Are you choosing your next mattress? But confused with all the available options on the market? You probably know by now that the two biggest players today are latex and memory foam. Both are types of foam but they have very different feels. So if you’re struggling to decide which is better, we’ve put together a latex vs memory foam mattress comparison, so you can understand the differences between them and their benefits.
Latex vs Memory Foam Mattress
1. Memory Foam
Memory foam is a type of polyurethane that has been treated with different chemicals that give the mattress or the pillow its viscoelastic properties. It also makes the mattress very dense and energy absorbing.
Memory foam mattresses can be made with different levels of firmness and bounce options. They can also be mixed with other materials, such as latex or gel, which would add to the comfort of the mattress.
Feel and Comfort
The main benefit of memory foam is that it can contour to your body’s curves. This allows for full support of pressure points. That’s why this type of mattress is a great choice for side sleepers and those suffering from pressure-point related pains.
The characteristics of memory foam also reduce motion transfer, meaning that the movements of a sleeper on one side of the bed don’t disturb his or her partner on the other side.
The Cooling Factor
Due to sinkage and contouring of the foam to the sleeper’s body, these mattresses tend to trap heat. Or at least old models did. Today, most mattress manufacturers have countered this heat retention issue with various cooling features. For example, some mattresses have added gel layers, cooling fabrics or special foams.
Petroleum-based memory foam mattresses can produce volatile organic compounds as a byproduct of the manufacturing process. This can give an unpleasant chemical smell or off-gassing. After some time, once the mattress is aired out, the odor should dissipate. However, it will continue to have odorless off-gassing.
There are options of memory foam mattresses that don’t produce off-gassing. Look for the Certi-PUR label. Procuts with this label are verified to be low-VOC and are guaranteed to be free of harmful chemicals.
The durability of a memory foam mattress depends on a number of factors. Such mattresses aren’t usually made of just memory foam. Typically, memory foam is added as a layer at both the top and bottom. But then there can be additional layers, such as polyfoam or springs. The number of layers, their quality and density determine the durability of the mattress.
With all that being said, however, memory foam is typically less durable than latex. After a few years, memory foam stops responding that well and doesn’t contour to the curves of the sleeper’s body anymore. This makes the support that the mattress provides uneven.
There are three forms of latex: natural, synthetic and a blend of natural and synthetic.
- Natural latex is made using the raw substance from rubber trees. The substance is then naturally processed to create the foam layers. Latex mattresses of the highest quality can contain up to 95% pure rubber. This type of latex is the best option for those looking for an all-natural buy.
- Synthetic latex, as the name implies, is made of various synthetic materials, such as styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR). Synthetic latex might have a similar feel to the natural one but it doesn’t have the same bounce and won’t last as long.
There are also different ways how to manufacture latex, of which the most common are the Dunlop and Talalay processes.
- During the Dunlop process, latex is poured into a mold and then it’s left to settle. The result is that you have denser foam at the bottom and softer towards the top. This process makes the mattress denser and heavier than a mattress made using the Talalay process.
- The Talalay process also involves filling a mold with latex but only partially. Then, air is added in order to expand the latex to fill the entire mold. The result is latex foam that has a uniform feeling from top to bottom. However, it’s not as dense.
Feel and Comfort
Latex mattresses in comparison to memory foam are more resilient and bouncy. If you press your hand into the mattress and then let it go, latex will fairly quickly bounce back to its original form.
Latex only slightly conforms but it doesn’t hug each curve of the body. Instead, it allows sinkage and generalized compression around the body. So, it’s a better choice for those that don’t like the enveloping feeling that the memory foam mattresses give.
One of the downsides of latex mattresses, however, is that it doesn’t isolate motion. Due to generalized compression around the body when you sleep on the mattress, you will feel your partner turning during the night.
Latex has open cell structure, which has less heat retention and so, provides better cooling. And if you want even better cooling, look for latex mattresses that have aerated foam with air pockets integrated into the molding.
Natural latex, as it is made from natural plant-based material, doesn’t produce any off-gassing. It might have a slight scent right out of the box. However, it should disappear in several days.
Latex mattresses generally last longer than memory foam mattresses, especially if they’re made with natural and organic latex. The highest quality natural latex mattresses can last for 20 years or more. However, it also depends on the construction of the mattress.
So Should You Buy a Latex or Memory Foam Mattress?
Choosing one or the other is a matter of preference. Each of these two types have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Latex mattresses are preferred by those that want more bounce without the sinking feeling, a faster response time and a more natural mattress produced with only natural rubber. It is also more durable, more cooling and is environmentally sustainable.
Memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, are recommended for those that want contouring and that hugging feeling to each curve of your body. No matter what your favorite sleep position is, this type of mattress will contour to the unique shape of your body and provide optimal spinal and neck alignment. On top of that, it provides better blood circulation, pressure point relief and allows to move around in bed at night without disturbing your partner.
There’s also a third option – a spring mattress. Check out our spring vs memory foam mattress comparison.