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Should You Invest in a Climate-Controlled Mattress Pad?

Woman sleeping on a bed with a cooling mattress pad.
Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

When you think of your ideal sleeping conditions, you might think of darkness, quiet, and a comfortable bed. Temperature, however, is one of the most important factors for sleep quality. For some people, the solution to bedroom temperature woes is a climate-controlled mattress topper.

To anyone reasonably frugal, such a device might seem like yet another silly luxury for those with too much disposable income. If temperature is such a big deal for getting good sleep, though, it might be worth the investment.

We’ve weighed the pros and cons so you don’t have to!

The Link Between Temperature and Sleep

Many people associate feeling warm with feeling sleepy, but a cooler temperature is almost always better.

Research supports the negative impact of heat on sleep. For example, one study found that more heat during sleep led to higher cortisol (stress) levels in the morning. Another found that people experienced shorter, more shallow sleep at higher temperatures.

Why does a lower temperature promote better sleep? It has to do with the physical processes that happen in your body during sleep. Most importantly, your core body temperature drops at night to prepare you for sleep. If the room is hot, your body has to fight against the air temperature to make this happen, which will disrupt your rest.

This means the temperature at which you feel comfortable while awake is usually higher than the temperature that’s best for your sleep.

While lowering the temperature of your bedroom for nighttime might be practical for some, a climate-controlled mattress topper might be an easier way to get that perfect temperature.

How to Customize Your Bed’s Temperature

Since research has shown that a lower temperature helps people sleep, and these mattress pads lower the temperature of your bed, the potential benefits are pretty clear. Plus, other studies also support the idea that mattress materials that facilitate lower body temperatures improve sleep quality.

With a high-tech, “smart” mattress toppers, you can set the temperature of your bed with an app or control unit. Some even have settings for each side of the bed, which is ideal for co-sleeping. Most of them are designed for cooling, not warming—since mattresses trap body heat, it’s hard to imagine wanting to make them even hotter.

If you want to get as high-tech as possible, you can spring for a full smart cooling mattress instead of just the topper. However, you can also buy a non-smart mattress topper designed to simply avoid trapping heat.

In addition to cooling, climate-controlled mattress pads also function like the ordinary kind in that they add a layer of softness to your bed. This can make an old or uncomfy mattress more appealing, even before you factor in the temperature change.

Thanks to the fervor of the sleep-tech industry, you can also buy cooling blankets or sheets. These products offer a less-expensive way to try out the concept and see if you like it.

The Verdict

So, is a climate-controlled mattress topper (or mattress, or sheet, or blanket) worth the money? Some do get good reviews, and research suggests they do work. Still, they aren’t necessarily any more helpful than just keeping your room a bit cooler at night.

Before you buy, we suggest you weigh the cost of cooling your room versus cooling down your bed with a fancy mattress topper. If you have to run the air conditioner all night to achieve the right temperature, the mattress pad is probably worth the price.

However, if you can cool off your bedroom just by opening a window or turning down the heat, a climate-controlled mattress pad might be a waste of money.

Then again, if you like the idea and have the funds to spare, there’s no reason not to give it a try. Just consider starting with a less-expensive cooling blanket, or a non-smart cooling mattress topper. If you decide you need even more cooling, you can spring for the pricier, app-controlled version.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »

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