If you find yourself waking in the night because of overheating or night sweats, you’re not alone. Even if you do return to sleep quickly, your frequent waking will interrupt time spent in the deeper stages of sleep.
If this sounds familiar, then a cooling mattress might just be what you need for a better night of sleep. A cooling mattress is designed with materials and technology to keep your body temperature down and prevent overheating, much like our Zoma Mattress does.
In this guide, we discuss some of the science behind body temperature and its connection to sleep, the cooling materials a mattress can have, what might be causing you to sleep hot, how you can create a cooling sleep environment, and how to find the mattress right for you.
Our Recommendation: Zoma Mattress
Our Zoma Mattress was made for athletes, but its structure works to provide you with a cooler night of sleep regardless of physical ability. It’s great not only for those with an active lifestyle but for sleepers who need a mattress that promotes recovery, such as an elderly sleeper or someone with chronic pain issues. The Zoma Mattress’s goal is to give you energy and vitality during the day by providing you with a restful and restorative night of sleep.
The Zoma Mattress stands at 11 inches tall with three foam layers. Let’s take a moment to examine each layer.
- The first layer is 2 inches of gel-infused memory foam to promote a cool night of sleep. The memory foam works to relieve pressure as you sleep. And our unique Triangulex™ technology in this layer is designed to provide additional pressure relief in the leg and shoulder areas while keeping the layer solid in the middle to give support where it’s most needed.
- The second layer is 2 inches of responsive Reactiv™ foam. Reactiv™ adds some bounce and support to the bed, while creating a buffer between the soft top layer and the supportive base.
- The third layer is 7 inches of our Support+ foam. This layer is where the Zoma Mattress gets most of its structure and stability, keeping the bed in top shape.
- Protecting the mattress is our mattress cover, made of a polyester blend with added elastane to stretch and create air channels for greater breathability.
A queen-size Zoma Mattress is $750 and comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
If you find the Zoma Mattress isn’t the best mattress for you during our sleep trial, we will work with a local partner to pick it up and recycle it while providing you with a full refund. No need to hang on to any other materials such as the delivery box— we make the process as simple as we can for you.
About Body Temperature
Your body temperature is controlled by a part of your brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus works to make hormones to control not only your body temperature but also your mood, heart rate, thirst, and hunger.
Your hypothalamus drives up your temperature during the earlier parts of the day to keep you energized, and by mid-afternoon lets your body temperature drop back down to prepare for a night of sleep. This ability to maintain and control our core body temperature despite our surroundings is known as thermoregulation.
Why Keeping Cool Is Important
So what is the connection between body temperature and sleep, and why is it important?
Your body temperature helps to regulate your circadian rhythm— your internal biological clock which basically pushes you to be active during the day and helps you feel sleepy as bedtime approaches.
Falling asleep is tied to the gradual drop in your body temperature, initiated by your hypothalamus. Some scientists hypothesize that taking steps to assist your body’s automatic cooldown may help you fall asleep.
Your body temperature further drops as you cycle through the second stage of non-REM sleep. Your body maintains a lower temperature during the stages of non-REM sleep, and your temperature falls to its lowest point during REM-sleep.
Your environmental temperature (i.e., your bedroom’s temperature) can affect your sleep as your body adjusts to the surrounding temperature. REM sleep may be shortened if your bedroom is too hot or too cold.
A 2008 review suggests some sleepers with insomnia may have difficulty falling asleep because of “impaired thermoregulation,” though noted findings could be inconsistent and more home studies needed to be performed. A 2018 study found that a temperature-regulating device helped insomnia patients fall asleep over the course of two nights, though the study cautioned more investigation of the long-term applications is needed.
Why Is A Cooling Mattress Important?
So your body temperature cools down later in the day to make you sleepy. But what does this have to do with sleeping on the right mattress?
While your body’s ability to regulate and lower your core temperature is a key part of falling asleep, as we noted, your environmental temperature can influence your sleep quality as well. This can be a problem if your mattress is a type that retains heat, stirring you from sleep as it grows uncomfortably warm.
A mattress with cooling materials or technology is designed to avoid trapping heat in the night, allowing you to sleep undisturbed.
Why You Might Sleep Hot
Your mattress and environment may put you at risk of sleeping hot if too much heat is retained as you sleep. But there are also health conditions and lifestyle choices that can put you at risk of sleeping hot, keeping you from a full night of sleep.
Stress and Anxiety
If you’re feeling stressed or have anxiety it can raise your core body temperature. This applies to both recent emotional upheaval and chronic stress.
Anxiety is also tied to increased sweating, another sign your body is running hot. We recommend talking to your doctor if you find yourself sweating excessively at night to find a possible cause and strategize ways to manage your symptoms.
Exercising not too long before bed can warm your body up and prevent you from falling asleep as quickly as you might otherwise. If you’re an athletic person, you may also sleep hot if you have a large amount of muscle mass, as a 2018 study found the more muscle mass you have, the better your body retains heat.
If you enjoy exercising at night or it’s the best time for you to get a work out in, we advise exercising early in the evening between 5 and 7 p.m. This will give your body time to cool down before bedtime.
If you’re a heavier sleeper who weighs more than 230 pounds, you might be at risk of sleeping hot. An overweight sleeper might sink too deeply into a mattress if it’s not designed to take on their weight. This restricts airflow around the body and brings more of the body into contact with a mattress that may be trapping heat. The best mattresses for heavy sleepers are typically firm and breathable, to prevent sinkage and heat retention.
Obesity is also tied to excessive sweating, which can be a sign you’re sleeping hot if it occurs at night.
How The Materials of a Mattress Can Keep You Cool
A cooling mattress is designed to regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating, and should work well in a warm climate or with a hot sleeper. Different materials and technologies can be used to construct a cooling mattress, and we’ll go over some of them.
Gel Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam has an issue with trapping body heat, which can wake you during the night. One of the more popular ways to solve this problem is by adding cooling gel to the foam mixture, either with gel beads or by infusing the foam with gel during the manufacturing process.
Some memory foam manufacturers may instead use copper or graphite, which works similar to gel beads by pulling heat away from the sleeper.
Open-Cell Memory Foam
Open-cell technology refers to the air bubbles created in a memory foam mattress during the manufacturing process. These bubbles make the foam responsive and allow heat to pass through and dissipate outside the mattress more easily.
All memory foam mattresses use open-cell technology, however not all memory foam mattresses are made equal. We recommend looking for a mattress with improved open-cell technology for added breathability. Many plant-based memory foam mattresses, for example, have an advanced open-cell design as part of their construction.
Bamboo is a breathable, natural material gaining in popularity. The fabric is made from the fibers of the bamboo plant, which is a grass and not a tree. Bamboo is used in pillows, sheets, mattress covers and sometimes even in mattresses.
Bamboo wicks away moisture, which not only works to keep you cool by preventing moisture buildup but also discourages dust mites from making a home in your mattress.
Bamboo is a renewable and sustainable resource derived from bamboo cellulose, which makes it an eco-friendly material. However, sometimes you’ll find bamboo in natural-synthetic blends, such as bamboo-polyester or bamboo viscose.
Latex tends to sleep cooler than traditional memory foam as it often absorbs less body heat and fluctuates less with changing room temperature.
Latex can still trap heat, which is why some manufacturers aerate the foam with thousands of tiny pinholes along with an open-cell structure. This structure allows air to flow through and carry off unwanted heat. Additionally, moving on top of a latex mattress can “pump” air out through the ventilation holes.
However, these cooling features mostly apply to natural latex. Synthetic latex will likely not keep you as cool.
A mattress with coil support has a less dense structure than a foam bed, allowing air to more easily pass through and disperse heat. However, the cooling effects of a coil system can be mitigated if the mattress is topped with a thick comfort layer.
Cooling Bedding and Other Sleep Accessories
Your mattress isn’t the only part of your bed working to keep you cool. Everything on top of it, from a mattress cover and pad to your sheets and pillow, can help you sleep cool. Even your bed frame can help keep your mattress cool if it allows unwanted heat to escape.
Just a quick lesson— a mattress protector and a mattress pad are not the same thing. What we tend to call a mattress pad goes on like a fitted sheet, while a mattress protector encases the entire mattress and often zips closed.
Many mattresses come with an included cover. If yours does not, we recommend investing in a protector, not only for added cooling features but as a way to protect your mattress from allergens and spills.
Mattress brands use a variety of cooling fabrics and technologies in their covers. Some of the most common are as follows:
- Celliant® is an FDA-determined textile made up of 13 different minerals. The material’s design takes unneeded body heat and converts it into infrared energy. Infrared energy helps you get high-quality sleep, according to a 2012 review.
- Lycra® is anelastic material often found in athletic wear and undergarments. It wicks away moisture, which can keep you from waking up covered in sweat.
- Phase-change material (PCM) holds onto body heat until the material hits a set temperature limit, then it will stop absorbing body heat. As the temperature falls, the PCM distributes heat evenly across the mattress.
Mattress Pad or Topper
Using a mattress pad or mattress topper infused with gels is one way to promote a cool night’s rest. This can extend the use of your mattress if it has a tendency to retain heat, but it won’t keep your temperature as low as a mattress designed with cooling features would.
Many mattress pads you’ll find on the market come with a quilted design, but we advise looking for a non-quilted pad. A quilted pad has a thicker, denser top, which prevents airflow and thereby traps heat.
Much like mattress covers, some mattress pads are made with specialty cooling fibers. There’s also the low-tech solution of a cotton mattress pad, which is not only a breathable material but can keep you from waking up in a sweat by wicking away unneeded moisture.
Sheets and Blankets
It makes sense that too much bedding might overheat you, so if you have a problem sleeping hot, the first step is to minimize your blankets.
The materials of your bedding can affect how hot you sleep as well. We advise against using bedding made of synthetic material such as polyester or rayon, as it’s often less breathable than natural materials such as cotton, linen, and bamboo. You can also buy bedding made with cooling fibers.
One quick DIY solution is to place your sheets in a plastic bag and then in the freezer until they’re cool (just for a few minutes). The plastic bag keeps the sheets from drawing in moisture from the freezer.
Place these sheets on your mattress shortly before bedtime. The chill won’t last the entire night, but it might cool you down enough to help you slip off more quickly to sleep. This trick works with a pillowcase as well.
Your pillow should not only support your head and neck but keep both cool while you sleep. Pillows made with down, latex, gel memory foam, shredded memory foam, plant-based memory foam, buckwheat, or cotton can avoid heat build-up.
You can cover your pillow with a pillowcase made with specialty cooling fibers or a breathable material such as cotton or bamboo. There’s also our previously mentioned pillowcase-in-the-freezer trick, for a low-budget way to sleep on a cool pillow.
Your current foundation might be trapping heat in your mattress if it doesn’t allow for proper ventilation. If your mattress rests on a completely solid surface such as a platform bed or the floor, heat can’t escape through the bottom.
If you want a new mattress foundation, we advise choosing one with slats that are no more than 3 inches apart to provide needed support while allowing the bottom of your mattress to be aerated.
Regulating Your Temperature During Sleep
A cooling mattress and bedding is not the only solution to the problem of sleeping hot, though it is a simple and effective one. There are other steps you can take to minimize the risk of sleeping hot.
Turn Down the Thermostat
An easy method for a cooler night’s sleep is to lower your thermostat. We understand the appeal of a toasty, warm bedroom, but it might be keeping you from a full night of sleep.
The recommended room temperature ranges from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This might sound too low, but a cool room temperature helps you fall asleep and can improve sleep quality.
It can take a little bit of experimentation to find your perfect temperature. If you’re roused in the night from chills, raise the thermostat a degree or two. Conversely, if you’re waking up hot, try bumping the thermostat down a degree or two.
We advise setting your thermostat at 65 degrees to start and then adjusting it as needed.
If the temperature’s cooler outside than it is inside, you can open your windows before bed to cool down the inside of your home and save on air conditioning.
Wear Light Sleepwear
You can try changing up your pajamas for something lighter and cooler for a better night of sleep. Avoid silk and polyester pajamas, which can trap body heat. Try a more breathable fabric such as cotton or bamboo, and go for pajamas with a loose fit for added breathability.
Avoid Working Out Before Bed
There’s a definite link between exercise and quality sleep. Scientific evidence suggests exercise helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Be careful when you’re exercising, though, as working out too close to bedtime can keep you from a good night’s sleep.
As exercising increases body temperature, a late-night workout can leave your body too warm to easily fall asleep. The simplest solution is to work out earlier in the day.
If that’s not feasible or you like to unwind after a long day by exercising, we recommend scheduling your workouts between 5 to 7 p.m. It’s early enough in the evening to give you the time needed to cool down before bed.
Take a Warm Bath
This might sound counterintuitive, but have you ever spent time soaking in a tub or swimming in a pool, feeling comfortable and warm, only to have a chill go through your body after you step out of the water? That’s the basic idea behind the cooling effect of a warm bath.
Why does a warm bath before bed work to keep you cool? A warm bath or shower increases blood circulation to your hands and feet. This disperses body heat and cools your core temperature.
A 2019 review suggests bathing about 90 minutes before bed in water ranging from 104 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit leads to better sleep.
Other Mattress Characteristics to Consider
We’ve covered a lot about sleeping hot and the cooling materials a mattress can contain, but there’s still a lot about mattresses we haven’t discussed. When you’re shopping for a new mattress, it’s smart to keep your sleep position, budget, preferred material and ideal mattress firmness in mind as you look.
Best and Worst Cooling Mattress Types
The type of mattress best for you can depend on what you want out of a bed. Would you like a bed that molds to your body for pressure and pain relief? Or a bed that provides some bounce? Keep in mind that some mattress types are more naturally cooling than others.
Memory foam’s popularity has skyrocketed with the ease of bed-in-a-box brands, but its main draw is how well it contours to the sleeper’s body, alleviating pressure points and soothing pain as you rest.
Memory foam is manufactured by taking polyurethane foam and processing it for added viscosity and elasticity. This creates a responsive bed that molds to you while you’re lying down but then snaps back to its original shape when you get out of bed in the morning.
Its conforming nature also allows it to isolate motion well— better than any other type of mattress on the market. This can make memory foam an ideal choice for anyone who’s sharing a bed.
Traditional memory foam does have a tendency toward heat retention, but as we covered earlier there are multiple mattresses on the market that address and counter this with added materials and features. Some brands use cooling gels, copper, or graphite in their foam mixture. Others use plant-based foam with added breathability and improved air circulation.
When you’re browsing memory foam mattresses, it’s a good idea to read up on the density of each layer. Low-density foam is soft and you’ll often find it in the top comfort layer. A high-density foam tends to offer more support, which is why you’ll often see it in the bottom support layer.
Natural latex foam is manufactured from the sap of a rubber tree, while synthetic latex is made through a chemical process. Much like memory foam, latex can contour to a sleeper’s curves, although latex has more bounce to it than memory foam.
There are two popular processes to make latex, the Dunlop process and the Talalay process. While both involve rubber tree sap, only Dunlop is 100 percent natural. Talalay is typically the softer of the two, and as there are more steps in its creation, Talalay tends to be more expensive as well.
Natural latex sleeps cooler than synthetic latex, absorbing less heat. It’s also a firm material, which can be a plus when it comes to sleeping cool but a drawback if you like a softer mattress. Some brands include an optional pillowtop to cut back on the firm feel.
One downside of a latex mattress is the price. A natural latex bed is often one of the more expensive mattresses on the market.
An innerspring mattress is inexpensive and easy to find. You’ve probably slept on one before.
An innerspring is one of the better cooling mattresses. Its coil setup promotes airflow and its lack of body contouring means it absorbs less body heat than other mattress types.
However, this same lack of body contouring can be a hindrance if you need a mattress to alleviate pain or pressure. The bed’s coils can also sag with age, causing the mattress to lose its shape and stop providing your body with the support it needs.
Like an innerspring mattress, a hybrid’s coil system helps it to sleep cool, though this can be less effective than it would be in an innerspring mattress because of the top foam layer.
There are two main drawbacks to a hybrid mattress. One is the attached price tag, as hybrid mattresses are among the more expensive beds on the market because of all the high-quality materials that go into one. The other downside is the risk of sagging as the coils inside wear out relatively fast.
Keep your sleeping position in mind as you mattress shop because it will influence what mattress firmness is the best fit for you. A good mattress should help keep your spine and hips aligned and take the pressure off sensitive body parts, such as the neck, hips, and back.
Sleeping on your right side comes with a few health benefits. Side sleeping is the position most effective at clearing waste proteins from your brain, promotes blood flow, and may keep the heart healthy by reducing the pressure gravity places on it.
However, side sleepers risk waking up with sore hips and shoulders because of the pressure the position places on those areas. A soft, plush mattress can let a side sleeper sink in, relieving pressure on their hips and shoulders. This is why we recommend medium to soft mattresses for side sleepers.
Back sleeping is a position naturally suited to keep the spine aligned. It evenly distributes weight, which prevents you from waking up sore by placing too much pressure on a few areas of your body. As a back sleeper, try to keep your sleeping close to what it would be if you were standing straight.
We recommend medium-firm to firm mattresses for back sleepers.
We do not recommend stomach sleeping due to the health setbacks tied to it; instead, we recommend back or side sleeping. By sleeping on your stomach, your center of gravity moves to your torso. This can lead to your hips and stomach sinking too deeply into the mattress, fostering an unwanted arch in your spine that can cause or aggravate lower back pain.
If you’re going to continue to sleep on your stomach, we advise shopping for a medium-firm to firm mattress to better support your spine. We also recommend keeping a pillow under your abdomen as you sleep for more support and sleeping on a thin head pillow for less neck strain.
There is no one correct firmness when it comes to mattresses, but there are firmnesses that will suit you better than others based on your body weight and sleeping position. As we mentioned earlier, the right firmness works to keep your spine in a neutral alignment.
The firmness scale is a common method for mattress brands to describe their mattress’s firmness. The scale goes from 1 to 10, with 1 as the softest mattress and 10 as the firmest mattress. Most mattresses on the market fall between a 3 and an 8, as mattresses at either extreme aren’t suited for most sleepers.
This scale invites subjectivity, though, and you may find what qualifies as a 5 at one company another mattress company may classify as a 6.
As a general rule, heavier sleepers need a firmer mattress to better take on their weight, while a lightweight sleeper would do better on a softer mattress than the average sleeper. We break down each weight category and its correct firmness in the table below:
|Less than 130 pounds||Medium-soft to soft|
|Between 130 to 230 pounds||Medium to medium-firm|
|More than 230 pounds||Medium-firm to firm|
As a note for hot sleepers, a firmer mattress generally provides a cooler sleep. This is because as a mattress molds to the body, it absorbs and retains body heat. A softer mattress generally conforms more to the body than a firmer mattress. A firmer mattress is also often a thinner mattress and uses less foam in its structure, which means less foam that can trap heat.
So if you sleep hot, you may want to consider a firmer mattress, particularly if you’re a heavyset sleeper.
How much to pay for a new mattress? That’s a common question since you can find mattresses as cheap as $100 and as expensive as $3,000. As a general rule, we recommend a budget of around $1,000 to $1,500 for a queen-size mattress.
If you’re shopping on a tight budget, we advise looking online for your perfect mattress. This is because online mattress companies don’t have to pay for the costs of maintaining a physical storefront, so many of them can offer a high-quality mattress at a lower cost than what you find in a mattress store. It’s perfectly possible to find a quality mattress for under $1000 if you shop smart and do your research.
Sleep Trial, Warranties and Return Policy
When you buy a new mattress, your purchase includes more than just a new bed. A sleep trial, warranty, and return should also come attached. We strongly advise against the purchase of any mattress that does not come with these three things.
The sleep trial period is the time you have to try out a new mattress and decide if you’re keeping it or returning it for another mattress. Sleep trials were popularized by the rise of online bed-in-a-box brands to offer the buyer security they would not be stuck with an unfit mattress. However, you can find them attached to in-store mattresses as well.
Sleep trials typically stretch between 90 to 120 days, although some mattresses with lower price points may have sleep trials as short as 60 days, and a few mattresses brands offer a full year. A sleeper needs about a month to adjust to a new mattress, so a decent sleep trial should cover at least the first 30 days.
Warranties are a seal of the company’s faith in its product, guaranteeing you a long-lasting mattress. Some actions you take can void a warranty, such as spilling on the bed or placing the mattress on an unsupportive foundation, so it’s smart to read through all of the warranty’s details.
A mattress warranty usually covers:
- Broken or burst coils
- Sagging that extends beyond a set limit, typically about an inch
- Tears, cracks, or splits
- Ripped stitches
- A broken zipper on the mattress cover
Many mattress warranties provide coverage for 10 years, as per industry standard. Some mattress warranties extend beyond 10 years but typically these are prorated warranties, which means you will be responsible for covering some of the cost of replacement parts or a replacement mattress.
The return policy outlines the hows and whys of returning your mattress. It’s a good idea to know the details of the return policy before you even purchase the mattress. By reading up on the return policy, you’ll know under what circumstances you can and cannot make a return and how you initiate the return process.
Some return policies may include hidden fees such as a shipping fee or restocking fee. Other policies may require you to wait a set period of time before you can process a return.
We recommend looking for a mattress brand that offers at-home pickup when processing a return. Changing your bedding to a more lightweight, breathable material such as cotton or bamboo can help keep your mattress cooler. You can also cover it with a mattress pad designed to keep cool, such as a gel memory foam pad. We recommend replacing a mattress if it’s keeping you from catching enough sleep, but we understand it isn’t always feasible. You can also employ these tips as a stop-gap until you have a new mattress. Cooling mattress pads and mattress toppers can work fine, but may not work as well as a mattress since mattresses likely have more cooling material and features to keep you from sleeping hot. There are a lot of reasons you may be sleeping hot at night, as we’ve discussed. Thick bedding that can’t breathe, a heat-retentive mattress, or an overly warm bedroom are all potential explanations. If after making adjustments to your mattress and bedroom you still find yourself sleeping hot at night, you may want to speak with your doctor about possible medical causes and treatments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Changing your bedding to a more lightweight, breathable material such as cotton or bamboo can help keep your mattress cooler. You can also cover it with a mattress pad designed to keep cool, such as a gel memory foam pad.
We recommend replacing a mattress if it’s keeping you from catching enough sleep, but we understand it isn’t always feasible. You can also employ these tips as a stop-gap until you have a new mattress.
Cooling mattress pads and mattress toppers can work fine, but may not work as well as a mattress since mattresses likely have more cooling material and features to keep you from sleeping hot.
There are a lot of reasons you may be sleeping hot at night, as we’ve discussed. Thick bedding that can’t breathe, a heat-retentive mattress, or an overly warm bedroom are all potential explanations. If after making adjustments to your mattress and bedroom you still find yourself sleeping hot at night, you may want to speak with your doctor about possible medical causes and treatments.
Did We Help?
A cooling mattress can provide you with a deeper and longer night of sleep, especially if you pair it with other lifestyle changes such as a cooler bedroom, lightweight bedding, loose sleepwear, and a warm bath not long before bed. Please feel free to leave us any questions or comments in the comment section below.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.