The 8 Best Cooling Pillows of 2022

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Cooling pillows provide an easy way to help your head regulate your overall body temperature while you sleep. Constructed with breathable, moisture-wicking, and foam- or latex-based materials, these pillows work on two fronts (inside and outside) to keep your head cool, often utilizing unique airflow designs and gel layers to further prevent overheating.

But cooling pillows can’t just chill you out while otherwise leaving you hanging, say experts: they still need to be supportive of your head, neck, and shoulders, accommodating the unique way that you sleep.

“The ideal [cooling] pillow should be medium-firm, made of memory foam or other material that conforms to your body shape and weight without flattening out during the night, and should be machine washable to allow adequate and frequent cleaning,” says Carleara Weiss, PhD, science advisor for Aeroflow Sleep. We researched dozens of cooling pillows and evaluated them for cover materials, stuffing materials, comfort level, sizes available, and price.

Here are the best cooling pillows on the market today.

Final Verdict

For anyone who changes positions at night or who simply wants an all-around reliable cooling pillow for a variety of needs, we recommend the Purple Harmony Pillow. Its ventilated grid promotes airflow within the pillow while the moisture-wicking cover keeps things breathable on the outside; meanwhile, it’s appropriate for all types of sleepers and keeps its shape without flattening during use.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, it can be hard to find a cooling pillow that supports your sleep style, but we like the BLISSBURY Stomach Sleeping Pillow: it’s firm but thin, giving you just the right height and support, and is constructed with ventilated holes in the memory foam to maximize cooling.

How We Selected the Cooling Pillows

To find the best cooling pillows, we asked four sleep specialists, including sleep coaches and sleep medicine physicians, to tell us what to look for and avoid when choosing a pillow that can keep you comfortable, supported, other cool at night They stressed the importance of taking a pillow’s firmness, construction, and intended sleep position into consideration, recommending that you find a pillow that has just the right height for how you sleep and a combination of temperature-regulating materials inside and out.

We scoured the internet for crowd-favorite cooling pillows with features like gel layers, breathable fabrics, adjustable loft filling, and supportive ergonomics. We also tried to find pillows across a wide variety of budgets, because the right pillow can make or break your sleep—but shouldn’t have to make or break your bank account.

What to Look for in Cooling Pillows

firmness

The good news is there is no “correct” amount of firmness for a pillow, so you’re free to choose one as soft and fluffy or as solid and supportive as you want. The bad news is that finding the right level of firmness for you might take some trial and error.

“You should consider multiple factors when deciding on a pillow’s firmness, including body and head position while sleeping, frequency of use, and any medical conditions [you have, like] arthritis or back pain,” says Ashtaad Dalal, MD, a sleep medicine and family medicine practitioner in Virginia. “The general idea should be to find a pillow that helps keep your head, neck and back aligned throughout the night.”

Some of this may even come down to your body type: larger users (with heavier heads) may need a firmer pillow that can withstand their weight, while young adults or lightweight users may prefer something a little softer that offers some give.

The bottom line? “The firmness level of your pillow is a highly subjective matter, but it’s an extremely important one,” says Dr. Dalal.

sleep style

For any type of pillow, it’s important to consider what type of sleeper you are (ie side, stomach, or back), and this holds true for cooling pillows. Even though they have the added feature of helping you regulate your body temperature, a cooling pillow still needs to be supportive of your head, neck, shoulders, and back; how well a pillow does this will largely depend on how you sleep. What works for a back sleeper won’t work as well for a side sleeper, simply because of positioning.

“A back sleeper may prefer a different kind of pillow than a stomach sleeper, [who] may prefer a thinner pillow than a side sleeper—who may prefer a thicker pillow,” says Terry Cralle, RN, certified Clinical Sleep Educator for the Better Sleep Council.

Because of this, you may want to choose a pillow with some adjustability in terms of height, or the pillow’s “loft.” Many cooling pillows allow you to remove or add filling to achieve that just-right amount of fluff for your sleeping style and ergonomic needs. Others offer multiple layers of memory foam you can remove or add to get that same adjustability.

material

When considering materials that promote cooling, you’ll have to take a look at what the pillow is made of and what materials it’s covered with. Both can contribute to the cooling effects of the pillow and assist with temperature regulation.

Inside the pillow, you should look for materials like latex, foam, buckwheat, and gel, says Foley. (As a bonus, she adds that these materials are often also hypoallergenic.) Solid memory foam layers benefit from ventilation holes, while shredded foam or synthetic fill pillows naturally offer protection against the trapping of heat. On the outside of the pillow, you may want to look for covers made from bamboo cotton or polyester, which tend to have strong moisture-wicking properties.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Why do cooling pillows help you sleep better?

    What, exactly, does the temperature of your head have to do with sleeping well at night? Studies have shown that sleep is highly affected by temperature; sleeping in a room that’s too hot or too cold can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. The same goes for sleeping on a pillow that keeps your head too warm or too cold.
    “Cooling the head can improve sleep quality [because] cooling pillows provide a cool or a temperature-neutral surface,” says Cralle. “They are made to draw heat away from the sleeper and increase airflow, [and] some cooling pillows can help wick away moisture and sweat.”
    The materials these pillows are constructed with go a long way towards giving you these cooling effects, Cralle adds, noting that while some are simply designed to be more breathable and well-ventilated than traditional pillows, preventing warm air from being trapped inside, others are made from “phase change materials” like graphite and gel that actually pull heat away from you while you sleep.


  • How long do cooling pillows last?

    Splurging on a luxury-priced cooling pillow may not be in your budget, but it might help to know that many cooling pillows actually outlive their non-cooling counterparts, so it can be worth the investment in the long run.
    “Generally, cooling pillows can last anywhere from two to four years,” says Dr. Dalal. “[You can] expect cooling pillows to last longer, or rather maintain their shape and firmness [longer] compared to standard pillows, as a result of them being made from more durable materials.”


  • How do you clean a cooling pillow?

    There’s no one answer here, because it depends entirely on what your pillow is made from.
    “A variety of different materials are used for cooling pillows, including gel, memory foam, shredded memory foam, and down feathers,” says Dr. Dalal, “and the way to clean cooling pillows will vary because [of that].”
    Many cooling pillows will need to be spot cleaned, he adds, because their materials aren’t compatible with a machine wash. You may want to use a removable and washable pillow cover—in addition to your pillowcase—to further protect your pillow and limit the need for cleaning.
    Finally, make sure that you read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning, since they will give you specific tips on how to clean your pillow based on the materials it’s made from.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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