Every now and then it seems mattress manufactures stumble across the next big thing in materials and change the way we sleep forever.
In 2011, we were introduced to gel memory foam, offering something slightly different from its predecessor memory foam and making its way into many mattresses made in that era.
Gel memory foam is similar to what you might find in a gel ice pack, and its most obvious benefit is keeping you cool as you sleep.
However, there are loads of other reasons why a gel mattress would be a wise investment for your next bed and why it’s still a popular choice of material for manufacturers today.
What does a gel memory foam mattress do?
Gel memory foam is a special type of memory foam that has been infused with small particles or beads of gel and their main benefit is cooling down the user. The properties of the gel differ depending on the type, with some being cold to the touch and others with a changing ability that lets them turn from a solid into a liquid.
If you’re in the market for a new mattress and want to know more about the gel memory foam style or what other popular alternatives there are, we can help.
This guide can show you what they’re all about, who can benefit from sleeping on one, and what the other options are when you’re shopping for the perfect mattress.
- 1 What Is a Gel Foam Memory Mattress?
- 2 Gel Memory Foam vs Memory Foam
- 3 Benefits of Gel Memory Foam
- 4 Disadvantages of Gel Memory Foam
- 5 Alternatives to Gel Memory Foam Mattresses
- 6 The Lifespan of These Mattresses
- 7 Related Questions
What Is a Gel Foam Memory Mattress?
Memory foam mattresses were made famous years ago when tests showed that you could place a full glass of wine on one side of the bed and a person on the other, without knocking it over at all.
When consumers saw the many benefits that memory foam offered, especially in a mattress, they wanted more.
Although memory foam was popular, one of the biggest issues people had was it was feeling as though they were overheating or not getting enough air while they slept.
The solution to this was to create gel memory foam, which worked just like memory foam but infused with small pieces of gel that actively work to reduce the temperature.
The best way to visualize how this type of memory foam works is to think of a gel ice pack.
These can be used to treat swelling on the body or even keep food cold, and it’s able to do so for hours.
With this added to your mattress, you prevent overheating and have a more comfortable sleep, provided you shop for a bed that’s well made.
Most gel memory foam mattresses today aren’t made completely of the material but rather feature some layers of it wedged between other materials.
This gives the benefits of the cooling gel with other advantages that it’s not commonly known for, and it many cases it has replaced standard memory foam.
Gel Memory Foam vs Memory Foam
A memory foam mattress is made with polyurethane foam which then has chemicals added to it which creates a viscoelastic foam that contours the body and is sensitive to temperature and pressure.
Gel memory foam is made similarly but with the extra ingredient of cooling gel beads or particles that make for a cooler surface.
Memory foam has become a popular choice for filling in mattresses and pillows, and in recent years, gel memory foam has been just as common.
The two are similar but have minor differences that set them apart, including:
- Price: Standard memory foam is generally cheaper than gel memory foam so the price for a premium mattress differs quite a bit.
- Heat retention: Standard memory foam has heat retention properties that mean it’s warmer to sleep on. This is good for people who need extra warmth but can be uncomfortable for hot sleepers.
- Cooling capabilities: Gel memory foam was designed to have a cooling effect and would be better suited for people who are hot sleepers or live in warmer climates.
Benefits of Gel Memory Foam
There are plenty of reasons why gel memory foam is a top choice for mattresses these days and you only have to look at its benefits to see why.
These are some of the advantages that gel memory foam beds have over the competition and how you can benefit at night:
If you share a bed with someone who moves around a lot or you’re a light sleeper that’s awakened at the slightest movement, gel memory foam can prevent this from happening.
The unique properties of the foam mean you won’t be disrupted from movement elsewhere on the mattress, unlike a coil mattress, so it won’t wake you up.
The biggest benefit that gel has over other materials, including standard memory foam, is its cooling properties.
The gel beads keep your body cool even in warmer temperatures and offer instant relief.
If a standard mattress seems to further highlight your body’s aches and pains, switching to a gel memory foam mattress can be a lifesaver.
Thanks to the nature of the foam, you’ll be cradled in support as you sleep and the firm pressure will be taken off any problem areas.
The most obvious benefit of these mattresses is how comfortable they feel from the very first time you lay on them.
The softness of the gel on its own or wedged between other layers is instantly recognizable.
Gel memory foam is both supportive but soft which means it helps keep your spine correctly aligned as you sleep.
Regardless of the sleeping position you’re in, you’ll get that much-needed support for your neck and back.
Disadvantages of Gel Memory Foam
Although there are some great advantages to sleep on a gel memory foam mattress, there are drawbacks as well.
Here are a few issues that you might find with this type of bed and why it might not be the best choice for your new mattress.
Because of the detailed process of making gel memory foam and the cost of materials, gel memory foam mattresses or those with layers of the foam are usually more expensive.
Shorter cooling period
Although gel memory foam has cooling abilities, if you’re sleeping in particularly hot weather they might not last at night.
The beads tend to take on the temperature of what they’re connected to so if you’re feeling hot all night, it won’t be as sufficient at cooling you down.
Synthetic materials like those used to make gel memory foam mattresses are known for emitting gasses, especially when they’re first removed from their packaging.
This off-gassing has an unpleasant smell and might make you feel uncomfortable if your children plan on sleeping on it.
Alternatives to Gel Memory Foam Mattresses
If gel memory foam doesn’t sound enticing to you, there are some great alternatives available in the mattress market of today.
Check out these mattresses to see what’s popular in modern mattresses and what these specific materials offer.
Rather than using gel infusion in a standard polyurethane-based mattress, a plant-based mattress is a healthier option.
These mattresses are made with natural materials and with the right choice, can produce fewer Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs.
This means they don’t off-gas the same as a standard memory foam mattress which means they’re healthier to sleep on and don’t need to be aired out as other mattresses do when you first receive them.
A latex mattress is not a new invention but it’s one that’s been given a makeover in recent years.
The newer styles of mattresses are made from natural latex trees and offer a more eco-friendly solution than the blended types that contain petroleum-based polyurethane, although they can be more expensive.
Latex has similar properties to memory foam in that it cradles the body and provides contoured support but it’s not as breathable or able to regulate temperature.
A hybrid mattress is the best way to get exactly what you need, with a range of different materials combined to create something amazing.
A hybrid mattress might feature some layers of pocketed coils and others of memory foam or latex so that you can get the benefits of each in a single package.
An innerspring mattress is one that features a coil layer in the center which can be of varying sizes and coil amounts.
The coils are cushioned within thin foam or fabric layers on either side.
They’re usually the most budget-friendly option in modern mattresses but not as common these days with the introduction of hybrid and foam styles.
Pocket Spring Mattresses
These are the modernized version of an innerspring and feature pocket springs that are enclosed within their own fabric pocket.
Compared to a traditional innerspring, these springs only react to pressure being applied to their specific area, so they’re great at reducing motion transfer, although more expensive to buy.
The Lifespan of These Mattresses
Any time we plan on purchasing a new mattress, it’s important to understand that it’s a big investment and one that requires a lot of thought.
One of the biggest factors to weigh up is the lifespan of the mattress and whether it’s going to last long enough to make the high price worth it, and thankfully these days they’re built to be more durable.
Considering gel memory foam mattresses weren’t introduced until 2011, it’s hard to say at this point what their true longevity is.
However, if you purchase a mattress from a reputable brand that has good reviews that vouch for its durability, you can guarantee that you’ll be investing your money wisely with a long term solution for your bedding.
The easiest way to tell how long a new memory foam mattress will last is to look at the density of the foam.
For a quality memory foam, you can expect a density of between 4 to 5 pounds per cubic feet, and this includes both the gel and standard variety.
Therefore, choosing a mattress that uses high-density memory foam is the best indicator that it’s been built to last.
Shopping for a new mattress is no easy feat, especially when you have to decide on the best material.
Gel memory foam mattresses are a popular choice for mattresses, whether they’re part of a hybrid design of a complete foam style, and they come with loads of benefits for the sleeper.
We’ve answered some FAQs about gel memory foam that might make your decision easier when looking for the perfect mattress.
How Long Does a Gel Memory Foam Mattress Last?
A memory foam mattress will usually last between eight to ten years if it’s well made, which is the same length you can expect from any other quality mattress.
Provided the bed is taken care of and purchase from a reputable brand, these mattresses will continue to give support and comfort for up to 10 years or more.
What is the Healthiest Mattress?
Mattresses are usually made with a range of different materials so it can be hard to find one that’s healthier than others.
If health is your main priority when shopping for a new mattress, choose one that features either organic cotton or wool as its batting.
These contain minimal or zero chemicals and there’s no risk of off-gassing or unpleasant smells.
What is the Warranty on a Gel Memory Foam Mattress?
Each mattress manufacturer has a warranty period for their products but as a quality standard when shopping for a gel memory foam mattress, you should choose one with at least a 10-year warranty.
Most brands offer this minimum amount of coverage on their mattresses and considering the cost, having one in place can put your mind at ease.