When deciding between a latex or memory foam mattress, it is important to research the type of latex or memory foam that is used to make your mattress. Different types of latex and memory foam will give you very different sleeping experiences! 

Natural or Synthetic Latex Material

The first question you should ask yourself when looking at a latex mattress is, “Is this natural or synthetic latex?” Choosing between these two categories is essential.

Synthetic or blended latex is made with petroleum-based oils and added chemicals. These added chemicals include formaldehyde and flame retardants. These chemicals are known to be harmful to your health. Also, as your mattress starts to breakdown, the chemicals are released into the air (known as off-gassing) and microscopic particles are released when the foam is compressed. Synthetic latex also has less bounce and it also does not have the durability or lifespan of its natural counterpart. Health effects, durability, and feel are all important points to research when considering synthetic latex mattresses.

Natural latex is made from Hevea milk, better known as rubber tree sap. The sap is collected, whipped into a liquid foam, poured into molds, and steam baked to develop the finished product. Because it is more expensive to produce natural latex, most affordable latex mattresses will only partly be made of natural latex. When researching natural latex mattresses, be sure to look at the composition of the mattress, and see how and in what way the mattress is comprised of “natural latex.” The real concern is that some parts might be made from synthetic latex. Look for certifications assuring you that all of the latex used is 100% natural and the mattress contains no synthetic latex.

Memory Foam Material

Memory foam mattresses are best known for their soft, body hugging sensation. Did you know that they are also known to be made with harsh chemicals?

Memory foam is a man made foam, constructed with polyurethane and other chemicals to create visco elasticity. This means when pressure is applied to the surface of memory foam, the mattress “hugs” to that pressure.

Memory foam, like synthetic latex, is made using chemicals, which may lead to itchy eyes, respiratory issues, and/or other more serious health concerns. It is imperative for mattress buyers to research the materials and chemicals used in their prospective mattress, as well as how and where the mattress is manufactured.

Did you know that you spend almost 1/3rd of your lifetime sleeping on your mattress?It's important to do your due diligence research and make the best choice for your overall comfort and health.

How Do They Feel?

Latex mattresses offer a noticeably different feel than memory foam mattresses: 

  • Feel and bounce –The two types of materials differ in the way they contour and hug the body. Latex is bouncier than memory foam, a definite contrast to the familiar “sinking” feeling associated with memory foam. Also, latex won’t give you the same molded contour as memory foam, it is more resilient. This might help sleepers avoid the stuck or sunken feel that memory foam gives. 
  • Faster spring back – Latex also has a faster response time than memory foam (how quickly the mattress snaps into shape after you get up out of bed). The faster response time means the mattress will adjust to your movements throughout the night more quickly than memory foam and it will not develop craters.  
  • Feel and compression–Memory foam might perform best for those who want deep contouring and a body hugging feeling. The sinking quality of a classic memory foam mattress will be significantly more than what you will get with a latex mattress. Expect a heavier, hugging feel with very little bounce. 
  • Slower response time, more variety – If you stay put when you sleep, the slower response time might be to your taste. This allows the sleeper to really sink into the mattress, but there could be concerns with proper support and heat retention.

What to Remember About Latex:

A latex mattress might provide active sleepers with a more responsive cushion, lighter feel, and the added benefit of being available in a natural form. A natural latex mattress is antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and dust mite resistant when compared to memory foam and other popular mattresses. The latex is durable, natural, and healthy, with a noticeably different feel from memory foam.

What to Remember About Memory Foam:

Memory foam mattresses offer a slower, deeper contour with options for different cooling materials or technologies. A memory foam mattress may provide more options, but with this comes more concerns about materials, manufacturing, and cost. Greater versatility might also come with greater risk of exposure to unwanted chemicals, and memory foam has the reputation of breaking down more quickly than latex. It’s also prone to off-gassing, and might lose its firmness as the foam become less resistant to pressure.

Doing your due diligence research will help you to make the right choice and find a mattress that truly meets all of your needs.

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.