Hand pushing down on a grey Purple Rejuvenate latex mattress.
Buying Guides

Latex vs. Memory Foam: Understanding the Difference

    Last Updated
    February 2, 2024
    min read

    Key takeaways for latex vs. memory foam: 

    • Latex is quick to adapt, while memory foam has a slower responsiveness.
    • Latex offers more of a lifted feel, while memory foam has more of a sinking sensation.
    • Latex is more breathable and cool, while memory foam retains heat.

    Latex and memory foam are common materials used in mattresses and pillows. While both are most known for their support, they have some key differences that make an impact on your sleep.

    Keep in mind that these differences will depend on the quality of both materials and may also vary between brands. This guide will help you get a better understanding of each material's feel and functions so you can decide if a latex or memory foam mattress or pillow is right for you.

    Purple’s proprietary GelFlex® Grid combines the popular benefits of both — such as latex’s instant adaptivity and breathability, plus memory foam’s superior support and reduced motion transfer — while leaving behind the negatives such as latex’s non-hypoallergenic makeup and memory foam’s heat retention. 

    Purple Mattresses

    Our GelFlex® Grid is a great alternative to memory foam, as its geometric design offers comfort and consistent support.

    What Is Memory Foam?

    Memory foam is made with polyurethane foam and other chemicals to create viscoelastic foam. This material slowly molds to the shape of your body and gradually regains its original form after weight is removed. 

    The benefits of a memory foam mattress include cloud-like comfort and even distribution of body weight for exceptional support. Its lack of resilience also allows for superior motion isolation. 

    Memory foam may not be best for active sleepers — since the material doesn’t respond to movement quickly, moving through the night can be difficult. Additionally, memory foam may be bad for your back if you have the wrong firmness level.

    Traditional memory foam in pillows and mattresses also absorbs and traps body heat. This can be good for cold sleepers but may be uncomfortable for warmer sleepers or those who live in warmer climates.



    Disperses weight equally for superior support

    Retains heat depending on type

    Often preferred by back and side sleepers

    Not as durable or supportive as latex, depending on the quality

    More hypoallergenic than latex

    May be uncomfortable for stomach sleepers

    Less motion transfer


    In addition to traditional memory foam, there are other types of memory foam.

    • Traditional memory foam: This material is made of polyurethane by-product and has closed cells that trap heat.
    • Open-cell memory foam: Alternatively, this type of memory foam is designed with openings to let heat escape a little more than traditional memory foam. It’s also a bit bouncier than traditional memory foam.
    • Gel memory foam: This type provides slight cooling effects, but it can be pricier than other memory foam types.
    Graphic illustrating the differences between types of memory foam.

    Foam Mattress Examples

    Not all foam mattresses are designed the same — some are made of memory foam and others are made of other types of foam materials. For example, here are some of Purple’s mattresses that incorporate foam layers for additional benefits and comfort.

    • PurpleFlex™ Mattress: The SoftFlex Cover in this mattress optimizes the already adaptive and breathable GelFlex® Grid. Stable Base Foam layers and Edge Support Foam provide extra support for a comfortable night’s sleep.
    • Purple Mattress®: This mattress includes a 2-inch GelFlex® Grid layer that instantly adapts as you move and balances temperatures. It’s paired with Comfort Foam, Edge Support Foam, and a Durable Base Foam for added pressure relief, support, and durability.
    • Purple Plus® Mattress: Made with the GelFlex® Grid and Ultra Comfort Foam, this mattress isolates movement and enhances cradling comfort and breathability. Dual layers of Base Foam help boost stability and support. It also includes Edge Support Foam to increase durability and make it easier to get in and out of bed.

    What Is Latex?

    Latex is crafted from a natural or synthetic rubber material, which is known for its springy and responsive nature. The material contours to your body, offering support and pressure point relief for a comfortable sleep experience. 

    Latex mattresses also offer motion isolation, which can be helpful for individuals who move frequently during the night and want to minimize disruptions to sleeping partners. Additionally, the material is highly breathable and cooling due to tiny pinholes in the foam layers that enhance airflow and prevent body heat retention. 

    Latex mattresses require less flipping or rotating compared to other mattress types. It’s a durable option, but that also means it’s a notably heavier mattress.




    Not as hypoallergenic as memory foam due to latex allergies


    More expensive than memory foam

    Good for active sleepers

    Heavier than other mattresses

    Natural latex can be more eco-friendly


    Different types of latex may create some differences.

    • Organic or natural latex: These types are derived from rubber tree sap through the Talalay or Dunlop process. The Talalay process is more complex and produces a more consistent, softer latex. In comparison, the Dunlop process is simpler and creates a denser latex.
    • Synthetic latex: While less expensive than organic or natural latex, synthetic latex mattresses require more maintenance, are less durable, and have an initial chemical smell.
    Graphic illustrating the differences in construction between types of latex.

    Latex Mattress Example

    The Purple RejuvenatePremier™ Mattress uses Talalay latex for a ventilated, airy feel. Its temperature-balancing comfort paired with cooling properties ensures you’ll sleep through the night without overheating. 

    It also includes four layers of foam, a dual GelFlex® Grid, Five Zone Responsive Coils, an Edge Support System, and a cooling, Quilted Comfort Cover with an antimicrobial finish. This innovative combination creates an unparalleled sleep experience with maximum comfort.

    Differences Between Latex and Memory Foam

    While the differences between latex and memory foam are often dependent on the quality, here are some general differences between the two materials.



    Memory Foam


    Buoyant and responsive

    Conforming with a sink-in sensation


    Natural lifting feeling

    Disperses weight to support the entire body

    Pressure Relief

    Responsiveness allows it to relieve pressure points in changing sleep positions

    Molds to curves and weight to reduce pressure



    Motion Transfer

    Dampens motion

    Minimal motion transfer


    Bounces back to its original shape rapidly

    Takes a moment to regain its shape


    Rubber tree sap or synthetic materials

    Polyurethane foam and other chemicals


    Mattresses: 10 to 15 years

    Pillows: 3 to 4 years

    Mattresses: 7 to 10 years 

    Pillows: 18 months to 3 years


    Hypoallergenic (not for those with a latex allergy) 


    Mattress Weight


    Light to medium


    Natural latex can be eco-friendly

    May have eco-friendly options but is oil-based


    Less common in some regions

    Widely available




    1. Feel

    Memory foam mattresses offer a contour-hugging, sink-in experience. The material molds and softens to the body’s shape and weight, which cradles pressure points and offers a cocoon-like comfort. The slow responsiveness allows it to adapt gradually, creating a more enveloping feel. 

    While latex mattresses are available in different firmness levels, they are generally known to be more firm. They’re also more responsive, providing a supportive and slightly bouncy sensation. 

    2. Support

    Memory foam and latex mattresses both offer excellent support, but the difference lies in how they deliver it with the suitability depends on individual preferences. Memory foam mattresses excel in molding to the body’s shape to offer a more personalized support system and sink-in feeling. 

    Alternatively, the natural resilience of latex gives it a more buoyant feel, making it ideal for those who prefer more lift. Its responsiveness also allows it to quickly adapt to your body weight for a consistent level of support. It still conforms to your contours, but it rises to fit your body as you move throughout the night.  

    Mattress weight limits can play a role. For instance, the density of latex mattresses may be a better option to support heavier body types.

    3. Pressure Relief

    Memory foam mattresses contour to the body’s shape and cradle pressure points. Since it takes a long time for memory foam to revert to its original shape, it customizes to your body over time for a pressure-relieving sleep experience.

    Latex mattresses offer pressure relief by adapting to your body’s movements quickly, preventing concentrated stress on specific areas as you shift throughout the night. The lifted feeling from the supportive latex also minimizes strain on pressure points.

    4. Breathability

    Memory foam mattresses are far less breathable than latex mattresses, unless you opt for an open-cell or gel-infused memory foam. This is because memory foam absorbs and retains body heat, while latex’s natural open-cell structure facilitates airflow for a cooler sleep environment.

    5. Motion Transfer

    Both memory foam and latex mattresses minimize disruptions caused by movement. Memory foam mattresses may be slightly more effective in reducing motion transfer due to their slow rebound properties. However, the extent of motion isolation can also depend on the specific construction and quality of the mattress.

    6. Responsiveness

    How the material responds to the body is one of the key differences between memory foam and latex. While memory foam contours gradually to the body’s shape, latex offers a faster rebound that promptly adapts to changes in sleep position. 

    The choice comes down to personal preference for the level of bounce and how quickly you want the mattress to respond to changes.

    7. Construction

    Memory foam is made from polyurethane foam mixed with other chemicals to create viscoelastic foam. Latex mattresses use natural latex, made from rubber tree sap using the Talalay or Dunlop process, or synthetic latex made with petroleum-based materials.

    8. Durability

    How long your mattress lasts largely depends on the quality of materials and the manufacturer. Latex mattresses are generally considered highly durable and can last up to 15 years, while memory foam mattresses last seven to 10 years on average.

    Although mattresses can last up to 15 years, it’s a good idea to replace them earlier. Over time, mattresses retain contaminants and become heavier with collected dead skin cells. 

    Graphic with photos of latex and memory foam materials and listing how long each material lasts in pillows and mattresses.

    9. Allergies

    Latex mattresses, specifically those made with natural latex, may pose a risk for individuals with latex allergies. While synthetic latex can minimize allergens, latex-sensitive individuals should exercise caution. 

    Memory foam mattresses are generally hypoallergenic and less likely to trigger allergies. However, some people may be sensitive to the chemicals used in memory foam production, so individuals with known sensitivities should carefully assess both options.

    10. Mattress Weight

    The weight of memory foam mattresses varies, but they’re typically lighter than latex mattresses. Latex is naturally more dense, so these mattresses are notably heavier. Keep this in mind if ease of maneuverability or transportation is a concern.

    Weight ranges will vary from brand to brand, but here’s how much you can generally expect your mattress to weigh:

    • Memory foam: 75-90 pounds
    • Latex: 140+ pounds

    11. Sustainability

    Natural latex mattresses specifically made with the Dunlop process are the most sustainable option, as they’re made from rubber tree sap with a more simple, eco-friendly manufacturing process. The Talalay process has a more complex production, and memory foam is made with chemicals. 

    Synthetic latex and memory foam can be made more sustainably depending on the brand, and they can also be recycled or repurposed in some pillow types and other items.

    12. Availability

    Memory foam mattresses are widely available and dominate the market, with numerous brands offering a diverse range of options and price points. Latex mattresses, while still accessible, may be less prevalent in some regions, and the variety of choices may be comparatively limited. 

    13. Price

    How much you spend on a mattress will ultimately depend on the quality you choose for either material. Latex mattresses tend to be pricier, particularly those made from natural latex due to the cost of harvesting and processing the materials. Memory foam mattresses have a wider range of price points, influenced by the density and quality of the material. 

    Latex vs. Memory Foam Pillows

    Latex and memory foam pillows also contain their own set of distinct benefits. 

    The Purple Harmony™ Pillow is a Purple’s bestselling pillow made with a Talalay latex core that creates a bouncy, cooling feel, while the honeycomb-patterned GelFlex® Grid contours to your facial features, head, and neck to provide support and pressure relief.

    Latex pillows: 

    • Are supportive and resilient with a buoyant feel
    • Offer effective pressure relief and maintain a consistent loft
    • Are naturally hypoallergenic, but those with latex allergies should avoid
    • Excellent durability
    • Come in mid to high price ranges, with natural latex pillows being more expensive than synthetic

    Similar to memory foam, the Purple DreamLayer™ Pillow provides conforming pressure relief and contour-hugging support. Removable layers paired with our proprietary GelFlex® Grid create the melt-in comfort of traditional memory foam minus the heat and delayed response.  

    Memory foam pillows: 

    • Are conforming and plush, molding to the contours of your head and neck
    • Offer excellent pressure relief, particularly for specific pain points
    • Are hypoallergenic 
    • Are fairly durable but have a shorter lifespan than latex pillows
    • Come in a wide range of price points

    Consider Alternatives With Purple

    If you’re stuck between a latex and. memory foam mattress, there are alternatives like hybrid mattresses. This type of mattress is made of multiple layers, including a foam or latex layer and coils for the best of both worlds. Benefits include: 

    • Durability
    • Pressure relief
    • Breathability
    • Motion isolation
    • Wide range of material options

    You also might consider memory foam vs. Purple’s GelFlex® Grid material for both mattresses and pillows. The GelFlex® Grid offers:

    • Temperature regulation
    • Multiple firmness levels
    • Hypoallergenic material
    • Conforming support
    • Durability (plus a 10-year warranty)

    Overall, the choice of materials for pillows and mattresses is highly personal. But if you find yourself between a latex and memory foam model, consider an alternative like a hybrid or GelFlex® Grid mattress.

    Purple RestorePlus™ Hybrid Mattress

    For responsive pressure relief and a sleep twice as cool, choose this innovative GelFlex® Grid plus coil support system



    Whether you buy a latex or a foam mattress is ultimately up to your personal preference. Each type of mattress has its pros and cons. One of the benefits of memory foam is that it provides excellent motion isolation and pressure relief. However, it’s less breathable and durable than latex. 

    Latex is a responsive material that can provide consistent support as you move throughout the night. On the other hand, it can be a very heavy material and isn’t suitable for those with latex allergies.


    Latex mattresses generally last longer than memory foam mattresses; however, it depends on the quality and manufacturer of both materials.

    No, the standard Purple Mattress® doesn’t use latex. However, the Purple RejuvenatePremier™ Mattress uses Talalay latex in one of its layers.

    No, memory foam isn’t latex. Memory foam is made from polyurethane and other chemicals, while natural latex is harvested from rubber trees and synthetic latex is made from petroleum-based materials.

    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.

    Kristen Olson-Turner
    Senior Director of Merchandising, Mattress and Bases

    Kristen Olson-Turner is the Senior Director of mattresses, where she has spent 10+ years understanding customer needs and integrating solutions into Purple products for better sleep and comfort.