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Sleep Health

Benefits of Memory Foam: Are Memory Foam Mattresses Hot?

    Last Updated
    April 3, 2024
    min read

    Key Takeaways

    • Memory foam mattresses offer comfort, pressure relief, and motion isolation. 
    • Traditional memory foam mattresses may retain heat, potentially leading to discomfort for warm sleepers.
    • Purple's innovative GelFlex® Grid technologies revolutionize sleep comfort by enhancing airflow ensuring a cooler sleeping experience.

    Interested in a memory foam mattress? Want to know about the benefits and if they’re worth the cost? How about the trade-offs? Are memory foam mattresses hot? If you’re asking yourself these questions while debating whether or not a memory foam mattress is right for you, you’ve come to the right place. 

    While it’s important to consider the benefits, it’s equally important to weigh the drawbacks of a specific type of mattress prior to purchase. In this article, we discuss what memory foam is, why it’s consistently a buzzworthy mattress option, and how to determine if memory foam is the best option for your specific sleep habits and hurdles.

    Sleep up to 4x Cooler*

    Purple’s Restore Hybrid Collection combines the GelFlex® Grid with responsive coils, so you can stay cool and comfortable.

    Memory Foam: What It Is And How It Works

    Created by NASA in the 1960s, memory foam is a material that contours and conforms to the shape of any object placed on it. Before being used in mattresses, memory foam was used in space travel, shoes, helmets, and hospitals.

    Most memory foam is made of polyurethane foam combined with other chemicals, creating a viscoelastic foam. This specific combination of elements provides memory foam with its unique ability to mold to shape in response to pressure and heat, then slowly regain its original form after the weight is removed. 

    When you lie on a memory foam mattress, your body weight causes the foam to conform to the natural curves of your body. This allows for even weight distribution across the surface of the mattress, creating cloud-like comfort. 

    What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Memory Foam Mattresses?

    Like any mattress type, memory foam mattresses have benefits and drawbacks that make them more or less desirable to different sleepers.

    Memory Foam Benefits

    Memory foam mattresses offer several advantages that contribute to a good night's sleep. Here are some of the key benefits:

    • Motion isolation: Unlike spring mattresses, dense memory foam absorbs movements, preventing motion transfer. This is popular among couples since it minimizes disturbances to either partner if the other tosses and turns during the night.
    • Cloud-like comfort: Memory foam mattresses provide a cushioning softness and weightless feel.
    • Widely available: Memory foam mattresses are available in a wide variety of constructions, technology, and price points, making the options seemingly endless. While you can find a lot of information about specific memory foam mattresses through reviews online, it’s still best to test out a mattress in-store to see if it’s right for you.

    It’s important to note that what works for some may not work for others. In fact, some couples even purchase two separate twin beds and join them together so everyone wins. 

    Memory Foam Drawbacks

    While memory foam offers many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to consider:

    • Heat retention: Traditional memory foam mattresses tend to absorb heat while struggling to dissipate it, which can lead to hot sleep. 
    • Temperature sensitivity: The cushioning properties of memory foam are affected by the temperature and humidity of your bedroom. For example, a cooler or drier room causes memory foam to feel firmer, while a hot room causes memory foam to feel more squishy and soft.
    • Difficult to move on: Memory foam mattresses don’t respond to movement quickly, which can make it difficult to get comfortable. One also tends to “sink” deep into the memory foam material, which can make a sleeper feel trapped. Compare this lack of adaptivity with the GelFlex® Grid, which adapts quickly to movement, relieves pressure, supports, and cools.
    • Price: Memory foam mattresses tend to be more expensive than traditional spring mattresses. It’s important to remember that the cost of a memory foam mattress is usually directly correlated to its quality and longevity, and while there are options at all price points,  a higher cost often means better materials and construction.

    Note that many sleepers choose to add a topper to their mattress to achieve memory foam comfort without the cost. 

    Are Memory Foam Mattresses Hot? 

    Heat is one of the most common concerns about memory foam mattresses — and it’s especially pertinent for hot sleepers and those who live in warm climates. 

    These mattresses have a reputation for retaining heat, which stems from the viscoelastic materials used in memory foam. Memory foam is designed to contour closely to the body, which means less airflow, potentially leading to a warmer sleep environment.

    How To Make Memory Foam Sleep Cooler

    If you love your memory foam mattress but just can’t get over the heat, there are some solutions:

    • Use a cooling mattress topper: A mattress topper made from cooling materials— like gel-infused foam or latex—can significantly reduce heat retention by adding a breathable layer on top of your memory foam mattress.
    • Invest in breathable bedding: Buy sheets and covers made from natural, breathable fabrics like cotton, bamboo, or linen. 
    • Keep your room cool: Use air conditioning, fans, or open windows to regulate the room's climate. 
    • Use a bed fan: A bed fan or a cooling system that fits between your sheets can provide continuous airflow, helping to disperse body heat and keep you cool.
    • Consider cooling pillows: Pillows made from cooling, breathable materials — like the honeycomb GelFlex® Grid in the Purple Harmony™ Pillow — can complement your efforts to reduce heat buildup around your head and neck, areas particularly sensitive to temperature increases.
    • Hydrate before bed: Staying hydrated can help your body regulate temperature more effectively. 
    • Wear light sleepwear: Choose pajamas made from lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics. 

    Play around with some of these strategies, but if it’s still not enough, you may want to think about trying a different type of mattress. 

    What Is a Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress? 

    Gel memory foam mattresses are making huge progress when it comes to beating the heat associated with traditional memory foam. 

    These mattresses incorporate a layer of foam infused with cooling gel particles designed to draw excess heat away from the body and provide a cooler sleep surface. This technology offers the pressure-relieving benefits of traditional memory foam while providing cooler sleep. 

    Visual explanation of how cool gel memory foam works.

    Purple's GelFlex® Grid and responsive coils take this idea to the next level, allowing even the hottest sleepers a good night’s rest. 

    Why People Love the Purple GelFlex® Grid

    One of the biggest drawbacks people cite when considering traditional memory foam mattresses is heat retention. Purple set out to solve that problem with unmatched engineering that improves every aspect of sleep. How? The GelFlex® Grid — a proprietary cushioning technology that relieves pressure, provides support, and cools throughout the night for truly re-energizing sleep night after night. 

    Here’s how it works: 

    • Advanced heat dissipation: The GelFlex® Grid features over a thousand open-air channels that facilitate airflow through the mattress, ensuring body heat is not trapped close to the sleeper — unlike traditional memory foam mattresses, which can lead to overheating.
    • Thermoregulatory material: Purple’s proprietary polymer, used in the GelFlex® Gridis inherently temperature-neutral. Unlike memory foam that absorbs and retains body heat, this material does not change its consistency or comfort level with temperature variations.
    • Temperature reducing: Responsive, foam-topped coils support the GelFlex® Grid by improving airflow within the mattress, leading to an even cooler sleeping surface. 

    The Ultimate Restorative Sleep

    Purple’s RestorePremier™ Hybrid mattress offers best-in-class cooling, superior pressure relief, and aligning support.

    Unlike memory foam leaders like TempurPedic or similar alternatives, our patented GelFlex® Grid technology doesn’t require heat to adjust to your body — it adapts to your curves instantly. With over 1,400 channels for airflow, the GelFlex® Grid maintains an ideal temperature for blissful sleep, all night long. 

    While we’re here to tell you about the benefits of memory foam, we also want to inform you of the obstacles it creates for you and your sleep. With that context in mind, it’s easy to see why people love Purple as a memory foam alternative. Our mattresses are engineered to provide the cloud-like comfort you know and love — with the support your body needs. 

    Here are some of the reasons why satisfied customers love the GelFlex® Grid:

    • Motion Isolation: The Purple GelFlex® Grid adapts to your movements while preventing any motion transfer on other parts of the mattress. This motion isolation helps maintain the bed’s stability and avoids disrupting other sleepers. This makes Purple mattresses ideal for sleepers who frequently toss and turn in their sleep.
    • Heat retention: Proprietary GelFlex® Grid within every Purple mattress promotes airflow through the mattress, working to maintain an optimal sleeping temperature.
    • Temperature sensitivity: Unlike memory foam mattresses, Purple mattresses are not temperature-sensitive and don’t create a sinking sensation. Instead, the GelFlex® Grid instantly adapts to the pressure of your body, providing cushioning comfort while still supporting your pressure points in all the right places.
    • Firmness options: Purple mattresses come in a wide variety of firmness options. No matter your sleep preferences, there’s a Purple mattress made for you.
    • Sleep position compatibility: Due to the adaptive, cushioning nature of the GelFlex® Grid, Purple mattresses are loved by sleepers of all sleep positions. Whether you’re a stomach, back, or side sleeper, the Purple GelFlex® Grid adapts to your position, providing appropriate support while still feeling soft and comfortable.
    • Mattress size availability: Purple mattresses are available in most standard mattress sizes. No matter how big of a bed you need, you can find a Purple mattress that’s the right size for you and your space.

    With free delivery and returns to all locations in the USA, a 10-year warranty, and a 100-night trial, rest easy with Purple night after night after night.

    *Thermal test and heat flux study conducted by Purple on Restore Line Mattresses - 2023 


    Benefits of Memory Foam Mattresses FAQ

    People of varying sleep position preferences find memory foam mattresses comfortable. A cloud-like, sinking comfort is the iconic characteristic, but this type of comfort may not provide the support necessary for rejuvenating sleep and proper spinal alignment.

    Those who prefer warm, cushioning sleep environments are best suited for a memory foam mattress, since the material tends to be warm with a sinking softness.

    There are a wide variety of firmness options across all mattress types that are suitable for different sleeping positions. Side sleepers may get the most comfort from softer memory foam mattresses, while stomach sleepers may want to opt for a firmer mattress that provides necessary support. While memory foam isn’t necessarily bad for your back, back sleepers tend to select a mattress purely based on their comfort level preferences.

    Generally, you can use an older memory foam mattress that’s less than nine years old. After seven years of regular use, memory foam mattresses will start to sag and degrade in quality.

    If you regularly rotate and care for your mattress, it can last longer than its average nine-year lifespan. Pillow top or Euro top mattress covers can also temporarily extend the effective life of your mattress.

    Traditional memory foam mattresses can be hot because they are designed to contour closely to your body, effectively reducing airflow. This, coupled with the heat-retaining properties of the viscoelastic materials used in memory foam, can lead to an increase in body temperature during the night. 

    One solution is to use a cooling mattress topper designed with breathable materials. Or consider trying a mattress with built-in cooling technologies, like Purple's GelFlex® Grid. Purple’s RestorePremier™ Hybrid mattress, for example, uses both GelFlex® Grid and Coolflex Coils®, allowing you to sleep up to 4x cooler.

    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.

    Kristen Olson-Turner
    Senior Director of Merchandising, Mattress and Bases

    Kristen Olson-Turner is the Senior Director of mattresses, where she has spent 10+ years understanding customer needs and integrating solutions into Purple products for better sleep and comfort.