You probably already know that memory foam is not the best choice if you are looking for a cool mattress.
Because of its structure and the way it reacts to heat, memory foam retains more heat than other types of mattresses.
This can be especially problematic if you are already a hot sleeper, you have hot flashes, or you live in a warm climate.
To address the heat retention, gel memory foam was invented around 2011.
The idea behind gel memory foam is to reduce the amount of heat trapped in the mattress. The gel improves heat transfer, which helps you sleep cooler.
But just because you’ve bought a gel memory foam mattress doesn’t mean you’ll finally sleep cool. The mattress may feel cool at first but quickly gets hot as the gel warms up and loses its cooling ability.
So you have to be careful when shopping for a gel memory foam mattress. The cooling performance of the mattress depends on the type of gel and the way it has been incorporated into the mattress.
Different Types of Gel
Manufacturers incorporate cooling gel into the mattress in different ways.
Some mattresses use gel beads, and other infuses the gel into the foam when it is set at the factory, and others insert a layer of gel into the foam.
The cooling ability will vary among different designs. Mattresses with a gel layer tend to cool better compared to gel beads.
A good example of a mattress that uses a gel layer is Puffy Lux. Read our take on the Puffy Lux mattress to learn how it works to keep you cool at night.
The type of gel matters too.
Most mattresses use basic thermal gel that works through conduction. It simply transfers heat out of the mattress.
But once it gets warm itself, it doesn’t work as well.
That’s why you’ll hear some gel memory foam users claiming that their mattress feels cool only for a few minutes.
Other mattresses use phase-changing gel, which maintains the mattress within a tight temperature range. This type of gel works better than thermal gel.
For most people, a good quality gel memory foam mattress can help them sleep cooler. But if you tend to get particularly hot at night, a gel foam mattress may not be of much help.
Cooler Alternatives to Gel Memory Foam
Here are cooler alternatives.
1. Plant-Based Memory Foam
Plant-based memory foam contains some components derived from plants. It has lower VOC (volatile organic chemicals) emissions and larger cells within it.
The larger cells improve breathability, making it easier for air to flow in and out of the mattress. This greatly helps in heat dissipation.
Plant-based memory foam mattresses generally provide cooler sleep than traditional memory foam mattresses.
If you find a plant-based memory foam mattress with cooling gel, it's better.
2. Latex Mattress
Latex foam is naturally more cooling. It doesn’t retain heat like memory foam.
Most latex mattresses don’t even have any special cooling designs or technology. They are just cool as they are.
Organic latex mattresses sleep cooler than their synthetic alternatives though you’ll have to spend a bit more money.
3. Innerspring Mattress
An innerspring mattress typically consists mostly of springs with a thin layer of foam or some other cushioning material at the top and bottom.
Because air – and thus heat – flows easily within the springs, innerspring mattresses are some of the coolest around.
They also do a great job dissipating sweat.
4. Hybrid Mattress
Hybrid mattresses combine innerspring with latex foam or memory foam.
Again, the springs significantly improve ventilation within the mattress, ensuring heat quickly dissipates.
Hybrid mattresses with latex foam like the Ecoterra provide a cooler sleep thanks to the combined cooling performance of latex and innerspring.
If you sleep better on memory foam mattresses, then just get a gel foam mattress.
It will keep you reasonably cool. We recommend looking for phase-changing gel. A cotton or bamboo mattress cover and cooling sheets can also help you sleep cool.
But if you get really hot at night or you live in a hot area, you’ll find non-memory foam mattresses to be more effective.
Organic latex, hybrid, and innerspring mattresses are better at cooling compared to a gel memory foam mattress.
If you have to get a memory foam mattress, at least look for the one that is plant-based.
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