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The most common complaint from owners of memory foam mattress is how hot the mattress gets. Compared to other mattress materials like latex, memory foam traps a lot of heat and can make the bed uncomfortably hot when you are asleep.
The problem is worse for sleepers who produce more body heat than average (hot sleepers), and people who experience hot flashes. Sleeping on a memory foam mattress can significantly lower sleep quality and affect your health.
The best solution is to switch to another mattress. Hybrid coil mattresses and natural latex mattresses are the best for hot sleepers.
But if you don’t have the budget for a new mattress or don’t want to buy a new one, there are ways to make your current memory foam mattress cooler.
Why Memory Foam Gets Hot
Memory foam has a dense structure, so airflow is limited. Most of the heat that enters the foam gets trapped there, causing heat buildup.
What makes memory foam’s heating problem worse is its close body contouring. Memory foam hugs your body closely. While this is great for pressure-point relief and spinal alignment, it causes the mattress to absorb and trap a lot of body heat.
Manufacturers have been coming up with new technologies and techniques to make memory foam cooler.
The most common is the addition of cooling gel. Gel absorbs body heat, helping you sleep cooler.
However, gel memory foam has its limits. As the gel absorbs heat, it also warms up to the point where it cannot absorb more heat. At that point, the mattress begins to heat up. You may feel cool the first couple of hours when you sleep but wake up in the middle of the night, all hot and sweaty.
Another cooling technique is using open-cell memory foam. This type of memory foam has better ventilation and allows more heat to dissipate away from the mattress.
Some manufacturers also puncture the memory foam to improve ventilation.
If you are thinking about buying a memory foam mattress, look for one that uses one or more of these cooling techniques.
How to Make A Memory Foam Mattress Cooler
1. Get a Mattress Topper/Pad
The best way to cool a memory foam mattress is by using a mattress pad or topper. The terms ‘topper’ and ‘pad’ are sometimes used interchangeably.
But a topper is usually thicker and made from foam or latex. We recommend getting a natural latex topper. It’ll provide the best cooling.
If you want a foam topper, look for one made with gel or perforated memory foam. A topper with a cooling bamboo/cotton cover can also help.
A mattress pad is usually thinner and consists of a cover with filling. The best cooling pads contain a wool or down filling. Some microfiber pads are also cool, especially those with a cotton or bamboo rayon cover.
For specific recommendations, read our reviews of the best cooling pads, toppers, and comforters.
Note: Unless you also want to change the feel of your bed, be careful not to make your mattress too firm or too soft when you add a topper or pad on top of it. You may sleep cooler but wake up with back pain and soreness.
2. Get an Active Cooling System
Pads and toppers are passive cooling systems. They use materials like latex, wool, and gel foam to improve ventilation or absorb body heat away from your skin.
They work great for most people. But if you sleep extra-hot or live in a hot climate, a mattress pad may not be enough to cool your memory foam mattress.
We recommend an active cooling system instead.
These cooling systems actively cool you down using air or water. They are, obviously, more expensive than mattress toppers, but they are much more effective at keeping you cool.
Active cooling systems, especially those that use air, are also great for sleepers who sweat a lot at night. The cool air quickly evaporates sweat before it pools in your bed.
Some cooling systems have a dual function. They can cool you down as well as warm you up. They are great for all-year comfort.
The best active cooling system is the BedJet V3. It is an air-cooled system that you control using a remote control. You can select a specific temperature and even set a silent alarm that warms the bed gradually to rouse you in the morning.
BedJet V3 is available with a dual comfort option for couples. The dual system allows couples to control the temperature on their side of the bed.
One downside of the BedJet V3 is the price. If you are looking for a cheaper option, try the water-based Chilipad 3.0.
For other alternatives, see our round-up of the best cooling systems for your bed.
3. Use Cool and Breathable Bedding
Before you replace your mattress or buy a mattress pad, make sure that the rest of the bedding is breathable.
Even if you have a cooling pad, stuffy sheets can trap heat and make you hot.
Everything from the sheets to the comforter and even the pillow determine how cool or warm you feel in bed.
Here are the best types of cool and breathable bedding.
- Sheets: Look for sheets made with natural fibers like cotton, linen, eucalyptus, and bamboo rayon. The type of weave matters too. Percale sheets have a weave that allows your bed to breathe and heat to dissipate.
- Comforters: Natural down comforters offer the best cooling. If you opt for a microfiber comforter, look for one with a breathable cover material like cotton. Also, check the fill weight and power of the comforter. Cool summer comforters have a fill weight of 50-60 oz. (king/queen-size) and fill power of 400-600.
- Pillows: A memory foam pillow can be uncomfortable if you are a hot sleeper. If you love the feel of memory foam, try a gel or shredded memory foam pillow instead. For the best cooling, switch to a pillow made from natural materials like latex, down or wool. Make sure the cover is also breathable. Cotton, bamboo, or Tencel pillow covers/cases are the best.
4. Wear Breathable Sleepwear
Your sleepwear can also make you overly hot. Similar to bedding materials, natural fabrics like cotton and wool are the best when it comes to choosing cool sleepwear.
Do not layer on too many clothes. Sleepwear that exposes more skin such as shorts or a sleeveless top can also help you stay cool.
Another option is to sleep naked. It exposes your whole body to air, which improves thermoregulation.
5. Room Climate Control
If you cannot keep your bed cool, try cooling the entire room instead. The easiest way to do this is by turning the AC down. But this is wasteful since you only need to cool one room. It’ll increase your energy costs.
A simpler and cheaper way to make your bedroom cool is cracking the windows open at night. This improves airflow in the room, allowing excess heat to flow out. Depending on how hot you sleep, this may be enough to make you cool.
If you cannot open a window at night because of noise, bugs, or your partner, use a fan instead. A fan will keep air flowing and dissipate excess heat.
Look for a fan that works quietly or set a low-speed silent setting to ensure it does not disrupt your sleep.
To improve cooling from a fan, especially on warm nights, place a container of cold water or an ice pack in front of the fan. As the warm air passes over the cold water or ice, it’ll cool down. Note, however, that this will make your bedroom humid.
Another option is using a portable air conditioner. A Portable AC is essentially a smaller version of a central AC. But because it’s cooling just one room, it’s more efficient and cheaper to run.
Portable ACs require ventilation through the window. The ventilation kit will be included in the package.
With most portable ACs, you can set specific room temperature, and the AC will maintain it.
- Switch to a breathable bed frame or foundation. Sleeping on the floor or a solid foundation can inhibit airflow and make your mattress hotter. Breathable support, such as a slatted foundation, can make your bedroom cooler.
- Switch off electronics or keep them out. Electronics such as computers, TVs, and lights generate some heat. Either switch them off half an hour to bedtime or keep your bedroom free of electronics.
- Taking a cold shower will help you feel cooler in bed. It can also help you fall asleep faster. Note, however, that the benefits are limited to the first couple of hours in bed. If your memory foam mattress traps heat, you’ll gradually get hotter and uncomfortable as the night progresses.
- Keep windows and blinds closed on hot days. This prevents room temperature from rising during the day and keeps your bedroom cool. If the temperature drops in the evening, open the windows to allow cool air in.
- Exercise earlier in the day. Working out too close to bedtime doesn’t give your body enough time to cool down. Try to push your exercise time to at least two hours before bedtime.
- Pull back your dinner time. Digestion increases body temperature. Foods that are high in fats, proteins, and carbs raise your body temperature the most. Consider eating your dinner earlier in the day to give your body time to digest the food. Alternatively, switch to dinners that don’t raise your body temperature as much as vegetable salads.
- Drink water. Staying hydrated makes it easier for your body to regulate temperature.
Switching to a Cool Mattress
One of the above tips should be enough to make your nights cooler. But if, even after getting a mattress pad or buying a portable AC, your mattress still feels hot, consider replacing the mattress.
Some memory foam mattresses sleep fairly cool, but to be safe, look for a different kind of mattress. The best cool mattresses are hybrid (foam + coils) and organic/natural latex.
Because of the coils, hybrid mattresses have excellent ventilation; thus, they sleep cool. As for latex mattresses, natural latex is naturally cool.
See our reviews of the best cooling mattresses.
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