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Memory Foam vs. Latex: What's the Difference & Why Does it Matter for Your Sleep

by Ann Ferguson

Memory foam and latex mattresses share similar properties that make them seem the same — they both use body-contouring foam. But that doesn't mean that these mattresses will provide the same benefits for your sleep.

So, how do you pick which one is right for you? By learning more about what they're made of and what benefits you can expect. We'll go over the differences between memory foam vs. latex mattresses and how they can benefit your sleep — check it out!

What is Memory Foam?

Hand pressing down on memory foam

Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that NASA first developed in the 60s to protect pilots during crashes. It is now used in mattresses because of its contouring abilities. When you apply pressure to the foam, the mattress hugs and contours to these pressures, which makes a highly comfortable sleeping surface. But not all memory foam is the same.

  • Traditional memory foam is the standard and often retains heat.
  • Gel memory foam is infused with gel microbeads to help cool the foam and regulate temperature.
  • Open cell memory foam is similar to traditional, except it has internal pockets to deliver more ventilation and disperse heat.

What is Latex?

Latex foam with ventilated holes

Latex is a material that comes from rubber trees — yes, the same ones used to make tires. It's often used in mattresses because it has unique properties that make them bouncy and supportive. Like memory foam, latex can also contour your body shape to provide support where you need it most and comes in multiple types.

  • Natural latex only uses the raw materials harvested from rubber trees to create foam layers.
  • Synthetic latex is made from various synthetic materials and is constructed from Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR) but has less bounce than natural latex and a shorter lifespan.
  • Dunlop latex refers to the process where latex is poured into a mold in one complete pour and then settles, which results in denser foam at the bottom layers and softer foam at the top.
  • Talalay latex is a different process where the latex is only partially poured into a mold and then expanded with air to complete the form. This produces less dense latex with a more consistent feel.

The Feel

One of the most significant differences between memory foam and latex mattresses is the feel. Memory foam mattresses are soft and contour to the shape of your body. The body-contouring causes the famous "sinking" feeling as you lie down, which some people love while others find uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, latex mattresses feel more springy and push back more quickly when pressure is applied and removed. As a result, latex mattresses often provide a "firmer" feel that some people prefer. However, both memory foam and latex mattresses come in different firmness levels, so you'll be able to find one that fits your preferences.


Both memory foam and latex mattresses can provide excellent support for your body, but they do it differently. Memory foam mattresses contour to your body shape to provide support where you need it most, especially around your hips and shoulders (great for side sleepers!). But if the mattress isn't sufficiently supportive, it can lead to back issues.

With latex, the bounciness of the foam helps keep your spine aligned while the contouring provides support for your back. However, there isn't a lot of edge support, so you might have the feeling of rolling off the bed.

Pressure Relief

Man floating above mattress; pressure relief concept

When it comes to pressure relief, both memory foam and latex mattresses are good options. Memory foam does this by adapting to your exact shape and evenly distributing your weight, which provides comfort to many common problem areas. If the mattress is sufficiently supportive, different body parts will sink in places to minimize pain without misaligning your spine.

Latex mattresses also contour to your body shape to provide relief and alleviate pressure. But, the bounciness of latex means it will push back against your body slightly and provide less sinkage. But this can help reduce the pressure exerted on your joints and muscles, leading to less pain overall.

Motion Isolation

Couple sleeping soundly together

Motion isolation is essential for those who move around a lot at night or if you sleep with a partner. Since memory foam absorbs movement, these mattresses have better motion-isolating properties. So, if your partner gets up in the middle of the night, you're less likely to feel it and be disturbed.

Latex mattresses also have significant motion-isolating properties but are not quite as good as memory foam. The bounciness of latex means that it will absorb some movement but not as much as memory foam. As a result, you may still feel movement from your partner if they get up in the middle of the night.

The Takeaway

Infographic of the pros of each mattress type

Both mattress types are very similar, but there are enough differences between the two to impact your sleep. There are pros and cons to each:

Memory Foam Pros

  • Excellent support for your body
  • Contours to your body shape
  • Reduces pressure on your hips, shoulders, and other areas
  • Minimizes movement so you can sleep soundly
  • Is less noisy

Memory Foam Cons

  • Slower response time
  • The sinking feeling can make you feel trapped
  • Retains heat
  • Off-gassing from synthetic materials (airs out after 24 hours)

Latex Pros

  • Firmer feel that some people prefer
  • Quick response time
  • Better bounceback
  • Reduces pressure exerted on your joints and muscles
  • Eco-friendly, especially if made from natural latex
  • Hypoallergenic (natural latex is resistant to allergens)
  • Sleeps cooler
  • Lasts up to 20 years

Latex Cons

  • Less motion isolation properties
  • Pricier

Overall, memory foam mattresses are great for people who need extra support or want to minimize movement in their sleep. In comparison, latex mattresses are a good choice for people who prefer a firmer feel or need additional support for their back or stomach. But the choice depends on which suits your specific needs.

Sleepy, Sleepy

Now that you know more about the differences between memory foam vs. latex mattresses, it's time to upgrade your sleep! At Crane's Mattress, we have a wide selection of mattresses for you to choose from, including memory foam and latex mattresses.

And if you have any questions, please give us a call or stop by!