Updated June 20, 2020Memory foam and latex share similar properties —body-contouring, pressure relief, motion isolation, and little to no noise potential. Both types of mattresses are excellent choices for couples, athletes, and back pain sufferers.We share details and features that distinguish each type of mattress, including benefits and drawbacks so you can decide which type is the best mattress for you.What is Memory Foam?Memory foam, or viscoelastic polyurethane foam, was created by NASA in the 60s and first appeared in mattresses in the early 90s. Memory foam is a polyurethane foam treated with petrochemicals for a denser and more viscous material.Body weight and heat softens memory foam, causing it to form around the body’s natural curves for pressure point relief. Once weight is removed, memory foam goes back to its original shape.Memory foam is naturally hypoallergenic, preventing dust mites and other allergens from invading the mattress and irritating allergies.StructureA typical memory foam mattress contains a comfort layer of memory foam and a support layer of high-density foam. Memory foam mattresses weigh between 80 pounds to 100 pounds for a queen size.LifespanMemory foam beds last between 7 to 9 years.Average CostThe average cost of a queen size memory foam mattress is $1044.ProsContouring close to the body for pressure reliefMotion isolationSleeps silentlyHypoallergenicConsRisk of overheatingOff-gassing odorFeeling “stuck”Types of Memory FoamTraditional memory foam has a high risk of overheating because of its dense structure and lack of airflow. To combat this, mattress manufacturers incorporate cooling features like gel, copper, and graphite in their memory foams. Some memory foam mattress brands also choose to use plant-based memory foam which is more porous and breathable.Gel Memory FoamGel memory foam contains either liquid gel or gel beads, that have been mixed in or swirled into traditional memory foam during the manufacturing process. Cooling gels absorb and disperse body heat to regulate temperature.Plant-basedDuring the manufacturing process, plant-based oils partially replace petroleum to produce a breathable, more responsive memory foam. This type of memory foam has little to no VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.Open-cellInjecting large amounts of air into memory foam creates an open cell structure with more air pockets, allowing better air circulation inside the mattress.Copper and Graphite InfusionsCopper and graphite are natural conductors of heat. Copper-infused memory foam pulls heat away from the body and may improve local blood flow.Graphite is normally used to cool down high-powered machines, like PCs. Graphite-infused memory foam draws heat away from the body.What is Latex?Latex was first introduced in mattresses in 1931. Similar to memory foam, latex conforms to the body to relieve pressure points, restricts motion transfer, and sleeps silently. The difference is latex sleeps cooler and has a responsive bounce. There are two types of latex —synthetic and natural.Synthetic latex foam is created through a chemical process, using petrochemicals to mimic the properties of a natural latex mattress, except it’s less durable with higher off-gassing potential.Natural latex is made from rubber tree sap. Two forms of natural latex are Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop latex contains 100% natural latex and is denser and more durable than Talalay. During the Talalay process, polyurethane fillers are added to natural latex foam to create its signature soft, sponge-like feel.Both types of latex are hypoallergenic, so sleepers won’t have to worry about dust mites and allergens getting into the mattress.StructureA latex bed contains a comfort layer of latex and a support layer of high-density foam or latex. Latex mattresses weigh between 100 pounds to 170 pounds for a queen-size.LifespanThe average lifespan of a latex mattress is between 8 to 9 years.Average CostThe average cost of a queen size latex mattress is $1970.ProsRounded contouring around the body to relieve pressureMotion isolationSleeps silentlyCoolerResponsive bounceHypoallergenicConsRisk of overheating (stronger in synthetic latex)Off-gassing odor potential (stronger in synthetic latex)Higher price tagHeavier than other mattress typesFAQsDo memory foam mattresses have latex?Memory foam mattresses usually contain foam layers —they might contain a transitional layer of latex, depending on the brand.Is latex or memory foam better for back pain?Some of the best mattresses for back pain are memory foam. Memory foam reduces more pressure points, provides enhanced support to the lower back, and is less expensive than latex. Try one with a medium-firm feel.Why is latex so expensive?Latex is an organic material sourced from rubber trees, so it’s a bit more expensive than other materials. Plus, latex is supremely durable and long-lasting, so people often find it worth the investment.What’s safer, memory foam or latex?All-natural, organic latex mattresses are technically safer than memory foam because they contain less chemicals and are made from renewable resources. However, memory foam mattresses are also completely safe for sleepers. If you’re concerned about off-gassing, look for memory foam mattresses with a CertiPUR-US® certification.Can bed bugs live in foam mattresses?It’s harder for bed bugs to penetrate foam mattresses, like latex and memory foam beds, but they still can find a way inside of your mattress. Plus, if they can’t make their way inside your mattress, they’ll still loom around your bedframe and bedroom.What’s Your Preference?Now that you know the similarities and differences between memory foam and latex, it’s time to decide which mattress you prefer. A new mattress could be just what you need for better comfort and support for a good night’s sleep.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.