Sleeping hot is a consistent problem for many people. They often tend to toss and turn, and are unable to nod off due to excessive warmth. Some even wake up all sweaty and are unable to fall back to sleep unless they change their pajamas or sheets. These events of disrupted sleep can have many negative consequences. When you don’t sleep well, your brain and body don’t have the time to restore properly during the night, and as a result, it can lead to many health disorders, development of sleeping conditions, and reduction of overall quality of life. Without sufficient rest, you will wake up tired in the morning, unable to concentrate, be less productive, and with impaired cognitive abilities, and you won’t be ready to take on your daily tasks. Sleep deprivation is widespread and so bad that it costs our economy billions of dollars each year.
Some pillows are constructed with cooling gel components to help eliminate heat retention. Usually, they have gel layers near the surface or are made of gel-infused foams. However, just because something has gel in it, it doesn’t mean that it will sleep any cooler than the standard product. That is why we have created this guide to help you understand the various designs and models of today’s gel pillows. Besides learning about different features of these models, in this article, you can also see our top picks based on customer satisfaction and extensive research of the pillow market.
Gel Pillow Construction
Standard pillows, especially those made from memory foam, can retain a lot of body warmth during the night. Since the head is one of the places where you emit most of the heat, it is necessary that your pillow sleeps cooler and that it is breathable. Since sleeping too hot can cause many sleep disruptions, pillow manufacturers have made gel-infused models that are supposed to ensure the cool surface throughout the night, which allows your body to thermoregulate appropriately and prevent nighttime awakenings.
The gel component can be one of the following:
- Gel layers that are usually located close to the surface to cool down the pillow exterior. These layers are typically thin, and in some rare cases, they can even be removable.
- Gel-infused fill. Memory foam or polyfoam can be too hot, so the addition of gel beads or twirls help keep the temperature down. Some manufacturers even offer pillows with gel-infused down alternative fibers.
Pillows can also vary depending on the:
- Fill distribution – Some gel-infused pillows are made from one piece of memory foam, while others can be stuffed with shredded foam or fiber filling. Both designs have their pros, as the one-piece models offer closer conforming and pressure relief, while the shredded and fiber fill provides adjustable thickness. Users can add or remove the filling to suit their preferences and therefore create the perfect head and neck support.
- Shape – Fill distribution also affects the design of the pillow. Most models with down alternative or shredded foam stuffing have even surfaces. One-piece memory foam pillows can also be flat, but they more often come in a contoured shape to provide alignment for the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders. People also call them orthopedic pillows, and they can be extremely beneficial to sleepers with aches and pains due to improper body alignment during the night.
- Reversibility – Most pillows are designed in a way that you can flip them and enjoy the same comfort. However, some models are constructed with gel and non-gel sides to provide different sleeping experience, which can be useful when you are switching from hot summer nights where you want to cool down to cold winter evenings when you want all the warmth you can get.
- Cover – Most gel pillows come with a highly breathable cover that is usually made from cotton or rayon that is derived from bamboo. These natural materials help with ventilation and add to the overall cooling effect. Besides them, the synthetic polyester also performs well and can stay cool during the night.
Most models are available in three dimensions:
- Standard – It measures 20” in width and 26” in length, and it is the most common and least expensive.
- Queen – With 20” in width and 30” in length, it is the second choice for most people. Sleepers who tend to toss and turn at night will find it most suitable.
- King – Comes at 20” in width and 36” in length, and is also suitable for restless sleepers.
Besides these three options, you can also find some gel pillows in smaller orthopedic sizes, as well as a full body pillow that offers additional support and comfort for some people. With the longest dimension, it is an excellent option for side sleepers and pregnant women.
Who Are Gel Pillows Recommended To?
Keep in mind that every person is different and that we all have our individual preferences. However, some groups of people should experience the most benefits from gel pillows.
- Hot sleepers are an obvious choice when it comes to this. Even though online reviews about gel-cooling pillows are mixed, the majority of hot sleepers report resting more comfortably on gel models than on the standard ones. However, since this depends on the individual, you will probably have to try out a few different models to see which one suits you the best.
- Side sleepers often have some problems with maintaining the proper body alignment during the night, and a gel pillow can help with that. They are supportive, soft, and offer gentle contouring to your body’s curves. Orthopedic gel-infused memory foam models are perfect for side sleepers, as they provide closer conforming and pressure point relief, and it leads to less neck, shoulder, and back aches and pains.
- Pregnant women usually sleep hot, and they also prefer resting on their side, which is why they often choose gel pillows. They might even prefer body size models, as they can comfortably put them between the knees and achieve proper spine alignment and adequate comfort.
- Some people may experience allergies due to certain pillow materials such as latex and down. Most gel models are hypoallergenic and won’t trigger allergies, but some down alternative models can be susceptible to dust mites.
What To Consider Before Purchasing a Gel Pillow?
If you are shopping for a new gel pillow, here are some things that you should consider before deciding which one to buy. If you know what to look for, it will be easier to compare different brands and models.
- Type: One-piece gel-infused models are excellent for people who need closer conforming and plenty of pressure relief, while the shredded foam and down alternative pillows offer adjustable thickness and are usually less expensive.
- Budget: The standard price of gel pillows is between $40 and $50. Memory foam models usually cost more than down alternative and polyfoam ones.
- Size: Most people have pillows in Standard size, while the Queen and the King are slightly less frequent. Keep in mind that most models are often manufactured in only one dimension, so you need to make sure that the size you want is available.
- Construction: Pillows with gel and standard sides are suitable for people who have different preferences every night. This way, you can use the gel-infused surface during the summer to ensure cool sleep, and the standard side for winters.
- Firmness: Many firmness options of these pillows are available, so you will probably need to try out a few different ones to find out which one you prefer. Some models that come with reversible design can even feature different firmness level on each side.
- Cover: Some models have covers made from materials that don’t necessarily sleep cooler. You want to look for highly breathable materials like cotton and rayon. Some polyester blends can also do an excellent job at dispersing the excess heat.
- Sleep Trial: Testing a pillow is essential, and laying on it in a store for a few seconds can’t give you the real idea about how comfortable it is. That is why most manufacturers offer a 30-night or longer trial period, during which you can return your product for a full refund if you are not entirely satisfied. Keep in mind that not all brands have this option, so you need to make sure it is provided before purchasing your pillow.
- Warranty: The average durability of standard pillows is two to three years. You want to buy a product that comes with coverage that can address any defect throughout its whole lifespan.
Sleep Cooler – Additional Tips
If buying a gel pillow isn’t enough, you can try to mix it up with several other things. If your budget allows it, you can replace your mattress. Some beds, especially with layers of high-density thick memory foam, sleep exceptionally hot, so switching it for a latex model can be beneficial. However, most users report hybrid and innerspring bed to have the best temperature neutrality due to sufficient space in the core of the mattress, where the air can circulate freely between the coils. If this seems too expensive, you can always get new sheets from highly breathable materials like cotton or rayon.
Even though this seems intuitive, we must mention that you should lower your bedroom temperature during the night. It appears that for the best sleep, your room temperature needs to be in the mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep that in mind the next time you set your thermometer.
Setting a bedroom fan can ensure a fresher feel during the night. It also produces white noise that can block any outside distractions and help you relax.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to ensure that you are hydrated enough. A glass before bed helps you stay cool, but don’t overdo it, as you don’t want to be running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You can also try sleeping naked as it improves circulation and proper thermoregulation of your body. It can also stimulate the production of melatonin, which is a hormone responsible for your sleep.
Counting Sheep’s Top Picks
Now that we have reviewed the advantages of having a gel pillow, we can dive into our selection of best models on the market.
- Reversible design with dual firmness ( Medium Soft and Firm)
- 100-night sleep trial
- 3-year warranty
- Adjustable thickness
- Cool multi-textured exterior
The Leesa Hybrid Pillow is unique for its reversible design, with both sides providing a completely different sleep experience. One is padded with the down alternative material which offers a soft touch and close conforming, while the other is flat with a cooling gel layer. You can simply choose between these two to see which one suits you better.
The down alternative padded side is considered medium soft, and it is perfect for people who experience neck and shoulder pain. Its conforming abilities should relieve pressure from these points, and people would wake up pain-free in the morning. The medium firm gel side stays exceptionally cool, and it’s a natural choice for most hot sleepers. On top of that, there is a breathable cover that is removable and machine-washable, but so is the whole pillow.
The Leesa Hybrid has a slightly above-average price, but with the fantastic features, it is well worth it. The company offers free shipping in the US, and the pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 3-year warranty. The Leesa Hybrid is suitable for sleepers of all weight groups, and it is excellent for resting in every position, whether it is back, stomach, side, or the combination.
Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber Pillow
- Soft design
- 3-year warranty
- 5 to 6 inches thick
- Queen, King, and body pillow size
Malouf’s Z collection features over 60 luxury pillows that mostly come at above-average price-point, and the Gelled Microfiber is no exception. It is filled with soft down alternative material infused with gel. On top of it lays a luxurious percale-cotton cover that is highly breathable and gives this pillows a nice upscale touch.
The Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber Pillow offers excellent support, while still staying soft and conforming enough to provide pain and pressure relief in the neck and shoulders. This model has a longer lifespan than most of the other similar products, which is partially thanks to its ability to maintain its shape. Because of that, you won’t have to fluff it that often.
Since the Gelled Microfiber is available in Queen, King, as well as full body size, it is virtually suitable for every type of sleeper, no matter the body type and the sleeping position preference. Pregnant women can find body pillow size extremely satisfying, as it sleeps cool and offers additional support and comfort.
The company offers free shipping in the contiguous US, and a 3-year warranty backs the products.
- Medium firmness
- 120-night sleep trial
- 20-year warranty
- Adjustable thickness
The Snuggle-Pedic has a lower price-point from the rest of the gel pillows, but it doesn’t sacrifice quality for it. It offers just as much comfort, pressure relief, and cooling as the other high-end models.
The Snuggle-Pedic pillow is padded with shredded gel-infused memory foam, and it has a cover made from rayon that is highly breathable and allows the pillow to sleep cool. This model also has an adjustable thickness, but you shouldn’t try to add or remove fill yourself since the design is sealed. Instead, the company allows these adjustments free of charge for every owner, and there is no limit to how many times you can do this.
Relief Mart ships to all of the US without charge and they also offer a 120-night sleep trial and amazing warranty coverage of 20 years. Since the Snuggle-Pedic is suitable for every sleeper, it comes at an affordable price and the company seems to offer excellent customer service, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try this product.
Nest Bedding Easy Breather
- Medium firmness
- 100-night sleep trial
- 2-year warranty
- Adjustable thickness
Nest Bedding Easy Breather is filled with shredded memory foam infused with gel. The cover is made from Tencel® lyocell, which is highly breathable, and it allows air to circulate throughout the whole pillow freely. As a result, the Easy Breather sleeps cool, and it is suitable for most hot sleepers.
Since it comes at a medium firmness level, this pillow offers the right support with enough contouring to provide sufficient pressure and pain relief. Since the thickness is fully adjustable, the Easy Breather is suitable for sleepers of all weight groups, and it is especially recommended for those who prefer back and side sleeping position.
Nest Bedding offers free shipping all around the US. They also give a 100-night sleep trial and a 2-year coverage for the Easy Breather.
Coop Home Goods Eden
- Moderately Soft design
- 100-night sleep trial
- 5-year warranty
- Adjustable thickness
The Eden pillow is filled with shredded memory foam infused with gel for fighting off heat retention while allowing sufficient comfort. The cover is made from highly breathable rayon, which adds a nice cooling effect to the surface of this pillow.
Coop Home Goods Eden comes with the adjustable thickness, which makes it suitable for sleepers in all weight groups. Since it has a moderately soft feel, it conforms closely to the curves of a sleeper, and it provides enough pressure relief leading to less neck, shoulder, and back pain. It makes the Eden perfect for side and back sleepers, as well as those with chronic discomfort.
The Eden is highly durable and easy to clean. The shredded foam is encased with a polyester layer that is removable and machine-washable. The price-point of this model is below-average, and it offers excellent value considering all the features it comes with. Coop Home Goods provides free shipping all around the US, and they also give you a 100-night sleep trial and a 5-year coverage for their Eden pillow, which is above the market standard.