Your Gel Mattress - Get Comfortable By Sleeping Like A Cow
Gel mattress history - What they're made of - Care tips - Cheaper alternatives to iComfort memory foam gel beds - How they make Holsteins happier.
Gel beds are one of the newest ways to enjoy a good night's rest. They reduce tossing and turning and help whisk heat away from your body so you're much less likely to get up when you should be sleeping.
One of the ways that gel improves memory foam is that it can be compressed very far with extremely heavy weight and will spring back quickly. In fact it works so well that cows are using them too.
Yep, the Pasture Gel Mat is all the rage among the bovine set because the ladies like it and it prevents uncomfortable hot spots and pressure point sores that reduce laying time and milk production. If gel can make a cow comfortable on the ground, imagine what it could do for you in a cushy 12 inch mattress!
Solid gel mats like the Pasture Mat have long been used in hiker's bed rolls and for cushioning athletic shoes. Gel springs back quickly when compressed, even by a 1,500 pound cow's hoof.
But solid gel has too much 'push back' for most people's sleeping comfort, maybe because we typically don't weigh as much as a cow? Because of this, it took a bit more engineering to make it popular with people.
The First Gel Memory Foam Bed In April 2006, Dynamic Systems (whose founder Charles Yost originally developed memory foam for NASA) partnered with Thurmo-Pudic USA and introduced the first visco foam gel.
Tom Morgan, Thurmo-Pudic's head, called it 'gel visco' foam. The company claimed that this 'third generation foam' slept much cooler than earlier formulations, had superior support and quicker spring back. But the concept never gelled with bed buyers, perhaps because the company lacked an extensive network of distributors and stores.
iComfort's A Bedroom Hit A gel mattress finally became popular when Serta introduced its iComfort line in 2011. The success of the iComfort established them as a viable alternative to traditional visco foam. By that time several other bedding manufacturers were also producing these types of beds including Sleep Innovations, Simmons and Dormia.
What Your Gel Bed's Made of and How It Works
Gel memory foam ingredients and manufacturing processes are closely guarded trade secrets. But thanks to the dairy gel mattress link above we can speculate (and we are) that the gel component is created by mixing a specially formulated polyethylene powder with water.
Water has high thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity. Creating gels with water, instead of liquid plasticizers, could produce a material that helps whisk heat away from your body better. So when small bits are mixed in with standard visco foam they act like little refrigerators.
Only about 20% to 30% of material in a gel mattress is actually gel. And that's a good thing. More may make a mattress less durable.
What's Bamboo Doing In My Bed? Bamboo is not incorporated into the memory foam but is used on top in woven mattress covers. It's used to wick away moisture from your skin and increases the breathability of the cover.
Olfactory Additives Sometimes aloe vera, green tea or charcoal is added to the foam. But their function seems to be to mask the new memory foam smell, not to increase comfort or support.
Caring for Your Gel Foam Bed
Treat your gel mattress with the same care that you'd use with other memory foam beds. If they arrive compressed, let them expand for the full time recommended by the manufacturer. Don't sleep on them before. This is important! Your bed may never expand to its full size if you don't follow instructions.
Keep them dry. Buy a breathable mattress cover to protect from spills and accidents. If water or other liquids accidently penetrate to the mattress, follow the instructions this page "How to Clean a Mattress - Save Your Memory Foam Bed or Topper".
Affordable Choices for Quality Gel mattresses
Serta's iComfort is the best known gel memory foam mattress on the market today. It's also a bit pricey, starting at over $1,400 for a queen. It comes in many different models with varying degrees of firmness. You can find them reviewed here along with their less expensive entry level gel bed.
Its fairly new, and only has about 55+ reviews on Amazon...But it's probably the highest rated memory foam bed that the Maniac has ever had the chance to review. Happy buyers compare it to the $3,600+Tempurpedic Cloud Luxe but it's actually...Read More
An affordable bed that doesn't feel like one. Buyers say that it's comparable to gel beds that they've tried which cost four times as much. It comes with a 25 year warranty. And, yes, it does keep you cool.
Which Should You Choose? And Why?
Is The Name Brand Worth More? The iComfort, while it is the most recognizable brand is not an especially good value. Both the Ultimate Dreams and the Lucid beds offer much more for your money.
But if I was forced to go online and buy a bed today I'd pick the Ultimate Dreams 13" Gel Memory Foam Mattress. Buyers just rave about the great combination of softness and support that this bed gives you. Its top 'comfort' layers are made of 4 pound gel high density foam so it will last a long time. And it costs half of what you'd pay for the name brand. It definitely comes out on top.