A few years ago we saw the introduction of the gel memory foam mattress into the bedding industry. Some thought these new incarnations of the old would be the future of the industry. Though these mattresses do sometimes fair better than their gel-less counterparts in some areas, they share several faults.
If you think developments in mattress technology are keeping pace with computers, mobile communication devices and other rapidly changing industries, you are absolutely right. While it is an exciting time to buy a new mattress, the vast amount of choices available can make it an overwhelming endeavor without the proper knowledge base to make good decisions.
What are the advantages of a gel memory foam mattress? How is memory foam better than a spring mattress? These are the important questions that need to be asked when considering the best path to a good night’s sleep. There are many options available on the market. With the advent of latex foam, plant-based memory foam, and now the memory foam gel mattress, consumers can experience analysis paralysis.
Often when faced with staggering amounts of information, people stop processing it. That can lead to a poor decision and less satisfaction. To help you with your decision and decrease the likelihood of regretful purchase, we have done some analysis for you.
Newer Mattress Technology ≠ Better Memory Foam Mattress
It can be tempting to buy the newest version of a product on the market. People often equate newness with value, but newer technologies often have bugs to work out. Mattresses do not escape this reality. Products that have been on the market for awhile are more likely to have been tested by a large number of people and, hopefully, improved. Newer products do not have this advantage.
Memory foam gel mattresses hit the market in 2011 and have quickly become a favorite among many consumers because they embody some of the best aspects of memory foam, including the highest level of comfort available. The gel-infused nature of these mattresses goes a step further by adding extra support while attempting to address one of the biggest drawbacks to standard memory foam – heat retention.
Because memory foam contours to the sleeper’s body and disperses weight across the face of the mattress a highly desirable floating-like effect is created that provides total support and comfort. But it also tends to trap heat in ways that traditional mattresses do not, and that has been a problem for some users.
There are basically two types of gel memory foam mattresses. The first has gel infused throughout the top layer of foam and the second has a layer of gel near the surface. Both of these types do seem to alleviate the heat problem slightly better than traditional foam mattresses, but there are still complaints from overheated customers.
While gel mattresses may feel cool when you first touch them or lay on them, many consumers find after being in contact with the material for a few moments the hot feeling returns. That is because the gel manufacturers use is conductive. It takes on the temperature of the surrounding environment. Once warm, they feel warm.
Alternatives to Gel Memory Foam Mattresses
Buyers should know, while gel infusion may have improved the sleep quality of standard polyurethane-based memory foam mattresses slightly, it is not necessarily the best method available for addressing body heat retention. Without the aid of gel, other manufacturers have found ways to keep the heat off sleepers.
Innovative brands like Amerisleep have been broadening the appeal of memory foam with plant-based products. In addition to being healthier and more environmentally-responsible, plant-based memory foam mattresses have been found to sleep considerably cooler than gel-infused products manufactured by leading brands.
And that’s not just Amerisleep making baseless claims to drive sales. The cooler-sleeping qualities of plant-based memory foam were revealed in a two-year study conducted by Cargill – a nearly 150-year-old producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products. Cargill’s research found plant-based memory foam dissipates heat at a rate that is 25 percent faster than gel-infused products.
Generally, traditional memory foam mattresses have a closed-cell structure, which means they have millions of tiny pockets of air trapped throughout the material. These pockets act as insulation, just as it does in foam coffee cups and the in the walls of some buildings. It is a perfect material for trapping heat, but very poor at releasing it.
Amerisleep’s innovative foam has a much more open structure. This allows far more airflow. As air passes through the mattress, it carries heat with it. This is how these plant-based memory foam mattresses stay so cool, without the use of gels, which are often composed of unnatural chemicals.
Plant-based memory foams typically produce far fewer Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and don’t off-gas as much as most traditional and gel memory foam mattresses. This off-gassing can be more than just an offense to the olfactories, it can cause adverse health effects. Many gel and traditional memory foam mattresses need to be aired out in a well-ventilated space away from living areas prior to use.
It makes sense that a material made from more natural products would contain less hazardous materials. Consumers looking to purchase from more environmentally responsible companies can receive the added benefit of a virtually smell-free, low-VOC sleep system.
Safer Materials, Greater Value
Remarkably, these more natural beds cost much less, too. Consumers seeking a cooler alternative to traditional memory foam mattresses would do well to keep plant-based mattresses at the top of their list. They are more environmentally friendly, healthier and cooler than gel memory foam mattresses. At a far lower cost, these mattresses are a great value.
Making a big purchase on a long-lasting item can be a difficult undertaking. Take these facts with you as you shop for a mattress. If you are seeking a memory foam mattress that is much cooler than traditional memory foam, gel can offer a slight edge, but plant-based memory foam may prove even more effective.