Are Memory Foam Mattresses Hot?

While heat retention is a factor, technological advances have improved cooling and breathability.

By Loren Bullock

May 11th, 2022

Memory foam is one of the most popular materials for bedding products, whether it’s mattresses, toppers, or pillows. As one of the most affordable mattress types, memory foam offers motion isolation, spine alignment, pressure relief, and a cloud-like sleep experience that millions of sleepers love.

But the knock on memory foam that continues to linger is the idea that it sleeps too hot. Let’s explore that claim and see whether memory foam deserves the bad rap.

What is Memory Foam Made of?

Memory foam is typically a blend of polyurethane and other chemicals. The density of memory foam helps the material keep its shape, a quality that allows memory foam mattresses to last up to 10 years or longer. Because of its high viscosity, it’s also called viscoelastic polyurethane foam. Memory foam is made to react to body heat and conform to your body’s shape, giving it a “hugging” supportiveness.

Why Does Memory Foam Make You Feel Hot?

Unfortunately, because of its density and other structural properties, memory foam tends to retain heat. The high density allows less air circulation, so the heat has nowhere to go. And if you’re sleeping with a partner, there’s more body heat to get trapped in the mattress.

The softer the mattress, the more you sink into it. The more you sink into it, the more you feel wrapped in a cocoon of your own body heat.

Related: Best cooling mattresses for hot sleepers

Solutions to Cool Down Your Memory Foam Mattress

Luckily, technology is on your side. Continuous improvements in materials and design have made it easier for sleepers to enjoy the alignment and support of memory foam with less heat.

Making Memory Foam That Doesn’t Get Hot

Perhaps recognizing consumers’ desire to turn down the temperature, companies that make memory foam sleep products have introduced a number of technological innovations and specialized accessories. Here’s a look at some cooling solutions for memory foam:

Gel

Combining cooling gel and memory foam works two ways: gel layers and gel infusion. Gel layers are usually included in hybrid mattresses with memory foam layers. This type of gel is phase-changing gel designed to cool you down when heat builds up. Gel memory foam infusions involve adding gel beads to the memory foam instead of layering.

Air Cooling Foam

Recently, mattress manufacturers have created memory foam with more airflow, appropriately named air cool memory foam. It responds to your body temperature, and as you get hot, that air gets released. This type of memory foam usually has better shape retention as well.

Sheets

Cooling sheets are specially designed with looser weaves and lower thread counts to improve airflow. They incorporate moisture-wicking technology to absorb sweat as quickly as it’s produced for a lower body temperature at night. There are also specially made comforters that are breathable and cool to the touch.

Pillows

Cooling pillows are designed to draw heat from the body, release a cooling effect, or both. Many use materials such as activated charcoal or naturally breathable bamboo.

Mattress Toppers and Pads

Using a cooling mattress pad or mattress topper can also offset the heat retention of a memory foam mattress. These accessories typically use breathable materials such as bamboo fibers, natural latex, and gel to improve breathability and draw heat away rather than trapping it.

Breakthroughs Aim to Cool Things Down

Although memory foam has become one of the standard building blocks of sleep products, its reputation for sleeping too hot continues to linger. It’s true that memory foam has basic structural properties that create a tendency toward heat retention. Still, technological improvements and a growing field of accessories have made it a lot easier to enjoy a cool night’s sleep with the memory foam mattress or pillow of your choice.