It’s not easy to sleep when you can feel your sweat tickling your skin as it rolls off you in the fabric sauna your bedroom has morphed into.
It’s often overlooked, but keeping your bedroom at a cooler temperature is a key ingredient for good sleep.
The good news is that whether you’re kept awake by hot flashes, warm weather, or just sleep hot, there are effective ways to lower your temperature in bed.
In this review, I’ll be looking at the two main approaches: cooling mattress pads and bed fans. Depending on your budget and the level of cooling you require, they range from specialty mattress pads to complex bed cooling systems.
Hopefully, you’ll find something here which helps make your bedroom the cool sanctuary of rest it should be.
1. Ooler Sleep System
The best water-based cooling mattress pad
The Ooler is the latest cooling system from the company Chilisleep. It has a few upgrades to the original ChiliPAD, such as a wider temperature range and more programmable settings.
As with the BedJet 3 (see below), the Ooler is an active cooling system. That’s what separates it from bedding that’s simply cooler or more breathable: you plug it in and it provides real cooling.
The Ooler consists of two main parts: the base unit and the mattress pad. The base unit sits under or next to your bed, and contains semiconductor technology that adjusts the temperature of the water as it flows through the mattress pad.
You place the mattress pad part on top of your existing mattress, set the temperature you want, and cool water will flow through the tubes inside the pad. The pad and tubes are well designed so that you don’t feel them underneath you, and are very durable to prevent leaks.
The most important point is that it can keep you cool all night long. And that’s an advantage compared to most gel pads and fabric toppers, which tend to work for a couple of hours before your body heat overwhelms them. And the cooling will be evenly spread across your entire bed and body, which feels great in warm weather.
The temperature range means you can use it for cooling or heating, with a range of 55° – 115° Fahrenheit (12.8 – 46.1 Celsius). And with the option of dual zones with separate controls for larger bed sizes, you and a partner can have the exact temperature you need on your side of the bed.
You can control it manually or with the Chili app, and you can program it to change temperature at different points in the night. This is one of the key additional features that the Ooler has that the original ChiliPAD doesn’t.
The main downside is that it’s quite expensive, so not everyone will be able to afford it. And if you get two units, it’s even more expensive. So if only one person needs cooling, you can save money by just using a single Ooler unit for their side of the bed.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that some maintenance is required once per month, but it’s very easy and quick to do.
Overall, the Ooler is an effective cooling system for your bed, and one to consider if you need a way to keep the rising heat at bay throughout the whole night.
If you like the idea of the Ooler, and would rather save a bit of money than have the latest features, I also recommend taking a look at the original Chilipad, which is $200 less for the dual zones version.
2. BedJet 3 Climate Comfort System
The best fan-based bed cooling system
The Bedjet 3 has a sleek design and user-friendly controls, with effective, fast and targeted cooling for as long as you need it.
Made so that it can be fitted to any size bed and mattress, you can choose to have cool air blowing gently over your body, or inside a boxed top sheet. So it will cool both you and your bedding, helping wick away the heat which gets trapped under your covers.
If you sleep with a partner, you can either share the cool air or keep it to just one side. There’s also the option of a dual-zone version for independent temperature control. With the double setup, you’ll get two remote controls (or two smartphone apps if you like) so you and your partner can control the temperature on your side.
It comes with a color screen remote control which you can use to change all the settings, such as the temperature, fan speed, and auto-off timers. This upgraded remote is one of the key improvements from the BedJet version 2.
Another new feature is that you can now program it to change temperatures automatically in the night. So you could have cooling when you go to bed, several hours with reduced or no airflow at all, and then some gentle warming to wake you up. It’s a useful option if you don’t need the same level of cooling for eight hours straight.
The BedJet also functions as a heating system in colder weather and I’ve found it to be more effective and energy efficient than heated bedding. It also means you can have cooling on one side and heating on the other if you and your partner have very different temperature preferences.
The main downside is that it’s relatively expensive, especially the version with dual zones, though it is less expensive than the Ooler. So if you just need a little extra cooling at night, cooler bedding might do the trick.
Another criticism is that it does make a fan sound, even though it’s not as loud as a large standard fan. If you like white noise and fan sounds, you’ll love it. But if you need total silence to sleep, it might not be right for you.
On balance, if you need something that will reliably keep you cool and comfortable at night, the BedJet 3 is a good option.
3. SlumberCloud Nacreous Cooling Mattress Pad
The best fabric only cooling mattress pad
The nacreous cooling mattress pad by Slumber Cloud attempts to keep you comfortable during the night by absorbing the body heat that builds up between you and the bed.
It works thanks to some clever technology that was originally designed for NASA. It contains a special fabric called Outlast, which is made from thousands of tiny beads called ‘Thermocules’. The beads absorb your body heat, changing from a solid to gel as they do.
Outlast, the company that creates the cooling material, describes the effect like an ice cube in a drink. The ice melts as it absorbs the heat of the drink, keeping it cool for longer. Similarly, the thermocules turn to gel as they take in your heat, helping you stay cool for longer.
I found it works really well compared to most other cooling pads I’ve tried. And it’s significantly better than a normal mattress, topper or pad. It helped me feel more comfortable during some unbearably warm summer nights.
That said, it’s important to remember that it can’t change the actual room temperature. What it will do, however, is stop you feeling like you’re lying on top of a radiator.
For me, it’s the best cooling solution in the form of bedding that you don’t need to plug in. The Ooler and BedJet 3 will do a better job because they have active cooling. But the Slumber Cloud mattress pad is a good option if you want to reduce the unpleasant hot feeling that can build up underneath you during the night without spending too much money on relatively expensive tech.
Note that SlumberCloud’s new website design is meant to walk you through the process of choosing different cooling bedding, and adding extras if you want to. I think their new system is a bit difficult to navigate, so be prepared for that if you visit.
4. Molecule AirTEC Mattress Topper
A comfortable and breathable mattress topper
Mattress toppers that supposedly provide extra cooling don’t always hold up to closer scrutiny. I sometimes wonder if using the word cooling is more of a marketing ploy than a factual description.
So when a mattress topper comes along that’s thick enough to be comfortable and supportive, yet doesn’t result in the kind of overheating that memory foam is notorious for, it catches my attention.
Admittedly, Molecule also use impressive descriptions that are kind of hard to visualize, such as ‘unique AIRTEC core material for unsurpassed airflow’. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent mattress topper that manages to keep you cooler than most mattresses and mattress toppers I’ve tried.
What I like about this one is that it actually feels like a plush, comfortable and supportive mattress topper when you lie on it. It’s the kind of topper I’d be happy to have just for the level of comfort it provides and the relief from pressure points across the whole body.
The fact that they’ve done some clever engineering to make it sleep cooler is almost a bonus rather than the only reason to use it.
Consisting of several distinct layers that combine to provide support and breathability, the main benefit comes from the extra airflow they use in the construction of the main layer.
They say it has five times more airflow than standard memory foam, but with the buoyancy of latex. And when you take a closer look at the inner material, I found it does appear to have considerably more space for airflow, yet it remains strong enough to hold even my relatively heavy body.
The main downside is that no matter how diligently the material is engineered, it won’t cool you as effectively as an active bed cooling approach like the BedJet 3 or Ooler. But when it comes to providing an even balance of breathability and supportive comfort, I think Molecule have done a good job.
5. Leisure Town Cooling Mattress Pad
A low-cost, breathable mattress pad
The Leisure Town cooling mattress pad tackles the issue of overheating in bed from two angles, and it does a reasonable job on the whole.
Firstly, the manufacturer claims it uses ‘new HNN cooling technology’. What that actually means is a bit of a mystery though, and I still haven’t found a formal definition that isn’t simply repeating the product description.
They say the HNN technology increases airflow in the mattress pad, which makes it more breathable and reduces heat build-up. And in my experience, the pad does sleep less hot than many others – especially dense memory foam, for example.
Perhaps it’s helped by the fact that the cover is a 300 thread count cotton, which is also a good fabric choice to place under you in warmer weather. The fill itself is described as ‘state of the art snow down alternative’. It’s basically fiber-fill, but still breathable while being comfortable to sleep on.
It’s worth bearing in mind that although it does have some fill to add comfortable padding, it’s more of a pad than a topper; the thickness just isn’t as substantial as more heavyweight toppers. But that lack of extra padding does contribute to it being conveniently machine washable.
Overall, this is a reasonable option for warmer summer nights that aren’t too hot. Compared to the high price of specialist bed cooling products, it might suit you if your budget is on the tight side. Just be aware that it has limitations; it might add some extra breathability and comfort to your bed, but it won’t provide active cooling.
I’ve left this section to the end rather than discussing specific prices within each section because some companies change their prices frequently. I didn’t want to give false promises of prices you can afford that may have changed by the time you visit a website to potentially buy one.
Having said that, I think it’s interesting to compare the prices so you can see the range for this particular type of product. So the prices in the table below are accurate at the time of writing this latest update on July 6th 2021.
As you can see, the two with active cooling – the BedJet 3 and the Ooler – are more expensive than those that don’t run on electricity and are just mattress toppers or pads that are intended to sleep a little cooler.
Having said that, a single BedJet unit is similar in price to the Molecule mattress topper, and many other mattress toppers that claim to be cooling.
I’ve tried a wide range of toppers over the years, and in my experience none of them cool you better than a fan blowing air directly at you. Yes, they can be cooler than dense memory foam or thick layers of cheap polyester. But they are still great big pieces of material that you lie on top of at the end of the day, so there’s a limit to how much real cooling they can provide.
So I think the question to ask yourself is just how bad is your need for cooling? If it’s the case that your current mattress or mattress topper is a little bit too warm, then perhaps all you really need is a decent, breathable topper or pad, and you can save some money.
But if you think you need more help than a slightly more breathable surface can provide, then it might be worth investing in one of the active cooling systems.