Gel memory foam is a relative newcomer to the mattress market that is getting a lot of attention from manufacturers and stores alike, so what is it and how does it compare to standard memory foam mattresses? We look at Gel Memory foam vs Memory foam below…
What is Memory Foam?
First off, it’s important we understand what memory foam actually is and why it has received such high praise from manufacturers and consumers.
Developed by NASA in 1966 as a means of providing astronauts comfort and protection, memory foam quickly became a manufacturing must-have due to its ability to mold to our bodies and give a superior level of comfort.
Memory foam is a polyurethane foam which is also known as viscoelastic. In mattresses, this means that memory foam reacts to our body temperature and pressure so that when we lie on it, it hugs our bodies.
If you’ve ever tried a memory foam mattress you will know that it has a unique feeling of hugging our bodies that isn’t present in mattresses like open coil or pocket sprung.
What are the Benefits of Memory Foam?
Memory foam mattresses are among the most sought after on the market today.
Due to the way memory foam supports our bodies, it doesn’t allow for movement at one side of the bed to travel to the other side. This is unlike standard open coil mattresses where when one partner turns the other will feel it. Memory foam solves that problem.
Another strong benefit of memory foam is how it distributes a sleeper’s weight. Memory foam contours to the body so it provides us with different levels of support from our head to our feet. This means that no one part of the body digs into the mattress.
Why is that important? Well, it prevents so-called pressure points. For people who have existing joint pain or back problems, pressure points can lead to moderate to severe pain that prevents proper sleep.
Advertisements for memory foam regularly boast of its ability to prevent pressure points. They also suggest that memory foam can be a good choice for back support because it can distribute our weight evenly.
It’s important to stress that due to the nature of sleep and how it can be difficult to study, the scientific evidence to support memory foam’s pain-relieving benefits isn’t available.
However, evidence is available that having a supportive mattress can greatly improve sleep and lessen back pain. Some arthritis sufferers do therefore see a benefit in memory foam for giving the support they need while also providing comfort.
What are the Drawbacks of Memory Foam?
Memory foam has its uses and many people swear by its benefits, particularly those who live with chronic pain. However, memory foam does come with a few drawbacks.
Memory foam tends to deaden our movement. That’s great when we share a bed with someone who is a restless sleeper, but for those who need to or want to turn during the night, memory foam might not be the best fit.
The most significant drawback of memory foam, though, stems from how it reacts to our body heat. Memory foam molds to our bodies due to our heat and pressure. Memory foam traps that heat to keep it present and maintain its body-hugging properties.
In the colder months, memory foam mattresses can help to keep us warm. In warmer months, or if we live in warmer climates, this heat-trapping can be a problem that might interrupt our sleep.
That’s where gel memory foam comes in.
What is Gel Memory Foam?
Gel memory foam tries to solve memory foam’s temperature problem. It relies on adding a substance to the memory foam to keep things cool.
During manufacturing, mattress makers will add or infuse gel into the foam mattress. A variety of techniques might be employed to achieve this. For example, manufacturers will inject gel beads into the foam layer which may help to absorb some of that extra heat.
A few alternative methods exist. One is to add an extra gel layer into the layers that make up the mattress itself or even swirling gel into the memory foam during its production.
Gel isn’t the only material used to try to cool memory foam down. Manufacturers are increasingly turning to plant-based materials to provide alternatives to memory foam that give the same support without off-gassing or retaining too much heat.
What are the Benefits of Gel Memory Foam?
Manufacturers claim that gel memory foam mattresses provide the benefits associated with regular memory foam mattresses, including their body contouring capabilities and their superior support while keeping the sleeper cooler than regular memory foam.
Different manufacturing methods for creating gel memory foam mattresses may lead to different levels of cooling, so it is worth checking the particular properties of a mattress before your buy it.
What are the Drawbacks of Gel Memory Foam?
Available for around a decade now, gel memory foam is a relative newcomer to the market. While that is unlikely to be a deal-breaker for most people, some buyers may be put off because they want a mattress whose benefits are well documented.
Another drawback, and one that might be more important, is that gel memory foam mattresses tend to be more expensive than regular memory foam. This is not always true, but buyers should not be shocked to see higher price tags.
Due to the addition of the gel to gel memory foam mattresses, the mattresses also tend to be firmer than regular memory foam. They may also feel heavier than their counterparts. This might not be ideal if you need to move your bed regularly.
Gel memory foam, like other memory foam mattresses, may also smell when they are first unpacked. This is called off-gassing and while it may not be pleasant if you are particularly sensitive to smells, research shows that it is unlikely to be a problem for most healthy adults.
Airing out the mattress for a few days and keeping the room particularly well ventilated for a few weeks can be helpful.
Gel Memory Foam Vs Memory Foam, how to choose between the two.
If you are someone who struggles to keep cool while sleeping but really need the properties of a memory foam mattress, a gel memory foam mattress might be a good choice.
And, again, if you live in a warmer climate but believe you would benefit from the body-hugging properties of memory foam, a gel memory foam mattress might be a good option.
If temperature is not a concern for you, or you would prefer a slightly less firm mattress that still has contouring, then regular memory foam might be great for your needs.
Lastly, the price tag of the mattress you are interested in might be a deciding factor. Gel memory foam can be more expensive than a regular memory foam mattress, so if your budget is your chief concern, a regular memory foam mattress might do the job.
What do you think? Have you tried gel memory foam and found it to be better than regular memory foam? Or have you not noticed a difference? We’d love to hear your opinion on ‘Gel Memory Foam Vs Memory Foam' in the comments below.