Unlike the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” where Goldilocks tried sleeping on two beds before she found that the third bed was just right for her — my nickname is Goldilocks, but this is not a fairy tale. This is a TRUE STORY about finding my perfect latex mattress 40 years ago, when I purchased my first bed, and my difficult search to find a replacement.
While growing up, I used to babysit our neighbor’s children. When she learned I’d gotten engaged, she invited me to her home one day to suggest I purchase a latex mattress like hers. She pulled the sheets off her king size bed so that she could show me how the mattress had not sagged, and pointed out how the corners and edges were still firm after an extraordinary amount of time. I wish I could remember the exact number of years she’d told me that she and her husband had been using their mattress, but I do remember that because of her little demonstration, I knew that I wanted to purchase a latex mattress just like it even though I later found that it would cost me about twice what the average ‘spring’ mattresses were selling for at the time. I searched the local furniture stores, but could not find this latex mattress anywhere. I remembered that when we had moved south, my mother had purchased much of her furniture from a sales rep at a large furniture store in a nearby town. He said that although the store did not stock this mattress, he could order it, and I asked him to order a solid latex mattress for me “SIGHT UNSEEN.”
My husband and I slept soundly on this latex mattress for 35 years without experiencing any aches or pains as we grew older, and we partially attribute our freedom from medicine and the good health we enjoy to this latex mattress! It wasn’t until about the 33rd year when we noticed that the cover was wearing out and exposing the latex in a few spots, so we simply put it in a zippered mattress cover. This worked well until the 34th year, when we started noticing slight sagging and body indentations. We then began our search to purchase another latex mattress like it. I searched online for the same latex mattress manufacturer, but was disappointed to learn that they had closed their doors. A neighbor suggested we visit a small, local mattress manufacturer in our area whose family had been building mattresses for 3 generations. I wanted to be certain that he could provide the same latex as that of our first latex mattress. I told the owner the name of its manufacturer, and I remember him saying, “All latex is the same.” He was wrong! Having purchased three mattresses within a 3-year period, I believe I’m qualified to report: ALL latex is NOT the same!
About one year later, we noticed we weren’t sleeping as comfortably because our new latex mattress was sagging with slight valleys on either side of the bed where each of us lay. We called the manufacturer. It took a while for him to come check on it, but when he did see it, he said that it didn’t look like it was sagging.
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I reminded him that when I’d called him, I’d told him that he wouldn’t see the sagging — he had to lay on the bed to feel the valleys. He did not lay on the bed, but he did push his hands down into the mattress in several different areas and he was surprised to see how deep his hands “sunk down” into the mattress… like there was not much support.
He ordered a new latex mattress to replace it, but this time he ordered the firmest one he could. This second latex replacement mattress did well until we’d had it almost one year, and then once again we noticed sagging with slight valleys where we lay. This time I did some investigating and found that the company that made my 35-year old latex mattress was in business again, but the closest retailer that carried their brand was three hours away. We made the trip one weekend only to find that the company had cheapened the way it was building its latex mattresses. We found a large cube of solid latex in a clear zippered plastic case beside a latex mattress, which led us to believe that the mattress was made of this solid latex. But when we lifted the mattress to see if it was ‘heavy’ latex like our 35-year old latex mattress, we were very surprised to discover how lightweight this new mattress was! After talking to the store owner, we learned that the old manufacturer had sold its company along with its company name, and the new owners were sandwiching a thin piece of latex in between layers of polyurethane foam, and edging it with polyurethane foam around the outside edges, which he said would extend the life of this so-called ‘latex’ mattress. We then discovered that the mattress was finished on ONE-SIDE ONLY. I will never understand how these new features would benefit the consumer, but I can see how the life of this so-called ‘latex’ mattress is shortened, which clearly benefits the mattress manufacturers.