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Guides Is a Natural Latex Mattress Right for You?

Published on April 8th, 2013 | by Mattress Journal


Is a Natural Latex Mattress Right for You?

As many people become more environmentally conscious, the natural latex mattress has become a popular sleep choice. There are a number of factors that might attract people to this type of mattress over other traditional options, from the environmental and health benefits to quality comfort and durability.  Here, we will discuss specific advantages and which people are most likely to benefit from this particular bed.

What is Natural Latex?

In short, a natural latex mattress is a resilient material which has very little impact on the environment and virtually no health risks when pure.  Natural latex in beds is made with minimally processed latex liquid from the hevea brasiliensis tree. Cotton or wool may also be incorporated in the makeup of the bed, though other filler material like non-latex foams and springs are not ideal. Reduced health risks and a lower environmental impact are the two major attractions that consumers have for the natural latex mattress. Overall, this material has been accredited as being durable and molds itself to the natural shape of the body thus providing adequate support.

Types of Latex Mattresses

When shopping for a latex mattress, you will see a few different terms used to distinguish between different models and brands. The first group expresses what the latex material is made from while the second looks at the process used to transform the liquid into the foam used in beds.

Material Type

  • Synthetic: Man-made latex, derived from chemicals and petroleum products.
  • Blended: Contains part synthetic latex and part natural, usually with a greater percentage of synthetic material.
  • Natural latex: This can refer to all natural or blended latex – investigate further.
  • 100% Natural Latex mattress: contains only natural latex, no synthetic filler.
  • Hybrids: These beds utilize latex in combination with another mattress material like innersprings, air, memory foam, or poly foam.

Manufacturing Process

  • Dunlop: The original method for making latex foam, which involves whipping the liquid with frothing agents, pouring into a mold (usually open), and heating or vulcanizing the material into a solid state.
  • Talalay: This process involves pouring the liquid into a vacuum-sealed mold, where air pressure is controlled for a more consistent foaming. The material is flash-frozen before vulcanization to prevent settling.

Benefits of a Natural Latex Mattress

Environmental Benefits of Latex

There is a lot that can be said about a mattress that is created from natural substances. First, it means that there is a much smaller environmental impact because there are no chemicals or expulsion of pollution into the atmosphere. Unlike memory foam mattresses and metal spring beds, natural latex is created with renewable materials derived from the rubber tree, cotton plants and sheep’s wool. Latex is typically harvested in a sustainable fashion from living trees, and is recyclable after its useful life as a bed is over. Because a natural latex mattress can last 15-40 years, they also prevent waste and reduce resource consumption.

Health Benefits of a Natural Latex Mattress

While there are certainly a number of consumers that are attracted to natural latex because of the environmental advantages, several people appreciate the health benefits much more since these are most relevant to our daily lives.

Comfort. Many reviews have indicated that the comfort of natural latex mattress lines proves similar to memory foam mattresses as the material contours to the body in much the same way. In fact, leading polls on Sleep Like The Dead actually show all-latex mattresses have the highest overall consumer satisfaction rating at 86%. This type of material supports your body in a natural way, without distorting the curve of your spine. Latex comes in a range of firmnesses and can often be customized with different layers for personalized comfort.

Allergies. In a truly natural latex mattress, there should be no noxious chemicals used in its creation, so there is no worry about allergic reactions or home air quality. Those with latex allergies are also safe, as the manufacturing and washing process and mattress cover eliminates the proteins that cause symptoms for a majority of latex-allergic people. Additionally, the makeup of the mattress does not provide a desirable environment for allergy-causing pests. Dust mites and bed bugs have no place to burrow since there is no hollow area inside the bed like with spring mattresses. Latex is inherently antimicrobial, so there is also less concern with molds and bacterias.

Non-Toxic. Many beds in the market produce odors called off-gassing which can create headaches or difficulty sleeping. These come from VOCs, volatile organic compounds, found in petroleum products, plastics, and other chemical additives. Natural latex mattresses do not pose this problem due to the fact that their should be no VOC materials included in their makeup. When shopping, you should check to make sure the fabrics and fire barriers are also free of harsh chemicals so as not to negate the latex benefits.

Benefits of Natural vs Blended & Synthetic

As you can see, latex offers many benefits; however, consumer should be aware that while manufacturers may include a percentage of natural materials, it may not mean that the mattress is 100% natural. When purchasing a natural latex mattress, buyers should question what percent of the mattress is actually natural, as those with synthetic materials do not offer the same benefits. With synthetic and blended beds, you lose the environmental benefits, and majority of the health benefits as well due to the introduction of chemicals and petro products.

Who is best suited for this type of bed?

There are certainly no limitations to who can use a natural latex mattress, but there are certain people who will definitely benefit from this particular mattress compared to any other bed available.

  • You have back pain. Anybody that has a problem with back pain or sensitive pressure points will appreciate how latex can perfectly mold itself to those problem areas, supporting your lower back with placing added pressure on hips and shoulders. Latex can be found the firm and medium-firm support levels often recommended by health professionals.
  • You are sensitive to chemicals. Anybody that is sensitive to chemicals whether it be because of smell or allergies would do better with this mattress because the materials used are completely natural and do not offgas.
  • You have dust allergies. While dust mites are an inevitable part of life, latex is highly inhospitable to their growth. The nature of latex foam prevents accumulation of dust mite waste and can be easier to keep clean than other types of beds.
  • You want a long-lasting mattress. One benefit that anybody can appreciate is the longevity that this mattress offers. In comparison to other beds, its durability reaches between 15-40 years which is much longer than the average mattress lifespan, 5-10 years.
  • You are shopping for a child. Particularly, it is recommended that children use latex mattresses because they offer far less health concerns than other beds and can provide the firm support and healthy sleep environment they need.

If you have decided that latex is the right option for you, than you should keep a few things in mind when shopping. You will be better prepared to shop if you familiarize yourself with terms and the factors we mentioned above, then research different models to see how they compare. The primary factors to check include the composition of the latex, how it is made, where it is made, what the cover and fire barrier contain, the firmness, warranty length, and owner reviews. Based on a previous comparison we conducted, one brand we recommend looking into is Astrabeds 100% natural latex mattresses with organic cotton covers, wool fire barriers, 25 year warranties, 90 night trials, and good reviews.

Many types of people can benefit from latex, probably more than would not. When shopping for a latex bed, look for specifics, research, and read reviews to ensure you are getting the best option. It is also a good idea to look for a retailer that offers a good return or exchange policy just in case you need change firmness. While one bed is not going to please everyone, a natural latex mattress is a great option for people concerned about health risks of traditional materials, their environmental impact, or the longevity of their investment.

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