Best Cooling Pillows

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds β€” we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
125 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds β€” we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best cooling pillows

Last Updated July 2020

Flipping your pillow to the cool side is officially a thing. Temperature regulation plays an important role in our sleep experience. Being too warm can result in discomfort, night sweats, or worse — difficulty falling asleep. If you invest in a cooling pillow, however, it can help you sleep comfortably every night.

Cooling pillows embrace the latest and greatest technology when it comes to keeping you cool. Regular pillows are filled with polyester or feathers, which tend to attract heat. Cooling pillows are filled with gel, which disperses heat away from your body. But it doesn’t stop there. The gel interior of cooling pillows is wrapped with materials that promote airflow, such as bamboo or fine cotton. Some cooling pillows even feature ventilation holes and improved contouring to maximize airflow.  

If you’d like to enjoy a cool night’s sleep every night, invest in a cooling pillow. Here’s our buying guide introducing you to all their features and benefits, plus we’re sharing a roundup of our top-rated cooling pillows.

Because cooling pillows contain gel and memory foam, they typically need to be replaced every few years.

Key considerations

Cooling pillows include three elements: gel, middle layers, and shell.

Gel

Cooling pillows use gel in more than one way, which means each pillow offers a different sleeping experience. While one isn’t necessarily superior to another, sleepers may gravitate toward one design as opposed to others.

Gel-wrapped pillows: These pillows have a gel shell as an outer layer. The gel can span one side of the pillow or cover the entire pillow. Given their large expanse of gel, these are often considered the “coolest” options among cooling pillows.

Gel-core pillows: These pillows essentially have a gel center encased by a thick layer of memory foam. These are known to have a bit more give in the middle, so they’re desirable to individuals looking for additional head support while they sleep. 

Gel-shredded pillows: These pillows have the plush feel of regular pillows but are actually composed of fluffy gel fibers. They typically don’t have a memory foam component, so they’re ideal if you prefer flexibility to a more structured pillow. 

Gel-infused pillows: Gel-infused pillows consist of memory foam that is permeated with tiny gel beads. Some pillows in this category also have a gel core to maximize the cooling potential. If you prefer a thinner pillow, chances are you’ll end up with a gel-infused one, as these are often available in low-profile designs. 

Middle layers

The middle layers of cooling pillows are usually made of memory foam, which is best known for its bounce-back quality. Memory foam softly contours to your face and neck to provide personalized support. That said, not all memory foam has the same softness and collapsibility, so you’ll find certain pillows are much firmer than others.

Middle layers of cooling pillows often feature vents or perforations to promote airflow. In many designs, the perforations are in the center of the pillow where the most body heat collects. Other designs feature perforation patterns on both sides of the cooling pillow. 

Shell

The vast majority of cooling pillows have a shell or cover that prevents direct contact between your face and the gel or memory foam. The shells of cooling pillows are similar to those of regular pillows, and they’re primarily made from soft, breathable materials like cotton and bamboo. These materials are occasionally blended with polyester or rayon for moisture-wicking properties, which is a desirable feature if you’re investing in a cooling pillow to counteract night sweats.

Besides giving the cooling pillow a super-smooth outer layer, having a shell also aids in keeping dirt and dander from settling into the pillow’s inner layers. Some shells are removable, and you can toss them in the washing machine with your other bedding.

EXPERT TIP

To extend the life of your cooling pillow, you might wish to invest in two and rotate them out every few nights.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Sizes

You’re probably  familiar with the basic sizes of regular pillows: standard, queen, and king. If you’ve ever dreamed of a more accommodating pillow, now you’re in luck. Cooling pillows have an extensive size collection. Depending on the brand, you might come across as many as a dozen sizes, ranging from slim standard to super slim king. 

As far as pillowcases go, most cooling pillows, despite their unique sizes, fit in conventional pillowcases. If you invest in a slim or contoured queen-size pillow, for example, it will fit inside a queen-size pillowcase. 

Shapes

If you think of yourself as a pillow traditionalist, then you’ll probably gravitate toward rectangular cooling pillows. On the other hand, if you’d like to address issues other than overheating when you sleep, explore cooling pillows with contoured or ergonomic shapes. These are designed to provide better neck and head support, which in turn promotes better spinal alignment. 

There are also some cooling pillows shaped to accommodate your preferred sleep position. So whether you’re a side, back, or belly sleeper, there’s a dedicated cooling pillow to help you sleep comfortably. 

Firmness

Only certain cooling pillows are available in more than one firmness, making them hit or miss. In fact, firmness isn’t always discussed when it comes to cooling pillows, because their construction is much different than that of regular pillows. With that said, there’s a good chance you’ll need to sleep on a cooling pillow for a couple nights to determine whether it’s right for you. Luckily, many manufacturers — but not all of them — have a “try before you buy” guarantee.

Hypoallergenic

Those who suffer from allergies may benefit from hypoallergenic cooling pillows. These are resistant to dust, mold, and other allergens and are made without latex or chemicals. Many hypoallergenic pillows also have antibacterial or antimicrobial properties. As expected, cooling pillows in this category usually have a removable shell so it can be washed often, which also helps keep allergies at bay. 

EXPERT TIP

When buying a contoured cooling pillow, make sure the design suits your preferred sleeping position. Those designed for back sleepers, for example, are much different than those designed for side sleepers.


Staff  | BestReviews

Cooling pillow prices

Cooling pillows are available at several price points ranging from $20 to $100, so no matter what your budget, you’ll find one to fit it.

Inexpensive: Entry-level cooling pillows cost between $20 and $30. These have a modest amount of gel and, more often than not, are rectangular.

Mid-range: For a larger assortment in size, shape, and construction, aim to spend between $35 and $60 for a cooling pillow. You’ll also be able to find cooling pillows in this range specifically designed to accommodate different sleep positions. 

Expensive: Premium cooling pillows cost between $60 and $100. Most of these are hypoallergenic and offer the highest-quality construction. 

DID YOU KNOW?

If your cooling pillow comes with a zippered slipcase, it’s best to wash it once a week along with your other bedding.

Tips

  • Air out the pillow when you first get it. The packaging of your new cooling pillow may have a residual smell, so let the pillow air out completely before sleeping on it.

  • Save the proof of purchase information. Many cooling pillows are covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee or warranty. Keep your purchase information handy in the event you need to return or replace the pillow.

  • Keep the cooling pillow away from pets. Even Fido can agree that cooling pillows are comfortable, but it’s best to keep them away from pets. This prevents the pillows from becoming chew toys or attracting pet hair and dander.

For more edge-to-edge support in a cooling pillow, opt for one with a gusseted design. Many of these cooling pillows also feature gel around the edges for better temperature regulation.

FAQ

Q. Won’t I get a bit too cold using a cooling pillow during winter months?
A. It’s unlikely, because cooling pillows aim to regulate temperature, not change it. The gel disperses heat, but since it’s not initially refrigerated, it won’t actually make you chilly. Some sleepers swear by cooling pillows in wintertime for an overall balanced temperature in bed. And a cooling pillow may prevent your head from overheating while your body is bundled up in a comforter

 

Q. Are cooling pillows heavier than regular pillows?
A. Yes. Gel and memory foam weigh more than polyester or feathers. Some cooling pillows can weigh a couple pounds or more. It’s a bit of an adjustment for some sleepers, so it could take a few nights before you become comfortable with the significantly heavier pillow.

 

Q. Can I recycle my cooling pillow?
A. Some manufacturers offer recycling programs that let you send the pillow back to them for proper recycling. More often than not, they’ll provide you with a return shipping label at no cost. Damaged or soiled cooling pillows, on the other hand, may need to be disposed of differently, so it’s best to check with your local sanitation department for guidelines.

 

Q. How do I know how much gel is in my cooling pillow?
A. It depends on the manufacturer. Some tout the total weight of the gel included in the pillow, whereas others don’t list this information at all. With that said, a cooling pillow with more gel isn’t necessarily superior to other cooling pillows. 

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
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