Memory Foam vs Gel Foam

Memory Foam vs Gel Foam

Memory Foam vs Gel Foam

If you’re looking to invest in a new mattress, and haven’t looked online for a mattress for a long while, you’ll notice a lot has changed when it comes to materials.

There are a whole lot more than the coil spring and foam variants of the early 2000s, and that can make things a little confusing. All of the different materials, such as memory foam and gel foam, can make the choice quite daunting — especially when you consider each material does offer a unique sleeping experience.

A few questions you might be asking yourself include; which is best? What are the differences? What materials is most ideal for my sleeping position?

The good news is that, with regards to these two foams, there aren’t too many differences other than the price. The material makeup is quite different, however, the sleep feel is similar, which is good news when it comes to choosing one over the other.

Let’s take a look below at memory foam and gel foam and which material is best for your new mattress.

What is Gel Memory Foam?

To get started on our comparison, we’ll first take a quick look at what gel memory foam is, and how it is made.

In short, gel foam, or gel-infused memory foam is a relatively new material landing in stores in 2011. It’s primarily marketed to those who sleep in warmer climates or prefer a cooler mattress. The gel foam, or gel beads within the foam, rather, work to absorb heat and maintain body temperature.

This temperature stabilisation works wonders for those who have trouble sleeping when it’s too warm, and improves a night of sleep.

An easy way to understand how this foam works, is to think back to your ice packs in your school lunchbox. The gel packs in here absorb the cold air in the freezer and slowly release it through the day. The same process happens in the gel beads in the mattress, which keeps you cool throughout the night.

The Different Varieties of Gel Memory Foam

Keeping in mind we are in the mattress industry, there are always a tonne of different variant of the same material — and gel foam is no exception.

Most mattress manufactures integrate goal foam as a layer into their mattresses, rather than integrating beads throughout the memory foam as it is more affordable. That means, there is typically a gel foam layer sandwiched between two typical foam layers, which is what provides the cooling sensation.

There are, however, other variants where the gel beds are evenly distributed throughout the entire foam mattress. These models are, as mentioned, a little more costly, but offer a far better improved cooling experience for sleepers.

With those two types of gel foams in mind, the beaded models will offer the most effective cooling experience, so if you’re partial to a cooler sleep, then these models will be for you.

Comparing Gel Memory Foam and Traditional Memory Foam

The good news when it comes to comparing the two materials is that they do both offer a great sleeping experience. There isn’t one that’s overly better than the other, which means you can’t really go wrong.

As you might already know, both of these foam materials offer great motion isolation and prevent partners from waking one another up. It’s good to note that memory foam is so motion isolating that a wine glass can be sat down on the bed, and someone can jump on to the mattress without the wine glass spilling.

They also both provide a good level of body contouring and sinkage to take the weight out of the joints. This contouring is great for those who suffer from issues like arthritis. 

One of the most loved factors though, is both foam type’s ability to relieve pressure points, provide a weightless sensation and ultimately providing optimal comfort throughout the night.

A downside that is worth mentioning is traditional memory foam’s tendency to get a little too warm. Of course, there are open-cell foams that work to keep cool without gel bead infusions, though, they can still get a little warm after a night’s sleep.

Overall, Are Gel Foams Better

As we mentioned above, gel memory foam and traditional memory foam are very similar in their sleeping experience.

However, when it comes to the entire experience, the gel memory foam models can offer a little more comfort down to the temperature control. As we’re sure you’ll agree, no one wants to sleep on a hot mattress, and a gel foam mattress is going to ensure you’re kept nice and cool at night — something a traditional foam cannot do.

A second perk of the gel foam beds are their firmness layer integrations. A lot of mattresses come with gel foam rigidity layers, which keep the mattress from being too soft, and thus keep you supported more optimally. You won’t have that sinking and ‘stuck’ feeling on a gel foam bed.

Do Gel-infused Foams Last Longer

It’s no secret that mattresses are quite a big investment, and you’re likely concerned about the longevity of the relatively new technologies in gel foam.

As we said above, gel memory foam only landed on the market in 2011, which means there hasn’t really been a whole lot of time for the material to pass the decade-long testing mark. Comparatively, traditional memory foam has been around since the 1960s and certainly passes the longevity test.

We can say, however, that there are a few indicators in a gel-infused memory foam mattress that will let you know how long it will last. These include the density of the poly foam used in the mattress, the manufacturer and the bed’s number of foam layers or the thickness.

A memory foam mattress with gel beads should have a density of around 5 pounds per cubic foot for it to be considered a long-laster. Beds with a density lower than this are at risk of flattening over time.

In all, we can’t say whether the gel memory foam material will last longer than memory foam, though, considering the materials are quite similar, there’s a good chance that you’ll see a decade or more out of these mattresses.

The Five Mattresses We Would Consider

With a little about gel memory foam out of the way, you’re likely looking to delve into investing in a new gel foam mattress! To help make the process a little easier, we’ve listed some beds you can trust for comfort, durability and longevity.

Use these examples below to help guide you to choosing your next gel foam mattress and you’ll be on the right track to getting the best memory foam mattress.

Loom and Leaf – Our Winning Luxury Gel-foam Mattress

Off the top, this mattress is the one for you if you’re looking for a long-laster above all else. There’s a 15-year warranty here making sure that you’re covered for at least a decade.

When it comes to sleeping on this mattress, the heat transfer control was incredible, with the mattress returning to its original temperature in just seven minutes. That said, it’s the model that beats out just about everything else on the market today. A seven-minute cool down will also mean changing sleeping positions will have you falling into a cool new space on the bed.

There’s the ideal 5-pound density here too, that we mentioned above, so you’ll know you’re getting a foam that won’t flatten or distort over time.

It does come in at around $1,000 too, which means it isn’t all that expensive either, especially for a luxury model.

Materials

You’ll find an organic cotton cover here, with a gel-swirl integration into the memory foam below. There is also a transition pad here too, which is 2-inches thick to assist in the prevention of movement. Support comes in the form of the foam core, which is 5.5 inches thick.

The Good

High-end Quality

Well-ventilated Design

Designed with Durability in Mind

The Bad

It is a little expensive

Not a whole lot of firmness choices

The Brentwood Home Bamboo Gel – Our Top Choice All-rounder

The mattress that we’re confident will be a winner for just about all our readers is the Brentwood gel mattress. It’s one of the more affordable models on the market, and still comes with an ideal foam density and plenty of cooling features.

There’s an average price of around $600 which is a winner for us, and you’ll see a gel-foam integration in the upper layer of the mattress. Unlike models that add the gel foam to the entire bed, this variant simply keeps it up the top, close to where you’re sleeping.

The gel-foam layer is 3.5 inches thick, which makes it ideal to absorb body heat and expel it without issue.

To add, this mattress was surprisingly good at returning to its original temperature given that the gel foam layer was quite thin. It took just 10 minutes to return to room temperature, which makes it ideal, again, for those who like to get back into a cool mattress.

In all, we stand by the gel-foam doing its job in this mattress and keeping sleepers well-cooled at night as they sleep.

Materials

Topped in a bamboo cover there’s quality and anti-allergy features coming in handy right away, there’s New Zealand Wool here too, with a polyester cover wrapping the mattress. The gel-foam layer is 3.5 inches thick and the main foam layer is 7.5 inches, which is more than ideal for most sleepers. To assist in ventilation, there is an airflow layer too, which is 2 inches thick.

The Good

Excellent Quality for Price

Well-ventilated Internal Design

Mostly Natural Materials

25-year Warranty

The Bad

Can be a little too soft for some sleepers

Presents a sagging issue in time

A little lower foam density than some others on the list

eLuxury Mattress — Our Top Choice for eco-Gel

One of the thicker variants on the list, at ten inches in height, this mattress is a model that focuses on gel beads in the comfort layers at the top of the bed.

Although we would like to see a gel-infusion throughout the entire mattress, there is still an optimal level of cooling coming from the upper layer of beads. You’ll notice that cooling is relatively good here, and there won’t be any overheating issues here in time.

It’s good to note that this mattress has been developed without the use of heavy-metals too, which means you’re not seeing lead, mercury or any ozone depleters landing in here.

To end, the price of the mattress hovers around $800 depending on where you’re getting it from, and for the comfort and sleep experience, we’d say this is well worth it.

Materials

You’ll find a 3-inch gel foam layer at the top of this mattress and the 7-inch foam support later beneath is where you’ll see the majority of the sinkage coming in. It’s good to note you’ll be kept cool enough in that upper 3-inch layer though.

The Good

Washable Protective Cover

Remains Affordable for its Materials

Comes with a 10-year Warranty

Doesn’t Give Off an Odour

The Bad

A little too soft for some sleepers

Can over-sink in some situations

Drommabed — Our Winner with Proprietary Foam

To our gel memory foam mattress with a great proprietary foam, the Drommabed boasts Dunlop’s famous memory foam here in the comfort layer atop the bed. It is only around an inch and a half, though, this is plenty for most sleepers.

Made in the United States, you can rely on the quality of this mattress and reviewers online have outlined that the foam is well-curated to lifting weight from the joints.

When it comes to motion isolation, we’re glad to say that it’s also a winner in that almost all movement is prevented, keeping you asleep at night should someone move around a little too much.

There are also a few environmental perks outlined on the mattress’s website, such as reduced carbon emissions in manufacturing.

In all, this is one of the better gel foam mattresses on the list for our readers. With a 2.5 inch gel foam, you’re getting just enough to keep you cool during the night.

Materials

You’ll find a Dunlop Foam comfort layer here that’s 1.5 inches thick, along with the visco elastic gel foam with a 2.5-inch thickness. The base of the mattress is an 8-inch support foam, which means it’s a winner for heavier sleepers too.

The Good

12-year Warranty

Allergy-preventing

Delivery Service is Fast

Designed to Reduce Pain Associated with Joint Problems

Optimal Motion Isolation

The Bad

Not a firm enough model for heavier sleepers as the foam sinks too deep

Bear Mattress — Our Winner for Muscle Recovery

Our final mattress on the list, the Bear Mattress is our winner for those who would like a sleep surface that’s been designed to assist athletes in their recovery from injuries — as well as simply muscle recovery.

There’s a special material in here, known as Celliant Technology, which has been developed and proven to assist in the recovery of muscles and increase performance when it comes to activity and fitness.

That said, this is by far the winner for those who need a mattress that’s able to keep them on their toes and pain-free when it comes to sport.

As expected, there’s plenty of support here along with a 1-inch thick gel foam layer to absorb and dispel body heat with ease.

Materials

Within this mattress you’ll find a graphite-gel foam layer that’s an inch thick, along with a 1.5-inch foam layer for support, there’s also a 6.5-inch foam base and a 1-inch responsive foam layer. All of which come in to offer one of the more comfortable and responsive mattresses out there. There’s plenty of bounce, but also a lot of body-contouring too.

The Good

10-year Warranty

No Bad Smells

The Celliant Tech Offers a Recovery-focused Sleep

High-end Materials for an Affordable Price

The Bad

Edge can be a little too soft

Before Buying a Gel-foam Mattress

With all of that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to buying your next gel-memory foam mattress.

Of course, these materials and mattresses can be trusted, however, you’ll need to know where and what to look for. When it comes to memory foam, choosing a cheap or poorly built model can have you with exacerbated pain and an overall awful sleep experience.

Always be sure to take a look at the density of the foams used before making a purchase, and if you can’t find this information, then that is a red flag. One other thing to note is that you’ll need to consider your body weight, if you’re a heavier person, you’ll need a memory foam model that’s rather firm — or you’ll have to consider an innerspring instead.

That said, gel-foam mattresses are a better option for heavier sleepers than their traditional foam counterparts. You’ll be kept cool in the contours that your body makes.

At Sleepify, we’d suggest you invest in a higher-end model if you’re after a mattress that you can use for a long period of time. Foam beds which are cheaper tend not to last very long, and of course, this is a frustration.

In all, our biggest tip is to consider your weight, sleeping location and your budget when investing in a memory foam or gel memory foam mattress. Choose a mattress based on how you like to sleep, where you live and what you can afford and you’ll be on the right track for comfort and a pain-relieving sleep.

And there you have it!

Sleepify’s top gel foam mattresses and a little about the differences between memory foam and gel memory foam. Be sure to take a look at our other mattress reviews for some more information on why a gel foam bed might be best for you.

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