Some people have specific sleep temperature needs. Where one person may prefer nestling under piles of blankets, another may run a fan all night to keep cool. Climate can also be a factor in places with very hot or cold temperatures, which can also affect how you sleep.
Whether you’re looking for a warming or cooling mattress topper, learn why some toppers hold in heat while others give a cooling feeling. Knowing the differences can help you decide which type of topper is best for your needs.
Types of Mattress Toppers
A mattress topper is a padded layer that rests on top of a mattress with the goal to add additional comfort to a bed. Toppers are available in various sizes and levels of thickness and firmness.
Mattress toppers are made from various materials, including:
- Memory foam
- Gel foam
- Feather down
Toppers can also be made from a combination of these materials. Checking packaging and labels can help you determine the materials used to make a topper, though it’s not always clear. It’s a bit easier if you’re looking for a 100% natural or certified organic mattress topper, because you can look for certifications that ensure a topper is made from all natural or organic materials.
Heat-Retaining Mattress Toppers
There are some materials that create a warming effect in a mattress topper. Here are two of the most common types:
Memory Foam Toppers
The number one mattress topper material known for heat retention is memory foam. Memory foam uses body heat to mold to your body while you sleep. This extra warmth is cozy for people who feel cold while sleeping but it creates a too-warm feeling for people who prefer to sleep cooler. Additionally, memory foam is made from polyurethane, a petrochemical compound that is not biodegradable. If you’re an eco-friendly consumer looking for a cooling mattress topper, avoid toppers made from memory foam.
Feather Down Toppers
If you’ve ever owned a down jacket, comforter, or sleeping bag, you know the cozy warmth of feather down. Feather mattress toppers can add a soft and warm layer to a bed. While they can be sustainably produced, down toppers don’t offer much support and tend to compress over time.
Cooling Mattress Toppers
There are some materials that create a cooling effect in a mattress topper. Here are some of the most common types:
Gel Memory Foam Mattress Toppers
Because of the tendency to hold in body heat, manufacturers started adding cooling gel to memory foam to create a cooling effect. However, not all gel/foam combos are the same, so results and quality can vary widely. Gel foam toppers are also not biodegradable. When shopping for a gel foam topper, carefully read the labeling and reviews to gauge whether a product will meet your needs.
Wool Mattress Toppers
Ask any old school backpacker and they’ll tell you about the moisture-wicking properties of wool, which is also valued for its warmth. As a mattress topper component, wool can be sustainably and humanely harvested and certified organic. Many people find wool toppers cozy to sleep on. Wool mattress toppers are a good solution if you’re a sweaty sleeper, but they can still add additional warmth as well.
Latex Mattress Toppers
As with memory foam mattress toppers, not all latex toppers are made from the same components. First, there’s synthetic latex, which isn’t actually latex at all. Synthetic latex is made from petrochemicals and fillers designed to mimic natural latex. Second, there’s natural latex, which can either contain filler materials (sometimes known as blended latex) or 100% natural latex, which contains no fillers. Finally, there’s 100% certified organic latex, which is harvested according to specific sustainable practices.
Natural and organic latex are made from the sap of rubber trees, creating a mattress topper that is both elastic and cushioning. Latex doesn’t rely on body heat in order to mold to the body’s contours. Therefore, quality latex that isn’t blended or synthetic makes a naturally cooling mattress topper and a sustainable, longer-lasting option for people who like to sleep cooler.