If you’ve been shopping for a new mattress, you might have encountered the latest battle for comfort, between memory foam and gel-infused memory foam. So, which one is best? Well, this will ultimately depend on what you want from a mattress, and how much you’re willing to spend.

Both memory foam and gel-infused mattresses foam offers a similar amount of comfort – the real pickle is choosing between the lower cost and heat retention of memory foam or the higher price but cooler sleep provided by gel memory foam. Before we get into any more details, let’s first understand what gel memory mattresses are.

Overview of Gel Memory Foam Mattresses

Products infused with the traditional gel are quite common that even cows get to use them. Gel-infused Pasture Mats are laid on the ground for cows to stand on. However, to use gel for enhancing comfort for humans, things had to change.

People aren’t as heavy as cows, meaning that the straight gel used in pasture mats simply won’t work for us as they push back too much. This is why gel mattresses for humans are often combined with memory foam to make hybrid foam mattresses that enhance comfort and ensure equal pressure across the body.

Gel-infused mattresses were first produced in 2006 by Charles Yost. Charles also developed memory foam mattresses in the 1970s for NASA, to be used in seats on airplanes. Gel memory foam was initially introduced to consumers in 2011, specifically designed to help keep the body cool and encourage the user to enter the more rejuvenating stages of sleep.

What is Gel Memory Foam?

Gel memory foam is memory foam that has been infused with gel microbeads. Adding gel microbeads to memory foam helps to create a more breathable foam, which helps to regulate your body temperature while you sleep. The gel microbeads also increase the density of the memory foam, to form a surface that is firm, yet soft.

Just as with the conventional memory foam, gel foam will still mold well to your body, though the key difference is that with gel, you won’t feel that hot, sinking feeling. The gel microbeads ideally wick away the heat, keeping you cool through the night.

How Does Gel Memory Foam Mattresses work?

To get a better mental picture of how gel works, consider a gel ice pack. Just as the gel inside the pack helps to keep food cold, gel-infused into the mattress usually helps to keep your body cool for the entire night.

Gel foam mattresses are made by either adding gel beads (special capsules that hold the gel), adding a gel layer on top of the comfort layer, and swirling liquid gel into the memory foam. The cooling gel ideally helps to dissipate heat, which allows the sleeper to sleep cool while enjoying the conforming and pressure relieving features of the memory foam.

Similar to the conventional memory foam, gel foam usually conform to the sleeper’s body for improved pressure relief and spinal alignment. The material also produces almost no noise and is great at isolating motion. However, when it comes to helping the user sleep cooler, results will vary depending on the brand. Keep in mind that gel memory foam tends to wear out over time, and might lose some of its cooling properties after prolonged use.

Types of Gel Memory Foam

Of course, what goes into the cooling gel is a secret closely guarded by the mattress manufacturers. Different companies integrate different concepts and designs into their memory foam products. For instance, some mattresses feature a gel pad layer either on top or beneath other layers of the mattress. Gel can also be poured into the foam mold while it sets, or is even placed within the layers of the mattress in bead form.

To address heating issues, some mattress manufacturers have products designed with a thermal gel layer, which is cold to touch and helps to lower the temperature of the trapped body heat. Other models come infused with phase changing gel, which ideally transitions from a solid to liquid when body heat is applied. This helps to cool the mattress from the inside out.

It’s worth noting that a gel-infused mattress will often offer higher cooling properties because the beads usually warm up to the body temperature first and cease to provide the same level of temperature regulation. This often happens when the gel beads are placed in the upper comfort layer.

The Gel Mattress Advantage

Gel-infused mattresses are popular mainly due to their breathability and comfort. Many customers have complained that plain memory foam mattresses become too hot, or that they get a “sunken” or “stuck” feeling because of how the mattresses shape around the body while lying on it.

Gel-infused mattresses are cooler: Since gel mattresses enhance air circulation in the mattress, they are cooler to sleep on, essentially allowing the body heat to escape instead of trapping it inside the mattress.

Gel mattresses spring back faster: Gel-infused mattresses typically spring back to their original shape much faster after pressure is applied. As such, the mattress shapes around the body faster. This means that for sleepers who move a lot in their sleep, the mattress won’t stay compressed after you switch from a position to another, and will instead shape around your body no matter where you move to. This makes gel mattresses more comfortable and reduces the feeling of being “stuck” that some customers have often complained about with conventional memory foam mattresses.

Many people choose gel mattresses for this spring-like feel – how quickly the mattress returns to its normal shape after you get up. Gel mattresses also offer a better cooling effect, though some users complain that the cooling effect wears off with time.

It’s also important to mention that a gel memory foam mattress is versatile enough, meaning that you can use it on a wide range of foundations, including a platform bed, box spring, an adjustable bed frame, slatted base, or even on the floor. It doesn’t matter the foundation you use so long as it can ensure even wear.

Other Gel Bedding Accessories

The quality of memory foam, mattress material, number and type of layers, as well as the size of the mattress will determine its final price. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why gel memory foam mattresses are typically more expensive than traditional memory foam options. Gel mattresses are also available for platform beds, adjustable beds, etc.

If you do wish to invest in a gel memory foam mattress but don’t want to break the bank in the process, gel-infused accessories such as mattress toppers and pads are great options.

• Gel-infused Mattress toppers: These are used to add an additional layer to your bed to improve its softness or firmness. The gel-infused toppers are usually 2 to 4 inches deep and can serve as a great way to see exactly how a gel memory foam mattress will feel.

• Gel Infused Mattress Pads: These are thinner versions of the mattress toppers. Nonetheless, both the pads and toppers serve as a top layer of the mattress to adjust its softness or firmness.

How Much Do Gel Foam Mattresses Cost?

As mentioned earlier, gel memory foam products are more expensive than standard memory foam products. Although the cost of infusing or adding gel into memory foam has significantly reduced over the years, it’s still an extra step in the manufacturing process, not to mention more material has to be taken into account when determining the cost of the final product.

To put it into perspective, gel-infused mattress toppers will cost you anywhere from about $50 to about $350 and above, depending on the size and the brand. Gel memory foam mattresses cost between less than $150 to around $5000.

What About Durability?

Since gel memory foam has only been on the market since 2011, it’s a bit too early to make conclusive determinations about the durability of the final product. Nonetheless, most gel memory foam products come with a zip-off cover to ensure easy care. A mattress protector is ideal for guarding against spills and stains, as the cover can be removed easily and washed in case a spill occurs.

Generally speaking, a high-density foam mattress can last for up to 8 to 10 years, unlike spring mattresses. You can expect a similar kind of longevity with gel-infused mattresses. A good way to gauge durability is to check the warranty. If there’s a 10-year warranty on the product, it’s likely that you won’t have to replace it within the 10-year period.

Should You Buy a Gel Memory foam Mattress?

Gel memory foam mattresses are designed to help sleepers to stay cool and comfortable while sleeping. As such, people who like to sleep hot or warm should steer away from gel mattresses and more on other mattress types. Overall, hybrid mattresses are better suited for heat retention, followed by innerspring mattresses.

Customer experiences with gel memory foam mattresses vary from brand to brand. To find the right choice, be sure to test out mattresses with gel-infused foam components and compare them with other similar offerings before making a purchase. The good thing is that most brick and mortar stores have a good selection of gel-infused mattresses.

Moreover, most of the mattress brands offer customers sleep trials that let customers experience their mattresses and return them within a given number of days after the original purchase. Customers who return the mattress within the trial period usually get a partial or full refund, with some companies even allowing the customers to switch their mattresses within the trial period.