The mattress industry continues to advance. They are always finding new ways to improve sleep. Gel memory foam is one of the newer advances. It has several benefits over traditional memory foam.
Memory foam is a very comfortable material but it can often sleep hot. Gel memory foam solves this problem, as the gel-infused material is better at dispelling heat. Its breathability helps sleepers stay cooler at night.
Gel memory foam can come in a couple of different forms. Sometimes, it is a comfort layer of foam infused with tiny gel beads, which improves the air circulation of the material. The other way it can be done is to add a layer of pure gel near the top of the mattress.
Gel foam sleeps cooler than the typical memory foam, although plant-based and open-cell memory foam can also cool efficiently. It has a lot of the same benefits as memory foam - pressure relief, support, and motion isolation.
The gel material reduces motions transfer really well. It works so that partners aren't disturbed by each other's movements. It can be very useful for couples who sleep in the same bed, especially if one tends to be restless at night.
Gel foam is an even more supportive material than memory foam. It's also more effective at reducing pressure. The denser gel foam is excellent at maintaining spine alignment, which prevents back pain.
Durability is also a key benefit of gel foam. Mattresses with gel foam will maintain their initial comfort levels even better than memory foam, which can form body impressions over time.
This is a newer material, meaning it hasn't necessarily been perfected. Some gel memory foam will heat up after you lay in bed for a while, so it still sleeps hot. This may especially happen with the pure gel layers, rather than the gel-infused foams.
Gel foam is also not as environmentally conscious as other options, such as latex or plant-based foam. It's not a natural solution and can give off a chemical smell at first, just like memory foam.
You can avoid a low-quality gel foam mattress by reading reviews, and researching the brand. Looking at the amount of gel memory foam can also indicate how comfortable it will be. You'll likely want at least a couple of inches near the top layer to fully experience the benefits of the gel foam.
These mattresses work well for a variety of sleeping positions. Stomach sleepers will find that firmer options offer the right mix of contouring and support. Side sleepers will get enough pressure relief in their shoulder and hip areas with softer options. Back sleepers will also find a gel foam mattress supportive and comfortable.
Hot sleepers who want a memory foam feel will especially benefit from a gel foam mattress. The cooling and breathability aspects are much better than the typical memory foam bed.
Gel foam mattresses work well for sleepers who deal with back pain. They're great for spinal alignment and pressure relief. A gel memory foam mattress is good for your back because it supports you in the optimal position.
The motion dampening benefits of gel foam make it a great choice for couples. They'll find they can get a good night's sleep even with a partner moving around next to them because the gel foam limits the transfer of motion across the bed.
Think about your needs, sleeping style, and preferences when deciding on a bed. Gel memory foam has its own set of pros and cons. If you value cooling, pressure relief, and support, then a gel foam mattress could be the best fit for you.
Find a softer comfort level if you're a side sleeper, and firmer option if you're a stomach sleeper. This depends on your preferences, but is what's recommended.
Hot sleepers will want to make sure they're getting something that will actually stay cool throughout the night. Typically the gel-infused foams are better at cooling than the full layers of gel.
Remember, the density of the gel tends to make it feel firmer. If you want something pillow soft, gel may not be the way to go.
Check out the warranty and sleep trial period for any mattress you're interested in. The length of the warranty can indicate quality, showing how long the company is willing to back it for. A gel foam mattress should last about 8-10 years. Take advantage of the trial period, usually 120 nights, to test out one of the gel mattresses with no risk.
For more information on mattress brands or individual models, read our mattress reviews.
Is a gel mattress better than memory foam?
Gel foam has a few benefits over traditional memory foam. It's more cooling, durable, and pressure-relieving. However, it takes more materials, so it can be more expensive.
Are gel foam mattresses safe?
As long as you buy from a reputable brand, gel foam should be safe. You can check whether it's approved by CertiPUR-US®. Gel foam mattresses do have a chemical smell when brand new, just like memory foam.
Do gel foam mattresses need a box spring?
Typically, a gel foam mattress does best on a more solid foundation, like a platform bed. They work well with an adjustable base. Check your mattress warranty, as they will sometimes specify what foundation must be used. They can void the warranty if the mattress is not placed on the correct type of base.
We've collected some of the highest-rated gel memory foam mattresses below.