How to Choose a Cooling Mattress Topper?
Sleeping cool has become a major buzzword in the mattress industry, and all the marketing jargon about the latest technologies and state-of-the-art materials can be overwhelming. This guide will help you to cut through the hype and help you find the best cooling mattress topper for you.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Cooling Mattress Topper
There are a lot of choices to sort through when buying a cooling mattress topper. From price to material, cooling properties to sleeping position, here are some of the most important factors you should keep in mind while you search.
- Cooling Properties: The most straightforward way to maintain temperature neutrality is by using materials that allow for airflow, thus carrying the heat away from your body. Some mattress toppers accomplish this with the use of naturally breathable materials, like latex or open-cell foams and cotton or wool covers. Others feature a convoluted or aerated design that increases air circulation.For materials that are inherently prone to retaining heat, manufacturers must resort to other tactics. These include charcoal, graphite, gel, or copper infusions designed to transport heat away from the body. Some mattress toppers incorporate phase-change materials, which regulate temperature by absorbing, storing, and releasing heat.For people who run very hot at night, it might be worth investing in a topper that allows you to control the temperature at the touch of a button. These active cooling toppers work by heating or cooling air or water and pushing it through the mattress to actively control the surface temperature.A few mattress manufacturers make toppers that are cooler in certain areas, such as the core. This can have the added advantage of alleviating aches and pains.
- Price: The price of a mattress topper can vary widely depending on materials and quality. Cooling polyfoam mattress toppers start at less than $100, but you can expect to pay several hundred dollars for a latex topper, and even more for sophisticated devices with cooling tubes. That said, if the added price means better longevity or reduced air conditioning bills, it might pay off in the long run.
- Sleeping Position: Since your mattress topper goes on top of your mattress, it’s important to choose a topper with the right firmness to accommodate your body type and sleeping position. Side sleepers usually opt for a plusher surface that reduces pressure points, so they may need a thicker topper to form a cradle for the hips and shoulders. Stomach sleepers should be fine with a firmer, thinner topper, while back sleepers fall in the middle of the spectrum.
- Quality Materials: Latex and wool toppers offer the best longevity, and you can expect them to last around 3 to 4 years on average.In contrast, a low-quality memory foam topper can develop permanent body indentations before the year is out. Higher-density polyfoam or memory foam toppers will last longer than their lower-density equivalents, but they will also usually trap more heat. Fiberfill and feather toppers are fairly high-maintenance and require regular fluffing in order not to lose loft over time. You can usually expect these to last around 2 to 3 years.
- Firmness Level: Since a mattress topper can’t add support to a sagging mattress, the main reason people purchase mattress toppers is to adjust the firmness level of a mattress. In general, lighter sleepers and side sleepers are best suited to a plusher topper, while stomach sleepers and heavier individuals are best suited to a firmer topper.Mattress firmness plays a crucial role in heat retention, as a softer surface allows the body to sink in further and causes more heat to build up around the sleeper. The heavier the sleeper, the more they will sink into the mattress, leading to increased heat retention. If you find you run hot, you may want to consider getting a firmer mattress topper.
- Thickness: Mattress toppers tend to measure between 2 and 4 inches thick. People who exert more pressure on the mattress, such as heavier sleepers and side sleepers, should look for a thick mattress topper that can handle this extra weight without bottoming out.
- Pressure Relief: Memory foam is usually acknowledged as the best material for pressure relief due to its close-conforming abilities. However, if you overheat with memory foam, a latex mattress topper may do the trick. Latex can have pressure-relieving properties similar to memory foam, but it’s more breathable and forms a looser cradle around your body.
Which Type of Mattress Topper is Best at Cooling?
Most toppers on the market today are made of memory foam, polyfoam, or latex, each of which offers its own advantages. You may also see mattress toppers stuffed with wool, which wicks moisture away from the body to keep you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold.
- Memory foam: Memory foam is a popular material for mattress toppers because it offers superior pressure relief and motion isolation. Unfortunately, memory foams, particularly high-density memory foams, have traditionally been known for trapping heat. Modern-day cooling memory foam mattress toppers get around this by infusing the memory foam with charcoal, copper, graphite, or other substances that draw heat away from the sleeper.
- Polyfoam: Open-cell and convoluted polyfoam mattress toppers are designed to improve airflow, allowing body heat to escape from the sleeper instead of building up on the surface of the mattress. Polyfoam has the added advantage of being the cheapest topper material. The downside is that polyfoam toppers will eventually develop permanent body indentations.
- Latex: Natural latex is a breathable, open-cell material that is prized for its durability and sustainability. Latex tends to keep sleepers “on” and not “in” the mattress, preventing heat build-up around the body. While natural latex toppers can be expensive, they maintain decent temperature neutrality and are much less likely to develop body indentations compared with synthetic latex or other foams. Many latex toppers are “ventilated” with pincore holes that allow for better air circulation.
- Gel: Many manufacturers use gel infusions, gel beads, or a top layer of gel in an effort to stem heat retention in memory foam or fiberfill toppers. The jury is out on whether or not this is actually an effective cooling technique.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooling Mattress Toppers
Do gel mattress toppers keep you cool?
While they may help a memory foam topper sleep somewhat cooler at first, cooling gel mattress toppers don’t always manage to keep a neutral temperature all night long. The gel may also lose potency over the years.There are two principal ways by which gel is used to help memory foam sleep cooler. Thermal gels are cool to the touch, whereas phase-change gels regulate heat by absorbing and redistributing it to maintain a constant temperature.
While these techniques can stave off heat retention for a while, many sleepers find that the mattress eventually warms up anyway. However, a cool gel memory foam mattress topper may help keep the temperature low long enough to help you drift off to sleep.
In a nutshell, if you sleep hot but have your heart set on memory foam, then a gel memory foam topper might be the way to go. But for people who sleep very hot, it’s usually better to avoid memory foam altogether.
Do cooling mattress toppers really work?
Cooling mattress toppers have varying degrees of success depending on the type. Materials like latex, wool, and open-cell or aerated foams can help disperse heat, but they won’t actively cool the mattress.
Phase-change material goes an extra step by using a chemical reaction to keep the surface cool to the touch. For people who are very sensitive to temperature changes, the best solution might be a mattress topper that actively works to control the temperature via water or air channels.
What’s the difference between a mattress protector and a mattress topper?
Mattress protector are relatively thin and are primarily meant to protect against spills and stains, whereas mattress toppers are usually several inches thick and are designed to change the feel of a mattress.Mattress protector often contain some kind of padding like wool, cotton, fiberfill, or down. While this can add some plushness to a mattress, this is not their main purpose.
Mattress toppers usually come in the same materials you would expect from a mattress comfort layer, such as memory foam, polyfoam, latex, wool, or down. A mattress topper can’t fix an old, sagging mattress, but it can change the feel of a mattress that’s too firm or too plush. This is a cost-effective way to obtain a different firmness level without investing in a whole new mattress.
Can I buy sheets to keep me cool?
The sheets you use definitely play a role in maintaining temperature neutrality. Linen, cotton, and bamboo are all naturally breathable and will help fight heat retention. In terms of weave, stay away from flannel sheets and choose sheets with a breathable percale weave. Some synthetic fabrics also use technology such as phase-change material to keep you cool.
It’s important to remember that the temperature of your sleeping environment is a product of many factors including your mattress and/or topper, sheets, ambient temperature, your pillow, and your own personal body heat.