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How Does a Latex Mattress Feel?

October 09, 2021

How Does a Latex Mattress Feel?

If you've never slept on a latex mattress before, it's understandable that you're curious to know how it feels. Well, latex is used to make tough products such as car tires and sports shoes, but it also makes softer ones like gloves, balloons, and mattresses. Better yet, latex mattresses are commonly known for their comfort and durability.

So, if you are online shopping for a new latex mattress, and you’re not sure how it'll feel, you're in the right place. Don't worry if you come across common phrases mattress manufacturers use, such as natural latex mattresses, medium-firm latex mattresses, Dunlop latex, or Talalay latex. This article will break down the factors that determine how a latex mattress feels to help you choose the right one for you.

Factors that Affect How a Latex Mattress Feels

Some latex mattresses are made of pure natural latex harvested from the rubber plant, while others are made of synthetic latex, or a blend of both. Natural latex is eco-friendly, more durable, and feels bouncier than synthetic latex. Despite these general differences, both natural and synthetic latex make a wide range of latex mattresses with similar characteristics.

They include:

Motion Isolation

Latex mattresses are highly responsive, and bouncy. They conform to the shape of the body to provide pressure-point-relief to sleepers. This contoured shape remains that way while the mattress is in use, but springs back when not in use.

Even though they are springy, latex mattresses don't sink, or cause excessive motion transfer when you try to get off the bed. They have a reflex against body pressure that provides support, without compromising its cushioning feel.

Buoyancy

Buoyant mattresses give you the sensation of being weightless and floating while sleeping. With the latex type, you will not only get a similar feeling, but also a lot of cushioned support that keeps you in place, no matter your sleeping position. The extra support is due to the responsiveness of latex that also helps in limiting motion transfer.

Although the bounciness differs depending on the latex mattress's density and firmness, the mattress will always make you feel lightweight throughout its lifetime.

Edge Support

Edge support protects a mattress from sagging, or a sleeper from falling off the bed. Even though most latex mattresses don't have a structured edge support system, they still have adequate support around their edges. You may also find latex mattresses that have steel coils, to enhance their core and edge support.

Breathability

If you're a hot sleeper looking for a cool sleep, latex mattresses are a great option. They're self-ventilating, and don't trap body heat as foam mattresses do. Instead, their open cell structure allows heat to escape, and air to flow freely, creating the cooling effect. 

Firmness

Just like conventional mattresses, latex mattresses have firmness levels ranging from soft to firm. However, there is a general notable difference between organic and synthetic latex mattresses caused by the processing method, and the materials used.

The two methods used to process natural latex affect the general firmness level of a mattress. They include the Dunlop and Talalay methods.

Dunlop Latex

In the Dunlop latex processing method, a mold is filled with whipped liquid latex, and processed with heat and Zinc Oxide in a vulcanizing oven. Once ready, the latex is washed to slow the aging process, and left to dry and solidify in the open air.

The latex still remains elastic, even in its solid state, making it feel firm but bouncy.

Talalay Latex

The Talalay natural latex processing method slightly differs from the Dunlop one. In this method, the mold is partially filled with whipped liquid latex, before being sealed. A vacuum is then used to expand the latex inside the mold to occupy the space left.

Next, the latex is frozen by passing carbon dioxide through it, making it feel like a gel. The frozen latex then undergoes the vulcanization process to create the softer latex.

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic latex almost feels like natural latex, although it is made of various industrial materials and chemicals using similar processing methods. As a result, the firmness of the synthetic latex ranges between soft and firm, just like the natural latex.

Many natural latex mattresses have layers made of both the Dunlop and Talalay latex to blend the best of both versions. Some brands may also include the names of these processes on their labels for easy identification.

Some are made from synthetic latex, or a blend of synthetic and natural latex. The outcomes of these combinations can range anywhere within the firmness scale of conventional mattresses.

On the other hand, some mattress manufacturers stick to environmentally friendly organic latex, or other eco-friendly materials of their choice. For example, Eco Terra Beds' latex mattresses are made of all-natural latex, organic cotton, and organic wool.

How to Measure the Firmness Scale of a Latex Mattress

The firmness of a latex mattress varies with different brands, making it extremely challenging to know which level of firmness is ideal for you. Most mattress companies will use a scale of between 1 to 10 to describe the firmness of their mattress varieties. However, this scale is not standard, and their descriptions can differ among companies.

Consider checking the Impression Load Defection rate (ILD) of the mattress, instead, to identify its firmness level. A mattress with a higher ILD is firmer than that with a lower one. This rate also makes it easier to compare between brands, rather than using the non-standard firmness scale.

What are the Benefits of Sleeping on a Latex Mattress?

Latex mattresses have recently grown in popularity, thanks to their numerous benefits, giving users life-changing experiences. Some of these these benefits include:

Eco-Friendliness

The milky sap from the rubber tree used to make latex mattresses is an example of the eco-friendly properties of these mattresses. As the world becomes increasingly conscious of its environment, it's satisfying to know that these mattresses can be recycled.

Additionally, natural latex mattresses are free of chemicals that produce unpleasant odors, as commonly experienced with other mattresses.

Breathability and Non-Toxicity

One of the best features of a latex mattress is its ability to regulate temperature to keep your mattress cool while you sleep. This is especially good for people who dislike the discomfort caused by the heat-trapping memory foam mattresses. Air also circulates better through the pinholes and open cells that make up the latex.

The unpleasant smell caused by some chemicals and synthetic materials used in making other mattresses can also cause allergic reactions to people with smell sensitivity. But, again, natural latex mattresses have the upper hand over synthetic or blended latex mattresses, because they don't emit chemical odors.

Pain Relief

With outstanding support, comfort, and body contouring abilities, latex mattresses are suitable for pain relief — their responsiveness helps support and balance pressure from the body's weight on the mattress. As a result, the back aligns comfortably, while the joints rest easy on the mattresses.

In addition to comfort and support, the buoyant nature of latex makes the body feel weightless, which is ideal for heavy sleepers, too.

Durability

The average lifespan of medium-quality latex mattresses ranges between 10 to 20 years, while high-quality ones can last longer. These mattresses also feel just as comfortable with regular use throughout their lifespan.

No Sleep Disturbance

Squeaking sounds and motion transfer caused by some mattresses can become very annoying, and cause sleep disruptions. However, latex mattresses guarantee a peaceful sleep, especially for couples or parents sharing their beds with their children.

Although these mattresses are buoyant, their responsiveness help in resisting the spread of motion turbulence caused by movement. As a result, you can easily turn or get out of bed, without disrupting your partner's or child's sleep.

How Does a Latex Mattress Feel as Compared to a Memory Foam Mattress?

A latex mattress and a memory foam mattress greatly differ in their structural components, but share many similarities in performance. Memory foam is made from polyurethane and other chemicals, while a latex mattress can be made from the milky sap from rubber plants or synthetic latex.

These different materials have different characteristics that also affect the way the mattresses feel. With that being said, below is a comparison between the feel of a latex and memory foam mattress.

Both Mattresses Contour the Shape of the Body

Memory foam mattresses are best known for conforming to the shape of the sleeper's body, a characteristic that latex mattresses also possess. However, the foam mattresses take a longer time to break in as compared to the latex mattresses.

On average, latex mattresses can take between 2 to 14 days to feel completely comfortable, because of their elastic nature. On the contrary, memory foam mattresses may take up to 60 days, depending on their density and the types of foams used.

Latex Mattresses are Cooler than Memory Foam Mattresses

Most people choose latex mattresses for their breathability, owing to their open cell structures that allow sufficient circulation of air. But, on the other hand, traditional memory foam mattresses are made with closed-cell structures that trap heat within the cells.

The heat makes the mattresses feel warm, but can become too uncomfortable, especially in warmer environments. To solve this problem, some manufacturers combine layers of gel foam, or inject gel particles into the memory foam to introduce the cooling effect to the mattresses.

Still, organic latex mattresses perform better in staying cool, because they don't need extra materials to improve air circulation as traditional memory foam mattresses do.

Latex Mattresses are Springier than Memory Foam Mattresses

Although both mattresses contour the shape of a sleeper's body, the latex type makes you feel weightless while sleeping. In addition, it doesn't sink or sag easily because of its elasticity and responsiveness to pressure. In fact, its surface springs back faster than a memory foam mattress when you get off the bed.

On the other hand, a memory foam mattress doesn't have as much bounce, although denser ones may feel more resistant to pressure. Instead, memory foams "memorize" the shape of a sleeper's body for comfort, causing it to retain it, without necessarily sinking.

Memory Foam Mattresses Have Better Motion Isolation

Memory foam mattresses absorb pressure better than latex mattresses. This is because the buoyant nature of latex mattresses may allow for motion transfer that causes sleep destruction. But, that does not mean that latex mattresses are poor in motion isolation.

Due to their responsiveness, latex mattresses have great support and comfort, and can quickly reflex to balance the pressure from the body's weight. This property makes these mattresses feel comfortable and supportive, with a bit of bounce instead of stiffness.

Both Mattresses are Good for Pressure Relief

Memory foam mattresses are often ranked as good pressure relievers because of their relatively soft and shape-conforming nature. In addition, they are ideal for side sleepers, because they're easy on the hips and shoulders. However, some heavy back sleepers may not feel so comfortable on some foam mattresses.

Latex mattresses, on the other hand, are favorable for most sleeping positions because of their responsiveness. Heavy sleepers, too, may feel more comfortable and well supported on latex mattresses, regardless of their sleeping positions.

How Does a Latex Mattress Feel as Compared to an Innerspring Mattress?

Both innerspring and latex mattresses are bouncier compared to other types of mattresses. Some individuals may confuse these two types of mattresses because of their numerous similarities. For this reason, we've explained some of the most common differences between latex and innerspring mattresses.

Both Mattresses Have Superb Breathability

The coils in the innerspring mattresses, and the open cell structure of latex mattresses, are great for breathability. They allow for sufficient air circulation in the mattress to create a cooling sensation.

However, some innerspring mattresses may contain other synthetic materials that are prone to off-gassing, and may irritate sleepers who are allergic to such strong odors.

Both Mattresses are Buoyant

The metallic springs in the core of innerspring mattresses make them bouncy. Their latex counterparts get the bouncy feel from the nature of rubber.

You'll feel lightweight while lying down on both an innerspring and a latex mattress. However, you'll experience much more support and motion control on the latex mattress because of its reflex against pressure.

Latex Mattresses are Durable

If you're looking to invest in a mattress that'll serve you for a longer period between these two, a latex mattress would be a better choice.

Besides aging well, latex mattresses continue to feel bouncy and supportive throughout their lifespan. On the other hand, the metallic springs of innerspring mattresses may give in to pressure, and break or lose their elasticity after some time.

Can a Mattress Topper Change the Way a Latex Mattress Feels?

Using a mattress topper is an effective way to adjust the firmness of your new latex mattress. For example, you can use a mattress topper to make your mattress softer, firmer, or add more cushioning support. Latex mattresses are also compatible with most mattress toppers in the market, including latex mattress toppers.

It's common to feel uncomfortable while sleeping on a new latex mattress. But before deciding whether to use a mattress topper, you may want to sleep on your mattress for at least 30 nights. By doing so, your mattress will receive sufficient pressure needed to adjust and conform to your body's weight, sleeping position, and preferred comfort.

Other tips to help your new latex mattress to break in faster include:

  • Allowing your mattress to fully decompress after unpacking before you can use it
  • Using other means of applying pressure on the mattress, such as sitting, kneeling, and rolling on it
  • Taking advantage of the free trial nights provided by the seller

Sleeping on an Eco Terra Mattress

Look no further than Eco Terra Beds for the best all-natural latex mattresses. Made from 100% natural Talalay latex, wool, and cotton, you can expect to have maximum support, comfort, and luxury from nature's best mattress materials.

The features below best explain why Eco Terra mattresses stand out from the rest:

Quantum coils: These steel coils have been stress relieved, and individually encased with non-toxic polypropylene fabric. The individual casing allows the coils to move independently, improving motion isolation without losing the bouncy feel of the mattress.

Cotton and wool: These two organic materials provide a plush feel and comfort that beats regular fabric covers on mattresses.

Organic Talalay latex: You don't have to worry about off-gassing with the eco-friendly Talalay latex. Talalay latex is also responsible for the range of firmness levels that the Eco Terra mattresses offer.

15-year warranty: These mattresses surpass the average lifespan of regular latex mattresses, allowing you to experience unmatched comfort even longer, and have a 15-year warranty.

Genuine and legal labels: Here at Eco Terra, we are transparent about what goes into our mattresses. In addition to all the required certifications, the mattresses bear labels that clearly indicate what these mattresses consist of, helping you make an informed decision.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 11 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.



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