women's fashion

I Always Woke Up Sweaty Until I Tried These Cooling Pajamas

Photo: Courtesy Recliner

I’m a sweaty sleeper. It’s not the sexiest thing to admit, but it’s part of my life and something I have to work around when selecting sheets and negotiating the thermostat setting with my husband. Oddly enough, though, despite a lifetime of dealing with this issue, I’ve never really considered the role my pajamas might play. I’ve been wearing a variation on the same cotton T-shirt and shorts combo for years. But, with all of the advancements in natural and synthetic fibers, my PJs get at least the same consideration as my gym clothes? There had to be something better out there.

A little internet searching revealed a number of companies designing pajamas exclusively for keeping you cool at night. To see if they actually work, I requested samples from eight different brands and spent three weeks testing out cooling nightgowns, tailored-looking sets, and sweat-friendly versions of the classic shorts and T-shirt look. All of the styles I tried, detailed below, were a huge improvement for me. After my test I went back to my old sleepwear and was shocked by how much sweatier I felt in comparison. Needless to say, my pajamas drawer has gotten a total revamp.

Quick note on washing: Some brands recommend hand-washing and/or hanging their pajamas to dry, but doing that would cost me precious sleep, so I tossed everything in the washer and dryer with no ill effects.

Best overall cooling pajamas

Even though they’re not specifically designed for cooling (just temperature-regulating, according to the website), these were my favorite of all the pajamas I tried. The jersey material (a blend of modal, a semi-synthetic material derived from wood pulp, and spandex) is incredibly soft — like a perfectly worn-in, incredibly breathable T-shirt — and I didn’t sweat a drop (or it was wicked away before I could notice) on the nights I wore the set. Since I typically try to sleep in as little clothing as possible, I was skeptical about trying a long sleeve top and pants. However, they ended up working better than some of the shorts and T-shirt sets, since more of my skin was covered by sweat-wicking material. Side slits on the top make it even more breathable, and the pockets on the joggers were helpful for carrying my phone while walking around the apartment. The pants have a drawstring for an adjustable fit, and Recliner lets you select the top and bottom in different sizes.

These were also the best-looking pajamas I tried. Both pieces are soft and stretchy, grazing the body for a clean look without feeling at all tight or constricting. Lounging around in the button-down top and jogger pants felt more luxurious than schleppy. Although the v-neck of the top was cut a tiny bit lower than I would have preferred, I’d definitely bring these to a weekend getaway where I might wear them around friends. The joggers, with their tapered cut and gathered ankle cuff, could easily double as lightweight sweatpants. At $115 for both, they’re comparable in price to the popular Eberjey Gisele set which, as I can attest, won’t keep you as cool.

Best overall (less-expensive) cooling pajamas

The first time I put on the Soma pajamas, I was struck by how cool the fabric felt against my skin. They’re made from rayon and spandex, and, compared with the Recliners, the Somas are more silky smooth than T-shirt soft, but they kept me just as cool. The choices for cuts and prints didn’t feel as modern as some of the other brands’ (a few of them read as a little too “suburban mom” for me), but there are some standouts. I liked the chinoiserie-esque print and contrast piping of the set I tried, and I’m intrigued by this dark floral option. The biggest difference is that the wide-leg pants don’t feel as versatile as Recliner’s joggers, though.

Along with being able to order your top and bottom separately to get the right size for each, Soma also lets you mix and match prints and colors if you want to get wild. Most pants are available in short and tall lengths, a feature none of the other brands offer.

Best wool cooling pajamas

Chill Angel stands out as the only brand that makes their pajamas from merino wool. This might sound like a recipe for overheating, but if you’ve ever worn merino athletic wear you know that the material actually excels at wicking away sweat and keeping you dry. (Wool is also naturally odor-resistant so you can probably get an extra night of wear out of these pajamas before throwing them in the laundry.) With its cozy feel, the long-sleeve shirt I tried reminded me of wool base layers I’ve worn for running and skiing. It’s nicely form-fitting with a little bit of drape, and wouldn’t look out of place as casual wear or as a workout top. The shorts were a little long and baggy on me, which I didn’t love style-wise, but they did keep me cool. For a sleeker look, you might want to try their joggers. The pieces don’t have the same cool-to-the-touch feel that some other pajamas do, but they did keep me sweat-free all night.

Made in the U.S. from all-natural wool, these pajamas are expensive (the shirt alone costs $99). But if natural fibers are a must-have, they would be a good investment.

Best pima cotton cooling pajamas

Lunya was the brand I was most excited to try. My fellow Strategist writer Hilary Reid loved their washable silk pajamas, and I have to admit that their sloungewear-chic marketing caught my eye. While the romper the brand sent me wasn’t exactly something I’d want to wear every night (it made going to the bathroom a bit of a chore), I loved the feeling of the soft cotton and wouldn’t hesitate to order other styles in the same material, like the long-sleeve crewneck top or shorts. If you do choose the romper, I’d recommend going down at least one size as it runs large. Since the legs on mine were so long and wide, they rode up to my knees as I slept, which was a little annoying.

Traditionally, cotton isn’t recommended for sweaty activities, since it holds onto moisture and can leave you feeling wet and soggy, but Lunya uses a blend of pima cotton and a patented fabric called transdry cotton that isn’t as absorbent as standard cotton and performs like moisture-wicking activewear. The pima feels substantial without being heavy and glides smoothly over the skin. Lunya’s pajamas are on the more expensive end (the romper is $178) but they’re high-quality pieces with unique and modern styles.

More cooling pajamas

CoolRevolution makes its pajamas from quick-drying bamboo rayon (mixed with cotton and spandex) that wicks away moisture. My favorite part of the set was the V-neck top that could legitimately be worn outside the house as a regular T-shirt, thanks to a shirttail hem and how the shirt dips lower on the back for more coverage. I’d like to try it out on a hot summer day to see how it compares to a regular cotton t-shirt. Although they’re fine for lounging, the shorts didn’t excite me. With a 7-inch inseam, they’re quite long and are best if you’re looking for a more conservative cut. The big pockets were nice, though, and they felt soft and stretchy. CoolRevolution is open about designing pieces for “aging bodies” and women going through menopause, which explains the shorts, but if you like the pieces and are looking for something that’ll keep you cool, they could work for any age group. CoolRevolution also offers the widest range of sizes, with pajamas that go up to 3XL.

With the exception of the button-down top, the Cool Jams set looked and felt very similar to the CoolRevolution pajamas. Both brands’ shorts have elastic waistbands (no drawstrings), and both sets were cooling if not especially fashionable. One of the main differences between the two is the materials: Cool Jams uses a polyester microfiber that’s soft like cotton but functions like activewear. It makes the pajamas thinner and lighter than the CoolRevolutions, so if that’s a priority for you, try these instead.

Sheex made a name for themselves with their “performance” sheet sets designed for breathability and temperature control. Their 828 Motion collection (so-called because you can wear it from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.), the brand’s first foray into sleepwear, is meant to do the same. Made from polyester, lyocell (a type of rayon), and spandex, these felt more like traditional workout wear than any of the other pajamas I tried. They didn’t have Recliner’s T-shirt softness, and instead had a stretchy sheen to them that I didn’t love. I liked the jogger pants with their tapered fit and three pockets, but found the open-back top meant to be paired with them uncomfortable for sleeping because of a strip of fabric across the shoulder blades that kept cutting into me. The T-shirt dress, with its key-hole back cut-out, is a comfier take on the concept.

A few months back I had an opportunity to test a set of cozy pajamas from Dagsmejan’s Balance line, which are meant for temperature regulation, but not cooling specifically. I was impressed with how cool they kept me, so I was excited to try the sleep dress from their Stay Cool collection, which is made of breathable, quick-drying eucalyptus fibers. Like the Soma pajamas, the dress felt cool to the touch, and that pleasant chiliness didn’t dissipate over the night. The feel is somewhere between Soma’s softness and Sheex’s spandexy gym-readiness. With a V-neck and asymmetric hemline the dress is actually kind of sexy, while still being comfy for sleeping.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

I Always Woke Up Sweaty Until I Tried These Cooling Pajamas