Memory Foam vs. Latex Mattress Guide: What Are the Differences?
Mattress companies keep making better and better mattresses with new materials you might’ve never heard of. Of course, this is good for your sleep, but how can you know which new component is better?We created a latex vs. memory foam mattress comparison to simplify the process of choosing a new mattress for you.
What Is Latex?
Latex mattresses incorporate a layer of support foam with a layer (or layers) of latex foam on top. This creates a stable support core essential for spine alignment and good quality sleep, while the top layer of latex foam is responsible for the feel and comfort of the mattress.
As you’ll see later in the article, latex mattresses generally have fast responsiveness, better bounciness, and better cooling.
What Is Latex Made From?
Latex can either come as natural latex or synthetic, but these two can also be mixed.
This latex is used to create the top layer of foam of a latex mattress. The top layer can be manufactured in a couple of different ways, but two of the most common ones are the Talalay process and the Dunlop process.
Natural and synthetic latex can be processed in these two ways to get: natural Talalay latex, natural Dunlop latex, synthetic Talalay latex, and synthetic Dunlop latex.
However, you can also process mixed natural and synthetic latex with the Talalay or Dunlop process. You can use different versions to create blended latex mattresses with different foam layers.
Before we describe how a latex mattress feels, here are some short explanations about the mentioned types of latex and different processes.
Natural latex is made out of raw latex sap harvested from a rubber tree, after which this natural material is processed. A mattress from natural latex is very ecological and creates some of the best organic mattresses with no harsh chemicals or off-gassing. Natural latex mattresses have more bounce than other mattress types.
Synthetic latex foam can be made from various materials, but the most common is the Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR), a type of plastic. This makes it more durable and less bouncy. Still, it could contain harsh chemicals and isn’t environmentally friendly like a natural latex mattress made with sap harvested from rubber trees.
The Talalay process consists of pouring sap into a mattress mold only halfway and then putting air in the rest by vacuum. This way, a soft latex bed with an airy feel is created. This type of mattress is lighter, cooler and preferred by the majority.
The Dunlop process is similar to the Talalay one, but the sap is poured into the mattress mold completely. Because of the setting, it creates high-density foams on the bottom. This makes a more durable latex bed with a firmer feel.
Latex foam is known for its fast response time. If you press the mattress with your hand, the imprint will fade quickly after removing it.
Additionally, latex mattresses are lighter but firmer. The firmness depends on the material and process used.
Latex foam doesn’t contour your body entirely but gives a more generalized compression than memory foam, which we’ll write about next. Sleeping on this mattress feels more like laying on top of it than sinking into it, even though it does have some sinkage.
Lastly, latex mattresses have less heat retention, making them a better option for those who tend to sleep hot. They’re one of the best cooling mattresses to get.
What Is Memory Foam?
Memory foam is a material first used by NASA in the 1960s for crash protection. Mattresses with memory foams have a firm support core for good sine alignment and soft top layers to contour your body perfectly. They’re known for their motion isolation and slow responsiveness.
What Is Memory Foam Made From?
Memory foam is a fabricated material made of polyurethane foam and added materials, making it very elastic. There are many different ways to create memory foam, so just because you tried one doesn’t mean you tried all of them.
Because of this, there are no rules. While the polyurethane foam is firm, the memory foam can have different firmness levels. It’s primarily soft and can have different response times, although most are slower. The softer the foam is, the less its longevity.
It can also have different densities and materials, like gel pods, gel, graphite copper, etc.
The biggest problem a memory foam bed has is heat retention. It isn’t very breathable, but the added materials usually help with cooling. Using gel memory foam or open cell structure can help with this.
As we mentioned before, various memory foams are made from poly foam, but here are some of the most common ones.
Mattresses made out of traditional memory foam are created from a closed-cell structure. This type of foam has high heat retention and off-gassing, but it’s excellent for body contouring.
On the other hand, open-cell foams are created to ensure that the air moves through the mattress to trap less heat. This type of foam makes a softer cooling mattress but can still give enough needed support in combination with a high-density foam layer.
Foam With Gel Pods
Foam with gel pods is pretty self-explanatory – it has added gell pods to the mattress’s top layer. This gives the bed more comfort, bounce and support. The gel pads can also be added just in the zones that need exceptional support, like the hips or the lower back.
Unlike the latex mattress, when you press your hand on one made from memory foam and remove it, your handprint will fade very slowly. Although there are different types of memory foam, they have a slower response time than latex.
Most memory foam mattresses feel very soft and conform to the body, feeling like the sleeper’s body is just sinking into it. This isn’t something that everyone likes, but there are also different levels of memory foam firmness and density.
The biggest problem with memory foam beds is heat retention, but there are ways to lessen this.
Latex vs. Memory Foam – The Biggest Differences
You probably already heard about latex and memory foam from different companies trying to sell you their product, and they probably sounded pretty similar to you. But what are their differences? And what are the good and bad sides for both of them?
Now that we have gone through some basic knowledge about memory foam and latex, it’s time to see what makes them so different. We mentioned some things like heat retention and firmness, but there are more contrasting aspects to memory foam and latex.
The most significant difference between memory foam and latex is how both of these materials conform to the shape of your body.
Firstly, memory foam will conform to your body entirely. This material will feel like you’re sinking into it, with excellent body contouring. Of course, there are firmer and softer versions of memory foam, but this is generally how it works.
On the other hand, latex is firmer and won’t feel like you’re sinking into it. It will give more of a general impression of your body on it, with a bouncy feel to it.
Choosing between these two in this aspect should be based on your personal preferences.
Another one of the most significant differences between these two materials is their responsiveness to the sleeper’s body.
Memory foam mattresses are known for their slow response. If you press your hand on this material, it will slowly get back to its original shape and have almost no bounce.
Latex foam is faster in this aspect, and any imprints will fade pretty fast. It has a lot of bounce, especially natural latex foam mattresses, which is why it’s usually one of the best mattresses for sex. You could also get a natural latex hybrid mattress if you prefer more bounce.This information tells us that memory foam will work against your body, while latex foams will work with it. The choice in this aspect is also based on personal preferences and need
When you’re sleeping with a partner, you want to ensure that you won’t disturb each other if you move while asleep.
Memory foam is the winner here, and couples prefer it. Its softness, elasticity and slow response time also produce excellent motion transfer. Your partner probably won’t even feel you tossing and turning.
Latex has a faster response time and more bounce, and the motion isolation isn’t as good as memory foam.
If you have a partner and one is a combination sleeper while the other is a light sleeper, it’s better to get memory foam.
Both memory foam and latex mattresses provide deep compression support, with body-conforming of different levels. The spine alignment will be well done if the bed has a high-quality support core with adequate top layers for comfort.
If we compare these two, the only reason we could say that latex is a better option is that it last longer. The mattress’ materials decay over time, and the support gets worse with it. Latex mattresses generally last longer and are more durable than memory foam.
- Puts pressure on heavier body parts, which will cause an unnecessary need to turn over.
- Better for straight body shapes.
- Shoulders and hips will curve towards each other, bending the spine.
- Spine will not be properly aligned.
- Softer mattresses are better for those with broad shoulders or broad hips.
- Body will sink in to a hammock position caused the spine to curve.
Like support, pain relief is required when the sleeper has pain in certain areas, like the hips, neck and shoulders. Adequate pressure relief can alleviate the pain and make sleeping more comfortable.
Memory foam is better at body contouring, and as long as it has a good support core, this type of mattress will provide more efficient pressure relief in problematic areas. Those who sleep on their side like it because they need pain relief on their hips and shoulders.
On the other hand, latex has a firmer feel and even though it conforms to the body to a certain degree, it doesn’t give the same comfort level as memory foam does.
Mattresses that trap body heat and can’t air out might seem like a great idea during winter, but it might feel like sleeping in an oven during summer.
Unfortunately, that’s the case with an average memory foam mattress. Memory foam is good at trapping body heat, and even though there are versions of this material created specifically to solve this problem, it still exists. If you tend to sleep hot, watch out which type of memory foam you want to get. You should go for gel memory foam with a cooling gel layer or gel-infused memory foam.
Latex beds don’t retain heat, primarily natural ones, even though synthetic materials do that.
Picking the correct mattress also depends on your weight and body type. Heavier people put more pressure on the bed, so they need adequate support.
Softer materials tend to have more sinkage and are less durable, so memory foam is a better option for those of average weight and less.
Unlike latex, memory foam doesn’t have firmness and fast responsiveness. These two things make a latex mattress a better option for heavier people.
Memory foam and latex have a big difference in their prices.
Latex, usually created from natural materials, like the rubber tree sap, is much more expensive than a memory foam mattress. A latex foam mattress can be twice as expensive as a regular memory foam mattress. Although, as you’ll see, latex is more durable, it could pay off in the long run.
It’s always good to get a mattress that will last you as long as possible while still providing support and good sleep quality.
If you’re looking for a durable mattress, it’s best to get one made from latex. A latex mattress will last you more than ten years, while one made from memory foam has a lifespan of about eight to nine years. Innerspring mattresses will only last you up to seven years.
This is because memory foam is a softer material that gives in to pressure, making it deteriorate faster.
How to Pick the Right Mattress Material
Picking the suitable mattress material is primarily based on personal needs and preferences. Now that you know the main aspects of the memory foam vs. latex debate, you probably already have some idea in your head of which one would suit you better.
If you still aren’t sure which one to get, we added some more information about the pros and cons of both materials to help you out.
We already mentioned some things about memory foam mattresses in the section above. They’re soft, conform to the body very well, have excellent motion isolation and slow responsiveness. They also trap heat and are less durable than latex mattresses.
Let’s see some more reasons why you should or shouldn’t get a memory foam mattress.
Why Should You Get a Memory Foam Mattress?
Your preferred sleep position will affect your choice of material. Memory foam is the best mattress for side sleepers and back sleepers.
It provides good support and excellent body contouring, perfect for side sleepers. Back sleepers also have adequate support on this mattress because it helps with spinal alignment.
Pressure Point Relief
Memory foam lets the sleeper fall into it and conforms to the body instead of pressing against it. Suppose someone has any painful areas, whether back pain, hip pain or shoulder pain, a mattress made out of memory foam is a better option. Even though a bed made from memory foam can help with pain in specific pressure points, it won’t make the main go away or cure it.
Memory foam is the best mattress for those who suffer from allergies. People with different allergies tend to stick to it because it’s very dense and likely won’t collect dust mites, bugs or allergens.
Preferred by the Majority
Lastly, most people prefer memory foam for mattresses in general. It just feels nice sleeping on it. That being said, just because everyone likes a particular type of mattress doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily enjoy it yourself. So make sure you try it out first, preferably from a company that offers a risk-free trial.
Best Rated Mattresses
Reasons Not to Get Memory Foam
Generally, a memory foam mattress can be a great choice for stomach sleepers. However, it should be firm and dense enough to provide proper support, so watch out for this if you’re a stomach sleeper.
One of the most significant flaws of memory foam mattresses is heat retention. This material in general traps body heat, but manufacturers are working on various cooling properties and added materials that help with this. If you sleep hot make sure your mattress has these additions.
Latex has fast responsiveness, great bounciness and support, and regulates temperature better than memory foam. However, it doesn’t conform to the body that well, has bad motion isolation and it’s expensive.
Here are some of the main reasons why you should or shouldn’t get a mattress made out of latex.
Why Should You Get a Latex Mattress?
Firmness is an entirely subjective feeling. If it’s more comfortable for you to sleep on a firmer bed, you should get one made from latex. Compared to memory foam, which is incredibly soft, latex has a more rigid feel with more bounce.
We suggest buying a mattress made from natural latex harvested from rubber trees if you want to go green. When you decide to get rid of it and take it to a landfill, the natural latex mattress won’t harm the environment, unlike memory foam or synthetic latex.
Some mattresses have partial plant-based memory foam, but they aren’t that eco-friendly.
When you consider that latex is springy, firm, offers support and comfort, and has a cooling effect on the body, it’s probably one of the most comfortable options on the market. That being said, you should always try it out first before committing.
Reasons Not to Get Latex
As we mentioned before, a latex mattress can cost you twice as much as a memory foam mattress of the same size. Although it lasts a couple of years longer than memory foam, it might pay off.
Latex mattresses completely made from natural latex don’t smell, but synthetic ones have a pretty bad smell at first due to off-gassing. A new synthetic latex mattress should be aired out for at least 24 hours, but the smell will take a couple of weeks to entirely disappear.
Some people are allergic to latex and latex mattresses. If you aren’t sure whether you’re allergic to latex or not, you should probably test it out first in some way.
That would be everything you need to know about memory foam vs. latex. In the end, choosing which one to get is based on your preference.
Get yourself a latex mattress if you want a firmer and more durable bed with a fast response. But if you want to sink into your mattress, require pressure relief and motion isolation, it’s best to go for a memory foam mattress.
Hopefully, this article will help you find the right mattress for your needs!