Updated August 1, 2020Since first appearing in mattresses in the early 90’s, memory foam has quickly become one of the most popular types of mattresses in the industry. Its body-contouring properties and excellent pressure-relieving qualities reduce aches and pains and ensures better sleep.A major drawback to memory foam is its tendency to trap heat, which is a result of its dense nature. To remedy this and prevent night sweats, mattress manufacturers now incorporate cooling properties like gel in their memory foam mattresses. Gel absorbs and disperses body heat to regulate body temperature.In our article, we discuss the best gel memory foam mattresses on the market today and provide a comprehensive guide on what to look for in your next bed.Our Recommended MattressView on ZomaRead Zoma customer reviewsZoma Highlights100-night sleep trial10-Year WarrantyDesigned for faster recoveryTriangulex™ technology promotes healthy postureComes in King, Queen, Twin, Full, and SplitsBest Gel Memory Foam MattressesMattressHighlightsPriceZoma MattressZoned support layer topped with gel for even pressure relief and optimal cooling.$750Brentwood Home CypressCharcoal-infused gel memory foam absorbs heat and wicks away moisture.$599BearGraphite-gel memory foam pulls heat away and conforms to the body to relieve pressure points.$840Perfect Cloud AtlasGel memory foam and two layers of open-cell foam provide better air circulation inside the mattress.$4501. Zoma MattressThe Zoma mattress is 11 inches thick and contains 2 inches of Triangulex™, 2 inches of Reactiv™, and 7 inches of Support+. The polyester-blend mattress cover wicks away moisture for better breathability.Triangulex™ is a top layer with a 3-zone support system— hundreds triangular-shaped segments form softer support under the head, shoulders, and legs, and firmer support under the back and hips. Triangulex™ provides even pressure relief for most sleepers, and is topped with gel for optimal cooling.Reactiv™ has a latex-like feel, meaning the foam has a responsive bounce to encourage spinal alignment and to prevent the sleeper from feeling “stuck.”Support+ is Zoma’s base layer: a high-density foam evenly distributes body weight across the sleep surface without risk of sagging.The Zoma mattress is designed for athletes and those who lead an active lifestyle. The cooling properties of the bed promote better airflow while absorbing heat, reducing inflammation and improving muscle recovery. Each foam layer is CertiPUR-US® certified— free of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde.Zoma includes a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty with the purchase of its mattress. The warranty covers any defects which could cause damage to the mattress and sagging greater than 0.75 inches.2. Brentwood Home CypressThe Brentwood Home Cypress is 11 inches thick and contains 1 inch of charcoal gel memory foam, 2 inches of poly-foam, and 8 inches of high-density foam. The soft-knit, polyester-spandex blend cover is designed to wick away moisture and provide a plush sleep surface.Infusing charcoal with the comfort layer, allows the memory foam to pull heat and moisture away from the body, enabling better temperature regulation. Charcoal gel memory foam provides a plush, contouring feel for excellent pressure relief, particularly in the shoulders and hips.The poly-foam transitional layer encourages spinal alignment and prevents the body from sinking too deeply into the mattress.High-density base foam evenly supports the body and reinforces the comfort layers of the mattress.The medium-firm feel of the Brentwood Home Cypress mattress makes it ideal for most sleepers— the supportive feel of foam keeps the body resting on top of the bed and maintains spinal alignment.Brentwood Home provides customers with a 1-year sleep trial and a 25-year warranty. The warranty covers sagging greater than 2 inches. During the first 10 years, Brentwood Home will repair or replace the mattress free of charge. During the last 15 years, Brentwood Home will choose to either repair or replace the bed at a prorated charge.3. BearThe Bear mattress is 10 inches thick and contains 2 inches of graphite-gel memory foam, 2 inches of transitional foam, and 6 inches of high-density foam. Bear infuses their mattress cover with FDA-determined Celliant® technology, transforming heat into energy for a rejuvenating rest.Graphite-gel memory foam conforms to the body, relieving pressure points, while evenly absorbing and distributing heat for temperature regulation.The transitional foam layer provides sleepers with balanced support by adapting to the body’s shape to keep pressure off the back, shoulders, and hips.High-density foam offers a long-lasting mattress and evenly supports the body with little risk of sagging.The Bear mattress has a medium-firm feel, perfect for most sleepers. This mattress is specifically designed for athletes— the open-cell structure of the top layers enables better air circulation while graphite-gel foam pulls heat away for optimal cooling.The Bear mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. The warranty covers sagging greater than 1 inch. During this 10-year period, Bear will repair or replace the mattress, with the customer covering shipping and handling fees.4. Perfect Cloud AtlasThe Perfect Cloud Atlas is 10 inches thick and contains 3 inches of Gel-Plus memory foam, 3 inches of double air flow comfort foam, and 4 inches of double air flow support foam. The stretch knit mattress cover provides a soft, plush feel with better air flow through its suede accents.Perfect Cloud’s signature Gel-Plus memory foam contours to the body’s natural curves, relieving pressure points and absorbing heat to regulate temperature.The double air flow comfort foam has air channels for better air circulation. Its responsive structure encourages spinal alignment and keeps the body resting on the surface.The support layer also contains a layer of double air flow foam— this support foam has a higher density to evenly distribute body weight with little risk of sagging.The Perfect Cloud Atlas memory foam, CertiPUR-US® certified mattress relieves tension in the shoulders and back.Perfect Cloud includes a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. The warranty covers sagging greater than 1.5 inches, where Perfect Cloud will repair or replace the mattress with the customer paying shipping costs.SEE ALSO: Mattress Size and Dimensions GuideTraditional Memory Foam vs. Gel Memory FoamThough popular, traditional memory foam runs the risk of retaining heat. Some sleepers may not mind this feature, but for hot sleepers or those who prefer a cooler surface, a gel memory mattress may be a better option.Traditional Memory FoamHeat and pressure from the body causes traditional memory foam, or viscoelastic foam to soften and conform to the body’s natural curves to relieve pressure points. Memory foam bounces back to its original shape once weight is removed.Gel Memory FoamGel memory foam has the same viscoelastic properties as traditional memory foam, but it contains cooling gel, either mixed or swirled in. Gel absorbs and evenly disperses body heat to regulate temperature— infusing memory foam with gel reduces the risk of overheating and provides better sleep.Other Types of Memory FoamOther than gel memory foam, mattress manufacturers also created other types of memory foam, including responsive plant-based foam, advanced open-cell foam, and copper or graphite-infused foam.Plant-BasedManufacturers partially replace petroleum with plant-based oils for a breathable, more responsive memory foam. Plant-based memory foam also has little to no off-gassing odor.Advanced Open-CellAll memory foam in mattresses has an open-cell structure, but injecting large amounts of air creates larger air pockets, enabling better air circulation inside the material. The result is advanced open-cell foam.Copper- or Graphite-InfusedSome manufacturers infuse copper or graphite into the memory foam to keep heat away from the body. Copper is a natural heat conductor which pulls heat away and may even improve local blood flow.Graphite is normally used to cool high-powered machines, like PCs. When infused with memory foam, graphite draws heat away and wicks away moisture.What to Look for in a Gel Memory Foam MattressBefore choosing your best mattress, consider its quality, your body weight and favored sleep position, as well as available sleep trials, return policies, and warranties. If you’re not sure if a gel memory foam mattress is right for you, take a look at other mattress types, including innersprings, latex, and hybrids.QualityTo determine gel memory foam quality and ensure a high-quality mattress, look at the foam density and ILD rating.Foam DensityFoam density is measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). Foam density determines how well the foam supports the body, or how long it takes the foam to spring back to its original shape. The higher the density, the slower the recovery. Most memory foam beds include a mix of low- and high-density foams.Low-density: 2.5 to 3.9 PCFMedium-density: 4.0 to 5.9 PCFHigh-density: 5.5 PCF or higherILD RatingILD, or Indentation Load Deflection, determines a foam’s firmness by measuring how much pressure it takes to make a 4-inch indent on the surface. The higher the number, the firmer the foam. Most memory foams range between 8 to 20— 10 is the ideal measurement for the best support.Body WeightBody weight plays a major role in choosing a mattress with the right firmness. Body weight is divided into three categories— light, average, and plus-size. Each group needs a specific balance of comfort and support for the best sleep.Light SleepersLight sleepers weigh less than 130 pounds. They need a softer surface to enable conforming, pressure-relief.Average SleepersAverage sleepers weigh between 130 pounds and 230 pounds. A medium is the right firmness level for them, offering a nice balance of comfort and support.Plus-Size SleepersPlus-size sleepers weigh more than 230 pounds. Heavy people need a firmer surface for even support without risk of sagging.Sleeping PositionSleeping position is another major factor in choosing the right mattress firmness. Each sleep position needs a certain level of cushioning and support to fill in gaps between the body and the sleep surface, in addition to adequate support to align the spine.Side SleepingSide sleeping is the healthiest sleep position. Side sleepers breathe better with reduced acid reflux and less pressure on vital organs, like the heart. Placing a pillow between the knees prevents spinal misalignment.The best mattresses for side sleepers are soft to medium in firmness for proper pressure point relief in the shoulders and hips.Back SleepingBack sleeping naturally aligns the spine, because of its direct contact with the surface. Placing a pillow under the knees reduces pressure in the lower back. Back sleepers face the risk of developing sleep apnea, where gravity causes the tongue to fall back, obstructing airways and soft tissue to collapse at the back of the throat.Back sleepers need a medium to firm mattress to cradle the hips and provide enhanced support to the lower back.Stomach SleepingStomach sleeping is the unhealthiest sleep position because of the large amount of pressure placed on the spine, resulting in neck strain and back pain. Neck strain occurs when the sleeper twists their head at an unnatural angle to breathe. Back pain occurs when gravity pulls weight in the midsection down, forcing the natural curve of the spine to straighten, and even sometimes, unnaturally arch. Placing a thin pillow under the hips relieves pressure in the lower back.Medium-firm to firm beds are the best mattresses for stomach sleepers because they keep the body resting on top of the surface and prevent deep sinkage.Combination SleepingCombination sleepers, or restless sleepers regularly toss and turn each night. Combination sleepers switch between 2 to 3 sleep positions, and may get the benefits of each, including reduced acid reflux and natural spinal alignment. However, combination sleepers also get the same health risks, like sleep apnea and back pain.A medium mattress is the best option for combination sleepers, maintaining spinal alignment and providing a balance of comfort and support for each sleep position.Sleep Trials, Return Policies, and WarrantiesFeatures like sleep trials, return policies, and warranties assure customers of a quality mattress purchase that will last.Sleep TrialSleep trials are a period of time the customer is given to try a new mattress within the comfort of their own home. Most sleep trials last between 90 to 120 nights— some companies require customers to keep the mattress for a mandatory “break in” period. If the customer isn’t happy with the mattress, most companies will pick up and donate the bed before issuing a full refund.Return PolicyA return policy is an okay substitute if a sleep trial is unavailable. Return policies last about 30 days— the same amount of time it takes most sleepers to adjust to a new sleep surface. Should the customer not like the mattress, they can return it for a refund.WarrantyA mattress warranty covers manufacturing defects which could cause damage to the bed and sagging greater than 1 inch (this measurement varies among mattress brands). Most mattresses come with a standard 10-year warranty and only applies to the original purchaser.Other Mattress TypesIf memory foam isn’t for you, other mattress types include innerspring, latex, and hybrids. Each mattress type offers its own unique feel, like the sponge-like feel of latex.InnerspringInnerspring is a common type of mattress found in most homes. Innerspring mattresses are known for their bounciness, cooling, and edge support from innerspring coils. A typical innerspring mattress contains a thin comfort layer of foam or fiberfill (usually in pillowtop form) and a support layer of innerspring coils.LatexLatex foam is similar to memory foam— latex contours around the body, relieving pressure points and offering excellent motion isolation. Unlike memory foam, latex is cooler and has a responsive bounce. A latex mattress contains a comfort layer of latex and a support layer of either high-density poly-foam or latex.There are two types of latex— synthetic and natural. Synthetic latex is created through a chemical process, while natural latex is made from rubber tree sap. Natural latex comes in two forms: Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop is 100% natural latex, while Talalay incorporates polyurethane fillers for its signature soft feel.HybridA hybrid mattress combines pressure-relieving memory foam with the responsive bounce of innerspring coils to form the perfect bed. Hybrids provide sleepers with all the benefits of both mattress types, including motion isolation, cooling, and edge support. Generally, a hybrid mattress contains a comfort layer of either memory foam or latex (must be at least 2 inches thick) and a comfort layer of individually-wrapped coils.Bedding AccessoriesBedding accessories are optional features to add to your new or current mattress. These features protect your mattress, provide enhanced comfort and support, and lend style to any living space.Mattress ProtectorA mattress protector shields the bed from spills and stains. They’re a great, low-cost option that may extend the life of your mattress. Most mattress warranties become void with liquid damage— instead of having to spend more money to replace a mattress, you can merely remove and machine wash the mattress protector.Mattress TopperMattress toppers alter the feel of the mattress surface, adding softness to a firm bed and support to a soft bed. Mattress toppers also add extra cushioning for better pressure relief, and could also expand the bed’s lifespan since there’s more wear and tear on the mattress topper instead of the mattress itself.Bed FrameBed frames are a stylish and functional addition to any bedroom. Always check the dimensions of your new or current mattress to ensure a perfect fit. An advantage of a gel memory foam mattress is that they don’t need a frame or foundation— they get plenty of support placed directly on the floor.Other Things to ConsiderHow long do gel memory foam mattresses last?Most high-quality gel memory foam mattresses last between 7 to 9 years. These beds usually last just as long as standard memory foam mattresses, as cooling gels don’t necessarily impact a bed’s lifespan. When looking for a long-lasting mattress, ensure it’s made with durable materials.Why is memory foam so hot?Memory foam has a very dense structure that doesn’t allow much airflow, which is why memory foam is known to retain heat. However, this problem is easily remedied by choosing a mattress containing cooling memory foam. Cool memory foam mattresses don’t always contain cooling gels, either, some are more cooling because they contain copper or graphite infusions or because they’re plant-based.Are gel mattresses good quality?It depends on the gel mattress! What determines the quality of the bed isn’t the addition (or lack of) cooling gels, it really depends on the durability of the mattress’s materials. Cooling foam beds with nothing but low-density layers aren’t great quality, but cooling foam beds with both high-density and low-density layers is good quality.Are gel mattresses good for back pain?They certainly can be. Many sleepers with back pain enjoy the cooling benefits of gel infusions. Cooling gels can help you get more comfortable sleep and, as a result, keep back pain at bay.Is gel memory foam or memory foam better?It’s a matter of personal preference. Many hot sleepers enjoy gel memory foam mattresses because they’re more cooling than traditional memory foam. However, traditional memory foam is popular for a good reason, and many people find comfortable sleep on these beds.ConclusionGel memory foam mattresses absorb and disperse body heat while conforming to the body, relieving pressure points— a great solution to traditional memory foam’s heat retention problem. Gel memory foam is perfect for hot sleepers and those who prefer a cooler surface. We hope our article helps you in finding the best gel memory foam mattress.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. 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