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Best Gel Pillows – 2021 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

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

The Best Gel Pillows – Reviewed

Best OverallLeesa Hybrid

Best Overall - Leesa Hybrid

Highlights

  • Flippable with dual firmness ('Soft,' 'Firm')
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Innovative, multi-textured design
Read Our Full Review

Best OverallLeesa Hybrid

LEESA.COM

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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

Best ValueAllswell Gel Cooling Pillow

Best Value – Allswell Gel Cooling Pillow

Highlights

  • 'Medium'
  • 30-day return period
  • Solid memory foam core provides even contouring
  • Cooling gel inserts help draw heat away from the surface
  • Excellent pressure relief for side and back sleepers
Buy the Allswell Gel Cooling Pillow at the lowest available price.
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Best ValueAllswell Gel Cooling Pillow

allswellhome.COM

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Finding a high-quality gel pillow can be tough for shoppers on a budget, but some models offer more long-term value than others. One example is the Allswell Gel Cooling Pillow, which is on par with competitors in terms of performance and durability but carries a very affordable price-point. The core consists of solid memory foam with a medium feel, so most sleepers will notice significant contouring around the head and neck. This level of conforming can alleviate tension, pain, and pressure points in these areas. A mid-range profile makes the pillow best suited to side and back sleepers.

A common complaint about memory foam is that the material traps heat. Both sides of this pillow feature cooling gel inserts, which are intended to draw heat away from the surface. A soft knit cover encases the pillow. Owners may wash and dry the cover in any household machine whenever it needs to be cleaned. One side – standard/queen – is available for this pillow.

Allswell provides free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. for all orders of $35 or more, which covers the Gel Cooling Pillow’s price-point. The company also accepts returns for pillows in original condition within 30 days of the original purchase.

Good For:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • People who experience discomfort around the head and neck
  • Those who tend to sleep hot on memory foam pillows
  • Value seekers

Best LuxuryTempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow

Best Luxury – Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow

Highlights

  • 'Medium'
  • 5-year warranty
  • Solid Tempur memory foam is dense and durable
  • Cooling inserts on each side of the pillow
  • Machine-washable cover
Read Our Full Review
Buy the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow at the lowest price.
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Best LuxuryTempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow

tempurpedic.COM

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Tempur-Pedic has earned a reputation for luxury sleep products that perform well due to their high-quality materials and designs. Take the TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow, which alleviates pressure and sleeps cool in equal measure. The core is composed of Tempur memory foam, a proprietary high-density material that holds up well and shouldn’t lose shape too quickly. Each side of the pillow has a cooling gel insert intended to offset the foam’s heat-retaining properties.

A profile of 6.4 inches makes the pillow very well-suited to side sleepers, as well as back sleepers who need extra loft to sleep comfortably. The medium feel also ensures close contouring around the head and neck – a benefit for anyone who feels pain or pressure points in these areas while they sleep. The pillow’s quilted cotton cover is removable and machine-washable for easy, convenient care. Queen and king sizes are available.

The pillow’s steep price-point reflects its premier design and materials, but Tempur-Pedic offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. All sales are final and the company does not accept returns on pillows, but each purchase comes with a 5-year warranty against premature sagging and other structural defects.

Good For:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • People who prefer extra pillow loft
  • Those who frequently deal with neck pain
  • Shoppers who want to invest in a long-lasting memory foam pillow

Best Pressure ReliefCoop Home Goods Eden

Best Pressure Relief - Coop Home Goods Eden

Highlights

  • 'Medium Soft'
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 5-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Great shape retention
Read Our Full Review
Coop Home Goods pillows are available to Our readers at the lowest price
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Best Pressure ReliefCoop Home Goods Eden

coophomegoods.com

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The Eden pillow from Coop Home Goods 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

Buying Guide – Shopping for the Best Gel Pillow

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:

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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