Gel Foam vs. Memory Foam vs. Hybrid Mattresses

Differences Between Gel Memory Foam, Memory Foam & Hybrid Mattresses

Choosing a new mattress can seem difficult with all the options on the market today. With so many different materials offering various benefits, knowing which mattress is best for you requires some digging. By understanding the differences between gel memory foam, memory foam and hybrid mattresses, plus the advantages of each, picking your ideal mattress type becomes an easier task.

Choosing the best mattress type for you that fits your bed and comfort needs is easy with options like cooling gel, memory foam and hybrid mattresses.
Choosing the best mattress type for you that fits your bed and comfort needs is easy with options like cooling gel, memory foam and hybrid mattresses.

Memory Foam vs. Gel Memory Foam

The difference between gel memory foam and memory foam is simply the gel itself, which acts as a cooling agent to keep hot sleepers feeling more comfortable. These mattress types are two of the most popular among most mattress brands. Memory foam became popular in the 1990s but couldn’t keep people cool at night. In 2006, manufacturers began putting cooling gel in mattresses as a solution.

What Is Memory Foam Made Of?

Memory foam is a dense, treated foam that conforms to the body and can relieve pressure on problem-prone areas like the hips and shoulders. This material responds to pressure with cradling comfort, providing support while also sometimes trapping body heat. Memory foam mattresses injected with air offer more breathability and retain less warmth.

Layers of memory foam at different densities deliver support and cradling comfort to pressure points in your body.
Layers of memory foam at different densities deliver support and cradling comfort to pressure points in your body.

What Is Gel Memory Foam?

Gel memory foam mattresses have the same feel as traditional memory foam with increased cooling benefits. Manufacturers either add gel capsules to the memory foam material, swirl in a liquid gel or layer gel on top of the mattress. Companies have their own formulas and techniques to develop and infuse cooling gels, but they all do the same job of keeping you cool at night.

Cooling gel layers in this memory foam mattress draw heat away from the body and disperse it for optimal comfort.
Cooling gel layers in this memory foam mattress draw heat away from the body and disperse it for optimal comfort.

Memory Foam vs. Hybrid Mattresses

Whether you sleep alone or with a partner, the hybrid mattress is another option with benefits like reduced motion transfer. Hybrid mattresses have a few differences in their structure compared to foam mattresses. While hybrids include a layer of memory foam, typically gel-infused, those who choose a hybrid vs. a foam mattress often discover a different feel altogether.

Hybrid mattresses fit low profile or platform beds well since they offer optimal support and motion isolation.
Hybrid mattresses fit low profile or platform beds well since they offer optimal support and motion isolation.

What Is A Hybrid Mattress?

A hybrid mattress combines the comfort and pressure relief of memory foam with the support of innerspring coils. The base includes hundreds of pocketed coils that encourage airflow to regulate temperature, plus the individually wrapped springs also reduce motion transfer. Above that is a cushioned foam support section with a memory foam comfort layer at the top of the mattress.

Choosing Your Best Mattress Type

A lot goes into picking the best mattress material, whether you’re looking for a kid’s mattress, one for yourself or a cozy new mattress that makes your guest suite feel like a luxury hotel. A mattress buying guide can help you figure out different sizes and types. Factors that play into choosing a new mattress include your preferred sleep position, health requirements, special features and cost.

Sleep Positions

Chances are, you sleep in a particular position because it feels most comfortable when falling asleep, trying to stay asleep and upon waking up in the morning. Each position requires a certain level of support to keep you comfortable and maintain proper spinal alignment. The best mattress types for each of these sleeping positions can vary:

  • Side Sleepers: Sleeping on your side is one of the healthiest ways to rest, letting you breathe better and preventing issues like acid reflux. A soft to medium-firm mattress such as a memory foam provides the best pressure relief for this position.
  • Back Sleepers: A medium to firm feeling mattress cradles the spine for back sleepers, perfect for both relieving pressure and providing lumbar support. You’ll find this firmness rating with either memory foam or a hybrid.
  • Stomach Sleepers: While sleeping on your stomach does put more pressure on your spine, a medium to firm mattress such as a hybrid with edge support may help keep your spine aligned and prevent sinking.
  • Combination: Do you toss and turn regularly in your sleep? Try a medium to medium-firm mattress, like a hybrid with a memory foam layer, when trying to sleep comfortably while not disturbing your partner.
Choosing the right mattress to support your preferred sleeping position is important for pressure relief and spinal alignment, ensuring your mind and body get the rest they need.
Choosing the right mattress to support your preferred sleeping position is important for pressure relief and spinal alignment, ensuring your mind and body get the rest they need.

Health Benefits

Getting adequate rest is essential to our overall health. Therefore, caring for your sleep health includes investing in the best mattress type for you. Some mattress manufacturers use materials like copper, activated charcoal and even green tea to regulate heat, absorb odors, prevent bacteria and promote freshness.

Among gel-infused, memory foam and hybrid models, all three mattress types might include those materials as well as a few other health benefits. Most memory foams are hypoallergenic, making both the mattresses and protectors great for those with asthma or allergies. Memory foam’s body contouring abilities, even on top of a hybrid, can also help support those suffering from back pain.

A hypoallergenic mattress or mattress protector helps keep your bed feeling fresh and clean while assisting in temperature regulation for a healthier, more comfortable sleep.
A hypoallergenic mattress or mattress protector helps keep your bed feeling fresh and clean while assisting in temperature regulation for a healthier, more comfortable sleep.

Features

When mattress shopping, people typically look at the features of individual brands and mattress types. For example, someone might decide on gel foam vs. memory foam for cooler sleep. When designing a couples’ bedroom, spouses or partners might opt for a hybrid with reduced motion transfer. Other features include:

  • Edge Support: Typically found on hybrids and innerspring mattresses, edge support increases surface area, provides security and stiffens the sides of the mattress for greater longevity.
  • Coil Count: The shape and number of coils in your hybrid mattress affect durability and comfort. Smaller coils in a fabric sleeve or pocket act independently, minimizing movement and optimizing support.
  • Firmness: Firmness scales vary by brand and mattress type, but memory foam mattresses tend to have a softer rating while hybrids fall on the side of firm or extra firm. Lightweight sleepers might prefer more plush beds while plus-size individuals feel cozier on a firm mattress.
On top of a strong foundation, mattress features like edge support, cooling gel and a quilted top provide a boost of comfort and support.
On top of a strong foundation, mattress features like edge support, cooling gel and a quilted top provide a boost of comfort and support.

Affordability, Shipping & Delivery

While financing makes it easier to fit a new bed into your budget, there are other ways to afford your mattress and make shipping free or more convenient. Purchasing a mattress-in-a-box skips showroom costs and ships right to your door in a package that’s easy to bring inside and unbox. Hybrid and memory foam boxed mattresses come in twin, full, queen, king and more sizes.

Both hybrid and memory foam mattresses sold by brands like Molecule, Purple and Casper arrive on your doorstep in compact packaging that's easy to set up for sleeping on that same night.
Both hybrid and memory foam mattresses sold by brands like Molecule, Purple and Casper arrive on your doorstep in compact packaging that's easy to set up for sleeping on that same night.

When it comes to cost comparison between gel memory foam, memory foam and hybrid models, the materials that go into manufacturing the mattress and size determine the final amount. Hybrids can have a higher price, while memory foam mattresses are more widely available and affordable. Still, a mattress under $1,000 is easy to find if you shop sales and compare brands.

Alternative Mattress Types

Alternatives beyond gel and regular memory foam vs. hybrid mattresses may offer another kind of sleep experience. These different mattress types are also easy to find and often have similar benefits. The classic spring mattress offers plenty of bounce, provides edge support and has a pillowy top. However, standard springs don’t offer much pressure relief and usually require a box spring.

Often a good swap for memory foam, a latex mattress uses either synthetic or natural latex and feels like memory foam, conforming to the body and providing pressure relief. They have a responsive bounce that isolates motion plus a durable build. While they are ecofriendly, natural latex mattresses have a greater cost and are less than ideal for those with latex allergies.

Latex mattresses can provide long-term comfort when taken care of, making them ideal for kid's bedrooms as they grow up.
Latex mattresses can provide long-term comfort when taken care of, making them ideal for kid's bedrooms as they grow up.

How to Make Your Mattress Better

A brand new mattress feels like luxury when you dive in for the first night’s sleep. Want to improve that experience? If you have a little room left in your budget or plan to redecorate anyhow, think about what else you could do to furnish your bedroom for optimal relaxation:

  • Memory Foam Pillows: Embrace the benefits of memory foam and gel memory foam pillows that have the same contouring and cooling materials built-in. You can also find pillows that are breathable and reduce bounce for healthier, more supported sleep.
  • Comfy Bedding: From king-size comforters to soft, cotton and linen sheets, cozy bedding enhances the feel of your bed. Lightweight comforters paired with a cooling gel memory foam mattress are ideal for people who need cooler temperatures for a good night’s sleep.
  • Mattress Covers: Used as a barrier from spills, bacteria and allergens, mattress protectors can keep your new mattress safe and fresh for longer. You can find covers in any size to fit a memory foam or hybrid mattress, too.

Taking a mattress quiz is a quick way to find out whether a gel memory foam, memory foam or hybrid mattress is right for you. The materials that go into manufacturing a comfortable, supportive bed that adheres to your needs say a lot about the best mattress type for you or your family members.