Memory Foam vs Latex Mattress: Which is Right for You?


When it comes to choosing between a memory foam vs latex mattress, there’s a lot of information to consider. Here we’ll take a look at both types of mattresses and investigate who might benefit from memory foam or latex.

What Makes a Mattress Right for you?

Before we jump into the characteristics of memory foam and latex mattresses, it’s worth keeping in mind a few things that can help us work out if a mattress is the right fit. These can include:

  • Price – What price is right for you and your needs?
  • Firmness – Is the mattress soft, medium, or hard, and what is best for your body?
  • Sleeping position – Does your sleeping position suit the mattress?
  • Temperature – Do you like a warmer environment or do you need to be cool?
  • Movable – Is the mattress easy to move if you need to relocate?
  • Off-gassing – Does the mattress smell?
  • Durability – How long will the mattress last?

Below is a video with more details about these factors and how they can impact our buying choices:

With these ideas firmly in mind, let’s take a closer look at memory foam and latex mattresses.

What is Memory Foam?

Memory foam is mainly made from a kind of polyurethane foam and a blend of chemicals. NASA developed memory foam as a way to help test pilots stay safer and feel more comfortable.

Memory foam mattresses are different from regular mattresses because they react to our body heat and pressure. When manipulated they are slow to spring back, meaning their body contouring has a distinctive and often enjoyable feel.

More expensive memory foam mattresses can have extra layers of foam or be made nearly entirely of memory foam. These are often called pure memory foam mattresses.

Who are Memory Foam Mattresses Suitable for?

Memory foam is sometimes recommended to people who suffer from joint pain. This type of mattress may help sufferers by evenly distributing their weight. As a result, arthritis sufferers may benefit from sleeping on memory foam.

Memory foam mattresses are often considered a good choice for most sleeping positions, though there may be better options if you have particular needs like preventing lower back pain.

People who want to stop one person feeling the other moving or turning over in bed can benefit from memory foam mattresses as they deter sleepers from turning and absorb the movement when people do turn.

As the consumer group Which? points out, memory foam can also offer a good way to keep warm during the cold months because the mattresses retain heat.

What are the drawbacks of memory foam mattresses?

If you find it difficult to sleep during the hot summer months, the heat-trapping power of memory foam might put you off.

It’s also worth noting that while many people swear by memory foam mattresses and their body contouring ability to give them a pain-free and more comfortable night’s sleep, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support this yet.

Another issue is some consumers find that when first unpacking their new memory foam mattress it has a smell. This is down to the release of VOCs or volatile organic compounds, which are present in most mattresses.

WebMD highlights that for healthy adults these minute levels of VOCs are safe and generally nothing to worry about. It’s always worth keeping the air quality in our bedrooms fresh though, so airing out a new mattress is a good idea.

For children, it is wise to look at mattresses specifically designed to accommodate their needs, for example keeping them at an appropriate temperature. If in doubt you can ask what safety ratings a mattress has and talk to an expert.

What is a Latex Mattress?

With springy latex at their core, latex mattresses are made of a kind of rubber. They may be latex hybrids that are layered over innerspring, or they may be pure latex.

In general, latex mattresses offer less of a body-hugging sleep experience, but can give the sleeper a cooler night’s sleep on a relatively firmer surface.

Who are Latex Mattresses Suitable for?

For those who like to move about in bed, latex mattresses are a good option because they are more responsive to turning while still being slightly cushioned. They’re also hard-wearing and so are good, say if you have children who like to jump on the bed.

According to the Sleep Foundation, latex mattresses are also becoming popular among more eco-conscious buyers.

While it is possible to get synthetic latex mattresses at a lower price, buyers have more options to select mattresses made of organic and more sustainable rubber. Natural latex mattresses may also be more biodegradable.

Latex mattresses tend to suit buyers who need a medium-to-firm mattress. This might be an option if, for example, you often sleep on your back and want a firm feel that still cushions the natural curve of your spine.

As mentioned above, latex mattresses do not retain heat in the same way as memory foam. In fact, they are good at allowing air to circulate, so if you are someone who finds the heat uncomfortable, a latex mattress could be a better investment.

In terms of odour, new synthetic latex mattresses can have a similar smell to other mattresses. However, purely natural latex mattresses do not tend to have this issue and may be a better choice if you are sensitive to smells or are concerned about off-gassing.

Another positive for latex mattresses is they are widely considered to be good for people who have allergies. This is because pure latex is resistant to allergens and problems like mould. If you have concerns in this area then latex might be a good fit.

What Drawbacks are There to Latex Mattresses?

People with latex allergies might wish to stay clear of latex mattresses to reduce the presence of latex in their homes.

One general disadvantage to latex mattresses is they are heavier than other mattresses such as memory foam. This means if you plan on moving your bedroom around often, or are moving house in the near future, a latex mattress might not be for you.

Another drawback can be their cost. While there are cheaper synthetic latex mattresses on the market, organic-certified latex mattresses and ones that are better for the environment are often more expensive.

Will Memory Foam or Latex Mattresses Last Longer?

According to Mattress Advisor, a normal lifespan for a memory foam mattress can be up to 10 years. High-quality latex mattresses can last as long as 15 years.

While the above figures are good reference points, the make-up of the individual mattress will determine how long it lasts, so it’s important to look at the details of each mattress before making a purchase.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping is a very personal experience and there is no foolproof guide for which mattress to choose. Many factors can inform our decision, such as price, lifespan, firmness, as well as the impact on the environment.

Whether it is better for you to buy a memory foam mattress or a  latex mattress depends entirely on your needs, so once you know what they are you can make an informed decision.

Finally, experts agree that it is important to try out a mattress before you buy it so you can be confident you’ve made the right choice and get the great night’s sleep you deserve.

Have any questions? Please let us know in the comments below as we’re happy to help.

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