Is it good to sleep on latex mattresses? Sleep experts assess the benefits of a greener bed

I asked mattress makers and sleep experts what makes latex so special and whether it's really the best mattress material

The Avocado Latex Mattress on a bed against a white wall.
(Image credit: Avocado)

When I buy my next bed, I want to get a latex mattress. Softer than your old innerspring, more supportive than memory foam, and more sustainable than your average hybrid, latex mattresses offer something for everyone.

A natural latex bed feels springy and responsive. It's the sort of bed I'd recommend for every sleep position, but probably not for every budget: latex gets seriously expensive.

As H&G's resident sleep writer, I'm always on the hunt for the next best mattress. To learn more about the pros and cons of a latex mattress, I interviewed mattress manufacturers from Saatva and Essentia. They told me everything you need to know about latex mattresses, from how they're made to what they cost.

Is it good to sleep on latex?

Along the way, I've hand-picked a few of my favorite latex beds that made the cut for our best organic mattress buying guide. I've also rounded up some alternative beds that offer a similar look and feel to latex for less.

What is a latex mattress?

PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Organic Latex Mattress on a bed.

(Image credit: PlushBeds)

Before we begin, it always helps to define our terms. A latex mattress is made from the sap of rubber trees, which is frothed into foam, then baked into beds. Natural latex is free from harsh chemicals, so you know that you're breathing cleaner, healthier air while you sleep.

If you've ever tried shopping for a latex mattress, you might have come across the terms 'Dunlop' and 'Talalay'. These are the two major methods of making latex. Talalay latex is formed when you pour rubber sap into a mold, then use a vacuum to suck out all the oxygen and introduce carbon dioxide, instead. This creates a soft, foamy feeling, not unlike a memory foam mattress. To make Dunlop latex, you bake the rubber sap in a vulcanization oven to produce thick, firm foam, with a bottom-heavy composition. Dunlop latex makes a great support core, but it isn't quite as comfortable or as breathable as Talalay latex.

Latex mattress benefits

Saatva Zenhaven Latex Mattress against windows with a forest view.

(Image credit: Saatva)

I asked Byron Golub, Vice President of Product & Merchandising at Saatva, to explain what makes a latex mattress so special. He puts it down to versatility: 'Natural latex mattresses are a good fit for almost every type of sleeper,' explains Byron, 'especially those looking for pressure relief.' Latex is made to bear your weight and mold to the shape of your body, easing pain and relieving pressure. Soft yet supportive, I'd recommend a latex mattress for all sorts of sleep positions.

According to Byron, latex beds are also 'resilient and breathable, which makes for a cool and comfortable night's sleep.' I reckon he's talking about the open-cell structure of latex, which optimizes airflow throughout your mattress. You'll find latex layers in some of the best cooling mattresses, working hard to dissipate heat overnight.

Headshot of Byron Golub.
Byron Golub

Byron is the VP of Product & Merchandising at Saatva, the smarter luxury sleep company. He is passionate about creating elevated, sustainable sleep essentials.

These are a few of my favorite latex mattresses, tried and tested by an H&G sleep expert. For the sake of a fair fight, we assess each mattress against the same criteria: comfort; support; cooling; motion isolation; edge support; and weight bearing capacity. I'd expect a latex mattress to score highly for motion isolation, weight bearing, and support: good news for light sleepers, anyone who shares a bed, and anyone particularly tall or broad.

As Senior Content Manager at Saatva, Christina Heiser oversees all sorts of mattresses, from memory foam models to luxury innersprings. Still, she swears by natural latex: it's 'sustainable, non-toxic, and biodegradable,' ideal for eco-conscious shoppers.

Christina believes that latex mattresses offer the best of both worlds. 'Latex mattresses have a responsive feel, similar to an innerspring, but they also contour to your curves like memory foam,' she says.

Latex is also hypoallergenic, naturally resistant to the growth of mold and dust mites. This is good news for sensitive sleepers and anyone who's keen to maintain a clean sleep environment. I'd still recommend wrapping your latex mattress in the best mattress protector to extend its life.

As mattress materials go, latex is highly durable. A quality latex mattress could last you as long as 15 years, almost double the lifespan of your average memory foam mattress. Spending once and spending well on a latex mattress is better for buyers and for the environment.

Headshot of Christina Heiser.
Christina Heiser

Christina is a highly experienced content market, writer, and editor. She is passionate about health, wellness, and the difference that a good mattress can make to your sleep.

Latex mattress drawbacks

A hand resting on an Essentia mattress.

(Image credit: Essentia)

There's a lot to like about latex mattresses, but they aren't perfect. For one thing, they're seriously expensive, rarely listed for less than $1,000. I put that down to the cost of the materials and the complexity of the manufacturing process. Still, I like to think that you're spending now on a latex mattress to last a decade to avoid spending again in a couple of years on a cheap synthetic substitute. You could always try to bag a latex mattress at a bargain price in the mattress sales.

Latex is also very heavy: you might struggle to lift, flip, or rotate your latex mattress if you live alone. I asked Jack Dell'Acio, CEO & Founder of Essentia Mattress, to tell us more about the downsides of natural latex. He didn't hold back.

'Most mattress producers source latex foams with overly simple formulations, resulting in beds that feel too firm or too soft,' says Jack. As a mattress manufacturer, he knows that 'it's important to find a latex producer with adaptive formulations to make a more supportive mattress'.

Over two decades in the mattress industry, Jack has seen too many companies cut corners to produce lackluster latex beds. 'Most mattress companies integrate inner springs into their latex mattresses, which reduces costs, but also performance and durability,' says Jack. Then, there's the issue of materials: 'most commonly available latex is actually synthetic or blended. The highest performing is GOLS-certified organic.'

If you're set on latex, then make sure to get the good stuff. Look out for the GOLS and GOTS certification badges, which denote ethical, organic practice from farm to factory.

Headshot of Jack Dell'Acio.
Jack Dell'Acio

Jack is the CEO & Founder of Essentia, the world's only organic and all-natural memory foam mattress brand. He is a Hippocrates Health Institute certified sleep expert with his own hit podcast, Rise and Thrive, surrounding sleep and bio-hacking.

I've rounded up a few alternative beds that share some of the pros of latex mattresses, but not the cons. Significantly, these beds are far more affordable than your average latex mattress, and you'll find each of them listed for less in the Memorial Day mattress sales.

Latex mattress FAQs

What does a latex mattress feel like?

It depends whether you're testing Dunlop or Talalay latex. Dunlop latex feels firm and supportive, designed to lift and lengthen your lumbar region and maintain proper spinal alignment. Talalay latex feels softer, springy and responsive, made to mold to the contours of your body, then spring right back into shape once your weight is removed.

Where can I buy a latex mattress?

Not all of the best places to buy a mattress stock latex models. Plushbeds and Avocado offer the widest range of latex mattresses, although Saatva stocks two of the best latex beds on the market: their Zenhaven Natural Latex Mattress and their Latex Hybrid Mattress.

Our verdict

You might have made it all the way to the end of this article, only to decide that a latex mattress just isn't for you. Not to worry: there are plenty of mattress types to choose from.

For plush comfort and pressure relief, go for the best memory foam mattress. You'll get a similar look and feel to a latex mattress, only without the eco-credentials. If you're looking for a mattress that's easy to maneuver around tight corners and into narrow spaces, try the best box mattress. We've tested all the best beds from Emma, Nectar, Helix, and more.

Emilia Hitching
Sleep Editor

Emilia is our resident sleep writer. She spends her days tracking down the lowest prices on the best bedding and spends her nights testing it out from the comfort of her own home – it's a dream job. Her quest to learn how to sleep better has taken her all around the world, from mattress factories in Arizona to sleep retreats in Scandinavia. Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford. She also worked on the other side of the aisle, writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky.