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What is a gel memory foam mattress?



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What is gel memory foam

There is the discussion over whether foam mattresses are better than spring mattresses or vice versa, but that in itself is a broad topic since there is not just one single type of foam. Generally, foam offers great support and adaptability whilst usually being consistent with the minor problem of  off-gassing. However various types of foams provide varying degrees of these features. If a foam mattress is what you have decided to go for or are thinking about, then it is key to note that whilst a gel-foam mattress is what you are looking for, there are certain aspects you need to examine to see if it is the right fit for you and will bring bliss to your sleep. 

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What gel-foam is

 Gel foam is basically a modification of memory foam which was initially developed in the 1960s and was for the first time used in mattresses in the early 1990s. Though memory foam was a technology that revolutionized the mattress industry, it became apparent that memory foam  had a heat-retention problem. Gel foam was introduced in acknowledgment of this issue. It was the prominent feature in the third iteration of memory foam mattresses and that is why memory gel foam is known as the third generation of memory foam. The start of this ‘third generation,' which supplanted the second generation of more open-cell memory foam structures, came about in 2006. It was over three years after this, that Peterson Chemical Technology invented and patented what they called Thermagel because of how it dealt with heat. Thermagel was gel-foam was a fusion between gel particles and viscoelastic foam that was semi-fluid in state. It was in 2011 that gel foam found popularity and was used in different mattress models. 
However, this technology, although groundbreaking at the time has been generally replaced since. Nowadays, usually, mattresses that use gel-foam technology are using gel beads. These beads hold a gel that can transition between the states of solid and liquid. This makes it a phase-change material or PCM like ice to water. The phase-change temperature is the temperature at which the gel changes its state from either liquid to solid or solid to liquid and this has an impact on the amount of energy the gel stores or releases. 

What is gel memory foam

How gel foam keeps you cool

Although open-cell structured foam helped to reduce heat retention and promote airflow, gel foam offered a new technology for dealing with warm temperatures. The phase-changing of the gel within the beads is actually due to heat absorption and when the gel turns from solid to liquid the heat is dissipated. This process of physics is called latent heat transfer because even though heat is being transferred and this has altered the state of the substance, the gel does not change temperature and it contrasts to sensible heat transfer in which case the gel would change temperature. That difference in heat transfer really comes down to how the gel exchanges energy. 

All of this means the phase-changing which occurs while you sleep keeps you cool. Most of this happens when you are going off to sleep since, during it, your body temperature actually drops off. This means that the gel beads actually facilitate the transition from full consciousness to sleep, by moderating the temperatures that can keep you from falling asleep. In fact, when you are no longer present on the bed and the temperatures have leveled again, the gel in the capsules reverts back to what they were originally, so the cycle can continue for your next bedtime. 

What other matters make gel foam a positive feature

As gel foam mattresses are just memory foam mattresses with that extra special difference in heat transfer, you will be able to experience the comfort and support that memory foam mattresses bring with a gel-foam mattress. 

One kind of gel-foam technology uses a combination of gel beads and foam crystals in an open-cell structure.  

As it is created with an open-cell structure air passes through easily. In fact, the beads are what is used to produce this type of structure. This means breathability is optimized, since the gel in the beads, which use phase-changing to keep heat levels low, will be working in an open-cell structure that already excels with  breathability.  

Some gel-foam mattresses have been adapted with elements that don’t address heat retention. Rather, they are complemented in certain mattresses with natural additives which aim to offer aromatherapy whilst sleeping. This not only promotes psychological and physical benefits, but importantly it does not undermine the cooling effect of the phasing-changing gel, so you can be both cool and relaxed. 

Differences between gel-foam  and memory foam

The main and mostly the only physical feature that marks a difference between these types of foam are the gel beads that are in gel foam. Other than that, there are almost no other features that distinguish one from the other. However, the gel does create non-manufactured differences between the two. 

What is gel memory foam

 Heat retention and breathability

This is the primary difference between the two. Sleeping in a memory foam mattress means that the foam will be contoured around your body. However this mattress response, though mostly being due to the pressure of your body weight, is partly responsive because of the heat created from your body shape. This means that memory foam can be somewhat reliant on your heat-induced discomfort that usually occurs before you can sleep. This of course is not the case with gel-foam technology because the latent-heat transfer, where the gel participates in energy exchange, means the heat that helps conform the mattress is transferred away. Due to their heat transfer properties gel mattresses have been preferred over regular memory foams by people who have conditions that cause their body temperatures to surge. These include people who have low blood sugar, those with hyperhidrosis which causes a lot of sweating and people with menopause. Sleeping with gel-foam mattresses can help alleviate the soaring body temperature of people with these conditions, so they can sleep comfortably. The Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid mattress is a mattress that incorporates the use of gel memory foam and is an example of a mattress that uses gel to address heat retention.

The verdict

The Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid is an excellent choice for a lot of stomach sleepers and back sleepers and is up for contention for being the best mattress for those that finds themselves in such a sleeping position. It really acts as a dream cloud bed. Its high level of firmness brings a lot of support to the matress.  The Activedge spring technology ensures there is no slack on the outer edges of the mattress, so mass is more evenly distributed than in mattresses where this isn't the case.  Furthermore it is composed of gel memory foam which is one of, if not, the leading technology in heat dissipation within mattresses.  This mattress ticks a lot of boxes as revealed in this Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid mattress review.

Our grading of the Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid

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Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid

A luxurious, yet practical mattress that combines numerous layers to excellent effect assessed in this Dreamcloud mattress review

4.5 / 5
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What is gel memory foamHalf star image

Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid

Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid : Pros and Cons

We appreciate

  • You are a light to average weighted stomach-sleeper 
  • You are a sleeping couple who are  sensitive to motion elsewhere on a mattress.
  • You sweat quite a lot when you sleep and need a cover to remove moisture as well as keeping you cool
  • You need assistance with spinal alignment and can’t afford any back problems created during your sleep. 
  • You sometimes end up sleeping on the edge of a mattress

We regret

  • You are side-sleeper of about an average weight or less. For you, as your mattress advisor, we recommend the Nectar mattress which will provide appropriate pressure-relief for you in this sleeping position.
  • You want  a high level of viscoelastic adaptability in your mattress. For this we recommend the memory foam mattress,  Emma original 
Gel foam incorporated in Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid mattress


People have found that gel-foam mattresses offer a little more springiness than a regular memory foam mattress. The difference is marginal, but it comes down to the fact that gel when not fused with foam offers more responsiveness, so when it is not in bead capsules and is matched with the viscoelasticity of foam, it is typically a bit more springy. 


Gel foam mattresses usually cost more than standard memory foam. This is because gel foam uses a cooling technology that involves more materials even if it is on a small-scale level and they are considered to be higher quality. 

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