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Gel mattresses contain a cooling gel in addition to memory foam, or viscoelastic foam. For anyone considering buying a mattress, gel mattresses may be a suitable option due to their supportive and cooling properties.
In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of gel mattresses and suggest some of the options available to consumers.
A gel mattress contains a mixture of gel and memory foam. The gel works to absorb and draw heat away from the body. Therefore, a gel memory foam mattress may provide a cooler surface to sleep on.
Manufacturers have developed different ways of incorporating gel into the mattress. Some mattresses have gel microbeads mixed, or infused, into the memory foam. Others have gel layers either near the surface of the mattress or deeper down.
Most memory foam mattresses provide good body support and have low motion transfer. This means that when a person moves on one side of the mattress, a person on the other side stays relatively undisturbed.
Gel-foam mattresses offer similar support and stability, but their biggest selling point is their added cooling effect. This also makes them popular in mattress pads and mattress toppers.
Some benefits of a gel mattress include:
- cooling effect
- pressure relief
- good body and spinal support
- added comfort
Due to their cooling effect, gel mattresses may be more suitable for people who experience night sweats or those who live in hotter climates.
Medications, conditions, and other factors that may cause night sweats include:
One complaint against gel mattresses is that their cooling effect wears off quickly. It may feel refreshingly cool at first, but as the gel conducts heat from a person’s body, it gets warm and stays warm.
Gel-foam mattresses consist of synthetic materials and usually include polyurethane (PU) foam. PU foam and other chemicals that manufacturers use in gel-foam mattresses emit varying levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When inhaled, VOCs can have certain adverse health effects.
People can look for mattresses with a CertiPUR-US certification, which conveys that their production did not involve harmful chemicals and that they have a low VOC emission.
Some drawbacks of a gel mattress include:
- a short lasting cooling effect
- synthetic materials
- higher VOC levels than in some organic mattresses
- less sustainable production
Before buying a mattress, people should decide what their priorities are. This will help guide their searching and buying decisions. For example, a person may consider:
- sustainable production and materials
- CertiPUR-US certification
- free trial period
Additionally, an individual may wish to consider the following in a mattress:
People may also want to take into account their sleeping position, as different mattresses can suit different sleeping styles.
Side sleepers may benefit from medium-soft to medium-firm mattresses, while back and stomach sleepers may find medium-firm to firm mattresses more comfortable.
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Many gel mattresses are available on the market. Below, we list three products that individuals may wish to try.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Saatva Loom & Leaf mattress
For an antimicrobial top layer
The manufacturer of this mattress states that its higher price point is reflective of the high quality of its materials and construction. This mattress contains a 5-pound memory foam and high-density foam layers, both infused with gel.
The mattress is available in two firmness levels — relaxed firm and firm — and has an antimicrobial, quilted top layer. The foams used have CertiPUR-US certification and are free from harmful chemicals.
DreamCloud luxury hybrid mattress
For a lifetime warranty
This mattress is 14 inches (in) thick and offers medium-firm support and low motion transfer. It has a layer of individually wrapped coils, which the manufacturer says adapt to the sleeper’s body position. Further layers of memory foam and gel-infused memory foam add softness and help create a cooling effect.
This mattress contains CertiPUR-US certified foam and does not contain harmful materials. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and a 365-night free trial.
eLuxury gel memory foam mattress
For eco-conscious consumers
This is an option for those with a smaller budget who want an environmentally friendly mattress. It consists of a CertiPUR-US certified foam, forming a 3-in top layer of gel memory foam and a 7-in bottom layer of base foam.
The manufacturer delivers the mattress compressed into a box, which means it may take several hours for it to expand. The product comes with a 120-night free trial, so a person can return it if they feel it is not quite right.
Gel mattresses are only one of many options available on the market. Research suggests that a medium-firm mattress that can be self-adjusted is optimal for promoting sleep comfort and quality and proper spinal alignment.
Other types of mattresses that people may consider include:
A spring mattress contains one or more layers of metal coils, which provide a bouncy feel to the bed. An insulating material wraps around each coil to cushion it.
These mattresses are typically some of the least expensive options available.
These mattresses are naturally hypoallergenic, as they contain natural latex derived from tree sap. They may also help distribute body pressure more evenly in different sleeping positions.
Memory foam mattresses
Memory foam gradually forms around the body shape of a person lying on the mattress. Memory foam mattresses are a popular option due to the cradling feeling they provide. They are good for pressure point relief and promoting proper alignment of the spine.
Traditional memory foam uses a PU substance that is flexible but firm. Memory foam mattresses can also contain other layers of foam, which may provide additional support.
A hybrid mattress typically combines springs with layers of latex, memory foam, or gel memory foam. A hybrid aims to combine the best of these other types of mattresses and eliminate their individual issues.
These mattresses contain environmentally friendly materials, such as wool, cotton, and latex. They may help a person avoid exposure to VOCs, which can be harmful to health and the environment.
Below are some of the most common questions and answers about gel mattresses:
Whom are gel mattresses best for?
Gel mattresses have a cooling effect, so they may suit individuals who live in hot climates or those who experience night sweats.
Are there any risks associated with gel mattresses?
As gel mattresses use synthetic materials, there may be a risk of their emitting VOCs, which can have adverse health effects if inhaled.
People may wish to consider mattresses with a CertiPUR-US certification, as this indicates low VOC emissions.
What are the benefits of a gel mattress?
Gel mattresses can provide support to the spine and body, relieving pressure. The main benefit is their cooling effect, which may help a person enjoy better sleep quality.
Gel mattresses may be a suitable choice for people looking for comfort, spinal support, and a cooling effect. Individuals with conditions that cause increases in body temperature or night sweats may prefer gel memory foam mattresses.
This type of mattress is typically more expensive than other options. However, many companies offer free trial periods, so a person can try the mattress to see whether it suits their needs.