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Many sleepers do not get enough cushioning from their mattress alone. To remedy this problem, some turn to mattress pads or toppers. Both are used as individual layers of cushioning to complement the bed’s sleep surface. Pads tend to be thinner and provide minimal cushioning, while toppers are thicker and provide more cushioning.
In addition to beds, pads and toppers can be used in guest rooms, RVs, and other sleeping areas where the bedding surfaces may lack proper support.
Additionally, some pads and toppers offer good temperature neutrality that can cool down mattresses that tend to sleep hot. Pas/toppers that sleep cool without altering the temperature of the bed are known as passive cooling toppers. Most of these are made from materials like latex or gel-infused foam. Active cooling pads/toppers actually create colder sleep surfaces using built-in components, such as fans or water tanks.
This guide will explore important considerations for purchasing a cooling pad or topper, including our picks for the best cooling pads and toppers made today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
The Avocado Organic Cotton Mattress Pad Protector combines luxury, protection and sustainability all in one product. Made of 100% GOTS organic cotton, this pad adds a layer of clean and cool breathability to your mattress. Durable, easy to care for and with no off-gassing odor, this is the no-hassle experience desired in a mattress pad.
The Avocado Organic Cotton Mattress Pad Protector is handmade in Los Angeles with sustainably sourced 400 thread count long-staple cotton ticking and 400 gram/yard cotton fiber fill. This detail of production results in not only its fair trade and vegan certifications, but also a soft, clean product that will last a long time.
This pad is handmade in the U.S. Avocado offers free shipping and full refunds on all returns.
You’ll enjoy this bamboo mattress pad for both its value and cruelty-free materials. The top-quilted fabric is soft and cool to the touch, and will help with thermoregulation while sleeping.
Inside, the RevoLoft Cluster Fiber Filling is a down alternative and allows more air flow to counteract any mattresses that cause you to overheat. Baffle box stitching keeps the fill from shifting too far to one side or another.
The silent protection keeps a noisy mattress pad from waking you up, and matches well with all kinds of mattresses, whether you already have latex, memory foam, or innerspring. This product also includes a 30-day return period if it’s not the right fit for you.
The Helix Ultra-Cool Pad is our Best Luxury pick because of its quality combination of feel as well as function. The mattress pad and its skirt are smooth, soft, and cool to the touch. The fabric itself is 100% polyester that is specially designed to provide functional benefits in two main ways.
First, it’s treated using Helix’s Phase Change technology to help it regulate heat. Essentially, the pad takes in excess heat from any point and disperses it throughout the mattress. This keeps things comfortably cool while also warming those spots that get too cold.
Second, the pad is designed to be antimicrobial to protect against potential allergens. The entire thing is also machine-washable, making it easy to keep clean and free of irritants.
Available in all standard mattress sizes, the Ultra-Cool Pad is covered by a 100-night sleep trial and a 1-year limited warranty.
The Molecule AirTEC Mattress Toppers is easily among the coolest toppers on the market. With a versatile construction featuring cooling properties in almost every layer, this innovative topper achieves an excellent combination of conforming and temperature regulation.
The AirTEC consists of three different foam layers and a cover. The first layer, it’s ‘comfort layer’, is made of a proprietary foam that provides 7x the airflow of traditional memory foam. Below is a core layer made of a breathable open cell foam and a bottom layer of higher-density support foam. This is all wrapped in a cool, fiber cover. The AirTEC tested excellently in our cooling tests, achieving a rare 5-star rating. Additionally, it scored consistently well in almost every other category, specifically conforming and motion isolation.
While the AirTEC’s price point is just slightly above average, it’s innovative and high-quality construction makes it well worth it. Comes in the six standard mattress sizes and includes a 5-year limited warranty.
If you’re concerned about harmful or synthetic materials, Latex for Less is a win on two different fronts: it’s both a monetary value and the company has gone the extra mile to assure safe materials. This mattress topper boasts multiple certifications for safety, including Oeko-Tex, Eco-Institut, and GOTS certified organic cotton. That translates into no fillers or synthetic additives, and no toxic chemical smell.
Customers have found this product to be comfortable and resilient, along with offering pressure relief that helps with support for hips, knees, back, and shoulders. The 100% natural latex material provides a balance between sink and buoyancy, along with plenty of distributed aeration to keep cool.
This mattress topper may not be cheap, but many customers found the splurge to be worth it. PlushBeds prioritizes ethically sourced materials. Beyond their chemical-free cred, they also go the extra mile to ensure cruelty-free and sustainable materials. Their wool vendors are held to high standards, including humane growing and gathering processes without adding scouring agents, chemicals, or dyes.
The wool material is adaptable on the full spectrum of temperature, allowing for a cooling effect in the summer and a warming effect in the winter. The all-natural materials also inhibit pests like dust mites and mold spores. While this material is great to sink into, PlushBeds suggests the brand’s latex topper if you’re looking for targeted pressure or pain relief.
Many different factors go into choosing a mattress pad or topper. In the following guide, we’ll walk you through several different factors, including:
Taking all these elements into consideration will help you pick a mattress pad or topper that fits your needs and helps you sleep better every night.
A mattress pad, also known as a ‘mattress protector,’ is a relatively thin layer that tucks over the top surface of a mattress with elastic edges similar to those of a fitted sheet. The pad’s primary purpose is to protect the mattress.
The term ‘mattress topper’ refers to an individual layer of additional cushioning that can be placed on top of a mattress or other sleep surface in order to provide extra softness, comfort, and support.
Some toppers rest freely on the uppermost layer of the mattress (known as the comfort layer), while others are designed to fit beneath the top sheet. Pads and toppers come in sizes that correspond to standard mattress sizes. Toppers may also be used to create a ‘dual-firmness’ surface for couples using Queen- or King-size mattresses.
A ‘cooling’ pad or topper is designed to help sleepers maintain a moderate, well-regulated body temperature throughout the night. They can also reduce sweating. These pads and toppers can be beneficial for people who tend to sleep hot or warm, as well as those using mattresses that act as heat traps.
Generally speaking, two types of cooling pads and toppers are available. Below, we’ll go over the differences between active and passive cooling pads and toppers, including factors that will help you pick the right one for you.
Active cooling pads and toppers go beyond padding materials to heat you up or cool you down. These products are outfitted with attachable fans or water pumps that help sleepers remain cool and comfortable.
Many are customizable, allowing owners to maintain their ideal sleep temperature. They may also be used to warm up sleep surfaces during colder times of the year.
Rather than using fans or other attachments, passive cooling toppers are constructed with specialty materials (such as gel-infused foams) that absorb and transfer body heat. The term ‘passive cooling topper’ also refers to toppers made with materials that are naturally cool, such as:
Regardless of the cooling topper type, most models feature covers made of materials that help sleepers stay cool. These include cotton, rayon, and/or bamboo fabric.
Additionally, some models feature covers made from phase-changing material, or PCM. PCM absorbs body heat until the sleeper reaches a certain temperature and then stop retaining heat, allowing the sleep surface to maintain a steady, comfortable temperature throughout the night regardless of how hot the sleeper feels.
Please note: Some brands offer toppers that need to be placed in a refrigerator or freezer prior to being used. Most of these toppers keep sleepers cool for a reasonable length of time, but their coldness will wear off — and most need to be refrigerated or refrozen each night. These toppers are fairly rare compared to active and passive cooling toppers. As a result, we have exclusively evaluated active and passive cooling pads and toppers for the purposes of this article, and did include any refrigerated pad or topper models in our analyses.
Both active and passive cooling pads and toppers carry unique benefits and drawbacks for owners. The table below looks at some of the similarities and differences between the two product types in terms of lifespan, effectiveness, and other performance metrics.
|Characteristic||Active Cooling Topper/Pad Rating||Passive Cooling Topper/Pad Rating||Explanation|
|Effective Temperature Regulation||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Active cooling pads and toppers are more effective at regulating sleep temperature than passive cooling models, according to owners.|
|Thickness and Firmness Selection||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Due to limited availability of active cooling pads and toppers, customers may have a hard time finding models that accommodate their sleep preferences. The options for passive cooling models are much more extensive.|
|Durability||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Most cooling pads and toppers perform for at least two years. Active-cooling models are prone to breakdowns due to their technical components, while passive-cooling models may lose their temperature-regulating abilities over time.|
|Noise||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent||Active-cooling pads and toppers with electrical components can be quite noisy. Passive-cooling models are much quieter on the whole; memory foam, latex, and wool are virtually silent, whereas feathers may produce slight rustling sounds.|
|Odor Potential||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Active-cooling pads and toppers may emit some odors when they are unpackaged, but these models are not associated with long-lasting smells. Memory foam, natural latex, and feathers all have relatively high odor potential, while smell complaints for wool are not as common.|
|Ease of Moving||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Active-cooling pads and toppers can be quite heavy and difficult to maneuver during the night due to extraneous parts. Passive-cooling pads and toppers tend to be much lighter, although latex and memory foam models tend to weigh much more than wool and feather models.|
|Ease of Cleaning and Maintaining||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Cleaning cooling pads and toppers can be a hassle. Most models need to be spot cleaned or dry cleaned, and active-cooling pads and toppers with water pumps may develop mold if they are not regularly cleaned. The exception: passive-cooling wool models, which can often be machine washed.|
|Upkeep Costs||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Active-cooling pads and toppers can lead to repair expenses down the road, in addition to cleaning fees. Passive-cooling models almost never need the same level of repair, but dry-cleaning bills can add up.|
|Availability||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||A limited number of active-cooling pads and toppers are currently available, whereas passive-cooling models are fairly common.|
|Average Price (Queen)||$700+||$100 to $400||Due to their high-tech design and electrical components, active-cooling pads and toppers tend to be much more expensive than their passive-cooling counterparts|
To learn more about healthy sleep temperatures and products that keep sleepers cool, please visit the following guides on Tuck.com.