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Last Updated: August 2017
The memory foam vs latex debate is one that is ongoing. For every few people who claim that memory foam provides the best balance between support and conformability, at least one person argues in favor of latex. When it comes down to it, despite the debates, memory foam and latex mattresses have many similarities – and many differences.
What Is a Latex Mattress?
Many types of mattresses can be defined as latex mattresses. In some cases, these may be made of 100% latex from the very top to the very bottom, and everything in between. In other scenarios, it may consist of a comfortable layer of latex over a standard foam base. This is known as a latex foam mattress. Finally, some manufacturers create mattresses that consist of a traditional memory foam comfort layer over a base of pure latex.
What Is a Memory Foam Mattress?
A memory foam mattress is made from a layer of comfortable memory foam over a base of regular foam. Despite the fact that the vast majority of memory foam mattresses are constructed in this manner, bear in mind that they can be very, very different from one another. Some contain a high-density support layer which gives them exceptional firmness. Others have a low-density support layer for extra softness. Some contain air pockets on the sides, and still others have a thin upper gel layer designed to keep you cool as you sleep.
Latex vs. Memory Foam – The Similarities
For the most part, consumers state that there is only a marginal difference in the way latex and memory foam mattresses feel as they sleep. They both offer quite a bit of conformability, and depending on the density of the foam, a varying amount of support and firmness. Both materials conform to the body’s contours, which is fantastic for relieving pain in the back, shoulders, knees, and hips.
Latex vs. Memory Foam – The Differences
Of course, for all of the similarities, there are some differences to consider. Consumers often state that sleeping on memory foam is like sleeping on a cloud. They often feel weightless and completely cradled. However, many types of memory foam are extremely temperature sensitive, which means that the warmer the foam becomes, the softer it becomes at the same time. This can result in too much conformability, making movement during sleep difficult. Conversely, some consumers who own latex foam mattresses claim that they feel a bit bouncy, or even rubbery. The texture and feel of latex does not change due to temperature differences.
Despite the differences and similarities when comparing latex vs. memory foam mattresses, owner satisfaction is neck and neck. Some 81% of memory foam mattress owners are satisfied with their purchases compared to 80% of satisfied latex bed owners. Several factors come into play when determining satisfaction, as well. These include:
- Pressure Relief – Memory foam offers better pressure relief because it contours to be body better than latex, resulting in better weight distribution.
- Back Pain Relief – Once again, memory foam edges out latex in this category, but this is only true for high-density mattresses.
- Durability – While the average lifespan of a memory foam mattress is seven years, latex takes first place in this category with an average life of eight years.
- Price – Overall, memory foam mattresses cost about 10% less than their latex counterparts.
- Odor – There is no denying that memory foam gives off more odors when it is new than latex. Fortunately, this is short-lived, and many memory foam owners never even notice it.
- Movement Ease – Many people who own memory foam beds complain that it is difficult to turn over at night, particularly after their bodies have warmed up during their sleep. This complaint is much less likely among latex mattress owners.
- Resiliency – While a latex mattress regains its original shape within minutes of getting out of bed, it takes memory foam some time to rebound. Latex is the more resilient material.
- Motion Disturbance – Memory foam localizes and isolates motion much better than latex. This is especially important for co-sleeping couples; one partner will not disturb the other by rolling over or getting in and out of bed.
- Weight – While memory foam mattresses are some of the lightest in the industry, latex mattresses are by far the heaviest (outside of filled waterbeds).
- Heat – Both latex and memory foam can trap some heat, and 9% of both memory foam and latex bed owners have issues with getting too hot as they sleep.
- Noise – Neither latex nor memory foam squeak. They are both perfectly silent.
- Availability – It is much, much easier to find and purchase a memory foam mattress than a latex mattress. This is particularly true in mattress showrooms, where people tend to lie down on mattresses before buying them.
In the ages old latex vs memory foam mattress debate, there is no clear winner. For the most part, memory foam provides the most conformability and is likely best for side sleepers. Latex, on the other hand, tends to provide more firmness, which may make it a suitable choice for those who sleep on their backs.