Memory foam mattresses mold to a person’s body. They are a good option for supporting the spine and reducing lower back pain.
However, memory foam also traps heat and can cause night sweats. A gel memory foam mattress contains additional cooling gel to draw heat away from the body.
This article looks at the pros and cons of memory foam mattresses and gel memory foam mattresses and which one to choose.
Traditional memory foam, or viscoelastic foam, contains polyurethane, a type of polymer.
Memory foam mattresses have a softer foam layer on top that forms around the body over several nights. They have layers of dense foam underneath for support.
Some benefits of a memory foam mattress include:
- limiting the transfer of movement around the bed, which is helpful for people who sleep with a restless partner
- molding to a person’s body and providing pressure relief
- a firm but a comfortable surface with good spinal support
Disadvantages of a memory foam mattress include:
- trapped heat and can cause overheating and night sweats, which are uncomfortable during warmer evenings
- the dense foam layers make these mattresses heavy and harder to move
A gel memory foam mattress also contains a cooling gel. The gel works to absorb and draw heat away from the body. The gel memory foam mattresses provide a cooler surface on which to sleep.
Gel memory foam mattresses contain gel beads or liquid. The gel is either spread throughout the mattress or a thin layer on the surface.
Some benefits of a gel memory foam mattress include:
- a cooler surface to sleep on, particularly during warming nights
- reduced motion transfer
- molding to the body and supports the spine
Disadvantages of a gel memory foam mattress include:
- expense; they typically cost more than a standard memory foam mattress due to the extra materials and cooling technology
- a chemical smell
- weight; they are heavier than other mattresses
|Reasons to buy memory foam mattress
|Reasons to buy gel memory foam mattress
|Lower price: People on a budget, may prefer to buy standard memory foam mattresses
|Cooling effect: People in warmer climates or who heat up easily may prefer gel memory foam mattresses to keep them cool during the night
|Want a warmer mattress: Those in colder climates may benefit from the additional heat than standard memory foam mattresses provide
|Offers the same benefits as traditional memory foam: These mattresses still offer the same support, pressure relief, and minimal motion transfer to a standard memory foam mattress
A memory foam mattress may suit people with back conditions.
Memory foam mattresses offer spinal support by forming the shape of the person’s body and distributing the weight evenly. This can reduce stress on the body and relieve back pain.
A memory foam mattress may benefit people with pressure ulcers. A 2017 study found that adding a memory foam layer to hospital mattresses reduced pressure injuries in patients with severe illness.
A memory foam mattress may also suit people who feel the cold or sleep in cooler climates. The mattress retains heat well.
A gel memory foam mattress also supports the back and is a good choice for people with back problems, such as lower back pain.
A gel memory foam mattress can help people with conditions that increase their body temperature, which might lead to night sweats.
Conditions and medications that can cause night sweats include:
- stress and anxiety
- certain medications, such as antidepressants, steroids, or painkillers
- low blood sugar
- hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating
People who sleep in hotter climates may also find a gel memory foam mattress more cooling. This might include warmer countries or locations in the building, such as the top floor of a building.
Cooler mattresses can provide better sleep in these conditions.
Memory foam and gel memory foam mattresses are similar.
Both mattresses mold to the shape of a person’s body, offer good back support, and relieve pressure. They can also limit motion transfer, which is helpful for people sleeping with a restless partner.
The main difference between memory foam and gel memory foam is temperature control. Gel memory foam mattresses contain a cooling gel that draws heat away from the body.
People with conditions that cause increases in body temperature or night sweats may prefer gel memory foam mattresses. These will provide a cooler night’s sleep.
Those who sleep in colder climates may benefit from traditional memory foam mattresses. These mattresses trap heat and provide warmer night’s sleep.