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Latex vs. Memory Foam: Which Mattress is for Me?

July 13, 2022

Latex vs. Memory Foam: Which Mattress is for Me?
Both memory foam and latex mattresses present various benefits and some downsides. Learn more about their similarities and differences with this helpful guide.

With all the mattress types offered on the market today, it can be very challenging to shortlist your choices. Two of the most popular bed types are latex and memory foam. These foams are often compared side to side since they both have sturdy foam layers that give the sleepers a unique sleeping comfort.

Let's take a closer look at the two mattress types and lay out all their pros and cons, types, and features to help you choose the best bed for your cosy bedroom.

 

What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

Memory Foam Mattress at a Glance:

  • Made from synthetic visco-elastic polyurethane foam

  • Known for its conforming property

  • Comes in various supportive firmness levels

  • Can be a traditional foam mattress, open-cell, or gel-infused

Memory foam mattresses are chemically formed sleep solutions from polyurethane foam and visco-elastic compounds that create a supportive and conforming bed. Unlike the standard polyurethane foams, memory foam is a more durable material that can soften and contour to the sleeper's shape through body heat. This property makes it easy for the memory foam to target pain and pressure points efficiently.

Memory foam was designed by aeronautical engineer Charles Yost for NASA in the 1960s, not as a mattress foam but as a support to counteract the pressure that astronauts experience when entering the earth's atmosphere. It was later developed to create mattresses, pillows, bedding, and furniture cushions.

 

What are the Types of Memory Foam?

1. Traditional Memory Foam

Traditional Memory Foam

Traditional high-density foams are produced from petroleum-based compounds. These have the basic benefits of the outstanding foam mattress. However, since they are petroleum-based, the use of traditional memory foam mattresses is not favoured by environmentalists.

2. Plant-Based Memory Foam

Plant-Based Memory Foam

Plant-based memory foam, as opposed to traditional memory foam beds, is made from organic materials such as soy and coconut. These alternatives contribute to a healthier and more breathable sleep solution.

3. Open-Cell Memory Foam

Open-Cell Memory Foam

While we described the traditional memory foam mattress as a closed-cell structured mattress type earlier, which makes it a less breathable sleeping option. An open-cell memory foam mattress improves this by designing open-cell memory foam mattresses. Because of this open-cell structure, the air circulation inside the mattress is improved, which enhances the breathability of the foam.

4. Gel-Infused Memory Foam

Gel-Infused Memory Foam

Another bed innovation is the gel memory foam. This has an additional layer of cooling gel that gives the bed a more breathable feel. This additional top layer also provides the mattress with a bouncier feel.

 

Components of a Memory Foam Mattress

Components of a Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam is manufactured by mixing a polymer called polyurethane, diisocyanate, polyols, and water as the blowing agent. These ingredients give the memory foam its density and viscose properties.

Traditional memory foam mattresses have closed-cell structures with no air pockets for breathability. This means a memory foam bed is not as cool as other mattresses with open-cell structures or cooling gel layers.

 

The Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

The Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

  1. Memory foam is ideal for many sleeping positions.

  1. Memory foam provides a conforming cushion which is great for pressure relief. The main reason memory foam is popular is because of the contour it provides. Due to its viscoelastic nature, it effortlessly follows the shape of the body when lying down.

  1. Memory foam offers excellent motion isolation. With a memory foam bed, you don't have to worry about the disturbance of motion transfer when sleeping with your partner. Unlike innerspring mattresses, this all-foam bed doesn't have the bouncy and squeaky feel when one of the bed sharers tosses and turns.

  1. Memory foam provides reliable sleep support to handle different body weights.

  1. Memory foam is generally hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant.

  1. Memory foam provides the right warmth during colder nights.

  1. Memory foam requires less maintenance due to its durability. Compared to innerspring mattresses, memory foam needs less flipping to retain its shape.

  1. Memory foam is less noisy than innerspring or latex beds.

  1. Memory foam comes in more affordable and high-end price ranges, so you have great options based on your budget.

 

The Downsides of a Memory Foam Mattress

The Downsides of a Memory Foam Mattress

  1. Sleeping on memory foam mattresses can be uncomfortable for hot sleepers because they retain body heat.

  1. Memory foam is generally made from synthetic materials, which many shoppers do not prefer.

  1. Memory foam produces an off-gassing smell coming from VOCs or fire retardants used in creating the mattress.

  1. Stomach sleepers may not find the sinking feel of memory foam comfortable.

  1. Due to its sinking property and less responsiveness, memory foam may not be the best material for combination sleepers.

 

Memory Foam Mattresses are Best for:

While memory foam is ideal for many sleeping positions, side sleepers will love the conforming comfort a memory foam mattress offers.

 

What is a Latex Mattress?

What is a Latex Mattress?

Latex Mattress at a Glance:

  • Made from natural latex materials

  • It provides a bouncy feel during sleep

  • Breathable

  • Considered the most durable mattress foam

  • Naturally resistant to dust mites and other allergens

 

A latex mattress is created from natural sap derived from rubber trees called Hevea brasiliensis. It offers a bouncy and springy feel that many mattress shoppers love. A latex bed is more breathable than a memory foam mattress because of its open-cell design.

 

What are the Types of Latex Mattress?

1. Dunlop Latex

Dunlop Latex

Dunlop refers to the process of pouring out the all-natural latex material collected from rubber trees into a mould to form a frothy foam and set it as a natural foam mattress. This is the original way of manufacturing latex foam. Dunlop latex is a dense natural mattress with a softer top. This is because the rubber sap settles into the bottom of the mould during the Dunlop process.

2. Talalay Latex

Talalay Latex

Talalay latex is overall less dense than a Dunlop latex bed. Unlike the traditional Dunlop process, Talalay latex is formed by partially filling the mattress mould with latex and letting it expand while covered in a vacuum seal.

This better consistency is achieved because of the additional processes that allow the natural latex to expand and be equally distributed. Talalay latex is considered a more innovative and high-end all-natural latex mattress type.

Overall, Dunlop latex is more durable and firmer than Talalay latex, while the latter is softer and more breathable. The best latex mattresses are often a combination of two materials. These natural latex mattresses are different from synthetic or blended latex.

3. Blended Latex

Blended Latex

Blended latex is a mixture of natural latex and synthetic additives. This latex type is less expensive than those that are labelled as natural latex mattresses.

4. Synthetic Latex

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic latex is made from inorganic materials that are chemically processed to mimic the form of natural latex mattresses. 

 

The Benefits of a Latex Mattress

The Benefits of a Latex Mattress

  1. Latex is extremely comfortable. With the right combination of supportive firm layers and soft comfort layers, latex mattresses provide you with the right sink and buoyant support.

  1. Latex supports your natural spine alignment. Because of its springy feel, a latex mattress properly distributes your weight when lying down while letting your hips and shoulders sink, cradling them to follow the natural s-shape of the spine.

  1. Latex promotes optimum pressure relief.

  1. This natural mattress is made from latex derived from the sap of rubber plants, which is safer than mattresses that are formed through mixing chemicals. While some synthetic mattresses include VOCs or flame retardant chemicals during their manufacturing process, latex contains natural fire retardant properties. This means that it does not need additional chemicals to pass mattress construction regulations. This also means that a natural latex mattress does not emit too much of an off-gassing smell compared to synthetic mattresses.

  1. Latex offers natural resistance to dust mites and other allergens.

  1. An all-natural latex mattress is organically made and ethically sourced, causing less environmental impact.

  1. Natural latex is a highly breathable material because of its natural open cell structure, which naturally helps you sleep cool. It is also generally constructed with breathable materials like organic cotton and other eco-friendly fabrics that promote proper air flow.

  1. A natural latex mattress is highly durable. In fact, it is considered one of the most durable mattress types available.

 

The Downsides of a Latex Mattress

The Downsides of a Latex Mattress

  1. Because of its bouncy feel, a latex mattress does not provide as much motion isolation as a memory foam mattress.

  1. Many latex mattresses are expensive due to the abundant use of high-end and natural materials.

  1. Most latex mattresses can be very heavy and hard to transport due to their density.

  1. Although there is a very small number of latex allergy sufferers, it's important to check if this material is suitable for you.

  1. Latex foam can produce a squeaking noise when tossing and turning.

  1. If you opt for an eco-friendly sleep solution, note that not all latex beds are made from organic latex. You may also encounter synthetic latex or blended latex that is a mix of natural latex and synthetic materials.

 

Latex Mattresses are Best For:

Latex Mattresses are Best For

Latex foam provides a supportive and comfortable sleep base for almost any sleep position. It is especially advantageous for stomach sleepers, those who sleep hot, or those who prefer an eco-friendly mattress.

 

Latex vs. Memory Foam: What’s the Difference

Memory Foam Mattress

Latex Mattress

Responsiveness

Memory foam provides a contouring comfort that follows the shape of your body during sleep.

Latex mattress offers a bouncy comfort. It contours less than a memory foam bed.

Pressure Relief

Memory foam directly follows the shape of your body when you lie down. Because of this contour feel, pressure points like head, neck, back, shoulders, hips, and joints are directly supported.

Latex gives a more central support instead of targeting specific areas of your body.

Temperature

Memory foam uses body heat to conform to your pressure points. This heat retention can be uncomfortable, especially for hot sleepers

Latex has an open-cell structure that promotes breathability better than a memory foam.

Price

Memory foam comes in ranges of prices, from budget varieties to high-end units.

Latex can be expensive due to its natural structure, benefits, and durability.

 

Feel

Feel

Natural latex mattresses offer a firm and springy feel. Latex gives a good pushback for people who prefer a sleeping on the mattress feel. On the other hand, memory foam mattresses give a sleeping in a mattress sensation as they conform to and hug the body when lying down. This contouring feeling is extremely comfortable and supports many sleeping positions. Generally, memory foam layers are softer than latex, while latex is denser than the former.

Support

Support

Both memory foam and latex mattresses are known for their excellent sleep support, but when it comes to added support, latex is a better choice. Latex mattresses are denser and firmer, which sleepers with back issues benefit from.

Memory foam also provides excellent sleep support. However, because it lets the body sink, some users might find it too soft for their needs. 

Pain Relief

Pain Relief

Both latex and memory foam mattresses provide excellent back and joint pain relief. Memory foam moulds and contours the body's natural shape. Because of this property, memory foam mattress aids in evenly distributing body weight, reducing pressure on the back and promoting better sleep comfort. Higher density memory foam mattresses do this sufficiently.

A natural latex foam mattress also provides natural spine support to a moderate degree. But all in all, the memory foam mattress provides more thorough pressure relief.

Temperature

Temperature

Memory foam absorbs body heat to contour the body during sleep. Its ability to retain heat can be very comfortable during colder nights. However, in places where heat is more felt, like Singapore, the heat built up in a memory foam can affect your sleep comfort. To address this, mattress manufacturers added additional cooling layers to regulate the temperature while maintaining the contouring comfort of a memory foam mattress.

If you sleep hot and are looking for a natural and breathable sleep solution, a latex mattress could be your ideal choice. It naturally comes with an open-cell structure that allows airflow to properly enter and exit the mattress.

Motion Isolation

Motion Isolation

Both mattresses present some advantages and disadvantages in terms of motion isolation. While memory foam is great at providing a hugging feel during sleep, it also provides less motion transfer when one of the mattress sharers tosses and turns. However, the downside of this conforming structure is that it can cause a feeling of being stuck. If you are a restless or combination sleeper, you may not find a memory foam mattress the best choice.

Latex foam is great for combination or restless sleepers since it does not sink with every movement as much as memory foam. However, because of its springiness, you may feel the motion on a latex mattress more than on memory foam.

Edge Support

Edge Support

Edge support is important for mattress sharers. A memory foam mattress provides better edge support because of its sinking feel than a bouncy latex mattress.

Hypoallergenic Properties

Hypoallergenic Properties

Latex is made of natural materials, so it is generally safer than synthetic memory foam mattresses. It also emits fewer off-gassing smells due to the absence of chemicals during its manufacturing process.

Memory foam's denser configuration resists dust mites and other allergens. Latex also offers natural anti-dust mite, anti-bacterial, and hypoallergenic properties.

Durability

Durability

Both latex foam and memory foam mattresses are reliably durable compared to innerspring beds. A standard memory foam mattress has an average lifespan of 7-10 years. Natural latex can last up to 15 years, while blended latex lasts up to 10 years. Synthetic latex will not offer the same durability as natural latex.

Price

Price

Memory foam comes in a range of prices, from budget varieties to high-end units. Latex mattresses can be expensive due to their natural structure, benefits, and durability.

 

How to Choose the Right Mattress

How to Choose the Right Mattress

When selecting between a memory foam and a latex mattress, your choice will be based on many factors, including your comfort preferences.

Mattress Type

Generally, mattresses come in many types, namely memory foam, latex, innerspring, and hybrid mattresses. Over the years, innerspring beds have offered comfort to many homes as the traditional sleep solution. Later on, other choices were introduced on the market, including memory foam and latex mattresses. These two mattress types offer more dynamic benefits and longer lifespans than traditional spring beds.

Latex and memory foam are often compared in terms of their posture support since both mattress types offer exceptional comfort in different ways, which benefits many sleepers.

Construction

Construction is one of the most important factors that you should look for in a quality mattress. Quality-constructed mattresses can be in the higher price range, especially those that are made to last.

Firmness Levels

Mattress firmness levels are measured on a scale of 1–10. The lowest number is the softest, while 10 is the firmest. Choosing the right firmness level depends on your sleeping position, body type, and comfort preferences.

Firmness Level

Firmness Scale

Best For

Ver Soft Mattress

1-2

Light Sleepers, Side Sleepers

Soft Mattress

3-4

Light Sleepers, Side Sleepers

Medium Firm Mattress

5-6

Side sleepers, back sleepers, combination sleepers

Firm Mattress

7-8

Heavy side sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers

Very Firm Mattress

9-10

Heavy back sleepers, stomach sleepers

 

Sleeping Position

Your preferred sleep position will help determine the ideal mattress firmness and material for your needs. Here are some mattress recommendations for the following major sleeping positions:

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers exert the most pressure on the shoulders, back, and hips. These pressure points will require enough contour and weight distribution to prevent the back from taking all the weight during sleep. Back sleepers will also need medium-firm or firmer support to give the body the right amount of pushback comfort. The firmness depends on the weight of the sleeper.

A back sleeper can enjoy the advantages of both latex and memory foam mattresses.

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers need proper contour, especially on the shoulder or hip parts. A soft to medium-firm mattress is ideal for an average side sleeper as it can allow the hips and shoulders to sink into the foam.

The contouring memory foam mattress can give side sleepers efficient pressure relief. For side sleepers who carry more weight, a latex mattress will be very beneficial.

Stomach Sleepers

Unlike side sleepers, stomach sleepers need more of a pushback than the sinking feeling. This is because this sleep position is notorious for adding pressure to the spine. Although we do not encourage sleeping on your stomach, if you find this position the most comfortable, we advise choosing a mattress that will keep your mid-section from sinking and misaligning your spine. A medium firm to firm mattress can give your back the right support. This can also lift the hips and prevent your spine from being misaligned with other parts of your body.

However, this does not mean you need to settle on a mattress that is too hard to make you feel comfortable. If an innerspring mattress is too firm for your liking, consider a hybrid mattress with hugging memory foam or comfortable latex foam.

Combination Sleepers

Combination sleepers need a mattress that allows them to move freely. Latex foam offers the right buoyancy that allows you to change your sleep position without the feeling of being stuck. If you are a restless sleeper, latex foam can also provide you with an excellent solution for tossing and turning. However, it's good to note that the buoyant natural latex mattress may disturb your partner's sleep when you toss and turn. In this case, a good mattress for sharing is a hybrid mattress.

We recommend a medium firm to a firm mattress, depending on your body type.

 

Body Weight

Weight is a huge factor in determining the right mattress. In fact, light and heavy sleepers may try the same bed but feel different.

Ultimately, light sleepers will have no difficulty snoozing on softer mattresses without the sinking feeling, but they might find firm mattresses uncomfortable. If dealing with body pain, firm mattresses may not give light sleepers the right pressure relief.

Heavy sleepers, on the other hand, may find less support from soft mattresses. Firm mattresses, in this case, can provide the right pressure relief and body support. If you're looking for a soft bed, we recommend going for a taller mattress that can provide you with the soft feel without sinking.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Latex Foam Last Longer than Memory Foam?

Both materials are durable. But because of latex's more solid construction and material quality, it is expected to last longer than memory foam. In the best conditions, latex mattresses last 15 to 20 years, while memory foam has an average lifespan of 10 years.

Note: Synthetic latex does not offer the same durability as natural latex.

 

Is the Off-Gassing Smell of Memory Foam Harmful?

By law, mattresses are required to contain fire retardant properties to ensure the home's safety. While latex has natural fire retardant properties, memory foam is mixed with fire retardant chemicals that can cause a strong smell when unboxed. Memory foam may contain some chemicals that can affect those with allergies or asthma. It's a good thing that many mattress manufacturers are going for safer chemicals that are not particularly harmful to the users. High-quality memory foam is typically made from carefully selected and safer materials. However, cheaper foam mattresses may still come with potentially harmful materials to cut costs during production.

The obvious smell when unboxing mattresses is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are present in polyurethane products. VOCs used in memory foam are not particularly harmful and dissipate after some hours or a few days, depending on the mattress. However, they may cause some irritation to allergy sufferers. To prevent this, we suggest breaking into your bed in a well-ventilated area for at least a day before using it.

Latex may also contain this gaseous smell, but it is more subtle than what memory foam emits.

 

Can Memory Foam Contain Latex?

Memory foam is a polyurethane foam mattress mixed with other compounds that give it its viscoelastic property, so it technically does not contain any latex material. However, there are mattresses that can contain both materials. If you love the support of natural latex and the conforming feel of memory foam, choose a hybrid mattress that offers both advantages.

 

Can I Lie on the Edge on a Memory Foam Bed?

Edge support is important, especially for bed sharers. Memory foam offers great edge support and helps you sleep anywhere on your bed. This is especially crucial for sleepers who weigh more than 203 pounds and those who suffer from back pain or mobility issues. If you toss and turn a lot while sharing a bed, the right edge support may also prevent you from accidentally falling off your bed. 

Memory foam's structure naturally includes this property without the need for specialised construction features. This bed type is ideal for sleepers who look for excellent support that is balanced throughout the entire mattress.

 

How Do I Improve the Edge Support of My Latex Mattress?

Latex can also provide good edge support, but not as efficient as memory foam for heavier sleepers. If you love the bouncy and breathable comfort of natural latex, you may improve its edge support by choosing an efficient bed base and a firm mattress topper.

 

Summary

Summary

How do you choose between the two bed types? While both have their pros and cons, choosing the perfect mattress depends on the specific features that you are looking for. Depending on your needs, some features may outweigh others.

 

Latex vs. Memory Foam: Which Mattress Type is Better for Back Pain?

If you are suffering from back pain, you should look for a mattress that will provide you with optimum support. The right bed support may prevent the pain from escalating and may provide the right cushioning comfort to relieve the pressure from the affected areas. Both memory foam and natural latex mattresses offer the right support, but in different ways. But first, figure out where your current back pain is coming from.

Lower back pain affects the lumbar area, or the five lowest vertebrae. This is due to bending and misalignment of the spine when moving, sitting, or sleeping. Lack of lumbar support when sitting or sleeping can cause lumbar pain. A mattress that is too soft or too firm can also cause this pain.

Middle to upper back pain can be caused by poor posture and can be linked with other health conditions.

The latex mattress helps in distributing the weight of your body during sleep. This reduces the pressure and aids the proper alignment of your spine. This mattress is helpful for back and stomach sleepers as it provides the right amount of push while keeping the spine aligned during sleep.

The memory foam mattress will give side sleepers the right contour to remove the pressure from the hips and lumbar spine.

If symptoms persist despite going for the ideal sleeping solutions, get your back checked by professionals.

 

Latex vs. Memory Foam: Which Mattress Type is Better for Restless Sleepers?

We recommend a latex foam for combination and restless sleepers. Because of its springy feel, natural latex has a faster response time for tossing and turning than memory foam. This is because latex foam offers the right bounce that follows through your movements, while memory foam may potentially obstruct you from tossing and turning.

However, if you share your mattress with a partner, latex foam may not be the most comfortable option. If you are a light or restless sleeper who shares your mattress with someone, we suggest a memory foam mattress, which offers better motion isolation.

 

Latex vs. Memory Foam: Which Mattress Type is Better for Hot Sleepers

If you sleep hot, open-cell latex mattresses will provide you with better breathability. A gel memory foam can also provide you with a breathable sleep solution. One thing to note when buying these is that they are more expensive than regular memory foam.

 

Latex vs. Memory Foam: Which is Better for Mattress Sharing

There are a lot of factors to consider when sharing a mattress. These factors include both of your sleep positions, body types, and preferences. Memory foams are generally better in terms of motion isolation, while latex provides proper support for many body weights and is breathable, so both of you can sleep more comfortably. All in all, many couples prefer the motion isolation and edge comfort a memory foam bed offers.

 

Choose a Memory Foam Mattress if:

Choose a Memory Foam Mattress if

  1. You want a deep compression support that contours deeply into your pressure points.

  1. You want a hugging feeling during sleep.

  1. You are a back sleeper who prefers a shoulder cradle while promoting healthy spine alignment.

  1. If you are a side sleeper who needs the right sink and medium firmness for your shoulders and hips.

  1. You are not an active sleeper who does not need a faster movement response.

  1. You share the bed with a restless sleeper.

  1. You want more material and construction choices.

  1. You are on a restricted budget and are looking for a more affordable mattress type.

  1. You have latex allergies.

 

Choose a Latex Mattress if:

Choose a Latex Mattress if

  1. You are looking for a mattress made from natural materials.

  1. You prefer a more centralised contouring feel.

  1. You prefer a bouncy mattress to a contouring one.

  1. You need a faster response time for tossing or turning.

  1. You need a denser, firmer sleep solution.

  1. You sleep hot.

  1. You are looking for a mattress with hypoallergenic properties.

  1. You want a more durable bed that can last up to 15 years.

 

Get the Best of Both Worlds

Get the Best of Both Worlds

If you're looking for a mattress that can offer the advantages of both excellent materials, check out Vesper's specialised hybrid mattress that is designed to combine the features of memory foam and latex in one ultimate sleep solution.


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