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It’s winter, and you’re outside in your shorts. You’re that person wearing sandals while everyone else is thinking boots. It’s worth it to you to keep your house set below 70 in the summer and pay the extra. You’re hot natured.

And now you want to upgrade your mattress. Memory foam and other comfort materials have come a long way since the original days, so you’ve got some options to keep you cooler at night. One significant choice is a gel mattress.

If you aren’t sure how a gel mattress works, don’t worry. We’ve answered a few questions you may have about choosing and caring for a gel mattress. Plus, we’ve got our top picks all lined up for you. Let’s take a look.

Choosing A Gel Mattress

Cooler nights are on the way. But first…

What Is A Gel Mattress?

Memory foam was a NASA creation that made its way into consumer products after being so popular with the organization. The material is called “viscoelastic,” a type fabric that stretches and rebounds, giving memory foam its signature feeling.

Memory foam is hot. It stores heat within the core and radiates it back to your body. In the early days of memory foam, people loved the contouring and hated the temperature.

Enter gel.

Gel infused memory foam isn’t a gel layer. Instead, tiny beads of gel are infused into the material of the foam. These beads react to body temperature by drawing heat away and helping it dissipate throughout the mattress.

They call these types of materials “phase change” because they draw heat from the surface and move it throughout the mattress, returning the surface to ambient room temperature. Traditional memory foam didn’t have anywhere for the heat to go, so it stayed on the surface instead.

Does Gel Work?

Honestly, studies are conflicted. For some beds, moving the foam to an open cell variety may be enough. As you move throughout the night, you compress tiny air pockets, forcing that air to flow through the mattress.

Other natural materials like wool have the same type of open cell properties. The fabric construction creates air pockets, helping with breathability.

That said, gel-infused mattresses do seem to work when combined with other factors. Gel layers draw the heat, allowing the surface to remain the ambient temperature of the room. If your room is hot, your mattress won’t be much cooler. If you already sleep in a cold room, then gel helps the surface temperature remain the same as when you first crawled into your bed.

Gel also helps to relieve pressure in the same way. The gel stretches and distributes the weight of your pressure points more evenly across the mattress. In one preliminary study, gel beads showed some promise in reducing the occurrence of pressure sores in hospital beds.

Are There Any Downsides?

If you’re looking for an organic mattress, gel may not be the right one for you. Manufacturers often keep the materials and formulas of their particular foams a closely guarded secret. We don’t always know what materials are used, so if you’re worried about things like synthetic ingredients or possible off-gassing, you may want to choose an organic alternative like wool.

Another potential downside is the cost. Mattresses that use elaborate cooling layers may be more expensive than simple, open-cell foams. If your budget doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room, you may want to look elsewhere. (Although we do have some budget recommendations for you down below!).

Gel foam does distribute weight and pressure, but it can feel a little more firm if you’re on the lighter end of the weight spectrum. Back and stomach sleepers could find gel mattresses more supportive, but people who are lighter than average might rate the mattress as too firm. Also, if you live in a cold climate, that effect is stronger because the bed is always a little bit softer under hot conditions.

How Do I Care For My Mattress?

Gel-infused mattresses work a lot like any memory foam mattress. You should spot clean your bed if it gets stains and be sure to wipe up any spills right away so that moisture doesn’t get into the core.

It may be helpful to have a mattress protector of some kind to prevent more massive spills but make sure that the protector is stretchy enough to work with the contouring features of your mattress.

You don’t need to flip most memory foam mattresses, but you might want to rotate the mattress 180 degrees every few months, especially if you tend to sleep in the same position every night. Rotating varies the compression points and helps prevent indentations in the foam.

Otherwise, the things you’d do to take care of any mattress apply to gel memory foam.

The List

Do we have some good mattresses for you!

Puffy – Our Top Pick

We are huge fans of Puffy. It uses simple layers to create a cooling effect that’s restorative and should help you regulate your temperature during the night.

We recommend the Puffy Luxe over the original in this case because there’s an additional layer intended to help keep you cool and provide contouring. It’s rated as medium on the firmness scale, so it’s excellent for combination support or for partners with different sleep preferences.

The first layer is Puffy’s gel-infused foam. It conducts heat away from the body and is more cooling than traditional memory foam, even open-cell varieties. Puffy estimates that it moves air through the mattress eight times better than conventional foam.

The second layer is open cell comfort foam that adapts to your movements throughout the night, providing crucial rebound. It contours to pressure points to distribute pressure and relieve pain. It also helps ease your body into the support layer.

The final part is seven-inch core support foam. This layer pushes back against your body to keep your spine aligned and provides structural integrity to the mattress. It offers more support than traditional dense foam, decompressing your lower lumbar region and alleviating pain.

Puffy’s gel layer gives you both temperature regulation and better contouring. It’s certified by CertiPur US, so you know it won’t produce harmful off-gassing.

Puffy gives you 101 nights to try the mattress out. Make sure you sleep on the mattress for at least 30 nights before deciding if you’re going to keep it. Mattresses need time to break in, and your body must have time to adjust. If it’s still not the right one for you, return it any time before the trial is over for a refund.

Puffy’s mattresses are backed by a lifetime warranty against mattress defects. If you experience any sagging or indentation that doesn’t correspond to natural wear and tear, Puffy will replace or repair the mattress. Make sure that your bed is appropriately supported so you don’t accidentally void this warranty.

Puffy comes compressed in a box. You don’t have to wait on your delivery driver to arrive; he or she leaves it at your door. Unpack the box when you’re ready and gently tear the plastic away from the mattress to allow it to inflate.

Muse – Runner-Up

Muse is an all foam mattress designed to keep you cooler at night than traditional memory foam. Muse uses a really cool “cold-wire” fabric for its cover materials that remains cool to the touch throughout the night.

Underneath, the first layer is gel-infused foam. It improves airflow and actively wicks heat and moisture from the surface of the mattress and redistributes it throughout. The mattress returns to ambient room temperature quickly, and you sleep cooler.

The middle layer is customizable, adaptive memory foam. Muse has three different firmness levels, and this layer determines how soft your mattress feels to you. You can choose between soft, medium, or firm. Soft may be better for exclusive side sleepers while medium gives you combination support and should satisfy partners with different sleep preferences. Firm is best for back or stomach sleepers.

The support layer is a dense foam that pushes back against your body to prevent too much sag. It supports your spine and decompresses your lower back. It also gives the mattress structural integrity as long as you give it a proper foundation.

Muse is certified by CertiPur US. The company also gives you 120 nights to try out the mattress. Make sure you sleep on it for at least a few weeks so that your old pain can dissipate and the bed can break in a little. If you decide it isn’t the one, return it before the trial period ends.

Muse is backed by a ten-year limited warranty against mattress defects. You shouldn’t see any dramatic indentation or sag with the mattress, but if it happens, Muse will replace it. Again, make sure the mattress rests on a proper foundation so you don’t accidentally void the warranty.

Muse delivers your mattress right to your door compressed in a box. You just unpack the box and tear the plastic away to watch it expand. It should be ready to use in only a few hours. If you aren’t able to set up the mattress yourself, make sure you have someone there who can help you because the delivery person isn’t able to do so.

Honorable Mention

We have a few recommendations for specific situations. If you fall into one of these categories, you might want to consider these options in addition to our favorites above.

Nectar – Best Budget Option

We get it. Sometimes your budget just doesn’t have wiggle room. Even with financing, the price tag of mattresses can still hurt. If your wallet screams at you every time you open a mattress site, Nectar might be a good option.

Nectar’s design uses a few different layers. The cover materials are Tencel, a eucalyptus-based material that wicks heat and moisture away from the body more efficiently than cotton. Underneath, two different gel layers contour to your body and actively regulate the temperature of the mattress surface. One layer is quilted for better loft and to create more air flow.

The next layer is an adaptive foam that responds to your body as you change positions. It has quick rebound and fills in curves while allowing your broadest areas to sink. It also eases your body to the support layer.

The dense foam layer gives the mattress structural integrity and prevents sagging. It pushes back against your body weight, so your spine stays aligned, and your lower back decompresses. It’s still breathable, so air can flow through the entire mattress.

The best part? All of the mattress sizes are under $1000, and the company does offer financing if even that price is too much to handle all at once.

Nectar gives you a full year to try the mattress out. You should sleep on the bed for at least 30 nights, but if you decide at any time before the 365 day trial period is over that the mattress isn’t right for you, you can return it.

You’ve also got a lifetime limited warranty to protect you from mattress defects. During the first ten years, they’ll replace a mattress that shows signs of abnormal sagging or indentations. After ten years, they’ll judge whether it’s more appropriate to replace or repair the mattress.

Nectar arrives compressed in a box without having to schedule a delivery time. Just unpack the box and gently tear the plastic from the mattress so it can inflate. Give it a few hours, and it should be ready to go.

Solay – Best Hybrid

If you love the feeling of innerspring mattresses but want better contouring, you should consider a hybrid. Solay uses both foam and innerspring to contour to your body but give you the responsive feeling of coils.

Solay’s cover materials are Tencel, a kind of fabric that reacts better to heat than cotton, staying cooler and drier. The first layer is one-inch gel infused foam that actively draws heat from the surface of the mattress and distributes so that the surface can return to ambient room temperature. Underneath, motion reducing foam adapts to your body and helps the contouring layers fill in around your waist and lower lumbar region.

The support layer is individually pocketed coils. They’re sandwiched between layers of foam to reduce motion transfer and give the mattress support. The coils rebound quickly as you move and push back against your body. Your spine stays aligned, and pressure points decompress.

You can sleep on the Solay for 101 nights to try things out. If you decide to return it, just contact the company for a refund. Make sure you give the mattress a few weeks so you have time to adapt and old pain can fade. Otherwise, you may not get the full effect of your new mattress.

You also get a 15-year limited warranty. If the mattress begins to show abnormal sagging or indentations, the company will repair it or replace it. The mattress must be adequately supported, or you’ll void the warranty.

Solay arrives compressed in a box, and you only have to unpack it from the box and plastic for it to expand. The delivery person can’t help you set things up, so make sure you have some back up if you can’t handle it on your own.

Ghostbed – Best For Heavy People

If you’re on the heavier side, you probably know how much trouble it is to find a mattress. Mattresses lose support and feel firmer if you weigh more than the recommended mattress weight limit.

Ghostbed’s weight limit far exceeds most of the competition at 750 combined pounds. Your contouring and supporting materials retain their integrity, and you get a better night’s sleep.

We like the Ghostbed Luxe because of its seven-layer cooling technology. The top layers use proprietary phase change technology woven into the fibers. It keeps the surface cool to the touch. The next layers are a cooling fiber sewn just underneath the cover and then a layer of gel foam.

There are two more gel layers. One is called the “ice” layer and contains more phase change materials that actively conduct heat away from the body. Underneath that layer is gel infused foam that prevents heat from building up in the core of the mattress.

The support layer is a dense foam that gives the mattress structural integrity and is highly breathable. The entire mattress actively conducts heat away from your body but keeps your spine aligned. You should feel relief in common pressure points.

Ghostbed’s trial period is 101 nights, so you have plenty of time to determine if it’s supportive and meets your unique needs. The 25-year warranty protects you against abnormal sagging and indentation.

Ghostbed doesn’t offer traditional delivery. Your mattress arrives compressed in a box. You unpack it from the plastic, and it’s ready to go in a few hours.

Final Thoughts

Gel foams do seem to make a difference in the temperature of the mattress, but you should understand what you’re getting. The bed has no outside source of cool air. It all depends on the ambient temperature of the room. If you need something that actively cools you, you might want to add a fan or other option so the ambient temperature of the room is lower.

Otherwise, the gel provides support and pressure relief. Many of the mattresses on the list are certified by CertiPur US, so they won’t have an unpleasant odor, and you don’t have to worry about off-gassing. Memory foam may have transformed how we view mattresses, but gel infusions transform how we view memory foam.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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