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Latex vs. Memory Foam

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Written by: Anna Chiranova
Last updated on

Deciding on a new mattress is no easy task with so many options. Latex vs. memory foam can be a tough choice, as these new-age materials are similar in many aspects yet different in others. Though it’s complicated, choosing between the two is not impossible. We’ll show you the strengths and weaknesses of each, helping you make an informed decision concerning your new mattress.

Now, let’s discover the characteristics of the two materials:

Latex Mattresses

With mattresses, what we are referring to is latex foam. Latex is a natural rubber material coming from the sap of certain trees, and its natural softness and bounciness make it the perfect choice for a mattress.

Comfort

Latex foam is bouncy, which is suitable for active sleepers. Thus, latex will make you more comfortable if you move around a lot during sleep. However, the bounciness means that latex mattresses are not very good at providing motion isolation. If you share your bed, know that your partner will be able to feel you wriggling around at night. Lastly, latex has natural cooling properties, which a hot sleeper is sure to appreciate.

Pressure and Pain Relief

One of the strong points of latex mattresses is their firmness. Numerous studies show that a medium-firm mattress is best for sleepers suffering from lower back pain (1). Medium-firmness is exactly what latex brings to the table.

However, not everyone will like this: some sleepers might find that a latex mattress can provide too much support in some areas. For example, side sleepers might experience extra pressure on their shoulder and hip region.

Durability and Pricing

Latex is exceptionally durable. In fact, it’s probably the most durable mattress material out there. The best latex mattresses will provide you with comfortable sleep for up to 20 years. Sadly, this reflects in the price as well. Latex mattresses are among the most expensive.

Pros

  • Bouncy and responsive
  • Cooling
  • Great support
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not great at pressure relief

Memory Foam Mattresses

Unlike latex, memory foam is a synthetic material. It offers a different approach to sleeping comfort: whereas latex is firm and bouncy, memory foam is softer and conforms to the shape of your body.

Comfort

As noted earlier, the selling point of memory foam is that it hugs your body in whatever sleeping position you choose. That means that memory foam works best for people who don’t tend to move around much when they sleep. This translates into motion isolation as well. Whatever you do on your side of the bed, you won’t disturb your partner’s sleep. On top of that, memory foam is absolutely silent. Thus, it will never squeak.

Since memory foam hugs your body, it can run a little hot. This can be good or bad, depending on the sleeper and their preferences.

Pressure and Relief

This is where memory foam shines. Since it can mimic the shape of your body, it can provide excellent pressure relief. Therefore, side sleepers will feel much more comfortable than they would with a firm mattress, as the properties of memory foam allow the body to retain an anatomically correct position.

Durability and Pricing

Memory foam is, unfortunately, not nearly as durable as latex. Even the top-rated memory foam mattresses won’t last longer than ten years. However, the good news is that memory foam is much cheaper than latex, so you can afford to replace it more often.

Pros

  • Excellent motion isolation
  • Excellent pressure and pain relief
  • Quiet
  • Great for side sleepers
  • Relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • Less durable than latex
  • Sleeps hot

FAQ

Can I cut a latex or memory foam mattress to size?


Yes, this is one of the things that sets foam mattresses apart from traditional spring ones. If your latex or memory foam mattress doesn’t fit your bed frame for some reason, just grab a sharp blade and cut away. Cutting a memory foam mattress is incredibly straightforward. If you make a mistake, you can usually glue the pieces together.

How can I prolong the life of memory foam?


While memory foam has a somewhat limited lifespan, you can ensure you’ll get the most of it by flipping it frequently. Flip it in every direction. That way, you’ll spread out the wear and tear throughout the entire surface of the mattress.

Can I combine the benefits of latex and memory foam?


The choice of latex vs. memory foam makes it seem like you can’t combine the two, but this is actually not the case. The two materials work well together, and you can try this combo in several ways. Consider hybrid mattresses and mattress toppers. You can have any combination you want! For example, you could have a latex mattress with a memory foam topper. Also, based on your personal sleeping needs, you can either lean more towards memory foam or latex.

Summary

Latex and memory foam both offer their own set of strengths and weaknesses. That’s why it’s essential to consider your needs and preferences when shopping for a new mattress. However, know that when it comes down to latex vs. memory foam, it doesn’t need to be an outright choice. You can combine the two in many ways, allowing you to fulfill your sleeping needs.

What mattress material do you prefer and why? We’d appreciate your thoughts in the comments below!

References:

  1. Francisco M. Kovacs et al. (November 2003). Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain: randomised, double-blind, controlled, multicentre trial. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14630439/

Our research

22

Mattresses Considered

100

Hours of Research

2

Sleep Experts Consulted

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