The Importance of Sleeping Cool
Cooler temperature and darkness are signs to your brain to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Taking a warm bath before you go to bed can be helpful because your temperature drops by several degrees when you get out of the bath. If you regularly don't sleep well, one of the pillars of good sleep hygiene is to make sure you're not too warm.
Many sleep experts recommend your bedroom to be around 65 degrees, though everyone may have a preference for a little cooler or warmer. Whatever your preferred sleep temperature is, turning the temperature down before you go to bed can be part of your nightly routine that prepares your brain for sleep.
Turning the temperature down won't prevent you from heating up during the night if your mattress is making you hot. Changing your mattress could be the key to waking up rested.
Foam Mattresses and Heat
Foam mattresses are a great development in the mattress space because they can give you a much softer surface to sleep on; this can be especially true for those with low back or hip pain. And for those who prefer a firm mattresses, foam mattresses can be firm as well. The issue with the original form of foam mattresses (polyurethane), is that it compresses and there's nowhere for body heat to escape. And that's compounded by the fact that foam mattresses (especially memory foam that contours to your body) wrap you up which creates more heat. Polyurethane foam mattresses are petroleum-based, which will retain and reflect heat, creating the hottest mattresses.
If you don't need a soft surface to sleep on, a traditional innerspring mattress may be a good choice for you, although innerspring mattresses transfer motion and the springs make them louder than any other mattress.
Many people opt for a hybrid mattress, which is an innerspring mattress with a foam top. 70% to 90% of a hybrid mattress innerspring, which gives you support, and the other 10% to 30% is foam, which gives you a soft sleeping surface. Because there's a lot less foam than a foam mattress, it sleeps a lot cooler. Innerspring mattresses have lots of space inside for heat to escape into.
Besides sleeping cooler, hybrids come with some other advantages:
- they tend to last longer
- offer more support for larger sleepers (more than 220 lbs)
- are bouncier, which makes it easier to get out of bed, and are better for sex
As mattresses evolve to sleep cooler, manufacturers are creating many combinations of different types of foam and other elements to help people sleep cooler.
Different Types of Foam
Latex is a natural product, with two different types of latex foam: Dunlop and Talalay. Talalay foam is springier and softer.
This is a cheaper foam that doesn't last as long and will off-gas chemicals. This foam will heat up significantly.
This foam became popular in the 1990s. It gives you pressure point support which is great for people that suffer from low back pain. But memory foam traps heat and reflects it back to the sleeper.
Open Cell Foam
Open cell foam is springier, so it won't cradle you as much as memory foam. This foam allows heat to escape, giving you the benefits of foam with less heat.
The gel incorporated into gel foam mattresses absorb heat, sleeping cooler than other memory foam or polyurethane.
A mattress topper is a fitted sheet with a thick top that will give you an additional several-inch layer to make your mattress softer. These are a good option for people who aren't ready to invest in a new mattress.
Mattress toppers are often made of memory foam which will make you heat up. But some are made with copper, charcoal, gel, open cell foam, wool, or have some other method to diffuse heat, which will reduce the amount of heat that's retained.
Which Mattress is Right for You?
The best way to know what mattress is best for you is to sleep on different mattresses. Finding your own combination of support, softness, as well as coolness is unique to everyone. If you're able to travel, that's a great way to try out different mattresses. And the mattress industry has become very competitive and many companies now offer a in-home trial.
When making a decision on a cooling mattress, you will also want to consider how you sleep. Side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and back sleepers will have different needs. And though people rarely stay in one position all night, most spend more time in one position.
Best Cooling Mattresses
Purple 3 Hybrid Mattress
The original Purple Mattress brought to market an amazing new technology with their elastic polymer grid that leverages column buckling principles to provide you a different type of support that neither foam nor innerspring mattresses can replicate. The most notable benefit is the uncanny ability to keep you cool that truly separates their mattresses from any kind of foam-based mattress. Since launching the original Purple mattress, they have come up with a few other products, one being the Purple 3, aka Purple's interpretation of a hybrid mattress. Typically hybrid mattresses have an outer comfort layer in combination with an innerspring grid. In this case, the comfort layer is Purple's elastic grid instead of the typical memory foam-based comfort layer. In our testing, we found the purple 3 hybrid to be very capable at supporting sleepers of all weights and sleeping positions and gives you the benefits of a hybrid with exceptional cooling abilities.
- The best cooling mattress we've ever reviewed, excluding ultra-high-end water-cooled mattresses that cost twice the cost.
- Maintains spine alignment in a variety of sleeping positions
- The Purple Hybrid provides great support and contouring to sleepers of any weight below 300 pounds.
- It provides a firmer option compared to overly soft Purple mattress products.
- Improved cooling over past purple mattresses with the change to the innerspring coil support layer.
- Depending on mattress size will be cost-prohibitive for most on a typical budget.
- An extremely heavy mattress makes moving it a serious undertaking. 2 people are required to a minimum to move a queen or a king.
- Edge support could be better
- Motion transfer is good for a hybrid but could be better
Best for Back & Side Sleepers
The AS3 from Amerisleep is an excellent foam mattress with great performance in all the elements we look for in foam mattresses from contouring to weight leveling to support and firmness. While we don't believe mattresses are a one size fits all, the AS3 does have some wide appeal. In our testing we found it to provide an equal level of comfort, support, and spine alignment for two different weight sleepers in both back and side sleeping. This makes the AS3 a good choice for combination sleepers, couples with different weights, or sleeping positions. On top of this, we found it to be fairly proficient at cooling considering it's still an all-foam mattress.
- Unique three layer design with a Hive middle layer that has 5 different zones that provide support to different parts of your body.
- 20 year warranty and 100-night free trial with free returns.
- Bio-Pur open cell foam comfort layer that aids cooling
- Breathable outer cover
- Periodically discounted
- Price may be too expensive for many but if you follow Amerisleep promotions you may be able to get a $200 or $300 discount, especially around holidays.
- Edge support is a little lacking in our testing but the overall firmness of the mattress still provides enough edge support to prevent that rolling off the bed effect if you sleep near the edge.
One of our best value recommendations, we like the Layla Foam mattress because it's a foam mattress that excels at cooling and offers two firmness options on either side of the mattress. These two benefits in combination with its price point allow the Layla Foam mattress to work for almost any sleeper. Buying a mattress online involves a leap of faith when it comes to determining firmness or comfort. The Layla Foam mattress gives you more peace of mind and less risk than a single firmness alternative, especially when you consider the limited-lifetime warranty.
- Double-sided mattress with two different firmness options, giving you the ability to fine-tune your sleep and reduce the risk that you'll regret your purchase.
- Innovative use of copper in the gel-memory foam helps reduce your sleep temperature.
- Their convoluted middle-layer of foam maintains air pockets within the mattress that aids in air circulation.
- 120-night trial and a lifetime warranty.
- Price includes two pillows and financing available.
- The Layla Mattress is made in the USA.
- Limited-lifetime warranty.
- While great cooling abilities compared to other foam mattresses, there is a limit to how well an all-foam mattress can keep you cool.
- A significant difference in firmness between the two sides may leave you wanting something in the middle, especially as a side sleeper.
Best for Back Sleepers & Athletes
- Innovative Triangulex™ outer comfort layer that is zoned for extra support for your lower back and hips making it a great choice for back pain sufferers that depend on spine alignment for pain relief.
- Reactiv™ middle layer that is pressure-responsive - usually these middle layers don't have any special features.
- Great match for back sleepers of any weight
- Breathable outer cover that feels cool to the touch in our testing. A Lot of sleep technology for the price
- 10-year warranty and 100-night free trial with free returns.
- May not be firm enough for side sleepers in our testing
- Due to the overall softness we found the Zoma slightly lacking in edge support.
Best Trial Period & Warranty
The Nectar Mattress
The Nectar Mattress is one of the best selling mattresses out there for a number of reasons. It's firmness suits all sleeping positions if you're an average weight. We also love that Nectar stands by their mattress with one of the best warranties and trial periods out there. They are also a name brand that doesn't come with a big price tag. With a Queen mattress often hovering around the $800 mark and sometimes discounted even less. When you buy on the nectar website directly you may also get some freebies like bedding, pillows, and mattress protectors thrown in with your purchase depending on what promotions they are running.
- Medium firmness provides excellent contouring that most side sleepers need while still supporting average weight back, stomach and combination sleepers.
- 365 Night Trial and Nectar's Forever Warranty
- Cooling gel foam with a breathable cover
- 11" thick for a substantial and cloud like feel with some of the best performance in terms of motion transfer vs thinner alternatives.
- CertiPUR-US® and OEKO-TEX certifications
- While the Nectar Mattress Gel Memory Foam is an improvement over traditional polyurethane memory foam in terms of cooling ability, it still is known to trap heat more than most hybrid or traditional innerspring mattresses out there. That being said as a long as you're not currently sweating through your sheets every night the Nectar should be good for most sleeper's sleep temperature.
- Only available on one firmness but it is a good middle ground for many weights and sleeping positions.
Linenspa Hybrid Mattress
Whether you're on a budget, shopping for a kids mattress, or a guest room bed the Linenspa Hybrid is a great option as it's one of the very few cost-effective hybrid mattresses. While it doesn't have individually pocketed coils, it still provides all the benefits of hybrid mattress design as it is great at conforming to your body, reducing motion transfer, keeping you cool, and providing the right level of support. While the Linenspa Hybrid isn't perfect we give it a pass on many dimensions due to it being often less than 1/2 and sometimes 1/3 the process of other popular hybrid mattresses. At Start Sleeping we think value for money is really important and the Linenspa Hybrid makes it on many of our buying guides for that reason.
- Simple two layer design with a 2' outer comfort layer with a innerspring grid.
- Incredible price for a hybrid mattress
- Highly effective at keeping you cool as your body heat only has to travel through 2" of foam to reach a mostly open innerspring grid.
- Softer than most hybrids it can suit a variety of sleeping positions, including side sleeping but hybrids are still ideal for back sleepers
- 10-year limited warranty
- Since the innerspring section is a connected grid, you do experience poor edge support. This is not a mattress you want so sleep near the edge on
- No trial period, your amazon return window of 30 days is all you get to evaluate - this is one of the reasons it can be sold so cheap.
Other Ways to Sleep Cool
There are several things you can do in addition to using a cooling mattress to sleep cooler:
- Drop the temperature - experiment with different temperatures to see what temperature works for you. A good way to do it is to document how well you slept at each temperature. Keep in mind that many factors that can influence how you sleep, so you may want to do a few nights at each temperature to be more confident.
- ChiliPad - though not cheap, the ChiliPad sends cool water through a pad that you put underneath your fitted sheet, and you can control the temperature of the water.
- Use a fan - this is an easy way to keep cooler at night; it also has the benefit of adding white noise, which can help drown out exterior noise.
- Use lighter blankets - another inexpensive way to keep your temperature cooler while you sleep.
Cooling Mattress Frequently Asked Questions
Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions about cooling mattresses.