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Gel pillows use cooling gel to regulate temperature and reduce heat build-up on the surface of the pillow. They may use different designs to accomplish this, including gel pods, laminated gel layers, and gel infusions in the pillow material. Gel is most often used in memory foam pillows, which are known for their heat retention. If you’re struggling to maintain a neutral temperature while sleeping, a gel pillow may be the answer.
Gel pillows come in various models, including solid memory foam, shredded memory foam, and microfiber. Despite their claims, not all gel pillows succeed in keeping sleepers cool overnight. It’s important to do your research to ensure you’re getting a product that works. We’ll examine common models and features of gel pillows and share our recommendations to help you find the best gel pillow for your sleeping style.
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The Infinite Zen Performance Pillow from SHEEX has an innovative design that combines memory foam and proprietary cooling materials. With a 5-inch loft level and medium firm feel, this pillow is well suited to side and back sleepers. People who sleep on their stomachs may prefer a softer pillow
SHEEX crafted this model using a solid piece of memory foam that’s designed to provide contouring support. Sleepers who enjoy the hugging sensation of memory foam and those who need pressure relief will find this pillow an excellent fit. While memory foam can often retain heat, SHEEX combats this issue with a layer of gel that feels cool to the touch.
The removable cover is also designed with temperature control and comfort in mind. The synthetic material is quilted using patented cooling fibers and it feels exceptionally soft. The cover is machine washable and reinforced with a 2-inch gusset. The Infinite Zen Performance Pillow is available in a standard/queen size that should be compatible with most pillowcases.
Free standard shipping is offered to those in the contiguous U.S. for orders over $150. Orders $150 and under incur reasonable flat-rate shipping fees. You’ll receive a 30-day sleep trial, and your pillow is backed by a 1-year warranty that covers manufacturer defects.
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Many gel pillows you’ll find on the market are composed of foam, but the Linens & Hutch Plush Down-Alternative Gel-Fiber PIllow stands out for its microfiber fill. This material gives the pillow a plush feel that will appeal to sleepers who need or prefer soft pillows.
The pillow cover is composed of breathable cotton with a 240 thread count. Inside the pillow you’ll find microfibers that mimic the feel of down. The fibers are infused with gel to keep the pillow cool and prevent overheating. The pillow is plusher and fluffier than the foam pillows you’ll find on this list, but it’s also lofty enough to generate support for those looking to keep the head moderately elevated.
The Down-Alternative Gel-Fiber Pillow is sold in packs of two, and you can choose between a queen or king size. Linens & Hutch backs the pillow with a 101-night sleep trial, and shipping is free to the contiguous U.S.
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Multiple loft levels and a mid-range feel make the Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow an appealing choice for different types of sleepers. The foam core feels adaptive and contours closely without sinking beneath the head and neck, which can improve alignment and alleviate discomfort for people who experience pressure points along the spine. The low-loft pillow measures 4.5 inches thick and is best suited to stomach sleeping, while the 6-inch high-loft model should provide adequate support for side sleepers. Back sleepers may feel comfortable with either loft, depending on their personal preferences.
The foam is infused with copper and graphite, two materials with natural cooling properties, while a gel coating also helps the pillow sleep at a comfortable temperature despite the foam’s heat-retaining tendencies. The cover, composed of circular-knit polyester, is also quite breathable. You may remove and machine-wash the cover whenever the fabric needs to be cleaned, but the foam is spot-clean only. Queen and king sizes are available.
The Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow’s price-point is reasonable compared to competing models constructed with the same materials. Brooklyn Bedding also provides free ground delivery for all customers in the contiguous U.S. Each order includes a 30-night trial period with complimentary return shipping for those who aren’t satisfied with their pillow. This product is also backed by a 3-year warranty against structural and material defects.
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Tempur-Pedic offers a line of high-quality pillows that feature its proprietary TEMPUR memory foam material. The TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow stands apart from other models by offering cooling features designed to minimize the heat-trapping properties that memory foam is known for.
The TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze is made with a single piece of TEMPUR memory foam, which boasts a medium feel and closely contours to the head and neck. The foam core sits between two layers of proprietary gel designed to draw heat away from the body. At 6.4 inches thick, the TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze is well-suited for side sleepers, who typically benefit from higher loft pillows that conform to the shape of their neck and head during sleep.
The pillow is encased in a 100% cotton cover that is removable and machine-washable. The breathable cotton helps promote air circulation. TEMPUR-Pedic offers free shipping but does not allow pillow returns. The company offers a 5-year warranty on pillows.
Best Neck Support
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While many memory foam products tend to trap heat, the Allswell Gel Cooling Pillow features a gel insert in the knit cover that distributes warmth and allows the pillow to remain comfortably cool throughout the night. The pillow is available at an affordable price-point that falls well above the average for a high-quality memory foam pillow.
The Gel Cooling Pillow has a medium feel that performs particularly well for side and back sleepers. Individuals who value pressure point relief will likely enjoy the Gel Cooling Pillow’s memory foam construction, which contours deeply. The knit cover is also made using OEKO-TEX-certified materials, meaning it is free from any harmful substances that could impede healthy rest. The pillow comes in a standard queen size. For easy care, the knit cover is removable and can be machine-washed.
Allswell offers free ground shipping on orders over $35 to addresses in the contiguous United States, with the exception of California. The Gel Cooling Pillow can also be returned within 30 days of delivery, though it must be in its original packaging and tags.
Best for Neck Pain
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You should consider investing in a new pillow if you frequently wake up with a stiff or sore neck. Pillows flatten and lose their shape over time, resulting in a flat surface that does not provide adequate support. The Chaps Gel Pillow from Hollander Sleep Products is a low-cost option for shoppers on a budget. Each purchase includes two pillows constructed with gel-infused fiber fill that creates a plush, lofty feel akin to real down, but without triggering allergies or using animal-based materials.
A woven polyester shell encases the fill. The fabric is exceptionally smooth and won’t rub hershey against the skin. The seams are trimmed with piping to help prevent rips, tears, and other types of damage that can allow the fill to escape. Thanks to a fully machine-washable design, the Chaps Gel Pillow is easy to keep clean. Wash with like colors in cold water on a gentle cycle, then tumble dry on low heat. You can also periodically dry the pillow when you want to recover its shape.
Hollander Sleep Products offers free ground shipping for all orders of $50 or more, which includes both available sizes for the Chaps Gel Pillow. All purchases come with 30-night sleep trials, and those who keep their pillows also receive 3-year manufacturer’s warranties.
Best for Side Sleepers
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The Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow is constructed with T&N Adaptive foam, a proprietary foam blend that relieves pressure and promotes spinal alignment. Because of its close contouring, the pillow is a good fit for sleepers who experience neck and back pain.
The micro polyamide and polyester cover of the Original Foam Pillow has a breathable fabrication that helps increase airflow throughout the pillow. The core of the pillow is made with the Adaptive foam, which incorporates graphite and cooling gel to draw heat away from sleepers. Ceramic gel beads also provide support and contribute to the responsiveness of the foam. The pillow retains its shape and is very durable.
The 5-inch profile of the Original Foam Pillow may feel too high for some, but the Adaptive foam has a medium firmness and responsive nature that allows it to contour to the shape of the head and neck. This ensures a balance of comfort and support for back and side sleepers.
The pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial, giving purchasers a chance to try out the pillow before making a decision. Additionally, Tuft & Needle offers a 3-year limited warranty that covers defects in manufacturing and workmanship.
Best for Combination Sleepers
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A pillow with adjustable fill is ideal for those whose thickness preferences fluctuate from night to night, as well as pillow shoppers who are unsure about their desired loft. The Coop Home Goods Eden is a great choice for first-time buyers thanks to its premium construction and approachable price-point. The pillow contains a proprietary blend of gel-infused memory foam and microfiber fill that can be added or removed to increase or decrease the loft, making it perfect for combination sleepers or those whose needs change from night-to-night. Coop Home Goods also sells the fill in bulk whenever your supply is running low.
The Eden has a medium soft feel and the foam contours deeply around the head and neck. This makes it suitable for anyone who experiences aches, pains, or pressure points in these areas. The pillow also sleeps exceptionally cool. Air circulates through the core thanks to the shredded fill, and the cover – composed of pure organic cotton – is also highly breathable. You can wash and dry the entire pillow in your household machines. Tumble drying can also assist with shape recovery whenever the pillow becomes flattened with use.
Since the fill can be replaced as needed, the Eden is considered very durable for a memory foam pillow. Shipping is free for all U.S. orders. Coop Home Goods also offers a 100-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty.
The most common types of gel pillows are solid and shredded memory foam pillows. Memory foam is a desirable pillow material because it contours closely to reduce pressure points, but many people find that the material retains too much heat. Adding gel beads or gel swirls can help curb this heat retention. Shredded memory foam pillows offer greater moldability and better airflow, while solid memory foam pillows hold their shape better.
You may also see other types of pillows that have a thin layer of gel on one or both sides. Some manufacturers make flippable pillows with more intense cooling on one side, or removable gel layers that allow the customer to personalize the feel. Alternatively, some manufacturers directly infuse gel into the fibers of down alternative pillows.
Most gel pillows are somewhat reliant on the ambient temperature, meaning that if your bedroom is very hot, there’s only so much they can do to keep you cool. To enhance the gel’s cooling effects, most gel pillows have a cover made of cotton, Tencel, or another breathable fabric. Some may take it a step further and add a cover with phase change material that’s cool to the touch.
As the term “gel pillow” refers to the practice of adding gel to a pillow instead of to a specific pillow type, there’s quite a lot of variation within this category. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of gel pillows and what type of sleeper is best-suited to a gel pillow. We’ll also answer some commonly asked questions about gel pillows and provide buyer advice on choosing the best cooling gel pillow for your situation.
As with any important purchase, it’s helpful to have an idea of what you’re looking for before you start your research. Variables like the pillow’s loft, firmness level, and shape can have a major impact on how comfortable a gel pillow feels and how well it supports you.
Unfortunately, some gel pillow manufacturers can use confusing marketing language to sell their pillows. Focusing on the following key factors and your needs can help you see past the hype and find the best gel pillow for your sleeping style.
Ideally, the pillow should be just high enough to keep the head, neck, and spine in a flat line. A higher loft is favorable for side sleepers, who have a larger gap to fill between the head and the mattress. By contrast, back sleepers need a medium loft, and stomach sleepers need a very low loft or sometimes no pillow at all.
The fill used to make a pillow determines its overall feel, as well as other properties such as the amount of airflow it allows. Gel pillows incorporate gel into the fill, either in standalone gel layers or by infusing gel into the other components.
A pillow is only as good as its ability to provide the right support for your head and neck. Pillows that sag under the weight of the head can put added strain on the neck and cause soreness. When evaluating a pillow on how much support it’s likely to provide, be sure to take into account the original loft as well as the firmness. This accounts for any compression that may reduce the loft.
The ideal firmness depends on your sleeping position and personal preference. A too-firm pillow may cause pressure to build up, while a too-soft pillow may sag excessively and fail to provide the needed amount of support. Most sleepers opt for a pillow that falls somewhere in between. Some pillows offer the option of adding or removing filling to adjust the firmness level.
Down, memory foam, and other plush materials conform to fit the head and neck, distributing weight and relieving pressure build-up. This is especially important for side sleepers, who are prone to sore ears when lying on hard pillows. Gel layers that are integrated into the pillow cover often provide extra pressure relief.
There are a variety of shapes to choose from if you don’t like the traditional rectangular pillow. Side sleepers may prefer a pillow with flared ends that allow more room for the shoulders. Those who sleep on their back may prefer a cervical pillow with a raised neck area for better support.
Your pillow is an important component of your sleep setup, and it may make the difference between a restful, reparative sleep versus a sore neck. While you shouldn’t have to break the bank on a pillow, investing in a decent one can help you sleep better and prolong the time before you need to invest in another new one.
Better-quality materials not only last longer, but they also provide superior support and pressure relief. When buying your gel pillow, check for indicators of quality such as the foam density or third-party certifications.
Most pillows adapt somewhat to the curves of the head and neck, but some pillows take this to the next level and allow sleepers to manually scrunch the pillow into the shape they choose. Shredded memory foam and poly fiber pillows tend to be the most moldable, with solid memory foam pillows settling back to their original shape after pressure is lifted.
The idea of a gel pillow is to help regulate temperature and prevent overheating. Pillows that incorporate room for airflow, such as with ventilated holes or breathable cover materials, have a better chance of reducing heat retention. Some pillows have gel on only one side to accommodate changing ambient temperatures. In the case of cooling pillows, it’s also important to check whether the cover is made of breathable materials.
The obvious advantage of a gel pillow is that it keeps you cool, especially as compared to a traditional memory foam pillow. However, because of limitations in the materials used to make gel pillows, some sleepers may find they aren’t appropriate for their sleeping style.
Gel pillows are favored by people who live in warmer climates or those who tend to overheat while sleeping. They also offer some advantages for other sleeper types.
Who is not suited:
Gel pillows may be sold in the following sizes:
How much do gel pillows cost?
On average, gel pillows cost between $40 and $50. The price may vary depending on what type of pillow it is, what the cover is made of, and how the gel is distributed. You may also pay more for features such as adjustable loft or removable covers.
How do I clean a gel pillow?
Gel memory foam pillows can handle gentle spot-cleaning, while down alternative pillows can typically be machine-washed and dried. In the latter case, this can also help plump up the filling to extend the longevity of the pillow. Many pillows have removable covers that can be machine-washed to keep the exterior of the pillow clean. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning a pillow.
Where can I buy a gel pillow?
Gel pillows are readily available online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Pillows bought online sometimes come with sleep trials that allow customers to try the pillow out at home and return it for a refund if it doesn’t suit them.
How long do gel pillows last?
On average, a gel pillow lasts for 2 to 3 years before needing to be replaced. This lifespan is on par with most other pillow types, although the exact length may vary depending on materials and design. In most cases, the gel loses its effectiveness over time, and the filling gradually gets compressed and fails to provide adequate support.
Are gel pillows adjustable?
Some gel pillows feature an adjustable loft, particularly shredded memory foam and down alternative pillows in which filling can be added or removed. Solid memory foam pillows may also have two or more layers that can be manually adjusted. In gel pillows with cooling gel on just one side, flipping the pillow over can change the temperature and in some cases the firmness of the pillow.
Do gel pillows have an odor?
Gel memory foam pillows may present some off-gassing smells when they first arrive. These smells are referred to as volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, and they are common with polyfoam and memory foam products. Most sleepers find that any odor goes away after a few days.
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