Memory Foam Mattresses Versus Latex Foam Health Concerns

Memory Foam Mattresses Versus Latex Foam Health Concerns

Many mattress manufacturers and retailers say their products can cure insomnia and/or many other sleep disorders, back pain, joint pains, and so on. The truth is that no mattress can fix these things but they can help ease the pain and improve comfort during sleep, depending on your medical condition, mattress type, and quality. So what do doctors have to say about it?

Mattress Recommendations from Doctors

Many customer reviews say that a Tempur-Pedic mattress has helped apnea and fibromyalgia patients, insomniacs, and people suffering from back and hip pain. There are no relevant medical studies to back up these effects which is why doctors are still skeptical about recommending (or not recommending) open-cell memory foam mattresses.

There is no hard medical evidence on latex foam benefits either (except for the so-called ‘independent’ tests performed by some mattress manufacturers who want to convince potential clients that their products can cure back pain or insomnia).

If we take a look at consumer reviews and healthcare specialist articles, however, we see that many of those who have slept on latex mattresses declare themselves happy with the way pressure points, morning numbness, sores, tossing and turning, and hot sleep are reduced by the natural latex foam. The result is more restful sleep.

Latex Mattresses Health Benefits


Back Support

  • Open-cell visco mattresses provide good support as long as it is dense enough (4lb minimum), is layered over a firmer core made of good quality high resilience foam, is firm enough (ILD rating of 14-15) and, most importantly, is sensitive to body temperature.
  • Both regular and Talalay latex mattresses offer great back support because they are dense and contouring enough to offer proper spinal alignment.

Pressure Relief

Health care specialists say that to be labeled as providing pressure relief, a mattress has to have a pressure of 32mmHg or lower, whereas pressure reduction performance is agreed to occur between 32mmHg and 50mmHg.

  • A good quality viscoelastic mattress like Tempur-Pedic Swedish mattress and other leading brands were shown to reduce average pressure to around 15 mmHg from nearly 30 mmHg.
  • Due to the open cell structure, latex mattresses do not push back against your body when you lay on it. Secondly, the latex contours your body perfectly, thus reducing all pressure points that may cause numbness and sores in the morning. No latex mattress will exert a pressure greater than 32 mmHg against your body.

Most latex mattress owners prefer to customize their bed by choosing several layers with different firmness ratings (from 44 – extra firm to 14 – extra soft). The firmer layer goes at the base and the softer layer at the top. Many also place a memory foam overlay on top of the latex for added comfort (viscoelastic toppers are heat-responsive while latex toppers aren’t).

Allergy And Foam Mattress Choice

Talalay latex may be more popular than regular latex but it may not be best for people allergic to some of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. In these cases, pure natural latex is a better choice.

Dust-Mites And Open-Cell Mattresses

  • Open-cell memory foam mattresses do not promote dust-mite nesting, nor are they a food source in themselves, but unfortunately they can and do host dust mites.
  • Due to its structure, an open-cell foam mattress (like almost any other type of mattress) cannot be cleaned of these microscopic creatures. The only way to prevent allergy-provoking dust mites in your foam mattress is to use dust-mite resistant encasings and covers.

Latex Mattress Allergy Considerations

  • There are people who suffer from allergies to natural proteins found in latex products. Brief contact with a latex condom or glove may cause anaphylactic shock and even death.
  • What is also true is that ever since latex mattresses and pillows were introduced on the market (almost 30 years ago), no latex allergy complaint has been ever filed. We believe that happens because the open cell structure latex mattresses and pillows is thoroughly washed before being sold. Skin also doesn’t come in direct contact with the latex which prevents allergic reactions. NOTE: if you know to suffer from a latex allergy, ask for medical advice before buying a Talalay or pure natural latex foam mattress.

According to the Protein And Allergen Analysis Of Latex Mattresses study from 1999 July (Institute Pasteur, Paris):

Because the natural rubber of the mattresses contains latex allergens, these allergens are a potential source of sensitation and could constitute a risk, at least to allergic individuals.

On the other hand, being almost 100% natural, latex mattresses are hypo-allergenic and mold resistant. That doesn’t mean that their open-cell structure cannot host dust mites, even if it doesn’t promote feeding or nesting.

There are manufacturers who claim that tests proved latex to be 3 times more resistant to dust mites, but we cannot account for the accuracy and authenticity of those claims.

Customer Opinions

We’ve had our latex mattress now about a month and really love it. There really is a difference not having those springs pushing back at you.

The best sleep we’ve both had in a long time. I had chronic back aches in the morning for the past 7 years sleeping on our old mattresses. The Latex mattress (and we also purchased some Latex pillows) has been a God-send. Both my wife and I are sleeping longer and better, and wake up feeling less achy and more rested.

I read that as the foam is temperature sensitive, that in a cold room, it feels hard. Indeed, when I took delivery of my mattress, it had obviously been sitting on an ice cold truck over night for several days, so when the guys put it down, I couldn’t believe it because it was totally like cement! But, that is no worry because the thing will warm up eventually. And, a cold bedroom is still WAY MORE WARM than being outside on a truck. So, if you have a cold bedroom, do not fear your mattress would be cement. It won’t be, and besides, you body warms it up.

Not long after we took the mattress from storage we started noticing the “mountain” in the center. On the “mountain”, the mattress is nice and firm. On either side (where we sleep), there are big, soft, sags. My husband is experiencing back pain from the sagging mattress. We are very disappointed and frustrated.

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