Memory Foam Vs Latex Mattress: Which Is Best For YOU?

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Are you confused by all the mattress types out there? You’ve heard memory foam can get hot, but latex is expensive. Perhaps you heard latex doesn’t support enough while memory foam makes you sink in.

I’ve slept on both mattress types and I have both in my house. I will explain what each mattress is like and help you compare them so you can make the best choice for your situation.

There is no one size fits all answer here, so let’s work through memory foam and latex mattresses together.

What Is Memory Foam?

Memory foam mattresses are constructed using polyurethane-based materials. Memory foam is designed to respond to changes in pressure and heat (this is why it molds to your shape as you lie on it).

Memory foam is an incredibly popular mattress material. It’s endorsed by chiropractors for giving good back support and is used by premium brands such as Tempur. I sleep on a memory foam mattress myself and have done for the past three years, I like the feel of memory foam a lot!

You may have heard that memory foam traps heat or makes you feel stuck in the mattress. You’ll be glad to hear about technology advances that mean memory foam is now often infused with cooling materials like gel, or made with better air flow. The foams are also very quick to respond to you lying on them, so you shouldn’t ever feel stuck on it.

Memory foam mattresses have two key layers

  1. The comfort layer. This will be one or several layers of memory foam, and will come in different levels of firmness and thickness. Here are some of the design features you can expect to find within a good quality memory foam mattress:
    1. Gel for cooling
    2. Charcoal or green tea for odor control
    3. Foams manufactured to feel more like latex (bouncy, fast to respond)
    4. Foams that are not actually memory foam at all, but a patented foam belonging to that company (this is where you’ll see mattress brands talk about “proprietary foams” in their marketing material)
  2. The support layer. This is most often a high density foam. It’s not a memory foam. This will probably be the thickest section of the mattress and is designed to support the comfort layers in doing their job.

What Is Latex?

Natural latex is a milky white sap that comes from the rubber tree. This is what’s used to make the mattresses you see that are marketed as “natural” or “organic”. To make latex mattresses, the liquid latex is converted into foam using one of two processes: Dunlop or Talalay.

Dunlop latex tends to be denser, which means it is heavier, but also more durable.  Note that latex mattresses made using either foaming process can be different levels of firmness. Just because Dunlop latex is denser does not necessarily mean a mattress made using the Dunlop process is firmer.

If you read around Reddit forums and the like to get an idea of what people generally think of these mattresses, you’ll often find a lot of people preferring Talalay latex as the comfort layer because it is less dense, making it more bouncy.

BEWARE: not all latex is natural, it can also be synthetically produced. When latex is synthetically produced, it is made from petrochemical substances, just like memory foam is. Natural latex mattresses are considered superior to synthetic latex mattresses because all the benefits of latex mattresses like breathability and durability come from the natural materials only.

You can read more about how latex mattresses are made (and everything you need to know about latex mattresses) by following the link below.

Latex Vs Memory Foam: What Do They Feel Like To Lie On?

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam responds to pressure and heat. Different foams have different response times. I recommend you look for a mattress that markets itself as having a fast response time.

In my personal experience, these are the mattresses that are the least likely to feel hot. You’re also less likely to feel “stuck” on them, like used to happen with older memory foam mattresses.

Memory foam has virtually no bounce, though there are some memory foam mattresses that have foams constructed to feel more like latex such as Ecosa.

Memory foam conforms around your body, for a highly individualized feeling of support when you lie on it. This individualized feeling is the main selling point of memory foam because it can target your problem areas, like your hips or back.

Latex Mattresses

Latex also provides excellent pressure relief. Unlike memory foam which molds and cradles your body, it compresses and bounces instead.

Latex responds instantly to pressure, and as I mentioned above, it is quite bouncy. You will see in the short video below just how bouncy it is compared to memory foam.

Latex is a more naturally breathable material than memory foam, and it naturally does not trap heat. This makes it feel better to lie on for people who tend to sleep hot.

This video, although it is made by Spindle who manufactures latex mattresses, gives a good, balanced visual explanation of how the two different materials perform. You will see how much more bouncy latex is and how much more hugging memory foam is.

You will see the differences in edge support, and how latex performs in motion transfer (note they don’t show how the memory foam does, I think this is because it performs better, as I mentioned above).

Comparing Comfort And Support

Choose Memory Foam:

  • Memory foam is better at isolating motion transfer, so it could be a better option for couples if one person tends to toss and turn a lot, or get up in the night.
  • If you are on a restricted budget, you will more likely find a memory foam mattress that suits your needs at your price point because latex mattresses are more expensive.
  • If you have a latex allergy, memory foam will probably be a safer choice for you, but discuss this with your health professional first.
  • If you suffer from back pain, memory foam is an excellent choice because of the individualized support your pressure points will get as you sleep.
  • I think memory foam is better for side and combination sleepers. Memory foam will offer deeper pressure support for your shoulder when you’re lying on your side.

Choose Latex:

  • If you tend to sleep hot, a latex mattress would be a better option over memory foam even though memory foam mattresses are often stuffed full of cooling technologies, latex is just naturally cooler.
  • Latex is a more environmentally friendly mattress.
  • Latex mattresses are less likely to have a strong off gassing odor which comes with some memory foam mattresses (if you choose memory foam, please do not panic about this though: if the foam is CertiPUR-US Certified, the odor is harmless and should dissipate within a couple of days). If you are highly sensitive to odors then latex could be a better choice for you.
  • Latex usually provides better edge support. If you end up on the edge of your mattress because a child or pet busts in and takes up your space, or if you like to sit on the edge of your bed a lot, latex will work better for you than memory foam.
  • A stomach sleeper would be better on latex than memory foam, unless it is a very firm memory foam. This is because stomach sleepers need quite rigid support aorund their hips to keep their spines aligned as they sleep. That is not to say that latex mattresses are excessively rigid, but you do not sink into them for the support.

Durability – Which Will Last Longer

A good quality memory foam mattress should last for around 10 years. They usually come with a 10 year warranty and I fully expect them to honor this. My mattress is still going strong without any signs of sagging or wear after almost 3 years of use so I’m confident in saying this.

Yes, the foam will naturally soften with time, but as long as the mattress is on a properly supportive platform you should not have any noticeable sag of the mattress until it reaches the end of its life.

Latex is considered the most durable material you can use in a mattress. The materials will also degrade with time, but they will outlast any other mattress type. You’ll often see really good quality latex mattresses with a 20-25 year warranty so if durability is important to you, latex will last longer. Just remember it needs to be natural or organic latex.

Can I Get A Mattress With Latex AND Memory Foam?

Yes, you can! If you are unsure if you would prefer one or the other, there are some mattresses out there that actually contain both latex AND memory foam!

These mattresses are usually hybrid mattresses which have a coil support system and then include memory foam and latex in the comfort layers of the mattress.

If you like the sound of this, I highly recommend you read my review of the DreamCloud mattress. You will also enjoy reading this article about hybrid mattresses, one of which contains memory foam and latex.

Price Comparison And Value For Money

Memory foam mattresses typically come in a wide range of price points, making them accessible to various budgets.

Entry-level memory foam mattresses are often more affordable than their latex counterparts, offering decent comfort and support at a lower cost.

However, as you move up the price scale, you’ll find memory foam mattresses with advanced features such as enhanced cooling technologies, additional layers for increased support, and improved durability.

On the other hand, latex mattresses tend to be pricier upfront compared to memory foam mattresses. This higher price point is due to the cost of materials and manufacturing processes involved in producing latex mattresses.

However, latex mattresses are known for their durability and longevity, potentially providing better long-term value for money. A high-quality latex mattress can last upwards of 15 years or more, outlasting many memory foam mattresses and requiring fewer replacements over time.

When considering the pricing of memory foam versus latex mattresses, it’s essential to weigh the initial investment against the mattress’s lifespan and overall quality. While memory foam mattresses may be more budget-friendly upfront, they may need to be replaced sooner due to wear and tear.

In contrast, the higher upfront cost of a latex mattress may be justified by its durability and longevity, resulting in fewer expenses over the mattress’s lifespan.

Final Verdict: Which Is Best For You?

I think these are the key points when it comes to memory foam vs latex. Both can be great mattresses, it depends on your individual needs and preferences.

  • The mattresses are made from totally different materials and provide excellent pressure relief in different ways.
  • Memory foam offers more targeted comfort, latex offers a bouncier feel
  • Both are great choices for side and back sleepers, with memory foam having a slight edge for side sleepers.
  • Latex is better for stomach sleepers.
  • Both are great choices for couples, but memory foam is better at motion isolation and latex is better if you’re looking for bounce.
  • Natural latex mattresses have a longer life expectancy than memory foam mattresses.
  • Memory foam mattresses come with a range of price points and options, latex mattresses tend to cost a bit more and have less man-made technology in them.


Emily Johnstone

Emily is the creator and owner of Emily's scientific background gives her an analytical, critical, and discerning eye to bring unbiased, thorough, and helpful content to the site. Your good sleep is her top priority. Find out more about Emily and here.