Comparing the Features of Gel Foam and Standard Spring Mattresses
While many of us know sleep is essential to our health and well-being, one out of every three Americans isn't getting enough rest. Many factors affect the quality of our sleep, and a well-designed mattress is one of the differences between resting comfortably or tossing and turning all night.
Consumers have many choices when it comes to mattresses. The most common option is a traditional spring mattress, but contemporary gel foam beds are transforming sleep with innovative advances in mattress design.
Here's a look at how innerspring and gel foam mattresses compare. Consider the benefits of each to help you find one that best suits your needs and improves your sleep experience.
While mattresses may look similar on the surface, they vary in terms of the materials they're made from and how they're engineered. The type that's been around the longest is the spring mattress, which contains a system of steel coils that provides support to the body.
There are several kinds of spring systems. Some are made from one wire that's shaped into continuous coils. There are also offset springs that are laced together with thinner wires, as well as pocket coils, which are individual springs wrapped in fabric. The firmness, amount of support and durability of an innerspring mattress depends on the thickness or gauge of the springs, how many there are and the way they're arranged.
Gel foam mattresses are an enhancement of memory foam technology. Memory foam was originally developed by NASA to provide comfort and safety for astronauts seated on long flights into space. The foam was designed to absorb the pressure of the body, distribute the weight evenly and offer protection in case of impact. Because the material returned to its original shape once pressure was removed, it was initially called "slow springback foam" and "temper foam."
Gel foam beds are made by infusing gel particles into memory foam. The gel absorbs some of the heat from the body to make the mattress cooler than regular memory foam and help it to feel more plush and more responsive.
When we curl up to sleep, the parts of the body that protrude tend to experience tension because the mattress pushes up on them. Some of these stress points include the shoulders, hips, knees and tailbone. This uneven pressure throughout the night can cause discomfort and aches.
Many types of innerspring mattresses, particularly those that are a single system of coils, don't adjust to your body shape. They stay uniformly flat and put stress on certain parts of the body. Mattresses using a system of pocket coils are the best kind of spring mattress for easing pressure. These springs are individually encased in fabric and can respond independently to stress on different areas.
Gel foam is superior for relieving pressure points. It softens in response to heat and weight and embraces the lines of your body. Instead of pushing up on your hip when you're lying on your side, for example, a gel foam mattress gives way slightly so your hip isn't bearing all the pressure. This distributes weight more evenly and takes away some of the stress on your body.
Motion Transfer and Sound
If you've ever been disturbed by your partner shifting positions or your toddler climbing into your bed in the middle of the night, it's because energy from the movement is rippling from one side of the bed to the other.
Known as motion transfer, this commonly occurs with spring mattresses that have coils working as a single system. Individually wrapped pocket coils are better for isolating movement because the springs aren't touching.
A gel foam bed, made with NASA-designed material that absorbs shock in an aircraft, transfers the least amount of movement. Motion is limited to the area that's experiencing pressure instead of transferring across the mattress. This means you're less likely to sense someone getting up or a dog jumping onto the bed.
Memory foam also makes little, if any, noise, compared to springs that can get squeaky with age.
A comfortable body temperature is important for nighttime rest. Regular memory foam, which softens and responds to warmth in order to mold to the body, retains heat. A common complaint is that standard memory foam mattresses can feel too hot.
Gel foam mattresses, such as those made with Halcyon foam, are designed to improve on this. Gel particles are uniformly interspersed throughout the foam to improve airflow and draw away heat, creating a temperature-neutral sleeping surface. This enhances the sleep experience while continuing to provide the soft, conforming features of memory foam.
Standard spring mattresses allow air circulation through the springs and can also offer a neutral temperature but aren't as pliable as gel foam in terms of customizing support.
Chronic aches and back pain can cause many sleepless nights for those who struggle to find a comfortable position. A good mattress can ease pain and stiffness and help you sleep more soundly. There are many causes of back pain, so it's important to consider your specific needs, but the most important thing to consider is whether the mattress keeps your spine naturally aligned.
The best type of mattress for maintaining proper spine alignment is one that's soft enough to take the pressure off the hips and shoulders but firm enough to support the spine and prevent it from sinking into the mattress out of position. A naturally aligned spine comfortably releases tension and allows you to relax. Gel foam accomplishes this because the top comfort layer, which contains the gel foam, shifts to accommodate the lines of each individual body. The support layers of foam underneath keep the spine in alignment.
Innerspring mattresses vary in terms of how much support they provide to the spine, based on the thickness, number and design of the springs. For example, continuous coils don't adapt to different parts of the body, so if you're sleeping on your back, you may find a lack of support because there's empty space between the curve of your lower back and the mattress. Pocketed coils provide more support because the springs are independent and better able to yield to pressure.
Ease of Delivery
Once you've decided on a mattress, you need to get it home and into your bedroom. Rigid spring mattresses, especially queen or king-sized ones, can be tricky to navigate through doors or up stairs.
One of the conveniences of a gel foam bed is that the mattress is flexible enough to be compressed, vacuum-sealed and packaged into a box. Customers can carry the box into their house.
Gel foam mattresses are easily set up by placing the mattress onto the base of the bed and removing the wrap. The compressed mattress unfolds and restores itself into its proper shape.
Many gel and foam mattress manufacturers offer fast and free shipping options for their mattresses which should also be a consideration when purchasing your next mattress.
Spring mattresses come in many brands, materials and variations in quality. Because they're usually mass-produced, customers can find them in many price points. The ones that provide movement isolation are typically more costly.
Gel foam mattresses tend to be more expensive than the most economical spring mattresses because of the technology that allows personalized support and motion isolation. They're often competitively priced with premium spring mattresses, especially when ordered directly from the manufacturer.
Mattresses at GelFoamBed.com are sold straight from the factory where they're made in the United States. Savings from expenses such as retail overhead, sales staff and advertising are passed on to the consumer without sacrificing the features and qualities that set the beds apart.
Overall Quality of Sleep
It's important to find a mattress that improves your sleep experience instead of disrupting it. By comparing features such as mattress construction, pressure relief, spine alignment and motion isolation, you can choose the mattress that best suits your needs, helping you to snuggle comfortably into bed at night and feel fresh and revitalized in the morning.