Difference between Latex and Memory Foam Mattresses

Updated on June 28, 2017

Latex and memory foam mattresses are two of the most popular mattress variants available in the market. This article provides valuable information on the differences between the two.

Definitions

Latex
A latex foam mattress

A latex foam mattress, as the name implies, is a type of mattress made up of latex – a natural milk-like material harvested from rubber trees. Since rubber trees take 7 years to mature, some manufacturers use synthetic chemicals to produce latex foam mattresses, dividing this variant into three distinct categories: natural, synthetic, and blended.

The highest quality natural latex foams are made up of 95% natural rubber and 5% additives and antioxidants. Synthetic and blended variants, on the other hand, typically contain petroleum-based substances and chemical additives.

memory foam mattress
Memory foam mattress

Meanwhile, a memory foam mattress is a type of mattress made up of polyurethane foam and chemical additives. Distinct for its ability to re-form its shape, a memory foam mattress reacts to trapped body heat and conforms to the body’s shape.

Despite claims made by manufacturers, “natural” or “organic” memory foam mattresses do not exist in the market as they are all made with synthetic substances.

Latex vs Memory Foam Mattresses

So what’s the difference between latex and memory foam mattresses?

Firstly, latex foam mattresses are manufactured in 3 distinct types: natural, synthetic, and blended. Natural latex foams are made with latex – a natural milk-like substance derived from rubber trees. Synthetic and blended foams are made of petroleum-based substances, natural oils, and additives. Memory foam, by contrast, is always made with polyurethane and other synthetic chemicals and is therefore not classified as a “natural” foam.

Furthermore, unlike latex foam, a memory foam mattress is capable of conforming to the body’s shape since it is designed to react to body heat. This special feature enables a deeper level of compression or body contouring, making it perfect for pressure relief. Latex foam, on the other hand, is firmer and bouncier, ideal for active bed activities.

The ability of memory foam mattress to re-form their shape slows down rebound time since the foam needs to adjust and re-heat once the body repositions, consequently leading to restlessness. Hence, latex foam mattress is better for active sleepers since it has a faster response time.

In terms of safety, latex foam is more hypo-allergenic since it is mainly made with natural substances. Plus, odorless off-gassing is typical for memory foams because of its chemical content. According to reports, long-term exposure to off-gassing can lead to respiratory problems and headaches.

Comparison Chart

Latex Foam MattressMemory Foam Mattress

Natural, synthetic, and blended types

Not classified into different types

Manufacturing materials:

Natural: latex and additives

Synthetic and blended: petroleum-based substances, natural oil, and additives

Made with polyurethane and other synthetic chemicals
Natural or organic latex foams are available on the marketNatural or organic memory foams are not available on the market
Non-reactive to body heatReactive to body heat
Not able to conform to the body’s shapeAble to conform to the body’s shape
Firmer and bouncier

Deeper level of compression and body contouring

Ideal for active sleepersNot ideal for active sleepers
Faster response timeSlower response time
Healthier optionProne to off-gassing, which leads to respiratory problems and headaches