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gel vs reg mem foam properties 09 Jan 2015 08:34 #1

  • saraturner
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hi there.
ive been researching mem foam mattresses & toppers for awhile. what I want to know is does gel mem foam have the same cradling/sinking into/temp response that reg mem foam has. I slept on a mem foam mattress previously and loved the way I sunk into the foam. it was even difficult to get out of the "cradle" of the foam which I liked and I slept like a baby. i read on the net that due to the gel in gel mem foam that it is not as temp sensitive or have the same sinking cradling feeling that reg mem foam has. i realize a lot of it has to do with density and ild ratings. i recently purchased a gel mem foam topper at 2 inches and 3lb density and while very comfortable it does not have that sunken/stuck in clay feeling. do i need to go back to reg mem foam, thicker pad or a higher density foam say 4lbs. this topper is going over a gel mem foam mattress that is a bit too firm.
any responses are appreciated!! thanks sara

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gel vs reg mem foam properties 09 Jan 2015 11:04 #2

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Hi saraturner,

i read on the net that due to the gel in gel mem foam that it is not as temp sensitive or have the same sinking cradling feeling that reg mem foam has.


In general terms this is usually the case yes. There is more about gel memory foams in post #2 here .

i realize a lot of it has to do with density and ild ratings. i recently purchased a gel mem foam topper at 2 inches and 3lb density and while very comfortable it does not have that sunken/stuck in clay feeling.


This is also more common with lower density memory foams which often have less "memory" and are a little closer to polyfoam in their feel and response. The "feel" you are describing would be more common with higher density memory foams.

do i need to go back to reg mem foam, thicker pad or a higher density foam say 4lbs. this topper is going over a gel mem foam mattress that is a bit too firm.
any responses are appreciated!! thanks sara


Even "regular" memory foam can have a very wide variety of different properties that are chemically formulated into the foam so there isn't a direct relationship between the density of a foam and its properties. There is more about the different properties of different types and formulations of memory foam in post #9 here and post #8 here . The most effective way to choose a memory foam topper that has the properties that you prefer (slower response time and more temperature sensitive) outside of personally testing it would be to talk with a knowledgeable and experienced supplier who can tell you how their particular memory foam options compare to other types of memory foam on the market since you won't be able to tell based on the density or ILD/IFD specs of the memory foam.

Post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to also has more information that can help you use your sleeping experience on a mattress as a reference point and guideline to help you choose the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the best chance of success and also includes a link to some of the better sources I'm aware of as well.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

gel vs reg mem foam properties 09 Jan 2015 11:14 #3

  • saraturner
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phoenix
thanks for the quick reply. I guess I will have to weigh the pros & cons of each. im getting to be a mid aged lady and that comes with some hot nights. I have found that the gel foam im using doesn't appear to retain my body heat as much as the reg mem foam ( I was having to change my pjs 2 to 3 tims a night with the reg mem foam but not at all with the gel mem foam). as I said however I do miss that "sinking" feeling :)
thank you for this site!

sara

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gel vs reg mem foam properties 09 Jan 2015 15:45 #4

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another question...
does gel memory come in 5lb density and a indentation rate of at least 11-14? I cant find any with this density just reg memory foam.
thanks again for all your help. sara

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gel vs reg mem foam properties 09 Jan 2015 17:10 #5

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Hi saraturner,

There are 5 lb gel memory foam toppers available yes but they tend to be less common than 4 lb gel memory foam. There is one here for example.

I would also be very cautious about using ILD/IFD when you are comparing the firmness/softness of different memory foam materials because it isn't a very accurate measurement of firmness when it comes to memory foam (see post #2 here ).

The most reliable way to know the relative firmness (or other properties) of a particular memory foam topper would be a conversation with a knowledgeable retailer or manufacturer that sells it.

Phoenix
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gel vs reg mem foam properties 09 Jan 2015 18:47 #6

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gosh this just gets more confusing the more I research. my 6 week old new mattress is a sleep solutions 9" gel mem foam from sleepys which is made by capitol bedding. its top layer is 1in of 4lb gel mem foam & another 1inch of reg mem foam(cant remember density). it is a bit too firm for me and it doesn't have that sunk in/ stuck in sand feeling that I like. i do realize that mem foam can take awhile to break-in. I was hoping to find a topper that would give me the max conforming material.
now im wondering if I just bite the bullet & purchase a tempurpedic mattress topper. oy vay!

I should mention that I am 5'5" 130lbs side/back sleeper with chronic joint pain & fibromyalgia if that is helpful.

thanks for your advice!!
sara

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Last edit: by saraturner. Reason: add material

gel vs reg mem foam properties 09 Jan 2015 22:32 #7

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Hi saraturner,

gosh this just gets more confusing the more I research. my 6 week old new mattress is a sleep solutions 9" gel mem foam from sleepys which is made by capitol bedding. its top layer is 1in of 4lb gel mem foam & another 1inch of reg mem foam(cant remember density). it is a bit too firm for me and it doesn't have that sunk in/ stuck in sand feeling that I like. i do realize that mem foam can take awhile to break-in. I was hoping to find a topper that would give me the max conforming material.
now im wondering if I just bite the bullet & purchase a tempurpedic mattress topper. oy vay!

I should mention that I am 5'5" 130lbs side/back sleeper with chronic joint pain & fibromyalgia if that is helpful.

thanks for your advice!!


I don't see this mattress on the Sleepy's site (only a 9" Sleep Options memory foam mattress) but if your mattress only has 2" of memory foam then it would tend to be on the firmer side because with thinner layers of memory foam you would feel more of the firmness of the base layer underneath the memory foam and there would be less memory foam to sink into.

I can't provide any specific suggestions because I can't feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved in choosing a topper that will be a good match for you on your specific mattress based on either specs (yours or a mattress) or theory at a distance (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here ).

Because of the many different properties and specs of different types of memory foam and because the mattress that you are using the topper on can make such a significant difference in the "feel" of the combination it's normally more effective to choose a topper based on a combination of your experience on the mattress, "how much" additional softness and pressure relief you are looking for (which of course is also somewhat subjective but there are some suggestions in the topper guidelines), and conversations with reliable suppliers about the properties of their memory foam compared to others.

If you are uncertain about your choice then it may take some trial and error to find the best combination and the return policy may become a bigger part of the "value" of your purchase so that you can use your own personal experience to decide whether any topper you purchase meets the criteria that are important to you.

A relatively "average" choice would be a 2" topper in the 4 - 5 lb density range and a non gel topper may have more of the slower recovery time and greater temperature sensitivity that you are looking for ... at least in general terms. A thicker topper may provide more of the "sunk in/ stuck in sand feeling" you are looking for but could also be a more risky choice because mattresses that use thicker layers of softer materials in the upper layers of the sleeping system (either in the top layers of the mattress or as a topper) would have a bigger risk of causing alignment issues (and possible lower back pain) over the course of the night so "just enough": in terms of thickness/softness is usually the least risky choice.

In the end your own personal experience will really be the only reliable way to decide whether any topper you choose works well for you but a good return policy can let you test the topper in "real life" so you can use your actual experience on a topper you purchase to help you decide on whether a different topper (different thickness or different properties) would make a better choice with little risk (outside of the time involved in testing or returning it). If you do find a topper that works well for you then it would certainly be a much more cost effective solution than buying a whole new mattress ... especially a mattress like Tempurpedic that is much more costly than other similar memory foam mattresses that are also available.

There is some feedback about a 3 lb topper in posts #5 and #6 here that may be of interest to you and while it's a low quality/density memory foam so it may not last as long or keep it's "memory" as long as higher quality toppers ... it's also inexpensive and a topper can be easily replaced when it breaks down or wears out and if nothing else it may give you a chance to do some trial and error testing with a 2" topper because Walmart has a good return policy.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

gel vs reg mem foam properties 10 Jan 2015 08:00 #8

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sorry the mattress i bought is the sleep solutions that you mention. it was described as "plush" and i was told it would "soften" or break in over time. im using a gel mem foam topper thats 2 in at 3lbs on top of it. i sleep very comfortbaly on it & i think i will stick wih that until it breaks down. im thinking that the sunk in feeling i like so much may be one of the reasons i slept so hot before needing to change my pjs 2 -3 times a night. so ill compromise on not getting that true conforming feeling for no night sweats ( for now anyways!).
i cant really complain too much because i bought the sleep options for 60% off plus another discount of 15% & free delivery ( how much do they mark these things up anyways??). so i only spent about $425 for the mattress.
i really appreciate all your information and plan on using it in the future since i will be purchasing a new mattresss for my guest room this year. i may swap out the mattresses.
again thanks- sara

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gel vs reg mem foam properties 10 Jan 2015 11:29 #9

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Hi saraturner,

sorry the mattress i bought is the sleep solutions that you mention. it was described as "plush" and i was told it would "soften" or break in over time.


I'm guessing you mean "Sleep Options"?

I would also keep in mind that there are no standardized definitions of firmness ratings between different manufacturers and that firmness/softness is also relative to the perceptions of different people and a mattress that feels too firm for one person can feel too soft for someone else so the only reliable way to know what feels firm or soft for you will be based on your own personal experience. All mattress will go through an initial break in period and soften to some degree. The break in period of a new mattress won't turn a "firm" mattress into a "soft" mattress but there are some suggestions in post #2 here that may also be helpful (including adding a topper which you are already doing).

There is more about the many variables that can contribute to the sleeping temperature of a mattress in post #2 here but you are right that softer mattresses and in particular mattresses with softer/thicker layers of memory foam are among the most likely to sleep warm or hot for people that are closer to the oven end of the "oven to iceberg" scale and this is one of the tradeoffs that can be involved in choosing a softer memory foam mattress. Your mattress protector and the sheets and bedding you use can also have a significant effect on sleeping temperature.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

gel vs reg mem foam properties 11 Jan 2015 09:21 #10

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again thanks for all the information. one last question regarding my setup keeping in mind that I have the 9" sleep options mattress ( classic brand. 1inch 4lbs gel mem foam, 1 inch mem foam then base layer), enjoy the stuck in clay feeling, have chronic joint pain, am a side/back sleeper and tend to sleep on the warmer side...
which topper would be preferable:
aerus 4lb or sensus 5lb at either 2 or 3 inches?
while the aerus will sleep "less warm" , will it give me the high conformity im looking for as opposed to possible sleeping warmer on the sensus but having more conformity than the aerus? again im 5'5" 130lbs. btw I was about 40lbs heavier when I was sleeping on the memory foam mattress or topper when I enjoyed that ultimate sunk into the mattress feel. im sure that also has an impact on "feel" as well.

thanks for all your help. I will be checking back into your site when I start researching mattresses for my guest room in a few months. the biggest obstacle for me is that I have physical disabilities that make it necessary for me to have a mattress set up & setup for me. I cant physically lift a queen size mattress or put together my own box spring. plus I need my old set removed. this really narrows my options to buying a set from a retailer instead of an online manufacturer.
sara

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