Best Gel Pillows – 2019 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Our Review Process
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Quick Summary

Some pillows are constructed with components made with cooling gel, a substance that helps the sleeper maintain a comfortable temperature and not feel too warm. The term ‘gel pillow’ may refer to pillows that contain individual gel layers (usually near the surface) or those with gel-infused foams. It’s important to note that the presence of gel does not always mean the pillow sleeps cool; for this reason, pillow shoppers should test out different pillow models to ensure their choice offers a temperature that works for them.

There are unique qualities associated with different types of gel pillows. For instance, pillows filled with shredded, gel-infused foam often offer adjustable loft and are highly moldable, making them a good option for people who cuddle with pillows. Single-piece gel-infused foam pillows provide close conforming and great shape retention in most cases.

This guide will explain the various characteristics and designs available to today’s gel pillow shoppers. Below you will find our picks for the best gel pillows sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Gel Pillows

Editor’s Pick – Coop Home Goods Eden

Best Value Gel Pillow – Snuggle-Pedic

Best Luxury Gel Pillow – Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber

Best Gel Pillow for Pressure Relief – Nest Bedding Easy Breather

Best Reversible Gel Pillow – Leesa Hybrid

How We Decided

 

35 gel pillows considered –– 100 hours of research –– 4 sleep experts consulted

Best Gel Pillows – Tuck's Top 5 Picks

Coop Home Goods Eden – Editor's Pick

Highlights
  • ‘Medium Soft’
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 5-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Great shape retention

Our Editor’s Pick is the Eden pillow from Coop Home Goods. It is filled with shredded, gel-infused memory foam and housed in a cover made of rayon from bamboo; this design allows the Eden to sleep exceptionally cool even by gel pillow standards. The pillow also conforms closely to help align the spine and alleviate aches and pains in the neck and shoulders. This makes the Eden a good option for side sleepers, as well as those with chronic discomfort.

Adjustable loft is another benefit. Owners can simply add or remove the shredded foam fill to increase or decrease the thickness of the pillow and find a loft that is to their liking. This allows sleepers in different weight groups to experience comfortable sleep. The Eden is highly durable, as well, and very easy to clean thanks to a removable polyester liner where the foam is stored.

The Eden’s price-point is below-average compared to other shredded foam pillows. Free shipping is available to customers in all 50 states and the pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those with shifting loft preferences

Check Price | Read Our Full Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow Review

Snuggle-Pedic – Best Value Gel Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 20-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Cool, pressure-relieving comfort

The Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo from Relief Mart (simply known as the Snuggle-Pedic) has a price-point that is significantly lower than that of the average gel pillow, making it our Best Value pick. However, the Snuggle-Pedic does not sacrifice quality for cost, and offers the same cooling, pressure-relieving experience for sleepers as many competing, higher-end pillows. In addition to its shredded, gel-infused memory foam fill, the pillow has a rayon from bamboo cover that allows it to sleep very cool.

The Snuggle-Pedic offers adjustable loft; however, owners should not attempt to add or remove fill themselves due to the pillow’s sealed design. Owners may ship their pillow to Relief Mart any time they need a loft adjustment. These adjustments are free of charge, including shipping, and unlimited for all owners.

The Snuggle-Pedic can be shipped to customers in all 50 states at no extra charge. It is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Check Price | Read Our Full Snuggle-Pedic Pillow Review

Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber – Best Luxury Gel Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Soft’
  • 3-year warranty
  • 5″ to 6″ loft
  • Excellent shape recovery

The Gelled Microfiber pillow is part of Malouf’s Z collection, which includes more than 60 luxury-crafted pillows that are mostly sold at above-average price-points. The Gelled Microfiber is filled with soft, lightweight down alternative material that has been infused with gel and housed in a breathable cotton-percale cover. Its price-point may be higher, but this pillow sleeps cooler than most sold today.

The pillow’s fill is also clustered; sleepers may experience sinking when they rest their head on the surface, but the pillow provides great support – particularly for those who experience aches and pains in their neck and/or shoulders. The Gelled Microfiber pillow also maintains its shape well, and does not require much fluffing; this gives the pillow a fairly long lifespan compared to other down alternative pillows. It is offered in Queen and King sizes, as well as a body pillow option that is highly suitable for pregnant women.

All customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping when they order from Malouf. The Gelled Microfiber pillow is backed by a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who prefer medium-loft pillows
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber Pillow Review

Nest Bedding Easy Breather – Best Gel Pillow for Pressure Relief

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 2-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Sleeps cool and alleviates pressure well

Many pillows filled with shredded memory foam offer close conforming that leads to improved spinal alignment and pain and pressure relief. The Easy Breather from Nest Bedding is a standout because it is ‘Medium’ in terms of firmness, which offers a balance of contouring and support that accommodates most sleepers to a degree. The pillow’s loft is fully adjustable, as well, making it suitable for sleepers in different weight groups.

The shredded memory foam is infused with gel. Additionally, the pillow has a cover made from breathable Tencel® lyocell and air circulates very well throughout the interior. As a result, the Easy Breather sleeps cool and comfortable for most. It is highly moldable, as well, and should be sufficiently scrunchable for people who cuddle with pillows.

Nest Bedding will ship the pillow anywhere in the contiguous U.S. free of charge. The Easy Breather is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who cuddle with pillows when they sleep
  • Sleepers with shifting loft preferences

Check Price | Read Our Full Nest Easy Breather Pillow Review

Leesa Hybrid – Best Reversible Gel Pillow

Highlights
  • Flippable with dual firmness (‘Soft,’ ‘Firm’)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Innovative, multi-textured design

The Leesa Hybrid offers a unique design that combines different firmness settings, textures, and sleep temperatures. The result is a versatile pillow that provides two distinct sleep experiences. One side is contoured and padded with down alternative material, which feels exceptionally soft and conforms closely; the other side has a flat surface and is lined with a cooling gel insert. Owners simply flip the pillow over to change the surface.

The down alternative side conforms very closely, making it a good option for sleepers with neck and shoulder pain. This side is ‘Medium Soft.’ The gel insert side, which is ‘Medium Firm,’ feels exceptionally cool and should accommodate most hot sleepers. Additionally, the pillow’s cover and interior can be washed and dried in conventional machines.

The Leesa Hybrid has an above-average price-point, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Customers in all 50 states qualify for free shipping, and the pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those with shifting firmness preferences
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Leesa Hybrid Pillow Review

Best Gel Pillows Buyer's Guide

The term ‘gel pillow’ refers to any pillow containing individual layers of gel and/or gel-infused memory foam. All foams — memory foams in particular — retain a fair amount of body heat from sleepers. As a result, sleepers may feel excessively warm or hot during the night, and this can lead to sleep disruptions. Gel layers may allow the pillow to sleep cooler and help owners cut down on nighttime disruptions — but in some cases, gel pillows do not sleep significantly cooler than standard memory foam pillows.

This guide to gel pillow will explore how these pillows are designed, discuss sleepers who may benefit from using one, provide some tips for first-time buyers, and list our picks for the top gel pillows sold today.

What Is a Gel Pillow?

Gel pillows are often referred to as ‘cooling gel pillows’ because they are supposed to absorb less body heat and sleep more comfortably. The ‘gel’ in a gel pillow may constitute the following:

  • Gel layers: Some pillows have gel layers that line the interior, while others have surface gel layers to cool off the exterior of the pillow. The gel layers are typically thin, and may be removable.
  • Gel-infused fill: Memory foam and/or polyfoam may be infused with gel beads or swirls. Additionally, pillows with gel-infused down alternative fibers are available through select manufacturers.

It’s important to note that some gel pillows have customer satisfaction ratings that are on par with the ratings for standard pillows. This suggests that either they do not offer as much cooling as advertised, or that they have inherent flaws that undermine their cooling abilities. However, our customer feedback indicates some gel pillows (including the ones found in the ‘Best Brands and Models’ section) do sleep noticeably cooler than others.

Other variables of gel pillows include:

  • Fill distribution: Some gel-infused memory foam pillows are one-piece models, while others have shredded foam or fiber fill. One-piece designs tend to offer closer conforming and more pressure relief. However, most shredded fill pillows offer adjustable loft (or thickness); owners simply remove or add to the existing fill to decrease or increase the loft size.
  • Shape: Most gel pillows with shredded foam or down alternative polyester fill have flat, even surfaces. Some one-piece memory foam pillows are also flat and even, but many have a contoured shape that aligns with the curves of the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders. These pillows, also known as orthopedic pillows, can be beneficial for sleepers who regularly experience aches and pains.
  • Reversibility: Most pillows are reversible by design. However, some gel pillows are constructed with gel and non-gel sides to offer different sleep experiences.
  • Cover: A gel pillow will often include a cover made of breathable, cooler materials. These materials include cotton and rayon from bamboo. Some polyester covers also sleep cool to a noticeable extent.

Gel pillows are most commonly made in the following sizes:

Pillow Size Dimensions Pillow Case Size and Dimensions Notes
Small 20W” x 12L” Specialty sizes Normally found with orthopedic/cervical pillows (see below)
Standard 20W” x 26L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L) The most common pillow size, as well as the most compact and least expensive on average
Queen 20W” x 30L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)
Queen (20-22W” x 30-34L”)
The second most common pillow size, and suitable for most people who toss and turn
King 20W” x 36L” King (20-21W” x 36-41″L) Good for people who toss and turn, and also makes good headrests and backrests
Body 54W” x 20L”
48W” x 20L”
Body pillow (dimensions vary) The longest pillow size, mostly suitable for side sleepers and pregnant women

Who Should Use a Gel Pillow?

All sleepers have unique needs and preferences, but our research suggests that the following groups tend to favor gel pillows the most:

  • Hot sleepers: Reviews are mixed in terms of specific pillow models, but a large number of hot sleepers say they sleep more comfortably on cooling gel pillows compared to standard foam or down alternative pillows. Hot sleepers are urged to test out different gel pillows in order to find one that effectively helps them sleep cooler.
  • Side sleepers: Both shredded foam and down alternative pillows are considered suitable for side sleepers because they are soft, supportive, and moldable. Orthopedic one-piece gel memory foam pillows are also beneficial to side sleepers because they help align the spine and alleviate pressure points along the neck, shoulders, and back.
  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women tend to sleep hot and many prefer to sleep on their sides, making them good candidates for gel pillows. Pregnant women may also help lower their nighttime temperature by placing a cooling gel pillow between their knees or under their legs.
  • People with allergies to certain pillow materials: Certain pillow fills, such as down and latex, can trigger allergies in sleepers. The majority of gel pillows are hypoallergenic and will not trigger these allergies, although down alternative models are somewhat susceptible to dust mites.

Important Considerations for Gel Pillow Shoppers

When shopping for a new gel model and comparing different brands and models, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • What is your pillow shopping budget? The average gel pillow costs $40 to $50, but memory foam models (shredded or one-piece) tend to be pricier than gel polyfoam or gel down alternative pillows.
  • What type of gel pillow do you want? A one-piece gel memory foam pillow will offer closer conforming and more pressure relief for most, but shredded gel foam and down alternative pillows are less expensive and typically offer adjustable loft.
  • Are you a side sleeper? Gel pillows can be suitable for side sleepers, but adequate support and loft are needed to keep the spine aligned and help reduce pressure points. Shredded fill pillows tend to be more moldable and scrunchy, as well.
  • What is the pillow’s cover made from? Most gel pillows have covers made from cooler, more breathable materials like cotton or rayon from bamboo. However, some gel pillows may have covers made of materials that do not necessarily sleep cooler.
  • Does the pillow have a reversible design? Gel pillows with gel and non-gel sides may be the best option for sleepers who have preferences that vary from night to night.
  • What pillow size do you need? Most sleepers have pillows that are Standard-, Queen-, or King-size. However, many pillow models are not made in all three sizes — and in some cases, pillows will only be available in one size. Keep your desired size in mind when looking at pillows with limited sizing availability.
  • What is your desired firmness level? Gel pillows come in a wide range of firmness options, so shoppers may need to narrow down their options to models that offer their preferred firmness. Some gel pillows with reversible designs feature different firmness levels on each side.
  • Does the pillow manufacturer offer a sleep trial? Testing out a gel pillow for a few minutes in a store may not be sufficient. Some pillow brands offer sleep trials, which allow customers to test out their pillow for a certain period (usually 30 nights or more) and then return it for a refund if they are not satisfied. A sleep trial can be an effective way to evaluate how cool a gel pillow sleeps night after night — but not all manufacturers offer them.
  • How long does the pillow’s warranty last? The average pillow needs to be replaced every two to three years, so it’s important to look for warranties that cover a gel pillow throughout its entire lifespan. Please note that some pillow manufacturers do not offer any sort of product warranty.

Additional Tips for Sleeping Cooler

If you aren’t in the market for a gel pillow or have found that gel pillows don’t help you sleep cooler, here are a few tips for optimizing your sleep space for temperature neutrality.

  • Consider a new mattress. Mattresses with thick layers of polyfoam or memory foam in the comfort layer and high-density foam support cores tend to sleep the hottest among all mattress types. Latex mattresses may sleep cooler, but some sleepers say they still trap a fair amount of heat. According to the consensus among mattress owners, innersprings and hybrids sleep the coolest due to better airflow in their support cores.
  • Replace your sheets. Buying new sheets is much cheaper than investing in a new mattress. Sheets made of cotton or rayon from bamboo are considered the most breathable, and coolest for sleeping. Wool sheets are also quite breathable, and can help keep sleepers warm during the colder months as well.
  • Set a comfortable room temperature. The temperature in your bedroom should provide a balance of coolness and warmth that will keep you comfortable and reduce sleep disruptions during the night. Everyone has different preferences, but most agree that a room temperature of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15.5 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) is most comfortable for sleeping.
  • Dampen your sheet. Lightly wet your top sheet before bed and drape it over your body for extra coolness. To avoid making the mattress too damp, try placing the wet layer over a dry sheet or towel.
  • Sleep with a fan. Bedside fans are an essential sleep accessory for many, especially during hotter times of the year. Fans also produce white noise, which helps drown outside sounds (such as traffic or street-level activities) and prevent sleep disruptions. Placing a fan directly in line with a window will create a pleasant cross-breeze that can help you stay cool during the night.
  • Drink water before bed. A glass of water or two will ensure you feel hydrated before bed, which can help you stay cool. Just don’t overdo it — otherwise you may need to visit the bathroom during the night.
  • Sleep naked. Sleeping in the nude will not only keep you cool, but also improves blood circulation and helps promote the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles.

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