Our roundup of the best cooling pillows to help you a good night’s sleep every night
The best cooling pillows can be a big help during warm summer nights. Getting too hot is not only an unpleasant experience, but it can also seriously disrupt your sleep. With good-quality sleep being vital to your overall health and wellbeing, it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable.
Strictly speaking, “cooling pillow” is something of a misnomer. While they can be effective in helping you to regulate your temperature – and perhaps, in some cases, even actively cool you down – it’s important to remember that your head is a source of heat, and cooling pillows cannot work magic (as much as we would like them to).
With this said, read on for our pick of the best tried and tested pillows for helping you to stay cool at night. We’ve also put together a short guide to help you make an informed buying decision.
How to choose the best cooling pillow for you
As with most things sleep related, pillows are a highly personal choice. From fillings to firmness, size and materials, what suits one person might not suit another. We’ve put together some factors you might want to consider when buying a cooling pillow.
How do cooling pillows work?
While there are different types, the main objective of all cooling pillows is, well, to keep you cool. Many cooling pillows are made from breathable materials, while others may even draw heat away from your body.
What are the different types of cooling pillows?
Some cooling pillows are made from materials that help aid temperature regulation. Natural materials such as wool and down are perhaps the best at this, though some synthetic materials such as latex can also help you feel cooler on hot nights.
Another very common pillow material is memory foam. While memory foam is somewhat notorious for being the opposite of cooling, technology has come a long way. These days, many memory foam pillows have ventilation holes cut into them. Some are even infused with graphite or “cooling gel”. For instance, manufacturers of gel pillows claim that they can keep you cool by actively drawing heat away from your head.
What else should I look for in a cooling pillow?
Regardless of whether or not cooling properties are a priority, you should be looking for a pillow that’s comfortable and well-suited to your sleeping position, and one that supports good spine alignment. Your sleeping position will also largely determine how thick your pillow should be (this is called loft in the pillow trade).
While there is an inevitable degree of subjectivity when it comes to finding the right pillow, there are some general guidelines when it comes to loft. Side sleepers may be best with a higher loft and firmer feel, to aid spinal alignment. A medium loft pillow works well for back sleepers, preventing their shoulders and back from laying at an awkward angle, while front sleepers may need an even thinner pillow.
How we test cooling pillows
At Expert Reviews, we’re well aware that thorough testing in real-world scenarios enables readers to make an informed choice. This is the reason we personally test all the cooling pillows that feature in our best pillows roundup. To test, we consider the cooling sensation on offer by each pillow, and the length of time for which it lasts. Comfort and loft is important, too, plus we take note of whether a pillow is suitable for both side and back sleepers.
Using a range of reviewers, whose preferences for sleeping position and ideal temperature differ, the pillows are slept on for several nights to gauge likely performance over the long term. They’re also used by those who suffer night sweats, to give their assessment of how effectively the pillows help to cool. We also consider their composition, whether they’re made of natural or synthetic fibres, to make them suitable for those who suffer allergies.
READ NEXT: The best pillows for side sleepers
The best cooling pillows you can buy in 2023
1. Silentnight Wellbeing Cool Touch pillow: Best gel pillow
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon
When we first got this pillow out of its packaging, we admit we weren’t quite sure about it: one side is covered in an undulating gel surface, which feels quite plasticky. But although we were initially ready to disregard this as a gimmick, we were quickly converted after trying it.
The Silentnight Wellbeing Cool Touch pillow is our new go-to essential in heat waves from now on. When your head hits the pillow, the pressure activates the gel inside, which then absorbs excess body heat. This feels akin to lying your face on a cool tile, but softer. The pillow is decently plump too, and works even under a fairly thick pillowcase.
Key details – Type: Gel; Firmness: Medium; Size: 76x46cm; Loft: 15cm
2. Dusk Cooling Medium Support pillow: Best for back sleepers
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at Dusk
We were immediately impressed with this pillow. It feels sumptuously soft to touch, and provides a decent level of support. We tested this pillow alongside a seriously fussy co-tester, who is liable to long moans about their sleep environment, and is a chronic overheater (they have other good traits, honest…).
They woke up raving about this pillow and refused to try any other. Backsleepers will get on well with the Dusk cooling pillow because it’s fairly squashy (yes, that is a technical term) so allows you to stay level when you sleep. The filling is hollowfibre, which is a synthetic fabric, but one that is engineered to allow plenty of airflow. The casing on the pillow is cotton and Tencel, which are both breathable and resistant to bacteria growth, making this a great option if you’re an allergy sufferer too.
Key details – Type: Synthetic; Firmness: Medium to soft; Size: 50x75cm; Loft: 15cm
3. Otty Deluxe Pure Pillow: Best for side sleepers
Price when reviewed: £70 | Check price at Otty
This memory-foam pillow has some serious heft to it. As side sleepers ourselves, we found it super supportive, with loads of bulk around the neck area for optimal spinal alignment. The pillow is made from memory foam, but it also contains charcoal and bamboo. Both of these materials are hailed by countless bedding brands for their moisture wicking and temperature regulating properties, as well as being odour resistant.
Indeed, during testing, we found it kept us comfortable all night long. And while it didn’t actively cool down our heads like some others on this roundup, it didn’t feel roasting during the soaring temperatures we tested it in.
Read our full Otty Deluxe Pure Pillow review for more details
Key details – Type: Memory foam; Firmness: Firm; Size: 62x42cm; Loft: 12cm
4. Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow: A uniquely effective hybrid pillow
Price when reviewed: £159 | Check price at Simba
This pillow offers a huge degree of flexibility. The side unzips to reveal three different inserts inside. One has foam-enclosed “Aerocoils” (Simba’s own microsprings), which the brand says help with airflow. The other two inserts are both made of Simba Renew: another Simba innovation that essentially mimics down feathers without flattening over time. These layers are encased in a quilted cover that’s designed to draw heat away and provide a cooling sensation – it also has breathable mesh borders around the sides.
You can rearrange the pillow’s inserts in different combinations: side sleepers can make a high-loft pillow that’s either firm or medium, while back sleepers can reduce the pillow’s loft by removing some of the inserts. We love how versatile the Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow is, and particularly like the idea of guests being able to customise it to their preference. It also kept our heads cool all night long, even in 28-degree heat. Phew.
Key details – Type: Hybrid; Firmness: Adjustable (medium or firm); Size: 45x70cm; Loft: Adjustable