Hot sleepers know: It's not easy getting a good night's rest. Whether it's night sweats, hot flashes, or a case of bad dreams, there's always something that's keeping you up at night and leaving you drenched. The good news is that you can set up your bedroom to protect your body from sweltering hot conditions, and no, we're not talking about lowering the temperature on your thermostat (ideal but expensive). Similar to cooling mattresses and bed sheets, the best cooling pillows, which are made of breathable materials that regulate temperature, are great options. Plus, they don't cost a fortune. If your head, neck, and shoulders get a little extra sweaty in the p.m., check out these sweat-free options.
The best cooling pillows, at a glance:
- Best overall: Coop Home Goods, The Eden, $96
- Best budget: Qutool, Cooling Pillows, $39
- Best latex: Purple, Harmony Pillow, $143
- Best hybrid: Casper, Hybrid Pillow, $99
- Best gel: Allswell, Cooling Gel Pillow, 40
- Best value: Casper, Essential Cooling Pillow, $60
- Best support: Sleep Number, Contoured Pillow, $130
Do cooling pillows actually work?
The short answer: Yes. Temperature is a big factor in a person's ability to fall asleep, and cooling pillows bring down a sleeper's body temperature. When a person sleeps hot, it can cause them to wake up more often in the night and not spend as much time in deeper stages of sleep, according to Peter Polos, MD, PhD, FCCP, FAASM, a sleep medicine specialist and sleep expert at Sleep Number. "Cooling pillows regulate temperature throughout the night and are made with materials that absorb excess heat and humidity to help the sleeper cool," says Dr. Polos. "A cool sleep environment (best at 68 degrees Fahrenheit) can help promote sleep in general, and a cooling pillow can add to that."
What to look for in a cooling pillow
Firmness is essential when narrowing down a cooling pillow, says Dr. Polos. "In general, a firmer pillow is associated with less neck and shoulder discomfort," he explains. Firmer pillows are usually made of memory foam, latex, and down fill, whereas softer pillows can be made of down and down with feathers. However, softer pillows work best if you're a stomach sleeper, as it puts less stress on the neck.
Cooling pillow materials
Dr. Polos also recommends checking the material before you buy. Cooling pillows are made with a variety of materials, including:
Gel pillows are infused with pockets of cooling gel, which "has a cool touch feel and helps draw heat away from the body," says Logan Foley, certified sleep coach and managing editor at sleepfoundation.org. There are different designs, including gel pods, embedded gel layers, and gel infusions in the material of the pillow.
Latex pillows are usually made of 100 percent latex or latex derived from rubber. Of all the materials, latex is one of the most cooling materials because it's porous, allowing ventilation of hot air. "Latex helps dissipate heat and promote airflow," adds Foley.
Memory foam pillows are made of foam that's engineered with viscose and elastic. While supportive, traditional block memory foam can retain more heat than shredded memory foam, so it's best to stick with the latter if you sleep hot.
Down and feather fill
Down pillows are usually stuffed with natural filling from ducks and geese and are used primarily to keep people warm. However, down pillows tend to be more breathable than memory foam and are ideal for stomach sleepers due to their soft nature. On the other hand, feather fill is breathable because it leaves room for airflow and helps to maintain a cooler sleeping environment for any sweaty folks. If you have allergies or would prefer not to use animal feathers, you'll want to avoid this filling.
Foley says that gel and latex are the most common materials found in cooling pillows due to its natural cooling capabilities.
How long do cooling pillows last?
Depending on the materials, cooling pillows should last between three and four years, says Foley. "Choosing a high-quality fill and firmness level for your sleeper type should help your pillow last longer," says Foley.
With so many cooling pillow options, it can be quite the search to find the best option for you. Considering this, we did the leg work and rounded up the best cooling pillows of every budget, material, and firmness. Scroll down to see the top picks.
There’s no place we’d rather be than in our beds, sleeping on Coop Home Goods’ Eden Pillow. It’s constructed out of cooling gel-infused memory foam (that bounces right back even after a night’s sleep) and micro-fiber filling that keeps your temperature low while providing long-lasting comfort and support throughout the night. That’s how the pillow gets its “air conditioning” name. For areas where you need extra support, stuff the extra half pound of filling, which is included with each purchase.
The foam is enclosed in a plush, machine-washable cover, so you can easily take it off and throw it in the washer on laundry day. Breathable, supportive, and hypoallergenic—it’s no wonder why our editors swear by it. We promise you’ll love it, too.
Material: 100 percent virgin memory foam and microfiber
- Cooling-gel memory foam
- Machine-washable cover
- Comes with extra fill
Cooling pillows can cost a pretty penny, but Qutool’s pack of two is a budget-friendly buy. Each pillow is crafted out of memory foam and microfibers, delivering a cloud-like feel that’s soft, cushioned, and supportive. The foam contours to the unique shape of your neck, so you’ll no longer wake up with a stiff neck. And since it’s shredded, warm air doesn’t stay trapped inside (too-da-loo, night sweats), keeping you cool all night long.
Just FYI, Amazon shoppers say the pillows can run on the firmer side, so it may not be ideal for stomach sleepers. Overall, the pillow boasts 7,000 five-star ratings on Amazon with customers saying it’s their “favorite pillow ever.” For just $50 (it’s on sale for $40, btw), you can cop two dreamy pillows. So dreamy, it’s like sleeping on clouds.
Material: memory foam and microfiber
- Comes with two pillows
- Made of shredded memory foam
- May not be ideal for stomach sleepers
For sweltering hot sleepers, latex works best, and you’ll want to add Purple’s Harmony Pillow to your sleep regimen. The honeycomb-like structure vents hot air, front to back, so you won’t wake up in a sweat. Covered in a moisture-wicking and breathable mesh material, the pillow has these extra cooling capabilities. The elastic polymer composition is ideal because it holds its shape over time, giving you support for months and years to come. It’s durable, holds its shape, and is hypoallergenic: this pillow, as the name implies, will leave you in “harmony” and peace. Finally, a sweat-free night!
Material: Elastic polymer
- Extremely breathable
- Holds shape
- May not be ideal looking for a firm pillow
Sleeping on Casper’s Hybrid Pillow is like sleeping on a marshmallow. It’s pillowy—yet-supportive—all thanks to its fiber and foam blend, and it doesn’t need any fluffing because it holds its shape pretty well. Because of the hybrid and three-layer design, shoppers say that it “offers great neck support” and leaves behind “no sweaty head.” Even on warm nights, it’s cool to the touch. To clean the pillow, simply remove the machine-washable cover and wash in cold water.
Material: polyurethane foam and polyester fiber
- Hybrid design
- Marshmellow feel
- Offers neck support
The one-stop shop for luxurious and affordable home goods, Allswell should be at the top of your list. This one is infused with cooling gel that activates once heat is detected. It transfers heat away from the body, so you can get a good night’s snooze (let the Zzzz commence). In addition to gel, the base of the pillow is memory foam, so you’ll have support and comfort. Plus, it comes with an OEKO-TEX certified cover—which means the cover was made free of harmful chemicals and ingredients. Tossing or turning is no longer a thing with Allswell Cooling Pillow. Sweet dreams!
Material: gel and memory foam
- OEKO-TEX Certified
- Memory foam
- May be too thick for some
Casper’s Essential Cooling Pillow has all the elements Dr. Polos had talked about. It’s buoyant (but still supportive) and breathable, and is filled with microfibers for a comfy snooze. The pillow has chambers to bar the material from clumping, so you’ll have a smooth place to rest your head. The 100 percent cotton cover is airy and absorbs warmth even if you’re tossing or turning. The pillow, which features a cool-to-the-touch cover, will begin to chill your head as soon as it touches the pillow. All of these features make it worth the $60 valuation. You won’t want to stop snuggling with it.
Material: Microfiber and cotton
- Has chambers to prevent clumping
- Cotton cover
- 30-night trial
- May be too plush for some
For those who need a little extra support, Dr. Polos recommends Sleep Number’s True Temp Pillow. This pillow is engineered with the brand’s proprietary technology called 37.5 Technology. Essentially, it has active particles from volcanic rock (cool, we know)—which captures moisture and heat. The curvature of the True Temp pillow offers neck support and is ideal for back and side sleepers who need a little extra va va voom. What’s more, it comes with a fiberfill cover that’s cool to the touch, so you don’t overheat and removable foam inserts to customize your support how you like it.
- Contoured pillow
- Comes with removable foam inserts
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