Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Cool Comforter
What’s cooler than being cool? Knowing how to find the best comforter to keep you from sleeping hot. This guide walks you through what you need to know to make a great purchase.
How to Choose the Best Cool Comforter
While a lot of focus is placed on the inner material in a comforter, the exterior – also known as the shell – cannot be ignored, especially for hot sleepers. The most common materials for comforter shells include:
- Cotton: You’re probably familiar with cotton since it’s used in so many products including in clothing and bedding. Cotton shines when it comes to softness and when it’s produced to a high standard, it also is quite durable. Cotton can retain moisture, which isn’t ideal for hot sleepers, but some types of cotton, like sateen, have a smoother texture that feels more breathable.
- Silk: Silk is a fantastic material for hot sleepers because it does not retain heat and in fact can help a great deal with wicking away moisture. It’s also naturally soft and smooth, but unfortunately, it’s costly and tricky to keep clean, so it’s not employed as frequently in comforter shells.
- Wool: Wool is able to simultaneously be soft, warm, and moisture-wicking, and this is a combination that works well for hot sleepers. That said, because of its cost, wool is less often found as a shell material, especially for comforters in the low-to-mid price range.
- Cotton-Synthetic Blends: Sometimes cotton is blended with a synthetic textile (like polyester or rayon) to provide more moisture-wicking characteristics to the shell.
The fill material in a comforter will have the biggest impact on how much heat a comforter will retain, and as a result, it is a key point of emphasis for hot sleepers. The most important fill materials to be aware of include:
- Goose Down: Plumage taken from the underside of geese, goose down is a powerful insulator. It is very lightweight and soft yet retains a large amount of heat. These types of comforters can feel too warm to hot sleepers and may not be a good choice for people with temperature regulation issues.
- Duck Down: Duck down consists of the small, soft feathers from the underside ducks. While it generally doesn’t have quite as much loft and warmth as goose down, it’s still far better suited for people who sleep cool rather than people who sleep hot.
- Down Cluster: The down cluster is the part of the down with the greatest insulating power. Down comforters with a high percentage of down clusters are the warmest, and as a result, should usually be avoided by hot sleepers.
- Down Alternative: Down alternative fills take a number of different forms but are generally synthetic materials that are produced to be soft and light like down. Some are also made to have more loft and heat-retention power. Given their lower cost, down alternative comforters can be an attractive option for hot sleepers, especially if there is not an abundant amount of fill.
- Other Feathers: In addition to the small, soft feathers that make up down, there are other feathers on ducks and geese. These feathers can be used to make comforters that are soft and light but not as lofty and warm as down. For hot sleepers who like the feel of a feather fill, this type is likely to be preferable to true down.
- Cotton: Cotton is affordable and soft and does not insulate at anywhere near the power of down. All of these make it a good choice for hot sleepers.
- Wool: Thanks to its natural temperature management properties (its ability to give warmth when needed and wick-moisture and breathe when needed), wool can be a good choice for hot sleepers. The biggest downsides are its cost and weight.
- Silk: A silk fill can work extremely well for hot sleepers because silk resists heat retention and is naturally airy and light, preventing it from feeling suffocating. However, silk can be expensive and may be out of the budget of many shoppers when it is used as the primary fill material.
The thread count, used in describing the shell of a comforter, tells you how dense the yarns are within one square inch of fabric. If you’re not well-versed in sewing and textiles, it will suffice to know that higher thread counts normally indicate a shell that will feel smoother and that will hold up better over time. But it’s also important to know that thread counts can be manipulated to seem higher (through what’s known as “double counting” two-ply yarns in the material). For this reason, we advise looking for a thread count of 300-600 since counts higher than this probably are calculated using double counting.
There are various methods that are used to stitch together the various materials within a comforter.
- Sewn-Through: This technique uses stitching to connect the top and bottom of a comforter so that very small compartments are created that keep the fill from moving around within the comforter. It creates tighter compartments so that the comforter stays more compact, which prevents the fill from having more loft and insulation.
- Diamond-Quilted: This is usually a method of sewn-through stitching in which the stitches are sewn in the shape of a diamond.
- Gusseted: A comforter is gusseted if the top and bottom are sewn together with an additional strip of fabric around the exterior of the comforter. This does not have a huge effect on heat, but can make the comforter feel more lofty.
- Baffle Box: When the top and bottom layers of the comforter are not sewn together directly, but instead are connected with smaller pieces of fabric throughout, it’s called baffle-box design. This gives the material a bit more vertical room to move around within the compartments created by the stitches. This translates into more loft, giving the comforter a fluffy feel.
Other Ways to Sleep Cool
Sleeping cool isn’t just about your comforter. There are a handful of other ways that you can optimize your sleep environment to prevent from overheating at night.
- Choose the Right Mattress: Different mattress materials have huge variations in how much heat they tend to retain. For example, traditional memory foam is much more likely to contribute to sleeping hot than latex. Similarly, a very plush mattress that you sink into will be more prone to sleeping hot. For more on finding a great mattress if you’re a hot sleeper, check out all of our guides to buying a new mattress.
- Cooling Mattress Toppers: If your mattress seems to sleep hot and you can’t afford to replace it, a cooling mattress topper, which goes above the mattress but under the sheets, may be able to help keep you from overheating.
- Proper Bedding: Your sheets and pillows can also affect hot much you’re likely to heat up in the night. Avoid heavy sheets (like flannel) or pillows made from one piece of memory foam that have a propensity to retain heat.
- ChiliPad: This is a mattress pad that has the ability to heat up or cool down your bed by circulating cooled or heated water through the pad.
- BedJet: This device uses a hose to pump hot or cool air that can adjust the temperature of your bed and help to keep from sleeping too hot (or too cold).
- Pajamas: Make sure not to wear heavy pajamas or other clothing that will hold in heat or restrict airflow around your body. Light and loose clothes — or limited clothes — are a far better bet.
- Keep the Thermostat Low: Of course, the ambient temperature of your bedroom is going to have a direct effect on your body temperature when you sleep. Keep the temperature down (which research indicates may be good for you anyway) and consider using a fan to keep air moving.