What is a Cool Gel Memory Foam Mattress?

If you sleep hot but love the feel of memory foam, a gel memory foam mattress might be a good choice for you. Gel memory foam feels just like regular memory foam, but it’s a lot cooler. Let’s take a look at how cool gel mattresses are manufactured and what they can do for your night’s sleep.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is one of the best mattress materials on the market today. This type of high-density polyurethane foam was originally developed by NASA to cushion and support astronauts through the tremendous G-force of a rocket takeoff, but it wasn’t long before mattress manufacturers realized memory foam was the perfect material for a bed because of its power to change shape and isolate motion.

Memory foam mattresses have amazing contouring abilities that other mattresses just can’t match, compressing under your body weight and conforming to your curves in a way that both relieves pressure points and provides support. However, one of the biggest problems with traditional memory foam mattresses is they retain body heat.

Gel Memory Foam

Over the years, manufacturers have developed new techniques and technologies to counter the overheating problem. One of the newest and best developments is cooling gel. Gel memory foam and regular memory foam have a similar feel. However, cool gel foam can help absorb heat and carry it away from the body, improving memory foam’s comfort level and ability to regulate temperature.

There are lots of different ways to make gel memory foam. Some manufacturers whip liquid gel right into their liquid memory foam before letting them solidify. Some infuse their memory foam with gel beads. Others add a top layer of a few inches of gel over their mattress’s comfort layer.

Not all gel foam mattresses are equal. Their cooling abilities depend on the chemical makeup of the gel and memory foam, as well as the other layers of the mattress. For instance, gel memory foam hybrid mattresses are going to be the coolest of all because they have an innerspring support layer that promotes airflow.

Additional Gel Memory Foam Products

Memory foam doesn’t just make for a great mattress; it also makes for some amazing sleep products like pillows and toppers.

Gel Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam is one of the best pillow materials. Its conforming power means it can follow the curve of your neck and head to offer support without tilting your head forward or bending your neck out of its natural alignment. High-quality memory foam pillows have cooling features, such as gel-infusions, air channels, and ventilated covers.

Gel Memory Foam Mattress Toppers

If you want to add a gel memory foam layer without replacing your mattress, a gel foam topper may be a good option for you. Mattress toppers are a thicker, more supportive version of a mattress pad, and a gel memory foam topper can help you adjust the firmness, temperature, and feel of your existing bed.

Other Cooling Technologies

In addition to gel, there are a couple of other ways to help keep memory foam cool.

Plant-Based Memory Foam

Most memory foams are processed using petroleum, but some manufacturers use a fraction of plant oils instead. This kind of processing makes for a bouncier and more breathable foam that will help wick hot air away from you while you sleep.

Cooling Additives

Lots of different additives can be put into memory foam to make it cooler. Powdered graphite, charcoal, and copper can all act as heat conductors to regulate body temperature and prevent hot nights.

Our Recommended Gel Memory Foam Mattress: Zoma

When it comes to a high-quality cooling gel memory foam mattress, the Zoma Mattress can’t be beaten. Not only will its three-zone Triangulex™ gel foam comfort layer keep you cool, but its ventilated AirCloth cover works with the gel in the comfort layer to wick away even more heat! On top of that, its transition layer of Reactiv™ foam helps make the foam in the top layer more responsive, and its durable support layer is designed to promote ideal spinal alignment. The Zoma is truly the coolest of gel mattresses.


How can I cool down my memory foam mattress?

If you have an existing memory foam mattress that sleeps too hot, there are ways to cool down a memory foam mattress without replacing it. You might try a gel foam or latex foam mattress topper. Also, consider using a cooling mattress protector.
A mattress protector is a fitted bottom layer made of waterproof fabric and intended to go underneath your sheets. A protector not only can keep your mattress cooler, but it also has the added benefit of protecting it from stains, bed bugs, dust, and other threats.

What does open-cell memory foam mean?

“Open-cell memory foam” is just a fancy way of saying memory foam. Decades ago, when the first memory foam mattresses hit the market, beds contained a mix of closed-cell and open-cell foams (depending on the manufacturer). However, closed-cell foams weren’t a hit amongst sleepers—they retained heat and moisture, caused uncomfortable sinkage, and led to sleep disturbances. Once mattress brands caught on to this, they modified their beds to include only open-cell foams.

To make open-cell foam, manufacturers insert hundreds of tiny pockets into their memory foam to allow for increased air circulation. Not only does better airflow help keep memory foam cooler, but it also helps discourage moisture buildup and mold growth.

Today, closed-cell foams are found in things like exercise mats and seat cushions, not mattresses or other bedding accessories.

Does gel memory foam off-gas?

Off-gassing happens when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a product break down and release an odor. While these gasses are not harmful or life-threatening, they can be unpleasant and even cause mild symptoms like headaches and nausea. (Off-gassing isn’t exclusive to memory foam, either, if you’ve ever sat in a new car or smelled wet paint, you’ve been exposed to off-gassing.)

The best way to avoid a mattress with these emissions is to ensure it is CertiPUR-US® certified. This certification lets you know your memory foam mattress is free of potentially harmful chemicals and low in VOCs.

Is latex foam a good alternative to memory foam?

If you find memory foam just isn’t cool enough for you, natural latex might be a suitable alternative. While latex and memory foam feel different, latex is naturally cool, and it doesn’t need a bunch of additives to help it regulate temperature. Some people also like the responsiveness of latex; since it’s less flexible than memory foam, latex mattresses will maintain their shape better and bounce back more quickly.

How long will my gel memory foam mattress last?

In general, mattresses last between 6 to 8 years. However, memory foam beds are highly durable, and gel is no exception. Unlike hybrid and innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses don’t have steel coils that lose tension and break down. This means their support will last a lot longer—up to a decade or more.

What is the best base for a gel memory foam mattress?

Since gel memory foam is heavy, you’re not going to want to put it on box springs. The best mattress base for any memory foam mattress is a mattress foundation or platform bed with slats that are spaced no more than 2.75 inches apart.
Many foundations and platforms may not have slats spaced that close together, so it’s important for you to either purchase one that comes with enough slats or buy additional slats. If you don’t, your mattress may sag through the gaps in your bed base.

Bottom Line

Gel memory foam is one of the best improvements on traditional memory foam technology, helping cut down on overheating—the number one complaint about memory foam mattresses and sleep accessories. If you’re a hot sleeper looking for a memory foam that won’t lead to night sweats and overheating, you can’t go wrong with a gel mattress.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

James Nguyen, Sleep Expert James Nguyen

James Nguyen is Zoma's resident sleep expert and staff writer. James enjoys learning about the newest technologies in the mattress industry and doing deep dives into the science of sleep. He's tried nearly every gadget and gizmo in an effort to determine which sleep-promoting accessories can truly enhance your shut-eye. Outside of work, James takes his dedication to get healthy sleep seriously, and has even declared himself an "expert napper." James' research has been featured on Thrive Global and other media.

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