Memory Foam and Heat: Does memory foam really sleep hot?
Though many people experience excellent sleep on memory foam mattresses, you may have heard about issues with memory foam and heat. The idea of a hot bed can seem unappealing, but is the stigma warranted? Understanding the truth about memory foam and heat requires peeling back the covers, looking what memory foam is and how it reacts to warmth.
Thermoneutrality is an issue that greatly affects how well a person sleeps. Temperatures between 60-68 degrees have been shown to produce the best sleep for most people. This is achieved because the body is able to relax and not have to work as hard for auto functions. Most people shiver at temperatures below this, and may perspire when it is warmer. Scientists generally agree that a slightly cool ambient temperature results in better sleep, and for many, the issue of keeping cool is important to their comfort. In this article, we look at the issue of memory foam and heat to see whether there is validity to the claims.
The Stats on Memory Foam and Heat
- About 8% of memory foam mattress owners complain about heat. To put this in perspective, about 4% of innerspring mattress owners complain of heat and about 7% of latex mattress owners complain of heat.
- High-density and closed-cell memory foam is most likely to receive heat complaints.
According to the numbers, memory foam mattress owners overall are somewhat more likely to complain of heat, however the total percentage remains fairly low, with about 1 in 13 people having an issue. So why the big myth about about memory foam and heat? Well, when we are upset or annoyed about something, this tends to come out more in reviews than things that do not bother us or are not noticeable. And, people that have had an unpleasant experience are more likely to leave a review than those who have had an average experience. For a minority of people, heat can be an issue when it comes to mattress comfort but by understanding the different types of memory foam and what to look for, you can avoid the heat issue and keep comfortable.
Memory Foam and Heat by Type
In recent years, manufacturers have been working to combat the idea of memory foam and heat, with some beds succeeding in reducing heat complaints. Memory foam mattresses currently available will usually employ one of three technologies, primarily describing what goes into the material. Traditional memory foam is the original visco-elastic foam, while gel and plant-based alternatives are newer options designed to improve on specific aspects of the product. Keep reading to learn about the differences among types of memory foam and to see how they compare in terms of heat.
Traditional Memory Foam
This is the original product developed by NASA as a cushion using petroleum-based chemicals. It was a huge advance over other poly foams at the time it was created, and still offers several comfort advantages unmatched by other materials like springs.
Typically, this material has a tight, dense cell structure. It is also temperature-reactive, as it softens and contours when exposed to heat. The structure of the foam and contouring properties however can trap heat close to the sleeper’s body and become uncomfortable.
Tempurpedic is perhaps the most common brand of this type. They have made changes to certain aspects of their beds to address heat complaints, by offering two beds with “Breeze material” and a moisture wicking cover. These models appear to have fewer heat complaints than lines like the Grand, Allura and Rhapsody, though there are still some mentions in reviews.
Gel-infused Memory Foam
Gel memory foam was created in an effort to dispel the heat problem of traditional memory foam and is a combination of gel and usually traditional memory foam.Depending on the manufacturer, the gel may be poured in to foam, included in pad layer on top of or below the memory foam, or “infused” in droplets in the memory foam.
Gel-infused memory foam works on the principle of ambient heat. The gel is water-based and supposed to absorb body heat, and then release it into the foam that surrounds it. Initially, the gel material will have the room’s temperature, making it feel cool to the touch. Eventually, it would adjust to match the sleeper’s temperature, and the cooling sensation may be lost.
Serta’s line of iComfort mattresses are one of the most prominent gel brands, employing the gel-infused style in their comfort layers. While Serta claims their beds sleep cooler than the rest, they were asked by the National Advertising Division of the BBB to stop making claims that iComfort slept cooler than Tempurpedic unless conclusive holistic testing proves the claims. When comparing gel mattresses from Serta and other lines, Consumer Reports noted no discernible differences in breathability between gel and non-gel beds.
Plant-based Memory Foam
Arising in response to concerns about chemicals and use of petroleum products in traditional polyurethane products, plant-based memory foam utilizes a percentage of botanically-derived ingredients in its manufacture. This material also may be made with a temperature neutral formulation and larger cell structures than traditional memory foam, depending on the brand.
When it comes to plant based memory foam and heat, results look promising. Cargill conducted a 2-year study which showed that plant-based memory foam slept 25% cooler than gel foam. Plant-based memory foam mattresses from Amerisleep have been shown to increase air flow by eight times and dissipate heat ten times faster than other foams. This is due to a much larger open-cell structure which enables circulation and temperature-neutral properties.
So, to Stay Cool on Memory Foam, Look For:
- Temperature Neutral Foam
- Open Cell Design
- Plant-Based Material
- Medium Density
- Breathable Cover
If your concerns about heat have been dissuading you from memory foam, the truth is that you probably have nothing to worry about. With a only a small portion of owners complaining of sleeping too hot, chances are you won’t have a problem. If you do naturally sleep hot, certain types of memory foam further minimize the heat risk, meaning you don’t have to miss out on the comfort advantages just to stay cool. When it comes to memory foam and heat, knowing the facts and what to look for can make all the difference in selecting a great mattress and getting better sleep.