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Is Memory Foam Hot?
Why does memory foam have a reputation for feeling hot?

Last updated on July 18, 2019

Although most memory foam owners are very happy with their bed, this type of mattress has been known to feel uncomfortably warm to some people during the night. This complaint tends to be most prevalent among people that already had a tendency to sleep hot, or for those experiencing hormonal changes like menopause.

In GoodBed's view and experience, people that sleep comfortably on other mattresses will probably be just fine on a memory foam mattress. But those that have had issues with feeling hot in the past might be better suited to a different type of mattress, such as Innerspring or Hybrid Mattresses.

Most companies that make memory foam mattresses have added cooling features incorporated into the memory foam or applied to the top of the mattress.

Why Can a Memory Foam Mattress Feel Hot?

There are two main aspects that could contribute to this; one has to do with the memory foam material itself, while the other has more to do with the bed as a whole and how you interact with it.

1. Memory foam is a dense material

A cubic foot of standard polyurethane foam weighs between 1.8 pounds and 2.2 pounds, where a cubic foot of memory foam weighs twice that or more. That means there's less air (and less movement of air) in a chunk of memory foam compared to regular foam. Given that the memory foam layer of a mattress is usually on or near the top, that can mean heat from your body has no where to dissipate, and can build up in the foam, making you feel warm.

2. Less of your body is exposed to the air

The 'melting into the bed' sensation that's appealing to many people means that your body sinks more into the mattress than with other comfort materials. There's a lot of variance from brand to brand and model to model; with some memory foam beds you sink more deeply, while with others, you float more on top. That can effect how 'hugged' or 'enclosed' you feel by the mattress.

What Makes Memory Foam Feel Cooler?

Gel flecks

Gel is a proven conductor of heat. Manufacturers add flecks of gel to memory foam to help draw heat from the body. Small particles of gel are infused into the memory foam material. The Bear mattress, Layla bed, and Nectar mattress are examples that use gel-infused memory foam.

Solid gel

We sometimes see a layer of solid gel added to the top of a mattress, or more commonly, a pillow. The gel is intended to add a cooling aspect to the surface of the bed or pillow.

Other minerals

Manufacturers will sometimes add minerals like copper, graphite or even diamonds to their memory foam, but it's hard to prove for sure whether these help regulate heat or improve sleeping hot.

Phase-change coatings

Some manufacturers spray a chemical coating on the top of the mattress. In our tests, some of these produced more of a noticeable cooling aspect than others. Some coatings are invisible to the naked eye, while others are thicker and more obvious, like the layer of phase-change material on the GhostBed Luxe mattress.

High-density fibers

Some manufacturers, including Tempur-Pedic, are including high-density fibers in the covers of their memory foam mattresses. Examples include the Tempur-Adapt and Tempur-LuxeAdapt mattresses, which have covers that felt noticeably cool to the touch in our tests.

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