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Most people know the feeling of turning over the pillow to the “cool side” in the middle of the night. Flipping pillows may 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.

Our best cooling pillow picks vary in composition, firmness, and thickness. Some of the pillows are composed of materials with great temperature control, while others promote airflow and breathability. Our testers are people who tend to sleep hot as well as those who normally don’t overheat, so our picks below should reflect the experiences of most sleepers.

What’s the Best Cooling Pillow?

We recommend hot sleepers look for pillows made with breathable materials or enhanced cooling technology to keep them comfortable throughout the night. The Saatva Latex Pillow is made from organic cotton and latex, both naturally breathable materials that help prevent overheating.

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.

In-Depth Reviews

“The Saatva Latex Pillow has everything you want out of a cooling pillow: a 100% cotton case and shredded Talalay latex that helps with breathability. Our field tester has been sleeping on the pillow for over a month and loves the amount of support it offers her head and neck while still feeling moldable.” – Mark Horiuchi, Lead Product Tester

  • Pros

    1. Plush fill consists of shredded Talalay latex and microdenier material

    2. Organic cotton cover is machine-washable

    3. 45-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty

  • Cons

    1. Profile may be too high for stomach sleepers

    2. Not suitable for sleepers with latex allergies

Price Range

$165 – $185


Shredded Talalay latex and down alternative


Medium Soft

Our team has personally tested hundreds of pillows, many of which sleep fairly cool. The Saatva Latex Pillow stands out from most of the pack for its durable construction, high-quality materials, and lofty shape. Shredded latex fill makes the pillow plush and responsive in equal measure, and a breathable cover further sweetens the deal for hot sleepers.

How It Performed

The Saatva Pillow measures 8 inches thick, making it thicker and loftier than many competing models. During our hands-on tests, the pillow was a big hit among our side sleepers. People who use the side position typically need a thicker pillow to fill the space between their head and downward-facing shoulder, which promotes even alignment and reduces pressure buildup. Some of our back sleepers also felt comfortable resting their head on the pillow. The thick profile makes this pillow particularly useful for back sleepers prone to snoring.

Thanks to the chambered design, our testers noticed consistent shape retention. You may need to fluff the pillow from time to time, but probably not as often as a pillow with down or down alternative fill. Latex is a naturally durable material, so we also expect this pillow to hold up well over time.

What It’s Made of

The pillow’s dual-chamber design consists of a shredded latex core and outer layer containing down-like microdenier fibers. These fibers make the pillow feel plush as you lay down your head, while the latex provides enough reinforcement to support your neck and shoulders. A cover made of organic cotton encases the fill.

You may machine wash the pillow after separating the cover and outer chamber from the latex core. Queen and king sizes are available. For an additional charge, you can add a pair of matching cotton sateen pillowcases. The Latex Pillow is reasonably priced and Saatva offers free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. Each order includes a 45-night trial period, and those who keep the pillow receive a warranty covering structural defects for up to 1 year.

“I love how the Bear Pillow cushions my head and neck without the heat retention I’ve noticed with other foam pillows. The cool-to-the-touch cover is a nice addition, too.” – Brad Nehring, Product Expert

  • Pros

    1. Aerated foam core cushions the head and neck while promoting steady airflow

    2. Cooling cover with mesh panels minimizes heat retention

    3. Below-average pricing compared to the competition

  • Cons

    1. Cover can only be spot-cleaned

    2. Returns are not accepted after the original point of purchase

Price Range

$125 – $145


Aerated LOFT-X polyfoam



A high-quality cooling pillow in today’s market can be fairly expensive, but the Bear Pillow proves you don’t need to break the bank to sleep at a comfortable temperature. The solid foam core creates a plush, adaptive surface, but the material is ventilated with small holes to promote airflow and reduce heat buildup. A phase change cover with breathable mesh panels adds to the thoughtful craftsmanship — if you want to sleep cool and minimize pressure buildup around your neck and shoulders, this pillow is the best of both worlds.

How It Performed

Our hands-on tests show side and back sleepers will probably feel most comfortable on the slightly thicker king size pillow, which has a high-loft design. Stomach sleepers should consider the lower-loft queen size to lower their potential for neck strain. Our team loved the pillow’s gentle contour — you get ample cushioning without the “hugging” effect many people dislike about memory foam.

Since the core contains solid foam, the pillow requires virtually no fluffing to maintain a full shape. This does, however, make it less moldable than pillows with shredded fill. The cover is neither removable nor machine-washable, so cleaning may be time-consuming. Off-gassing odor is fairly strong for the first few nights. You may want to air out the pillow in a well-ventilated room for up to 48 hours before using it for the first time.

What It’s Made of

The core contains LOFT-X polyfoam, a proprietary foam that’s hole-punched during production. A cover woven with cooling Celliant fibers encases the foam. Mesh panels at opposite corners are intended to promote circulation and further elevate the pillow’s temperature-regulating abilities. The king size measures 5.5 inches thick, and the queen size is 5 inches thick.

Bear offers free ground shipping to all customers in the contiguous U.S. This is a final-sale item, so returns are not allowed after your order has been processed, but the Bear Pillow is backed by a two-year warranty.

“Brooklyn Bedding’s Talalay Latex Pillow nails that balance between cushioning and buoyancy for people who need softness and support in equal measure. The pillow also sleeps remarkably cool thanks to its ventilated core and breathable cover.” – Jackson Lindeke, Director of Product Experience

  • Pros

    1. Ventilated latex promotes airflow to maintain a comfortable core temperature

    2. Cover is made of breathable, moisture-wicking Tencel fabric

    3. Two profile options to suit different sleep positions

  • Cons

    1. New owners report a faint yet noticeable “rubber-like” odor when the pillow is new

    2. Lacks the moldability of pillows with shredded fill

Price Range

$89 – $99


Talalay latex


Medium Firm

While comfort is highly subjective, our team has found some pillows appeal to a wider swath of sleepers than others. Take the Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow, a true crowd-pleaser thanks to its plush-yet-supportive feel, consistent cooling, and durable design. You can choose between two loft levels for added optimization, and the sticker price falls well below average for this pillow type.

How It Performed

Our team tested both of the pillow’s lofts. Side sleepers preferred the extra cushioning of the 5-inch design, which nicely filled the space between their heads and downward-facing shoulders — this is important for proper alignment and pressure relief along the spine. Back sleepers felt more comfortable on the 4-inch pillow, which elevates the head without straining the neck or shoulders too much. Most of our stomach sleepers found both lofts too high, as people who use this position generally prefer pillows that measure 3 inches or shorter.

Temperature control is a defining strength. This can be attributed to both the ventilated latex core and the moisture-wicking Tencel cover. Our testers noticed little to no heat retention when lying on the pillow. While the solid latex isn’t very moldable, the pillow offers excellent shape retention and never needs to be fluffed. Although the latex has a distinct rubbery odor that may be present for the first night or two, the smells aren’t nearly as harsh as the off-gassing produced by synthetic foam.

What It’s Made of

Talalay latex is known for its lightweight, responsive composition. The material provides some cushioning, but not to the same “hugging” extent as memory foam. This can be an advantage or a drawback depending on how much contouring you prefer, but most of our testers appreciated how buoyant and supportive this pillow felt.

The latex is ventilated with small holes to push air throughout the pillow’s core, and a cover made of eucalyptus-derived Tencel encases the latex. You can remove and machine-wash the cover as needed. Queen and king sizes are available for both lofts.

The Talalay Latex Pillow’s sticker price is quite low compared to the competition and standard ground shipping is free throughout the contiguous U.S. Brooklyn Bedding backs each purchase with a 30-night trial and three-year warranty.

“As a side sleeper, I’ll attest that the curved shape of the Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow really does wonders for relieving pressure buildup at night. And you can’t beat the adjustable loft, which lets you create your perfect profile.” – Tom Ryan, Head of Product Testing

  • Pros

    1. Ergonomic shape enhances pressure relief for side sleepers

    2. Latex and down alternative fill promote natural cooling

    3. Sleepers can customize loft by adding or removing fill

  • Cons

    1. Loft is probably too high for stomach sleepers

    2. Only available in one size




75% Latex and 25% Polyester Fiber


Medium, Adjustable

The Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow has a U-shape design that caters to the specific needs of side sleepers. The concave shape along the bottom offers a space for shoulders to rest while alleviating pressure buildup in your neck. The pillow is an ideal alternative for side sleepers who find traditionally shaped pillows uncomfortable.

How It Performed

The side sleepers on our test team gave the pillow high marks for its attentive design. While conventional rectangular pillows sometimes push up against the shoulders, this pillow’s unique shape created a perfect space for the shoulder to nestle in. The cradling design promotes even alignment between the head, neck, and spine. Our testers were also impressed with the adjustability of this model. You can add or remove fill to achieve the loft that feels most comfortable to you.

We didn’t notice much heat retention when we tested the pillow in our lab, and this was thanks to the breathable fill and cover material. The hot sleepers on our team recommend this pillow to anyone who lives in warmer climates or easily overheats in bed.

What It’s Made of

The Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow is filled with a blend of 75% shredded latex and 25% down alternative fibers. The latex gives the pillow a responsive feel, while the down alternative creates a bit of plushness for cushioning. The cover is composed of cotton, polyester, and spandex, and feels soft and slightly stretchy. You can unzip the cover to add or remove fill, and Eli & Elm sells additional fill for sleepers who need extra loft.

Eli & Elm ships the pillow for free to addresses in the contiguous U.S., but note that California residents are responsible for shipping fees. You’ll receive a 45-night sleep trial with your pillow and a 5-year warranty.

“A lot of solid memory foam pillows we’ve tested absorb and trap heat, but the Nectar Dual Cooling mitigates this issue thanks to a breathable cover. Extra airflow offsets the heat retention, allowing you to enjoy the foam’s cushioning and pressure-relieving abilities without feeling overly warm.” – Jeremy Klein, Senior Product Expert

  • Pros

    1. Solid memory foam makes the core feel plush and adaptive

    2. Cooling cover promotes air circulation and resists heat buildup

    3. Each order come with a generous 50-night trial

  • Cons

    1. Too thick for most stomach sleepers

    2. Strong off-gassing odor for the first few nights




Solid memory foam



Airflow is key to consistent temperature control, and some pillows promote circulation better than others. The Nectar Dual Cooling Pillow is a prime example. While the core contains solid memory foam, a material known for heat retention, the polyethylene cover allows air to flow freely throughout the interior. This helps the pillow — and you — maintain a comfortable temperature for sleep.

How It Performed

Most side and back sleepers on our team felt comfortable on the Dual Cooling Pillow. The gentle foam and high 6-inch loft were ideal for side sleepers who need extra cushioning between their head and downward-facing shoulder, while back sleepers should receive the padding they need without too much elevation around their head and neck. Stomach sleepers may feel differently, as thick pillows can strain the neck and lead to soreness in the morning. We recommend a low-profile pillow for those who favor the stomach position.

In addition to above-average temperature control, we awarded the pillow high marks for pressure relief. The foam forms a close cradle to soothe aches and pains in your head, neck, and shoulders. Shape retention is another key strength. Thanks to the solid foam, you shouldn’t ever need to fluff the pillow.

What It’s Made of

A single piece of memory foam gives the pillow a dense, adaptive surface. The firmness is medium, resulting in a nice balance of softness and support. Cooling gel strips on each side of the pillow add to the temperature-regulating design, as does the breathable polyethylene cover. You can remove and machine-wash the cover whenever it needs to be cleaned, but the foam should only be dabbed with a moist cloth if stains or smudges occur.

The Dual Cooling Pillow is reasonably priced and Nectar offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. Your order comes with a 50-night sleep trial, giving you plenty of time to test out the pillow and decide if it’s right for you. Should you decide to keep it, Nectar further backs your purchase with a five-year warranty against material defects.

“I sleep pretty hot at night, so pillows made from natural, breathable materials like the Sweet Zzz have a special place in my heart. I stayed cool through the night thanks to the lightweight plant-based fill and the cotton cover working to disperse my body heat. The price is reasonable considering how efficient the pillow is at reducing heat retention.” – Danny Noyed, Senior Product Editor

  • Pros

    1. Animal-free down alternative fill is derived from plant-based materials

    2. Breathable cotton cover helps the pillow sleep cool

    3. Durable design with budget-friendly pricing

  • Cons

    1. Only one loft available

    2. Stomach sleepers may find the pillow too thick

Price Range

$135 – $150


Plant-based down alternative fibers



Comfort is a subjective quality, but we’ve found that some pillows have designs that appeal to a wider swath of sleepers than others. The Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow lands squarely in the former category while maintaining an affordable price-point. With vegan down alternative fill and a smooth cotton cover, this pillow excelled throughout our hands-on tests and felt comfortable to the majority of side and back sleepers on our team.

How It Performed

Most of our side and back sleepers had positive things to say about the pillow. Our side sleepers found the pillow sufficiently lofty and didn’t experience any neck or shoulder pain due to uneven alignment, and back sleepers received enough loft to lie comfortably. The pillow may be too thick for stomach sleepers, but our testers in this category weighing less than 130 pounds also awarded it positive ratings.

Thanks to the breathable down alternative fill, the pillow performed well during our temperature control and moldability tests. You may need to fluff the pillow frequently to maintain a full shape, but you can also place the pillow in a dryer if it flattens with use and you need to expand it.

What It’s Made of

The Plant-Based Pillow’s down alternative fill is derived from soybeans, so it won’t trigger allergies and does not use any animal-based components. The outer chamber’s fill is looser and plusher, and the core chamber is denser to ensure good support for your head and neck. A cover made of smooth natural cotton encases the fill.

The entire pillow is machine-washable for quick and easy care. You can choose from standard and king sizes.

Not only is the Plant-Based Pillow affordably priced, but most orders in the contiguous U.S. qualify for low flat-rate shipping. Sweet Zzz allows returns and exchanges within 100 nights of the delivery date, and you’ll receive a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty against structural and material defects if you decide to keep the pillow.

“The Cozy Earth Silk Pillow is a luxuriously soft pillow, like the kind you would sink into at a hotel while still feeling supported in the neck. The cover is made from bamboo-derived viscose, which is one of the most cooling materials you’ll find in bedding.” – Logan Foley, Managing Editor

  • Pros

    1. High-grade mulberry silk fill provides plush cushioning

    2. Breathable viscose from bamboo cover helps the pillow sleep cool

    3. Durable fill resists clumping and maintains a full shape

  • Cons

    1. Expensive pricing may be a barrier to budget-conscious shoppers

    2. Spot cleaning or dry cleaning is recommended over machine-washing

Price Range

$279 – $329


Long-Strand Mulberry Silk


Medium Soft

Mulberry silk is one of the most luxurious bedding materials in use today, and most pillows made with silk carry expensive price-points as a result. The Cozy Earth Silk Pillow is more affordable than many of its direct competitors without sacrificing the quality or longevity people have come to expect from silk.

How It Performed

The Silk Pillow has a thick profile but its fill is quite plush. As a result, the pillow was popular among a wide range of testers on our team. Side and back sleepers received enough loft to lie comfortably without their heads falling back too much, while the fill compressed well for most of our stomach sleepers and didn’t cause any neck strain.

Shape retention proved to be a standout quality during our tests. The pillow requires virtually no fluffing to keep a full shape and should never flatten — if it does, this is considered a defect under Cozy Earth’s warranty. Temperature control was another testing highlight. The silk does not absorb much heat and the moisture-wicking cover feels cool to the touch.

What It’s Made of

The pillow’s fill is composed of mulberry silk strands that are grouped tightly together, resulting in a soft surface for your head and neck that shouldn’t sink or lose shape. A bamboo-derived viscose cover encases the silk. Standard and king sizes are available.

You have multiple care options for your Silk Pillow. Cozy Earth recommends dry cleaning or spot cleaning, but you can also machine wash the pillow in a delicate cycle. Tumble dry on low heat with dryer balls, or hang to air dry. Keep in mind machine washing may cause the pillow to deteriorate more quickly.

Shipping is free for customers in the contiguous U.S. Your Cozy Earth Silk Pillow comes with a sleep trial spanning 100 nights. If you decide to keep the pillow, it’s backed by a generous 10-year warranty against structural defects such as pilling fabric and shape loss.

“Luxome’s LAYR offers a level of customization that’s hard to beat, with four inserts made from various cushioning materials. Cooling gel infusions and a moisture-wicking viscose cover help ensure you won’t overheat no matter which inserts you use.” – Colin Simpson, Research Manager

  • Pros

    1. Four different inserts to adjust the loft and firmness level

    2. Breathable cover with side vents for extra airflow

    3. Shoppers receive a substantial discount for buying two pillows

  • Cons

    1. Pinpointing your ideal pillow configuration can require some trial and error

    2. Foam inserts emit strong off-gassing smells when the pillow is new

Price Range

$100 – $115


Down alternative, shredded gel-infused memory foam, and solid gel-infused memory foam



Steady airflow is key to helping your pillow maintain a comfortable temperature. The LAYR Customizable Pillow from Luxome is constructed with breathable cover and fill materials, then gets an extra cooling boost from ventilated mesh panels at each end. This design ensures plenty of circulation to reduce heat retention in the pillow’s foam layers.

How It Performed

Our testing team experimented with a handful of different configurations for the LAYR. Most side sleepers preferred using three to four inserts with the solid foam at the bottom to provide a stable base. Our back sleepers needed two to three inserts, though they varied on which one felt most comfortable on top. Stomach sleepers found one to two inserts ideal, with many agreeing the down alternative insert on top helped prevent neck strain.

The LAYR’s cooling abilities depend on how the layers are positioned, but none of the arrangements felt overly warm. This can largely be attributed to the ventilated cover, which is made of moisture-wicking viscose derived from bamboo. Using three or four inserts means the pillow retains its shape well and shouldn’t need to be fluffed too often, though this also makes it less moldable. Conversely, fewer inserts may cause shape loss but you can snuggle with the pillow more easily.

What It’s Made of

The LAYR comes with multiple inserts — all are intact when the pillow arrives, but you can easily remove them to lower the loft. Your options include down alternative fibers, shredded memory foam, and solid memory foam blocks measuring 1 and 2 inches thick. Each insert is encased in a zippered cotton shell, so you can separate them without too much hassle. You may machine-wash the cover and shells, but not the inserts.

The LAYR Customizable Pillow is reasonably priced, and you’ll receive a 50% discount on the second pillow when you purchase two. Luxome offers free ground shipping within the contiguous U.S. Each purchase is backed by a 30-night trial period.

“My favorite part of the Layla Kapok Pillow is how great the loose fibers are at facilitating air flow. Our field tester is a hot sleeper but he reports zero issues with overheating after 4 years of use.” – Tom Ryan, Head of Product Testing

  • Pros

    1. Contains a plush blend of shredded memory foam and natural kapok fibers

    2. Cover is infused with copper intended to promote cooling

    3. Fill can be added or removed to adjust the loft

  • Cons

    1. Some sleepers may receive insufficient support due to pillow’s softness

    2. Supplemental fill is not available

Price Range

$109 – $129


Shredded memory foam and kapok tree fiber blend


Medium Soft

If you live with frequent or chronic neck pain, choosing the right pillow can be highly beneficial. We recommend the Layla Kapok Pillow to anyone who needs a plush, slightly adaptive surface for their head and neck to sleep comfortably. The fill blend consists of shredded memory foam and natural down alternative fibers for a balance of cloud-like softness and gentle contouring. The adjustable design also allows you to customize the loft based on your sleep position and personal preferences.

How It Performed

Since the Layla Kapok Pillow is adjustable, most of our testers found a profile that was sufficiently supportive. Our side sleepers preferred the pillow at full volume, and most did not remove any of the fill. The back sleepers on our team removed about a third of the fill to avoid excessive elevation, and stomach sleepers felt most comfortable with most of the fill removed.

The fill doesn’t retain much heat and the poly-viscose cover is quite breathable, so the pillow fared well during our temperature control tests. You may need to fluff the pillow if you remove some of the fill, but at full volume we noticed good shape retention. At the same time, the fill is soft enough to ensure exceptional moldability.

What It’s Made of

The pillow contains shredded memory foam and kapok tree fibers. The latter have a soft, airy feel akin to real down, so the pillow feels plush but also contours evenly to the head and neck. To adjust the pillow’s loft, unzip the cover and add or remove the fill to your liking. You can purchase additional fill in bulk if you run out and need to replenish your supply.

The pillow’s cover is composed of polyester and viscose with a hint of Lycra spandex to give the fabric a stretchy feel. You can machine wash the cover, but must first separate it from the pouch containing the fill. The Layla Kapok Pillow is available in queen and king sizes.

Affordable pricing and free shipping within the contiguous U.S. make the Kapok Pillow a good option for budget-conscious shoppers. You can bundle your purchase with Layla bedding products for additional discounts. Each purchase comes with a 120-night trial, and you’ll receive a 5-year warranty if you decide to keep the pillow.

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.

Best Cooling Pillows Video

In the video below, our testers take a closer look at our top five picks for best cooling pillows. Watch the video to see how the pillows performed in the Sleep Foundation Test Lab.

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 your body and increase airflow to prevent heat retention. The materials used in the pillow cover are often moisture-wicking and breathable.

Finding 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 you 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.

“Regulating your core body temperature during the night can make a huge difference in your overall sleep quality, so breathable materials are optimal to promote cooler temperatures. I recommend looking for breathable, natural fibers for bedding, pillows, and cooling sheets, especially if you’re a hot sleeper. Opt for more hypoallergenic materials like cotton, linen, silk, or bamboo, as synthetic fibers tend to be less breathable and trap more heat at night. Your body temperature needs to drop a few degrees to transition to sleep, so having breathable bedding that promotes cooler temperatures is optimal and can help assist with your body’s natural temperature regulation process at night.”

Sarah Silverman, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist and holistic sleep wellness consultant who treats patients in New York and Florida.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Cooling Pillow

Below are some key factors you should keep in mind when purchasing a cooling pillow. A cooling pillow draws heat away from your 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 your head, neck, and shoulders. While the focus of our guide is a pillow’s cooling properties, there are additional factors that can help you determine if a pillow is a good purchase or not. You should consider what type of pillow you want, and what is most important to you in addition to cooling properties.

  • Cooling Properties: The cooling properties of a pillow determine how well it regulates your 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 your body. Gel, copper, phase change materials, and graphite are all conductive materials that dissipate heat. Moisture-wicking materials like wool, cotton, and bamboo are helpful if you’re 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 we recommend setting a budget before shopping. 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 your neck and shoulders. Pillows that conform to the shape of your 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 can help you 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. 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.

  • 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 Allergen Resistant: 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 for you to consider sleeping position and personal preferences when shopping for a pillow. A cooling pillow might not be right for you 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. You 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 your 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, keeping hot air out of your room and preventing cool air from escaping.
  • Mattress: There are plenty of mattress options that regulate temperature and reduce heat retention. 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.

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