3 key features to look for when buying a cooling mattress

A man in a white long sleeve t-shirt places his hand on a cooling mattress that he's thinking of buying
(Image credit: Getty)

If you struggle to fall asleep because you're simply too warm in bed, investing in a cooling mattress will help reduce overheating so you fall asleep faster. With some brands making lofty claims about the cooling credentials of their mattresses, it helps to know which features really do make a difference against sweating and overheating. 

Many of the best mattresses on the market come equipped with certain features to help keep our temperatures regulated at night, but what exactly are those features? Some might harness that naturally cooling credentials of organic materials, while other boast cutting edge cooling technology. 

Here, we'll cut through brand claims and lay out exactly what to look for when shopping for the best cooling mattress. While sales happen all year round, the upcoming Memorial Day mattress sales are when we're likely to see the biggest discounts, making now a great time to buy.

3 key features to look for when buying a cooling mattress

1. Heat-wicking covers

You might be surprised to learn that many of the best organic mattresses on the market are naturally cooling, thanks to the materials used in their construction. Organic wool, cotton and latex are all naturally breathable and moisture wicking, making them a great choice for hot sleepers as they’ll draw heat away from the body and help promote airflow.

Avocado Vegan Latex Mattress

(Image credit: Avocado Mattress)

But it’s not just natural materials that can help with overheating. If your budget doesn't quite stretch to an organic mattress, look for a bed with GlacioTex covers for a cool to the touch mattress finish. 

GlacioTex is a trademarked cooling fabric that uses fibers with high thermal conductivity to pull heat away from your body. You’ll find it used in plenty of the big name mattresses, such as Helix Sleep and Bear. There’s also Ghost Ice, which is the equivalent from GhostBed, using woven cooling fibers.

Another fantastic cooling material is Phase Change Material (PCM). Developed by NASA, PCM absorbs heat and humidity and wicks away heat from your body. It’s incredibly effective, with one study showing that the material improves human heat dissipation by up to 25.6% compared to a standard mattress.

2. A hybrid design

You might love the ‘hug’ you’ll get from the best memory foam mattresses but some memory foam mattress can trap heat. The problem with some all-foam (certainly not all) is that it’s difficult for air to circulate around the mattress and then escape. Instead, it gets trapped in pockets of foam. 

On the other hand, the best hybrid mattresses offer a certain degree of breathability, thanks to the individually pocketed layer of springs throughout the bed. These channels help disperse heat and help to keep sleepers’ temperatures regulated.

Of course, hybrid mattresses also come with some foam layers on top of the springs. One of the best choices you can make here is latex, due to it being naturally breathable material. Some manufacturers also add perforations into the latex or other cooling materials to aid with cooling.  

3. Gel, copper and graphite-infused foams

GhostBed Luxe cooling mattress

(Image credit: Ghostbed)

There is some debate as to how effective foam infusions are, particularly gel, but if your heart is set on a mattress that contains a decent amount of foam and you’re a hot sleeper, gel infused foam can help keep you both comfortable and cool. Gel memory foam is foam infused with gel beads designed to absorb body heat and move it away from a sleeper’s body. 

You’ll also find mattresses infused with other materials such as copper, graphite, and charcoal. Because the infusions have to be added in small quantities, they may not make a huge difference to hot sleepers, but we think they’re essential to include alongside other more suitable materials.

As we touched on above, many brands have developed their own techniques to stop their foam from becoming hot and trapping heat. A lot of these revolve around perforations, holes or even slashes cut in the foam, all of which allow heat to escape and prevent it from becoming trapped in the foam.

Alternatively, you might prefer a more high-tech solution. Many of the best smart mattresses feature integrated cooling technology that allows you to adjust the temperature by degrees. You can learn more with our guide to how smart mattresses can help with common sleep issues.

Top 3 best cooling mattresses to buy today

1. Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe Hybrid: $1,199

1. Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe Hybrid: from $1,199 $899.30 at Brooklyn Bedding
The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe Hybrid is a 13” hybrid mattress with a choice of three firmness ratings (soft (2-4), medium (4-6) and firm (7-8)). In our Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe Hybrid mattress review, we found that the mattress was extremely supportive and comfortable, suiting most sleeping types with its customizable options. It comes with a GlacioTex cooling cover, dynamic cooling foam and memory foam infused with copper and gel, alongside well-spaced coils for airflow. Right now, there’s 25% off the mattress using the code REFRESH25.

2. Cocoon by Sealy Chill Hybrid: $839

2. Cocoon by Sealy Chill Hybrid: from $839 $539 at Cocoon by Sealy
The Cocoon by Sealy Chill is an excellent budget friendly mattress, particularly as there’s an evergreen sale on it. Currently there’s an incredible 35% off and Sealy will even throw in a bedding bundle of sheets, pillows, and mattress protector. In our Cocoon by Sealy Chill mattress review we tested the brand’s memory foam option and found it did an exceptional job of keeping sleepers cool, thanks to its PCM cover keeping us cool all night. However, for really hot sleepers, we’d recommend the hybrid version as the added coils will help to further promote airflow.

3. Eight Sleep Pod 3 cover: $2,095

3. Eight Sleep Pod 3 cover: from $2,095 $2,045 at Eight Sleep
If you’re looking for an ultra-smart cooling bed, Eight Sleep is the place to go (it’s one of our best smart bed picks, alongside featuring in our best cooling mattresses round-up). With a network of water-filled tubes that can be cooled or heated to your exact preference between 55F and 110F, you can also pick different temperatures for each side of the bed. The other great thing is that they fit over your existing mattress. The included app monitors your sleep and provides insights to help you improve your rest. It’s not cheap at the best of times and we only see larger discounts at major sales events (sometimes as high as $500 off), so we’d recommend waiting for the Memorial Day sales for a larger discount. 

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.