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Know Your Foam: Latex vs Memory Foam Mattresses Reviews

by Olly Mason

How much of a mattress expert are you? With millions of searches done daily, it’s not surprising that everyday mattress shoppers are some of the most knowledgeable buyers on the market today. But whether you’re just learning about mattresses or you’re a mattress review expert, some topics can still be fuzzy. Case in point: Latex vs. memory foam mattresses.

Do you know the difference? Test your knowledge by following along as we evaluate everything you need to know about these two mattress types, along with a mattress review for each category.

Explore More: Memory Foam vs. Hybrid Mattresses

At a Glance:

Understanding Latex Mattresses

The Pros & Cons of Latex Mattresses

Understanding Memory Foam Mattresses

The Pros & Cons of Memory Foam Mattresses

Latex vs. Memory Foam: Which is Better?

There’s a lot to cover, but before we give you details, here’s a handy side-by-side look at what to expect from latex and memory foam mattresses.

Attribute

Latex

Memory Foam

Feel

‣Quick motion response

‣Medium to high density

‣Dense

‣All-around contouring

‣Plush to the touch

‣Low density

Options

‣Dunlop latex

Talalay latex

‣Organic latex

‣Blended latex

‣Memory foam

‣Gel memory foam

‣Blended memory foam

Recommended Sleeper

‣Side sleepers

‣Back sleepers

‣Multi-position sleepers

‣Side sleepers

‣Back sleepers

Motion Transfer

Less than hybrid and innerspring, more than memory foam

Lowest

Heat Retention

Low to medium

Medium to high

Response Rate

Quick

Slow

Sinkage

Low to medium

Medium to high 

Lifespan

15 years minimum

8–10 years

Price

$$$

$$–$$$

What is a Latex Mattress?

Person pressing down onto a latex mattress.

Despite its rise in popularity during recent years, latex mattresses have actually been around for nearly a century, dating back to the 1920s. Since then, several adjustments have been made to make it the mattress that it is today. The material is either mined from rubber trees—which make natural latex mattresses organic mattresses as well—or man-made with SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber) that replicates organic latex at a fraction of the production cost.

Whether synthetic or all-natural, latex mattresses can be made using two methods:

  1. Dunlop latex: This is the traditional latex-making process, where the material goes through a stirring phase, into molding, and then is baked. The natural settling process makes for a block of latex that is denser at the bottom and softer at the surface.
  2. Talalay latex: This newer approach to latex manufacturing involves partially filling a mold with the material and then injecting it with air via a vacuum, which adds volume and conforms to the mold. The overall effect is a less-dense material, but one that is more uniform throughout.

Keep in mind, while true latex mattresses are inherently hypoallergenic, most synthetic latex mattresses do not offer the same benefit. Additionally, because man-made latex mattresses use chemicals during fabrication, sufficient time should be allowed for off-gassing.

How’s it Feel?

The good news is both latex variations offer a similar feel, which is a sturdy support with plenty of bounce (though not as much as an innerspring). Unlike memory foam, which molds to the body more directly, latex sinks less, which is good news for couples sharing a bed, as well as hot sleepers, since the surface doesn’t envelop the body and capture heat.

These properties make latex mattresses ideal for side sleepers, although stomach sleepers can still benefit from latex when they opt for a mattress in a medium to firm comfort level. Meanwhile, back sleepers will feel most comfortable on a medium-firm latex mattress.

Latex Mattress Pros and Cons

Overall, we deem latex mattresses a great alternative to memory foam for buyers with bigger budgets or those looking for the plush touch of foam that is a little more robust. Here are some other considerations:

Pros:

Extremely durable (natural latex models often last at least 15 years)

Less heat retention than memory foam 

Naturally repels dust mites and allergens 

A great holistic sleep solution

Cons:

Tend to be more expensive than memory foam

Latex is heavy 

Synthetic models have off-gassing 

More motion transfer compared to memory foam

What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

Person pressing into surface of a Serta QuiltLoft memory foam mattress

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and thus, memory foam was born in the Space Age as the hero material used in spaceships…but everyone knows that story. The real scoop is, “What is memory foam?” Like synthetic latex, memory foam is a man-made product, except polyurethane is the key player in these mattresses. Chemicals added to the compound create the dense, slow-response material we know today, which can be modified to virtually any comfort level or support on the market.

Nowadays, there are a variety of memory foam variations available, including models infused with conductive metals like silver or copper for cooling sensation, as well as cooling beads, comfort gels, and reinforced edges.

How’s it Feel?

Contrary to latex, memory foam mattresses truly hug the body in all-around contoured comfort. As mentioned, latex has a naturally quick response rate, resulting in a springy feel, whereas memory foam slowly sinks and responds to movement gradually. This can be a good thing when it comes to motion transfer (which is virtually non-existent), but some sleepers might feel hot under the embrace of memory foam.

What’s more, plush and ultra-plush memory foam mattresses might not have the sufficient support to accommodate partners who sleep together. It’s not uncommon for feedback to mention sinking in the middle of the mattress, and even some sleepers struggling to get out of bed.

Because of these qualities, we recommend memory foam mattresses mostly for side and back sleepers, but stomach sleepers can also explore medium-firm to firm memory foam options for contoured support that encourages good hip and spine posture.

Indulge: How to Pick the Best Soft Mattresses

Memory Foam Mattress Pros and Cons

All in all, memory foam has transitioned from trend to staple because they are effective. Sleepers enjoy having a bed conform to their unique body shape, and with the addition of cooling properties, innovative gel layers, and perks like zip-off covers, memory foam mattresses offer a variety of experiences for a diverse background of lifestyles.

Pros:

Hypoallergenic 

Body-molding comfort 

A wide selection of comfort levels and support levels 

Best for motion absorption 

Broad price range

Cons:

Some models have too much sinkage

Not as durable as natural latex 

Added cooling technology increases price 

Plusher models might not support couples efficiently 

Off-gassing

Our Picks

Take a look at these two mattress models, one latex and the other memory foam. Each has been selected by our mattress specialists for their quality, value, and overall comfort.

Recommended Hybrid Latex Mattress: Beautyrest® Black® Hybrid X-Class™ Firm Queen Mattress (700810875-1050)

Side view of Beautyrest 700810875-1050 Black Hybrid queen-size hybrid latex mattress

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Can your mattress think? Sleep technology might not be there just yet, but with the Self Response support in this best latex mattress from Beautyrest, this bed caters to every movement while you sleep. The fast response is reinforced by an exclusive T3 Pocketed Coil foundation for superior stability, while a series of temperature-regulating and plush foams provide a soft landing, especially for back sleepers. Enjoy this queen latex mattress for a luxury getaway with every shuteye.

Recommended Memory Foam Mattress: Tempur-Pedic® TEMPUR-Adapt® Medium Queen Mattress (10734150)

Side view of Tempur-Pedic 10734150 queen size medium memory foam mattress

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No matter what kind of sleeper you call yourself, the medium comfort level of this Tempur-Pedic memory foam mattress is a delight. Its 11” profile uses three patented layers—a cool-to-touch surface, a comfort middle layer, and the original Tempur-Pedic support at the bottom—for a trifecta of feel-good comfort that surrounds the entire body. Spread out like a starfish, fall into the fetal position, or relax on your back—whichever way you choose to rest, this memory foam mattress is there to support you.

Which is Better?

Still deciding which great option to pick? First, review our quick list of recommendations, followed by some answers to common questions you might be thinking yourself.

Latex mattresses are best for sleepers:

∆ Looking for a little more support from a foam mattress

∆ That tend to sleep on their sides, backs, or a combination of positions

∆ Have sleep allergies

∆ Who sleep with a partner

Memory foam mattresses are best for sleepers:

∆ Looking for comfort that surrounds the entire body

∆ Who sleep on their sides or backs

∆ Are interested in mattresses with cooling properties 

Which is softer?

A mattress’ softness will always come down to the comfort level. Since that varies from brand to brand, testing is always recommended (try our exclusive BedFIT system for best results!). Having said that, because latex is made of sap from rubber trees, it has a naturally buoyant quality that can feel dense. Latex will still feel soft (plush), but compared to memory foam, the experience will be more compact.

Which has more support?

Both latex and memory foam mattresses come in a spectrum of support levels. However, as mentioned, Dunlop latex forms a material that is denser at the bottom and softer at the top, which can mimic the support of an innerspring or pocketed coil mattress. Talalay latex mattresses won’t be as dense, but the even composition does provide great structural support.

Nevertheless, memory foam mattresses are constructed with carefully layered support: the most at the bottom for sturdiness and less at the top to optimize comfort. In the end, memory foam will have less support than latex—but it’s not a world of a difference.

Which is more durable?

By far, natural latex is the most durable mattress material, when compared to synthetic latex and memory foam. That’s thanks to the natural properties of the rubber tree, which provide extreme flexibility. Still, sleepers will get a lot of use from memory foam and synthetic latex mattresses, each providing up to 10 years of sleep.

Which is more expensive?

Organic latex mattresses are also the most expensive compared to their counterparts. This is the result of the harvesting and manufacturing process, which is far more involved than memory foam or man-made latex. It is worth reminding, though, that the price includes more longevity, plus other benefits like being hypoallergenic, and they are also safe to use for sleepers with latex allergies.

Shop Quality Mattresses at Mattress Land

No matter what your mattress is made of, if it doesn’t satisfy your sleep needs, it’s not worth the price. Take the guesswork out and explore Mattress Land, where our sleep experts are dedicated to finding you the revitalizing sleep you deserve. And with our BedFIT sleep program, we guarantee you a sleep experience unlike any other before.

Shop today online, by phone at (877)-477-5337, or at one of our mattress showrooms located across California, Nevada, Idaho, and Washington!