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What is a Latex Mattress?

August 11, 2022

What is a Latex Mattress?

Latex mattresses have increasingly become popular in the market over the years because of their numerous benefits, such as responsiveness, breathability, and durability. But despite their popularity, there's still so much to learn about these mattresses. For example, did you know that not all latex mattresses contain all-natural products?

This article covers pretty much everything you need to know about latex mattresses. Without further ado, let's dive into the details.

Types of Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are mattresses made using one of the three types of latex foams: natural, synthetic, and blended latex foams. These three types of foams also help distinguish among the various latex mattresses on the market. However, some of these mattresses contain other materials, such as wool, organic cotton, or coil springs, depending on the manufacturer's design.

Here's an overview of these three types of latex mattresses:

Natural Latex Mattresses

These mattresses contain natural latex foam manufactured from sap found in rubber trees. To harvest the sap used to make an organic latex mattress, farmers slit the bark of mature rubber trees, and tap the dripping liquid into a cup. This liquid is then processed to convert into solid latex used to make the mattresses.

All natural latex mattresses fall further under two subcategories distinguished by the method used to process the latex foam. The two types of processing methods for natural latex mattresses include the Dunlop and Talalay latex methods.

The Dunlop processing method for natural latex mattresses is the oldest. It produces dense, firm, and durable latex foams. On the other hand, the Talalay latex processing method for natural latex creates a light, bouncy, and soft foam. Because of this, Dunlop latex mattresses tend to be firmer than Talalay latex mattresses.

However, some natural latex mattress manufacturers use both Dunlop latex and Talalay latex foams in one mattress. In most cases, the Dunlop latex forms the support core of the mattress because of its density and firmness. On the other hand, Talalay latex works well as the comfort layer because of its soft and bouncy feel.

Synthetic Latex Mattresses

Synthetic latex mattresses are made using artificial rubber, commonly called Styrene-Butadiene (SBR). This rubber found in synthetic latex mattresses mimics the properties and feel of genuine latex, but isn't as costly to process. As a result, synthetic latex mattresses come with lower price tags.

However, synthetic latex mattresses don't last as long as their natural counterparts.

In addition, mattresses made from synthetic latex aren't eco-friendly, and may emit VOCs odors when new because of the chemicals used in making the artificial rubber.

Blended Latex Mattresses

Blended latex mattresses consist of 70 percent natural latex, and 30 percent synthetic latex foams, combining the best of both worlds. However, this combination comes with its disadvantages, too.

For example, chemical-sensitive sleepers may not be comfortable sleeping on a blended latex mattress because of the synthetic component. In addition, this mattress does not usually have a long lifespan compared to a natural latex mattress.

Pros and Cons of Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses have become popular because of their numerous sleep advantages. However, they also have their disadvantages, as discussed below.

Pros of Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are known for their:

Breathability

Latex mattresses are best known for keeping sleepers cool because of their open-cell structure. These cells don't trap heat, but instead allow air to flow easily through the mattress. In addition, because sleepers don't sink deep into these mattresses, they don't obstruct airflow, allowing the air to circulate better throughout the night.

Eco-Friendliness

All-natural latex mattresses don't harm the environment as most mattresses do. To put things into perspective, latex farmers don't cut down these trees when harvesting liquid latex.

In addition, organically grown and processed latex doesn't contain harmful chemicals that pollute the air, soil, and water when disposed of. Instead, natural latex mattresses break down into microorganisms over time, and don't leave a carbon footprint when it's time to dispose of it.

Durability

Natural latex mattresses have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years, twice as long as regular mattresses, making them worthwhile investments. However, synthetic and blended latex mattresses may not last as long as natural latex mattresses because of their chemical compositions.

Responsiveness

Although natural latex mattresses feel bouncy, they have a responsive resistance that prevents sleepers from sinking deep into their bed. As a result, natural latex mattresses keep the spine properly aligned to avoid lower back pains and other complications caused by improper spinal alignment.

Cons of Latex Mattresses

Some of the cons of natural latex mattresses include:

Expensive

Because of the high latex processing costs, most latex mattresses cost more than regular mattresses. In addition, many mattress manufacturers use other costly organic materials, such as wool and organic cotton to make an all-natural mattress.

Although this combination results in healthy, durable, and eco-friendly mattresses, they may not be the best choice for sleepers looking for pocket-friendly ones.

Too Bouncy

Quiet sleepers may not like the bouncy feeling of natural latex beds because they cause motion transfer. This bounciness leads to sleep distraction, especially among sleepers sharing their natural latex beds with their partners, kids, or pets.

How does Sleeping on a Latex Mattress Feel?

Latex is naturally a buoyant material because of its responsiveness. If you press down on a latex mattress with your hand, and then release it, the mattress regains its shape almost instantly. This responsive reaction keeps your spine in proper alignment, and ensures you don't sink deeply into the bed. As a result, most people describe sleeping on a latex mattress as floating in the air.

Despite being responsive, a latex mattress slightly conforms to a sleeper's body shape. This enables the mattress to cushion pressure points, such as the shoulders, neck, back, and hips. In addition, it promotes optimal comfort, regardless of the sleeper's preferred sleeping position.

A latex mattress may be ideal for you if you struggle with sleeping hot. This natural latex mattress is well ventilated, thanks to its natural open-cell structure that allows air to flow through the latex mattress with ease. In addition, because the natural latex doesn't contour closely to your body, it leaves enough room for airflow, and gets rid of excessive body heat.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Ideal Firmness of a Latex Mattress

The kind of mattress you sleep on determines your sleep quality. If you toss and turn so often on your bed because you can't find a comfortable sleeping position, your mattress probably doesn't feel right. For this reason, it may be time to let it go.

The firmness level of a mattress describes how soft or hard it feels when you sleep on it. Although you may have a specific preference, some factors can help you determine your optimal comfort when choosing the ideal firmness of a latex mattress.

Some of these factors include:

Sleeping Position

If you're a side sleeper, you need a mattress that offers pressure relief on your shoulders, neck, and hips. For this reason, a firm latex mattress may feel too hard on these pressure points, making you restless and uncomfortable all night. On the contrary, a soft to medium-firm latex mattress cushions these pressure points, and reduces pressure buildup.

If you're a stomach sleeper, you must ensure that your spine aligns correctly while sleeping to avoid developing lower back pain. For example, a soft conforming mattress will curve your spine further inwards. On the other hand, a medium-firm to firm mattress supports your spine, keeping it in its proper position as you sleep.

If you prefer sleeping on your back, you need a mattress with a medium-firm to firm feel to provide adequate support, while also molding the curves on your back.

Body Weight

Your body weight also determines the choice of mattress firmness level because of the pressure it exerts on the mattress. Therefore, it's a significant factor when choosing the ideal firmness level.

A plus-size sleeper, weighing at least 230 pounds, needs a firmer latex mattress with adequate support to withstand the pressure from the sleeper's body. In addition, this mattress prevents the sleeper from sinking too deep into the bed, and keeps their spine correctly aligned.

On the other hand, a lighter sleeper weighing 130 pounds or less sleeps comfortably on a soft mattress. This is because a lightweight sleeper doesn't exert much pressure on a mattress's surface, preventing the spine from curving out of place. In addition, the sleeper benefits from the pressure-relieving effects of a soft mattress.

Lastly, medium-firm mattresses are ideal for medium-weight sleepers. These mattresses offer adequate support to the sleepers, without feeling too hard on their pressure points.

Mattress Density

Mattress density describes the weight of a mattress per cubic foot, often expressed in pounds. A denser mattress tends to feel firmer than a lighter mattress. This is because a dense mattress has fewer air pockets, while a light mattress contains more air pockets.

In the case of a latex bed, density closely relates to the type of latex foam the mattress contains. Generally, a Dunlop latex foam feels firmer than the Talalay latex alternative. This is because Dunlop latex follows a different manufacturing process.

On the other hand, synthetic latex isn't as elastic as natural latex, because of its density. As a result, it takes longer to break in, making it feel stiffer than natural latex. Because of these differences, it is advisable to find out what your mattress contains, to ensure that you buy a true latex bed.

Latex Vs. Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are as popular as latex mattresses. However, these two mattresses have many differences and similarities in performance. Here's how these two mattresses compare:

Conformity

Most memory foam mattresses take the upper hand in contouring a sleeper's body. As a result, memory foam is excellent at cushioning the body, and relieving pressure buildup on the pressure points.

However, these memory foam mattresses don't regain their shape as fast as latex mattresses. As a result, memory foam mattresses sag, and lose shape with time. On the other hand, latex mattresses maintain their shape throughout their lifespan, thanks to the elastic and responsive nature of latex.

Temperature Regulation

If you're a hot sleeper, a memory foam mattress may not be your best choice. This is because a memory foam mattress traps heat in its air pockets, preventing air from circulating through the mattress. On the other hand, unlike a memory foam mattress, a latex bed lets air escape from the mattress, keeping the sleeper cool all night.

Durability

On average, latex mattresses last between 10 to 20 years. This is twice as long as the average lifespan of memory foam mattresses, which ranges between 5 to 8 years. Therefore, although latex mattresses may be costly, they are a good investment.

Motion Transfer

Because latex mattresses are elastic and springy, they tend to transfer movement from one side of the bed to the other. This is often a problem for light sleepers and couples sharing a bed. On the contrary, memory foam mattresses are good at absorbing motion to avoid disrupting a quiet sleeper.

Off-Gassing

All-natural latex mattresses don’t contain any chemicals, dyes, or other toxic materials emitting VOC gasses.

Conversely, most memory foam mattresses omit smelly chemical gasses when still new because of the chemicals used in manufacturing the foams. As a result, memory foam mattresses are not the best choices for sleepers with chemical sensitivities.

Eco-Friendliness

A natural latex mattress is a better choice if you're an eco-conscious consumer. A certified natural latex mattress is chemical-free, and processed in an environmentally-friendly manner.

When to Choose a Latex Mattress

Despite the numerous advantages, latex mattresses may not be for everyone. However, they are versatile, and can satisfy a lot of sleep needs.

You can choose one of these mattresses if you're:

  • looking for a supportive mattress
  • a hot sleeper
  • allergic to chemicals
  • looking for an eco-friendly mattress
  • in need of a top-quality and long-lasting mattress.

Latex Mattress Allergy

Latex allergies are quite rare. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, latex allergies affect less than one percent of Americans. In addition, a latex allergy has mild symptoms, such as itching and swelling on the parts that come in contact with latex. Some allergy-sensitive sleepers may experience severe symptoms, such as eye inflammation, hives, or trouble breathing.

That said, latex mattresses don't usually cause any allergic reactions to sleepers, primarily because of their construction. For example, most latex mattresses are covered in layers of other natural materials, such as wool and organic cotton. As a result, sleepers don't come in direct contact with the latex foam.

Moreover, manufacturers wash the latex foams several times while processing them to remove dirt, impurities, and proteins. As a result, this latex is less likely to trigger allergic reactions to sleepers.

But if you're unsure whether sleeping on a latex mattress is healthy, you must consult a physician before buying one.

FAQs About Latex Mattresses

We've responded to some of the common questions regarding latex mattresses below:

Does a Latex Mattress Need a Box Spring?

You don't need to buy a box spring for your latex mattress, although it may work just as fine as other foundation bases. Remember to check the manufacturer's recommendations on the suitable foundation base for your new latex mattress.

Do Latex Mattresses Soften Over Time?

Latex mattresses soften over time, just like other foam-based mattresses. First, a new latex mattress breaks in, and adjusts your body. Next, the mattress wears down slowly as it ages, and ends up feeling softer than when it was new. But because they are elastic, latex mattresses don't lose their shape, even when they wear out.

About Eco Terra Hybrid Latex Mattress

Latex mattresses have numerous advantages that make them suitable for different sleepers. However, hybrid latex mattresses are equally popular because they combine the best of two mattress types: the traditional inner springs, and latex foams.

The Eco Terra Hybrid Latex Mattress is one such mattress. It contains 100% natural latex, and a fabric-encased coil system. This mattress is handmade in the US with no chemicals, polyurethane foam, or other toxins.

But that's not all - here's more you need to know about the hybrid latex mattress from Eco Terra.

Made With 100% Natural Latex

Eco Terra Beds sources latex from sustainable growers to bring you a healthy and eco-friendly mattress. In addition, this latex has the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 certification, proving its purity and quality.

Contains Pocketed Coil Support Core

This mattress contains quantum coils individually encased in a food-grade fabric. Besides providing support, the coils add more ventilation to the mattress to improve air circulation. As a result, this mattress sleeps cooler than most mattresses on the market.

The pocketed coils also move independently when responding to pressure from the sleeper's body. This enables the mattress to keep the sleeper's spine properly aligned, and also reduces motion transfer on the mattress.

GOTS Certified Organic Wool

Eco Terra Beds completely avoids chemical-based fire retardants by using organic wool instead. However, this wool has other advantages, including making the bed plusher, improving breathability, and keeping the sleeper dry through the night.

GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Cover

For the final touch, this mattress is wrapped with an organic cotton cover, giving it a soft and luxurious feel.

Now that you know more about latex mattresses, take a good look at Eco Terra Beds to find the best latex mattress for you. And, you don’t need to worry about the cost; Eco Terra offers incredible discounts for every purchase. In addition, each mattress sale comes with a 90-day free trial, free shipping, easy returns, and an incredible warranty.

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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