Getting quality sleep is an essential part of functioning optimally in everyday life. It can affect your efficiency at work, your ability to get through the day, and even contributes to disease prevention and improving mental health.
One of the conditions for good sleep is met when the body reaches a thermoneutral state, meaning it doesn’t have to regulate its own temperature. That’s why we’ve sought out the most effective cooling pillows of 2023 for better temperature regulation and enhanced comfort. Here are our top picks, along with some tips on how to choose the right cooling pillow for your sleeping style. After all, happiness is a good night’s rest.
Often overlooked as an important part of living a healthful life, sleep should be a priority for everyone. It is essential for mental and physical health, promotes healthy development in children, and influences your mood and memory.
As much as getting enough sleep is essential, the quality of your sleep is equally important. If you’ve already ensured that your bedroom’s lighting and ventilation are optimized for sleeping but still struggle to stay comfortable, a cooling pillow could be the missing puzzle piece.
Types of Cooling Pillows
Water pillow cooling technology is either active or passive. Here’s a breakdown of both types:
Passive water pillow cooling technology is effective at absorbing and distributing heat. These pillows generally have water, gel, or a special foam cooling layer. As the night goes on, however, the cooling effect can’t always be maintained.
Active water cooling pillows regulate the temperature by circulating water between the pillow and an accompanying pod. This allows your pillow to stay cool the entire night (this is super important to me since I often wake up in the middle of the night a tad too warm). Temperatures can often be preset on a mobile app to cool down as you fall asleep and warm up progressively to wake you up in the morning.
Additionally, some have a motion sensor inside the pillow pad. These sensors will track your sleep and provide insights about temperatures and settings that’ll work best for you.
Gel memory foam pillows
Regular memory foam pillows have a remarkable ability to contour to the neck, head, and shoulders. As a result, they are perfect for those who often suffer from neck and shoulder pain, like I do. These pillows do, however, tend to get and stay hot fairly quickly. To remedy this, manufacturers have added a padded gel layer. These added layers work by letting the heat be absorbed and circulated rather than building up.
Breathable pillows are made of different types of materials that let air flow easily through the filling. Here are a few popular examples:
Down feathers allow heat and moisture to evaporate and naturally stay cool. The downside (excuse the pun) is that they need to be fluffed to hold their shape. Pillows that have feather inserts instead of down may have small quills that can occasionally scratch or poke you.
Buckwheat pillows are a vegan and eco-friendly alternative with great breathability. When adequately stuffed, they are supportive while still allowing airflow. Note that buckwheat pillows are heavy and, if untreated, can have an earthy smell; luckily, this smell will lessen over time. While they are not particularly plush, these pillows do offer good support and coolness.
Lightweight and cooling, microbead pillows are a synthetic choice filled with small polystyrene balls that are similar to what many bean bags are stuffed with. Although highly breathable, your pillow will need to be well-stuffed to offer enough support.
Combination cooling pillows
Many manufacturers combine various cooling materials to achieve comfort, cooling, and support. Some pillows incorporate a down layer over a memory foam center, while others feature one cooling side made of ice fabric and one soft side for improved comfort. There are also gel-combination pillows that incorporate gel inserts over a memory foam core or gel beads together with memory fiber filling.
How To Choose a Cooling Pillow
While many pillows can be labeled as being “cooling”, there are some important characteristics to consider to ensure you get the real deal. Read the product descriptions or labels and specifically look out for the following features.
Both the type of material and the form of fabric used have an effect on a pillow’s cooling properties. For example, foam in a shredded form has a much better ability to promote airflow and dissipate heat than solid foam blocks or inserts. As previously mentioned, solid memory foam pillows tend to retain heat, which makes them hot to sleep on.
While gel, down, and microbeads are effective cooling materials, phase change materials are a little more technologically advanced. They can be spun into yarn, permanently enclosed in fibers, and mixed into insulating foams or coatings. Additionally, these materials may be incorporated into popular fabrics like acrylic, polyester, and viscose. This technology has even been used in precool vests for Olympic athletes!
In terms of bedding, phase change material is designed to absorb body heat released during the night. Whether you are prone to night sweats or just generally sleep hot, it pulls excess heat away and stores it. As your body temperature lowers, the material will release heat to maintain a stable and comfortable temperature.
The pillow height and firmness you find most comfortable is often determined by your sleeping position. Below, we’ve laid out what pillow’s ideal for each position:
Side sleepers should opt for a higher pillow that can fill the space between their neck and shoulder. Firm pillows are the optimal choice to maintain spinal alignment and minimize pressure on the neck.
Even though back sleepers already maintain a fairly neutral posture, it is important to choose a pillow that will prevent the head from tilting too far back or forward. A height that keeps the head level is the ideal option.
Stomach sleepers generally do better with thin pillows to keep their neck and head at the most comfortable level.
Keep in mind that allows with cooling properties often feature a high to medium loft, but down feathers and shredded foam quickly compress. A good way to remedy this is to get a pillow with adjustable filling.
Pillows designed with cooling materials usually only offer medium soft to medium firm support. Memory foam pillows are firm to effectively support the neck and head, but they need to be dense to achieve this. This hinders airflow and retains heat.
Pillows designed with shredded memory foam offer improved breathability while maintaining some of the supportive properties. If your priority is to get a firm-support pillow, check the fabric’s breathability and use a quality moisture-wicking pillowcase.
Allergies can cause great discomfort and ruin a good night’s sleep. Although volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are not a health threat in small amounts, they can cause irritation if you suffer from respiratory issues or allergies. To ensure that your pillow has low levels of VOCs, look for OEKO-Tex and CertiPUR-US-certified products.
The Beckham Hotel Collection Cooling Pillow is a fantastic choice for those seeking superior comfort and a cool night’s sleep. These king-sized pillows come with a 250 thread count cover filled with a soft-down alternative, providing a luxurious and cozy feel. They make an excellent gift for anyone looking to enhance their bedroom decor or seeking a comfortable place to rest their head. One of the standout features of these pillows is their ability to keep you cool throughout the night. If you tend to overheat or experience night sweats, the breathability of these pillows offers welcome relief.
The cotton cover and down alternative filling allow for better airflow, helping to regulate temperature and ensure a more comfortable sleep experience. In addition to providing comfort, these pillows prioritize safety and environmental standards. They are made in an OEKO-TEX Standard Certified factory, guaranteeing that the textiles used meet high safety and environmental requirements. Whether you’re a back, side, or stomach sleeper, the no-shift design ensures that the pillows will maintain their shape and provide the necessary support throughout the night. The plush bounce-back design of this best overall pillow offers a balance between firmness and comfort, and is certainly one we recommend.
The CushionCare Cooling Pillow is the perfect solution for anyone who loses sleep due to neck, shoulder, and back pain. This revolutionary product combines a ventilated memory foam core with a removable cooling gel pad to provide superior comfort and support all night long. Simply put, it’s no ordinary pillow; the high-density ventilated cooling blue foam core not only rebounds quickly, but it also adjusts to the user’s body heat and weight to offer just the right amount of support for a restful, cool, and comfortable night’s sleep.
This cooling pillow also features an ingenious design that gently cradles the head and neck to reduce arm, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as issues such as sciatica and arthritis. Plus, its armrests are uniquely designed to cushion and support your shoulders. As someone who tends to overheat at night and suffers from neck pain after sleeping, this pillow’s versatility, support, and effective cooling are why I highlighted it on our list.
Designed to provide superior comfort and sleep relief, the Coldest Water Cooling Pillow is an innovative and unique sleeping solution. It utilizes the Coldest Fusion Weave technology, which enables breathability and ensures a cool, comfortable night’s rest. Meanwhile, the adjustable shredded memory foam fill lets users select their desired firmness or softness.
Even better, this cooling pillow also features the Coldest Anti-Heat Dispersion Layer and Dual Frost Layers for enhanced functionality and infill adjustability. This combination makes it an ideal choice for those who easily overheat in their sleep or experience night sweats. And the cherry on top, the cover is machine washable for hassle-free cleaning.
This remarkably supportive, and adjustable option from Nestl has a double-whammy of sleep-enhancing features. It not only enhances temperature regulation but also offers memory foam support. This is because the pillow is filled with gel-infused shredded memory foam – shredded foam has much better ventilation properties than solid foam pillows. Additionally, the gel technology draws heat away from the body, while the improved airflow promotes heat dissipation. Also, with a side-zipper design, you can remove foam to adjust the loft. As someone whose ideal sleeping position seems to change nearly every night, I find this level of comfort and customization to be extremely helpful, which is why I’m happily endorsing this cooling pillow.
Supportive and plush, the SUPA MODERN Cooling Pillow is great for stomach, side, and back sleepers. The shredded memory foam filling is adjustable so you can create the perfect loft for your sleeping style by adding or removing foam. Although most people don’t require it, additional foam can easily be purchased as an add-on.
What really stands out about this gel-infused cooling pillow, however, is that it has a double-sided cover. One side features cool-touch technology that dissipates body heat for better temperature regulation. The opposite side has a softer bamboo lining for those who don’t require additional cooling but benefit from the memory foam support.
While these poly fiber-filled pillows from Utopia Bedding are not gel-infused, the light foam filling provides better airflow and heat dissipation than solid memory foam pillows. The pillows offer the perfect support for those who prefer a little squish for comfort. Meanwhile, the soft, plush feel is ideal for stomach and side sleepers.
These cooling pillows are beautifully designed with a white outer lining and double-stitched gusset, which is available in blue, burgundy, gray, black, and more. By placing the pillows in the tumble dryer for just a few minutes, you can re-fluff them to look brand new, even after months of use. So, if you’re looking for stylish, long-lasting pillows, you’re in the right place!
The Tempur-Pedic Dual Cooling Pillow is ideal for anyone who sleeps hot since it has cooling gel layers on both sides. Its memory foam interior relieves pressure on the neck, head, and shoulders and promotes spinal alignment, regardless of your sleeping position, helping prevent neck pain and tension headaches.
While the memory foam offers support, it does not offer the cooling feature, which is why there are two large gel layers on either side of the pillow. The gel helps draw heat away from the body and disperse it, giving you a cooler, more comfortable night’s sleep. If that wasn’t enough, the pillow comes with a premium, breathable quilted cover — and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s this level of quality and attention to detail that makes Tempur-Pedic a titan in the pillow industry.
The Classic Brands Cooling Pillow gives you the perfect combination of temperature regulation and spinal support. The memory foam responds to pressure and temperature to mold your shape, relieving tension and supporting your head and neck for optimal spinal alignment.
This pillow’s open-cell memory foam technology promotes airflow since it’s more porous than regular memory foam. The improved airflow from the open-cell design enhances body heat dissipation. The standout feature is, however, the cooling gel pad covering the pillow’s top. If you tend to sleep hot, this gel pad is a bonus you definitely want. With superb temperature regulation and pressure relief, you’re definitely up for a great night’s rest with this cooling pillow.
Includes removable, machine-washable pillowcase
Breathable, moisture-wicking cover
Naturally hypo-allergenic construction
Comes with a three-year warranty
Only available in one size
People Also Ask
Q: How does a cooling pillow work?
A: Cooling pillows are scientifically engineered with a specialized gel or foam layer to absorb and disperse body heat from your head, shoulders, and neck. They are also made from breathable materials for improved airflow. As the heat dissipates, you are left feeling fresher, cooler, and a lot more comfortable.
Q: Can I wash my gel cooling pillow?
A: This will vary from product to product. While some cooling pillows are machine washable, others include a removable cover that can be machine washed. To make sure your pillow lasts long, follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions.
Q: Are cooling pillows safe?
A: Yes, but there are some measures to take before buying and using your pillow. Choosing a pillow that is OEKO-Tex and CertiPUR-US certified will help ensure that products are non-toxic. When purchasing a new pillow, be sure to let it air out for 24 to 48 hours before using it.
Q: How long will a cooling pillow last?
A: Your pillow's lifespan will depend on the type and quality of the fabric, as well as the amount of pressure applied when sleeping. As a general guideline, if you look after your pillow as per the care instructions, it should last three to four years.
Q: Should I use a pillowcase with a cooling pillow?
A: Using a pillowcase will help keep your cooling pillow clean because the cover absorbs excess moisture or sweat. Be sure to choose a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric such as cotton or bamboo.
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