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Latex vs. Memory Foam

Malena Piper

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Memory foam and latex have reputations as the best in the market, but which makes the best mattress? Several factors can elevate one over the other, but the truth is that each offers a set of pros and cons that make them both terrific mattress options. Keep reading to see how memory foam and latex differ, and how to tell which might be the best mattress for you.

What is Memory Foam?

Memory foam is a polyurethane foam made with additional chemicals to make it elastic and temperature-sensitive. Memory foam, or viscoelastic foam, reacts to heat and gives way to bodyweight to contour deeply to the body.

While memory foam is not springy, the material does bounce back to its original shape after pressure is removed from the surface. Memory foam can isolate motion at the point of impact, which allows a sleeper to shift sleep positions without disturbing a sleeping partner. Its support and pressure relief are unmatched by other mattress materials.

Memory foam used in mattresses has an open-cell structure. Open-cell memory foam replaced traditional memory foam (which was used decades ago, in some of the first memory foam mattresses) on the market for its ability to combat heat retention.

Traditional memory foam, while a conforming and pressure-relieving material, was so dense it cut off air circulation in the mattress, which caused heat build-up.

The porous nature of open-cell memory foam decreases the foam’s density.

Plant-Based Memory Foam

Memory foam is made using petrochemicals, as they’re needed to create the foam’s consistency. However, some brands have began using plant-based memory foam in their mattresses as a substitute. To make plant-based memory foam, manufacturers replace a portion of petrochemicals ith plant-based oils, such as castor, soy, and coconut oil. Using plant-based memory foam makes the mattress a little cooler and more eco-friendly.

Gel Memory Foam

It’s common to find memory foam infused with gel microbeads in foam beds, mattress toppers, and foam pillows. The gel pulls heat from the body and distributes it through the foam layer.

Manufacturers can spread gel microbeads consistently through the foam layer (solid gel foam) or swirl them through the layer (swirled gel foam). We recommend looking for solid gel foam as it can wick heat more effectively from the sleeper.

While gel memory foam is the most common, other accessible conductive materials can keep a sleeper cool: copper, graphite, titanium.

Memory Foam Bed Construction

Most memory foam mattresses are built from the base up to offer the sleeper consistent support and comfort.

At the top, there is a memory foam comfort layer, which contours to the sleeper to relieve pressure and pain.

The transitional layer is a firmer foam than the comfort layers, although typically not as firm as the support layer. The transitional layer buffers between the comfort and support layer, preventing the sleeper from sinking into the mattress and feeling “stuck.”

The support layer extends the mattress’s longevity by deterring sagging.

You can also find memory foam layers in some hybrid mattresses, too. If you like the contouring of memory foam but prefer a bouncy bed, a hybrid mattress may be for you.

Best Memory Foam Mattress: Zoma Mattress

Zoma Mattress BEST MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS

For a high-quality memory foam mattress that won’t retain heat and moisture, we suggest the Zoma Mattress. This bed has a universal comfort layer prefer for side and combination sleepers.

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Best mattress features
  • AirCloth cover promotes breathability and regulates the temperature of the mattress.
  • Targeted lumbar support prevents morning aches and pains.
  • Gel memory foam comfort layer reduces heat-trapping for a cooler night's sleep.
Recommended for
  • Couples with different sleep styles.
  • Hot sleepers.
  • Side and combination sleepers.

The medium firmness of the Zoma Mattress is perfect for most sleep styles and body types. It is firm enough to lift the hips and shoulders to prevent spinal misalignment, but it is also soft enough to cushion and cradle the joints.

The gel infusion in Zoma’s memory foam helps to wick away moisture, so sleepers stay cool and dry throughout the night. This material also cushions the joints and prevents painful pressure points.

The transition layer of the Zoma features their Reactiv™ foam, a bouncy, latex-like response layer that reduces excess sinking, so the spine always rests in a safe, neutral position.

The Support+ foam in the base of the Zoma Mattress is resistant to sagging and indentations, ensuring you rest in a comfortable and aligned position every night.

What is Latex?

Latex is known for offering moderate levels of conformity and a more resilient feeling than memory foam. Though it tends to provide comparable pressure and pain relief, latex does not have the slow-response/sinking feeling of memory foam. Latex mattresses also offer superior allergy resistance.

Latex is one of the most supportive mattress materials on the market. Latex mattresses are typically firm, but some mattress companies construct vertical air passages through the bed to soften the latex.

Latex is also hypoallergenic through its resistance to dust mites, mold, mildew, and bed bugs. As long as you don’t suffer from latex allergies, latex mattresses are a great option.

Latex is naturally springy and conforming, offering cushioning support to most sleeping positions. Latex beds absorb motion, which also makes it one of the best mattresses for couples.

To make an informed decision when choosing a latex mattress, you need to know about the different types of latex.

Talalay

The Talalay process preserves the rubber tree’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Talalay latex is made from rubber tree sap and chemical additives, which gives the latex foam a viscoelastic feel akin to memory foam. The latex is also a softer, lighter, and more expensive material than its counterpart Dunlop latex.

Dunlop

Dunlop latex is made from rubber tree sap without additional chemicals. This type of latex is denser and firmer than Talalay, but it’s also the only all-natural latex and, therefore, has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties comparable to Talalay latex.

Synthetic

Synthetic latex is man-made from a compound of chemicals to mimic latex properties. Synthetic latex is not antimicrobial or antibacterial, although it is a great option for latex allergy sufferers.

Blended

Blended latex is made from a mixture of synthetic and natural latex. It has some antimicrobial properties.

We highly suggest against synthetic or blended latex mattresses because they’re made with a variety of chemicals and aren’t long-lasting, often breaking down after only five or six years.

Latex Bed Construction

Latex mattresses must contain at least one latex layer. There are all latex mattresses; however, they are pricey. You can find latex layers in hybrid mattresses, too.

All-latex mattresses will have a softer latex layer on top with one or two firmer layers beneath.

Latex hybrid mattresses are very different. A latex hybrid mattress’s construction will change based on the company. Usually, the comfort or transitional layers will contain latex materials, and the hybrid’s supportive core is made of a pocketed coil system.

Best Latex Mattress: Amerisleep Organica

Amerisleep-Organica BEST LATEX MATTRESS

For a latex mattress made with organic materials, we suggest the Amerisleep Organica. This bed has an all-natural latex foam comfort layer and a pocketed spring coil base.

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Best mattress features
  • GOTS certified organic cotton cover.
  • All-natural latex comfort layer certified by the eco-institut.
  • Pocketed spring coil base keeps body weight evenly distributed.
Recommended for
  • Eco-conscious shoppers.
  • Plus-side sleepers.
  • Side, back, and combination sleepers.

Amerisleep’s latex mattress, Organica, has a medium firmness and features organic materials that are safe for you and your family. This bed is perfect for couples and combination sleepers. The responsiveness of the latex comfort layer ensures a neutral spine and fewer morning aches and pains.

The cover of the Organica features GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton, guaranteeing it is free of pesticides and chemical additives. This soft cover is also ventilated for temperature regulation and to prevent over-heating.

Just beneath the cover is a layer of organic New Zealand Joma Wool® for further protection against heat retention. This layer also acts as a natural fire barrier, allowing Amerisleep to forgo the use of toxic chemicals.

The Talalay latex in the comfort layer cushions and cradles the joints to prevent pressure points. This latex foam is resistant to dust mites, mold, mildew, and bacteria. It is also highly durable and won’t develop soft spots or sagging.

The base of the Organica features pocketed spring coils, each one is individually wrapped for more accurate contouring and pressure relief. This base keeps body weight evenly distributed and reduces sinking and spinal misalignment.

Like all Amerisleep mattresses, the Organica comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.

Latex and Memory Foam Differences

Conformability

Memory foam’s properties allow it to contour, while latex compresses and bounces and can only conform to the general impression your body makes. As a result, memory foam has greater pain-relieving properties.

Motion Isolation

Both mattresses are good at isolating motion. Memory foam absorbs motion at the point of impact, which eliminates motion transfer. The bouncy nature of latex produces a slight transfer of motion, making memory foam the better of the two in terms of motion isolation.

Availability

Memory foam is available in more storefronts and has more vendors online than natural latex; however, latex popularity is increasing, which may lead to more availability.

Sinking Feeling And Ease of Movement

Memory foam is often associated with a sinking feeling, which comes from the sleeper sinking into the memory foam mattress and finding it hard to move while on the mattress’s surface.

Difficulty changing sleeping positions or feeling “stuck” in the mattress isn’t an issue reported by latex owners. Even though latex mattresses are made in soft, medium, and firm feels, latex is a naturally firmer material that doesn’t allow the sleeper to sink into the materials.

Heat Retention

Memory foam mattress owners are more likely to complain about heat retention than natural latex owners.

When memory foam compresses, airflow is cut off in the mattress and causes body heat to build instead of wicking away. There are types of memory foam that improve heat retention by increasing air circulation and pulling heat from the sleeper, such as plant-based and gel memory foam.

Natural latex foam is breathable and doesn’t compress as easily as memory foam, allowing more air circulation when someone sleeps on its surface.

Odor

Owners of memory foam are more likely to complain about off-gassing odors than natural latex owners. However, synthetic latex and latex mattresses made with chemicals may also give off smells when the bed is unpackaged.

Eco-Friendly

Due to its natural materials and manufacturing process, latex is more eco-friendly than the majority of memory foams. Even so, plant-based memory foams offer a more natural alternative to regular memory foam.

Durable

Both of these beds tend to outlast innerspring by several years, though latex is often reported to be more resistant to impressions and premature wear.

Latex and Memory Foam Similarities

Pressure and Pain Relief

Due to the mattresses’ contouring qualities, both excel at easing pressure points in the hips, lumbar, neck, and joints, which can alleviate back pain.

Support

Both offer excellent support to increase spinal alignment.

Variety

Latex and memory foam mattresses are available in a range of thicknesses, firmnesses, and brands. Depending on which mattress type you like more, you can find the best latex or memory foam mattress for you.

Guarantees

Both tend to come with good warranties with 20 or more years of coverage and good return policies, although the company you buy from influences the guarantees you get.

Price

Memory foam and latex mattresses are more expensive than average innerspring mattresses. Some high-quality memory foam mattresses are built with multiple layers and incorporate sleep technologies that increase the price.

Natural latex mattresses are made with renewable responses, needing specialized manufacturing and farming; as a result, natural latex mattresses cost more.

Why Pick Memory Foam

Certain sleepers will prefer memory foam over latex because of their sleeping styles or medical conditions.

For instance, back and side sleepers will benefit greatly from the contouring nature of memory foam. Back sleepers can get a medium to medium-firm mattress to maintain their spinal alignment and relieve pressure to avoid joint and muscle pain. Side sleepers, who need a plushier mattress surface or enjoy sinking into the mattress, need a soft, medium-soft, or medium mattress feel and relieve painful pressure points.

Memory foam is also a good option if you have disrupted sleep caused by a partner or you overheat in your sleep.

Why Pick Natural Latex

Natural latex mattresses are made from renewable resources and, therefore, are biodegradable, making it an excellent option for those seeking an eco-friendly mattress.

Latex mattresses come in soft, medium, and firm feels due to built-in vertical ventilation tunnels; however, the firm material keeps the sleeper on the surface, making it a great option for stomach sleepers who need to maintain spinal alignment.

Latex mattresses offer a resilient bounce similar to innerspring beds. The bounce helps the user adjust from one sleeping position to another.

Natural latex is naturally breathable, which eliminates heat concerns.

Many manufacturers allow you to customize a latex bed to fit your sleep needs.

FAQs

Is latex or memory foam better for back pain?

Both latex and memory foam mattresses are suitable for those with back pain. Both of these mattress types can be made in a variety of firmness levels. In most cases, the best mattresses for back pain are medium-firm.

Is latex cooler than memory foam?

Latex foam tends to be more breathable than traditional memory foam. However, many brands are now making their memory foam with cooling features such as plant-based foam and gel or graphite-infused foam. These additions can make memory foam just as cooling as latex foam.

Are latex foam mattresses safe?

Yes. Most latex is sustainably harvested and grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides. The natural process of producing latex foam makes it one of the cleanest and safest mattress materials available.

Can I sleep on a latex mattress if I’m allergic to latex?

If you have a latex allergy, it is best to avoid sleeping on a latex mattress. However, some individuals find that placing a high-quality mattress protector on a latex mattress is enough to prevent a reaction. However, it is best to discuss this with your doctor if you have a severe latex allergy.

Are latex mattresses good for side sleepers?

Yes. Latex mattresses are available in several different firmness levels, many of which are suitable for side sleepers. For most average weight individuals, the best mattresses for side sleeping are medium. However, lightweight side sleepers often prefer soft to medium-soft beds.

Conclusion

It comes down to preference as far as mattress feel: conformability, motion isolation, mobility, heat retention. Both beds feature very high owner satisfaction ratings and last a few years longer than innerspring mattresses. As long as you consider your sleep needs, chances are you will wind up with the best mattress for you.

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Comments (5) Leave a comment

  • I’m thinking of just getting a latex or memory foam mattress topper as I already have an inner spring mattress. The memory foam would be good for conformity (and thus one would expect also pain relief, although that is not evident in the ratings), while latex would be better for not being too hot, eco-friendliness (or not having to pay even more to be eco-friendly) and no odour.

  • Great info. I choose latex mattress because it is incredibly durable and healthy. I have models that last for 15 years, it’s still firm and more eco-friendly. I would recommend ruwette.nl/auping since you can get your best mattress there.

  • I must say that I am more of a memory foam user because it works out for me. However, memory foam is not for everyone and each of us has varied comfort meter. I cannot also deny the advantages of the latest. So in choosing the best mattress, you have to take into consideration which type of mattress can provide the level of comfort you require. At the end of the day, your satifsfaction is what truly counts.

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