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While memory foam mattresses have been on the rise, so have gel mattresses. Companies want to offer as many options to their customers as possible, so they serve up gel, foam and hybrid mattresses. One of the best reasons to move over to a gel mattress is the dampening of motion transfer, which is great for someone whose partner moves around during sleep or gets up at night to go to the bathroom. Gel mattresses can also provide more supportive pressure relief, in addition to staying cooler than your average mattress.
When you shop, you’ll find gel in all-foam and hybrid mattresses, either fully integrated into the foam or layered into separate sections. Since gel provides temperature regulation, it’s most often found in or near the top layer of a mattress to combat heat retention. Gel foam generally contains either poured gel, swirled gel or gel microbeads, and the gel is often combined with something called a “phase-change material,” which helps regulate both heat and cooling even further.
While gel mattresses have some advantages over traditional memory-foam mattresses, they’re also typically more expensive and have a shorter life span, usually lasting between five and eight years. A gel foam mattress is also heavier than other mattresses. In addition, gel is a synthetic material and manufacturers often don’t disclose the exact ingredients. For this reason, it’s wise to look for certifications like CertiPUR-US to ensure that all the materials in your mattress are safe.
To help you with your search, we’ve rounded up our recommendations for the best gel mattresses available today. Prices listed are for queen-size mattresses, before any sales or discounts.
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3 or medium-soft
25-year limited warranty
The Oceano is Brentwood Home’s best-selling hybrid mattress. Featuring a medium-soft feel, it’s comfy for all sleep positions and has a cooling effect that’s popular with hot sleepers.
This mattress incorporates a gel-infused memory foam that includes up to 20% biodegradable, plant-based foam, which helps with ventilation and moisture-wicking. It has nine layers in all, starting with a cover of plant-based Tencel (eucalyptus-derived with a feel like rayon), followed by a layer of organic wool, then nearly 1,000 pocketed coils. Below that are over 1,700 more micro-coils for enhanced buoyancy, another layer of contouring foam, poly-silk fiber, Air Luxe foam for deeper pressure relief, and a dense layer of support foam for greater durability. Finally, the base layer is organic canvas to hold things in place.
Owned by Avocado Green Brands, Brentwood Home follows suit on the numerous environmental certifications Avocado sports, including CertiPUR-US and Fair Trade. Brentwood Home mattresses are made in California in the company’s own factory, where the company says many workers have remained employed for over 20 years.
With your purchase of an Oceano, you get free shipping and returns, in-home setup for a fee, a full year sleep trial and a 25-year limited warranty.
5 or medium
10-year limited warranty
Casper’s Wave Hybrid mattress has a medium feel. With several layers of targeted support, it’s great for side, back, stomach or anyone in need of enhanced pressure relief and back support. It’s even endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association because of its zoned support design and ability to promote a properly aligned spine.
It consists of several foam layers that total a height of 13 inches. The company’s signature Airscape foam comprises the top three layers, just under the cover, on which a thin layer of cooling gel is applied. The second layer of Airscape features holes for air flow and enhanced breathability, and the third layer is combined with memory foam that’s divided into three areas for targeted zoned support and spinal alignment. Next comes a layer of gel pods and finally a base layer of pliable springs with heightened firmness around the edges.
Our favorite aspect of the Wave Hybrid gel memory-foam mattress is the layer of 86 gel pods placed beneath the waist and lower back regions. These are gently supportive and work with the mattress foam to strategically maintain spinal alignment. They’re also intended to help prevent sinking when you lie down.
With this mattress, you can add Casper’s new Snow Technology, which includes an enhanced cooling gel in the cover, superior heat wicking and additional ventilated, breathable foam.
The Casper Wave Hybrid comes with free shipping and returns, a 100-night sleep trial to decide if you want to keep it and a 10-year limited warranty.
6-7 or medium-firm
The Bear Pro mattress is an all-foam variety with five layers. Bear is known for its proprietary Celliant fabric, which keeps you cooler at night and promises faster recovery times from muscle soreness and sports injuries. This particular gel memory-foam mattress features a Celliant cover as well as advanced cooling technology using gel, copper foams and graphite. That makes it ideal for athletes or anyone else who works out on a regular basis.
The Bear Pro may also appeal to side sleepers, back sleepers and anyone who prefers a medium to medium-firm bed.
Reviewers on the Bear mattress site shared that the Bear Pro offers excellent motion transfer, is very supportive and helps alleviate pain in the joints and back. Some stomach sleepers noted it was a comfortable mattress for them as well.
When you buy a Bear Pro, you’ll get free shipping and returns, a 100-night risk-free sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
3-4 or medium-soft
10-year limited warranty
The Zinus Green Tea memory-foam mattress has a softer feel, and it’s ideal for hot sleepers, heavier folks and all sleeping positions. With that being said, it seems to firm up in colder weather, a common characteristic of dense memory foam. The 12-inch variety includes 2 inches of gel-infused memory foam, 3 inches of comfort foam, and 7 inches of high-density base support foam. These three foams together promote air circulation, flow, breathability and pressure relief. Though, there are four firmness levels to choose from: 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-inch models.
This gel infused foam mattress is also CertiPUR-US certified to be free of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, as well as flame retardants and phthalates.
Reviewers say that the bed is comfy and easy to set up, and many reviewers’ joint and back pain has been slowly alleviated since they’ve used this mattress — one even noted improvements within just one night. Others noticed that there was no bounce and that it was quiet and had great motion transfer.
The price is a major bargain for a mattress with all the aforementioned features. Interested shoppers should consider the 100-night sleep trial and see how this mattress works for you. If it doesn’t appeal to you after several weeks of sleeping on it, you can easily send it back and get a refund.
In addition to the sleep trial, Zinus offers free shipping and a 10-year warranty.
Memory foam hybrid mattress
5 or medium
25-year limited warranty
If you are a hot sleeper, this may be one of the coolest mattresses you’ll find. The GhostBed Luxe consists of seven layers, four of which are devoted to cooling in one way or another. Supportive in all the right places while soft and plush on the top, the GhostBed Luxe has a medium feel and is great for all sleeper types from back, stomach, side, and combination.
The GhostBed Luxe’s dual phase cooling technology offers an initial cooling experience when you first lie down on the mattress. The cover is made with phase change material that reacts with your body heat and is cool to the touch.
The second layer is an inch of cooling fiber that’s designed to encourage airflow. Next comes an inch of gel foam, followed by a patent-pending Ghost Ice layer, which adds its own additional cooling power. Fifth in line is another 3 inches of gel memory foam, this time to provide pressure relief and draw heat away from the sleeper’s body.
Next to last is the company’s proprietary Ghost Bounce layer, which adds the buoyancy of latex alongside the contouring comfort of memory foam. Finally, the base layer provides a high-density core, assuring the bed will remain durable for the long haul.
As far as pricing goes, you usually won’t have to pay retail price because GhostBed (and most bed-in-a-box mattress brands) offers some pretty nice discounts throughout the year. So, don’t be alarmed if you think the MSRP is too high.
The GhostBed Luxe comes with free shipping, hassle-free returns after 30 days, a 25-year warranty and a 100-night sleep trial.
Saatva Loom & Leaf
Memory foam mattress
2 firmness levels — Relaxed firm: 7 or medium-firm; Firm: 9-10 or firm
Saatva’s Loom & Leaf mattress measures 12 inches tall with four distinct layers, including 5 whole pounds of pressure-relieving memory foam.
The company lets you choose your desired density: Either Relaxed Firm (its most popular option, best for back, stomach, combination, and couples with different sleep preferences). Or Firm, good for back and stomach sleepers or any other folks who enjoy the feel of a harder bed.
The first layer is the organic cotton quilted cover, which is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. A natural flame barrier crafted of thistle and two layers of comfort foam accompany this cover as well. Next up is the gel-infused memory foam, which is designed to provide spinal support while also cooling. Below that, there are 5 more pounds of memory foam for pressure relief and further support, and a base layer made of high-density foam. All of Saatva’s foams are eco-friendly and CertiPUR-US-certified.
When you buy a Loom & Leaf, you automatically receive free white glove delivery, which means the company will coordinate delivery with you, set your bed up in the room of your choice and remove your old mattress. It’s free of charge if you select “free mattress removal” at checkout.
In addition to free white glove delivery, you also get free shipping, a 180-night home trial and a 15-year warranty. (If you need to return the mattress or decide you no longer want it after the sleep trial, there is a $99 transportation fee to pick it up.)
Memory foam hybrid
4 or medium to medium-soft
Another luxury hybrid mattress comprising layers of coils, cooling gel and several types of foam, the American-made Puffy Lux mattress offers the ideal bed for those with back pain or in need of pressure relief.
The six layers that make up the Puffy Lux include a hypoallergenic, stain-resistant cover, followed by 1.5 inches of gel-infused breathable memory foam. The bed also features 1.5 inches of pressure-relieving foam, and 2 inches of moisture-wicking, humidity-resistant foam to help keep sleepers dry. The fifth layer comprises 7 inches of high-density foam accompanied by a full base of supportive coils with strong edge support. The final layer, the base, is equipped with a cover that grips the ground beneath it to give the bed stability. It works well on any foundation, including adjustable bases.
Reviewers were satisfied with the firm support the mattress gives while it gently contours the body. Buyers with back pain noticed it was alleviated as they used the mattress, in particular lower back pain. Read more about this bed in our Puffy Lux mattress review.
If you purchase a Puffy Lux, you get free shipping, a lifetime warranty and a 101-night sleep trial.
Flippable hybrid mattress
2 firmness levels | Medium: medium or 5 | Firm: medium-firm to firm or 8
Ideal for a range of sleeping positions, the Nest Bedding Robin (formerly the FLIP Hybrid) mattress has two sides to offer — the top has a medium feel while the bottom has a firm feel. This unique bed combines Visco gel foam with supportive coils to create ergonomic support for optimal slumber.
When selecting your firmness, keep in mind that medium is best for back, stomach, side and combination sleepers and people of average weight. Firm is best if you prefer back or stomach sleeping as a rule, need lower back support or if you like a firm feel to your mattress.
This mattress’s five layers include a breathable quilted foam cover, an inch of Visco cooling gel support foam, 6 inches of reinforced edge coils and another inch of thick base foam followed by the final base layer for stability. This mattress sets up easily, has environmental and safety certifications and is made in the USA.
If you purchase a Nest Robin mattress, you’ll get free shipping, a 100-night trial and a lifetime warranty.
Other mattresses we’ve tested
The mattresses above were personally hand-picked by our CNET Sleep editors, and proved to be the best performing gel mattresses among the 100-plus beds they’ve tested. With that being said, with so many to choose from, there are bound to be a few quality mattresses that miss the cut. Below are other mattresses tested by the CNET Sleep team that are worth mentioning as some of the best gel foam beds.
Lucid 10-inch Gel Memory Foam mattress: As an ultra wallet-friendly mattress, budget shoppers may really enjoy this option. It’s made with memory foam and has a slow-responding, viscous feel that’s typical of traditional memory foam. It comes in a large range of height options and three firmness levels, so most sleeping positions can find a Lucid Gel that suits their preferences. However, since it’s an all-foam mattress, I don’t recommend this to people who weigh over 230 pounds. It’s not going to be as durable or supportive as a hybrid mattress that contains coils.
DreamCloud mattress: Like the name implies, the DreamCloud is an ultra luxurious mattress that feels like a cloud when you sleep on it. I’d compare it to a fancy, five-star hotel mattress. It’s made with gel memory foam, but the fluffy pillow top in the cover of the bed makes it feel more neutral and bouncy. It’s incredibly thick and made with supportive pocketed coils in the bottom, so it’s perfect for all body types. It also has an accommodating firmness level; it’s rated around a medium or a 5 out of 10, making it fitting for all sleeping positions from back, side, stomach and combination.
How we test
Our CNET Sleep editors picked the beds and other products we write about based on editorial merit. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Find out more on how we test mattresses.
What are the pros and cons of a gel mattress?
Gel mattresses often sleep cooler than regular mattresses because the material doesn’t retain heat like traditional memory foam. Gel beds also tend to be more responsive to pressure. It ultimately promotes a cooler and more comfortable sleeping experience. However, because of this, gel foam mattresses are typically more expensive than your standard memory foam beds.
Who makes the best gel mattress?
Our CNET Sleep editors chose the following beds as the best gel mattresses:
- Brentwood Home Oceano
- Casper Wave Hybrid
- Bear Pro
- Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam
- GhostBed Luxe
- Loom & Leaf
- Puffy Lux Hybrid
- Nest Bedding Robin
How long do gel mattresses last?
It depends if your gel mattress is made with foam or if it’s a hybrid mattress (designed with foam and coils). A gel foam mattress will last around five to seven years depending on how well you take care of it. A hybrid mattress, however, should last around eight to 12 years. You should rotate your bed every six months so you evenly distribute pressure and give it a yearly deep clean.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.