What are cooling mattress toppers, do they work and should you buy one?

A woman lifts the edge of her white cooling mattress topper placed on top of a white mattress
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re a hot sleeper, staying cool at night can be a real challenge. Some mattress materials, such as memory foam, are notorious for trapping heat and you could find you’re struggling to stay asleep if your mattress is too warm.

Many of the best mattresses on the market are designed with temperature regulation in mind, with features such as heat-wicking covers and specific cooling materials. But a new mattress with cooling features could be an expensive investment. 

If your current mattress is still in great shape, but just isn’t keeping you cool, a cooling mattress topper could be the solution to your problem. In fact, most of the best mattress toppers you can buy will contain cooling technology – this guide will help you understand whether it’s the right choice for you.

What is a cooling mattress topper?

Mattress toppers are an extra layer of padding that’s placed on top of your mattress to change the feel of the sleep surface. Resembling mini mattresses, they’re commonly between two and four inches in depth, although you will find much thicker toppers going up to around seven inches. 

Bed toppers are secured to the bed at each corner with strong elasticated straps or ties to keep them in place and stop them shifting about at night. Cooling toppers are often infused with gel foams or natural latex to regulate temperature, with some of the best being covered with phase change material that dissipates heat and wicks away sweat.

A cooling mattress topper is placed on top of a white hybrid mattress

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Cooling mattress topper: Pros

Cooling mattress toppers, as the name suggests, contain materials that help to keep sleepers cool. Some use naturally breathable materials, such as latex, open-cell foams and cotton or wool covers. Others feature an aerated design that increases air circulation. 

For mattress toppers made out of materials that normally retain heat, such as memory foam, infusions such as copper, charcoal, graphite or gel are added to draw heat away from the body. Finally, some toppers contain phase-change materials that absorb heat and draw it away from the body, or GlacioTex covers to cool down both sleeper and topper. 

Cooling isn’t the only pro of a cooling mattress topper. As with any mattress topper, they can change the feel of your existing mattress, making it softer or firmer as required. And, if your mattress is less than eight years old, but starting to develop a few dips and bumps, a mattress topper can give it a few years more life.

Cooling mattress topper: Cons

Although mattress toppers in general can make a big difference to your existing mattress, you do need to be aware that they won’t fix serious problems. If your mattress is old, sagging or turning yellow, you need to replace it as a topper won’t make any difference.

It can also be expensive to get a good quality cooling mattress topper that will actually make a difference to your temperature overnight.

Casper Comfy Mattress Topper, featuring a woman resting on her back enjoying said topper on her bed

(Image credit: Casper)

Some of the cheaper toppers use a small amount of infusions, which won’t have any noticeable effect on temperature regulation. And some memory foam toppers will make sleepers too hot.

Some bed toppers are also made from materials that aren’t suitable for those with allergies, and don’t always use hypoallergenic materials to keep costs down. 

How much do cooling mattress toppers cost?

As with mattresses, there’s a huge range options to suit different budgets. Prices range from around $40 - $500 for a cooling mattress topper, although you could pay up to $2,000 if you choose a smart cooling mattress topper

The Best Price Mattress Ventilated Memory Foam mattress topper is our pick of the best cheap mattress toppers for hot sleepers, with a queen coming in at $48.75 (was $61.74). 

Casper’s Comfy mattress topper is $179.10 for a twin (was $199) and $269.10 for a queen (was $299), while at the higher end of the price scale, a Saatva Graphite Memory Foam mattress topper is $325 for a twin and $445 for a queen.

Top 3 cooling mattress toppers for hot sleepers

1. Casper Comfy Mattress Topper: was from $199 $179 at Casper

1. Casper Comfy Mattress Topper: was from $199 $179 at Casper
Our Casper Comfy Mattress Topper review found that this memory foam topper is particularly suited to side sleepers, with its deep pressure relief and contouring feel. Temperature regulation is excellent, thanks to Casper’s AirScape perforated foam that does an excellent job of drawing heat away from the body. It also comes with a 30-day trial, five year warranty and free shipping, and an evergreen Casper mattress deal means that you can take 10% off the price of a topper, reducing a queen to $269.

Best Price Mattress Ventilated Memory Foam Mattress Topper: was from $61.74 $48.75 at Amazon

Best Price Mattress Ventilated Memory Foam Mattress Topper: was from $61.74 $48.75 at Amazon
Perforated and infused with gel, the Best Price mattress topper is a budget option for hot sleepers. This version is only 1.5” thick (there are more expensive 4” options), but it offers a little gentle contouring and support for all types of sleepers. It’s excellent value for money, but unlikely to be as cooling as more expensive options. You get a three year warranty too.

Saatva Graphite Mattress Topper: from $325 at Saatva

Saatva Graphite Mattress Topper: from $325 at Saatva
There isn’t currently a deal on the Saatva but if you suffer with back pain and are also a hot sleeper, it’s worth investing in this topper. Delivering plenty of pressure relief, especially in the lumbar region, the Saatva topper uses a graphite layer to draw heat away from the body. There’s a 180-night trial, 1 year warranty and free shipping. Although it’s rare for the topper to be discounted, we’d still recommend bookmarking our Saatva mattress sales page, as it does occasionally get included in deals. A queen will set you back $445.

Who should buy a cooling mattress topper?

Hot sleepers: Obviously, the primary audience here is hot sleepers, who want a way to cool down and regulate their temperature overnight, without having to buy a new mattress.

Those with a slightly ‘tired’ mattress: If your mattress is under eight years old and starting to get a few sagging areas, a mattress topper can help to smooth out the surface and extend the life of your mattress by a few more years.

Those looking to change the feel of their mattress: If your mattress is a little too soft or too firm, a mattress topper can change the feel of it and make it more comfortable to sleep on.

Who shouldn’t buy a cooling mattress topper?

Cold sleepers: If you’re a reptile and struggle to stay warm at night, a cooling cover probably isn’t for you! A plain memory foam topper will help to keep you snug and warm instead.

Those with an old mattress: If your mattress is old, sagging, yellow or lumpy, a mattress topper isn’t going to make it a comfortable place to sleep. You will need to invest in a new mattress instead.

Those on a tight budget: Although we have included a budget option here, really hot sleepers will need to make a larger investment to take advantage of toppers with high-end cooling abilities.

Jo Plumridge
Mattress tester and sleep writer

Jo Plumridge is an experienced mattress reviewer with several years' experience covering all things mattresses and sleep, and who tests memory foam, hybrid and organic mattresses. What Jo doesn't know about a boxed mattress isn't worth knowing, so naturally we tasked her with producing a series of features for Tom's Guide looking at all aspects of mattresses, from how to pick between latex and memory foam (it's a tricky one), to the seven mistakes people make when buying a mattress for the first time. When testing the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid for Tom's Guide, Jo said: "I loved the back support and pressure relief it offered. Plus, it looks far more expensive than it is." When she isn’t writing about sleep, Jo also writes extensively on interior design, home products and photography.