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The 9 Very Best Cooling Pillows

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by sleep sweats.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

There’s a short list of “Things That Suck” that just about everyone can agree on, and waking up sweaty because your pillow is collecting your body heat has to be one of them. Aside from being kind of gross and completely annoying, Dr. Janet Kennedy, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor, explains that “overheating can affect sleep profoundly.” She says temperature regulation is a key factor in quality sleep and that your pillow plays an important role because “the temperature of the head regulates core body temperature. The body needs to be cool to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get good-quality sleep.” So if you tend to sleep hot, you may benefit from a cooling pillow.

“Cooling pillows draw heat away from the body,” explains Keith Cushner, a product expert at sleepfoundation.org. Their cooling effect is usually a function of the material they’re made of and how they’re constructed. From gel and memory foam to ventilated layers, cooling pillows can help you manage heat distribution and regulation in a few different ways. And since cooling pillows are available in various loft heights and firmness levels, you can incorporate them into your sleeping setup seamlessly, no matter your preferred sleeping position or particular sleep concerns.

We talked to Dr. Kennedy, Cushner, and three other experts to find the best cooling pillows that will help you wake up refreshed.

Best overall | Best less expensive | Best perforated | Best less expensive perforated | Best memory foam | Best memory-foam cooling pillow with gel layer | Best (less expensive) memory-foam cooling pillow with gel layer | Best moisture wicking | Best cooling body pillow

What we’re looking for:

Fill type: What’s inside is what really counts when we’re talking pillows, especially the ones designed to keep you cool. While most of the pillows on this list contain some level of gel or gel infusion, there are a few different fill types that are breathable and help to keep your body temperature regulated throughout the night. Logan Foley, a sleep-science coach and the managing editor at sleepfoundation.org, explains that fill types such as “latex, foam, and wool” work well for hot sleepers, and so do “buckwheat, gel, and down.” Gel and gel infusions are popular choices because those fill types work to draw heat away from your body while also feeling cool on your skin. Memory foam is also a popular pillow fill, but it tends to trap heat, which is why the memory-foam options below are either gel infused or have a gel layer to help balance the heat transfer. Additionally, memory foam can be more breathable when ventilation holes are added, allowing your body heat to dissipate and air to flow freely.

The precise type of cooling fill that will actually be best for you depends on your go-to sleeping position, any allergies you may have, and how much temperature regulation you need.

Cooling technology: This is an umbrella term, and the actual definition varies from brand to brand. It typically describes an extra feature, design detail, or component that is intended to help you sleep a few degrees cooler. This can be a graphite layer in a pillow, a gel, or another specialized material. So finding a cooling pillow that works for you may require some trial and error.

Overall construction: As with any bed pillow, you should match a cooling pillow’s firmness and loft, or height, to your sleeping position and preferences. While you are finding a solution to your steamy snooze, you’ll also want to make sure that the pillow is comfortable and supports your head to keep your neck and spine in alignment.

Best overall cooling pillow

Casper The Foam Pillow
From $125

Memory foam with ventilation holes and optional Snow technology | Medium-high loft | Medium plush | Machine-washable cover

With a three-layer construction, the Casper Foam Pillow is designed to pull heat away from your body while you sleep. The two plush outer layers are soft and cushiony, while the inner layer is firm to add supportive structure. Each layer has ventilation holes that help to promote airflow, and the jersey-knit cover is smooth, soft, and naturally breathable. The 1.25-inch wraparound gusset makes it ideal for side and back sleepers who need a sturdy, medium-high-loft surface to sleep on. If you’re an extra-hot sleeper, you can upgrade to Casper’s Snow technology for an additional $50 per pillow. This option includes graphite HeatDelete bands between each layer of the pillow that are made to actively draw heat from your body and through the perforated foam as well as a cool-to-the-touch layer that is designed to last up to 12 hours of use. The pillow comes in standard and king sizes.

Best (less expensive) cooling pillow

Down-alternative cooling gel with sateen cover | Medium loft | Medium firmness | Entire pillow is machine washable

Cooling pillows with specialty technology can get pricey quick, but they are not the only types of pillows that can keep you comfortably cool at night. Highly rated on Amazon and a favorite among Strategist readers, these Beckham Hotel pillows come in a two-pack and have a down-alternative polyester gel-fiber fill that won’t trap your body heat. The buoyant bowed design is a great choice for side sleepers, as the pillow will fill the space between your head and shoulders for optimum neck support. The pillows come in queen and king sizes.

Best perforated cooling pillow

Purple Harmony Pillow
From $161

Polymer GelFlex Grid with a perforated latex core | Low, medium, or high loft | Medium firmness | Machine washable cover

A cooling alternative to memory foam, the Purple Harmony pillow has a perforated Talalay latex core encased in a layer of Purple’s signature GelFlex Grid material, both of which promote airflow. The springy grid design also provides even, structured support for all sleeping positions and ensures the pillow will never need to be fluffed or reshaped. I sometimes fall asleep at the right temperature only to wake up in the middle of the night feeling as if a furnace were blazing under my bed — but I’ve never had that problem with this pillow. The machine-washable mesh cover feels cool to the touch, and the pillow is available in low, medium, and tall lofts as well as two sizes, standard and king.

Best (less expensive) perforated cooling pillow

Gel-infused memory foam with perforation for airflow | Medium-high loft | Firm | Machine-washable cover

“Foam pillows can be hot, so it’s important to find one that takes temperature regulation into account,” Dr. Kennedy explains. One way that you can do that is by opting for one that has perforation to encourage airflow. Along with airflow holes, the more affordable medium-high-loft Weekender pillow is infused with cooling gel to boost the chill factor. The firm density provides head, neck, and spine support, and the pillow is available in three sizes: standard, queen, and king. Memory-foam pillows are notorious for being tricky to wash, but the cover can be tossed in your washing machine and dried with the rest of your laundry.

Best memory-foam cooling pillow

Shredded memory foam with breathable bamboo cover | Adjustable loft | Adjustable firmness | Entire pillow is machine washable

According to Seth Davis, sleep consultant and founder of Sleepably, hot sleepers should opt for pillows “that help [them] stay cool with materials such as shredded memory foam or latex,” and the adjustable pillow by Snuggle-Pedic fits the bill. Stuffed with shredded memory foam, your head is cradled in plush comfort while heat is able to move through the pillow without getting trapped. Additionally, the bamboo cover aids in air circulation. While the pillow is filled with memory foam like the Weekender pillow above, the shredded is not as firm and can shift around inside the pillow, which could be a good choice for someone who prefers a softer pillow. Snuggle-Pedic sells three versions of this pillow: adjustable-fill gel-infused shredded memory foam, adjustable-fill shredded memory foam, and nonadjustable shredded memory foam. You can also choose between standard, queen, and king sizes, and both of the adjustable-fill types come with an extra bag of fill to make your pillow firmer or softer, no matter which size pillow you buy. A bonus that is not common for adjustable-fill or memory-foam pillows is that the entire pillow is machine washable and dryer safe.

Best memory-foam cooling pillow with gel layer

Gel layers and memory foam | Medium-high loft | Medium-firm | Machine-washable cover

The Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual cooling pillow features medium-firm Tempur material — a highly adaptive, memory foam–like solid structure — sandwiched between two layers of cooling gel. Most of the pillows on our list contain some type of gel or gel infusion, and this one from Tempur-Pedic is similar to the Allswell cooling pillow below. However, the dual-sided cooling gel means you can flip your pillow and always have a gel side to sleep on. Tucked inside a quilted cotton machine-washable cover, the pillow is available in both king and queen sizes.

Best (less expensive) memory-foam cooling pillow with gel layer

Cooling gel layer over memory foam | Medium loft | Firm | Machine-washable cover

The solid gel top layer on this Allswell medium-loft cooling pillow is designed to pull excess body heat away from your body, while the memory-foam base provides a firm surface to lay your head. The Allswell pillow is firmer than other memory-foam pillows on this list, with the cooling gel layer only on the top side of the pillow. It’s available in a standard size, and the lightweight knit cover is machine washable.

Best moisture-wicking cooling pillow

Fiberfill-and-memory-foam blend with volcanic minerals | Medium-to-high loft | Medium plush | Machine-washable cover

This unique pillow is constructed with moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating 37.5 Technology that is designed to help you sleep both cooler and drier at night. Named after the ideal body temperature (in Celsius) for peak athletic performance, it contains volcanic minerals to draw moisture away from your head and face while you sleep. Additionally, the pillow is filled with a hypoallergenic blend of soft fiberfill and supportive memory foam, making it comfortable while also providing consistent and firm head-and-neck support. Depending on your sleeping needs, you can choose between two sizes, king and standard, as well as three shapes — classic (a rectangular pillow that is best for back and side sleepers), contoured (a curved pillow with bolsters on each end for added neck-and-spine support and alignment), and ultimate (a three-layer pillow that allows you to adjust the height for customizable support).

Best cooling body pillow

Shredded gel-infused memory foam with “ice silk” cover | Medium loft | Medium plush | Machine-washable cover

Adding a body pillow into your sleep arsenal can be a game changer. Davis explains that it helps by “keeping the body in alignment during sleep, including your neck, hips, shoulders, and spine.” However, when you are hugging an oversize pillow for hours on end, things can get pretty sweaty, making a cooling body pillow a good choice. This one by Nestl has a machine-washable “ice silk” cover, which is a, er, cooler way to describe a man-made silklike viscose fabric, which is naturally cool to the touch. The gel-infused shredded memory foam can be adjusted for a firmer or softer feel, depending on your needs. In addition to this body pillow, the brand also sells a cooling bed pillow in queen, king, and toddler sizes.

Some more cooling bedding we've written about

Our experts

• Keith Cushner, product expert at sleepfoundation.org
• Seth Davis, sleep consultant and founder of Sleepably
• Logan Foley, sleep-science coach and the managing editor at sleepfoundation.org
• Dr. Janet Kennedy, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor
• Kelly Murray, sleep consultant

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The Very Best Cooling Pillows