Of all the factors that can influence your ability to get a good night’s sleep, temperature regulation is often overlooked. There is a tendency to focus on comfort, firmness, and support, and while these are all extremely important, even the most comfortable and supportive mattress won’t facilitate quality sleep if it causes you to overheat and wake up in a sweat.
Every person is different, and some people are more prone to “sleeping hot.” For these sleepers, it is essential to choose a mattress and bedding that can help to prevent sleep disruptions from overheating.
In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the different types of mattresses that are on the market and will cover some of the main considerations that hot sleepers should take into account when searching for a new mattress. For more about those topics, keep reading through this guide, or you can click here to skip straight to our choices for the top mattresses for hot sleepers.
Causes of Sleeping Hot
There are a range of different reasons why a person may sleep hot. Some of the primary culprits are described in detail below.
- Lack of airflow around the body: when a material is pressed up closely against the skin, it can limit the body’s ability to put its natural temperature regulation systems to work. You’ve probably experienced this same dynamic with clothing: skin-tight layers are much more likely than loose-fitting ones to cause you to build up heat. With mattresses, the most common way in which airflow gets restricted is by sinking into the mattress. As the mattress conforms around the body, it can cause heat to get trapped and increase your overall temperature.
- Heat retention by the mattress itself: different mattress materials have varying properties based on their construction and design. These properties affect how much the mattress retains heat. Materials like memory foam are known for having significantly more heat retention than other mattress components; however, there have also been a number of innovations in mattress design that are intended to reduce the amount of heat that is held in memory foam.
- Bedding materials: just as different types of mattress materials can have diverging levels of heat retention, the same is true of other bedding, including sheets and blankets. Even the most breathable mattress may not be able to prevent sleeping hot if a person uses too many blankets or sheets that are known for retaining heat.
- Room temperature: while the mattress and bedding are important, so is the ambient temperature in your bedroom. As you would expect, a hot room is much more likely to induce sleeping hot.
- Health conditions: while rare, in some cases, sleeping hot can be related to more serious underlying health conditions. For example, night sweats can be caused by various medications and by medical issues ranging from anxiety to menopause to thyroid problems to cancer. If you find that you are having persistent night sweats, you should talk to a health professional to rule out a medical cause. It is especially important to see a doctor if you have any other unexplained health changes such as fever, weight loss, cough, or diarrhea. For more information about night sweats, you can review this resource from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/night-sweats/basics/definition/sym-20050768.
Types of Mattresses
You can read a lot more detail about the different types of mattress options that are on the market in our Buyer’s Guide, but we’ll provide a quick refresher here along with a description of how each relates to sleeping hot. You can classify almost all mattresses into the following categories:
These mattresses are built with several layers of foam, and the exact foam composition and specifications can vary. One of the most common types of foam mattress construction involves a base of support foam with one or more comfort layers on top. The comfort layers are most often composed of memory foam or another type of foam with a similar feel. Specifically, this type of comfort layer responds to the amount of pressure applied in each specific place, which helps to provide appropriate support to each part of the body.
Because it is such a highly-responsive material, memory foam is the most notorious material for sleeping hot because it can cause someone to sink deeply into the mattress. In addition to this restriction of airflow, memory foam becomes more responsive as its temperature increases, which can exacerbate the amount of sinking over the course of the night.
Memory foam manufacturers have turned to a number of innovations in order to try to reduce heat retention issues. Some of these innovations are described below:
*Open cell or air channel foams: most memory foams on the market use a type of foam that is not a single thick block of foam. Instead, the foam is built with many microscopic holes or with larger open spaces intended to improve airflow.
*Reduced sink: one way to decrease heat retention in memory foam is to make it slightly less responsive. Decreasing the degree to which a sleeper sinks into the mattress can have the effect of reducing heat buildup.
*Gel-infused memory foam: this type of foam has small beads with gel that are interspersed within the foam. These beads are designed to prevent the foam from collecting heat in the same way as traditional memory foam, although reviews are inconclusive about whether it can achieve that effect.
*Copper-infused memory foam: copper is an element that has been valued for antibacterial and cooling properties. In these foams, small pieces or beads of copper are built into the foam layer to try to limit excess heating.
Innerspring mattresses use coils inside the mattress to provide spring and support. This is the most traditional type of mattress, and the innerspring coils often have a slightly softer top layer, such as a pillow-top, that provides additional plushness or comfort. There are numerous types of innerspring construction that can affect the support and performance of an innerspring mattress.
Heat retention can be an issue with innerspring mattresses depending on the details of their construction and the design of the top layer. If the coils in the mattress are weak, sinking into the mattress can be an issue with an innerspring mattress, causing the same types of airflow issues as with memory foam.
In addition, if the pillow-top is not breathable or if it is too plush, it may also restrict airflow and cause you to sleep hot. Because of the extensive number of innerspring mattresses that are on the market, it is necessary to closely inspect their design to determine whether they are likely to sleep hot.
Hybrid mattresses include elements of memory foam, innerspring coils, and/or latex. Specifically, a hybrid mattress has a layer of memory foam, latex, or a similar type of foam on top of a support core of innerspring coils.
The goal of a hybrid is usually to try to capture both the benefits of an innerspring and a foam mattress. That said, the benefits and downsides of a hybrid mattress depend in large part on the layering and materials involved in its construction.
Like with innerspring mattresses, hybrids can vary quite a bit in terms of their temperature regulation properties. Many hybrids have a memory foam comfort layer, which can recreate the same heat retention problems of traditional all-foam mattresses. When considering a hybrid mattress, make sure to look carefully at the internal components to evaluate whether there are likely to be heat retention problems.
These mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber. Latex tends to be a heavier and more expensive material, so it is not uncommon to see all-latex mattresses sell for thousands of dollars. Latex offers a high level of responsiveness, but it also tends to be bouncier and more resilient than many foams on the market.
In general, latex mattresses are the least likely to have problems with sleeping hot. While latex is a responsive material that conforms to the body, it tends to do so less than memory foam.
In addition, latex has more resilience, which means that it bounces back to its original shape more quickly. As a result, latex usually avoids the issues of sinking into the mattress or feeling stuck in the mattress that often contribute to heat buildup. And while latex material can collect heat, it tends to do so far less than most other types of foams.
There are two main types of latex used in mattresses: Dunlop and Talalay. Of these, Talalay latex typically has a softer feel, but it avoids heat retention problems by having more bounce. Dunlop latex is firmer and is not typically associated with sleeping hot.
Mattress Considerations for Hot Sleepers
- Mattress type: in the previous section, we described in detail the different types of mattresses and their heat retention properties. In general, remember that highly responsive mattress materials are at greater risk of causing excess heat retention because they conform more to the body. That said, each mattress design is unique, and it is helpful to remember that not all materials are created equal. Considering the specifics of each mattress, including the other factors described in this section, can help you make the most appropriate selection for you.
- Firmness: the comfort layer is made up of the top layer or layers of the mattress, and it largely influences the “feel” of the mattress. Firmness is an important element of this feel. On a mattress that is too soft, a person may sag into the bed, which can cause both overheating and spinal misalignment. On a mattress that is too firm, there is less risk of sleeping hot, but there may be too much pressure placed on key joints and on the spine. For most people, the best option is a medium-firm mattress, which falls between a 5-7 on the typical firmness scale. This tends to be the most comfortable and supportive range, but if you have found comfort from a firmer or plusher mattress, you can definitely stick with what works.
- Resilience: resilience refers to how quickly a mattress regains its original shape after pressure is removed from it. A mattress with high resilience helps prevent feeling “stuck” in the bed and thus is less likely to cause overheating.
- Durability: when a mattress starts to wear out, it usually tends to sag. This can not only increase overheating by causing you to sink into the bed, but it can also threaten the ability of the mattress to provide needed support for the spine.
Features to Look For
High-quality materials: nothing determines the performance of a mattress more than the quality of the actual components that are used to make it. You’ll come across a lot of fancy marketing terms for different features, but sometimes this is just window dressing to cover over a mattress built with shoddy internal parts. When looking at the materials, here are some questions to think through:
- Does the company provide detailed specifications? For example, do they list the actual thickness of each layer of the mattress? If it’s a foam layer, do they publicly share the density and/or ILD of the foam? If it’s an innerspring layer, do they tell you about the type of innerspring construction? The more vague the details, the more skeptical you should be that perhaps the company cut corners in choosing their materials.
- Is there a weak spot? Some mattresses may use great materials in the comfort layer but use a low-quality foam for support. Remember that one weak layer can dramatically reduce the overall performance of the mattress.
- How thick is the comfort layer? An extremely thin comfort layer may degrade the feel and performance of a mattress and may limit its long-term durability as more pressure will be put on the supporting layers. In general, look for a comfort layer that is at least 3” thick.
Shopping for two?: many hot sleepers share a mattress with someone else who may not have the same issues or who may have a different comfort preference. It is extremely important to talk these issues through before starting to home in on potential mattress choices. Check out our guide to the Best Mattresses for Couples for more in-depth tips on finding the best mattress for two.
Price and value: you can find mattresses for bargain basement prices and for thousands and thousands of dollars. The cost of a mattress is often not reflective of its overall quality. That’s why we suggest inspecting the design of the mattress and doing your best to comparison shop. For more about getting the best deal, you can review our Guide to Mattress Sales and Discounts.
Free shipping: it’s important to consider the total cost of buying a mattress and not just the price of the mattress itself. Most online mattress companies offer free shipping. If you’re enticed by a mattress that has a shipping charge, just make sure to factor that into your total assessment of the value of the mattress.
Free and no-hassle returns: many people get concerned about buying a mattress online because they don’t have an opportunity to scope the mattress out in a store. Thankfully, most direct-to-consumer mattress companies offer an extended sleep trial that allows you to try the mattress out in your own home for several months. If you realize during the sleep trial that the mattress isn’t right for you, you can return it at no charge and with no hassle from the company. We suggest choosing a mattress that has this type of sleep trial and return policy to help protect your investment in case you find that the mattress just isn’t the right fit.
Solid verified reviews: as we’ve stated, there’s a lot of marketing that takes place in the mattress industry, and one of the best ways to cut through the noise is to only rely on trusted reviews. We’ve tried to do a lot of this legwork for you, and you can read more about any specific mattress in our brand reviews.
- Pillow selection: Finding a pillow that is comfortable, supportive, and fits with your preferred sleeping position should be considered part-and-parcel of the mattress buying process. Some pillow materials are also more likely to build up heat around your head and neck, and hot sleepers should avoid those materials.
- Sheet and blanket selection: as we stated above, your sleeping temperature is affected by more than just the mattress. Your sheets and blankets can also influence how much heat is retained near your body while you sleep. Thick and heavy sheets, such as flannel sheets, are going to be much more likely to exacerbate issues of sleeping hot. Similarly, down comforters and thermal blankets will trap heat and boost your body temperature as you sleep. For hot sleepers, a better approach may be to use several layers of lighter sheets and blankets that give you more flexibility to adjust your bedding in response to the temperature of your room and body.
The Tuft and Needle mattress is our choice for the best foam mattress for hot sleepers.
Why? The Tuft and Needle’s comfort layer has enough responsiveness to be supportive while rarely eliciting complaints about sleeping hot. The company’s mattress has been on the market for over 5 years and during this time, they’ve developed a reputation as a quality brand with excellent customer service.
Why not? This mattress is only available in one firmness choice and tends to be perceived as slightly more firm. In addition, the foam density leaves a bit to be desired for an all-foam mattress.
The Bottom Line: Though this isn’t a perfect mattress, at its price point, it represents an excellent value and is a solid choice for hot sleepers who don’t want to bust their budget.
Our selection for the best latex hybrid for hot sleepers is the GhostBed.
Why? This mattress has a comfort layer with 3.5” of foam including both memory foam and latex. This combination adds more resilience than memory foam alone, which can help reduce sleeping hot, and at the same time, it provides enough responsiveness to maintain good spinal alignment.
Why not? The mattress is only available in one firmness option, so it may not be a fit for people with a preference for very firm or very plush mattresses. In addition, while Nature’s Sleep has been selling mattress for over 15 years, the GhostBed has only been on the market since 2015, which means that we have less data about its long-term durability.
The Bottom Line: For the price, the GhostBed uses a combination of quality materials layered in an arrangement that can be expected to provide a supportive and comfortable option for the majority of hot sleepers.
The Saatva mattress is our choice for the best innerspring mattress for hot sleepers.
Why? The Saatva is built with excellent components, including multi-layered coils, which gives an extra boost to the support and resilience of the mattress. The Saatva has received solid reviews from customers, and the company has a reputation for a high level of customer service.
Why not? Saatva charges a $99 return transportation fee that is deducted from your refund if you choose to return the mattress during the sleep trial.
The Bottom Line: while you can find innerspring mattresses out there for a much lower cost, they simply won’t deliver the kind of mattress performance offered by the Saatva, and with lower performance comes greater risk of both back pain and sleeping hot.
Our choice for the best all-latex mattress for hot sleepers is the Sleep On Latex Pure Green Mattress.
Why? The Pure Green Mattress is built with natural latex that gets excellent reviews for its performance. With its combination of resilience and responsiveness, latex can offer a great blend of comfort and support both to enhance spinal posture and to prevent excess heat buildup. Sleep On Latex also offers several different options for mattress firmness.
Why not? Sleep On Latex doesn’t provide quite as much detail about the mattress specifications as we would like. For example, they do not list the density or ILD of the latex used in their mattress.
The Bottom Line: Even without knowing every detail of the build of this mattress, we can safely say that it includes a considerable amount of high-performance latex at a price that is a fraction of what these types of mattresses are often sold for.
- How to Choose a Mattress: A Buyer’s Guide
- Guide to Mattress Foam Density and Firmness Measurements
- Mattress Firmness Guide
- Guide to Mattress Sales and Discounts