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Home / Best Pillows of 2022 / Best Cooling Pillow

Best Cooling Pillow

Keith Cushner

Written by

Keith Cushner, Sleep Product Expert

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Methodology

We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guide to provide accurate, data-driven recommendations. Learn More

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We recently updated this list to include the Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow as our best pick for combination sleepers. The Saatva Latex Pillow remains our top pick for cooling pillows.

Sleepfoundation.org is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Most people know the feeling of turning over the pillow to the “cool side” in the middle of the night. Some pillows retain heat and feel warm against the sleeper’s face. Flipping these pillows will help them feel cooler, but only briefly. A pillow specifically designed with breathable components can reduce sweating, overheating, and the general discomfort that comes from sleeping hot. Since warm temperatures can negatively affect sleep quality, a cooling pillow can also curb sleep interruptions and help you avoid daytime fatigue.

Our best cooling pillow picks are a diverse assortment in terms of composition, firmness, and thickness. We personally test every pillow using the same comprehensive methodology, which takes multiple performance factors into account. Performance areas we test for include conforming, shape retention, moldability, temperature control, and odor potential. Our testing team consists of people who tend to sleep hot as well as those who normally don’t struggle with overheating in bed, so our recommendations should reflect the experiences of most sleepers.

The Best Cooling Pillows

How to Build the Coolest Bedroom - Video

Watch the video below for some tips on how to create a cooler sleep environment.

Check out the pillow profiles below to learn more about each of our top picks and why they stand out from the rest of the pack. We’ve highlighted key strengths of each pillow and who we think will enjoy them the most. Our cooling pillows guide also includes detailed information for first-time buyers. We’ll discuss types of pillows that sleep cool – as well as those known for overheating – and how much you can expect to pay for different types of pillows.

Product Details

Best Overall

Saatva Latex Pillow

Saatva Latex Pillow
Price: $165 - Queen $185 - King
Fill: Shredded 100% American Talalay latex and down alternative
Firmness: Medium Soft
Who it's best for:
  • People who enjoy a soft cushioning for their head and neck
  • Hot sleepers
  • Those who prefer pillows with adjustable thickness
Highlights:
  • Plush fill consists of shredded Talalay latex and microdenier material
  • Organic cotton cover is machine-washable
  • 45-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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The Saatva Latex Pillow offers several benefits to sleepers aside from cooling and breathability. Constructed with a chambered design, the pillow features a core containing shredded Talalay latex and an inner pillow cushioned with plush microdenier material. You can remove the microdenier to change the loft, but the pillow retains a comfortably soft feel without losing support.

The pillow’s cover is composed of 100% organic cotton, another material that regulates temperature quite well. Gusseted sides help maintain good loft and neck support. The cotton and latex are also both durable, giving this pillow a longer-than-average expected lifespan. You may remove and machine wash the cover whenever it needs to be cleaned.

King and queen sizes are available, and both carry reasonable price-points. You can save $20 by buying two queens at the same time, or $40 when you buy two kings. Shipping is free for all orders in the contiguous U.S., and your purchase will include a 45-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“It’s hard to find a pillow that feels both soft and supportive, but that’s exactly what the Saatva Latex Pillow accomplishes. We also noticed very little heat retention.”

Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow

Best Value

Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow

Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow
Price: $60 - Standard/Queen $80 - King
Fill: Tencel down alternative fibers
Firmness: Medium Soft
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleeper
  • People with sensitive skin
  • Shoppers with limited budgets
Highlights:
  • Eucalyptus-derived fibers mimic the softness of real down without trapping heat
  • Sateen-woven cover offers a luxuriously smooth feel
  • Fully machine-washable for easy care
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Sijo pillows

The Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow offers high-quality construction and exceptional cooling at an affordable sticker price. The fill consists of down alternative fibers made of eucalyptus-derived Tencel, a highly breathable material with moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry on humid nights. The cover is also made of Tencel for added temperature control. Since Tencel is a durable material, the FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow should hold up over time.

The fill nicely mimics the softness and lightness of real down without using animal-based materials or triggering allergy symptoms. A sateen weave gives the cover a silky-smooth feel, which can benefit people with acne, eczema, and other conditions that cause sensitive skin. Ease of care is another highlight of the pillow. While Sijo recommends laundering the cover and core separately, both components can be washed and dried in your household machines. Standard/queen and king sizes are available.

King size orders qualify for free ground delivery anywhere in the contiguous U.S., while those who purchase the standard/queen receive reasonable shipping rates. Sijo accepts returns within 30 days of receipt, even if you’ve used the pillow during that time frame.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow sleeps cool inside and out thanks to its breathable all-Tencel construction. I enjoyed the plushness of the fiber fill and the cover’s soft, smooth feel on my skin.”

Best Luxury

Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

Cozy Earth Silk Pillow
Price: $279 - Standard $329 - King
Fill: 100% long-strand mulberry silk
Firmness: Medium soft
Who it's best for:
  • People who prefer very soft pillows
  • Hot sleepers
  • Those who would rather purchase sustainably made products
Highlights:
  • High-grade mulbery silk fill provides plush cushioning
  • Breathable viscose from bamboo cover helps the pillow sleep cool
  • Fully machine-washable
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Save up to 25% sitewide

Few textiles offer the same natural cooling as silk. The Cozy Earth Silk Pillow contains fill made from Grade AAA long-strand mulberry silk, an exceptionally soft and breathable material that provides plush cushioning for the head and neck. This type of silk is also highly durable, so the pillow shouldn’t lose shape too quickly. A cover made of viscose from bamboo adds to the luxurious design.

The fill resists clumping and shifting, meaning you won’t need to fluff the pillow too often. The bamboo used to produce the cover fabric is sustainably grown without pesticides and the pillow is not treated with any harmful dyes or chemicals, making the pillow an appealing option for eco-conscious shoppers. The entire pillow can be washed and dried in any household appliance for easy cleaning. Standard and king sizes are available.

The Silk Pillow’s sticker price may seem steep at first glance, but strong performance and a long expected lifespan make it a good investment for shoppers. Each order also comes with a 100-night sleep trial for testing out the pillow and a 10-year warranty against defects such as pilling or discoloration. Cozy Earth provides free shipping.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“We’ve tested out a lot of different pillow materials and very few offer the natural breathability of silk. The Cozy Earth pillow made me feel like my head was resting on a cool cloud.”

Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow

Most Comfortable

Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow

Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow
Price: $99 - Queen $119 - King
Fill: Plant-based down alternative fibers
Firmness: Medium
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • People who tend to sleep hot
  • Those who are allergic to real down
Highlights:
  • Animal-free down alternative fill is derived from plant-based materials
  • Breathable cotton cover helps the pillow sleep cool
  • Durable design with budget-friendly pricing
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Sweet Zzz pillows

Down alternative pillows tend to carry affordable sticker prices, but some offer higher quality and stronger performance than others. The Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow is a great example of a product that is both reasonably priced and well-made. The lofty fill and thick profile make the Plant-Based Pillow a good option for side sleepers, as well as back sleepers who prefer extra cushioning for the head and neck.

The fill consists of plant-based down alternative clusters that don’t contain any real down, which should appeal to both people with down allergies and animal-conscious shoppers. A smooth cotton cover encases the fill and promotes air circulation to help the pillow sleep cool.

Queen and king sizes are available. Both the cover and fill are fully machine washable, making the pillow cheap and easy to keep clean. You can also recover the full shape by placing it in your household dryer from time to time.

In addition to carrying a below-average price-point, the Plant-Based Pillow qualifies for free ground delivery throughout the contiguous U.S. Shipping rates for Canadian customers are also relatively low. Each order comes with a 50-night sleep trial, and those who choose to keep the pillow also receive a manufacturer’s warranty that covers structural defects for up to 1 year.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Plant-Based Pillow has a fuller, loftier feel than many of the down alternative pillows we’ve tested. We expect it to be quite popular with side sleepers and anyone else who enjoys lots of cushioning.”

SHEEX Original Performance Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow

Best for Side Sleepers

SHEEX Original Performance Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow

SHEEX Original Performance Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow
Price: $99 - Standard/Queen $109 - King
Fill: Polyester down alternative fibers
Firmness:  Medium Soft
Who it's best for:
  • People with persistent neck and shoulder pain
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Value seekers
Highlights:
  • Proprietary fiber fill dissipates heat to keep you cool
  • Gusseted design maintains full, even loft
  • Outer cover is removable and machine-washable
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on SHEEX pillows

If you sleep on your side and frequently wake up with stiffness in your neck or shoulders, a high-loft pillow that fills the gap between your head and shoulder may be a good investment. Many down alternative pillows sink too much for side sleepers, but the Original Performance Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow from SHEEX has a 2-inch gusset to help maintain a full shape and even loft. The pillow’s profile may also be thick enough to prevent snoring for a back sleeper without elevating their head excessively.

The pillow contains a proprietary fill blend intended to dissipate body heat. As a down alternative fill, these fibers provide the same softness and loftiness as real down without causing problems for people with down allergies or using materials derived from animals. Another cooling component is the cover made from a breathable, stretchy polyester blend. You can remove and machine wash the cover whenever a cleaning is needed.

The Original Performance Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow has an affordable price-point and low flat-rate shipping is available for customers in the U.S. SHEEX allows returns and exchanges within 60 nights of the delivery date.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The thick gusset helps the Original Performance Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow stand out from other down alternative models. I felt plenty of cushioning between my head and neck, but the fill never flattened or sank too much.”

Layla Kapok Pillow

Best for Neck Pain

Layla Kapok Pillow

Layla Kapok Pillow
Price: $109 - Queen $129 - King
Fill: Shredded memory foam and kapok tree fiber blend
Firmness: Medium Soft
Who it's best for:
  • People whose loft preferences vary on any given night
  • Hot sleepers
  • Side and back sleepers
Highlights:
  • Contains a plush blend of shredded memory foam and natural kapok fibers
  • Cover is infused with copper intended to promote cooling
  • Fill can be added or removed to adjust the loft
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Layla pillows

Many people have a fixed preference when it comes to pillow loft, but those with neck pain may feel more comfortable sleeping on a thinner or thicker pillow depending on their comfort level. The Layla Kapok Pillow offers adjustable loft, so you can customize the volume to your liking. The fill consists of shredded memory foam blended with down-like fibers from the kapok tree, creating a plush feel no matter how much fill you use. The adjustable nature of this pillow also makes it suitable for any sleep position, though side and back sleepers will probably feel most comfortable due to the pillow’s softer feel.

The cover is made from a breathable blend of polyester and viscose. A copper infusion in the fabric is designed to enhance the breathability and help the cover maintain a reasonable temperature any time of year. The cover can be removed and machine washed for easy care. If you’d like to launder the entire pillow, wash on a gentle cycle and dry on a low heat setting – though Layla notes multiple drying cycles may be needed.

The Layla Kapok Pillow is available in queen and king sizes, both of which are priced competitively. If you buy two pillows, the second one will qualify for a 50% discount. Ground shipping is free of charge for all customers in the contiguous U.S. All orders are backed by 120-night sleep trials and 5-year warranties.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The kapok fibers mixed into the fill make the Layla Pillow stand out from other pillows with shredded foam. You get more softness and cushioning, and overheating is virtually nonexistent.”

Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

Best Temperature-Regulating

Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow
Price: $129 - Queen $149 - King
Fill: Open-cell memory foam
Firmness: Medium
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • Combination sleepers
  • People who experience neck pain in the morning
Highlights:
  • Two loft options
  • Open-cell memory foam construction promotes airflow
  • Memory foam cradles the head and neck
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Brooklyn Bedding pillows

Brooklyn Bedding’s Cooling Memory Foam Pillow is constructed with solid memory foam that adapts closely to the head and neck. The memory foam construction is especially notable for gently cradling the head to prevent neck pain.

The pillow is covered in a knit cover that is designed for enhanced breathability. The open-cell design of the memory foam won’t trap as much heat compared to the denser foams used in many competing pillows. The medium feel suits most types of sleepers, and customers can choose between two loft options. Back and stomach sleepers will probably prefer the 4.5-inch medium loft option. Side sleepers may want to opt for the 6-inch higher loft option instead, since this thicker profile lifts the head and neck to promote healthy spinal alignment.

The pillow comes in queen and king sizes. The cover is removable and machine washable, but Brooklyn Bedding recommends only spot cleaning the pillow insert. The company offers free shipping to the contiguous U.S. and a 120-night sleep trial. It ships to customers in Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada for an additional fee. Purchases also come with a 10-year warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Cooling Memory Foam Pillow truly lives up to its name. Comfortable cushioning for the head and neck, even contouring to prevent pressure buildup, and almost no heat retention – the cover fabric works wonders.”

Luxome LAYR Customizable Pillow

Best Airflow

Luxome LAYR Customizable Pillow

Luxome LAYR Customizable Pillow
Price: $100 - Standard/Queen $115 - King
Fill: Down alternative, shredded gel-infused memory foam, solid gel-infused memory foam
Firmness: Adjustable
Who it's best for:
  • People who enjoy frequently changing how their pillow feels
  • Hot sleepers and those who sweat in their sleep
  • Value seekers
Highlights:
  • Adjustable design lets you customize the pillow for firmness and loft
  • Cover is composed of breathable, moisture-wicking viscose derived from bamboo
  • Customers who purchase two pillows receive a substantial discount
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Luxome pillows

The Luxome LAYR Customizable Pillow is one of the most versatile models on the market today. The pillow comes with three inserts, each of which offers a distinct firmness and loft level. An outer cover made of breathable viscose derived from bamboo helps sleepers stay cool. This material also has moisture-wicking properties, and ventilated side panels provide additional airflow.

The softest insert for the pillow consists of down alternative fibers that mimic the plushness and airiness of natural down, but without triggering allergy symptoms. The medium-feel insert blends these down alternative fibers with shredded memory foam to provide balanced contouring for the head and neck. Since the soft and medium inserts are composed of shredded materials, you may add or remove as much fill as you need to achieve a comfortable loft level.

The firmest option features two inserts of solid memory foam, one measuring 1 inch thick and the other measuring 2 inches. If these inserts feel too firm, you may feel more comfortable after adding some of the down alternative fibers and/or shredded memory foam for extra cushioning. Luxome encourages owners to mix and match the inserts to create their ideal feel and loft level. An inner liner holds the inserts. You can remove this liner and machine wash the cover whenever it needs to be cleaned.

The LAYR Customizable Pillow is competitively priced, and those who buy two pillows receive a 50% discount on the second model. Your purchase also includes inner liners for each insert for convenient storage. Standard ground delivery is free of charge for customers in the contiguous U.S., and flat shipping rates are reasonable for international orders. Luxome allows returns and exchanges within 30 days of the delivery date.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Luxome LAYR is one of the most customizable pillows we tested. With so many possible combinations, most people should be able to nail down an arrangement that feels comfortable and supportive enough.”

Nectar Copper Pillow

Best Neck Support

Nectar Copper Pillow

Nectar Copper Pillow
Price: $99 - Standard $119 - King
Fill: Solid memory foam
Firmness: Medium
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • People who normally find memory foam pillows too hot
  • Budget-conscious shoppers
Highlights:
  • Breathable cover woven with copper fibers helps reduce heat retention
  • Solid memory foam core contours evenly around the head and neck
  • Affordable pricing in all sizes and a lengthy 50-night trial
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Nectar pillows

Nectar’s reputation for high-quality memory foam sleep products with approachable price-points extends beyond the brand’s mattress line. One of Nectar’s newest additions is the Copper Pillow, which contains solid memory foam with a plush, adaptive feel to alleviate pressure and soreness around your head and neck. A breathable cover woven with copper fibers helps offset the foam’s heat-absorbing tendencies, resulting in the best of both worlds for hot sleepers who need extra neck support.

At 5 inches thick, the pillow’s high loft is best suited to side sleepers. Back sleepers who snore and need to elevate their head should also find the pillow comfortable. If stains or smudges occur, spot clean the fabric with water and a gentle cloth. Standard and king sizes are available.

In addition to its budget-friendly pricing, the Copper Pillow qualifies for free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Your order comes with a generous sleep trial spanning 50 nights in length. If you decide to keep the pillow, Nectar further backs your purchase with a 3-year warranty against workmanship and material defects.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Nectar Copper Pillow cushions and contours to the head, but the cooling cover prevents the foam from trapping too much heat. As a side sleeper, I appreciated the full loft and even support for my head and neck.”

Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow

Best for Combination Sleepers

Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow

Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow
Price: $69 - Standard $89 - King
Fill: Polysilk down alternative fibers
Firmness: Medium soft, medium firm
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who switch sleep positions during the night
  • Sleepers who enjoy soft pillows
Highlights:
  • Two firmness options accommodate different sleep preferences
  • Down alternative fill balances plushness and support
  • Cooling Outlast fabric cover
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Slumber Cloud pillows

The Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow is a down alternative model that balances a fluffy feel with substantial support. The well-rounded design is ideal for combination sleepers who need a versatile pillow to accommodate the needs of different sleep positions through the night.

You can pick between two firmness levels. The soft/medium version is recommended for stomach sleepers or those who enjoy softer pillows, while the medium/firm option is best suited for side or back sleepers. Regardless of firmness level, the UltraCool pillow is filled with a lofty down alternative fiber that mimics the feel of down but is not sourced from animals. We found the pillow contours closely to the head and neck but also maintains moderate support to keep the head elevated.

The UltraCool Pillow’s greatest asset is its thoughtful cooling design. The cover is composed of a special Outlast fabric engineered to draw heat from your body and regulate temperature throughout the night. People who run hot or sweat a lot during sleep should feel cooler on this pillow. The pillow comes in a standard or king size, and you can machine wash it on a delicate setting.

Slumber Cloud offers free shipping and a 60-night sleep trial. If you decide to keep the pillow, you’ll receive a 180-day warranty.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our team at Sleep Foundation has tested over 300 pillows in order to find the best models for every type of sleeper. Each pillow undergoes the same rigorous testing process, during which we examine and handle the pillow to evaluate it for  performance areas such as shape retention, moldability, and overall support. Technological implements allow us to track heat buildup and measure concentrations for particles that emit bothersome odors. We also take weight, firmness options, and ease of care into account when assigning pillow ratings.

How We Evaluated These Pillows

Since sleep position plays a large role in how comfortable a pillow feels, we’ve included side, back, stomach, and combination sleepers on our team, in order to address the needs of as many sleepers as possible. During the testing process, our team members lay their head on each pillow to evaluate firmness, contouring, and temperature neutrality. We’ve synthesized our findings to present what we believe are the best cooling pillows on the market. Our testers found that these pillows retained little heat, wicked away moisture, and slept cool compared to other models we evaluated.

What is a Cooling Pillow?


A cooling pillow prevents heat retention and provides a cool or temperature neutral sleep surface. This type of pillow is constructed to draw heat away from the body and increase airflow to prevent heat retention. The materials used in the pillow cover are often moisture-wicking and breathable.

Choosing the right pillow is just one component of creating a cooling sleep environment. There is a direct relationship between temperature and sleep, and your bedroom should be set to a comfortable temperature to improve sleep quality. Colder room temperatures facilitate better sleep, and many studies recommend keeping the bedroom around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your body has a circadian rhythm that lowers your body temperature when it is time to prepare for sleep. A hot room can increase wakefulness. This disrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and results in poor quality sleep. Some people sleep hotter than others. This can make it harder to fall asleep. Cooling bedding can provide comfort and encourage restful sleep.

How to Choose a Cooling Pillow

There are many factors to consider when choosing a cooling pillow, including its cooling properties and the quality of materials used. Every sleeper has unique needs, but there are common elements that can help each person determine if a pillow is right for them. These include price, loft, firmness level, and pressure relief. Keep in mind your sleeping position, weight, and personal preferences when shopping for a cooling pillow.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Cooling Pillow

Below are some key factors to keep in mind when purchasing a cooling pillow. A cooling pillow draws heat away from the body, and certain materials do this better than others. That being said, each person is different and what works for one may not work for another.

In addition to regulating temperature and providing a comfortable sleep environment, a cooling pillow may also relieve pressure and provide ample support for the head, neck, and shoulders. While the focus of this guide is a pillow’s cooling properties, there are additional factors that determine if a pillow is a good purchase or not. Shoppers should consider what type of pillow they want, and what is most important to them in addition to cooling properties.

  • Cooling Properties: The cooling properties of a pillow determine how well it regulates temperature, dissipates heat, and keeps you cool throughout the night. Most cooling pillows have passive cooling properties, meaning they are constructed with materials that either encourage airflow or draw heat away from the body. Gel, copper, phase change materials, and graphite are all conductive materials that pull heat away and dissipate it. Moisture-wicking materials like wool, cotton, and bamboo are helpful for hot sleepers prone to sweating throughout the night. These breathable materials also circulate air and prevent heat retention. For shoppers, it is important to focus on the materials and construction of the pillow over any marketing buzz.
  • Sleeping Position: The position you sleep in each night determines the firmness and loft you should look for in a pillow. Side sleepers need a pillow with a higher loft that fills the space between the neck and shoulders. This helps keep the spine aligned and reduces pressure. Back sleepers maintain a neutral posture, but need a pillow that keeps their head level and not tilted too far forward or back. Stomach sleepers prefer thinner pillows that keep their head and neck at a comfortable angle.
  • Price: Pillows are available at a wide range of price-points, so setting a budget before shopping can be helpful. Keep in mind that some materials are more expensive than others. A high-quality cooling pillow can range between $75 to $150 or more, which is more expensive than the average pillow.
  • Pressure Relief: A pillow provides additional support and relieves pressure and tension in the neck and shoulders. Pillows that conform to the shape of the head and neck help keep the spine aligned. Memory foam is well-known for its conforming nature, while latex also offers pressure relief.
  • Quality Materials: The quality of materials used in a cooling pillow determines its lifespan. Many cooling pillows are made with high-quality materials that are especially durable. This includes natural latex and foams that offer shape retention and support. As a result, cooling pillows often last longer than other pillows.
  • Firmness Level: For cooling pillows, a medium soft to medium firm feel is common. Materials like wool, down, and shredded memory foam are often soft. Solid foam and latex pillows are more likely to be medium to medium firm. Buckwheat pillows and some foam options can be firm. When shopping for a pillow, personal preferences and sleeping position often determine which firmness level is the right fit.
  • Loft: Loft refers to the height of the pillow. Cooling pillows often have a medium to high loft. Some materials like shredded foam, down, and wool have a high loft but compress easily. Certain cooling pillows have an adjustable loft, meaning you can remove or add filling to change the height of the pillow. A higher loft is better for side sleepers, while back sleepers tend to prefer a medium loft. Stomach sleepers benefit from a low loft.

What Materials are in a Cooling Pillow?

A cooling pillow uses materials in its fill and cover to regulate temperature and dissipate heat. We’ll break down common fill and cover materials here. It should be noted that certain materials are highly conductive and draw heat away from the body. Others allow air to flow through them to dissipate heat. There are multiple options available, and certain pillow types will work better for some than others.

Fill Materials

  • Latex: Latex is made from rubber tree sap, which is harvested and processed using the Dunlop or Talalay method. Dunlop latex is heavier, with a dense bottom and resilient feel. Talalay latex requires more processing, with a homogenous and breathable result. Latex offers ample pressure relief and is more breathable than synthetic foam. Some heat retention is possible, but many cooling pillows use aerated latex to dissipate heat and encourage airflow.
  • Memory Foam: Memory foam is a viscoelastic polyfoam that responds to heat and pressure to conform closely. This results in a customized feel for sleepers and pressure relief for the head, neck, and shoulders. Memory foam pillows may retain heat and restrict airflow, so look for a cooling pillow that offsets this. Open-cell memory foam has better airflow. Memory foam can also be shredded to let air circulate, or infused with gel or copper to draw heat away from the body.
  • Gel or Copper: Gel and copper are highly conductive materials that pull heat away from the body. These can be added to other fill materials, most often foam. Gel has a cool to the touch feel. Copper is antimicrobial. These materials prevent heat from building up in the pillow, but they often result in a higher price-point.
  • Buckwheat: Buckwheat hulls are the shells of the buckwheat grain. The hulls have an open shape and create air pockets in the pillow. This prevents heat retention. The hulls are malleable and supportive. Buckwheat pillows may take some getting used to, as the hulls have a natural odor and are prone to making a rustling noise when moved.
  • Wool: Wool is harvested from lambs and sheep. The natural fiber has a crimped shape that adds ample loft and airflow to a pillow. Wool acts as natural insulation, so it pulls heat and moisture away in warmer climates and retains heat in colder areas. A wool pillow is best for those who want year-round temperature regulation.
  • Down Alternative: Down alternative is often made with polyester or synthetic fibers that imitate the feel of down. This offers a vegan alternative to down, which is made with the down feathers of geese or ducks. Down alternative fill is less likely to retain heat than down. It is also more affordable.

Cover Materials

  • Cotton: Natural cotton fibers are soft and breathable. There are several varieties of cotton, and the fibers can vary from short-staple to extra-long staple. Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton are types of extra-long staple cotton that are soft and breathable. Cotton naturally wicks away moisture for a cooling feel. This material is often used in covers as it increases airflow and is easy to clean.
  • Phase Change Material: Phase change materials control temperature by absorbing body heat and releasing it. These materials change from a liquid to solid state to regulate temperature. Textiles that incorporate phase-change materials are often used in cooling pillows to draw heat away from the body.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo is a natural fiber that is moisture-wicking and lightweight. It is more absorbent than cotton, making it an ideal choice for hot sleepers who sweat throughout the night. Bamboo is breathable and increases airflow throughout the pillow.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Cooling Pillow?

Many shoppers are drawn to cooling pillows for their temperature-regulating properties. These pillows reduce heat retention and are an important part of creating a comfortable sleep environment. However, due to the cooling properties and materials used, cooling pillows are more expensive. There are a few pros and cons shoppers should consider before purchasing a cooling pillow.

Pros Cons
  • Temperature Neutrality: Cooling pillows draw heat away from the body and prevent sleeping hot.
  • Long Lifespan: Cooling pillows are made with durable materials that result in a longer lifespan.
  • Pressure Relief: Tension in the neck and shoulders is relieved by cooling pillows that have a latex or foam construction.
  • Adjustable Loft: Shredded foam, buckwheat, or wool fill can be removed or added to an adjustable pillow for a customized feel.
  • Often Hypoallergenic: Materials like latex, foam, and wool are often used in cooling pillows and resist common allergens.
  • Cost: Cooling pillows have a higher-than-average price-point due to the quality of materials used.
  • Maintenance: Many cooling pillows are difficult to clean, especially if they have a solid foam or latex core that cannot be washed.
  • Not for Everyone: Those who do not sleep hot may find a cooling pillow is unnecessary.
  • Odor: Materials used in cooling pillows may off-gas or have a natural odor.

Who is Best Suited to a Cooling Pillow?

Hot sleepers especially benefit from cooling pillows, but there are also benefits for side and back sleepers. It is important to consider sleeping position and personal preferences when shopping for a pillow. A cooling pillow might not be right for everyone and there are special considerations that should be kept in mind.

A cooling pillow is best suited for:

  • Hot Sleepers: Hot sleepers need cooling bedding to prevent overheating. This allows them to sleep comfortably, as temperature and sleep quality are connected. A cooling pillow can help draw heat away from the body and provide a cooling surface for hot sleepers. A cooling pillow will also wick away sweat.
  • Side Sleepers: Side sleepers need a higher loft pillow to keep the head elevated and neck aligned. Many cooling pillows have a higher loft that is suitable for side sleepers. Adjustable cooling pillows allow for additional fill and a higher loft.
  • Back Sleepers: Back sleepers need a medium loft pillow that supports the head without letting it tilt too far forward or back. Most cooling pillows have the ideal loft and firmness for back sleepers. Materials like memory foam and latex contour to the shape of the head for proper support and alignment.

These kinds of pillows are not well suited for:

  • Stomach Sleepers: Stomach sleepers need a low loft pillow. This keeps the neck at a comfortable angle. Some cooling pillows are adjustable, but most have a medium to high loft that is less than ideal for stomach sleepers. Stomach sleepers often prefer a soft pillow and most cooling pillows are considered medium soft to firm.
  • Sleepers with Odor Sensitivities: Cooling pillows often use synthetic foams or natural materials that prevent heat retention. Synthetic foam tends to off-gas, which causes a chemical smell in the pillow. This usually dissipates within a few days, but those who are sensitive to odors may notice it for longer. Materials like wool and buckwheat also have a natural odor that may be off-putting to sleepers with odor sensitivities.

Other Tips for Sleeping Cool

A cooling pillow is an essential part of a comfortable sleep environment, but it is just one component. Hot sleepers can take additional measures to stay cool throughout the night.

  • Bedding: Using breathable, lightweight bedding prevents heat retention. Natural materials like cotton, bamboo, and eucalyptus are ideal. These fibers are commonly used in cooling bed sheets, comforters, and duvets. Pay attention to thread count and weave to ensure the bedding allows air to circulate. A percale weave offers a crisp and cool feel for hot sleepers. Avoid heavy fabrics and synthetic materials that are not breathable.
  • Room Temperature: A cool room improves sleep quality. The ideal room temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the thermostat in this range, and use a fan to keep air circulating. Window shades can act as insulation, preventing hot air from coming in and cool air from escaping.
  • Mattress: There are plenty of mattress options that regulate temperature and prevent sleeping hot. The best mattresses for hot sleepers are often made with latex or gel-infused memory foam. A hybrid construction with coil support increases airflow throughout the mattress and can make a significant difference for hot sleepers.
  • Pajamas: What you wear to bed plays a role in how well your body regulates temperature. Opt for natural, breathable fabrics like cotton and bamboo. Avoid heavier fabrics, thermal pajamas, or flannel pieces.
  • Mattress Topper: If buying a new mattress is not in the cards, a mattress topper can be an affordable way to make your current mattress more comfortable. Toppers act as an additional comfort layer and can improve the temperature regulation of the mattress. Aerated or gel-infused foam, latex, and wool are all breathable mattress topper options.

Cooling Pillow FAQs

  • How do cooling pillows work?

    Cooling pillows are often infused with materials like gel, graphite, or copper that help draw heat away from your body. Certain models combine these elements with a construction that promotes airflow so that heat can escape. Cover fabrics like cotton, rayon derived from bamboo, and wool are beneficial too since they wick sweat and increase breathability.

    Your pillow’s shape can also have an effect on how cool it feels. A solid piece of foam will generally retain more heat than it will when the foam is shredded, as air can better circulate around the shredded fill. Consider your sleeper type and fill preferences to find a cooling pillow that has all the qualities you need.

  • How do you wash a cool gel pillow?

    While exact washing directions will vary by manufacturer, many cool gel pillows are spot clean only and should not be put in a washing machine. Most cooling pillows take this into account and provide a washable cover that’s easily removed. If you need an option that’s simple to launder, make sure to research the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • Can cooling pillows be toxic?

    Purchasing a pillow that’s OEKO-Tex certified and CertiPUR-US certified can help you ensure that your pillow has low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In small doses, VOCs aren’t a threat to your health but can be irritating to people with allergies or respiratory problems. VOCs are present in many foam products and can have an unpleasant smell. It typically takes about 24 to 48 hours for these VOCs to dissipate, so sleepers particularly sensitive to smell should allow their pillow to fully air out before use.

  • How long do cooling pillows last?

    Your cooling pillow’s lifespan will depend on the quality of its materials, but you can expect a well-made pillow to last 3 to 4 years. Your weight and sleeper type can also affect how long your pillow lasts. A pillow that gets significant amounts of direct pressure will likely break down faster than one that has less weight applied. Choosing a high-quality fill and the correct firmness level for your sleeper type can help ensure your pillow goes the distance.

Still have questions?

Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market. Send an email to [email protected] or call us at (877) 672-8966 with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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About Our Editorial Team

author
Keith Cushner

Sleep Product Expert

Keith is a sleep product expert with nearly a decade of experience researching, developing, and testing sleep products.