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Are Natural Latex Mattresses Hot to Sleep On?

If you’re a warmer sleeper then you might have heard that a natural latex mattress can help you to sleep cool.

But many of these claims are found on the websites of latex mattress manufacturers – which means that they may also be trying to convince you to buy a latex mattress.

So are natural latex mattresses hot to sleep on or not?

Whilst it’s possible that a natural latex mattress can sleep hot, the open-cell structure and ‘pinhole’ design means that a natural latex mattress is likely to sleep cooler when compared to an all-foam, closed-cell memory foam mattress with no additional cooling or ventilation properties. However, innerspring mattresses with no foam and only natural fiber comfort layers tend to sleep cooler than both latex and memory foam mattresses.

However, as I’ve explained below, some natural latex mattresses are more cooling than others.

And there are other factors that may have a greater impact on regulating your temperature than whether you buy a natural latex mattress or not.

Do Natural Latex Mattresses Sleep Hot?

Latex foam used in a mattress.
Latex is breathable and allows for airflow. Image: Canva

It’s not impossible for a natural latex mattress to sleep hot.

Because your final sleeping temperature can be influenced by several other factors such as the manufacturing process of the latex, the bedding that you use, the breathability of the mattress cover, the type of base that you’re using, and of course the ambient climate.

And even if all those variables are set to be the same, some people may sleep fine in a natural latex mattress whilst others may be too hot due to the thermoregulatory differences between individuals, medical issues such as night sweats, or reactions to medications.

But when you factor out those elements, you’ll typically find that a natural latex mattress sleeps cooler than an all-foam, closed-cell memory foam mattress that has no additional cooling properties such as aerated foams, gel beads, or cooling gel swirled into the top layer.

This is because natural latex mattresses have an open cell structure and ‘pinholes’ that promote constant air circulation.

And as illustrated in the video below, this structure creates a ‘pump and suck’ effect as you move around so that excess body heat is allowed to escape and cool air can be drawn in.

EB Latex Mattresses Are Breathable. (European Bedding)

However, innerspring mattresses that do not contain foam and instead only have a spring core and a comfort layer made from natural fibers tend to sleep cooler than both latex and memory foam due to better air flow and the lack of insulating foam.

Below, I’ve outlined some further considerations in relation to sleeping cool and latex mattresses.

Firmer Latex Mattresses Sleep Cooler Than Plusher Latex Mattresses

Natural latex mattresses are available in different levels of firmnesses.

And you’ll typically find that if all other factors are equal, firmer latex mattresses tend to sleep cooler than ‘plusher’ mattresses and mattresses that have any sort of additional padding sewn into the top – such as pillow-top mattresses.

This is because firmer mattresses typically have more surface tension by comparison and so the material doesn’t conform to your body shape as closely – thus reducing the insulating effect that can otherwise trap heat in the materials more readily.

Firmer mattresses tend to be better for front and back sleepers but less so for side sleepers.

If this fits with your sleeping style, then shopping for a firmer latex mattress with no extra padding sewn into the top may help you to sleep cooler when compared to a plusher latex mattress that may also have additional padding on the surface.

Firmer Talalay Latex Sleeps Cooler Than Dunlop Latex

Not all latex mattresses are the same.

Because whilst natural latex mattresses are derived from the sap of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) [1], there are two different manufacturing processes that influence how the final latex mattress feels and performs.

The Talalay process involves partially filling the mould – plus vacuuming, freezing, and heating (vulcanization).

The Dunlop process uses a complete pour that results in latex that’s denser.

Consequently, latex mattresses made using the Talalay process tend to sleep cooler because it has a more aerated structure.

However, Talalay latex tends to be less dense than Dunlop latex – which means that Talalay lends itself to a plusher feel and could therefore actually cause you to sleep warmer due to wrapping more closely around your body and thus increasing insulation.

Therefore, you might want to look for a Talalay latex mattress that’s also firm – so that you can benefit from the aerated structure without running into insulation issues.

But once again, keep in mind that firmer mattresses tend to be less suitable for side sleeping as a rule due to the reduced pressure relief on your shoulders and hips.

Sap being tapped from a rubber tree.
Sap being tapped from a rubber tree to make latex. Image source: Canva.

Thinner Latex Mattresses Sleep Cooler Than Thicker Latex Mattresses

Mattresses with thick upper comfort layers tend to promote sinkage more than thinner mattresses.

And the deeper that you sink into a mattress the more closely the materials are likely to conform to your body which typically promotes insulation.

Therefore, going for a thinner latex mattress with a profile of less than 10 inches may help you to sleep cooler when compared to a thicker latex mattress – all other factors being equal.

However, a firmer mattress can also guard against sinkage – so going for a firmer mattress over 10 inches might still be ok if a firmer feel complements your sleeping style (mostly front and back sleeping).

Look For a Breathable Cover

The type of cover that your latex mattress has can make or break its temperature regulating properties.

More specifically, you’ll want to look for a natural latex mattress that has a cover that is breathable, NOT airtight, and uses natural fibers such as cotton, viscose, or bamboo, or a breathable synthetic to help promote ventilation and wick away moisture to help keep you cool and dry.

Latex Beats Cooling Gel

All-foam, natural latex mattresses tend to be better at keeping you cool than all-foam, memory foam mattresses that feature cooling gel beads or even entire gel top layers.

This is because the cooling effects of the gel tend to be only temporary and fail to wick away heat – whereas the ‘pump and suck’ methodology used by latex mattresses promotes air circulation to wick away heat throughout the night.

However, it’s important to note that many high quality memory foam mattresses may have aerated designs, perforated foams, and air channels to help wick away heat.

But if faced with the choice between a latex mattress and a memory foam mattress with only gel infusion and no additional ventilation features – I’d put my money on the latex mattress being better at regulating your temperature and keeping you cool.

Use a Slatted Base For Better Airflow

Using a slatted bed frame over a sold platform base or the floor may help to cool your latex mattress.

Because the space beneath the mattress combined with the gaps between the slats may help to promote better airflow when compared to a solid surface.

This may also help to combat mold growth because better air circulation may help to reduce humidity.

Just make sure that using a slatted base doesn’t void the warranty for your latex mattress – usually the slats will have to be no more than 3-4 inches apart.

Latex Sleeps Cooler Than Closed-Cell Memory Foam

As I said earlier, latex mattresses tend to sleep cooler than closed-cell memory foam mattresses.

This is mainly because the open-celled design of latex mattresses allows for the dissipation of heat through its aerated structure with ‘pin-holes’ that allow ambient cool air to replace the air that has warmed up inside the mattress.

Whereas memory foam mattresses actually need to absorb your body heat so that it can use it to reconfigure the molecules so that the foam can adjust to your exact body shape and provide the exceptional pressure relief that memory foam is known for.

However, some of the better memory foam mattresses on the market tend to favour an open-celled design to promote airflow and may incorporate air channels, perforations, or other modifications to help better regulate your temperature.

But I would choose a natural latex mattress over a closed-cell memory foam mattress with no additional ventilation modifications to help regulate your temperature more effectively.

Innerspring Mattresses Sleep Cooler Than Latex Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are likely to sleep cooler than both latex and memory foam mattresses with a solid, all-foam support core.

This is because the spring support core can promote excellent airflow and allow the mattress to breathe better.

However, you’ll need to check that the top of the innerspring mattress doesn’t contain any insulating foams and instead has a breathable cover that’s made from natural materials so that it doesn’t trap heat or cause you to sweat excessively.

Pocket springs.
Pocket spring mattresses provide excellent airflow. Image: Canva.

A Hybrid Latex-Spring Mattress Might Be the Best Option

A hybrid natural latex mattress combines a spring support core with a latex top layer.

This could be your best option if you’re looking to sleep cooler because you’ll get the ventilation benefits of both the latex and the spring support core for maximum effect.

Just make sure that the cover is breathable too.

Bedding Matters Too

It could be argued that your bedding will have a greater overall impact on regulating your temperature than the mattress alone.

Therefore, you might want to switch your thicker duvet cover for a thinner top sheet for better ventilation – especially in the summer months or if you live in a warmer climate.

Beyond this, you might want to buy a bamboo bed sheet set.

Because in addition to being exceptionally cooling, bamboo is also excellent at wicking away moisture and pushing it to the edge of the sheet where it can evaporate.

This contrasts with traditional cotton sheets that tend to drench – since cotton is good at absorbing moisture but not great at forcing evaporation like bamboo can.

Related Questions

Here are some of the answers to questions related to sleeping cool and latex mattresses.

Do Natural Latex Mattresses Sleep Cooler Than Synthetic Latex Mattresses?

There are no scientific studies or any publicly available information that clearly proves that natural latex mattresses sleep cooler than synthetic latex mattresses that I’m aware of (let me know in the comments section if you know otherwise).

However, this is somewhat of a moot point because there’s no such thing as a truly 100% natural latex mattress – since the curing agents used in the vulcanization process [2] leave behind things like zinc and sulfur which means that you’re looking at a maximum of 95-97% natural latex in a latex mattress.

But more significantly, because synthetic latex is typically cheaper to produce, most manufacturers will make their latex mattresses using blended latex.

As such, you’ll typically find that most ‘natural’ latex mattresses actually have a ratio of 70:30 or 60:40 to natural latex to synthetic latex – rather than opting for 97% inclusion.

Because manufacturers only need a certain amount of natural latex to be present to label it as a natural latex mattress.

How Do You Cool a Latex Mattress?

If you already own a latex mattress and it sleeps hot then you could try putting it on a slatted base to increase airflow – if using this type of base doesn’t conflict with the warranty.

Alternatively, if your latex mattress is very soft then it might be causing you to sleep hot because it’s enveloping you in the materials and trapping heat.

In which case, you could try firming the mattress up with a well ventilated firm mattress topper.

But make sure that altering the firmness won’t impact your sleeping style – since firmer sleeping surfaces tend to favour back and front sleepers due to the better hip support, but negatively impact side sleepers because there’s not enough pressure relief around your hips and shoulders.

If none of this works then the cover might not be providing enough ventilation – or the mattress might not have enough latex and/or have it effectively positioned for it to make a difference in terms of temperature regulation.

What is the Ideal Sleeping Temperature?

The ideal temperature for sleeping is between 16-18°C (60-65°F) for most people.

Therefore improving the ventilation of your room, lowing the ambient temperature, or buying a set of high-quality cooling bed sheets might have more impact on helping you to sleep more comfortably when compared to buying a latex mattress alone.

Although applying a combination of changes is probably going to provide the best results (see below).

Conclusion: 10 Ways to Sleep Cooler With Latex

I definitely think that a latex mattress could help you to sleep cooler at night.

However, your latex mattress must meet the criteria outlined in this article and should be combined with other actions to give you the best chance of regulating your temperature effectively.

So to summarise this article in a meaningful way, here are the 10 things to keep in mind when choosing a latex mattress to help you sleep cool and the additional steps that you can take to help regulate your temperature.

1: Firm Over Soft

Firmer latex mattresses can sleep cooler than plusher latex mattresses because the material won’t hug your body as closely – just keep in mind that firmer mattresses are typically better for front and back sleepers but less so for side sleepers due to the reduced pressure relief on your hips and shoulders.

2: Talalay Over Dunlop

Talalay latex sleeps cooler than Dunlop latex mattresses because the manufacturing process produces a more breathable end product – but you should look for a Talalay latex mattress that’s firm because Talalay latex mattresses tend to be plusher and therefore potentially more insulating and warmer than Dunlop latex mattresses.

3: Thin Over Thick

Thinner latex mattresses under 10 inches tend to sleep cooler than thicker latex mattresses because they may inhibit sinkage more effectively – although a thicker latex mattress may be just fine if it’s on the firmer side due to the increased surface tension that will keep you more ‘on top’ of the materials (unless you are very heavy and sink further into the mattress).

4: Choose a Breathable Cover

It’s absolutely essential that the cover is breathable and NOT airtight so that enough air can circulate through the mattress – natural fibers like cotton and viscose can help too.

5: Use a Slatted Base

Using a slatted base can help to promote airflow regardless of the mattress type.

6: Latex Over Closed Cell Memory Foam

Latex tends to sleep cooler than closed cell memory foam – or a memory foam mattress that lacks a ventilated design or only has cooling gel-infused.

7: Innerspring Over Latex

Innerspring mattresses tend to be cooler than latex mattresses due to their ventilated design.

8: Hybrid Spring-Latex For Dual Benefits

A hybrid spring and latex topped mattress with a breathable cover may be the best option for sleeping cool.

9: Control the Ambient Temperature

Lower the temperature of your room to 16-18°C (60-65°F) for a better nights sleep.

10: Use a Cooling Top Sheet

Switch out your thick duvet cover for a cooling bamboo bed sheet set to regulate your temperature and wick away moisture more effectively.

Check That There’s Enough Latex to Make a Difference

Some manufacturers will label their mattresses as being a latex mattress even if it only contains a very small amount of natural, synthetic, or blended latex.

But in order for you to benefit from the potentially temperature regulating properties of latex, the mattress should either have a latex top layer and a latex core – or a latex top layer and a spring core (a hybrid spring-latex mattress).

Therefore, you should be very wary of manufacturers that do not explicitly tell you how much latex is included in the mattress and WHERE it’s located.

Because if the upper layers contain closed cell memory foam and the latex is included in the lower transitional layer (common to increase the responsiveness) then you probably won’t benefit from the cooling capabilities of the latex – especially if the mattress lacks any additional ventilation qualities.

The bottom line is that other ventilation factors aside, there must be enough latex in the mattress and it must be positioned effectively for it to make a difference.

If this isn’t clear to you then keep your money in your pocket and move on.


Sources and References

[1] Wikipedia – Hevea Brasiliensis. Accessed 9/5/20.

[2] Wikipedia – Vulcanisation. Accessed 9/5/20.

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