Are cooling mattress toppers any good for overheating in bed or a waste of money?

A woman wakes up and stretches in bed after enjoying a good night's sleep
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A smart cooling mattress topper helps hot sleepers to take charge of their temperature, helping them to stay cool and comfortable all night long. Used alongside the mattress of your choice, a smart cooling mattress topper system allows users to make the bed hot or colder, depending on their sleep needs.

As temperatures start to warm up, even the best mattress can sometimes can require a helping hand and keeping sleepers cool, leading to clammy mornings and disrupted nights. For hot sleepers, a lack of temperature regulation can mean frequently missing out on much needed rest, as you spend the night fighting with uncomfortably warm covers. 

A smart cooling mattress topper ensures you can take total control of the temperature, without needing to compromise the feel of your mattress. Here we'll explore exactly what a smart cooling mattress topper is and what it can do for your rest, plus some of the best examples on the market ahead of the Memorial Day mattress sales. Let's get started. 

What is a smart cooling mattress topper?

Smart cooling mattress toppers offer a high-tech solution to a common sleep problem: overheating. Sitting on top of your chosen mattress, smart cooling toppers feature adjustable temperature settings that allow you to fine-tune the heating of the bed to suit your needs. 

A man sits up in bed because he feels too hot to sleep

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Smart cooling mattress toppers typically achieve this temperature regulation using one of two methods: air or water. Air-based cooling toppers use fans to circulate cold air through the bed, for a chillier experience. Water-based toppers, on the other hand, feature small pipes or chambers filled with water which can draw away heat to cool the bed.

Although we're referring to them as toppers, many of these smart systems more closely resemble mattress protectors than the best mattress toppers. They're typically thin, rather than padded and thick, and apart from the temperature they won't do much to change the feel of the bed. However, regardless of the depth they're all intended to be used with a mattress, not on their own.

How much does a smart cooling mattress topper cost?

Unlike cooling mattress toppers that are infused with naturally temperature regulating materials, smart cooling mattress toppers use the latest in smart technology to adjust your temperature as you sleep and according to your sleep preferences. This smart technology doesn’t come cheap, with the price of smart cooling starting at around $1,500 for a queen. 

And that's a conservative estimate. For a smart cooling mattress topper that covers the entire mattress and allows separate adjustments either side of the bed, expect to pay upwards of $2,000. This is similar to what we expect to pay for the best luxury mattresses, but typically more affordable than the best smart mattresses

So what are you getting for that price? To put it simply, cooling and more comfortable sleep and fewer disrupted nights.

5 ways a smart cooling mattress topper can stop you sleeping hot

1. You can adjust the temperature precisely

The Eight Sleep Pod 3 mattress cover and smart mattress hub on a white background

(Image credit: Eight Sleep)

Traditional cooling mattresses typically use heat wicking materials to draw warmth away from the body to keep temperatures even during the night. Smart cooling mattress toppers take this further, giving you control over the temperature of the bed with in-built thermostats allowing you to fine-tune the feel.

With a smart cooling mattress topper you can pick the temperature you want and the topper will adjust to suit your needs. We're talking down to an exact degree Fahrenheit – it's not a hot or cold type of system. This crucial element of control is what makes smart cooling toppers so special, and makes them particularly suited for those who struggle with overheating.

2. Dual temperature zoning for couples with different sleep needs

If you like to kick the covers off but your bed partner prefers to snuggle up, a smart cooling mattress topper can let you enjoy a different temperature from the same bed. Dual-zoned toppers essentially divide the bed in half, allowing each person to change the temperature as they need. It's sort of like a high-tech take on the Scandinavian sleep method – with less laundry.

As well as dual-zoned systems, some smart cooling toppers come in individual sizes, such as half queen. This means temperature changes are confined to one side of the bed. These single sized toppers are also a more affordable option. For example, the Sleep Number DualTemp Layer half queen is just $999.99 at Sleep Number

3. Smart adjustments prevent sleep disruptions

Some smart toppers can cool or heat automatically depending on the current ambient temperature. This prevents you from waking up clammy in the middle of the night, but it also means you won't freeze from setting the topper to 'Arctic chill' before falling asleep. 

Other smart mattress toppers allow you to preset a series of temperatures to change throughout the night. For example, if you know the heating is going to kick in around five in the morning, you can set the topper to start cooling at roughly the same time. Alternatively, if the ambient temperature tends to drop at around 3am, that's when you can tell the topper to start warming up.

4. Prepare for temperature changes through sleep tracking

Many smart cooling mattress toppers include built-in sleep trackers, offering you a first-hand look at your sleep habits. Understanding how your sleep is being disrupted can help you take steps to limit this disturbance, for better rest overall.

An in-built tracker can also help you pick the perfect temperature, as you'll have access to data regarding how well you slept at different heat levels. Particularly useful when the season changes. And if factors such as hormone fluctuations, changes in medication, or sickness affect your temperature overnight, the tracker can use this data to help you react before your sleep suffers.

Man asleep in bed, lying on his stomach

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5. Stay warm in winter with adjustable heating

The body naturally cools in the evening, signaling that it's time to sleep. That's why we recommend turning the heating down before bed, and why a smart cooling topper can help prevent night sweats from waking you up.

However, on a cold winter's night you might find the bedroom temperature has dropped a little too low. While heat can stop you from sleeping, shivering from cold is also liable to keep you awake. With a smart topper, you can add a touch of warmth to your bed without the risk of overheating, especially as many smart toppers will start to cool if things get too stuffy.

3 best smart cooling mattress topper deals

1. Perfectly Snug The Smart Topper cooling mattress topper: $1,199

1. Perfectly Snug The Smart Topper cooling mattress topper: from $1,199 $1,149 at Perfectly Snug
The Perfectly Snug The Smart Topper is a cooling mattress topper that uses built-in fans to turn the temperature up or down. Connect the topper to the Perfectly Snug app or use physical buttons to change the temperature – or bypass control altogether with built-in sensors that can adjust the cooling based on ambient temperatures. Available in single, dual, and spilt dual sizes, the Perfectly Snug queen has an MSRP of $1,799, but semi-frequent sales take the queen down to $1,699.

2. Chilipad Dock Pro Sleep System: $1,149

2. Chilipad Dock Pro Sleep System: from $1,149 $1,099 at Sleepme
The Chilipad Dock Pro is a three-part sleep system. First there's the Chilipad Pro Mattress Topper, a thin topper that contains liquid-filled micro-tubes that can heat and cool. Then there's the Dock Pro, the control unit that sits beneath the bed and communicates temperature changes to the topper. Finally, there's the app, which you can use to control the Dock Pro. The Chilipad smart cooling mattress topper is available in single and dual sizes, with a queen priced at $1,799 (was $1,899).

3. Eight Sleep Pod 3 mattress cover: $2,095
We love the Eight Sleep Pod 3 so much it's one of our best cooling mattresses, despite not actually containing a mattress at all.

3.  Eight Sleep Pod 3 mattress cover: from $2,095 $2,045 at Eight Sleep
We love the Eight Sleep Pod 3 so much it's one of our best cooling mattresses, despite not actually containing a mattress at all. Fitting over your current mattress, the Eight Sleep Pod 3 cover automatically adjusts the temperature on either side of the bed to ensure better sleep for you and your partner. And the in-built sleep tracker provides personalized feedback to help you achieve better rest. The Pod 3 cover costs $2,145 for a queen in the current $50 off sale, but there's a chance a better deal will drop during Memorial Day. Be aware, the Eight Sleep Pod 3 also requires a monthly subscription. 

Ruth Jones
Sleep staff Writer

Ruth Jones has recently joined the Tom's Guide team as a sleep staff writer, covering all things mattresses and sleep. Ruth previously worked as a sleep and mattress writer for our sister website TechRadar, and has a deep interest in sleep and how it affects our day to day wellbeing. Ruth is a self-confessed stomach sleeper with a penchant for medium-firm mattresses, and also loves a good eye mask for helping her to fall asleep easier at night.