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When you are aching, heat can truly help to sooth your pain and provide relief. One of the ways to get that comfort is to rest and apply heat, possibly in the form of a heating pad or electric blanket. But if you choose to rest in bed with the heated item, can you do more harm than good, specifically to your mattress? Let’s find out.

Why Use an Electric Blanket or Heat Pad?

  • Pain: Heat therapy is known to alleviate pain. Heat helps circulation which helps oxygen travel to muscles and joints. It also helps repair muscles, bring down inflammation, and loosen stiffness. Heat pads and electric blankets are easy and portable ways to get heat therapy.
  • Comfort: If you live in a cold area, you might know the feeling of not being warm in the winter. Those cold temperatures can take a toll on your body. An electric blanket can help with that. You essentially have a blanket that provides continuous heat to you on those chilly days.

What is the Difference Between an Electric Blanket and a Heat Pad?

An electric blanket is a blanket that has an electrical cord. When plugged in, the blanket warms.

A heat pad is a pad that lays directly on the mattress or mattress cover, and warms you from the underside.

These items, though the purpose is the same, should not be used together.

I’m Planning to Use the Heat Pad or Electric Blanket on My Bed, is That Okay?

That depends on many factors. First, you will want to know what type of mattress you have (Memory foam mattress? Latex mattress?). Second, you will need to understand how the heat item works, and how it will interact with your bed and body.

Memory Foam Mattress

It is suggested that you do not use a heated blanket or heating pad with memory foam for the following reasons:

  • Conforming: Memory foam mattresses use your own heat to help shape the foam to fit your body. If you put a heating pad directly on the mattress, such as laying on it, the foam can be affected by the heat. When the heat is directly on the memory foam, the bed will not conform or support you the way it is meant to. When your body heat is on it, it flexes to be able to conform directly to your weight and body. If you decide to use it, make sure you put it on top of your body (though not directly) rather than on the mattress.
  • Fire threat: Memory foam has chemicals in it such as polyurethane foam and formaldehyde. Because those are highly flammable chemicals, it is not a great idea to use heat on anything containing those chemicals.
  • Threat to warranty: When you purchase a mattress, it will likely come with a warranty. Deep in that warranty is the fine print with what is covered. Using a heating pad or blanket directly on memory foam can possibly cause damage to the foam. Depending on your warranty, that can create an issue that may void your warranty, or prevent replacement of your mattress.

Latex

Latex is not as susceptible to heat damage as memory foam is. Memory foam is directly impacted by heat (or cold), and therefore can impact the effect it has on your body. However, natural latex is not impacted by temperature, and is extremely resilient to both heat and cold.

Even though a heating pad or electric blanket can be used on latex, it should still have a barrier, so that it is not heating up exposed latex. For safety of both yourself and the mattress, put a sheet or safe material between the mattress and the heat.

Tips for Sleeping With a Heating Pad

If you are going to sleep with a heating pad, consider following these tips.

Splurge on New

With the history of electric blankets and burns or fires, it is no wonder people would question purchasing one. But those previous consequences have changed the way new electric blankets are created. Electric blankets made today are significantly safer than old ones. Most of them also come with timers to automatically shut off. Like anything electrical that has aged, it will become a risk as time goes on.

Tested and Approved

Look for blankets and pads that not only have good reputations, but also have been tested and approved. Having been tested and approved show that they have been through the worst-case scenarios, and (so far) have passed.

Barrier

If you are going to use a heated blanket or pad, make sure there is a layer between your body and the heat, or between the mattress and the sheet. Doing this will lessen the chance of burns or mattress damage. You can always use a mattress cover, sheet, or another blanket as a barrier. For the safest results, make sure the heated item is the top layer.

Flat

To avoid damaging the item, it is best to keep it flat. By rolling it or tucking it in, it can break the heat coils which can cause issues. Unlike most blankets, you cannot, do not wash it since the wash can also damage the coils (and the wiring) by bunching up. Furthermore, bunching up the blanket not only damages the coils, but also allows heat to build up in one concentrated area which can lead to a fire.

Timer

When looking for a heating pad, search for one that has a timer. Having the pad shut off automatically will eliminate your need to remember, and lessen the chance of injury.

Low Heat

If you are going to use a heating pad or blanket, try to purchase one that has adjustable temperature controls. If you have set settings, keep it on low, so it does not overheat, and put you at risk of a fire or burns.

Sleep

Make sure you do not use the mattress when you are very drowsy. You want to be aware of the heating pad on your body, so as to not be burned by the pad or blanket. Additionally, you want to ensure the item is not on for a long time as to risk a fire that can be fatal.

Follow the Instructions

For your safety and the life of the mattress, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on both your mattress and the heated item. Failure to do so may not only injure you, but void any warranties on the items.

Is There a Bed That Works Better with Heat Pads and Electric Blankets?

While there are risks associated with any item that projects heat, you will find the best options with organic, natural, latex mattresses, such as ones from Latex For Less.          

Flame Resistant and Better for Our Health

Many mattresses we sleep on contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). While mattresses are believed to not be made with PBDEs anymore, some of our older mattresses contain the chemical, which is toxic to our health. Mattresses from Latex for Less not only do not contain any harsh chemicals, but are made from all-natural California wool, which is not only safe but a natural flame-resistant fire barrier sans chemicals.         

Healthier

If you are using a heat pad for pain, you already have some health issues or injuries plaguing you. You should not have to worry about your mattress, too. Latex is naturally non-toxic, does not off-gas, and is antimicrobial. You do not have to worry about your mattress making you ill, so you can focus on heating that pain away.

Layered

When you get a mattress from Latex For Less, you are getting a multi-layered mattress.

The bottom two layers are natural latex, followed by wool, and topped with cotton. Not only is it comfortable, but you do not have to worry about a heating pad or electric blanket directly impacting the latex. Thanks to the layers, it will stay safe.

Warmth

Latex mattresses actually help regulate your temperature, so you don't have to worry about retaining your body heat. With its breathability, the air will flow better, and keep you not too hot, not too cold, but comfortable. You may even find that you do not need the electric blanket in the winter.

Takeaway

No matter what you are using your heat pad or electric blanket for, the most important aspect is to make sure it is newer, that you follow the guidelines, that you use a barrier such as a mattress cover or sheet, and monitor it for safety. If you are going to use one of the heating items, you are better off using a natural latex mattress, not only for the heat, but also for overall health.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.