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One of the chief complaints among memory foam mattress owners is that their beds sleep too hot. Memory foam retains more body heat than other mattress materials, causing some sleepers to become uncomfortably warm or hot during the night. This can decrease their quality of sleep and leave them feeling poorly rested when morning comes.
Although you cannot change the temperature of memory foam or change how much body heat it retains, you may be able to optimize your sleep surface by using a mattress pad or topper, investing in sheets and pillows designed to keep you cool, and adjusting the temperature in your bedroom. Read on to learn more.
There are a few different reasons why memory foam tends to retain body heat. The first has to do with the material’s structure. In order for memory foam to provide adequate support, it has to be relatively dense. That means that memory foam has less airflow than other materials. The denser a memory foam mattress is, the more heat it will trap.
Memory foam also retains body heat because of its unique conforming properties. One of the reasons many people enjoy memory foam mattresses is because they cradle the body and relieve pressure points. In this process, the foam actually uses your body heat to mold to your particular shape.
The downside is that body heat becomes trapped because more of your body is surrounded by the mattress. Since your body relies on air-to-skin contact to cool down, this can also detract from your body’s ability to thermoregulate.
People tend to sleep better in cooler temperatures, and the ideal range for adults is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to mattress pads and toppers, sheets, and pillows, sleepers can cool off at night by maintaining a steady temperature in their bedroom. Here are a few tips for keeping the heat down while you sleep:
The terms ‘mattress pad’ (or ‘mattress protector’) and ‘mattress topper’ are often used interchangeably, but these two items essentially serve different functions.
A pad or protector is a thin layer that acts as a barrier between the sleeper and the mattress. A topper, on the other hand, is designed to add several inches to the sleep surface of the mattress. As a result, a topper is by definition much thicker than a pad or protector. Generally speaking, toppers are also much more expensive than pads or protectors.
Some pads and toppers have elasticized edges that can be tucked over the mattress edges like a fitted sheet, while others are non-fitted. Pads and toppers essentially serve the same function and the terms are often used interchangeably, but toppers are by definition thicker than pads. Many sleepers claim that the most comfortable configuration consists of a mattress pad on top of the topper.
Pads and toppers are relatively inexpensive, and often quite effective at cooling down a sleep surface. Pads and toppers made of natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, are generally considered the best choice because they are soft and breathable. Toppers stuffed with natural down or feathers can also create a cooler sleeping surface — though this material may be too soft for some.
Latex toppers are widely available as well, but a significant number of sleepers claim that latex traps heat to some extent and creates uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Similar complaints are associated with some waterproof toppers.
The Avocado Green Organic Cotton Mattress Protector is our top pick for the best cooling mattress pad or topper. Sustainably sourced and manufactured, this is one of the most impressive cooling pads we’ve seen. The soft, quilted pad is filled with absorbent, organic cotton fiber and encased in an organic cotton cover. Cotton is naturally breathable and works to increase airflow between your body and your mattress.
Details like reinforced edges, a cotton canvas base to reduce slipping, and an organic cotton fitted skirt all combine to create a top-quality product. And because the pad uses natural materials, there’s no unpleasant off-gassing. The mattress pad has also achieved several certifications, including GREENGUARD Gold, MADE SAFE®, Fair Trade and Vegan Certified.
The right sheets can cool off your bed to a considerable degree. Many sleepers have a positive experience with moisture-wicking sheets, which are designed to absorb sweat and reduce body heat retention. Additionally, sheets made of high-quality cotton (such as long-staple Egyptian or Pima cotton) are also linked to sleeping cooler, as are sheets woven with natural bamboo fibers.
In terms of thread count, the top-rated sheets for sleeping cool typically range from 250 to 400 — though it’s important to remember that the fabric itself is more important to sleeping cool than the thread count.
Fitted sheets are usually the best choice because they cover the entire mattress, but it’s important to make sure the measurements match; if the sheets come loose in the middle of the night, then you may wake up with no barrier between your body and the memory foam surface.
Linen has long been the chosen fabric of warm climates because it’s lightweight and cool to the touch. Parachute Linen Sheets are made from 100 percent European flax and are the perfect fit for anyone looking to sleep cooler.
Hollow fibers mean linen acts as a natural insulator, keeping sleepers cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Linen is also known for its impressive durability.
The Parachute Linen Sheets come in six different sizes and eight different colors. The sheets are made in a family-owned factory in Portugal, and they’re Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified.
Pillows can improve sleep conditions by cooling off the head, which in turn can lower overall body temperature. Pillows with natural materials like bamboo, buckwheat, feathers, and cotton tend to sleep the coolest. Latex also sleeps cool — but as mentioned above, latex can be a heat trap for some. Additionally, synthetic down made from polyester often sleeps cooler than natural down.
Memory foam pillows generally sleep the warmest, though pillows made of shredded memory foam tend to be cooler than one-piece pillows. Many companies offer pillows made of ‘gel memory foam’, claiming this material is infused with gel beads that allow it to sleep much cooler than standard memory foam.
Some sleepers agree with these claims, but overall sleep ratings indicate that memory foam and gel memory foam retain similar levels of body heat and, as a result, sleep comparably hot.
The Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow is made from 100% natural Talalay latex. If you like your memory foam mattress, chances are you’ll also like the feel of latex. Derived from trees, latex is a natural material that conforms to the body and offers excellent support. It’s more responsive and bouncy than memory foam, so it tends to sleep cooler, and Talalay latex is especially breathable.
The Talalay Latex Pillow by Brooklyn Bedding is available in high or low loft levels, so you can choose one that’s right for you and your sleeping position. It also comes with a moisture-wicking, antimicrobial cover for a healthier sleep environment.
In addition to products that naturally sleep cooler, there are some products that actually enable sleepers to control the temperature of their beds. These products use a variety of technologies, some of them fairly simple while some are truly high-tech.
Ranging from mattress pads with heating and cooling properties to entire sleep systems with smart temperature control, these products are for those willing to spend a bit extra to ensure that they have a comfortable sleep experience. Some of our favorite products are highlighted below:
The ChiliPad by Chili Technologies is a mattress pad with a built-in temperature regulation system. Users simply fill its control unit, set the desired temperature and heated or cooled water will run through tubes within the pad. Users can choose a temperature anywhere between 55 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ChiliPad comes in seven sizes, and three of them—Queen, King and California King—are dual-zone, making them a good choice for couples.
The BedJet is a climate control system that you can use with your existing mattress. Its hose attachment can be placed at the foot of your bed or under your sheets, as it is attached with an included clip.
Once you choose your desired temperature using the remote or app, heated or cooled air will immediately be delivered into your bed. You can choose a single or dual unit, and the BedJet system comes with a 60-day sleep trial and 2-year warranty.
The Eight Sleep Pod is a newly released smart bed that uses AI technology to track how you sleep and regulate your temperature accordingly. It features four layers of premium foam and a layer of Active Grid, which circulates heated or cooled water and tracks bio-metrics.
Further, you can enjoy personalized temperature regulation on each side of the bed. The Pod also supplies you with a sleep score, sleep tips and a visualization of each night’s sleep.
If none of the above solutions help you sleep cooler on your memory foam mattress, it’s possible that memory foam simply isn’t the right option for you. You might instead consider finding a mattress of a different material that sleeps cooler. Other mattress types tend to retain significantly less heat than memory foam.
Innerspring is one option. Because of the airflow inherent in their construction, these mattresses tend to sleep cool. Latex mattresses are another good option and are more similar to memory foam in their contouring abilities. Talalay latex is especially breathable.
Some also have good experiences with hybrid mattresses because their coils promote airflow. Because they have a comfort layer of memory foam, however, some sleepers still run into heat retention issues.
The Aurora mattress by Brooklyn Bedding is built with temperature regulation in mind. The hybrid mattress has a cover made from phase-change material, which is designed to absorb heat until the body reaches the ideal temperature. The top layer of foam also incorporates copper, which further aids in temperature regulation by helping improve blood flow.
In addition to its cooling properties, the mattress is highly comfortable and supportive. Pocket coils are reinforced by a base layer of high-density foam that adds stability and edge support. The Aurora also comes in three different firmness options: Soft, Medium and Firm.
If you tend to sleep warm or hot, then a memory foam mattress may not be the best option for you. However, if you already own a memory foam mattress, then consider investing in a pad or topper, using specialized sheets and pillows, and follow our tips for maintaining a comfortable bedroom temperature. These measures will usually suffice until it’s time to buy a new mattress.