Should I buy a heated blanket or a heated mattress pad? That question is much more common than you might think.
They both deliver heat – but from different directions – kind of like heated seats and the heater in your car.
So the question comes down to – do you need the surface of your mattress to be heated, or do you need the heat to come from up top, I.e. the blanket?
So which is better for me?
A heated mattress pad delivers heat similar to how heated seats in a car do. It doesn’t heat up the entire bed – just the surface, and in effect, the side of your body facing the mattress.
If treating aches and pains or arthritis is your objective, a heated mattress pad, like this water-resistant model from Sunbeam would be the solution.
On the other hand, do you just want a warmer bed? Do you get cold at night, and just want to stop shivering?
The heat from a mattress pad is direct and heats the parts of your body directly in contact with it. For example, if you sleep on your side, the opposite side of your body – the side facing the comforter – will not feel the heat.
In this case, the indirect heat of a heating blanket would be more appropriate. Our favorite is the Microplush Heated Blanket from Sunbeam.
Factors to consider
Both heating accessories function in different ways and have their own pros and cons. Let’s analyze both a step further and look at how they work.
A heating mattress pad is a regular mattress pad, but with coils inside that heat up electrically. When turned on, the wires heat up.
A heating mattress pad installs just like any regular skirted mattress pad – and just like a fitted sheet.
Generally, you’ll have multiple heat settings to choose from, as well as an auto-off feature that turns the heat off after a set number of hours.
This heat is delivered straight up and is mostly felt by the parts of your body that are in direct contact with the pad.
If you have achy joints, sore muscles, arthritis, etc. that are triggered by cold temperature – while not necessarily feeling cold yourself – you’ll appreciate a heated mattress pad.
You can also turn it on beforehand, and pre-heat the bed.
- Direct heat to your body
- Very effective for arthritis and other aches/pains
- Provides a plush surface while also heating
- Heated mattress pads are thicker and more durable than heated blankets
- Not the best option if you suffer from incontinence (unless you choose a water-resistant model)
- Direct heat can become too hot at times, and you might need to play with the settings
- Primarily for bed use only
A heated blanket works just like the mattress pad version – it also has coils that heat up – and feels warm to the touch.
But a blanket doesn’t have as much contact with your body as a mattress pad does. Since heat rises, you get indirect heat, which warms the bed rather than your body.
If you get cold at night and constantly run the heater – and if chronic pain isn’t necessarily an issue – a heated blanket is the better choice.
Heated blankets also have multiple heat settings, auto-off functions, etc.
- Heating blankets can signal the body that it is time to sleep by providing warm and constant temperature
- Using heated blankets will reduce anxiety as your body will not have to use as much energy to stay warm
- Versatile – can be used on the bed, on the couch, etc.
- Will save money on heating costs
- Provides indirect heat – which doesn’t help too much with aches and pains
- Blankets are thin, so the wiring is more prone to failure
Features to look for
Whether you want a heated mattress pad or a blanket, there are certain features to look for to ensure that you get the best possible accessory for you.
Mattress pads and blankets – like any other type of bedding – will eventually need to be washed.
Some pads and blankets can be machine washed at home, while others need to be dry cleaned. Look for one that can be washed at home. Dry cleaning is expensive, and a hassle.
If you sleep with a partner, look for a mattress pad or blanket that offers multiple heating zones.
You and your partner will most likely prefer different heat settings (and possibly none at all). Multiple heat zones are the only way to ensure that you can both sleep on top of or under a heated bed accessory.
Many warming products include smart technology that senses temperature increases and reduces the temperature setting that you chose.
Sunbeam, for example, refers to this as their ThermoFine® technology.
If you enjoy uninterrupted sleep, the extra dollars that you’ll spend on smart technology is worth it! Waking up in the middle of the night to lower the heat is no fun.
If you’re purchasing a heated mattress pad, check to see if the pad will fit your mattress – particularly if you have an extra-deep model.
If your mattress is extra-deep, you’ll obviously want a heating mattress pad with deep pockets.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use both?
Yes, you could. But you probably shouldn’t!
Using a heated blanket and mattress pad at the same time will make the bed too hot for most people.
How long do they last?
Most warming blankets and mattress pads come with a warranty of various lengths – 5 years is common.
But they rarely last that long. In order to make a mattress pad or blanket comfortable, the wires inside that heat up need to be thin.
Because of their thin shape, and the constant heating and cooling cycle, they break over time, especially if you wash them frequently. In reality, a year or two is a realistic lifespan expectation.
Can I use them year-round?
It really depends on you, your local climate, and how hot of a bed you prefer.
For the average person, using a heated blanket or pad will be uncomfortable during the hotter months – unless you’re always cold.
Can I use a heating blanket with my duvet cover?
Yes, but it will take a slight bit of work.
You’ll need to insert the blanket into the duvet cover, with the wire end going in last, and then feed the wire through the opening.
A heating blanket doesn’t have duvet loops like a regular comforter, so you’ll either need safety pins – which we don’t recommend since there are wires inside of the blanket – or a set of duvet grips or comforter clips.
Ultimately, the question of heated mattress pad vs heating blanket comes down to you, and your objectives.
If you want an overall warmer bed – a heating blanket is better.
If you want direct warmth in certain areas – like your back, your feet, etc. – you’ll appreciate a heated mattress pad.