Gel Foam vs Memory Foam: What’s The Difference? - DynastyMattress

Gel Foam vs Memory Foam: What’s The Difference?

Thomas Nguyen

Two of the most popular mattress choices available today are the gel memory foam and conventional memory foam mattresses.  Since they both say memory foam, that must mean they’re essentially the same thing, right?

While it’s certainly true that they share some similarities to one another, gel-foam and conventional foam each offers a  unique set of sleep-benefits. Let’s explore the key differences between these two choices and help determine which mattress is right for you!

Material Similarities

Gel memory foam and its traditional counterpart do indeed have some similar traits. For starters, they’re both made from the same material: a special type of plastic polymer called polyurethane!  This versatile polymer is actually quite common, and it has dozens of applications that go well beyond the scope of sleep. You might find some form of it in your furniture, insulation, and in many other instances.  However, like we said earlier, memory foam is made from a special type of polyurethane. It’s made by adding a precise combination of additives to standard polyurethane — since the polymer is so robust, it can change its form based on what substances interact with it.

A Look At Memory Foam

That’s how memory foam is born, the material present in both gel-based and traditional variant mattresses. Memory foam is also known as a viscoelastic polyurethane material, which is just fancy science jargon that means it’s a low-resistance foam. 

Let’s break that term down into some qualities you’re likely already familiar with. The ‘visco’ part actually comes from the word viscous, and it implies that the foam takes a long time to change shape or to transfer energy from one place to another. Moreover, the ‘elastic’ part simply means that the material can be stretched as much as it’d like, but it’ll still return to its original shape once that force stops acting on it.

That means both conventional memory foam products — as well as any gel-based ones — will exhibit these properties. However, that’s where the similarities end.

The Core Distinction

The primary differentiator between these two mattresses is what comes after the basic memory foam has been added. While traditional foam ends the production process there, gel-based foam takes it to another level. It asks: ‘how can this mattress be even better?’ And that’s where the gel comes in.

In order to optimize the sleep-value of the underlying memory foam, a layer of gel particles is added to the upper layer of the mattress. This gel comes in a few forms, namely thermal and phase-changing. In either case, the effects of this addition stay consistent regardless.

Practical Differences

So how does the experience of sleeping on gel memory foam deviate from that of a typical foam mattress? Let’s answer that question by diving into some key practical differences between the two choices.


Gel foam mattresses have a cooler feel than their standard counterparts. That’s because the top layer of gel that we mentioned is actually designed to wick away heat and moisture. That’s right: sleep optimization at its finest. 

Conversely, traditional memory foam mattresses have a closed-cell structure that only traps heat. This isn’t an intentional design choice, but rather an intrinsic feature of this polyurethane itself.  

This is certainly a great choice for anyone who likes a snug and cozy bed, or even someone who tends to get cold at night. However, if you end up sweating the night  away — or you just prefer a cool feeling over warm — then a gel-based mattress will serve you right.


Compared to memory foam, gel-based mattresses are designed to bounce back to their original shape faster. The gel beads add a bouncy quality to the top layer that will quickly mold to your body, reshape just as fast once you leave the bed. 

On the other hand, because they don’t have this reinforcing layer, conventional memory foam mattresses don’t feature this improved rebound. Once again, every sleeper is different, so carefully consider what sort of experience you prefer!


Finally, gel memory foam products are known to last longer than standard ones. This is yet another perk that comes via their upper layer of gel — it acts as a protective barrier that helps the mattress retain its shape, even after many years. 

Wrapping Up

It all comes down to you and your unique needs. There is never a single solution that will work for everyone — that would be boring! Perfecting your sleep is a personal experience, and that’s why it’s important to understand your choices. While both gel-based and traditional memory foam products offer the stability and support of a viscoelastic material, some key practical distinctions emerge when it comes down to it.  Their temperature regulation, added rebound, and long-lasting build quality make gel memory foam mattresses put these products in their own class!

That’s why our team here at Dynasty Mattress aims to offer the best gel-based products for the best prices— because better sleep is a universal right.

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