Why Does Memory Foam Sleep Hot?
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.
Bedroom Climate Control
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:
- Choose Breathable Sleepwear: Tops and bottoms made of cotton, wool, and other natural fibers breathe better — and sleep cooler — than synthetic fabrics like polyester. Better yet, sleep without clothes.
- Maintain Consistent Airflow: Open windows are the best way to produce airflow in a bedroom, but this can lead to other problems such as outside noise. For this reason, many sleepers prefer to keep a fan on in their bedroom, though sometimes fan noise can disrupt sleep too. Smaller fans on low settings placed close to the bed seem to be the best option for restricting noise and staying cool.
- Create Cold Air: Using a fan can be counterproductive during relatively hot times of the year. One solution is to invest in a two-way window fan that brings in outside air while pushing out warm, stagnant air out of the bedroom. You can also try placing an ice pack or plastic bag of frozen water in front of your bedside fan.
- Use a Wet Cloth: Many people find relief from hot nights by wetting a washcloth or hand towel, and then placing it on their head or chest while they sleep. The effects are temporary, but this method can cool you down long enough to get tired and fall asleep.
- Keep Lights and Electronics Off: Bedside lamps and overhead lights give off heat that can add to the discomfort of sleeping on a memory foam bed. The best solution is to turn them off at least 20 to 30 minutes before falling asleep, which gives them enough time to cool off. Electronic devices – such as televisions, laptops, and cell phones – also give off heat to some extent.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking water before bed can lead to nighttime bathroom visits and/or intense dreams, but a glass before bed may also cool you down and help you stay comfortable on a memory foam mattress. A cold shower before bed can also accomplish the same trick.
- Use a Bed Frame: Pairing your memory foam mattress with a bed frame can help improve airflow. Be sure to pick a wood or metal frame with evenly spaced slats rather than one with a solid design.
Mattress Pads and Toppers
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.