In this article I’m going to answer this common question: is memory foam or latex mattress better?
I’m gonna show you three main differences between latex and memory foam.
First I tested the edge support.
To give you the best possible answer, I tested latex material and memory foam using my 15 pound weight to mimic my body.
I took the 15 pound weight and I placed it on the memory foam. It immediately started to collapse on itself.
Next I took the same weight and placed it on the latex. Barely anything happens to it.
This is an important test because many people sit on the edge of their bed or they like to sleep on the edge of their bed. In both cases they want good support there.
This is especially true for couples. If they’re sleeping on a queen size mattress, they don’t have a lot of room. They need as much space as possible. For this reason, sleeping on a latex mattress will give them a lot more sleeping surface.
The same couple sleeping on the memory foam will get that feeling of rolling off.
So the winner of the first test on the edge support is latex.
The second test was the golf ball test. Its goal was to show the responsiveness of the material.
When I dropped the ball on the latex, it jumped right back to me. When I repeated the test over the memory foam, the ball just dies, it doesn’t come back.
I’m sure you have seen that commercial with the glass of wine and a person jumping on the other side of the bed and glass of wine doesn’t even move.
When you’re sleeping, memory foam does not do a good job at helping you move from one side to the other. Most of people are active sleepers and they do toss from one side to the other.
If you sleep in the memory foam, you tend to stay stuck in the memory foam and it takes you out of that deep sleep if you need to move from one side to the other. It actually works against you.
In the latex it actually works with you. It has that responsiveness, it helps you move from one side to the other without waking you up from deep sleep.
So when it comes to responsiveness, the latex is far more superior than the memory foam.
Test number three was a breathability test.
One of the biggest disruptors of sleep is sleeping hot. No one likes to sleep hot at night.
I did not conduct the third test myself. I watched this video.
In the experiment they used vita talalay blower to see the air blowing up. They had little foam pieces and they wanted to see them moving.
Memory foam was on one side and latex on the other side.
You can clearly see the foam pieces are actually flowing up freely on the latex side. On the opposite side, memory foam is not even moving.
The biggest reason why people sleep hot in a memory foam bed or a memory foam topper is because there’s no air blowing through them.
Your body heat goes into the mattress, goes into the topper, but a can’t escape, it radiates back to you.
In latex, your body heat goes in, but it’s able to escape throughout and so it’s gonna be a lot more breathable and not hold heat in, so it feels cooler when you sleep.
To be completely honest, not all memory foam mattresses sleep hot. They have other ways to make sure you sleep cooler at night.
Let’s now talk about the things you need to know when shopping for a latex mattress.
First of all know that all latex is not created equal. There are different types of latex. There are different densities of latex, there are different levels of quality of latex and they all feel a little bit differently.
The two types of latex are Dunlop and Talalay. They both have a different feel to it.
Dunlop is a little bit more simple to make and it has a bit more density and firmness to it. You’re gonna notice that it’s a little bit more firm.
Talalay has a little bit more of an extensive process of manufacturing and it has a little bit more buoyancy to it. It’s a little bit softer, it has a little bit more consistency to it.
There’s a lot of people that debate which is better. You have Dunlop people and you have Talalay people.
They’re both really good. Usually if people pick one type over the other is because they only sell that one type.
As far as which one is better, they’re both great, they work really good.
Because Dunlop is denser and firmer, it works great as the comfort layer for support.
Because Talalay has a little bit more softness to it, it is great as the comfort layer for pressure relief. It does a great job of relieving a lot of pressure in the shoulders and the hips. Also, it has a more of a consistent feel.
Within the two types of latex, there are actually four levels of latex quality.
You have the most basic level, which is synthetic latex. It’s just made in the lab, it’s man-made. On a chemical level it’s still considered latex but it does not come from the rubber tree.
If you’re trying to go natural, if you want to stay away from some of the chemicals, then I would say stay away from synthetic latex.
The second level of latex is gonna be blended, which is usually about 30% natural latex and 70 percent synthetic. This is probably the most popular type of latex you can see online.
It is very durable and it actually feels really good for a pressure relief.
But again, if you’re trying to go natural, then I would say stay away from the blended latex. You might see someone selling a blended latex a natural, but it has to say all-natural latex. Just remember that blended latex has some synthetic to it.
The top two levels of latex are all-natural and certified organic.
As far as purity goes, they’re equal. If you’re trying to stay away from chemicals or any off-gassing, then these guys are equal.
Dunlop latex is the only type that comes certified organic. You cannot get certified organic Talalay.
Certified organic is gonna be a little bit more expensive, just because it is a longer process to get it certified, a little bit more expensive.
After the four levels of latex, they do come in a wide range of comfort levels, a wide range of feels. Not all latex is gonna feel the same.
You could get either really extra soft latex or you could go all the way to extra firm. One is not gonna be any better or worse, it just depends on your comfort level.
There are different combinations you could go with, but just remember that there’s a wide range of feels with latex.
That’s latex 101 in a nutshell. We just barely scratched the surface of latex, but if you’re looking for latex mattress, those are the few things that you need to know.
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Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.