Some have called natural latex buoyant, some call it Santa’s belly, some just call it foam. No matter your name for it, natural latex will not feel like an innerspring mattress. It doesn’t transfer motion the same way, so you will not be woken by the whole bed jostling while your partner turns over. It doesn’t squeak either, so you can sneak out of that bed after putting your child to sleep. Also, because of the nature of the foam, latex is renowned for absorbing pressure points.
Pressure points are the points of your body that will receive the most pressure when your weight presses on them. When lying down on your side, these include your ankles, your hips, your shoulders and your head. On your back, the biggest pressure points are your heels, your butt, your shoulder blades and your head. Because side sleepers create the largest pressure points, they often prefer the soft and medium densities of latex. Back sleepers and stomach sleepers create less pressure points and usually prefer the medium or firm densities of latex.
Pressure mapping is a technique to identify how well a mattress is absorbing your pressure points. Using hundreds of sensors to test the pressure between your body and the mattress, it will produce an image with colored circles to identify how much pressure your body is receiving. A quick Google search for “pressure mapping latex” will bring up quite a few images showing how latex is able to relieve pressure from these supporting spots on our bodies. While this machine is a great invention, it does have its limitations, such as what happens when you roll over and what about pressure points created by injuries. Use it as a tool, but let your body be your judge.
Customers tell me stories of years of aches disappearing, back pains gone, new sleeping positions now enabled, being able to roll over without having to lift off the bed. Some even note that the small dips in the body, such as the small of the back and waist actually being supported by the latex, now that every part of their body can sink in. Why does latex and absorb our pressure points? One mattress guru calls it progressive compression. When latex compresses, the latex doesn’t just move to the side like water in a water bed or take up empty air space like springs do, the latex compacts underneath you. This puts a very supportive layer of latex underneath your pressure points while at the same time, allowing you to sink in. Elasticity combined with density produces a very durable and comfortable foam.
Not only does natural latex absorb pressure points, but wool does as well. It has a unique ability to remain soft even after its compression. Unlike cotton, it will never turn hard. Due to the composition of the wool fiber, its spiral shape lets the fibers stretch instead of just bending like a cotton fiber does. This stretching is what lets you sink in beyond its presumably flat surface. While wool may provide a firm sleeping surface, it also allows space for even side sleepers’s pressure points to be accomodated.