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Memory foam is renowned for its stellar pressure relief and its ability to absorb movement, allowing for uninterrupted sleep with a partner. However, memory foam has a tendency to trap heat, resulting in a dilemma for hot sleepers. To work around this, manufacturers have developed gel memory foam.
Designed to sleep cooler than the traditional version, gel memory foam works via the action of gel beads or gel swirls. The gel is interspersed through the memory foam, where it absorbs heat to prevent it from building up around the sleeper.
Every manufacturer makes its gel memory foam a little differently, and some are more successful than others when it comes to temperature neutrality. As you look for a new gel mattress, it pays to do your research so you can be sure you’re getting a mattress that meets your expectations.
We’ll discuss some of the best gel mattresses on the market today and provide advice on how to choose the one right for you.
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Why It’s Best Overall
With a unique construction that incorporates gel swirls for added lumbar support, the Loom & Leaf Mattress leverages all the advantages of gel foam to provide sleepers with pressure relief and versatility.
What It’s Made of
The Loom & Leaf Mattress by Saatva is a 12-inch model sold in two firmness options: medium firm (6) and firm (8). Both models include an organic cotton cover with antimicrobial treatment and a non-toxic thistle fire barrier.
In the center third of the mattress, a spinal zone gel layer offers cooling lumbar support. This sits atop a layer of gel-infused memory foam and a second, denser layer of pressure-relieving memory foam. A high-density polyfoam base provides stability and support.
How It Performed
Side sleepers experience an excellent balance of support and pressure relief from the Loom & Leaf. The added lumbar support helps relieve pressure buildup for back sleepers, and the firm model provides support for stomach sleepers, preventing sinking in the midsection.
Memory foam is known for its ability to isolate motion, and the dense foams used in the Loom & Leaf help reduce disturbances for couples, particularly on the medium firm (6) model. Due to the gel infusions, the mattress sleeps cooler than traditional memory foam models. Our testers also found it relatively easy to switch positions and use the edges of the firm model.
The mattress is available in the six standard sizes as well as split king and split California king. Saatva offers free White Glove delivery in the contiguous U.S., and customers can also add on old mattress removal at the time of checkout for no additional fee. The Loom & Leaf has a lifetime warranty and a 365-night sleep trial. Returned mattresses are subject to a $99 fee.
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A high-quality gel mattress can be an expensive investment, but the Bear Original is a notable exception. The triple-layer design offers a firm (7) feel and exceptionally strong support for an all-foam model, making the mattress suitable for those who typically find this type of mattress too soft. During our tests, the Original also excelled in a few performance areas where plusher foam beds typically fall short.
What It’s Made of
The Bear Original’s topmost layer is composed of memory foam infused with graphite-based cooling gel intended to offset heat retention. An open-cell composition for the foam delivers additional breathability. Dense polyfoam makes up the transitional and support layers, reinforcing the firm feel to keep your body on an even plane. Altogether, the mattress measures 10 inches thick.
A cover made from Celliant-blend fabric encases the foam layers. Celliant is engineered to help you physically recover during sleep by converting your body heat into infrared energy. This material also feels cool to the touch and promotes comfortable temperature regulation throughout the night.
How It Performed
Our testing team’s response to the Bear Original was overwhelmingly positive. Particularly strong ratings came from our side sleepers weighing more than 230 pounds, back sleepers of at least 130 pounds, and stomach sleepers under 130 pounds. All of these testers remarked on the Original’s above-average support, comparing the mattress favorably to softer all-foam beds that often sink to an excessive extent.
During our motion isolation tests, we noticed little to no motion transfer when lying next to someone else on the mattress. This makes the Original a good choice for anyone whose sleep is frequently disrupted by their partner’s movements. Our temperature control tests revealed some heat buildup, but not as much as we’ve noticed with softer foam mattresses.
In addition to an affordable sticker price, the Bear Original ships free of charge to customers in the contiguous U.S. Each order includes two free pillows, but you can upgrade this offer to a discounted bedding set that features both pillows along with a sheet set and mattress protector. Bear’s sleep trial runs for 120 nights. A lifetime manufacturer’s warranty covers structural defects for as long as you retain original ownership.
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The Casper Wave Hybrid has several features that set it a notch above the standard foam mattress.
What It’s Made of
Measuring 13 inches thick, the Casper Wave Hybrid contains four foam layers over a pocketed coil base with reinforced polyfoam edges. The mattress is wrapped in a cover made from recycled polyester, upcycled cotton, rayon, and lycra.
The top layer of the mattress is made with perforated Airscape polyfoam coated with cooling phase change material. Beneath that is a layer of natural latex, followed by a zoned layer of Airscape polyfoam that enhances overall support. Finally, a layer of polyfoam with targeted gel pods provides pressure-point relief for side sleepers and those needing extra back support.
Casper also offers the Casper Wave Hybrid Snow, an optional upgrade with additional cooling features.
How It Performed
The Casper Wave Hybrid stands out in almost all categories. Its medium (5) feel is ideal for side and back sleepers, as well as stomach sleepers under 230 pounds. The comfort layers form a deep cradle to isolate motion, reduce noise, and avoid pressure point formation. Below, the firmer layers of polyfoam help facilitate movement and add bounce.
The edges hold up well under pressure thanks to the reinforced perimeter, and the various cooling features keep the sleep surface cool. Made with high-quality foams, the Casper Wave Hybrid has a long expected lifespan.
Casper offers a 10-year limited warranty and a 100-night sleep trial, with a mandatory 30-night break-in period. The company offers free shipping to the contiguous U.S. and Canadian provinces.
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Designed with multiple layers of pressure-relieving materials, the DreamCloud Premier aims to ease tension and help sleepers maintain good spinal alignment.
What It’s Made of
The DreamCloud Premier is a 14-inch hybrid model with a medium firm (6) feel. This mattress features a cashmere blend Euro-top cover quilted with two 1-inch layers of memory foam and gel memory foam. A 2.5-inch polyfoam transitional layer helps prevent excessive sinkage. Rounding out the bed is an 8.5-inch layer of pocketed coils, with a polyfoam base for added stability.
How It Performed
Combining the advantages of memory foam and innersprings, the DreamCloud Premier offers strong motion isolation, above-average edge support, and a responsive sleep surface that enables easy position changes.
The gel-infused memory foam is engineered to draw heat away from the surface of the bed, allowing it to dissipate through the coils in the support core. Because the coils are individually wrapped, the DreamCloud Premier makes little to no noise when bearing weight.
The mattress performs well for all sleeper types, but it performs especially well for side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds, for whom the memory foam forms a pressure-relieving cradle that keeps the spine aligned.
DreamCloud ships free to the contiguous U.S. and offers a 365-night sleep trial with a 30-night requirement. The mattress is covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
Best for Side Sleepers
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Plusher mattresses with thick comfort layers often appeal to side sleepers, who tend to experience pressure buildup in their hips and shoulders. The Softer WinkBed is the softest model of the WinkBed, falling at a 4 on our 10-point firmness scale. A thick foam comfort system paired with sturdy coils offers cushioning for a side sleeper’s sore spots while promoting spinal alignment.
What It’s Made of
A gel-infused polyfoam quilted Euro-top cover gives the Softer WinkBed’s surface an invitingly plush feel that contours to the body and alleviates pressure. Underneath is a proprietary Support Cell polyfoam layer that prevents you from sinking too deeply into the mattress. Next is a polyfoam transitional layer that acts as a buffer between the comfort system and the coils.
Pocketed coils in a zoned configuration make up the support core. Thicker coils are zoned beneath the midsection to reduce sagging and promote spinal alignment. A perimeter reinforcement bolsters the edges, preventing it from sinking when you sleep near the edges or get in and out of bed. A breathable and moisture-wicking Tencel cover encases the mattress.
How It Performed
Thanks to the softer feel and foam layers, the mattress earned its highest ratings from side sleepers on our team, especially those who weigh less than 130 pounds. Our testers who use this position noticed significant cushioning without excessive sinkage. Back sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds also found the mattress supportive, but those in higher weight categories may sink too deeply.
Many mattresses with foam layers tend to trap heat during our tests, but the Softer WinkBed was a notable exception. Thanks to the breathable cover and steady airflow through the coils, our hot sleepers noticed minimal heat buildup. We also recommend the mattress for couples. The foam layers absorbed most movement and noise when we moved across the surface, so you should notice very few disturbances if you sleep with a restless sleep partner.
WinkBed offers free shipping to customers living in the contiguous U.S. and a 120-night sleep trial. If you decide to keep the mattress after the trial, it is backed by a generous lifetime warranty covering structural defects.
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Gel mattresses are known for their cooling properties, but the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe stands apart from other gel-infused beds for its exceptional cooling features. This model should feel comfortable for most sleepers who overheat or sweat a lot at night.
The mattress is available in three firmness options that correspond to medium soft (4), medium firm (6), and firm (7) on our firmness scale. All models begin with a cushioned layer of CopperFlex, a proprietary gel-infused foam that contours to the body. Beneath is a TitanFlex foam layer with a moderately bouncy feel, followed by a gel-infused memory foam layer in the two softer models and a firmer VariFlex foam layer in the firm model. Rounding out the construction is a support core of pocketed coils.
Between the multiple firmness options and the even balance of support and cushioning, our test team found the Aurora Luxe to be suitable for a wide range of sleepers. Side sleepers gravitated toward the two softer models, while back sleepers benefited more from the two firmer models. Stomach sleepers who weigh above 130 pounds found the firm model ideal for preventing their midsection from sagging into the bed.
Hot sleepers should have no problem staying cool with the Aurora Luxe, since air circulates freely through the bed’s interior and the foam layers are designed with cooling gel. The surface is also infused with TitanCool, a phase change material that’s meant to further minimize heat retention.
Brooklyn Bedding offers customers 120 nights to try out the mattress. You may return the bed within this timeframe for a full refund. The bed is backed by a 10-year warranty and the mattress ships free to addresses in the contiguous U.S.
Best Temperature Regulation
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If you’re in the market for a memory foam mattress that doesn’t retain as much heat as competing models, the Nectar Premier is a worthy option. Foam beds are known for trapping heat, but this model is designed with cooling features that help regulate temperature on the surface.
The mattress is constructed with a 3-inch memory foam comfort layer that molds closely to evenly distribute your weight and reduce pressure in sensitive areas of your body. This layer is infused with cooling gel and phase change material to make the mattress suitable for hot sleepers. Transitional and base layers of high-density polyfoam reinforce the comfort layer to help maintain an even surface for your body.
During testing, we found the Premier had a medium firm (6) feel and provided ample cushioning for side sleepers along the shoulders and hips. This can improve spinal alignment and ease discomfort that often comes from using this sleep position. The mattress is also well suited to back sleepers, who need cushioning along the spine and support for the lower back. Motion isolation is a strength of the Premier. The foams absorb movement and prevent it from spreading across the surface, making the mattress a good option for people who wake up easily from their sleep partner’s movements.
The mattress is fairly expensive compared to other all-foam models, but Nectar will ship it for free anywhere in the contiguous U.S. You’ll receive 365 days to test out the mattress, along with a lifetime warranty.
Best for Back Pain
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Shoppers who want to focus on sustainability may be interested in the Brentwood Oceano, made with pressure-relieving plant-based foams and natural materials.
What It’s Made of
Measuring 14 inches thick, the hybrid Brentwood Oceano Mattress has a Tencel cover and a wool fire barrier that is certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard. Paired with a lightweight polyester-silk blend for added breathability, the wool adds resilience and wicks moisture away from the sleeper.
The top layer of the comfort system contains open-cell, plant-based memory foam that hugs the sleeper to relieve pressure points. This sits atop a 2.5-inch layer of micro-coils and another inch of polyfoam. The support core consists of a second 8-inch layer of pocketed coils, divided into seven zones with a reinforced perimeter. A final layer of polyfoam and GOTS-certified, fair-trade cotton canvas serve as the base.
How It Performed
With a pressure-relieving medium soft (4) feel, the Brentwood Oceano falls on the plusher side of the firmness spectrum. This makes it ideally suited to side sleepers and those who weigh less than 130 pounds. Typical of a hybrid mattress, the Oceano offers strong edge support, above-average temperature regulation, and a responsive surface that facilitates movement. Although it has two layers of coils, the mattress has a sturdy build that resists excessive noise.
Brentwood Home offers a 25-year warranty and a 365-night sleep trial with a 30-night requirement. Shipping is free in the contiguous U.S., and the mattress is sold in the standard sizes as well as split king.
Best for Couples
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The Lytton Sleep Signature Comfort Plush is a hybrid bolstered with coil support, but adaptive foam layers beneath the surface make this mattress feel softer than most competing hybrid models. We also noticed minimal surface transfer when testing the mattress for motion isolation. You shouldn’t experience too many disruptions when your sleep partner changes positions or gets up during the night, and vice versa.
What It’s Made of
The Signature Comfort Plush’s top polyfoam layer is infused with gel to dissipate body heat and help the surface stay cool. A second foam layer provides additional padding and contouring to alleviate discomfort in sore spots along your spine. With 4 inches of foam cushioning, the mattress has a medium (5) feel.
The support core contains pocketed coils engineered to move independently from each other, resulting in sturdy reinforcement without excessive motion transfer. Coils beneath your torso and hips are thicker, allowing you to lie comfortably without sinking too much, while thinner coils offer a gentler feel for the head and legs. The Signature Comfort Plush measures 13 inches thick, making it a high-profile mattress.
How It Performed
As is often the case with softer mattresses we test, the Signature Comfort Plush fared particularly well with side sleepers on our team. Those weighing 230 pounds or less gave the mattress favorable ratings. Our back and stomach sleepers under 130 pounds also felt comfortable and adequately supported on the Signature Comfort Plush. During our pressure relief tests, the body sensors detected very little buildup in the shoulders and hips of our side sleepers. These are two common pressure areas for people who primarily use the side position.
Standard ground shipping is free for all customers in the contiguous U.S. Lytton Sleep’s mattress trial period allows you to test the Signature Comfort Plush for up to 100 nights, and return the mattress if you aren’t satisfied after sleeping on it for at least 30 nights. Those who keep their purchase receive a manufacturer’s warranty covering structural defects for up to 20 years.
The SleepFoundation.org team is made up of experts in the sleep space. To compile our best-of lists, we use a comprehensive testing process that looks at how each mattress performs on various factors such as edge support, pressure relief, and motion isolation. As part of this process, we also measure how much heat the mattresses retain using a hot water bottle and a thermal camera.
Our in-house testing team, which includes people of varying body types and sleep position preferences, combined objective results with their own subjective opinions to provide you with this look at the best gel mattresses currently on the market.
A gel mattress contains at least one layer of gel-infused memory foam or polyfoam in the comfort system. Generally found in the form of beads or swirls, the gel infusions are intended to help regulate temperature by absorbing heat and pulling it away from the bed’s surface. As a result, gel mattresses often sleep cooler than traditional memory foam models. Gel foam may also feature perforations or an open-cell design to further enhance airflow.
The gel-infused foam layers can be paired with a polyfoam support core or with innerspring coils in the case of a gel hybrid mattress. There may also be other layers in the comfort system.
Gel-infused foam usually supplies conforming pressure relief, but the feel of the mattress also depends on the other layers and the exact firmness and makeup of the gel foam.
Buying a gel mattress comes with special considerations. Buyers must decide on not only the composition and placement of the gel foam, but also on the type of mattress.
If you’re thinking about whether you should get a gel mattress, you may find it helps to have an understanding of how gel infusions contribute to the overall feel of the mattress, who is best suited to a gel mattress, and what other factors should be taken into account when buying a bed.
Gel is a proprietary material that differs in its makeup from manufacturer to manufacturer, which sometimes makes it challenging to compare and contrast models. That said, there are several key points that can help you identify the mattress that best fits your needs.
You can expect to pay a little more for a gel mattress compared to a regular foam mattress. However, gel mattresses are available at a wide range of price-points, so most shoppers should be able to find a mattress that fits their budget. All-foam models generally cost less than gel hybrids, and extra features or additional layers may raise the price.
Memory foam is best known for relieving pressure points, and gel mattresses are often favored by side sleepers looking to ease pain in the hips and shoulders. Gel foam can also help to reduce tension when sleeping on your back. On the other hand, stomach sleepers may find a gel foam mattress too plush.
Mattresses made with higher-quality materials can be more expensive, but they usually last longer. And while denser foams tend to hold up better to pressure, they may also trap more heat.
Although there are exceptions, gel memory foam mattresses are usually medium soft to medium firm. This firmness range is suitable for most sleeper types, particularly side sleepers and back sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. Stomach sleepers or those over 230 pounds may prefer a thinner layer of gel foam over firmer layers of polyfoam or latex.
Gel foam usually contours quite closely to the sleeper, helping distribute weight and prevent pressure points from forming. In concert with a supportive base, this material can also contribute to proper spinal alignment. People who often wake up with aches and pains may want to consider a mattress with a thicker comfort system.
Couples should find that gel memory foam helps absorb movement to reduce nighttime disruptions. However, the base of the mattress also plays a role in motion isolation. Mattresses with polyfoam support cores tend to isolate motion better than those with coils, although hybrids with individually wrapped coils also perform fairly well.
The aim of gel memory foam is to provide the pressure-relieving properties of memory foam without the heat retention. Different manufacturers accomplish this to different extents. Gel memory foam rarely sleeps as cool as latex or wool, but it may be a good option for hot sleepers who need a cooling mattress and like the feel of memory foam.
Edge support is mostly determined by the support core. Foam mattresses may compress more around the perimeter, while hybrids generally hold up better, especially if they have reinforced edges. When evaluating a mattress for edge support, be aware that mattresses with thicker, plusher comfort systems are likely to sag more around the edges. This may limit usable space and make it more difficult to get in and out of bed.
Contouring refers to the ability of a material to wrap around your body. Memory foam contours more closely than polyfoam, and polyfoam usually contours more closely than latex. A certain amount of contouring is necessary to relieve pressure points, but too much contouring may allow excessive sinking that compromises spinal support.
Gel mattresses typically come in all-foam or hybrid options. All-foam models with polyfoam support cores make little to no noise, and they typically offer strong motion isolation and pressure relief. Hybrid models often have better edge support and temperature neutrality, as well as a more responsive surface. Using pocketed coils in the support core of a hybrid can also cut down on motion transfer.
Because it is a type of synthetic polyurethane foam, gel foam may emit off-gassing odors when it is first unboxed. These occur as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released into the air. The scent usually dissipates after a few days, but if you are sensitive to smell, you may want to find a mattress with less off-gassing.
Mattresses made with lower-density foams or those that incorporate space for airflow usually air out faster.
Third-party organizations like CertiPUR-US and Greenguard test mattresses for their emission levels and grant certifications to mattresses that meet their criteria, which can provide some peace of mind.
Gel infusions can be added to various types of foam, with the primary intent of making it sleep cooler. This versatile material may therefore appeal to many different sleeper types, especially those with a tendency to overheat or those who live in warmer climates.
Gel memory foam contours more closely and provides a classic hug-like feel. Gel-infused polyfoam varies in firmness, but it is almost always more responsive than memory foam, and it doesn’t tend to conform as closely. Some mattresses also use different formats such as gel pods, ridged cutouts, or a thicker layer in the lumbar section to modify the mattress’ performance.
Whereas many mattresses are made with a single layer of gel foam over a foam or coil base, mattresses may also have a thinner layer of gel foam tucked between other layers of wool, polyfoam, or other materials. All of these designs can alter the feel of the bed.
Gel mattresses aim to offer a cooler sleep experience, which can raise the price-point compared to regular foam mattresses. Gel foam is a good option for sleepers who like the pressure-relieving, motion-isolating feel of memory foam or polyfoam but don’t like sleeping hot.
Because gel must be added to either memory foam or polyfoam, gel mattresses may not be attractive to shoppers who prefer natural materials or those who are sensitive to off-gassing smells.
As gel foam is meant to be used in the comfort layers, gel mattresses can come in either hybrid or all-foam models. All-foam models have a high-density polyfoam support base, whereas hybrid mattresses have an innerspring base that is often made with pocketed coils. More rarely, shoppers might see airbed models with gel foam comfort layers over an inflatable air chamber.
The average price of a gel mattress runs from about $800 to $2,000, though there are plenty of models that fall outside of this range. Foam mattresses are among the cheapest options, while hybrids may be more expensive. Although gel foam is more expensive than regular memory foam or polyfoam, gel mattresses usually cost less than natural latex mattresses.
Pricing can change depending on the brand, the design of the mattress, the quality of the materials, and the shipping and return policies. If you want the feel of gel foam but not the investment in a new mattress, a gel foam mattress topper may also be an option.
On average, buyers can expect a foam or hybrid mattress to last 6 to 8 years if properly cared for.
With all mattresses, the comfort system generally starts to break down before the support core. As a comfort layer, gel foam is not the most durable material, especially in its plusher iterations. However, regularly rotating the mattress from head to foot can delay the onset of permanent body indentations. Using a mattress protector can also help extend the lifespan by shielding the material against accidents.
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Our team at Sleep Foundation conducts extensive hands-on tests for each mattress to provide you with the most reliable, data-driven recommendations and reviews. Below are key guidelines that inform our testing methodology: