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What’s in a Gel Mattress?

Let’s talk about a hot (or cool) trend in the memory foam mattress industry.

What is a gel mattress?

A gel mattress is typically standard memory foam blended with a gel or gel beads made with “phase change materials.” This mattress is specifically designed for those who “sleep hot” and is marketed as having “cooling foam” or foam with “cooling chemicals.”

However, it’s hard to know exactly what’s in these gels. Synthetic foam manufacturers guard their formulas closely, so general descriptions are all consumers have to rely on.

Gel’s cooling chemicals

Phase change materials can include a host of chemicals. They are used to make mattress foams feel cooler because they have properties that transfer heat from the sleeper down into the mattress core. The effect doesn’t last all night long, but can make initial hours of sleep less sweaty. 

Although their odor is not as intense as off-gassing memory foam, a chemical smell is sometimes still noticeable with gel mattresses.

Luckily, there is a natural alternative that works even better than gel.

the chemicals used in gel-infused mattresses are secret

A healthy alternative

One of the best materials known to help the human body regulate temperature is wool. Everyone associates wool with warmth—after all, what’s a snuggly wool sweater for? Wool is a wonderful material for outerwear or winter blankets but it’s also comfortable in summer, too. (Hence, the finest men’s summer suits are made of wool.)

The secret to wool fiber’s amazing performance is that each strand is covered with microscopic “hooks” which overlap and grip adjacent ones. This forms countless tiny air pockets between the strands. And voila, a breathable material that keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Choosing a mattress or topper

If you’d like to stay away from a gel bed and are concerned about unnecessary chemicals polluting your home’s air or creating toxic dust, a natural mattress that uses wool for flame resistance and insulating comfort is a healthy, comfortable option.

Savvy Rest natural latex mattresses include an organic casing made of certified organic cotton and certified organic wool batting, which acts as a natural flame barrier.

Also, natural latex, particularly natural Talalay, is more porous and breathable than any synthetic foam or gel.

Naturally cooler sleep

If you’re excited about wool’s potential for a temperature-adaptable bed, you might also consider a wool-filled mattress topper, such as the Savvy Woolsy. Its fluffy wool fiber within an organic cotton, duvet-style casing makes a cozy addition to your mattress that won’t cause you to feel overheated.

Or if you’re really crazy about wool you can choose the wool-filled, hand-tufted organic Pastoral mattress, even topping it with a Savvy Woolsy.

Worried it’ll feel itchy? No need. Your skin won’t be in direct contact with wool on either product—it’s inside an organic cotton casing and, of course, also will be topped with your bedding.

So stay away from those chemical gels. With a Savvy Rest, you won’t be counting sheep, but you’ll certainly be thanking them. You can sleep well and keep your cool, on top of wonderful wool!

Explore our best-selling layered mattress options

GOTS-certified organic mattress - Tranquility mattress on bed in outdoor setting with trees


The Tranquility is made just like the Serenity organic mattress, but with two 3″ layers of natural, organic latex.

The Unity Pillowtop has four 3″ layers: it is simply the 3-layer Serenity organic mattress with the Harmony latex topper on top.

Our flagship organic mattress. Customizable for any body type with personalized combinations of Soft, Medium and/or Firm.

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