What is a Latex Mattress?

Published
by Max S
What Is A Latex Mattress_

Are you looking to upgrade your old mattress to a latex mattress? Maybe you’re wondering ‘what is a latex mattress?’ I’m sure you’ve realised, but there are loads of different mattress types, firmnesses, and unique properties that all claim to be the best mattress for you.

Why should you care about what a latex mattress icos? Firstly, a mattress is something you spend ⅓ of your life on. Secondly, it’s also pretty damn expensive and lasts about 10 years, so you want to spend wisely.

We get it; problems like this can disrupt your sleep and affect your health in the long run. From bad backs to nasty neck pains, most of these can be avoided by simply choosing the right mattress, latex or another mattress type.

In this in-depth guide, you will learn more about latex mattresses, their types, benefits, and disadvantages.

Types of Latex

Latex is produced from a milky sap collected from the Hevea Brasiliensis (rubber) tree. It is made by whipping the sap of rubber trees into a frothy foam and pouring them into moulds to create latex mattresses.

Related Read: Best Latex Mattress

Latex mattresses are not created equal. Synthetic latex came into the picture because of the time and cost to produce all-natural latex. Why? Rubber trees must reach 7 years of age before they can be tapped and harvested for latex.

Types of latex are the following:

  • natural latex mattresses
  • synthetic latex mattresses
  • blended latex mattresses.

Natural latex mattress

Natural latex is commonly regarded as the best latex. Why? A natural latex mattress is one of the most durable and environmentally friendly mattresses available. Natural latex comes in two varieties:

  • Dunlop
  • Talalay

Dunlop is formed by pouring latex sap into a mould, whipping it into a foam, and setting it. Because the mixture settles when it is poured, it usually is denser at the bottom.

On the other hand, Talalay latex is manufactured by pouring latex into a mould in stages. Because of this process, Talalay latex has a more consistent density and takes more time and energy to manufacture. Generally, Talalay is more expensive than Dunlop latex.

Synthetic latex mattress

If you have a latex allergy and you’re still looking for the feel of a latex mattress then go for a synthetic latex mattress. Synthetic latex mattresses simulate the feel of natural latex by using artificial ingredients and are often produced from petroleum chemicals. These chemicals help to mimic the molecular structure of natural latex.

Synthetic mattresses are usually less expensive than natural latex; however, they tend to be less bouncy and have a shorter lifespan. Synthetic latex degrades more quickly than natural latex because the artificial ingredients are not as long-lasting as natural latex. Synthetics also have moisture issues, leading to heat retention, resulting in worse hot sleepers.

Blended latex mattress

From what the name suggests, blended latex combines natural and synthetic latex. Blended latex lasts longer than synthetic latex but is less expensive to make than all-natural latex.

They’re a good option for those that can spend a bit more on their mattress but aren’t keen on the price of natural latex mattresses.

Pros of a Latex Mattress

Besides being made up of natural ingredients, a latex mattress also has a lot to offer regarding its benefits.

Pain Relieving

Latex foam mattresses are perfect for back and joint discomfort because of the following qualities:

  • pressure-relieving
  • body contouring
  • cushioning

Latex has the body-cradling quality like memory foam but with a firm cushioning support that won’t make you feel like sinking onto the bed.

Hips and shoulders are supported enough by latex foam and will not sink, meaning they’re more suited for front and back sleepers. The foam provides support for your back due to its firmness, which should help alleviate back problems caused by sleep.

Durable

The resilience of natural latex is widely recognised. After 12 to 15 years of everyday use, many owners still sleep soundly on their all-natural mattresses. This is significantly longer than the usual lifespan of foam or innerspring mattresses, which are only suitable for 8 to 10 years.

However, this durability also depends on these factors:

  • Price of mattress: Good quality always comes with a price. Depending on the manufacturer, they may offer different duration of warranty which is usually the intended lifespan of a mattress.
  • The density of foam: The higher the density of the latex foam, the more durable it will be. The density of the latex foam affects how much the mattress can resist compressions.
  • Natural vs. Synthetic: Synthetic and blended latex has a substantially lower projected lifespan than natural latex because the chemicals used can break down over time.
  • Mattress care: Of course, anything properly cared for can last much longer. Check the care manual that comes with your mattress to ensure it lasts longer.

Cooling

Latex is a naturally cool substance. The open-cell structure of natural latex foam allows for continual ventilation. In addition, manufacturers improve its breathability by adding aerated channels.

Related Read: How To Keep Cool On A Memory Foam Mattress?

 

what is a latex mattress showing the rubber material within a latex mattress
Open-cell structure of the latex and air channels. Image source: Latex Sense

Latex doesn’t typically conform close enough to your body to cut off ventilation. This lets body heat escape before it builds up and disrupts your sleep.

Tip: For extra coolness, make sure the mattress has a permeable cover, such as natural cotton or wool.

Eco-friendly

Rubber trees produce sap for up to 30 years, so trees are not constantly cut down for production. According to World Wildlife Fund, growing rubber trees is sustainable if done right. This is through growing trees on degraded land instead of clearing existing natural forests. Make sure to look for a latex mattress brand that uses this type of latex!

Natural latex is also biodegradable and can decompose from months to years, depending on the density of the material. Compared to polyurethane foam, which may take 1000 years to break down, natural latex is more eco-conscious.

Hypoallergenic and Low Maintenance

If your bed is not cleaned regularly and you have allergies, that’s a problem. We spend ⅓ of our day on our mattress, so you want to make sure you have a hypoallergenic mattress if you have allergies. Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses can quickly build up on a mattress and produce mould, mildew, and dust mites if the bed is not cleaned regularly.

Having a hypoallergenic mattress can help with the problem if you have existing allergies. But how is a latex mattress hypoallergenic? Because of the dense structure of the latex foam, dust and dust mites are almost impossible to penetrate on the mattress. Latex is regarded as naturally antimicrobial since it repels harmful microbes, making it a perfect alternative for people who suffer from allergies all year. You will benefit from latex mattresses if you suffer from sensitive skin, allergies, or skin problems like eczema.

Since dirt and dust are almost impossible to penetrate latex foams, it will give you a shorter time for cleaning. A latex mattress is a low maintenance mattress because you won’t need heavy vacuuming or extensive cleaning. Regularly change of beddings will do for a week.

Motion Isolation

Have you experienced waking up in the middle of the night because your partner is tossing and turning in bed? This is motion transfer that is usually experienced on an innerspring mattress. In latex mattresses, motion is more isolated than in pure spring mattresses. If you’re a couple and sharing the bed you won’t have to worry about being disturbed by their movements.  

Cons of a Latex Mattress

We also listed some of the downsides of using a latex mattress. It’s important to read through these and make sure you consider them.

Not The Best Conformability

While latex foam may conform to your body, it may not be snug enough for some. If you’re searching for a mattress to help with chronic discomfort, then a latex mattress may not be for you. If the mattress does not conform enough to your body, it may not be able to relieve all of the pressure and pain you require.

Consider using a memory foam mattress if your priority is maximum body conformity. Memory foam mattresses are known for this quality. If you’re unfamiliar with memory foam, read our what is a memory foam mattress guide.

Expensive

All-natural latex mattress’ cost ranges from £700, like this double-sized mattress from LatexSense, up to £1,800, like this double-sized latex mattress from Demko.

Natural latex is already a costly material to manufacture due to the time for a rubber tree to mature and the transportation costs involved. On top of that, mattress brands use other natural materials like organic cotton and wool, further increasing the price.

What’s the difference between latex and memory foam?

Latex foam mattresses and memory foam mattresses are two of many types of foam mattresses. They are also both known to conform to body shape. However, their main difference is their overall feel.

Once laid on, memory foam slowly conforms to the body and returns to its original form when you get up. A latex mattress has a more bouncy and responsive feel and doesn’t contour as much as memory foam.

Because of this property, the following are also affected:

Durability

Since memory foam is softer and latex is firmer, all-natural latex foam mattresses tend to be more durable over time. The denser structure of latex foam makes it more resistant to sagging over time than memory foam mattresses.

Temperature Neutrality

Since memory foam hugs well to the body, while latex foam has a bouncy feel, latex foam feels cooler when laid on. So if you’re a hot sleeper, then choose a latex mattress. A latex mattress doesn’t hug much to the body or absorb your body heat as much as traditional memory foam mattresses.

Motion Isolation

two hands pressing down on memory foam mattress with red wine glass
Motion isolation on memory foam. Image source: Best Choice Products

Latex foam is made from rubber, making it bouncier than memory foam. Memory foam hugs the body well while latex foam bounces back a little when laid on. Although latex foam does well on motion isolation, too, memory foam is the winner in terms of motion isolation.

Is latex firmer than memory foam?

Latex foam provides more bounce and is more responsive than memory foam. Because of this, the general feel of the latex foam is perceived to be firm since it doesn’t give that sinking feeling, unlike when you lay on memory foam.

Are latex mattresses firm or soft?

Latex mattresses are available in a wide variety of firmness, from very soft to very firm. Think of it like rubber material. Latex mattress firmness will depend on the type of latex.

  • Natural latex is softer than synthetic latex.
  • Dunlop latex is firmer than Talalay latex.

More importantly, firmness is subjective, depending on your body weight. If you are of a lighter body type, a mattress may feel more firm for you than a heavier person because you’re not exerting as much pressure on the mattress. Therefore it is crucial to test out a mattress yourself when you buy.

Are latex beds good for side sleepers?

Latex beds can be good for side sleepers. Latex beds can also be bad for side sleepers. Let’s talk more about that.

Latex beds are good for side sleepers, given that the latex bed has medium-firm firmness. While lying on the side, a medium-firm latex mattress can give cushioned support and contouring. This can ensure optimal spinal alignment and pressure relieving on the hip and shoulder because of its ability to adjust to body shape.

On the other hand, if you happen to have a firm latex mattress and a side sleeper, this could be bad for your sleeping posture. Your hip and shoulder won’t sink into the mattress enough, and you’ll be left with a misaligned spine, shoulder pain, and back pain.

Many latex manufacturers have different options for mattress firmness. One example is this mattress offered by Latex Sense, where you can choose from medium-firm and firm comfort levels.

Is A Latex Mattress the best for you?

Finally, consider what matters most to you as you weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Budget, health concerns, chemical worries, and lifestyle will all play a factor, and each person will have their own set of concerns.

Natural latex mattresses make a convincing list of advantages and are regarded as one of the best-rated alternatives available.

Sources:

World Wildlife Fund

McCay, S., & Mahlberg, P. (1973). Study of antibacterial activity and bacteriology of latex from Asclepias syriaca L. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy3(2), 247–253. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC444395/

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AUTHOR

Max S

Chief Editor here at The Sleep Checklist. Suffered from a seemingly infinite knot in my thoracic area (between the spine and shoulder blade) due to my lifelong side sleeping habits. With my girlfriend, we look to provide the most relevant and best mattress advice.