Best Cooling Pillows

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Many sleepers naturally sleep hot or warm, and in some cases this increase in temperature can lead to nightlong discomfort and sleep disruption. Pillows can help those who sleep hot or, alternatively, make the problem worse. Some pillows are made from materials that retain high levels of body heat, which may result in sleeping hot or warm, while others retain low amounts of body heat and sleep relatively cool by comparison. Most cooling pillows sold today are made from one of two materials: aerated latex; or specialty memory foam.

In addition to material composition, two other factors often play a role in how hot or cool a pillow sleeps. One is internal structure, since pillows may be crafted with one solid piece or shredded fill. The second factor is the material(s) used to make the pillow’s cover — specifically, if any specialty materials (such as phase-changing material) is used. Other considerations include the sleeper’s weight and temperature preferences, as well as the mattress they use.

Read on to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses cooling pillows, as well as some popular models for sale.

 

What Is the Makeup of a Cooling Pillow?

A large number of cooling pillows sold today are made from either aerated latex or memory foam that has been infused with materials to help it sleep cooler, such as gel or graphite. Other pillow materials noted for sleeping cool include buckwheat hulls, down alternative, and feathers. However, ‘cooling’ pillows made from these materials are somewhat rare.

Some cooling pillows feature shredded fill, while others feature a one-piece aerated design. Most cooling pillows are between four and six inches thick, making them medium- to high-loft.

Some cooling pillows feature covers made from phase-changing materials, or PCMs. PCMs are designed to absorb body heat until the sleeper’s body reaches a specific temperature, at which point they stop retaining heat and maintain a steady, fairly cool temperature throughout the night, no matter how much heat the sleeper gives off. Non-quilted covers also sleep fairly cool; these are often made from light, breathable fabrics like cotton, polyester, lyocell, or bamboo fabric.

 

Which Sizes Are Available for Cooling Pillows?

Cooling pillows are typically available in the following sizes:

  • Standard: Standard is the most popular and widely sold pillow size available. It is also the most compact, and typically the cheapest as well.
  • Queen: Queen-size pillows are four inches longer than Standards. This makes them ideal for those who find Standard pillows too short, and may also be suitable for sleepers that toss and turn or shift positions during the night.
  • King: The King is generally the longest pillow size available, measuring 10 inches longer than Standards and six inches longer than Queens. They are designed for people who toss and turn frequently, and may also serve as headrests or backrests for those who sit up in bed to watch television, read, or work.
  • Specialty: Some cooling pillows are sold in a specialty size that measures roughly 24 inches wide and 16 inches long. This size may be sold as a Queen, even though it differs from the standard Queen size.

The table below features approximate measurements for each of the pillow sizes discussed above.

Pillow SizeDimensions
Standard20W” x 26L”
Queen20W” x 30L”
King20W” x 36L”
Specialty24W” x 16L”
 

Pros and Cons of Cooling Pillows

Benefits of using a cooling pillow include the following:

  • Sleeping Cool: As is to be expected, most — but not all — pillows sold as ‘cooling’ models retain minimal body heat and allow sleepers to remain cool and comfortable throughout the night.
  • Noise: Because cooling pillows are usually made from materials like latex or memory foam, they produce little to no noise when bearing weight.
  • Support: Both memory foam and latex offer above-average support compared to other pillow materials because they adjust to the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders and maintain a stable surface throughout the night.
  • Pain and Pressure Relief: Latex and memory foam can help with spinal alignment, which may reduce pain and pressure for sleepers.
  • Durability: Cooling pillows made from latex or shredded memory foam typically perform for at least three to four years, which is considered an above-average lifespan.

Drawbacks of using a cooling pillow include the following:

  • Cost: Due to their specialized designs, cooling pillows are often priced significantly higher than non-cooling pillows.
  • Weight: Pillows made from latex or shredded memory foam can be dense and somewhat heavy, weighing more than five pounds in some cases. This may make them difficult to move and adjust during the night for some sleepers.
  • Odor Potential: Latex is associated with a lingering rubbery smell (latex comes from rubber trees), while memory foam often produces long-lasting off-gassing odors.
  • Allergy Potential: Latex pillows may trigger latex allergies in some sleepers, depending on how much natural latex is used, while memory foam may attract dust mites that can lead to other allergies.
  • Maintenance: Shredded memory foam cooling pillows may need to be fluffed or shaken on a regular basis in order to maintain a full shape. Latex cooling pillows usually come in one-piece designs that never need to be fluffed, but these pillows should be spot cleaned or dry cleaned, and never machine washed.
  • Availability: Cooling pillows are somewhat hard to find compared to non-cooling pillows, and shoppers may be limited in loft and firmness options.
 

Who Is a Cooling Pillow Good For?

Generally speaking, cooling pillows are best suited for the following types of sleepers:

  • People who tend to sleep hot, although cooling pillows affect temperature in different ways and shoppers are encouraged to test out different models in order to find the pillow that works best for them.
  • People who sleep on their back or side. Back sleepers can typically sleep on pillows of any loft since this position naturally aligns the spine. Side-sleepers tend to feel most comfortable on medium-loft pillows with moderate firmness, and most cooling pillows sold today meet this criteria.
  • People who awaken easily due to noise, since both shredded memory foam and latex pillows are virtually silent when compressed.

On the other hand, cooling pillows may not be suitable for the following sleeper types:

  • People who sleep on their stomach. Most stomach-sleepers prefer to sleep on low-loft pillows that allow them to lie down without turning their heads too much, but cooling pillows are hard to find in anything below medium-loft.
  • People who are sensitive to odor, since both latex and shredded memory foam have been linked to persistent, unpleasant smells.
  • People who have a hard time lifting heavier pillows. The average cooling pillow made from latex or shredded memory foam weighs at least three pounds.
 

Cooling Pillow Ratings

CriteriaCooling Pillow RatingExplanation
AffordabilityPoor to FairThe average price-point of a cooling pillow is $60 to $90, and some models cost as much as $200 or more. By comparison, most non-cooling pillows are much less expensive.
DurabilityGood to Very GoodBoth latex and shredded memory foam pillows have longer-than-average lifespans, but some cooling models may lose their ‘temperature-reducing’ properties over time.
SupportGood to Very GoodCooling pillows made from latex or shredded memory foam provide above-average support, say owners.
NoiseVery Good to ExcellentWith few exceptions, cooling pillows made from latex or shredded memory foam produce little to no noise when bearing weight.
WeightFair to GoodThe average cooling pillow weighs between three and five pounds, which is considered slightly above-average; some sleepers may struggle to move these pillows during the night.
OdorPoor to FairMaterials used to make cooling pillows — namely latex and memory foam — produce unpleasant smells that may linger.
WashableFair to GoodSome shredded memory foam cooling pillows are machine washable, but latex cooling pillows typically need to be spot cleaned or dry cleaned.
Firmness/Loft OptionsFair to GoodMost cooling pillows are medium- to high-loft, although some ultra-thin models are available. In terms of firmness, cooling pillows typically rate between Medium Soft and Medium Firm.
AvailabilityPoor to FairCooling pillow options are somewhat limited for shoppers.
 

Buying Tips for Cooling Pillows

Cooling pillows are available through select brick-and-mortar and online home goods retailers, as well as exclusively online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com. Some models are manufactured by mattress brands, such as the Cloud Breeze from Tempur-Pedic and the ActiveX pillow from Nest Bedding.

Cooling pillows tend to be priced on the expensive side. Shoppers should expect to pay at least $60 for their cooling pillow, and some models are priced higher than $200. By comparison, non-cooling latex pillows typically cost between $40 and $60, and non-cooling memory foam pillows typically cost between $50 and $60.

Many cooling pillow sellers offer sleep trials that allow new customers to test out the pillow for a pre-agreed length of time and then return it for a full or partial refund if they are not satisfied. This can be an effective way for shippers to determine what kind of cooling pillow they prefer without paying above-average costs.

Latex cooling pillows typically need to be spot cleaned or dry cleaned, which can be time-consuming and somewhat expensive in the long run. Shredded memory foam cooling pillows, on the other hand, are usually machine washable.

The graph below lists the average price-points of cooling pillows and seven non-cooling pillow types.

 

Cooling Pillow Price Comparison

Cooling Pillow Brands and Models

Brand NameCoop Home GoodsLanilohaLumaLife LuxeMaloufNest BeddingTempur-Pedic
Model(s)EdenBamboo Gel and Memory Foam PillowMultiple ModelsZ CarbonCool + OmniPhaseActiveXCloud Breeze
Cooling Pillow Price Range (Standard)$69.99$47.95 (Amazon.com)$59.95$239.99 (Queen)$129.00$111.75
SizesStandard
Queen
King
Specialty (23 1/2W” x 15L”)Specialty (24W” x 16L”)QueenStandard (24W” x 16L”)Queen
King
Material CompositionShredded Gel Memory FoamGel Memory FoamMemory Foam or Aerated LatexAerated, Graphite-infused Memory FoamShredded Memory FoamGel Memory Foam
CoverBamboo FabricBamboo Viscose FabricBamboo FabricPhase-change Tencel® Lyocell MaterialPhase-change Material BlendCotton and Polyester Blend
Firmness RangeMediumMediumMedium SoftMedium SoftMediumMedium Firm
Loft RangeAdjustable Loft (Zipper Cover)4 1/2″2 1/2″ to 2 3/4″
Models Include Bonus Cover that Increases Loft to 5 1/2″
6″Adjustable Loft (Zipper Cover)6 2/5″
Trial100 Nights365 NightsNot Available30 Nights100 Nights (Full Refund)
50% Refund after 100 Nights
No Returns Unless Damaged During Delivery
5 Year Warranty
CleaningMachine WashableSpot CleanSpot Clean
Cover is Machine Washable
Spot CleanMachine WashableSpot Clean
Cover is Machine Washable
Customer Satisfaction Rating86% (894 Customer Reviews)83% (203 Customer Reviews)85% (239 Customer Reviews)84% (458 Customer Reviews)86% (1,506 Customer Reviews)88% (1,346 Customer Reviews)
 

Conclusion

For more information about cooling pillows and other pillow types (including non-cooling latex and memory foam models), please check out our Pillow Buying Guide.

 
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