Best cooling mattress pads and toppers – a must to help you keep your cool as you sleep

Our pick of the best cooling mattress pads, toppers and protectors to keep your mattress dreamily cool this summer
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  • If you’re fundamentally happy with your existing mattress in winter but find things get a little too hot and sticky in the summer months, a cooling mattress pad could prove the perfect tweakment. Regardless of how short-lived the British summertime, if you occasionally, or frequently, find yourself waking up in a hot sweat, shopping from our shortlist could significantly improve the quality of your sleep.

    But first, what is a cooling mattress pad? Essentially the term covers any topper, pad or protector, designed to go over a regular mattress, that offers an additional level of cooling relief. This could involve additives like gel-infused foam and other heat-reactive ingredients, as well as construction techniques designed to aid airflow and temperature regulation. Some also boast significant support, while others are just a helpful extra ingredient in your summer bedding menu. If you have the best mattress, but need some help keeping cool, they will do that in the main or could be used to upgrade a mattress that has seen better days, too.

    Read on for our top picks, which have been carefully selected based on overall quality, value and additional benefits such as easy-care and allergy-relief, as well as their all-important cooling prowess. Choose your perfect cooling pad and look forward to undisturbed sleep, whatever the weather.

    Best cooling mattress pads and toppers 2021

    1. Panda The Topper

    Best mattress pad for sweat-free support

    Panda cooling mattress topper

    Sizes: Single, small double, UK double, king, super king, EU single, EU double, EU king, EU emperor
    Material: Gel memory foam
    Depth: 5cm

    Reasons to buy:

    • New generation foam
    • Great temperature regulation
    • 30-night trial

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Straps prone to ping off

    Consisting of three layers of third generation foam covered in eco-friendly bamboo, this chunky number is one of the most high-tech toppers on the market – so good it is on our list of the best mattress toppers, too. It’s also exceptionally good on the temperature regulating front, which is down to Panda’s trademarked Hydro foam. This soggy-sounding layer is anything but and actually involves ‘open cell’ technology featuring tiny gel capsules that release your body-heat, keeping you cool and sweat-free as you sleep.

    We tried this topper in late June and can confirm Panda’s cool claims are sound. It wasn’t like sleeping in a fridge, but nor did we wake up due to overheating or feel uncomfortably sweaty in the mornings. Not once. A rare feat on any night of the year but especially impressive in summer.

    With a density of 5lb/sqm, Panda’s topper is at the denser end of the memory foam world, making it extra supportive and long-lasting. While we can’t prove the latter from one week of testing, the former is exceptional. We felt incredibly well supported and comfortable. Not too squishy but not too firm – a true Goldilocks of the topper world.

    The foam layers are certified by Oeko-Tex, which means it’s free from harmful chemicals and even safe for babies. This also has olfactory benefits – there was no noxious off-gassing odour when we opened the vacuum-packed bag. The cover contains sustainable bamboo fibres, and is hypoallergenic and antibacterial, which means it will stay fresher and cleaner for longer. Pop it in the washing machine at 30 degrees for an instant refresh.

    This is the only topper we tested that comes with a sleep trial. You have 30 nights to find out just how cool you think Panda’s topper is, and if you’re not happy you can return it free of charge (if bought direct from Panda) and receive a full refund.

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    2. The White Company Temperature Balance Quilted Mattress Protector

    Best mattress pad for space-age tech

    The White Company temperature balance mattress protector

    Sizes:  Single, double, king, super-king, Emperor
    Materials: Cotton with Outlast coating
    Depth: 1cm

    Reasons to buy:

    • If it’s good enough for NASA…
    • Temperature regulating
    • High quality

    Reasons to avoid:

    • None

    This mattress protector incorporates technology developed for NASA, no less, and, says The White Company, is particularly helpful for those who get too hot when they sleep. Bingo. But how does it work? Stand by for the science bit: Outlast technology uses phase-change materials to continually regulate your skin’s microclimate. As your skin gets hot, the heat is absorbed into specially developed Thermocules imbedded within the mattress protector, and as it cools, that heat is released. While wicking technology manages moisture by reacting to sweat and pulling it away from the skin, Outlast technology is more proactive and helps prevent sweating from occurring in the first place. Not only do you sleep more soundly, but there’s less laundry to do when you wake up.

    As you might expect from The White Company, which takes its luxury goods reputation very seriously, this impressive technology is no gimmick. When you take the mattress protector out of the bag, you can physically feel the cooling properties at play. Place a hot cheek against the surface and the relief is palpable. And, in even better news, the heat-relieving powers are not diminished once covered with a bedsheet. FYI, there is no official guidance on this, but we used a 100% cotton fitted sheet as the mattress protector is also mainly cotton besides Outlast Thermocules.

    Full disclosure, the instant cooling relief you get from this protector is only noticeable when you first get into bed, and if you roll onto a fresh area during the night. After a few minutes, the bedding beneath you no longer feels properly cold but, crucially, nor does it feel hot. Instead, we slept very comfortably indeed, without even registering body temperatures, which is surely the best result anyone can hope for?

    In other news, this mattress pad is machine washable at 40 degrees – using a ‘delicates’ wash cycle – and can be dry cleaned. Unusually, it is secured to the mattress using an elasticated fitted skirt (like a fitted sheet) rather than corner straps. The double we tested looked rather voluminous on first fit, which is a deliberate move to compensate for the natural shrinkage of cotton. Sure enough, after washing it fit like a glove.

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    3. Silentnight Airmax Mattress Topper

    Best mattress pad for aeration

    Silentnight Airmax cooling mattress topper

    Sizes:  Single, double, king, super-king
    Materials: Hollowfibre
    Depth: 6cm

    Reasons to buy:

    • Best airflow on a topper
    • Really decent depth
    • Two-year warranty

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Won’t save a failing mattress

    Although easily as thick as a good quality foam topper, Silentnight’s Airmax 600 is aimed squarely at air-flow control, not support. Comfort, yes (in spades), but not the spinal or pressure point relief provided by foam. However, many fans of the Airmax 600 topper have found it the perfect companion to their memory foam mattresses, adding much-needed heat-relief to counteract the solidity of foam.

    The main USP of this topper is its mesh walls (sides), which promise unparalleled breathability and air circulation. With holes big enough to believe air flow is enhanced, how does it work in practice? We tried this topper for several (warm) nights in June and found it both cosy and cool, which sounds like an oxymoron but is the best way we can describe it. The former is down to the squidgy plumpness that stays ‘inflated’ thanks to dual layered hollowfibre and, of course, the aforementioned mesh walls. Naturally, the air flow goes both ways, and this topper allows body heat to escape from beneath you while you sleep. Thus, sweat levels were significantly reduced and sleep came more easily.

    The coolness of the Airmax 600, and indeed any aerating mattress pad, is supported by a cool bedroom – we sleep with all the upstairs windows open in summer, so the bedrooms are well aired, no doubt helped by the fact our house is on top of a hill! If your bedroom is stuffily hot, then you may not enjoy quite the same cooling levels that we did.

    From a housekeeping point, this topper is machine washable at 40 degrees, and stays in position well on your mattress. It is also hypoallergenic so ideal for anyone with allergies or asthma. If your existing mattress exceeds 30cm deep, you might consider an extra deep bed sheet (ideally the Airmax sheet set with mesh inserts) as the airflow will be compromised if the sides are squashed flat by a fitted sheet. As well as sheets and pillowcases, the Airmax family also includes a pillow and duvet with the same aerating mesh panelled sides as the topper, all reasonably priced. Go for the full house for maximum aerated coolness.

    Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    4. Adeptna Magic Multifunctional Self Cooling Gel Pad Mattress Topper

    Best mattress pad for hot flushes

    Adeptna cooling mattress pad and pillow pad

     

    Sizes: one size (90cm x 60cm)
    Materials: Reactive cooling gel
    Depth: 1-2cm

    Reasons to buy:

    • Provides genuine fridge-grade coolness
    • No electricity or batteries required
    • Comes with pillow-size pad

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Cooling wears off after an hour or so.
    • Heavy

    Though not actually ‘magic’, this Magic Self Cooling Pad is pretty ingenious. The gel inside, which feels a bit like the stuff you find in stress relief balls, reacts to the heat in your body to produce significant coolness. The temperature feels similar to a bottle of water taken straight from the fridge and is one of the few pads we’ve found that is physically cold to the touch, rather than just removing/regulating body heat.

    There is no information on what the inside gel is made from – either on the packaging or online – so perhaps it really is magic?! Regardless, the claim that it automatically reacts to body heat and cools you down is 100% true. What the packaging doesn’t tell you, but the product’s many Amazon reviews do, is that the cooling effect doesn’t last all night. We found that it was really (seriously) cold for about an hour but then gradually warmed up the longer you lay on it. Putting it in the fridge or freezer during the day does make the cold hit last longer, but you’ll need a generous-size appliance to host it, and most non-insomniacs fall asleep within the hour anyway so we didn’t find it necessary.

    It’s also worth noting that if you flip the pad over, the cooling reaction starts all over again. Ditto if you roll off the pad for a while and return to it later. To enjoy bouts of coolness throughout the night, the best solution we found was to lay it next to you in bed and just roll onto it, or sling a couple of limbs over, each time you need cooling down. Obviously, this method relies on a spacious mattress and patient bed partner (if applicable). Some reviewers mention keeping it on the floor beside the bed and dragging it in when the heat gets too much. This may all sound tedious, but if you are tired of being woken by hot flushes that could melt the polar ice caps, the instant relief of hugging this cooling pad is extremely welcome.

    It can also be used in dog beds (not puppies or known chewers) and to provide relief for muscle strain-type injuries. The pillow pad size included is brilliant for keeping laptops cool.

    The thick polyester cover is dirt-repellent and wipeable but rather rigid, presumably to reduce the risk of gloopy gel exploding in your bed! The edges are a touch sharp, but not to the point where they would hurt – and the situation is easily solved by popping the pad under your sheet.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    5. Dunelm Cooler than Memory Foam topper

    Best mattress pad for breathable nights

    Dunelm cooler than memory foam topper

    Sizes: single, double, kingsize, superking
    Materials: Polyester
    Depth: 4.5cm

    Reasons to buy:

    • Excellent value
    • Pressure relief
    • Keeps you cool all night

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Can’t return once used

    Offering really decent comfort and performance for the money, this is our best value mattress topper that will help you stay cool while you sleep like a (well behaved) baby! It features Airstream technology, which is essentially all about breathable fibres that let air pass through. Compared to the heat-retaining solidity that gives pure memory foam a bad name amongst hot sleepers, this 100% polyester topper is a breath of fresh air. Even on a hot summer’s night, we slept soundly and felt noticeable support on pressure points, waking feeling well rested and ache-free.

    As well as reducing heat build-up, this topper feels springy, which means you are free to move around during the night. No sinking feeling here. This is important as free movement helps your body to stay cool, without waking you up because you feel sticky and stuck in one position.

    Secured by tightly elasticated corner straps, this topper stays firmly in place. It’s interesting to note that the majority of the (few) customer complaints in Dunelm’s online reviews were about the topper being too small for their mattresses, whereas we found it slightly oversized for the double we tested. Of those (many more) reviewers who were delighted with their purchase, most were enthusiastic about how it has transformed the comfort levels of their existing mattress, saving the expense of full replacement.

    Unlike some chunky toppers, there was no odour upon opening, and it didn’t require time to aerate to full depth. We also appreciate that the zip-removeable cover can be machine washed at 40 degrees.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    6. Subrtex 5cm Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper

    Best mattress pad for hot sleepers with back pain

    Wayfair Subrtex Gel Memory Foam mattress topper

    Sizes: single, double, kingsize, superking
    Materials: Gel-infused memory foam
    Depth: 5cm

    Reasons to buy:

    • Cocooning yet cooling
    • Adjustable straps
    • 10-year warranty

    Reasons to avoid:

    • On the softer side of medium

    This is a gel-infused memory foam mattress with the added bonus of ventilation (i.e. it has holes in!). The result is a winning combo that’s cooling, breathable and supportive. As well as helping to maintain neutral body temperatures, it really excels on the pressure relief front, making it hugely popular with those suffering from back and hip pain.

    Made from 3.5 pound density memory foam, which is generally considered soft-medium, this topper has a comforting level of squish before resistance sets in. We found it comfiest in a side-sleeping position, but it was also easy to fall asleep laying on our backs and stomach so a good all-rounder.

    Similar to most mattress-in-a-box products, this topper arrives vacuum packed. Supplied with a handy cutting blade that prevents damage to the fabric, it takes seconds to unleash and inflate to full thickness. You can sleep on the topper within a couple of hours, and the slight ‘new foam’ odour upon opening dissipates within 24 hours.

    The single we tested was surprisingly heavy (6.4kg) and a tad unwieldy to get onto the mattress. However, once in place this weight helps the topper stay firmly in position, no doubt assisted by the brilliant adjustable straps and anti-slip mesh backing. We recommend tightening the straps more at the head end, to prevent the topper sliding down during the night. This topper stayed in place better than any others we tested.

    Overall, we loved how it cushions and supports without overheating, thanks to those air holes and the cooling properties of gel. It comes with a 10-year warranty and the moisture-wicking cover is machine washable. At 5cm-thick, it feels like a luxurious investment and can turn a substandard mattress into something really very special.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    7. Dusk Cooling Mattress Protector

    Best mattress pad for cooling without depth

    Dusk cooling mattress protector

    Sizes: single, double, king and super-king
    Materials: Polyester microfibre
    Depth: 1cm

    Reasons to buy:

    • Fully washable
    • Great fit
    • Anti-allergy

    Reasons to avoid:

    • If you need more support

    Definitely more protector than topper, this cooling pad will help extend the life of your mattress and make it easier to keep it clean and fresh. Don’t expect miracles on the cooling front, but it does add a layer of aeration to your bedding with noticeable improvements on sleeping comfort. We tested a super-king, which fitted perfectly with a generous amount of overlap, and held firmly in place with elasticated straps. It didn’t slide down the bed during the night, dragging fitted sheets off in the process, which is a familiar and annoying bugbear with some ill-fitting protectors.

    Air flow is supported via a tactile honeycomb cover made from a mix of polyester, polyethylene and nylon, while inside is 100% polyester microfibre that retains its height and a subtle layer of bounce. There’s no need to fluff up this mattress protector to revive flattened contents as you do feather-filled products, and this means the air flow is consistent throughout use. Manmade materials are also allergy resistant.

    While we wouldn’t recommend this protector as a solution to aches and pains, it will make your existing mattress feel a little more luxurious and allow you to sleep a little cooler than without. The entire product can be washed in a large capacity machine at 40 degrees, so there’s no fiddly covers and zips to wrestle with. Line dry and iron on a cool temperature if preferred but it’s not at all necessary.

    Ideal Home rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    How to choose a cooling mattress pad or topper

    Silentnight Airmax mattress topper

    To find the right bedding for cooling, it helps to know what the main options are. Some of our picks are designed to cool the body and others are designed with breathability in mind to prevent you getting hot in the first place. The key product types are:

    1. Cooling mattress pads: these are added above or below sheets and tend to have a gel filling that feels cool to the touch. They are purely for cooling, so while you will want to use them on the hottest nights, they might not be as comfortable for prolonged use. They generally won’t be breathable and are designed to actively cool a hot body rather than having temperature regulating properties. This means that unlike the toppers and protectors in our list, you can’t use them in colder months.
    2. Cooling topper: these are a better long term option. They work by offering a breathable top layer that helps wick away moisture and prevent you from getting hot in the first place. Some of the top pick on our list are great all round toppers too, bringing an added layer of comfort to a worn mattress, so if you need comfort and cool this is the way to go. The drawbacks are that they will add depth to your bed so you will need to accommodate this and of course if like the feel of your mattress, it will be changed with the addition of a topper so make sure you got for the right firmness.
    3. Cooling mattress protector: this is the most slimline type of cooling bedding. As well as adding a thin breathable layer, they often have some kind of cooling tech incorporated, such as Outlast phase-change materials NASA use to help regulate temperature on astronauts clothing and seating. They are easy to wash and store, so are a versatile choice that won’t change the feel of your existing mattress too dramatically. However, if you are after some added support, a mattress protector will not be for you.

    What filling is best for cooling?

    Gel, memory foam, down or hollowfibre? The answer of which is best will depend on how often you intend to use it and whether you need support or just cooling. If it is cooling then gel is a great choice for instant relief. As Linda states above, the gel cooling pad she used was always cool to the touch, though you sometimes have to roll off and on again to feel the benefit. For this reason we think it is best for decreasing body temperature on the hottest nights, but other types of cooling bedding will be better for use throughout summer.

    Memory foam or a foam hybrid is top choice if you need support to achey joints as well as a cooling sleep experience. Foams will relieve pressure points such as the hips, shoulders and knees meaning that you are not just cool, but won’t be awoken by aches and pains either.

    Hollowfibre will add a lovey plump top to your mattress. This is comfy but won’t support joints in the way a foam topper will. Hollowfibre is often hypoallergenic though and many cooling mattress toppers made from this give the added benefit of being a protective layer for allergy sufferers.

    Down can also be used for temperature regulation. However those who suffer from allergies, or don’t want to use animal products, will prefer hollowfibre fillings.

    Can I wash a cooling mattress pad?

    Though designed to keep you cool, it is inevitable that your cooling mattress pad will come into contact with the odd sweaty sleeper on the hottest nights. Therefore they need to be kept clean to prevent bacteria growth.

    The gel mattress pad on our list can not be machine washed, but its durable polyester cover is designed to be dirt repellant and can be wiped clean. The more rigid foam toppers may not be machine washable or could be hard to wash, but many have a removable cover that can be put in the wash. Those using bamboo covers also have the benefit of being antimicrobial – a relief for when you leave it a bit long between washes.

    The easiest cooling bedding items to wash are the hollowfibre type toppers and the cooling mattress protectors. If you are buying for a child or guest room, you might want to choose one of these so that you can keep it clean more easily and wash it more frequently.

    How we test the best mattress cooling pads and toppers

    Our reviewer Linda slept on each cooling pad or topper for a week to see how they compared to one another. She was looking not just for cooling properties, but general comfort too. On top of that, she considered how easy the cooling bedding was to wash and use, noting whether they had straps or ties to keep it in place, too.

    Previous to this, Linda has tested mattress toppers and has slept on nearly every mattress in a box there is on the market.

    Silentnight Airmax on bed

    Linda noted that the Silentnight Airmax had strong straps to keep the topper in place. It is also hypoallergenic and easy to wash

    She selected a wide range of cooling mattress products to review, making sure she tested a mix of protectors, toppers, pads and then looked for products made from different materials to compare the benefits.

    Other ways to keep cool at bedtime

    A cooling mattress pad isn’t the only way to keep your sleep set up comfortable on warm nights or if you are a hot sleeper. You also need to think about the rest of your bedding. The best duvet for a hot night with a lower top or temperature regulating properties will help. Next, choose light cotton or linen bedding – these help wick away moisture and also offer better temperature regulation than synthetic fibres. The same goes for sleepwear.

    Then think about how to cool the room itself. Keep blinds and curtains shut in the day to prevent solar gain and reduce overheating. When the sun goes down, or the temperature outside drops, open the windows (if possible a bit before bedtime) and get a cool breeze circulating. If you have the best fan, this will be easier to manage. Or even better, with two fans you can create a cross breeze with hot air being pushed out while the other fan draws cool air in.

    In the hottest bedrooms, it might be time to call in something more powerful than a fan. The best portable air conditioner can be used from early evening to make your room nice and cool in time for bed. Make sure you use the venting pipe provided, sealing off the window to make it more efficient.

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