Will a Memory Foam Mattress Make Me Too Hot in Bed?

Posted by Sarah Harris - Head of Design and Development on 21st Nov 2022

Will a Memory Foam Mattress Make Me Too Hot in Bed?

We’ve all heard a fair bit about memory foam mattresses recently. First pioneered by NASA many moons ago(i), clever, comfortable memory foam is now employed in beds and can help to alleviate pressure and cushion your form, for a cosy, supportive night’s sleep with less aches in the morning.

Sounds pretty good eh? We think a memory foam mattress or memory foam mattress topper is a great investment for almost any sleeper. But there is one question we hear time and time again – will a memory foam mattress make me too hot?

It’s a fair query. After all, that smart stuff is activated by your body heat, using it to soften and conform to your body. In some cases this means that, yep, some memory foam can retain heat.

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Why does memory foam get hot?

Close up of a man's hand pressing on a memory foam mattress.

We’re not going to try and convince you otherwise, memory foam can make you hot, especially if it's not a  temperature regulating memory foam mattress. This is especially true of cheaper mattresses and those earlier iterations of memory foam.

This is simply because memory foam requires your body heat to adapt and soften. It’s what gives you the supportive comfort that foam is so well known for. Unfortunately, this can also mean that some memory foam, especially the most basic forms of it, can get hot. As a result, you might become hot at night and feel that your body is sticking to the mattress.

Hot ‘n’ sticky isn’t a nice feeling for anyone but it needn’t put you off memory foam entirely. More on staying cool on foam later…

Memory foam doesn’t have to mean a blistering bedtime though. Whether you’re looking into a new mattress or you’re already struggling with stuffiness, we can help.

Getting too hot in bed? Things to consider before saying no to a memory foam mattress

Are you a hot sleeper? A lot of us struggle with overheating at night. This can result in uncomfortable night sweats, waking throughout the night and having to change sheets more often. It can also disturb your sleeping partner’s rest. Here are some of the most common reasons you might sleep hotter than other people:

1. You run hotter than most

Some of us are simply warmer blooded than others, it’s as simple as that. If you’re the kind of person who breaks a sweat just strolling to the supermarket or who’ll only take out that winter coat when the mercury drops to zero, you may be more liable to overheating at night too.

2. You’re going through menopause

Our hormones can play havoc with our body temperature, causing unpleasant and sometimes unpredictable fluctuations. Well known by most are the night sweats and hot flushes that are symptoms of the menopause. But did you know that hormonal temperature changes can happen at any time of life? Premenstrual syndrome can cause fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels, resulting in similar hot flushes(ii).

Hot spells during the day and overnight can also be caused by pregnancy and hyperthyroidism.

3. Your choice of sheets or sleepwear

How hot you get at night can be affected by how you dress yourself and your bed. Thicker materials usually retain heat, keeping you warmer, which means that those terry sheets may not be best if you’re feeling the burn overnight.

Likewise, there can be a difference between sleeping on natural and manmade materials. Cotton, linen and silk are especially recommended for a cooler night’s sleep.

4. You’re warming yourself up before you sleep

The things you’re doing before climbing into bed may, perhaps unexpectedly, be causing your body temperature to spike. One example of this is drinking caffeine close to bedtime. You already know it could impact your ability to fall asleep, but did you also know that that final cuppa could also be making you too hot to sleep(iii)?

Other pre-sleep activities that could cause your body temp to shoot up include exercising and taking a hot bath or shower. While both might induce sleep, they can also cause a temperature rise, offsetting the benefits.

Stress can cause your temperature to shoot up too, meaning that quick work email check before bed could be to blame for your sleepless night.

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All about memory foam mattresses

Slumberland Airstream Memory 2000 Mattress

Slumberland Airstream Memory 2000 Mattress

However you sleep – hot, cold or anything in between, memory foam could make your nights that bit more comfortable. After all, if it’s good enough for scientists and space travellers, it’s good enough for you, right? So what is it that makes memory foam such a popular invention and what’s the best way to introduce it into your bedroom?

What is memory foam?

Developed back in 1966, memory foam, as we already know, was invented by scientists working in conjunction with NASA.

Made chiefly of polyurethane, memory foam contains a blend of chemicals chosen to adapt its density and viscosity. The result? What’s known as viscoelastic polyurethane or low resilience polyurethane foam (LRPu).

This specially blended foam gets softer in reaction to the heat produced by our bodies, making it able to cleverly mould to your form. It’s this adaptability that makes memory foam so good at cradling and supporting us for better night time comfort. Recovering quickly, memory foam will also return to its original shape fast.

Different memory foam products

Memory foam has been used in all sorts of products over the years. From American football helmets to babies’ prams and our sofas at home, it’s pretty popular stuff. But it’s in the bedroom that memory foam has really taken off:

  • Memory foam mattresses: arguably the most popular use for LRPu, memory foam mattresses have become one of the most talked about products in bed design in recent years
  • Hybrid mattresses: combining classic springs with memory foam, hybrid mattresses like the Slumberland Airstream Memory mattress offer the best of both worlds. They combine the support of a sprung mattress with the pressure relief of foam
  • Memory foam mattress toppers: an affordable alternative to a whole new mattress, a memory foam mattress topper allows bed buyers to experience the benefits of foam without a big investment. A mattress topper is a smart way to help get a few more years out of an existing mattress

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The benefits of memory foam mattresses

Woman with her eyes closed lying on her front on a bed.

Hot or not, memory foam mattresses offer plentiful benefits for sleepers of all kinds. Whether you slumber unmoving like a rock or toss and turn all night. Whether you sleep on your side or your back. Whether you’re battling back pain or your hips are giving you gip. A memory foam mattress can be a winner for just about anybody.

Memory foam for pressure relief

Soft yet sturdy, foam is celebrated for its pressure-relieving qualities. Contouring to the body, a memory foam mattress could be a real sleep saver for those who find firmer mattresses cause shoulder, hip or knee pain.

Memory foam for spinal alignment

Spinal alignment is important for everyone as they sleep. And keeping that spine straight and supported overnight is a must for a reduced risk of pain and even better overall posture. Ensuring lumbar support, contouring memory foam can promote good spinal alignment. This means less daytime discomfort. You might find a comfortable sleeping position more easily too, resulting in a faster drop off.

Memory foam for less motion transfer

Sleeping with a partner keeping you up at night? A double memory foam mattress could help. Limiting the motion transfer (that annoying feeling of being bumped around every time your other half turns over) that can be common in some sprung mattresses, memory foam should absorb the movement caused when you roll over or sit up. Which means less disturbance for both of you. Got space to spare? Upgrade to a king size memory foam mattress for maximum co-sleeping benefits.

Fewer allergy issues

With a denser structure than other mattresses which often contain large cavities, memory foam tends to attract and retain less dust. It’s also less likely to form mould. This can be especially good news if you’re asthmatic or suffer from allergies. It should, however, be mentioned that some people have reported allergic reactions to the foam itself(iv).

The best memory foam mattress for a cooler night’s sleep

Memory foam technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, which means a better night’s sleep for you, even if you tend to get a tad toasty while you sleep.

How to stay cool on memory foam

iGel Advance 1600i Divan bed Set

iGel Advance 1600i Divan bed Set

Investing in a good mattress protector can help keep you feeling fresh throughout the night. Not only will this provide a more comfortable sleeping surface it can also be whipped off and washed at any time, helping your mattress to stay clean for longer. Opt for a natural fibre like wool for the best possible temperature regulation and better moisture absorption.

If you’ve been thinking of upgrading your bed frame, now is a good time to say au revoir to that old divan. Creating air space around your bed with an open slatted frame can help to make sure that hot air has a clear exit.

Cooling pads are another smart solution for overheated sleepers. While some are made of simple, cool fabrics, like bamboo, others incorporate cool gel which will really ease the swelter of a hot summer’s night. In addition, moisture wicking pyjamas can help to make night sweats easier to deal with.

Gel infused memory foam mattresses

Not all memory foam is hot and new technologies have helped to make sweaty foam a thing of the past.

One of our favourite next gen mattress solutions is the gel foam mattress. Combining all the benefits of memory foam with a clever cooling gel formulation, mattresses like the iGel Advance 3000 Plush Top incorporate cooling technology for an infinitely more comfortable bed in any weather. iGel’s graphene technology supplies 7x better heat transfer meaning it absorbs excess heat as well as releasing stored heat if you start to get cold too.

Other smart memory foam solutions

Most mattress manufacturers have recognised the torrid trouble that mattress foam can cause hot sleepers. Which is why it’s very rare now to find a memory foam mattress that doesn’t include some kind of cooling solution, from secret foam recipes to simple air holes and inbuilt toppers.

With temperature regulating and moisture controlling Temperature+ technology applied to the top ‘sleeping surface’ of the mattress, the Slumberland Clima Airstream Memory 6000 makes sleeping a cooler prospect. Meanwhile the Staples & Co Sleep Science Solaris mattress uses a thickKontur™ layer for all the benefits of memory foam with superior air permeability to actively cool.

Memory Foam at Bensons for Beds

Feeling a little cooler about memory foam now? Let’s shop! Whatever your aching body desires, be it reliably soothing pillows, memory foam or otherwise or a king, double or single memory foam mattress,we havethe bed and bedding for you. Just pop along to your nearest Bensons for Beds store and take advantage of our team’s in-depth knowledge. Because whether it’s duvets and pillows, wardrobes and bedside tables ormattresses and frames, we really know our stuff (and their mattress stuffing).

All of us are dedicated to helping you achieve the very best night’s sleep you can, every night. Which is why we’vedeveloped our smart sleeppro® technology. This clever tool will help us to advise you on the best mattress comfort for your needs, giving you all the data you need to build your bed, your way®. This means that, from a brand new adjustable bed to help you deal with mobility or pain issues, toa memory foam mattress to top off your existing bed, you’re walking away with the solution that really will suit you.

Still have questions? Can’t get into town but prefer to place your order over the phone with a real human being? Give us a ring on 0808 144 6160. We’re here to help.


(i)NASA - Memory Foam

(ii)Premenstrual syndrome | Health Information | Bupa UK

(iii)Effects of Caffeine on Skin and Core Temperatures, Alertness, and Recovery Sleep During Circadian Misalignment - Andrew W. McHill, Benjamin J. Smith, Kenneth P. Wright, 2014 (sagepub.com)

(iv)Memory Foam Allergy Symptoms - What May Trigger the Reaction? (sleepadvisor.org)

authors profile
Sarah Harris
Head of Design and Development
Sarah has worked at Bensons for Beds for 16 years. As Head of Design & Development, Sarah uses her wealth of experience in design to ensure that Bensons for Beds' products use the latest innovation in technologies to deliver maximum quality products that really help customers' everyday sleep issues.
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