This debate will rage on forever because each mattress has benefits and drawbacks. While memory foam provides better comfort by enabling proper spinal alignment, latex mattresses ensure better air circulation to enhance the cooling factor.
This article discusses each aspect in detail to help you decide which of the two mattresses is better.
Before comparing latex and memory foam mattresses, let us understand their structures and pros and cons to help us choose between a latex and a memory foam mattress.
Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam is a unique foam made by adding certain chemicals to polyurethane foam. Generally, three types of memory foam mattresses are available.
- Traditional Foam Mattress – Traditional foam mattresses are manufactured using a closed-cell structure that traps body heat. At the same time, the polyurethane foam adapts to the body contours to provide the ideal spinal alignment required for comfort.
- Open Cell Foam – Unlike traditional foam mattresses, open cell foam beds have open cells encouraging smoother air movement throughout the foam layers. The open-cell structure is less dense than the closed-cell structure of traditional foam beds.
- Foam with Gel pods – Memory foam beds are renowned for providing high-quality comfort to the user. However, the heat trapped by memory foam makes it uncomfortable to sleep on, especially during the summer months. Foam beds with gel pods attached to the top layer provide better comfort and cooling than traditional foam mattresses.
The different memory foam beds have varying structures but have common properties.
- Memory foam beds are excellent for providing the perfect spinal alignment to the body because they adjust to your body contours.
- Memory foam is malleable and can withstand the heaviest impact. Therefore, they are suitable for heavyweight sleepers.
- Memory foam is durable and can survive for extended periods without sagging.
- All memory foam beds support motion isolation. Therefore, the involuntary movements by one sleeper do not affect the other person sleeping on the same bed.
- Memory foam absorbs body heat. While it can cause some discomfort, this heat creates a cushioning effect to relieve people of joint pain.
- Memory foam beds have medium-soft to hard firmness levels, making them the most versatile choice of beds for side and back sleepers.
- Memory foam mattresses are highly resistant to dust mites.
- Memory foam beds undergo off-gassing. Hence, they emit an offensive odor when new. The smell fades off after exposing the bed to natural sunlight for a few days.
- Pricing-wise, memory foam beds are classified in the mid-tier to the luxury range.
Latex Foam Mattress
As the name suggests, latex foam is made with latex as the primary constituent of foam.
Latex is obtained from the sap collected from rubber trees. Since rubber trees do not need pesticides, cultivating them is eco-friendly.
The white-colored sap is a natural ingredient of rubber trees, and converting the sap to latex foam does not require adding harsh chemicals. However, zinc oxide is added to the natural sap collected from rubber trees to make latex foam. Therefore, latex foam is not entirely 100% natural, as many manufacturers claim. But latex foam is sustainable and eco-friendly.
Generally, three categories of latex foam are available.
- Natural Latex – The latex foam made from sap collected from rubber trees is known as natural latex. This foam is manufactured using either the Dunlop or the Talalay methods. Natural latex is made using the vulcanization process. However, the Talalay method has two additional steps, vacuuming and freezing the latex, to make it different from the Dunlop method.
The differences between Dunlop and Talalay foam are as follows.
- Dunlop latex is denser than Talalay, but the Talalay method produces more homogenous foam.
- Since Dunlop latex has a higher density, it is more durable than Talalay foam.
- The Talalay foam gives a bouncy feel, whereas the Dunlop foam has a springy feel.
- The Dunlop method is more eco-friendly than the Talalay process.
- Synthetic latex foam – Synthetic latex is artificially made from SBR, plastic styrene-butadiene rubber. It does not have any natural components. However, mattresses made from synthetic latex are safe even though they are not as durable as those made from natural latex foam. Besides, beds made from synthetic latex are prone to off-gassing.
- Blended Latex – The name suggests that this category of latex foam has a blend of natural and synthetic latex in its structural composition. Usually, the natural latex has a proportion of 15% to 30%. Mattresses made from blended latex foam are like those made from synthetic latex in performance and durability.
Latex foam beds made from natural, synthetic, or blended latex foam have the following properties.
- Natural latex foam beds have antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties. Since the core structure is made from natural ingredients, it repels germs, dust mites, molds, and mildew. Therefore, beds made from natural latex are recommended for asthma patients. These beds have the least maintenance compared to other mattresses.
- All latex foam mattresses provide excellent comfort and relaxation. Hence, people with mild back issues benefit from using these beds. Research has shown that latex mattresses reduce body pressure and distribute it more evenly than memory foam beds. Hence, these beds offer better support for all sleeping positions.
- Natural latex foam is breathable and offers better air circulation than other mattresses. Hence, they are suitable for use in all weather conditions. Latex foam beds regulate body temperature better and ensure proper blood circulation.
- Latex foam beds are durable, with their average lifespan being around ten to twelve years. Besides, latex provides more bounciness than memory foam. Therefore, these beds maintain their shape longer than memory foam mattresses.
- Rubber sap is a natural byproduct of rubber cultivation. It does not involve cutting down trees or damaging the environment. Hence, natural latex is biodegradable and eco-friendly.
- Natural latex foam beds do not give out an offensive odor. However, synthetic latex foam and blended foam beds can have off-gassing.
- Natural latex foam beds support motion isolation because of their high elasticity. Therefore, users get enhanced quality sleep. Secondly, latex foam does not absorb heat. So users are not subject to inconveniences like hot flushes during summer.
While latex foam beds have multiple advantages, they have drawbacks; they are expensive, firmer than memory beds, and comparably heavier.
Which one to choose – Memory foam or latex foam mattresses?
We shall compare these beds using various prominent parameters to decide the winner.
People sleeping on the mattress edges prefer beds that support their weight and absorb their body pressure better. Latex foam beds are inferior to memory foam beds in this aspect because memory foam beds provide better edge support. Latex foam beds are better suited for people sleeping in the center of the bed. People roll off the bed when sleeping on the edges of latex foam mattresses.
Scoreline – 1-0 in favor of Memory foam beds
Both latex and memory foam beds support motion isolation. Therefore, a restless sleeper does not transfer the involuntary motion effects to the other person sleeping on the same bed. Memory foam is better than latex foam because it absorbs pressure better. Latex foam beds are springy in comparison. However, they provide good motion isolation support, better than spring beds.
Scoreline – 2-0 in favor of memory foam beds
Latex foam beds offer a springy feel when you sit on them. In comparison, memory foam mattresses sink deep. Therefore, heavy people or older adults can find it challenging to get up quickly after sitting on memory foam mattresses.
You can test the responsiveness by bouncing a golf ball on the bed. Since latex foam is rubbery and firmer, the ball bounces quicker than from a memory foam bed. Memory foam offers less resistance to body movements. Therefore, it is not ideal for active sleepers.
Scoreline – 2-1 in favor of memory foam beds
Mattress buyers look for pressure-relieving qualities when looking for the best features in mattresses. Memory foam beds have a better record of relieving pressure than latex foam. Since memory foam beds absorb pressure better, they are better suited for providing the ideal spinal alignment.
Memory foam adjusts to your body pressure better than latex foam. So side sleepers prefer memory foam beds to latex foam.
Scoreline – 3-1 in favor of memory foam beds
Memory foam beds have a significant weakness in that they absorb body heat and do not provide good air circulation. Hence, they can be uncomfortable to sleep on, especially in the summer months. In contrast, latex foam beds are consistently better because they allow for comfortable air circulation to cool down the body temperature and ensure better blood circulation.
Scoreline – 3-2 in favor of memory foam beds
Both memory foam and latex beds are renowned for their durability and longevity. That explains why manufacturers offer extended ten or fifteen-year warranties on these mattresses.
Scoreline – 3.5-2.5 in favor of memory foam beds
Latex foam beds are comparatively easier to adapt to than memory foam beds because of their versatility. Latex foam mattresses are suitable for all kinds of sleepers, whereas people with heavier bodies and those preferring to sleep on their stomachs do not prefer memory foam beds. These beds sink deep with the body weight, making it challenging to get up comfortably. Memory foam beds take nearly 60 days to adjust, whereas users need around 15 days to adapt to latex foam mattresses.
Scoreline – 3.5-3.5 – A tie between memory foam and latex foam mattresses.
Here, we shall look at the pricing and budget.
Memory foam beds are priced expensively compared to spring and coir mattresses. They qualify as middle-user level to the luxury bracket. In contrast, latex beds are comparatively more expensive and cater primarily to luxurious users.
However, hybrid latex beds are available that use a combination of latex and memory foam layers to cushion the pricing factor. Nevertheless, memory foam beds are preferable because of their better and more attractive pricing.