As the temperatures start to rise, many people crank up their air conditioners at night to create a cool, comfortable atmosphere for sleep. Another option is to invest in cooling bedding, which can also help you avoid sweaty and uncomfortable nights. And if your upper body gets particularly hot, a pillow specifically designed to be cooling might be a worthwhile investment.
Cooling pillows are typically constructed with cooling gel-infused memory foam (regular memory foam tends to trap heat) or are branded as hybrid, with one side that’s made from foam and another with cooling gel. To help you shop, we rounded up some highly-rated options based on expert recommendations on what to look for in cooling pillows.
Our top picks
- Best overall: Pluto Pillow
- Best budget pick: Himoon Standard Size Cooling Pillows
- Best splurge: Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow
How we picked the best cooling pillows
We spoke with sleep experts to get their tips on what to look for in a cooling pillow, relied on Select staffers and considered highly-rated options from popular sleep brands. Here is what experts suggest keeping in mind when shopping for a cooling pillow:
- Fabric: Experts we spoke with suggest ensuring the pillow you choose is covered in breathable fabrics like cotton, Tencel or bamboo, all of which encourage airflow and wick moisture away.
- Fill: As mentioned, most pillows meant to reduce overheating utilize cooling gel. But our experts say you can also consider pillows constructed with other heat-busting fillers, like latex.
- Ventilation: Built-in ventilation can help airflow through your pillow, keeping you cool as you sleep. Whether the foam has holes in it to maximize airflow or the pillow cover is vented to let air in and out, ventilation elements can help you from overheating, says Seth Davis, a certified sleep coach who offers instruction through his company, Sleepably.
The best cooling pillows to consider
This Select Wellness Award winner earned high marks for its cooling foam and the ability to customize it. Before you fill it out, you fill out a questionnaire to customize it to your unique sleep position and preferences. If you just want basic cooling, you’ll get a pillow with a breathable eucalyptus surface. Require something a bit more heavy-duty? The brand will send you a pillow that utilizes its cool-to-the-touch fibers. When testing the pillow for the Select Wellness Awards, reporter Zoe Malin said: “I’ve probably never spent more than like $30 on a pillow, but after trying this one, I completely understand why investing in a high-quality option is worth it. This pillow is a great thickness and made my head, neck and back feel supported while sleeping.” The pillow Malin slept on is designed for hot sleepers who need a plush feel.
This affordable set of 2 cooling pillows has a 4.4-average star rating out of 21,300 reviews on Amazon. The filling is made from microfiber, which is more cooling than down, according to the brand. Himoon says that the pillow cover is made of the same breathable fabric that can also absorb sweat. These pillows are ideal for side, back or stomach sleepers, according to the brand.
Experts have told us that Tempur-Pedic makes some of the best cooling products for sleep. This cooling pillow has a removable, machine-washable cover that is cool to the touch. It is made with a dual-sided cooling gel that adapts to your shape when you lay on it. It also comes with a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty, which means that Temper-Pedic will repair or replace it if something goes wrong with it.
This ergonomic foam pillow from Casper is made with breathable and air-circulating properties that keep heat from accumulating using its proprietary AirScape foam. The pillow also helps with head and neck alignment, and you can choose between two pillow heights — mid loft and low loft — depending on how much support you want (the brand offers a short questionnaire to find out which could be best for you). This pick from Casper also earned a Select Wellness Award. After reviewing it for the awards, editorial director Lauren Swanson said, “I've slept on a lot of pillows, but there is something about the way that this one supports my head while still feeling cloud-like.”
A favorite of Davis, this supportive and breathable option is designed to keep its shape while wicking warmth away using its foam, graphite and cooling gel materials. While the foam pillow itself isn’t washable, the pillow cover — which is made from breathable micro polyamide and polyester — is. The brand recommends washing it in cold water with light colors. Choose between two sizes: Standard or King.
Latex pillows are naturally cooler than pillows made from other materials like memory foam, and this sustainable one from Birch is made with natural Talalay latex from Southeast Asia. The cover is also made of 100 percent organic cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard and the pillow itself is free of any polyurethane-based foams and harsh chemicals, according to the brand.
This pillow has a 4.4-average star rating from 225,694 reviews on Amazon. It has a gel fiber filling and breathable cover that gives it its cooling properties. It’s also comfortable and keeps its shape thanks to what the company calls no-shift construction. The brand claims this pillow can work for back, side and stomach sleepers.
Another recommendation from Davis, this pillow has a honeycomb-patterned layer at it’s core that encourages airflow so you don’t overheat. The pillow is covered in a mesh-like, breathable fabric that encourages even more airflow. According to the brand, the honeycomb latex layer also offers much-needed support for your head and neck.
How to shop for the best cooling pillows
When it comes to getting quality rest, temperature is important. “A cool sleep environment supports the natural dip in your body temperature that occurs in the evening, signaling it's time to sleep,” says Davis. “If the environment is too hot, it can interfere with this process and make falling asleep more difficult.” Kelly Murray, a certified pediatric and adult sleep coach, adds that the ideal sleep environment temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooling bedding can help keep your body at the right temperature. Specifically, Davis says that cooling pillows are a smart option because our heads are a significant source of heat. Here’s what experts recommend you keep in mind:
- Fabric: The material a pillow is covered with can either help dissipate heat or trap it. Obviously, the former is better if you get sweaty while you snooze. Cotton, Tencel, bamboo and even wool are all breathable fabrics that encourage airflow and wick moisture away. You may also want to prioritize fabrics that have Oeko-Tex certification, which means it has passed testing for harmful substances. “We spend a third of our lives sleeping and we want to make sure that the materials that we are sleeping on are safe,” says Murray. Finally, synthetic fabrics should mostly be avoided, as many tend to have a tighter weave that prevents air from moving through.
- Fill: Pay attention to what’s inside your pillow. “Some pillows utilize phase-change materials for active temperature regulation,” says Murray. This essentially means that they are able to absorb heat energy and still keep cool. Cooling gel is the most common phase-change material used in cooling pillows. Wool is another material that is commonly used. “I prefer wool fill for hot sleepers as it is excellent for thermal regulation and is moisture-wicking,” she says. Rebekka Wall, a certified adolescent and adult sleep consultant with Sleep Wise Consulting, says that latex or down are two other fill materials that promote airflow and overall coolness.
- Ventilation and airflow: These days, many pillows are made using memory foam, a material that adapts to your head shape and can make for a more comfortable sleep. But unless memory foam has proper ventilation, it can get very hot. So, look for memory foam pillows that have holes or channels that allow for air to flow through, says Davis. If a cooling pillow doesn’t have memory foam, you still want to make sure the inside allows for proper airflow. Experts suggest looking for pillows that feel lighter, as a denser inside is likely to prevent ventilation.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Seth Davis is a certified sleep coach and founder of the sleep coaching and training company Sleepably.
- Kelly Murray is a certified pediatric and adult sleep coach and the founder of Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting.
- Rebekka Wall is a certified adolescent and adult sleep consultant with Sleep Wise Consulting.
Why trust Select?
For this story, we interviewed three experts to gather their guidance and product recommendations. We also researched highly-rated cooling pillows based on their advice.