Memory Foam vs. Latex Mattresses: What’s the Best?
Memory foam and latex mattresses are often compared to each other, as they’re both layered foam beds that adjust to a sleeper’s body. Memory foam is more affordable, while latex is more durable; however, memory foam can retain body heat, but latex mattresses are heavy and awkward to move.
We’ll learn what memory foam and latex are and the pros and cons of each. Before shopping, you might consider your budget and sleeping preferences to decide which material is the better option for you.
What is Memory Foam?
Aeronautical engineer Charles Yost first developed memory foam under a NASA contract in the mid-60s to offer crash protection for aircraft seats.
To create memory foam, manufacturers take polyurethane foam and add chemicals to make it more responsive. The resulting viscoelastic foam conforms to pressure or body heat but bounces back to its original shape when pressure is removed.
Mattresses first used memory foam in the early 1990s, but it was the bed in a box mattress idea that made the mattress type popular. Companies could compress and roll memory foam mattresses into boxes for easy, convenient delivery.
Memory foam beds contain an open-cell structure that enhances breathability. Some manufacturers infuse the foam with cooling gels or other conductive agents to wick heat away. See our gel memory foam vs. latex guide for an in-depth comparison of these two materials.
Best Memory Foam Mattress: Zoma Mattress
The Zoma Mattress is one of the best memory foam mattresses on the market. We design our mattresses to promote deeper sleep while enhancing muscle recovery and physical performance during the daytime.
The bed is 12 inches thick and has a medium feel, which works well for most sleeping positions. This way, anyone can enjoy the restorative qualities of the Zoma Mattress!
At the top of the Zoma Mattress is gel-infused memory foam. The gel infusions prevent heat retention so you sleep cool all night long. This layer also features Triangulex™, our patented zoned technology. Triangulex™ is split into three zones to support your spine and cushion the hips and shoulders.
Next is a layer of Reactiv™ transition foam. This springy foam keeps you from sinking into your mattress. Excessive sinkage can throw your spine out of alignment, leading to pain and stiffness.
The base of the Zoma Mattress is Support+ foam. It’s durable, lifts your body, and supports your spine. Support+ foam is resistant to wear and tear so your bed lasts you for years!
The Zoma Mattress includes free shipping and returns, a 100-night guarantee, and a 10-year warranty.
What is Latex?
The answer to this question depends on the type of latex mattresses as there are three different categories: natural latex, synthetic latex, and blended latex.
To create natural latex foam, manufacturers harvest rubber tree sap. From there, the sap goes through the Dunlop or Talalay process to create latex foam. Of the two, Dunlop latex is denser and firmer, making it less responsive to movement than Talalay.
Synthetic latex is made from petrochemicals to mimic the feel of genuine latex. This lowers production costs but creates a material less durable than natural latex.
Blended latex is a mixture of the two to offer the benefits of a natural latex mattress at an affordable price.
Latex vs. Memory Foam: Pros and Cons
Every mattress has a set of pros and cons. What is right for you will depend on your sleep position, allergy sensitivities, budget, and personal preferences.
The Pros of Memory Foam
Memory foam mattresses mold to body shapes, which relieves pressure points that build up. Additionally, the material conforms rather than pressing against the body, which alleviates pain rather than adds to it.
As part of its background as a crash material, memory foam prevents movements from transferring across the bed. Restless sleepers who share a bed may want to try a memory foam mattress.
Memory foam’s dense structure naturally resists the accumulation of dust mites and other allergens. Sleepers allergic to natural materials such as wool can also rest well on most memory foam mattresses.
You can find memory foam mattresses at almost any price point. Many top quality memory foam mattresses cost less than $1000.
The Cons of Memory Foam
The density of memory foam can make it difficult for the material to disperse body heat. Many manufacturers address this issue by adding air channels, cutouts, or conductive material infusions such as gel memory foam.
Some memory foam mattresses have an unpleasant chemical smell when first opened called off-gassing, which comes from VOCs breaking down at room temperature. Most of the time, the scent disappears within three to seven days.
If you’re bothered by strong smells, look for a CertiPUR-US® certification as it means the mattress contains low amounts of VOCs.
Lack of Edge Support
Memory foam’s conforming nature means most mattresses give way to your weight when you’re sitting on the edge. Some models do firm up the sides by wrapping the mattress’s perimeter with stiff foams.
Some memory foams are less responsive than others as the formula varies by brand. Lower quality foams can take up to a minute to regain their shape, leaving a sleeper feeling stuck in the foam. High-quality memory foam, however, returns to its original form within seconds.
The Pros of Latex
Latex is a bouncier material than memory, which leaves a sleeper feeling more on top of the mattress.
This varies depending on the type of latex. Natural latex mattresses often last about 15 years, while blended latex mattresses last 6 to 10 years. For comparison, the average memory foam mattress lasts 7 or more years.
Many latex mattresses have a zipper along the side to open up the mattress and adjust its feel. This lets you clean the inside of the bed as well, which you can’t do with other mattress types.
Natural latex mattresses are manufactured with little to no added chemicals, and harvesting the materials causes minimal environmental impact. Additionally, many latex mattresses brands use other natural materials such as wool and organic cotton.
Latex is naturally cooling, and many manufacturers aerate the foam for added breathability. Many latex mattresses contain other breathable materials such as cotton and wool.
The Cons of Latex
Too Much Bounce
The responsive springiness of latex you enjoyed may sour once you sleep on it—particularly if you share a bed. Latex does absorb motion, but it can’t prevent motion transfer as well as memory foam can.
Natural latex mattresses can have a strong rubbery smell when new. The bed may also have an animal-like smell if it contains wool.
Latex is the heaviest mattress material because of its density. The average queen mattress weighs 140 pounds.
Lack of Availability
Latex mattresses are not widely carried in stores, so most shoppers can only get one from an online seller. There are fewer brands that carry latex mattresses than brands that sell memory foam, though the numbers are increasing.
Many queen-size natural latex mattresses cost more than $2000, which makes it one of the more expensive types of mattresses.
How to Decide Which Is Right for You
The best mattress for you is often a matter of what benefits you want to receive or your shopping restrictions.
If you’re shopping on a budget, we recommend choosing a memory foam mattress. Synthetic latex is inexpensive, but it lacks the durability of high-quality memory foam.
If you are an environmentally conscious shopper, choose a natural latex mattress. Manufacturers cannot make memory foam, synthetic latex, and blended latex without petrochemicals.
If you want a softer mattress, choose memory foam. Latex is firmer than memory foam because of its structure.
If you want a bed that resists sagging, choose natural latex. With care, a natural latex mattress can last up to 15 years.
If you want to sink into your mattress, choose memory foam.
If you want to lie on top of the mattress, choose latex.
Other Types of Mattresses
After reading about both memory foam and latex, you’re not sure if either one is the right mattress for you. If so, there are other mattress types you can consider.
Innerspring mattresses are a familiar mainstay. A coil support system makes up the bulk of the bed and has a thin layer of wool, cotton, or polyester on top. Air circulates freely between the coils, which creates a cooling mattress.
Hybrid mattresses draw upon foam and spring mattresses to try to provide the best of both. A coil support base is topped with 2 to 3 inches of memory foam or latex to offer a bouncy yet contouring bed. Many sleepers find the best hybrid mattresses offer the benefits of a foam and innerspring mattress.
For an in-depth comparison of both types, see our hybrid vs innerspring mattress guide. Both materials can provide excellent pain relief by conforming to a sleeper; however, owners of memory foam mattresses report slightly higher amounts of pain relief. Additionally, high-density foams tend to relieve pain more thoroughly than lower density foams do. If you choose a natural latex bed, you’ll get a durable, contouring bed produced through eco-friendly methods. The exact thickness of memory foam you need depends on your preferred sleep position. Side sleepers need at least 3 inches of foam to sink in and prevent pressure from building up in their sides. Back and stomach sleepers rest well on 2 inches or less as too much softness will cause their torso to bow into the mattress, drawing the spine out of alignment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is latex or memory foam better for back pain?
What are the benefits of a latex mattress?
How many inches of memory foam do I need?
Both materials can provide excellent pain relief by conforming to a sleeper; however, owners of memory foam mattresses report slightly higher amounts of pain relief. Additionally, high-density foams tend to relieve pain more thoroughly than lower density foams do.
If you choose a natural latex bed, you’ll get a durable, contouring bed produced through eco-friendly methods.
The exact thickness of memory foam you need depends on your preferred sleep position. Side sleepers need at least 3 inches of foam to sink in and prevent pressure from building up in their sides. Back and stomach sleepers rest well on 2 inches or less as too much softness will cause their torso to bow into the mattress, drawing the spine out of alignment.
Did We Help?
Buying a new mattress is a personal decision and only you can decide which is the right type for you. Memory foam prevents motion transfer and provides customized pressure point relief, while latex mattresses can be resilient and eco-friendly.
If you’re unsure if a mattress type is right for you, look for one with an attached sleep trial. With a sleep trial mattress, you can try out a mattress for around 100 days and return it if it’s not to your liking.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
Sarah Anderson, Certified Sleep Science Coach
Sarah Anderson is a sleep, health, and wellness writer and product reviewer. She has written articles on changing and improving your sleep schedule, choosing the right mattress for chronic pain conditions, and finding the best pillow for you. Sarah Anderson has her Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to working for Zoma, she wrote for a variety of news publications. Sarah's work has been featured on Bustle, PureWow, and other publications.View all posts
Comments ( 7 )Leave a Comment
Hi i have ms and i move in bed, i have spasms and a sòre back, what mattress is good?
Thanks for reaching out! If you’re struggling with back pain, you may enjoy one of our Zoma mattresses. However, it’s always best to speak with your doctor about their recommendations to ease MS discomforts since they understand your needs better than anyone on the web.
If you’re interested in one of our advanced mattresses for recovery, we feel confident you could get sound sleep on either our all-foam model or hybrid bed since they both contain zoned support to ease back pain. Plus, our beds contain cooling gels to facilitate overall better rest. If you want to learn more about our mattresses, or are on the fence about whether or not a Zoma could work for you, give us a call at 888-400-8856 and we can help you choose the best mattress for your needs.
I am still confused whether i should get a memory foam or a latex mattress for my 91 year old dad who always lies on one side because of shoulder pain and bedridden most of time.
Thank you for your comment! Generally, deciding between memory foam and latex comes down to personal preference since they have similar benefits but slightly different feels. However, memory foam is known to be more pain-relieving than latex, so we would suggest a memory foam mattress over a latex bed for your father.
That said, all-memory foam mattresses may not be responsive enough to accommodate somebody spending a lot of time in bed, and your dad may feel uncomfortable sinkage on any all-foam bed. That’s why we believe a memory foam hybrid mattress (a bed with a memory foam comfort layer and pocketed springs) would offer the absolute best comfort for your dad.
We recently released a hybrid variation of our Zoma Mattress, and it’s currently on sale for $999 — you can check it out here and take advantage of our risk-free 100-night sleep trial!
Thank you, mass confusion on my part. Just had spinal infusion surgery, still have pain and just did not know where to start regarding a bed topper. My current mattress ins quite firm, making it uncomfortable. I am still a bit confused regarding 2″ or 3″ topper, but will look for a high density foam.
I’m going to buy a mattress and after your service I will buy memory foam mattress. But still I have a doubt that spring memory matters is good one? Thanks
Thanks for you review Sabrina,
I am in the market for a new queen size bed. I got spoiled by going to a temperpedic store and falling in love with Lux Adapt. It’s not in the budget for now. Any ideas on a bed that is somewhat similiar?