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The average person spends approximately one-third of their lives sleeping or resting in bed; however, nearly everyone sees a new mattress purchase as a luxury rather than a health necessity. Every mattress has an estimated life span based on the type of mattress and materials used, so why are we keeping a mattress longer than the manufacturer intended? Expiration dates are not put into place for the company to “make more money”. Over time, allergens build up inside the mattress, support features begin to break down, and the mattress becomes unhealthy to the sleeper. There are many material options available when mattress shopping, with memory foam and latex being the most popular, but which is the healthier option?

What is Memory Foam?

Memory foam was originally designed and manufactured in the mid-1960s by aeronautical engineer Charles Yost to be used by NASA in aircraft seats for additional crash protection. As others began to recognize the benefits, like comfort and support, that memory foam offered, they began cultivating new ways to utilize the foam, leading to the production of memory foam mattresses in the early 1990s.

Traditional memory foam is made using polyurethane foam in combination with chemical compounds designed to make the mattress more responsive to the sleeper. Memory foam contours to a sleeper’s body during the night, making it easier to get high-quality sleep, and the mattress returns to its original shape once you get out of bed in the morning.

Types of Memory Foam

All memory foam mattresses are made using polyurethane foams; however, not all polyurethane foams are used to produce memory foam. There are many options when choosing a memory foam mattress.

Traditional Memory Foam

The standard, originally designed type of foam mattress is the traditional memory foam mattress. This mattress is not produced with additional comfort features, like cooling or temperature regulation; however, it is produced with comfort in mind. This mattress is not ideal for sleepers who are prone to overheating, as it does not disperse heat well.

Gel Memory Foam

Gel-infused memory foam is the ideal mattress for hot sleepers. The gel foam works to provide exceptional temperature regulation and heat dispersion to keep you cool night after night.

Open Cell Memory Foam

Though the open cell foam mattress is made with the same ingredients as the traditional foam, the open cell structure helps to maintain a comfortable sleep temperature, with better ventilation and heat distribution.

What is Latex Foam?

The term “latex” is often a deterrent for people with latex allergies; however, latex foam in a mattress offers a much different experience than being exposed to other latex products. Latex foam used in mattresses is sent through a rigorous cleaning process to virtually eliminate the risk of direct exposure to the allergy-producing material. Latex foam has more elasticity than memory foam, and latex is designed for pressure relief, rather than focusing on body contouring.

Types of Latex Foam

Latex foam mattresses are made using different materials, including natural, synthetic, and blended latex variety of options.

Natural Latex

Natural latex mattresses are manufactured using raw latex that has been harvested from rubber tree sap. This type of latex is the best organic mattress option available, as it is processed naturally to create multiple foam layers for exceptional comfort and support.

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic materials, like styrene-butadiene rubber, used to create synthetic latex mattresses, feel similar to natural latex mattresses; however, they often come with a shorter lifespan, decreased durability, and less bounce than natural latex.

Dunlop Latex

Dunlop latex mattresses are produced with natural ingredients from rubber trees; however, the manufacturing process is a bit different. Dunlop latex is poured into a mold in one swift pour to create a mattress that is denser on the bottom, and softer at the top.

Talalay Latex

Talalay latex is naturally harvested from rubber tree sap; however, the production process differs a bit from the Dunlop latex. Talalay latex mattresses are made by partially filling the mold, and then adding air through a specialized vacuum to create a more consistent density from top to bottom.

Latex vs Memory Foam: Pros and Cons

Every mattress, whether it is made with synthetic materials, or natural latex foam, has its strengths and weaknesses, and not every mattress is right for you. Choosing a mattress varies from one person to the next based on your preferred sleep position, temperature preferences, weight, and support likes and dislikes. Both memory foam and latex foam offer exceptional qualities, but which is right for you?

Memory Foam Pros

Motion Isolation

Motion isolation is perhaps the most common reason people opt for a memory foam mattress. Memory foam is designed to absorb motion to prevent motion transfer from one side of the bed to the other. Memory foam mattresses are great for couples or parents who co-sleep that are constantly waking from another person’s movement.

Pressure Relief

Memory foam conforms to a person’s body during the night to alleviate pressure on the back, neck, hips, and other areas. People often choose memory foam because their body conforms to the mattress, rather than being pressed against it, adding to the risk of pain. Memory foam mattresses are among the top picks for those living with chronic back pain because the foam is designed to stretch around the sleeper for customized support.

Hypoallergenic

Allergens like dust and dust mites take shelter inside many mattresses over time, however, the density offered by most memory foam mattresses makes it nearly impossible for allergens to infiltrate memory foam beds.

Affordable

It is no secret that many high-end mattresses come with a high price tag, but not a memory foam mattress. A memory foam bed can be found for under $1000.

Memory Foam Cons

Heat Retention

Traditional memory foam mattresses are not ideal for people who sleep hot, as they are prone to retaining heat from poor ventilation and the breathability of the mattress. For hot sleepers interested in purchasing a memory foam mattress, an open cell structure, or cooling gel mattress, is less likely to trap body heat.

Strong Odors

Memory foam mattresses are constructed using volatile organic compounds. When met with room temperature air upon unboxing, VOCs begin breaking down, and emit a strong odor known as off-gassing. Though unpleasant at first, off-gassing is normal for memory foam, and the odor will dissipate within one week.

Less Responsive

Memory foam is designed to conform to your body during the night to improve sleep; however, this can leave you feeling trapped when you are ready to get out of bed in the morning. Memory foam formulas vary from one company to the next, making the responsiveness different as well.

Latex Mattress Pros

Comfort

Latex foam was designed with comfort in mind. It offers a more bouncy surface in comparison to the average memory foam mattress. A latex bed leaves the sleeper to feel supported on top of the mattress, rather than the feeling of sinking into memory foam. Natural and synthetic latex mattresses are aerated for optimal breathability and cooling factors.

Durability

Every mattress has a recommended lifespan put in place by manufacturers as a “guarantee” that your mattress will last at least this long if well cared for. Natural latex foam is the most durable, lasting around 15 years.

Customizable

Latex foams offer customizable features, as many of these mattresses are designed with a zipper along the side of the mattress, making it easy to add or remove foam layers to make the mattress softer or more firm. The ability to unzip the outer covering of latex beds makes it an excellent option for those with allergies, as you can clean the foam layers to prevent dust mites or other allergens from living inside.

Organic

Latex mattresses can be found using natural materials, synthetic materials, or a blended latex variety. A natural latex mattress is manufactured with little to no chemical additives, and with no harsh impact on the environment. Certified organic latex beds are made with all-natural materials, including organic wool and cotton covers.

Latex Mattress Cons

Odors

A new latex mattress is known to emit a faint vanilla-like smell, and it goes away as the mattress airs out. Additionally, if your latex mattress is made with organic wool, it may have an animal-like odor.

Weight

Foam and latex mattresses are heavier than other mattress options, with a standard queen-size latex mattress weighing nearly 140 pounds.

Availability

Latex mattresses are not always readily available in the mattress market, leaving buyers to shop online, rather than shopping in-store where they can test the mattress before buying. Though inconvenient, many reputable latex mattress companies offer trial periods to test the mattress before committing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Mattress is Best for Back Pain?

People who suffer from chronic pain, specifically chronic back pain, find exceptional support and relief from memory foam and latex mattresses. Both options have conforming properties to surround and cushion areas prone to increased pain and pressure. Some people prefer memory foam over latex, as it is more contouring to the body.

How to Decide Which Mattress is Right for Me?

Are you on the hunt for a new mattress, but are unsure of how to decide on the best mattress for you? Begin by taking a look at your budget. If your budget is unlimited, and you are looking for the least harsh impact on the environment, a natural latex mattress is a way to go. It has exceptional cooling properties, provides plenty of support, and has a longer lifespan than most.

If you are looking for a more budget-friendly mattress, with no qualms about the environmental impact, a synthetic latex or memory foam mattress may provide comfort and support at a lower cost to you.

Latex vs Memory Foam: Which Will Keep Me Cool at Night?

Memory foam and latex mattresses offer cooling properties, but which is best? Natural latex provides breathability that memory foam simply cannot compete with; however, memory foam mattresses are produced with gel-infused microbeads for added cooling support to keep you comfortable each night. When comparing traditional memory foam and latex, traditional natural latex takes the win for keeping sleepers cool all night.

Which Mattress is Best for My Preferred Sleeping Position?

No matter the sleeping position you prefer, everyone is searching for the most comfortable mattress. Experts recommend back sleeping to maintain proper spinal alignment; however, many people find side or stomach sleeping more comfortable. Stomach sleepers and side sleepers benefit from using a latex mattress for optimal pressure relief, without compromising healthy body alignment.

Those with back pain find exceptional pressure relief sleeping on a memory foam mattress; however, stomach sleepers find these mattresses too soft, therefore they uncomfortably “sink” into the mattress, rather than maintaining a position on top of the mattress.

Latex vs Memory Foam: Which is Healthier?

Memory foam and latex offer similar characteristics in regards to cooling features, pressure relief, and ultimate comfort, but is one healthier than the other? Polyurethane foam in foam mattresses is made from plastic polymer material used in many home furnishings like pillows, couch cushions, and mattresses. Volatile organic compounds used in memory foam emit odors when they are met with room temperature air. While these odors are not typically harmful to a person’s health, some people experience breathing difficulty, nausea, and headaches.

Latex in its natural form, with no chemical or synthetic additives, provides sleepers with an all-natural, hypoallergenic sleep surface, making it ideal for people with serious allergies. To ensure quality and purity standards are upheld, look for latex mattresses with purity certifications, including GOLS and GOTS certifications.

How Latex For Less can Improve Your Sleep

After more than 10 years of research, refinement, and testing, Latex For Less founders went directly to the source of natural latex in Sri Lanka to cultivate a partnership unlike any other. People believe owning a latex mattress is out of their reach, after all, how could an organic, eco-friendly product be affordable? By partnering directly with farmers in the area, we were able to eliminate any third-party price markups to provide our customers with all-natural, environmentally-friendly, affordable latex mattresses.

Many conventional mattresses are covered in chemical flame-retardant to help protect you in the event of a fire, but these chemicals can be harmful to a person’s overall well-being. At Latex For Less, our mattresses are encased in a natural wool barrier to provide a natural flame barrier that does not compromise your health.

With our unique 2-in-1 design, you can enjoy two firmness options with only one mattress purchase, making it more customizable to fit your needs. Are you still feeling uncertain? Try our 120-night risk-free trial period that allows you to test the mattress in your home for up to 120 days. If you choose, the mattress can be returned before the trial ends for a full refund, and return shipping costs covered by us!

Sleep and health go hand-in-hand. To improve our health, we must improve our sleep, and vice versa. At Latex For Less, we believe a comfortable and affordable mattress should not force you to compromise your health, which is why we spent years formulating a safe sleep option affordable for all.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.