Review: Can a Temperature-Controlled Mattress Change Your Life?

One likes it hot. One likes it cold. BedJet and Sleep Number can accommodate you both.

July 22, 2020 9:17 am
Want to sleep cooler?
Want to sleep cooler?

Living with someone is not always easy, as habits barely noticeable to you can drive your partner to insanity. While leafing through a 1970s couples’ therapy manual (largely for the pictures), I read a section about how people often leave one relationship because of certain problems only to get into another almost immediately, which brings a different but equally difficult set of challenges. 

If you’re lucky enough to be at home with your partner and not in a hospital, then your current relationship might be running in high gear, what with the quarantine order. Thankfully there’s one less thing to bicker about — at least in the bedroom — as recent advances in technology now mean you can literally change the temperature of the bed with “microclimate” technology.

In my case, I’m always boiling hot, while my wife is perpetually freezing. In Game of Thrones, she would be from King’s Landing, while I would hail from far “north of the Wall.” From nature’s point of view, we balance each other out perfectly, but in reality, it means cold showers for me and heated blankets for my wife. When it comes to sleeping, I dream of snow settling on my pajamas, while my wife burrows under two duvets and two blankets. We’re like characters from a Roald Dahl story.  

But now you can purchase small machines that allow you to physically cool down one side of the bed while simultaneously heating the other. Two companies with solid reviews in the magic world of bedroom climate control are BedJet and Sleep Number, with their DualTemp Layer.  

My wife currently uses a heated blanket. It plugs into the wall and has three settings. When it’s freezing outside, it’s nice to have on the couch — but once in the bed, it’s like being trapped in a sauna with faux-velvet walls. (If you’re a cold sleeper reading this — that probably sounds fantastic.) These new devices are completely different.  

Described as a “Forced Air Climate Comfort System,” BedJet sends hot or cool air directly into the bed through a nozzle attached to the side of the mattress. This air nozzle is connected to an adjustable hose, which in turn plugs into a base unit that sucks in air, filters it, then sends it whooshing under your bedsheets. This might sound weird, but imagine you’re napping atop your comforter on a summer day with the window open when a cool breeze ripples over you. I know, bliss. If you’re the opposite, then imagine a Dickensian cold room with your own invisible hairdryer. Some people prefer using BedJet with the Cloud Sheet attachment. This replaces the regular top sheet and performs exactly as it sounds, attaching to the air nozzle so hot or cool air can actually flow into the sheet, creating a cool or warm puffy layer under which you drift away like a tropical bird or snow goose.

The DualTemp Layer from Sleep Number is different, but seeks to achieve the same thing: 1,001 nights at a temperature the sleeper finds blissful. Like the BedJet, it relies on a floor unit, air hose and air nozzle to blow hot or cool air — but the fundamental difference is that you sleep on top of the air-filled DualTemp Layer. Each Layer fits over one side of the mattress (for dual sleepers) like a smart mattress pad. A couple will need two Layers, but they button together perfectly, with no noticeable seam. The great thing about the DualTemp is that the layer cools or heats just enough to make the entire night comfortable.  

We found the Layer itself was also far superior to our current mattress in terms of comfort, so even when the unit was switched off, we attained some benefit. Timers on our personalized remotes, along with temperature and fan settings, toggled the Layers to off when we wanted them to.

If I owned either of these units, the impossible would happen: my wife and I would sleep comfortably with the windows open in winter and the air conditioning completely off in summer. (Though different sleep settings would require two BedJets and one Cloud Sheet — or two DualTemp Layers — and the units themselves are admittedly noisy on the highest settings.) However, there are detailed instructions in both manuals on how to position them under the bed safely. On low settings, both floor units emit a low, white-noise hum. None of this matters in our house, though, as the central air conditioning is so loud it’s like sleeping on the runway at JFK.

As my teenage daughter is home at the moment, I tasked her with setting up both units and reading the manuals in return for what looked like a gallon of mud from Starbucks. The DualTemp Layers took 10 minutes, while the BedJet took about half-an-hour to set up. Not bad, though the more complicated BedJet has a “biorhythm” setting which allows the sleeper to set different warming and cooling modes to run all night.   

The verdict? As usual in our house, we all liked different things. But both products do the job extremely well, and with almost no maintenance to the floor units. If you like sleeping on top of something warm or cool, go for the DualTemp Layer. However, if the idea of sleeping under a cool or warm cotton cloud-canopy sounds appealing — or in the midst of a cool or warm calming breeze — then go for a BedJet.  

If having your own personal microclimates doesn’t mitigate problems in your relationship, then consider Buddha’s advice to a farmer who needed help solving all his problems. According to the story, Buddha told the man that he couldn’t solve his 83 problems, but he could help him solve the 84th, which would take care of the rest. And the 84th problem? The desire not to have any problems. 

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.