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Hot sleepers will appreciate the superior temperature regulation, pressure relief and motion isolation of the best gel mattresses. Here are the top choices on the market.
KJ Callihan is a freelance writer with a background in mental health and education. Her writing often covers product reviews and lists, animals and pet care, food and hospitality, health, wellness, and culture. When she isn't crafting the perfect sentence, you may find her bingeing true crime documentaries, browsing mid-Michigan farmer's markets, and tasting her son's latest homemade cuisine
McKenzie, a Certified Sleep Science Coach and proclaimed mattress expert, has been writing sleep content in the wellness space for over four years. After earning her certification from the Spencer Institute and dedicating hundreds of hours to sleep research, she has extensive knowledge on the topic and how to improve your quality of rest.
Having more experience with lying on mattresses than most, McKenzie has reviewed over 150 beds and a variety of different sleep products including pillows, mattress toppers and sheets. McKenzie has also been a guest on multiple radio shows including WGN Chicago as a sleep expert and contributed sleep advice to over 50 different websites.
Gel memory foam is a popular mattress material that sleeps cooler than traditional memory foam. It's also excellent at dampening movements and providing pressure relief. Each brand makes its gel foam differently: Some have poured gel, some swirled gel and some gel microbeads.
Gel memory foam mattresses are often a little more expensive than normal foam beds, which means doing your research is essential. That's where we come in. Our team of sleep experts has been testing mattresses for years, breaking down what makes a good or bad bed. We've rounded up our recommendations for the best gel mattresses available today.
There are plenty of mattresses out there that have gel foam layers. We found that the best gel mattress is the Brentwood Home Oceano. It's a medium-soft mattress that people who want a lot of cushion will love. Not only that, but its mixture of pocketed coils and micro-coils makes it a durable choice.
Owned by Avocado Green Brands, Brentwood Home mattresses are made in California in the company's own factory.
Best gel mattresses of 2023
Mattress price scale:
$ = Budget: $799 and below
$$ = Average: $800 to $1,699
$$$ = Premium: $1,700 and up
These reflect MSRP or list prices. Sales might make a mattress less expensive, but are always changing.
Type Hybrid mattressFirmness 3 or medium-softTrial 365 nightsWarranty 25-year limited warrantyPrice
The Oceano is Brentwood Home's best-selling hybrid mattress. Featuring a medium-soft feel, this bed is good for 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.
CertiPUR-US and Fair Trade certifications
Too soft for back and stomach sleepers
Brentwood Home Oceano
$200 off Oceano, Crystal Cove & Hybrid Latex mattresses
Type Neutral hybrid mattressFirmness MediumTrial 100 nightsWarranty 10-year warrantyPrice 3,095Price
Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, the Casper Wave Hybrid mattress is our pick for the best gel foam mattress for back pain. Our favorite thing about this bed 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.
Airscape foam comprises the top three layers. Just under the cover, there's a thin layer of cooling gel applied. The second layer of Airscape features holes for airflow 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.
Type Hybrid mattressFirmness 6-7 or medium-firmTrial 120 nightsWarranty 10-year warrantyPrice
The Bear Pro mattress is an all-foam bed 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.
Celliant fabric keeps you cool
Medium firm accommodates any sleeper
Gel, copper and graphite foams for maximum cooling
Type Memory-foam mattressFirmness 3-4 or medium-softTrial 100 nightsWarranty 10-year limited warrantyPrice
The Zinus Green Tea memory foam mattress is a major bargain that budget shoppers won't want to miss. It has a softer feel, though it does seem 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. 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.
Type Memory foam hybrid mattressFirmness 5 or mediumTrial 101 nightsWarranty 25-year limited warrantyPrice
If you're a hot sleeper, the GhostBed Luxe may be one of the coolest mattresses you'll find. 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. Then there's the 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.
Type Memory foam mattressFirmness 2 firmness levels -- Relaxed firm: 7 or medium-firm; Firm: 9-10 or firmTrial 360 nightsWarranty Lifetime warrantyPrice $$$Price
Saatva's Loom & Leaf mattress measures 12 inches tall with four distinct layers, including 5 whole pounds of pressure-relieving memory foam.
You choose your desired density: Relaxed Firm, the most popular option, best for back, stomach, combination and couples with different sleep preferences. Or Firm, good for back and stomach sleepers or any other folks who enjoy the feel of a harder bed.
The first layer is the organic cotton quilted cover, which is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. A natural flame barrier crafted of thistle and two layers of comfort foam accompany this cover as well. Next up is the gel-infused memory foam, which is designed to provide spinal support while also cooling. Below that, there are 5 more pounds of memory foam for pressure relief and further support, and a base layer made of high-density foam. All of Saatva's foams are eco-friendly and CertiPUR-US-certified.
Type Memory foam hybridFirmness 4 or medium to medium-softTrial 101 nightsWarranty Lifetime warrantyPrice scale $$$Price
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.
The mattresses above were personally hand-picked by our CNET Sleep editors, and proved to be the best performing gel mattresses among the 200-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 the Lucid mattress. It 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. 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 tested the best gel mattresses
Our team of sleep experts has tested hundreds of mattresses. We've established different tests and assessments we put each mattress through during that process. While testing, we consider firmness, feel, motion isolation, durability and edge support.
Firmness and feel
Think about firmness as how hard or soft a mattress is. Our experience testing mattresses has given us an extensive collection to compare a new bed to, allowing us to determine where it falls on the firmness scale.
Feel is where we get hands-on with the bed. We roll around on it and describe how it feels. We also pay close attention to how materials respond to weight and pressure. We note how quickly a bed snaps back when weight is lifted off it.
No mattress will last forever, but you want to choose one that you'll get the expected seven to 10 years out of. We hypothesize how long a mattress will last based on its construction. Beds with coils will stand the test of time better than foam, which may sag over years.
Motion isolation may not seem like a big deal at face value, but it matters if you have a partner or pet who moves around a lot. The last thing you want is someone waking you up while they toss and turn.
To test motion isolation, two team members move around on the bed and gauge how well each bed dampens movement. We also place a glass of water on the edge of the bed and move around near it. The bed doesn't have good motion isolation if the glass turns over.
Edge support is how strong the edge of the bed is. It's a key factor if you sleep on the edge of the bed. We test this by sitting and lying along the border. If we feel like we will fall off because the mattress is folding under the weight, it doesn't have good edge support.
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.
Things to consider when shopping for a gel foam mattress
Before shopping for a gel mattress, consider four key factors: your sleeping position, body type, budget and cooling technology expectations. This will help you weed out beds that won't fit your needs and leave you with only suitable options to narrow down to one.
Your sleeping position matters for which firmness level you should choose. The various sleeping positions need different things from a mattress.
Side sleepers need a soft to medium mattress with enough cushion to cradle their curves. Getting a bed that's too firm as a side sleeper will result in pressure points at the shoulders, hips and knees.
Back and stomach sleepers need a medium to firm, supportive mattress to keep their spine aligned all night. When you sleep on a bed that's too soft, your spine will curve and you'll wake up with back pain.
Combination sleepers should choose a firmness based on the position they spend the most time in at night.
Your body type also matters because it decides how firm a mattress feels. People who weigh more will put more pressure on the bed, which means it will feel softer to them. The opposite is true for petite body types; it will feel firmer.
People over 230 pounds should go with a mattress with plenty of support, like an innerspring or hybrid mattress.
Some of the best gel memory foam mattresses have cooling technology built into them, which is a must for hot sleepers. Look for a bed with cooling covers like GhostBed or foam layers with copper or graphite. Mattresses with latex foam also are naturally more breathable.
Mattresses are a significant investment. Establishing how much you can spend on your next bed will help narrow your options. The average price of an online mattress is between $850 to $1,200. However, some beds are under $500 and luxury mattresses over $2,000.
Gel foam 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.
Gel mattress FAQs
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
Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam
Saatva Loom & Leaf
Puffy Lux Hybrid
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.