A Helpful Guide to Latex Mattresses
Tired of heat-trapping, body-hugging memory foam and unsupportive innersprings? It may be time for you to consider a latex mattress. Luxuriously cool, highly responsive, and built to last—latex mattresses are quickly becoming the gold standard of the sleep industry. It’s no wonder more and more companies are offering latex mattresses these days.
In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits of latex mattresses, explain what sets them apart from traditional mattresses, and provide the tools you need to find the best latex mattress for you.
What is a Latex Mattress?
It may be hard to imagine that an object as large as a mattress could be made of the same material as swim caps, rubber bands, gloves, and balloons. Surprising as it may seem, all of these products are, in fact, made from the same material, called latex.
Latex is a type of rubber made from the sap of the Amazonian rubber tree. To create the layers of a latex mattress, this sap is poured into a mold, whipped, and baked just like a cake. The result is an incredibly durable foam that offers a body-adaptive sensation similar to memory foam, but cooler, more responsive, and springier.
Like standard mattresses, latex mattresses exist in all-foam and hybrid models. An all-foam latex mattress consists of multiple layers of latex of different densities, and may include other materials, such as organic cotton and wool. A hybrid latex mattress adds onto this basic construction with a layer of coils. Some of the benefits of a coil layer include increased airflow, better motion isolation, and enhanced pressure relief.
Types of Latex Mattresses
Before you begin shopping for a latex mattress, get to know the different kinds that are out there.
Natural Latex Mattress
There are two types of latex used in the production of mattresses, Dunlop and Talalay. Both are 100% natural, made from the sap of rubber trees grown according to standard farming practices. Unless a mattress is OEKO-TEX certified or the manufacturer states otherwise, a natural latex mattress may have traces of chemicals, such as pesticides, used in production.
Organic Latex Mattress
An organic latex mattress is essentially the same as a natural latex mattress, except that the sap is farmed according to organic farming practices. That means there is no trace of chemicals, toxins, or other substances that may be harmful to humans or the Earth. Organic latex mattresses have to be approved by an organic certification, the best of which is GOLS. A GOLS-certification ensures that the trees used to harvest the rubber are grown organically and sustainably and that the final product is made of 100% pure latex.
Dunlop vs. Talayay
These are the types of rubber you are most likely to see while mattress shopping. Both are natural, but they are not the same. The difference lies in the way rubber sap is processed to create latex.
Dunlop latex is sap that has been poured into a mold all at once, resulting in a firmer foam with a dense base. It is the easiest natural latex to produce and, therefore, the most common.
Talalay latex is made by pouring and baking sap layer by layer to give it a more uniform density. It is softer and fluffier than Dunlop latex, and sometimes includes synthetic fillers to keep it extra airy.
Synthetic latex is less common than natural latex and mostly exists for customers who like the feel of latex, but not the price. Usually, synthetic latex includes a portion of real latex supplemented with synthetic ingredients. The result is a budget-friendly foam with a similar feel to latex, but a significantly shorter lifespan.
Who Should Consider a Latex Mattress?
Because latex mattresses are naturally-sourced, they tend to be more expensive than standard mattresses. For some people, though, that extra buck will make a big difference. A latex mattress might be a good fit for you if you identify with any of the following:
You sleep hot
Latex has natural cooling properties, drawing heat away from the body and wicking away moisture. Unlike the memory foam, it doesn’t cling onto the body or trap heat.
You want pressure relief
Latex is extra buoyant, lifting the lower back into alignment while providing cushion and support to the hips and shoulders.
You prefer natural materials
Whether you suffer from allergies or simply prefer materials that come from the Earth, latex is a good option for you. Furthermore, natural and organic latex mattresses tend to combine latex with other natural and organic materials, like wool and cotton.
Feel & Firmness
Latex is often compared to memory foam because both materials conform to the body’s curves, but the two materials have little else in common. For one, latex is much more responsive than memory foam, which is slow-reacting. With memory foam, you can watch your mattress regain its form after you stand up. With latex, the response is immediate, making it much easier to get out of bed.
Another unique characteristic of latex mattresses is bounce. Because latex is a naturally buoyant material, it has a bit of a springy quality. The benefit of this is that it helps support the spine, but the downside is that it isn’t as effective as memory foam at eliminating motion transfer.
Like other mattress materials, latex comes in a full range of firmness levels. When shopping for a mattress, you should keep in mind that Dunlop latex tends to be more firm, while Talalay latex tends to be more contouring.
Pros & Cons of Latex Mattresses
- Latex touts naturally cooling properties
- Incredibly durable, most latex mattresses last between 10 and 20 years
- Organic latex mattresses are free of all synthetic additives and potentially harmful toxins
- Good body support and pressure relief
- Naturally hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and mold-resistant
- More expensive than synthetic mattresses
- Poor motion isolation compared to non-latex mattresses
- May not be suitable for people with a latex allergy
What to Consider When Shopping for a Latex Mattress
Natural or synthetic latex? – This is a question of budget more than anything else. Synthetic latex mattresses are more affordable than natural or organic latex mattresses. But keep in mind, you get what you pay for. A natural latex mattress may last twice as long as a synthetic mattress and is much more responsive.
1. Dunlop or Talalay?
Or maybe both? If you’re not sure which is right for you, consider a Latex for Less mattress, which features both. It is a rare example of a flippable latex mattress, featuring a firm side made of Dunlop latex and a medium side made of Talalay latex. This is the best latex mattress for combination sleepers and those who have seasonal sleep preferences.
2. Firmness and sleep position
Different sleep positions require different firmness levels. Back and stomach sleepers, for example, do better on firm mattresses, while side sleepers do better on more plush sleep surfaces. Make sure to look for a latex mattress with the right firmness level for your particular sleep style.
3. Latex Allergy
If you are in the small percentage of people who are allergic to latex, you might want to double check with your doctor before purchasing a latex mattress. Most brands say their latex mattresses are safe for those with a latex allergy because the latex has been thoroughly washed and because sheets and other bedding protect your skin from coming into contact with the latex sleep surface.
4. Hybrid vs. all-foam
This is a question of sleep preferences and needs. Some people prefer the dense, cushioning comfort of all-foam latex mattresses, while others prefer the extra bounce of springs. The springs also enhance motion isolation and pressure relief. Plushbeds offers both—the Botanical Bliss and Natural Bliss mattresses combine organic latex with wool comfort layers and organic cotton, while the Luxury Bliss mattress adds a layer of encased steel coils.
5. Trial period and warranty
Choose a mattress with a generous trial period so you can get a sense of how the mattress feels over time. Awara offers one of the best trials of any latex mattress brand, at 365 nights. They also offer a forever warranty, which goes to show just how durable they believe their mattress to be.
Latex mattresses are an ideal alternative to standard synthetic mattresses, not only because they are made of natural materials, but because they stand the test of time. Hot sleepers, those who suffer from chronic back pain, and earth-conscious shoppers may find latex mattresses to be a worthwhile investment.
Discover many of the best latex mattresses on the market right now by browsing the reviews on our site!