Overheating in bed, steps to take - sleep filter
May 11, 2015 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I haven't been sleeping well. Including all winter. I have a crappy polyester comforter and Target Jersey Cotten Sheets, and a $600 10 inch memory foam mattress from Amazon with two memory foam pillows. So - basically everything that would make me overheat. Would adding a Latex Topper to the mix fix a lot of problems?

After sweating all winter I'm worried about a toasty summer. I keep my bedroom around 72 F in the summer, and have a ceiling fan on at all times. I need the feeling of blankets on me, but I just get so hot.

-Blankets: I think I'm going to get a duvet cover from target, along with some different (maybe?) cotten bedsheets The jersey sheets have a great feel to them but also have gotten pilly/stretched after a year.

-Pillow: I'm completely at a loss here, except that memory foam doesn't seem like a good fit, and I hate it when feathers poke my face. Those Chillow things have reviews that say it only lasts for 5 minutes, and I don't have a lot of fridge space.

-Mattress Topper:

My main question is in regards to my mattress. I bought this mattress around 2 years ago, and enjoyed it okay. Mostly I liked the price point. It seems to give plenty of support, but it does get extremely warm.

Some people recommend buying a wool blanket to put on my mattress under my sheet, but that confuses me because wool is typically very warm, and when I look on Amazon, it usually says "excellent at retaining heat" etc.

A lot of people have recommended latex mattress toppers to fix the warmth. But when I look at the latex mattress toppers, most comments/reviews are saying that they put them on a traditional bed, a bed with box springs. I feel like, if the memory foam is absorbing my heat and reemiting it, wouldn't the same thing happen, but more, with a cushy latex topper? Also, I know nothing about latex toppers, but none of them have amazon prime so returning the topper could be problematic/annoying. This is the topper I was considering. It also comes in soft, medium, or firm, and I'm not sure which I'd prefer. I mean, soft is nice, but the mattress is already medium cushy (firm when cold) so it's quite a hard decision for me. Especially when the topper is the same price as the mattress. There's a few other toppers with similar price points.

I can afford as much bed as I need to make me cool, but I don't want to waste money either.

So - should I get a topper for my mattress? Should I bite the bullet and buy a new mattress from ikea/mattress store? Will changing the other aspects of my bed help enough to negate the effect of the warm mattress?
posted by bbqturtle to Health & Fitness (37 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Forgive a possibly stupid question but is there a good reason not to just air condition your bedroom to a cooler temperature?
posted by Wretch729 at 11:29 AM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: have you tried sleeping with just sheets (no comforter)? i like the feeling of blankets on me too, but in the summer time i just use sheets. a duvet cover without the duvet would feel a bit heavier like a thin blanket. i use the organic cotton ones from target and it works fine. re: pillows. my friend found a pillow with an aloe gel layer and really likes it, i think the rest of the pillow's memory foam.
posted by monologish at 11:45 AM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wool works as a temperature regulator. Putting a wool blanket or mattress pad under your sheet may actually help!

You might also look at a cotton or linen bed spread instead of a duvet for the summer.
posted by burntflowers at 11:47 AM on May 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

I run awfully hot, and I usually switch to a loosely knit cotton blanket in the summer instead of a duvet. It's heavy enough to feel comfortable, but porous enough not to retain a ton of heat. (I got mine at Ikea, but I can't find that model now - you'll just want something thin and *cotton*.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:49 AM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Bedfan?
posted by cecic at 11:50 AM on May 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

I also came in to say a wool topper. Wool 'breathes' and wicks moisture. Even a regular blanket between the sheet and mattress makes a difference; you wouldn't have to spend very much to find out if you'd like it -- you can usually find old, unprettily-coloured, super-sturdy ones at thrift stores for not too much money; they machine wash easily.
posted by kmennie at 11:56 AM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I actually notice a difference when I put use a fleece blanket as a mattress topper on my own memory foam mattress.

Also, I think you'd be okay with the blanket - wool may do a good job of trapping heat, but since heat rises, and the wool would be under you, the wool blanket would only be trapping heat coming from underneath you. so unless you have a monster living under your bed, I think you are safe from the wool blanket transferring heat to you if you're lying on top of it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2015

I sleep with a rather large pedestal fan blowing at my head from about three feet away. 72F is way warmer than I keep my bedroom. Mine is around 62. If your head is cool, you'll sweat a lot less in bed.
posted by pipeski at 12:00 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've been served well by a Stanley Lasko High-Velocity Blower Fan which provides a good stiff breeze from all the way across the room.
posted by XMLicious at 12:02 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Jersey sheets are so gross and clingy and ew. Try a crisper sheet - I love these damask sheets, and Target sometimes carries something almost exactly the same. The top sheet has a nice heft, too, so combined with a thin cotton blanket you still get that encased feeling.

I would try a cheaper cotton-top mattress pad, like this, or one of the ones that are called "overstuffed" or "high loft" but fiber-filled, not down, before making any serious investment in additional toppers.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:03 PM on May 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Hey, I have really similar issues to you so I'll be watching this thread! I just wanted to say that I also bought those Target jersey sheets and I basically only use them as spares now, since I find that despite feeling thin and stretchy, they seem to be more likely to make me feel clammy and overheated than just regular cotton sheets. Different sheets didn't totally fix the problem but it did help.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:05 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

My latex topper comes with a wool lining and cost a pretty penny. So, I'd say the wool should help.
posted by flimflam at 12:18 PM on May 11, 2015

No latex. No foam. Seriously.

Think of the last time you had a good night of sleep and try to replicate that bedding experience. I'm a lifelong insomniac and the best sleep I've ever had in my life was here at Stanford's Guest House. Their mattresses and bedding were perfect. If you email them, they'll tell you exactly which mattresses and sheets they use. Stanford takes sleep disorders very seriously and I encourage anyone who has problems in this area to pay them a visit, if at all possible.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:21 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Apologies if this is not answering the question you are really asking, but I've always had problems with "hot sleeping," winter, summer – all the time, and the only things I've found to help are a really light-weight summer duvet (the one I have is specifically about feeling really, really heavenly light; I'd link but it's not a US brand) with an all-cotton, high quality duvet cover, and a good quality (like luxury hotel style) cotton bottom sheet. Getting rid of layers on the bed was major: so no layering of bottom sheet, top sheet, and blanket and/or bedspread or quilt stacking – just bottom sheet and super, super lightweight duvet. For me it works both winter and summer (because in the summer I have to use fan &/or AC no matter what, even if I have only a sheet on me, and the light duvet actually works better).

We have a European mattress (for a European bed) that we bought when we were really poor (so it wasn't very expensive) that I love a lot because it's not too soft, so doesn't hurt my back. It seems neutral in the heat equation, as far as I can tell. My pillows are still too hot; haven't resolved that yet! Also, I have no heat in the bedroom, ever, and a standing fan (ceiling fans have never seemed very efficacious to me) as soon as it starts to get warm at all, and then AC once it gets to heat torture level. Good luck in your quest for a less miserable sleeping experience – I feel your pain!
posted by taz at 12:25 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

less layers, nice feathers, and a summer solution that involves sheet/light cotton blanket/throw, no duvet
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2015

I am also a hot sleeper (actually, I'm just hot all the time - I call myself the Human Furnace) and this is what my bed setup like:
-super deep pillow top mattress covered by a two layers of mattress pads to keep the sweat out (I think it also helps my body not overheat given how thick the pillowtop is)
-bamboo sheets
-goose down pillows
-very light goose down duvet covered in bamboo duvet cover
-ceiling fan on and window open for cool fresh air

I would strongly encourage you to ditch the memory foam and cotton stuff, and switch to goose down, bamboo, and a regular mattress.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:26 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I put a wool blanket between my memory foam mattress and the mattress pad. I figure it brought the temperature down about a thousand degrees. No more sweaty nights for me!
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:33 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, also - sleep in the absolute least amount of clothing you can stand. Totally naked is best, but if you require a garment to control the motion of various body parts, try to find a body-fitting cotton-lycra or microfiber garment with the least amount of seams - boxer brief, shelf tank or lightweight sports bra. Every bit of clothing you wear is another layer of heat insulation, and baggy garments are twice as bad as form-fitting.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:39 PM on May 11, 2015

A $600 memory foam mattress is not a good mattress. No matter what kind of topper or sheets you use, that won't change. I'd recommend ponying up for a nicer mattress (foam or traditional) that really feels comfy for you.

Many years back, I gave up on a cheap foam mattress bc it got way too sqooshy for me.
posted by gnutron at 2:45 PM on May 11, 2015

Best answer: We have a memory foam mattress and use a quilted mattress cover underneath the sheets. It's washable and it's fitted. Sure it was a cheapy from a big box store or Bed, Bath and Beyond, but you can go with the cooling ones, for sure.

In summer, I prefer a light weight quilt over the top sheet. I also keep a pima cotton blanket at the foot of the bed.

If you live near a Burlington Coat Factory, you can often find Ralph Lauren sheets and quilts at a steep discount. I scored a Nautica quilt, sort of like this one on clearance at Macy's, for about $50, tho' mine is in a different color scheme. It's perfect in the summer, and I use a heavier velour blanket on top in the winter (layers!) and do just fine with the pima blanket folded at the bottom for extra foot warmth.

You could also go with just sheets and a pima cotton blanket on top instead of a quilt, but I love the quilt because it doesn't bunch up and is just the right weight, washes easily and keeps its color and shape. The Ralph Lauren sheets are great too. I also have a set of organic cotton sheets from Target, which are okay, and some microfiber sheets I got at some clearance place, but overall, I prefer Ralph Lauren (from Burlington on sale) for my price point.

I also use a ceiling fan and a tower Lasko-type fan about 3 feet away from the bottom corner of my side of the bed, set to rotate. If it gets really hot, I turn it up to 3, but normally I keep it on the 1 setting. I also have cotton duck tab top curtains over blinds and those can be pushed aside easily on nice days to let the breeze in, and pulled shut with the blinds 3/4 down and windows open at night, to allow for privacy, but breezes still get in. On super hot and humid days, I shut the bedroom windows until evening, then open the windows and curtains, fan it up an hour before bedtime, close the curtains (while leaving the windows open) and it's quite comfy.

I get pillows at Bed, Bath and Beyond, the kind with gussets on the side, not the super cheap ones, but not the $100 ones either. Maybe $20? They do have to be replaced every so often, but they don't make me sweat, either, and don't crush down immediately like the $5.99 pillows at Walmart.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:46 PM on May 11, 2015

Response by poster: How does everyone feel about a duvet cover with nothing inside? I've never owned an actual duvet before.
posted by bbqturtle at 2:52 PM on May 11, 2015

Depending on the size and fabric, that can end up being irritatingly fiddly. I have a couple of twin duvets for my guest bed that I leave on there unstuffed, but they are a slippery cheap fabric and trying to pull one up over you when you are not fully awake and aware is sometimes some kind of farce where I end up with 37% of my body covered, mostly not the parts I wanted covered, because I grab and pull one layer and the other doesn't come along peacefully. I've got a king cover that is very sheet-like and tends to stick together well and it does fine.

But you can get the same effect with a blanket. Or two top sheets.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:09 PM on May 11, 2015

Best answer: My son and I both have ongoing issues with overheating and sweating at night. And while I don't want to be all "You're doing it wrong!" I will say that in our cases, extensive experimentation has led us to doing virtually everything differently than you have done.

We're not experts. This is anecdotal, just one guy and his kid, who like the same stuff. YMMV, obviously.

Here's what works for us:
Bedding: 100% cotton sheets, always. Blended sheets are hot death to us. Jersey sheets, even cotton ones, are also a no-go. We like a medium-ish thread count. 400-600 works best. I've sprung for the 1000+ sheets before and they didn't seem to breathe as well or age as well. He and I both use duvets/comforters during the colder months and much thinner bedspreads during the warmer months.
Pillows: gel-topped pillows are the one thing we split on. For my kid, they're a difference maker, the biggest single thing we can do to make him comfortable instead of a restless, sweaty-headed mess. For me, they're super awesome while they're new and fresh, but since I can't completely stop my perspiration, eventually they start to pick up a weird, occasionally malodorous density to them.
Mattress: no foam for us, ever. They just make us miserable and sweaty. The key to virtually of this stuff is not how it feels when you lay down. It's about how it feels when you wake up 30 minutes before your alarm goes off. Foam toppers make both of us sweaty and miserable. In both his room and mine, we have fairly fancy schmancy mattresses with cotton exteriors. Mine has a pillow top, which makes it sleep a little more comfortably. However, because his does not, we can flip his mattress, which seems to help.
Thermostat: How much are your rest and health worth to you? You keep the temp at 72 every night, but you overheat every night? We ended up turning things down in the winter/heat months to 68. And in the summer, we don't want to waste the energy to keep it that low, so we settle for running fans in each room.

And the most important single thing: wash everything. All the time. I change my sheets at least twice a week and my pillow case twice as often. Having a fresh pillowcase is critical. In the case of my (non-gel top) pillows, we wash those, too. I actually have two sets, so that I never get crunched for time on washing/drying. I always keep clean ones on hand.

Bonus thing #1: when you overheat at night, is a a sticky, sweaty kind of overheating? Have you tried showering right before bed? On days that I feel extra oily or sticky, I always shower right before bed. It helps.

Bonus thing #2: there is one other thing my family has found that truly helps, but there's a catch: it's time-consuming to the point of insane. My wife (Comrade Doll) is Romanian and her mom likes to iron bed sheets. It's almost comically time-consuming to my eyes, but at least for the first two days... it's magical and does wonders.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:29 PM on May 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

I asked a similar question lately, and the biggest game changer was going European style and ditching the top flat sheet. Now I just have a fitted sheet and a thin duvet in an Ikea duvet cover. MUCH better, and less tangly too.
posted by raspberrE at 3:43 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cotton topper, cotton sheets. Comforter with cotton cover. Or get an all cotton duvet cover.
posted by Oyéah at 3:50 PM on May 11, 2015

No flat sheet. Linen or cotton duvet cover helps as well.

If you can find it where you are, you may want to try a bamboo sleeping mat. I use air conditioning, so I don't have one, but have slept on them elsewhere in Asia and they really do seem to help me sleep without aircon, so they may help you.
posted by frumiousb at 4:42 PM on May 11, 2015

Ugh, I would go insane with a bedroom at 72 degrees. I do think our latex topper stays nice and cool, and for me it's really important to have all natural bedding on the bed. I can feel heat buildup on synthetic mattresses when I'm staying in a hotel, and fleece makes me really sweaty no matter how cold it is. We have a cotton bottom sheet and a linen top sheet, plus either a wool or cotton blanket and a thin quilt. I need a top sheet for the times when the blanket is too much.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:46 PM on May 11, 2015

What DirtyOldTown said times 1000 percent. Especially the frequent sheet changing and showering right before bed. You have no idea how much that helps.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:00 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hot sleeper in a hot (85-90F) apartment here. I've tried just about everything and these are my essentials now:

1) Fan - I have the older version of the Dyson tower fan. I haven't taken my portable A/C out at all since I got this last summer. I consider it quality-of-life changing.

2) Blanket - I'd completely given up on blankets until I bought a cotton coverlet similar to this. It was supposed to be decorative only but I've ended up using it nightly. Flat sheets buuuug me. The coverlet doesn't cling to you like a sheet so you barely feel it, and air circulates under it.

3) Pillow - I've had this cool gel pillow for a few years and it is still cold. Sometimes I use it with another, softer pillow, but it's always nice to have it.

As far as toppers and pads go, I found that once I stripped all that stuff off I ended up being much cooler. I'm trading that for a little comfort but now shopping for a new bed. I'm also a convert to good quality microfiber sheets. It took a little getting used to but I find them noticeably cooler and worth switching from cotton. But that fan saved my life.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:13 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, that set up got me through hot flashes. YMMV.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:21 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

We have a memory foam mattress that is like the surface of hell all night.

Sheets: Modal sheets from BB&B
Beneath sheets: Wool Mattress Pad also from BB&B
Beneath mattress pad: Mattress topper from Kohl's
Pillowcases: Silk but still pretty cheap.

I am usually cold but Mr. Getawaysticks is always hot, so we share one very light blanket but then after that I have comforters on top. We tried the bed fan and hated it, fwiw.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:36 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 72 is too warm unless you can't avoid it. I go as low as like, 60-65 sometimes. I only heat my bedroom if it's literally close to or below freezing, and let it just convect from the rest of the house. I always sleep with the window open unless it's truly cold too.

My number one recommendation, as someone who has had problems with this forever, ceiling fan. If you get it in the room and it just FEELS like you're going to sweat, kick it on before you jump in.

It doesn't have to be blasting at some tornado speed, i pretty much only ever just have mine idling on the minimum speed... but if it's warm in the room at all, i will wake up randomly a sweaty mess if i don't pop it on.

I've had foam mattresses and other kinds. Nothing has made me as happy or has made as huge of a difference as a ceiling fan.

Oh, and i've also AC'd my room down below 70 to just pass out and stay asleep before. People will say it's wasteful, but you only have to AC your bedroom! Most places i've lived where i did have AC actually, i only bothered with the bedroom. You can always hang out in your underwear on the couch, but when it comes time to sleep fuck the judgementalness. It barely made a difference in my power bill ever. Maybe under $20 a month?

What is your sleep worth? I definitely feel like i'd pay triple that to consistently sleep good even when i've been pretty broke.
posted by emptythought at 7:40 PM on May 11, 2015

Get some 300-600 thread count sheets. They'll help. They're durable. And they get softer the more you wash them. Signed, someone who has to live through desert summers.
posted by azpenguin at 9:24 PM on May 11, 2015

Best answer: Source: living with no air conditioning in hot dry summers for years.

Like others have said, cotton fitted sheet, thin duvet cover only - preferably thin cotton, few clothes, fan on, no toppers, cotton pillowcases. Also try pulling back any long hair and buying light colors for all bed linens (absorbs less heat during the day).
posted by Red Desk at 12:10 AM on May 12, 2015

Best answer: I am also a hot sleeper. Natural fibers have been the way to go for me. I have a memory foam mattress, but I splashed out on the nice high performance cotton sheets from Target. This alone has made a big difference. Jersey is way too warm for me. I am currently rocking a single woven blanket, but when it gets super hot in my house this summer I anticipate chucking even that and just using the top sheet while my big fan blows on me full blast.

This got mentioned above too, but think about the fabrics you sleep in also. Even shorts and a t-shirt can get to be too much. Consider a long top/shirt, or just a t-shirt.
posted by koucha at 11:24 AM on May 12, 2015

Response by poster: Just a update - I got the high performance cotton sheets from target and a natural fiber cotton blanket from target. Total cost - $80. I woke up cold last night.

Mission success! Thanks everyone!
posted by bbqturtle at 8:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

A tip, as a fan of those sheets: they start to get baggy after about a week and need a wash/dry to tighten back up. They are hotter when they get loose like that.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:06 AM on May 14, 2015

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