5 signs that you need a cooling mattress

A man sits up in bed because he feels too hot to sleep
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re waking up in the middle of the night feeling as though the thermostat has been turned up to max then it could be time to invest in a cooling mattress. Whilst some people will only find a benefit in a cooling mattress during the summer months, for those who sleep hot they can be game-changing.

Our best mattress guide has plenty of cooling options to choose from but how do you know when it’s time to upgrade to a cooling mattress? This guide will walk you through all the signs to look out for as well as share top tips on what the best beds are for hot sleepers. 

The best cooling mattresses offer sleepers a way to combat heat build-up and regulate temperature leading to a comfortable and restful sleep. So if you’re tossing and turning all night and yearning for a cooler sleep experience, read on. 

What is a cooling mattress?

A cooling mattress is exactly what the name suggests, it’s a mattress that has been designed to keep you cooler throughout the night. If you’re a hot sleeper then you’ll know how much it affects the quality of your sleep and mattresses such as traditional memory foam can trap body heat making you feel hot and uncomfortable. 

Cooling mattresses have a few different features that can help to achieve a cooler sleep surface. The main one being the materials which the mattress is made from. Cooling mattresses tend to use phase-changing materials (PCM’s), these regulate temperature by absorbing excess heat leaving your mattress feeling cooler. When your body temperature cools down, this heat is then released to prevent you getting too cold.

Brooklyn Aurora Luxe mattress on a beige bedframe

The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe uses cooling materials to control temperature during sleep (Image credit: 3Z Brands for Tom's Guide)

Some cooling mattresses also use gel-infused layers, these are mostly found within memory foam mattresses. This gel has a cooling effect and the gel promotes better airflow within the mattress meaning that heat won’t be trapped and pushed back out to your body. 

Often with mattresses the top cover is also made from breathable fabric like cotton or Tercel. These fabrics wick away moisture from the body and also allow for better airflow meaning you won’t wake up feeling hot and sweaty.

If you don’t have the budget for a cooling mattress, then one of the best mattress toppers also has cooling effects and can help to keep you cool. These toppers have the same construction as a cooling mattress so if your mattress is in good condition, they can be a good alternative. 

5 signs that you need a cooling mattress 

If you can’t decide whether a cooling mattress is right for you then these are the top signs that it’s time to opt for a new mattress and start enjoying a cool, comfortable sleep.

1. You wake up hot, regardless of the season

We all expect to sleep a little hot during the summer months, but if you’re waking up hot and bothered all year round then it’s worth buying a cooling mattress because traditional mattresses can trap heat making you feel even hotter. But don’t worry about feeling too cold during the cooler months, these mattresses offer consistent temperature regulation so you shouldn’t get too hot or too cold.

A woman lies awake in bed wafting a fan in her face because she is too hit to sleep

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. You struggle to fall asleep

If you struggle to get off to sleep because you find it too warm then a cooling mattress can help send you off to slumberland.  The temperature in your bedroom makes a huge difference to how well you sleep, and especially to how fast you doze off. Experts state that the perfect temperature to fall asleep is between 60-68°F. 

If it’s too hot then you’ll struggle to get into the restorative sleep stage leaving you waking up feeling tired and sluggish. The type of mattress will play a huge part in this, if you have one that is traditionally hot, like memory foam, then there’s little you can do to cool that down as the heat gets trapped within the mattress. 

Claire Davies, Sleep Science Coach and Sleep Editor at Tom’s Guide recommends that you, "set your smart thermostat between 65-68°F one hour before going to bed. However, keep it on the cooler side if you overheat during the night."

3. You wake up clammy with sweat 

Waking up clammy and sweaty is the sign of a disturbed sleep. Our bodies naturally cool down whilst we sleep but sweat can disrupt that. A sweat-soaked mattress created an unhygienic sleep environment which can also potentially harbour bacteria which can lead to skin irritations and illness. 

Night sweats can also wreak havoc with your mattress, it’s natural to sweat throughout the night but excess sweating will lead to stains appearing on your mattress which can also lead to unpleasant odors.

Sweat also produces a moist environment which is the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow. Plus constant exposure to moisture will lead to a breakdown of the materials in your mattress leading to sagging, a loss of support and the mattress needing to be replaced sooner. 

4. You kick off your covers in the night

If you find yourself waking up in the morning with your covers piled on top of your partner or strewn on the floor then chances are you’ve gotten too hot overnight. Whilst we all do this at some point throughout the year, if you’re doing it regularly then it’s definitely a sign that you need to upgrade to a cooling mattress. 

An unmade bed with crumpled duvet or comforter

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whilst you may not have felt you woke up during the night, kicking your blankets off means that you were tossing and turning which means a restless night's sleep and inevitable tiredness in the morning.

5. Your aircon is always on full blast

If your air con is on full and you’re still feeling too hot, then it could be because your mattress is retaining heat and pushing it back in to your body. A cooling mattress will help to keep you cool whilst you sleep by retaining that excess heat and only pushing it back out once your body temperature drops. A cooling mattress may have an initial outlay but you’ll find that you’ll save plenty by being able to turn that AC down at night.

How to choose the best cooling mattress for you

With so many different mattress choices on the market, it can be a difficult choice to determine what the best cooling mattress is for you. Here are some things to look out for. 

1. Stick to your budget

Cooling mattresses can be a little on the pricey side. That doesn’t mean that they are out of your reach if you’re on a budget. Big mattress sales usually happen at key points throughout the year such as public holidays and events including the Memorial Day mattress sales in May, Labor Day sales in September, and the Black Friday mattress deals in November.

But usually, the bigger mattress companies do offer money off all year around so it’s best to figure out your budget and then research the best cooling mattress for you so you’re ready to buy when you see the best price. 

2. Prioritise cooling comfort

Don’t sacrifice comfort just for the cooling effect. It’s not just getting too hot at night that stops you from sleeping well. If your mattress doesn’t offer the right amount of support then you’ll find you have other issues like aching joints and muscles. 

Choose a mattress with the right firmness level for your sleeping position and make sure that it offers support in the places you need it the most, for example, side sleepers need support on their hips and shoulders. 

Cocoon Chill memory foam mattress on a white background

The Cocoon by Sealy Chill is covered with phase change material that absorbs then wicks away excess heat (Image credit: Cocoon by Sealy)

3. Look for breathable materials

Cooling mattresses come in a variety of different materials. All-foam mattresses, even if they have a layer of infused gel, still tend to run a little hot. So look for a cooling mattress that is perhaps a hybrid so you get the comfort of memory foam but the cooling effect of the springs. Also, latex or mattresses stuff with wool, whilst a little on the pricier side area naturally cooling.

4. Consider active vs passive cooling

When it comes to mattresses there are two approaches to temperature regulation, active and passive cooling. If you sleep really hot then you’re going to need to look for mattresses that have active cooling. This is when it has built-in cooling systems that will keep air actively circulating to maintain a more comfortable sleeping temperature such as fans or water-based cooling systems

Passive cooling tends to rely more on built-in materials and the construction of the mattress that promotes airflow and moisture wicking. So this could be gel-infused layers, innerspring coils, and breathable fabrics such as cotton or Tencel used on the top cover. Whilst these are not as effective for extremely hot sleepers, they will still keep you cool and reduce your body temperature. 

5. Ensure it has a long sleep trial

When you change your mattress, whatever one you choose, it can take time to adjust. When looking for your new cooling mattress take note of the trial periods offered by different companies. The longer the trial means you’ll get to try it our during different seasons and really try out their cooling effects. 

Leesa Sleep offers a 100 night trial on their Sapira Chill Hybrid Mattress. Where as Nectar offer a very generous 365-night trial on their Nectar Premier Copper Mattress.  The time you purchase your mattress will make a difference for this but you’re going to want to really test it out during the warmer months. 

Rachael Penn

Rachael is a freelance journalist based in South Wales who writes about lifestyle, travel, home and technology. She also reviews a variety of products for various publications including Tom’s Guide, CreativeBloq, IdealHome and Woman&Home. When she’s not writing and reviewing products she can be found walking her Sealyham and West Highland terrier dogs or catching up on some cringe-worthy reality tv.