning all night long. 

Whatever is wrong with your mattress, latex toppers can fix it.

Is Your mattress:

  • Brand new, but too firm, and causing pains?
  • Old and sagging?
  • Causing aches and pains in the back, shoulders or hips?
  • Uncomfortable after an injury or surgery?

A latex mattress topper can fix that!

Note: Later in this article I show how I made an old saggy mattress feel like new again with a 3″ latex topper. Then I make a simple DIY latex mattress.

Twin Size 3 inch Firm Latex mattress topper. This 100% natural latex mattress topper is great for "hot sleepers". FullStrideHealth.com

Organic or 100% natural latex mattress toppers are great for “hot sleepers” and fixing “Bad Beds”.

Stop The Pain…Click Here

A Latex Mattress Topper Provides Pain Relief and Deep Healing Sleep

Latex Mattress toppers are far superior to any other foam mattress topper.  First, they do not add any heat to your bed.  So, you won’t wake up in a sweat like you do with the polyurethane and memory foam toppers.

Second, a latex mattress topper will help to keep your spine in alignment.  Which means you will sleep without pain, and helps your body to heal.  You won’t get that in memory foam, because memory foam keeps your body in the out-of-alignment state you had before getting into bed.

Third, a latex mattress topper is more durable, longer lasting, and virtually chemical free.  So, not only is latex a better value, it protects your health, and it’s biodegradable.

What Is Latex?  Where Does It Come From?  Why Should You Care?

Latex is the natural sap that is tapped from Hevea Brasiliensis rubber trees.  As the name indicates the tree is originally from Brazil, but it is now grown in many countries.  Such as: Thailand, Vietnam, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Natural latex rubber being collected from a rubber tree.
Natural latex rubber being collected from a rubber tree.

About 60% of the rubber tree sap is not latex and needs to be removed before the latex can be turned into a latex mattress topper.

Organic vs 100% All-Natural Latex Mattress Toppers

The supply of organic grown latex is limited, but increasing.  If supporting the earth and organic farmers is a priority for you, let me say – Thank You!

Can you tell the difference when sleeping on organic latex vs all-natural latex?  Unfortunately, the answer is “No”.

The reason lies in the manufacturing process.  All of the latex toppers are heated (vulcanized) to create the latex foam.  That process requires the use of sulfur.  So, in my opinion, that means it is no longer organic.  That’s a fine line, but one that the manufactures are glad to jump over.

There are four processes that are used to make latex toppers.

The (Possibly) Least Expensive and (Possibly) Least Pure Latex Method is Called Talalay. 

Different manufacturers may use different methods. I am not familiar with all of them, and some things simply are not disclosed by manufacturers.

However, this first process sounds pretty good to me.

Basically, the latex is put into a vacuum mold and Carbon dioxide (CO2) is pumped in to create the bubbles.  Then it is frozen to make the latex gel and hold the latex particles and bubbles in place.  That is followed by heating (vulcanizing – includes sulfur), washing and drying. This would be called “all natural”, but you would still need to check if they used any fillers.

So far, this is a pretty good process.  However, SOME companies add synthetic styrene butadiene rubber into the mix.  So, now it can’t be called all natural, but the price can be lowered.

Other than a lower price, talalay latex toppers have the same consistency throughout the topper, unlike the Dunlop method.

Also, talalay latex toppers have a lot more “bounce” and are a little softer than the Dunlop method.  Which is why some people prefer talalay toppers.

This results in the talalay toppers compressing a little more, even when the Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) score is the same as a Dunlop topper.  More about that later in choosing the best firmness rating.

The Dunlop Latex Mattress Topper Manufacturing Method

The latex is mixed with soap and sulfur (for vulcanizing) and mixed into a bubbly froth.  It’s poured into a mold, pressurized and heated (vulcanizing), then washed and dried.

The Dunlop method lets the latex particles settle towards the bottom before the vulcanizing process is completed. 

So, the bottom side of the latex topper will be a little denser than the top side.

Most talalay latex topper manufacturers will tell you that that is a terrible thing.  Well, that is kind of like saying a car is better than a pickup truck.  Let me explain.

As I mentioned earlier, the talalay method results in a springier and softer topper that has the same feel on both the top and bottom sides.  Whereas, the softer top and firmer bottom of the Dunlop topper can be an advantage.

When selecting the firmness level of your mattress topper, you might buy a softer topper than you actually prefer.  With the Dunlop topper you can flip the topper upside down and the “feel” of the topper will be a little firmer.  It is a slight adjustment, but it could be important to you.

Additionally, when a complete latex mattress is made, the denser layer is on the bottom and the softer layers are on top.  So, the Dunlop topper resembles a latex mattress.  This isn’t too important either. 

That’s because a latex mattress may have three or more layers with different densities.

For example:  The bottom layer is always the firmest.  The second layer could be a medium density or a soft density.  The top layer could also be a medium or soft density. 

By putting the medium density on the top, you can make the mattress a little firmer than if the top layer was the soft layer.

The Aurora Dunlop Manufacturing Method

Apparently, this is the same as the Dunlop method, except that it uses a microwave for heating the latex.

The Vytex Method of Making Latex Mattress Toppers

They use either the regular Dunlop or the Aurora Dunlop method, but with a twist. 

They have their own patented method where they mix insoluble aluminum hydroxide in with the latex which binds with the proteins.  It’s the proteins that cause latex allergies.  So, this makes the Vytex latex the most hypoallergenic latex available.

Then the mix is filtered or centrifuged to remove the aluminum hydroxide contain proteins and other impurities from the latex. 

The purified latex is then put into molds and heated (vulcanized) to cure the latex, washed and dried.

The Vytex latex is processed in Vietnam.  Since Vietnam is a latex producing country, you can assume that the latex is harvested in Vietnam and the surrounding countries.

How to Choose Between Talalay, Dunlop and Vytex Latex Toppers

If you have any kind of latex or chemical allergies, your only choice is the Vytex toppers.

Only the Dunlop latex toppers (includes Vytex brand) come closest to being organic.  That’s because all of the processes use some kind of chemicals.  So, technically, the latex can come from organically grown trees, but the processing methods are not organic.

If you want more “spring” in your topper, a lower price and don’t mind the additional chemicals, and synthetic rubber used in processing, go with talalay latex.

If you don’t want the extra talalay springiness, go with the Dunlop or Vytex toppers.

Vytex is the most durable latex, then the Dunlop, and talalay is the least durable.  However, all of them should last at least ten years and probably more than 20 years.  That is, unless you are too rough with them and tear them.

The toppers are fairly heavy and awkward to handle for one person.  Especially in the larger sizes.  So, basically the only time they might get damaged is when you first put them on the bed.

Choosing the Best Latex Mattress Topper Thickness

This can be tricky, because everyone’s situation and sense of comfort is different.

 Thickness and firmness go hand in hand.  If you change one, you probably have to change the other also.

The thicker the topper, the more exaggerated its firmness rating becomes.  For example, a 3-inch thick soft topper will feel softer than a 2-inch thick soft topper.  That’s because the 3-inch soft will let you sink in further.

On the other hand, a 3-inch thick firm topper will feel firmer than a 2-inch firm topper.

Generally, the more you weigh, the thicker the topper needs to be.

For side sleepers, the more hip and shoulder pain you feel the softer and thicker your topper should be.

For back sleepers, the more lower back pain you have on a new mattress the softer the topper should be.  Although I think the medium firmness should be your first choice.

However, for back sleepers on an old mattress that sags, you need a firm topper of at least 3-inches thick.  A 3-inch firm topper should be a good choice, unless you are very heavy.

A stomach sleeper on a new mattress that is too firm is probably best off with a 2-inch thick medium firmness topper.  However, on an old mattress go with the 3-inch firm topper.  That’s so the dips in the mattress are “flattened out” by the topper instead of just conforming to the dips.

Latex Mattress Topper Firmness Scale.  FullStrideHealth.com
This is not an official scale. Various sellers may use their own terms.

Picking A Firmness Level Is Tricky.  ILD Rating Variables Add to The Confusion.

First, read everything I said about choosing the best topper thickness (above).

You can vary the firmness level of your bed by using two latex mattress toppers.  By placing a firmer topper on top of a softer topper you will increase the overall firmness level.  Putting the softer topper on top of the firmer topper will soften how the bed feels.

Most U.S. companies are using the Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) test method.  In Europe it is called the Indentation Force Deflection (IFD).  They are both the same thing for our purposes. [1]

Some people say the ILD test isn’t the appropriate method to use.  Whether it is the best method to use or not, isn’t important.  What is important is that a reliable comparison between latex mattress toppers can be made.

So, let me say that there are minor variations from manufacturer to manufacturer which will make the same ILD rating feel a little different.  Don’t worry about it, because your personal perception of comfort is a much bigger consideration than the manufacturer’s variances.

Some manufacturers give a range of ILDs for their product, which would give an indication of the variances.

You can’t compare an ILD rating for a polyurethane foam with a latex foam rating.  That’s because the polyurethane foam is tested on a four-inch-thick piece of foam and the latex test is on a six-inch-thick piece of foam.

Both pieces of foam are 15 inches x 15 inches.  A disc of 50 square inches is pressed into the foam until it reaches 1/4th of the foam’s thickness.

So, obviously 1/4th of 4-inch-thick foam is less than 1/4th of 6-inch-thick foam.  This is important, because the thicker the foam is, the greater the amount of force will be required to compress.  So, the ILD for a latex foam will be higher than a polyurethane foam.

This also means that you can’t exactly compare the ILD of 2-inch-thick latex foam to 3-inch-thick latex foam ILD.  However, on a practical basis I wouldn’t worry about it for a one-inch thickness difference.

The Best Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers

Shoulder and hip pains are caused by a mattress that is too firm.

Fulltime side sleepers with a lot of hip or shoulder pain should be going with an extra soft or soft mattress topper.  If you only have minor pains, then the soft latex topper would probably be better.

Keep in mind that a very heavy side sleeper should probably go with the soft topper instead of the extra soft.  That’s because they will squish the topper and possibly bottom out.

Also, obese side sleepers will need a thicker topper to prevent bottoming out.

Back Sleepers Disagree with Goldilocks

Back sleepers want a firm or extra firm topper.  Although many people buy latex mattress toppers, because their bed is too firm.

So, if your new bed is too firm already, then go with a medium firmness.

On older beds with a sagging mattress you want the extra firm that is at least 2 inches thick.  Three inches would be better to overcome the sagging.  If opting for a firm topper, then you need a latex topper that is at least three inches thick.

Generally, doctors will tell you to get a firm or extra firm mattress topper for any type of back injury.

Latex Toppers for Back and Side Sleepers

If you are like me and start out back sleeping, but roll over onto your side during the night, your choice is more difficult.  I started with a 3-inch firm topper on a hard surface, and eventually added a 2-inch medium latex topper.

On an old mattress I would think that a 3-inch thick latex topper with a medium density would be a good compromise choice.

For a new mattress that is too firm or too soft, a medium density topper should work. 

However, if you are having hip or shoulder pains when side sleeping you really need to finesse your choices.

In that situation, you need options, and there is only one good way to do that.  Buy two latex toppers.  One medium firm and the other soft.  Both of them two inches thick.

Then put the soft topper on top of the other one.  If that doesn’t work for you, switch them, so that the soft topper is on the bottom.  That will provide a little more firmness, than the first configuration.

Stomach Sleeper Latex Mattress Topper Selection

About twice a year my back just isn’t comfortable back sleeping or side sleeping.  So, I end up on my stomach with a small pillow under my chest that keeps my head comfortable.  That lasts for an hour, and I roll over onto my side and continue sleeping.

I realize that isn’t how most stomach sleepers position themselves.  So, I’m not an expert on this, but I think I can help with your topper selection.

For a thin person that is stomach sleeping without a pillow, your back will be fairly well aligned on either a medium or a firm density latex topper. 

However, the firm topper may not be the best for your head and neck comfort.  So, generally you’ll want a medium firmness mattress topper.

Thin people that sleep with a pillow under their head will be pushing their neck out of alignment.  However, if you have a belly, then the pillow may help your neck alignment.

Stomach and Side Sleeper Latex Topper Selection

If you spend most of the night stomach sleeping, then stay with the medium firmness latex topper.  However, anyone who spends the majority of their sleep time on their sides, will be better off with a soft mattress topper.

Stomach and back sleepers should stay with the medium firmness topper.

Lower Back Pain Latex Topper Solutions

A lot of people buy latex mattress toppers, because of lower back pain. 

  • The problem is that their mattress is brand new and too firm. 

Which means the “small of the back” or lower back area is not being supported by the mattress.  In other words, your butt doesn’t sink in enough to make the mattress fill in the natural curve of the lower back.

The solution is either a medium density or possibly a soft density topper.  Going too soft will also cause back pains, because now your butt is sinking too deep and pulling your spine out of alignment.

  • Your mattress is old and saggy

Only a 3-inch thick (or thicker), firm or extra firm topper will cover up those depressions.  The more you weigh, the thicker and/or firmer the mattress topper needs to be.

That’s because a softer and/or thinner topper would just conform to the depressions in the mattress.  The firmer toppers still conform to the mattress, but its thickness still provides the firmness to support your lower back.

Is Hip Pain Keeping You Awake? 

In a healthy person this could be the result of side sleeping on a mattress that is too firm.

For someone with arthritis, recovering from surgery, sciatica, or any number of ailments, an extra soft or (possibly) soft topper is needed.

If you have hip pain when side sleeping, you might also have shoulder pain – keep reading.

Shoulder Pain from Side Sleeping or Injuries

Many new mattresses are too firm for side sleepers, which ends up causing shoulder pains.  Hip pains are not unusual either.

Generally, the more pain you have the softer the latex mattress topper needs to be for pain relief.

A thinner topper won’t provide as much cushion as a thicker one – especially if you are overweight.

If you have severe pain and/or are overweight, go with the extra soft mattress topper.

Shoulder pain can be aggravated by the head and neck not being properly supported.

Side sleepers can reduce shoulder pain by using a pillow that supports the head and neck in proper alignment.  Many pillows are much too thick and others compress during sleep and end up being too thin.

Before buying a mattress topper for shoulder pain relief, get a pillow that elevates your head from 4.5 to 5.5 inches.  Smaller framed people should go with the 4.5-inch-tall pillows, and larger framed people with 5.5-inch-tall pillows.

His and Hers Toppers and Adjustable Beds

Quite often one partner’s needs are different than the other partner’s needs.

If your bed is big enough for two separate toppers, then choose the size that fits.  Alternatively, you can cut a latex topper to size if need be.  Use an electric knife or a long razor blade.  Don’t worry about the cut being perfect, no one is going to see it.

If possible, get toppers that are the same thickness for each side of the bed.

Any latex topper will work on your adjustable bed.  Some people say they need to occasionally reposition the topper.

How Long Can I Expect A Latex Mattress Topper to Last?

Obviously, that depends upon how much use it gets and how it is treated.  It also varies by the manufacturing process. 

Various sources have mention from 6-10 years for the talalay latex toppers, and 8-15 years for the Dunlop latex toppers.

The Nestled organic latex toppers have a 5-year warranty.

If you are using it on an adjustable bed, I would expect a short topper lifetime than when used on a flat bed.

Latex Toppers are Hypoallergenic

The Vytex brand has a patented process that removes virtually all allergens from the latex. So, if you have a latex allergy, you MIGHT be O.K. using this topper. One of the customers did have a latex allergy reaction.

If you are chemically sensitive the vytex toppers are your best best.

With all latex toppers you won’t need to worry about mold, mildew, or dust mites due to the low pH of latex. This is such a huge benefit to latex mattress toppers because it is about the cleanest thing you could sleep on.

That being said, I would use some kind of cover on it so that you don’t have to worry about cleaning it at all.

Can the Latex Be Cleaned?

You can clean spots with a damp, soapy rag.  However, don’t let it get soaked, because it could take a long time to dry.  If it is soaked from a coffee spill or something else, blot up the liquid as best you can.  Then clean and dry.

I would expect that a fan blowing on the wet latex topper would be the only way to dry it in a reasonable amount of time.

Better yet, don’t ever clean it, by putting a waterproof fitted sheet over the topper.

Does Latex Smell?

Most people don’t smell anything.  A few people smell something, but it goes away in a few hours or a couple days.  Very few people say they smell a lot and return them.

If you are chemically sensitive, get the Vytex latex mattress toppers, because they are specifically made to remove all allergens.

Are Latex Toppers Good for Children and College Dorm Rooms?

Just because young children’s bodies are flexible doesn’t mean they should be sleeping on an old lumpy mattress.  Bad posture at a young age, will cause pain for a lifetime.

The same thing is true of college students.  Dorm rooms usually have Twin XL beds.  Any bare latex topper will meet fire codes, because latex is difficult to ignite.

The Vytex latex toppers meet the California Proposition 65 requirements.

Update: Richard Bought A 3-Inch Firm Twin Size Latex Mattress Topper

I put this topper on That Old Mattress, after having tried out the Linenspa 2″ convoluted gel swirl memory foam mattress topper.

So, here’s a picture of That Old Mattress on That Old Bed in the guest bedroom.

That Old Bed with That Old Mattress and convoluted gel filled memory foam mattress topper. FullStrideHealth.com

Below is the new 3 inch thick twin size latex topper after it was pulled out of the box.  The box was 39 inches long x 17.5 inches x 17.5 inches.  The box and mattress weighed 31 pounds, and was shipped by Fed-Ex.  The mattress by itself is 29 pounds.

Twin size 3 inch thick firm mattress topper on top of the bed. It is still rolled up after removing it from the box. FullStrideHealth.com
Twin size 3 inch latex mattress topper un-boxed and rolled out on the bed with the green plastic wrap still on it.  FullStrideHealth.com
twin size 3 inch latex mattress topper rolled out on the bed. FullStrideHealth.com
twin size 3 inch latex mattress topper showing Hevea imprint. FullStrideHealth.com
Hevea brasiliensis is the name of the rubber tree where the latex sap is obtained.



Twin Size 3 inch Firm Latex mattress topper. This 100% natural latex mattress topper is great for "hot sleepers". FullStrideHealth.com
This 100% natural latex mattress topper is great for “hot sleepers”.

Hot Sleepers Rejoice!  This Is Your Mattress Topper!

If you have read my previous article on the memory foam topper I bought, you may remember that the gel swirl memory foam was quite warm.  In fact, I had to remove the comforter, because I was much too hot.

Now, with this latex mattress topper I am using the comforter again, because the latex topper barely adds any warmth to the bed

I monitored my room temperature and my comfort level as compared to sleeping with just That Old Mattress. The result is that this latex topper adds from 1/2 degree to maybe 1 degree additional warmth to the bed.

Compared to my estimate of a 10 degree heat increase from the gel swirled memory foam topper, this is C O O L !

Back Pain Relief From That Old Mattress Spring

I like to sleep on my back, and there was a mattress spring that was giving me a serious back ache.  The 2″ thick memory foam topper helped a lot to cover up that spring, but it wasn’t enough.  Well, this 3″ thick latex topper did the trick. 
I no longer feel that mattress spring poking me in the back.

Firm Enough For Back Sleepers. Soft Enough For Side Sleepers.

I like firm.  I have no problem taking a nap on a carpeted floor.  Either on my back on on my side.

I have been using this latex mattress topper for 2 nights now, and at first I was worried that the topper was too firm.  However, my body is fully supported, and I am still aching from using the memory foam topper.  So, it feels like my body is adjusting to the new latex topper.

Update: I have been testing this latex topper for three months, because I like it so much. Now I have to buy one for my bed.

I’m 5 foot 10 inches tall and weigh 160 pounds.  I am currently thinking that if you weigh more than me you will do quite well with this firm topper.  However, if you weigh less or are primarily a side sleeper, you should consider the medium firmness topper instead.

The firm topper I bought is rated at a 38 ILD firmness rating.  Which simply means that it takes 38 pounds of weight to depress the latex foam with an 8 inch disk. 

However, that brand topper is no longer available. So, here is the replacement with a 44 ILD firm rating.

Got a new mattress that is too firm?  Go with soft or medium.

DIY Latex Mattress

I decided to see if I could get rid of That Old Mattress and replace it with a DIY latex mattress.

So, I bought a 2″ Vytex latex mattress topper to put on top of my other 3″ latex topper.

First, I bought three pieces of 2ft x 4ft x 1/2 inch thick plywood at the local Home Depot, and had the wood cut to the proper length to fit across That Old Bed (37 inches).

They cut all three at the same time on a panel saw for free.

That Old Bed with 3 pieces of plywood for the DIY latex mattress. FullStrideHealth.com
That Old Bed with 3 pieces of plywood for the
DIY latex mattress.

Second, I found some metal straps and screws in my junk box.

I put the plywood on the old metal springs of That Old Bed and screwed the metal straps on. It would have been easier to do it on a hard surface, but the screws didn’t have a lot of “bite” into the plywood. So, I didn’t want to move it (by myself) any farther than necessary.

Showing the metal straps that hold the 3 piece plywood platfrom together for the DIY latex mattress. FullStrideHealth.com
Showing the metal straps that hold the 3 piece plywood platfrom together for the DIY latex mattress.

Once the straps were on I flipped the plywood over so the straps wouldn’t be in contact with the latex toppers.

The 2″ twin sized, medium firmness, Vytex latex mattress topper comes rolled up in plastic bag.

The bag was not sealed. So, if the box is wet when it arrives, the topper may be wet also.

This was shipped by Amazon. So, Amazon did the packaging.

The 2 inch thick Vytex latex mattress topper comes rolled up in plastic bag  FullStrideHealth.com
The 2 inch thick Vytex latex mattress topper comes rolled up in plastic bag.

In this picture to the right, I have the Vytex topper folded on top of the 3″ latex topper I previously bought to fix That Old Mattress.

Notice that the color of the Vytex topper is the same as the other natural latex topper. I mention this, because the images from Amazon show the Vytex toppers as being an off white color.

On the right is a close up of the top and bottom side of the Vytex topper. Notice that the holes are smaller and more uniform on the top side than on the bottom side.

Using the topper with the smaller holes facing up will probably be ever so slightly firmer. It may also increase the amount of airflow through the topper.

That would tend to keep your bed a little cooler also.

Vytex latex mattress topper showing the different size holes in the top and bottom sides of the topper.  FullStrideHealth.com
Vytex latex mattress topper showing the different size holes in the top and bottom sides of the topper. This is common to all latex mattress topper brands.

To cover the latex toppers, and to make them act like a one piece latex mattress, I used fitted sheets.

First, I put on a Tencel waterproof fitted sheet. That is so I won’t ever have to clean the topper.

Second, I put on two more regular cotton fitted sheets. Why two?

For the same reason I wear two pairs of socks when I go hiking. The two sheets take all of the abrasion that would otherwise transfer to the topper and tend to wear it away.

It also protects the waterproof sheet from wear and tear.

Third, it keeps the bed cooler. That’s because the extremely thin polyurethane waterproofing layer on the Tencel sheet, does tend to feel hot when sleeping right on it.

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References

[1] Indentation Load Deflection (ILD)

Summary

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