There are many benefits to memory foam mattresses. Pressure and pain relief, motion isolation, not to mention they’re one of the best types of mattresses for side sleepers.
However, there’s one well-known drawback— memory foam’s tendency to hold onto body heat. If you’ve woken up sweaty and hot in the middle of the night, it might be from your memory foam mattress.
It’s not good to lose sleep from overheating, but there are steps you can take to cool down your mattress. Your bed frame, bedding, and bedtime routine can all help you achieve a cooler night of sleep.
Why Does Heat Wake Me Up?
Body temperature helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and our body temperature drops as we wind down for sleep. Some researchers think taking steps to cool down before bed, such as a hot shower or bath to increase blood circulation and disperse heat, can help us fall asleep faster.
Our body temperatures drop even lower as we slip into REM sleep. We rely partly on environmental factors (such as bedding and air conditioning) to keep our body temperatures just right— if our surroundings are too warm or too cool, it may wake us up and hinder time spent in REM sleep.
Why Does a Memory Foam Mattress Get Hot?
Many memory foam mattresses have an issue retaining body heat because memory foam is a rather dense mattress material. Plus, these beds lack interconnected air channels. Once the heat is absorbed by the mattress, it’s not easy for it to work its way out.
The structure of a memory foam bed is a common reason it retains too much heat, but some memory foam mattresses overheat because they’re paired with warm bedding or an incorrect mattress foundation. These two factors can make heat retention worse.
Sleeping on the wrong foundation can keep heat trapped in your memory foam mattress. If you’re using a solid surface with no slats, such as a solid plywood board or your bedroom floor, heat is left with no way to escape through the bottom of your mattress.
The best foundation for a memory foam mattress has spaces to let air flow through the bottom and clear out accumulated heat. We recommend a foundation with slats no more than 3 inches apart and at least 0.5 inches thick.
Your bedding can add an extra layer between your mattress and your body to keep both parties cool. Choosing breathable mattress covers, sheets, blankets, pillows, and even cooling mattress pads and toppers can help you get a better night of sleep.
Mattress covers encase a mattress for protection but they can also keep a mattress cooler. Many are made with breathable materials such as cotton or even wool, which helps to wick away moisture.
Sheets and Blankets
Stay away from sheets that trap body heat like polyester or silk. Use cooling sheets made with materials such as cotton, linen, or bamboo. Sheets with lower thread counts allow for better airflow and thus keep you cooler.
If you’re sleeping hot, avoid insulating comforters and duvets. Sleep with a light blanket or even just a flat sheet, instead.
It’s a myth that we lose most of our body heat through our heads, but the right pillow can still help absorb and disperse unneeded body heat. The best pillow to keep cool is one that lacks a solid fill. Pillows filled with shredded memory foam, buckwheat hulls, or microbeads allow for more air circulation.
Mattress Pads and Mattress Toppers
Many mattress pads and memory foam toppers contain cooling gels or are made with cooling fibers to better absorb body heat.
If you want to get techy, you can try an electric mattress pad with cooling options. Many of them let you control the temperature with a dial or a phone app. The downside to electric pads is the expense— many cost a few hundred dollars.
You can also go low-tech and get a cotton non-quilted pad to keep cool.
A New Mattress
It’s not the most cost-effective solution, but if you still have difficulty sleeping on your memory foam mattress, you may want to consider buying a new one. There are a few different options you can consider to find your best mattress.
A cooling memory foam mattress has features to prevent overheating, such as gel memory foam or added air channels. Additives to the foam such as charcoal, copper, or graphite can also absorb or wick away body heat.
If you don’t want another memory foam mattress, consider a latex mattress or innerspring mattress. Both types keep naturally cooler than a memory foam mattress, although both have their drawbacks as well.
Latex mattresses can be some of the most expensive beds on the market, while an innerspring mattress can be uncomfortable for many sleepers, particularly those used to the feel of a memory foam mattress.
Other Ways to Keep Cool
Changing your bed frame, mattress, and bedding isn’t the only way to keep cool. You can take other measures to make your bedroom a chill experience.
- Lower your thermostat to between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit can make falling asleep easier, as can taking a warm bath 90 minutes before your bedtime.
- Try not to exercise too close to bedtime, as it can raise your body temperature and keep you awake. Get your workouts in as early in the evening as you can, if you can’t work out in the morning or during your midday lunch. Light stretches before bedtime should be fine.
- Turn off your lights and electronics 2 hours before bedtime. They produce not only light but also heat, and turning them off prevents heat buildup.
- Drink a glass of water before bed. It may mean a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but it can also help you cool down before you go to sleep. Drinking water can also help if you wake up feeling overheated.
- Wear light sleepwear. This means no silk or polyester pajamas; instead, wear pajamas made with materials like cotton or bamboo. Make sure your pajamas are loose-fitting for added breathability.
Frequently Asked Questions
A cooling mattress for hot sleepers should have cooling components added in, such as gel beads, graphite, copper, and charcoal. A firmer mattress will also keep cooler than a softer mattress, as a firmer mattress tends to have less full-body contact.
A memory foam mattress can cause excessive sweating if it retains too much body heat. Wearing light sleepwear and using breathable, moisture-wicking bedding can help, and talk to your doctor if excessive sweating continues.
Did We Help?
It’s quite possible to keep your memory foam mattress cool. The right bedding and bed frame, a cooler environment, and maybe even a quiet fan can help you get a more restful night of sleep. If you’re thinking about buying a memory foam mattress, we recommend one with cooling features such as gel foam.
If any night sweats continue after making these changes, speak with a doctor. It may be a sign of a deeper medical issue.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.