Gel Mattresses


Gel mattresses have become extremely popular in the last few years and “gel” is another mattress industry buzzword that is surrounded but much interest but not enough relevant information. Gel is a go to material for many manufacturers because it is popular among consumers and as they claim, it offers several advantages over memory foam or latex like improved temperature regulation, better resiliency, superior pressure relief and increased durability. You can find gel or form of gel in any mattress type available – innerspring, memory foam, latex and even air/dial beds nowadays may include layer of gel foam.

There are 3 types of gel mattresses available today varying in overall construction and the way they incorporate gel into either comfort layers or support core of the mattress – gel infused foam, solid gel layer or solid gel column construction. Gel is a semi-solid material and depending on its structure could be soft or extremely hard.

There are many gel based products available in store and many more online, do your research on quality of products and make sure the retail place offers in home trial with money back guarantee. With gel mattresses we have seen return policy as long as 90 days and limited warranty as long as 30 years.

Since this type of mattresses has been around for only a few years it is impossible to make any conclusion on overall quality and especially durability. Latest research by rival manufacturers does not prove the claim of gel-based products sleeping cooler, so make sure you spend your money wisely.

What Is Gel

Gel is a semi-solid material and depending on its structure could be soft or extremely hard. Gels are mostly liquid, but they don’t flow when in steady state. Yet they act like solids due to a three-dimensional cross-linked network within the liquid. It is made from either synthetic or natural elements bonding with water or vegetable oil. These qualities allow gel to compress, stretch, absorb energy and come to original shape thus being a great medium for motion absorption and pressure relief.

Is Gel Cooler

Gel has also another important quality of absorbing the heat of its surroundings. It acts like a conductor and soaks up the temperature of the bedroom, which is much wormer than our body. When we lay down on the mattress gel will start soaking up temperature from our body instead. That is what is called “Cooling Effect” of gel, which is a main selling point of gel manufacturers. Once the gel fully absorbs and equals our body temperature, the cooling effect stops. This depends on the amount of gel and thickness of gel layer. Simply put, the mattresses with a thin gel layer will stay cool only a few minutes, where thicker gel layer can keep you comfortable for several hours. Unfortunately, it is still vague how does this work over longer period of time (overnight) and the changes in temperature might be very small to take advantage of.

This cooling effect is more pronounced the closer the body is to the gel layer. That’s why manufacturers usually put the gel layer on the very top of the mattress. In order to maximize the cooling action of gel you need to eliminate any extra insulating layers between your body and mattress – e.g. mattress pad or protector, flannel sheets, etc.

Gel is technically not cooler than any other material (maybe actually warmer) but it can temporarily provide cooling sensation to the body. Latest research by rival manufacturers did not confirm the claim of gel-based products sleeping cooler. Recent study by Tempurpedic and Cargill showed that some gel-based products actually slept a little warmer.

Gel Mattress Construction

There are 3 types of gel mattresses available today varying in overall construction and the way they incorporate gel into either comfort layers or support core of the mattress – gel infused foam, solid gel layer or solid gel column construction. Gel is a semi-solid material and depending on its structure could be soft or extremely hard.

Gel memory foams are becoming more popular because they advertise the improvement on traditional memory foam drawbacks – heat retention and response time. Gel foam manufacturers claim that their foams are much cooler, but they often fail to say by how much, so it may not be even noticeable by an end-user. Gel foams are made by infusing gel molecules or by adding gel beets to memory foam giving the foam more resistance so you don’t sink in it too much and allowing gel particles to absorb excessive heat. Visit our Memory Foam Sectionfor more information about quality and durability of memory foam.

Solid gel layer is used to enhance to the feel on the top of the mattress. Manufacturers use rather thin solid gel layer to deliver unique “jelly” feel and maximum cooling effect. The overall feel depends on the thickness and softness of the gel layer. This layer is not flat on the surface and has rather waffle-like structure with the grooves adding to air circulation. Due to gel’s weight and form some customers noticed shifting of this layer and bulging up on one side of the mattress.

Collapsible column design or sometimes referred to as Honeycomb construction utilizes hundreds of hollow columns made from gel. These columns share their vertical walls, thus creating a honeycomb pattern. Combining all these columns into a grid creates a very unique support system. It provides well-balanced support allowing for heavier parts of the body to sink deeper, yet still supporting the rest of the body evenly and ensuring correct spinal alignment. Even with great, support collapsible gel columns minimize the pressure on our body. When the heavier part hits the mattress columns right underneath get out the way and contour that part, minimizing potential pressure point. Hollow column design also guarantees enhanced temperature regulation through improved air circulation.

Benefits of Gel Mattress:

Motion absorption and pressure relief
Resiliency and shorter response time
Cooling effect
Anti-microbial and hypoallergenic
Long Warranty

Gel Mattress Warranty

Gel Mattress overall durability will depend on durability of its components. With untested product like this you will have greater chance to rely on provided warranty. Warranties are design to protect consumer against manufacturer’s defects for certain period of time, and majority of innerspring mattress warranties protect customers against excessive sagging, which is typically referred to as an indentation/imprint/depression greater than 1.5”.
Most warranties start with a full mattress replacement for an initial period of time, and change to a limited (pro-rated) warranty as years go by. While comparing innerspring mattress warranties, you can find full replacement warranties for as little as 5 years and as high as 15 years, with overall warranty duration up to 30 years.

Gel Mattress Shopping Tips

The gel mattresses offer an additional option in the category of specialty beds. There are different types of gel mattresses and they are impossible to compare side by side. Some gel mattresses offer only thin layer of gel or gel foam on the top of traditional coil innerspring. Other gel beds use polyurethane or latex support core with gel infused memory foam on the top. There are also mattresses designs that offer gel column support system with gel comfort layers.

The much advertised and popularized cooling effect of gel may not be what it sounds like. Even though there is undisputed cooling effect of gel, it is rather temporary and often time you will not even notice the difference. This cooling effect depends on the amount and form of gel and how close it is to the body, with thicker gel layer right on the top of the mattress providing maximum cooling.

As we mentioned before, gel mattresses haven’t had a chance to prove themselves over time, so choosing the product with good warranty is crucial. Be aware of different warranties, most of them covering indentations larger than 1 1/2” over certain period of time. Find out how long is the mattress fully covered, and if the warranty is pro-rated, know what portion of the replacement cost you will be responsible for. Make sure you ask your store about exchange/return options and exchange/return costs. Read the fine print of the exchange/return policy before you place an order.

Always ask for a special financing offers or the incentive for not using one. Some retailers charge extra delivery and old mattress removal fees and those can add substantially to the final amount. Always ask for free gifts with a mattress purchase, it is always nice to get free pillows, mattress protector and set of sheets.