Memory Foam Vs Latex Mattresses

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Tempur-Pedic really helped create the explosive growth of memory foam mattresses.  Before that company got going, no one really considered getting a memory foam mattress.  Now it’s one of the top brands in the industry and memory foam as a category has taken up a huge chunk of the overall mattress market.

Latex mattresses are starting to catch on, but there are much fewer options at this point when compared to memory foam.  People are starting to wonder what the main differences are between the two mattress types so they can figure out which might be a better fit for them.  I’m getting an increasing number of “memory foam vs latex” questions as of late.  In this article, I’ll try to highlight the important differences, so that you can have a pretty clear idea in your head which type might be best for you.

Feel

The feel of each type of mattress can depend on various factors.  For example, a low density memory foam mattress will feel different from a high density mattress.  Generally, however, memory foam will feel more like you are sinking into the mattress.  It has a slow-moving feel, almost like quicksand (see our Layla review for an example).  This “giving in” means the foam is conforming nicely to your body shape and relieving pressure points.  I’ve noticed that some people really love this feel, while others really aren’t a big fan.  With latex, you get pressure relief, but you don’t feel that you are necessarily sleeping “in” the mattress.  You feel more like you are sleeping “on” the mattress.  People like latex because you get the pressure relief sensation of memory foam without that real sinking in feeling.  Latex also feels more resilient and bouncy than memory foam.

Advantage: Depends On Your Preferences

Sleeping Hot Issue

A common complaint with memory foam mattresses is that they often can “sleep hot.”  This just means that the sleeping surface can feel hotter than people normally would want.  That is because of the chemical composition of memory foam.  Some manufacturers are getting really smart at addressing this, so the newer memory foam models that are coming out don’t really face this issue as much.

Because of the composition of latex, “sleeping hot” is much less of an issue than with memory foam.  The sleeping surface of latex mattresses (where latex is the comfort layer) tends to be much more regulated and cool naturally.

Advantage: Latex

Resilience/Bounciness

Memory foam tends to be very slow-moving.  If you move around, the mattress will take a bit of time to go back to its original form.  This phenomenon can vary depending on a few factors.  However, one can generally say memory foam is not so resilient or bouncy.  Latex, on the other hand, is known for how resilient and bouncy it is.  People like this about latex because it makes it great for sexual activities.

Advantage: Latex

Motion Isolation

Motion isolation can be important if you sleep with a partner.  It essentially means that if one person moves around in the bed, the other person can’t feel the movement.  Memory foam, especially high-density memory foam, is tremendous with motion isolation.  Latex is also good for motion isolation, but it is definitely not as good as memory foam.

Advantage: Memory Foam

Best Mattresses Overall

Pressure Relief

The best part about memory foam is most likely how well it relieves pressure on the hips, shoulders, and back.  It is one of the main reasons why people choose to go with this type of mattress.  Latex does relieve pressure well, but generally it probably doesn’t do so quite as well as memory foam.

Advantage: Memory Foam

Durability

There are a lot of factors that go into the durability of a mattress, but generally latex mattresses are very durable and will last longer than memory foam mattresses (even high-density memory foam ones).  Check out our separate article on memory foam mattress durability.

Advantage: Latex

Price

All in all, memory foam mattresses can be extremely cheap or very expensive.  You can get a dirt cheap one made in China, or you can pay for a high-end Tempurpedic.  With latex, generally the mattresses are more expensive.  If you try to get a natural latex mattress, you will definitely have to pay a lot of money for it, given how hard it is to get the materials for it.

Advantage: Memory Foam

Weight

There is no question that latex weighs much more than memory foam.  This is just based on the chemical composition of each type.  If you need to move your mattress a decent amount, this could be a factor to consider.

Advantage: Memory Foam

Natural Materials

There are a lot of companies that claim to have “natural” mattresses.  Rarely is this ever 100% accurate.  When companies say they use bio-based foams, they usually mean the foams are a small percentage bio-based, and the rest is petroleum-based.  Just be wary if you hear that a memory foam mattress is “natural.”

Latex occurs naturally, so you can actually find some all-natural latex mattresses.  The problem is that they are very expensive, so you’ll usually just come across synthetic latex mattresses.

Advantage: Memory Foam

Which Is Better For You?

The two mattress types, as I’ve shown, have some similarities but overall some significant differences.  I can’t say which type is better for you.  I would instead recommend that you carefully go over what’s most important to you, read lots of reviews, and then make the decision for yourself.  If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment box.

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 100 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 4 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.When he isn't testing sleep products, he enjoys working out, reading both fiction and non-fiction, and playing classical piano. He enjoys traveling as well, and not just to test out hotel mattresses!Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

2 thoughts on “Memory Foam Vs Latex Mattresses”

  1. Joe,
    First- I was a professional pianist for over 45 years in Los Angeles.
    My Husband and I are retired and desperately need a new mattress. We have a slat bed. Our current mattress is Aireloom Latex with cotton pillow top. I get hot easily but my husband does not. what would be your suggestion. Some mattresses are not available in stores to try them.
    thank you
    Carolyn

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