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From your pajamas to your duvet, what you sleep in or on can affect your bedtime. Whether you’re naturally a sweaty sleeper or are looking to cool down during the summer months, cooling bedding may be your solution for a good night’s sleep. Instead of cranking up the air conditioner — whether it’s a window AC or a portable AC — you can allow cooling sheets, mattresses and even pillows to regulate your body temperature. Utilizing moisture-wicking fabrics and lightweight construction, these products can help ensure cool air will reach your body for a dry and comfortable sleep. However, with more and more fabrics on the market claiming to sport cooling properties, it can get frustrating trying to find the right cooling bedding for you. To help, we consulted experts on what to look for when you’re shopping for cooling bedding and rounded up some of the best cooling bedding out right now.
Should you buy cooling and breathable bedding?
Cooling bedding can come off like a marketing ploy, but experts say it could actually improve your sleep and, in turn, your quality of life.
Board-certified sleep specialists W. Christopher Winter, MD, and Arun Badi, MD, PhD, identify temperature as one of the most important factors that affect quality of sleep. To achieve an optimal sleeping environment, Winter — a neurologist and author of “The Sleep Solution” — recommends a temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. However, he doesn’t see that as an end unto itself and doesn’t recommend using the AC to achieve it, calling that approach “problematic.”
“It’s expensive [and] a bit wasteful to cool an entire bedroom just to make your bed [cool],” Winter said. Instead, he recommends investing in bedding.
According to research in the “Journal of Physiological Anthropology” published in 2012, “the use of clothing and beddings greatly aid in maintaining the body temperature at an acceptable thermal state in a variety of environments.” Heat exposure can also increase wakefulness and decrease REM sleep (when you have vivid dreams), according to the study.
How to shop for cooling bedding
Many brands have specific products they market as cooling bedding — for example, Casper recently launched a new cooling collection. However, you can guide your shopping with specific terms that tell you more than others.
Look for terms like “moisture-wicking” and “breathable,” as well as materials like cotton, Tencel and bamboo. Both Winter and Badi told Shopping that materials play a significant role in how cooling bedding is — sometimes even more than proprietary technologies and construction a brand boasts.
Cooling bedding language
Moisture-wicking properties refer to a product’s ability to move moisture to the surface, thereby making it easier for it to evaporate, and to subsequently dry quickly. You will definitely want a product that boasts moisture-wicking properties.
Similarly, breathable bedding means a material or product allows air to pass through it more effortlessly, often through to the skin, making it easier for moisture to evaporate. This can go a long way in keeping you from waking up with that sticky, sweaty and uncomfortable feeling. Conversely, try to avoid materials that are thick and likely to retain moisture at higher levels. Foam in bedding is a common culprit. If you’re partial to the material, make sure the product also has cooling gel or air vents in it.
Cooling bedding features
You’ll also come across many listed features as you’re shopping for cooling bedding. Here’s what they mean — and what they don’t.
- Cooling gel: A common feature of cool bedding — particularly pillows — cooling gel works by absorbing body heat and dissipating it throughout the pillow. Gel is able to do this without losing its shape, keeping the temperature down throughout the night. Cooling gel is most important in mattresses and pillows that use memory foam, which tends to trap heat.
- Temperature sensitivity: Some materials are able to detect how much heat is being trapped, otherwise known as temperature sensitivity. Once the amount of heat has reached a threshold, various materials release some of it to bring the temperature back down. This is mostly useful for people whose body temperature tends to change drastically, as the material will be able to adjust to the fluctuations and keep you cool throughout the night. If your temperature is usually stable, temperature sensitivity might not make too much of a difference.
- Ventilation/airflow: Many cooling bedding items vaunt ventilation or airflow or circulation, which is what it sounds like: Fresh air is able to come into the material and old air can move out. Ventilation works like breathable material. Seek this feature, particularly in mattresses and pillows, where dust, air and heat can accumulate more easily. Similarly, if you’re looking into memory foam, ventilation and airflow features are a must.
- Cool-to-the-touch: As the name suggests, cool-to-the-touch items provide a feeling of coolness as soon as you touch them. During the heat of the summer, this immediate refreshing feeling can help make you more comfortable. However, if you’re already able to keep your home cool and don’t tend to be an overly hot sleeper, this might not be as much of a necessity.
Best cooling mattresses and pads
If you’re looking for a new mattress, don’t hesitate to go for a cooling one. As explained above, having a mattress that keeps the temperature regulated is one of the best and (relatively) easiest ways to sleep better. “Mattresses [...] determine the degree of comfort in your sleep,” said Badi. So you definitely don’t want to cut corners on this investment if you have the option.
An alternative to a new mattress is a more affordable cooling pad, which you can place on top of your regular mattress. To use, you have to add water to the ChiliPAD’s control unit. It comes with a control to change the temperature — whether you want it to be cooler or hotter — making it more economically savvy than the Eight Sleep Pod Pro mattress. The company claims its technology alleviates night sweats and promotes deep sleep.
Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro is a mattress for techies who want to track and control different aspects of their sleep. You can set the mattress temperature from your phone, and it’s also possible to have different temperatures on either side of the bed, which is something to consider if you and your partner have different sleeping temperature preferences. Notably, the mattress is equipped with embedded sensor technology — it can change temperature based on factors like humidity and local weather. This mattress might be best for people who are very specific about what temperature they want: It’s basically like having an AC unit in your bed.
This GhostBed mattress features five (out of seven layers) that incorporate different cooling technologies. The top layer is made from the brand’s Ghost Ice Fabric, which is designed to be cool to the touch. At the center, this mattress includes a gel memory foam layer that’s supposed to pull heat away. Keep in mind that for firmness, memory foam — even one infused with cooling gel — is not the best material. The last layer is meant to provide a supportive base to sleep on.
This mattress is one that Winter recommends to his patients. The M3 features dual adjustment so you can choose a different level of firmness than your partner with four comfort options to choose from. Its ventilation panels are meant to help air circulate and keep humidity from accumulating. The top cover is also cool-to-the-touch and removable, making it easier to wash..You can also use the mattress on either an adjustable, slatted or box spring base.
Best cooling sheets and comforters
In the midst of summer, a cooling mattress may not be enough — you still could be suffering from hot nights of interrupted sleep. Buying cooling sheets and comforters could help keep your bed at an even more comfortable temperature. It’s also very easy to simply switch them out when winter comes along and you want a bit more heat.
Another of Winter’s recommendations, this sheet set is made with Tencel, a human-made, eco-friendly material. The sheets are made with the brand’s CoolX Technology that’s meant to be moisture-wicking while you’re sleeping. The set is designed to be soft for all-around comfort. Sheex also offers copper and bamboo cooling sheet sets.
Purple’s popular sheets are made with 67percent natural rayon that comes from viscose bamboo, which is naturally breathable. This helps air flow easily, releasing heat and moisture. The material is also hypoallergenic and gentle to the environment since it grows fast and can be harvested without necessarily causing deforestation. The set includes two pillowcases, fitted and flat sheets and comes in colors like Stormy Grey and Natural Oat. The sheets have earned an average 4.6-star rating over more than 2,500 reviews.
If you’re the kind of person who needs a comforter to sleep, but also gets uncomfortably hot during the night, this top-rated cooling comforter could be for you. Made with an 100 percent eucalyptus shell, it’s cool-to-the touch and breathable. Eucalyptus is less water-intensive than other crops like cotton(one of the “thirstiest” crops, according to the World Wildlife Federation). This comforter boasts a 4.7-star rating over more than 5,600 reviews.
My Sheets Rock as a brand is centered around cooling sheets. This set is designed to regulate temperature, wick moisture and reduce sweating (and any resulting smells). Made from a bamboo rayon, these sheets are meant to be lightweight, breathable and reduce humidity. They currently come in 10 colors like Turquoise and Burgundy. The set includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet and two pillowcases.
Best cooling pillows
Pillows alone won’t make a huge difference in temperature, but they can be a great complement to other cooling items. They also provide an immediate cooling feeling the second you put your head down to sleep.
Casper designed this ergonomic foam pillow with breathable and air-circulating properties that keep heat from accumulating, a solid option combining cooling properties and the non-cooling memory foam. The pillow also helps with head and neck alignment — you can choose between two pillow heights depending on your support needs and the brand offers a short questionnaire to find out which could be best for you.
The washable and removable cover of this pillow uses Tempur-Pedic’s SmartClimate technology, which is designed to be cool-to-the-touch. The pillow also is made with a dual-sided cooling gel and is meant to adapt to your shape. You can choose between two heights for this pillow — the higher is meant for side and back sleepers while the low is for stomach sleepers, the brand says. Winter considers Tempur-Pedic’s cooling products some of the best in the market.
This Coop Home Goods pillow is filled with cooling gel and optimizes airflow. As with other products, the gel gives it an immediate cool feeling that is perfect for hot summer nights. The pillow comes with a removable cover that is moisture-wicking, antibacterial, and hypoallergenic.
The best pillow for hot sleepers given guidance from experts, this option is made with foam, graphite and a cooling gel — the latter two are meant to pull heat away from the body. The foam is designed to adapt to and support your body while still maintaining its shape. The cover is both washable and breathable. This pillow boasts a 4.4-star rating over more than 3,800 reviews at Tuft & Needle.