Latex Mattress ILD Rating: What it is and How to Interpret It
One of the important considerations to make when choosing a latex mattress is ILD. ILD means impression load deflection. That may be fancy terminology, but generally the reason you would want to know the latex mattress ILD rating is because it gives you an indication of how soft or how firm the mattress is, and how much comfort and support you can expect from it. The rating system for ILD numbers is somewhat subjective and you will find that it varies across different mattress companies as far as the cutoff points for what a soft mattress is, what a medium mattress is, what a medium-firm mattress is, and what a firm mattress is.
At Plushbeds we have broken down the ILD ratings in the following manner: a really soft latex mattress has an ILD rating of between 19 and 21. This firmness is so soft and cushy that it is considered kind of an “outlier”. If you were following a bell curve as far as getting a picture of a cross-section of mattress opinions and preferences among a group of people, the 19-21 ILD range would be on the very outside of the curve, with a very small percentage of people preferring a mattress that is so soft as this one is. Then, from there we rate a medium as an ILD of between 24 and 26. This is actually one of the most popular ILD’s, as most of our natural latex mattress customers prefer their sleep experience to be amply supportive while at the same time soft enough to enjoy. The next step up from there would be the medium-firm, which is an ILD of 29-31, followed by a firm mattress of 34 to 36. Of course, you probably notice that there are some missing numbers between the different firmness levels, which is about a 3 point space to allow for subjectivity.
Now to explain which ILD’s may fit which type of sleepers. To do this, recognize that this is a general categorization, and there is certainly variance and personal opinion and taste, but to have some standard from which to speak, we will attempt to explain what the largest sampling of people tend towards as far as sleeping positions and ILD ranges and ratings. First, the softest ILD (remember the lower the ILD, the softer the mattress, and therefore the higher the firmer) is generally for a group of sleepers who sleep on their back or their side that like to sink into a mattress. The 24-26 ILD rating is generally for side sleepers, and is a great combination of softness and support. It is kind of a middle-of-the-road type of mattress that is extreme in neither direction, but rather a “happy medium” so to speak. On to the back and stomach sleepers, which prefer an ILD rating of between the numbers 29 and 31. These folks tend to like a mattress that is slightly on the firmer side, but not so firm as to make them feel like they are sleeping on a board. Finally, those that like a lot of firmness in their mattress usually go for a high ILD rating of the 34 to 36 range. Typically these are the back-only sleepers.
ILD ratings can go lower or higher than the ones mentioned, but normally do not, because anything less than the lowest ILD listed above would be way too soft and sinking for most people, and the highest ILD numbers would be way to firm for most latex mattress owners – you may as well be sleeping on a hard floor almost. In categorizing different sleeping styles for the various ILD ratings listed above, please recognize that these are by no means hard-and-fast rules that are set in stone. Obviously every person is individual and unique, and you may have someone who likes a very firm mattress that also likes to sleep on their side. Conversely, you may find a person from time to time that enjoys a very soft mattress that sleeps on their stomach. When seeking a mattress to help with back pain relief, please note that your back pain could be aggravated by either a mattress being either too firm or too soft. If firmness sets off your trigger points, go for a softer mattress, but if the back pain is aggravated by having no support and the mattress is too soft, you would want to get a firmer mattress. Test the situation before deciding the ILD based on any back pain you may be experiencing.
When you understand at least to some degree the ILD ratings for latex mattresses, you can be a more-informed latex mattress shopper that is less prone to manipulation or getting something different than you thought you were getting. Hopefully you have learned a little bit more about latex mattresses than you knew previously – and remember, knowledge is power!