You're trying to sleep and your face is hot and sweaty, the pillow seems like it's made of lava then you flip it and aaaaaaaah cooling relief.
Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to though? Even if it's not hot your pillow might not be giving you the right support for a good night's sleep.
There are three types of cooling pillows – traditional, natural, and memory foam, most of which can be bought with gel inserts to keep you cool. Traditional cooling gel pillows are just like a normal pillow, only with a cooling gel on one side.
Natural cooling pillows don't come with gels and are made with alternative materials instead. Memory foam pillows are made of a viscoelastic foam that is supportive and can be shaped, these are the most expensive types but since the foam reflects heat a gel insert is an essential if you prefer a cool pillow.
The reason your pillow feels hot when you're trying to sleep is that your body temperature falls as you drift off, so since your pillow has probably warmed to your original body temperature it seems warm when it reflects that back
Best Cooling Gel Pillow Reviews
Equinox Cooling Gel Memory Foam Pillow
With several options for two packs and King/Queen sizes you can get something that will easily fit in with your bed.
These are some of the cheapest memory foam pillows around (especially when you consider they're about a tenth of the price of Tempur, one of the biggest names in memory foam.
They're designed with CertiPur foam that has a honeycomb shape to allow for better ventilation while still cradling and supporting your neck.
Memory foam stops these pillows going flat since they will spring back into shape. These have a cooling gel insert on one side that also has a honeycomb design so that it doesn't lose it's shape and slip to ones side.
The gel adjusts to your body temperature as it changes to keep the cooling sensation going. The pillow is also covered in a spandex mesh and removable pillowcase that can be washed.
It comes with a 5 year warranty and a 30 day guarantee, something most companies won't offer for sanitary reasons.
– Hex Cell Memory Foam
– Solid Foam, Firm
– Gel insert on one side
– Removable/Washable Cover
Pros: With excellent support and a significant loft this is ideal for side sleepers and those who like their head a little higher.
This will work for front sleepers too, leaving your face in the cooling gel. If you're okay with the loft it's very comfortable.
The chemical smell can be aired out and it does take a few days to break these pillows in until they're softer but they have a good long life compared to standard pillows so it's worth it.
This is also a really cheap pillow and won't cost you much more than a regular one.
Cons: As with most memory foam pillows there is some gassing off and at first it does have a noticeable smell even through the pillowcase. The problem with this is that it can cause allergy and breathing issues, especially at first.
The loft is pretty significant and if you don't like taller or more firm pillows this is going to be like sleeping on a rock. It's very firm and can leave your head at an uncomfortablyhigh angle.
You'll also want a thin pillowcase on it or you won't even feel the gel. The gel is also only on one side of the pillow so you can't flip it.
Malouf Z Shredded Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow
With 5 different sizes available, including a travel pillow, this pillow from Malouf Z has the most options available. It's actually made completely of a gel dough and shredded memory foam composite.
Unlike solid foam this is a little more “cuddly” which makes it better for stomach sleepers and more moldable.
The foam is surrounded by the gel on all sides so you can flip the pillow and sleep anywhere on it you like. The foam provides good support with a medium softness and has a washable cover.
The shredded design helps to prevent pressure points on the neck and head while giving total cradling. It's ideal for stomach and back sleepers who want a pillow that doesn't have a high loft.
– Gel Surrounded
– Shredded Soft Foam
– Removable Cover
– Washable Cover
Pros: With the gel surround this pillow stays cool all over so you won't have to worry about your face coming off the cool gels. This has a nice cradling feeling for the head. The gel dough holds its shape and doesn't slump down with gravity.
It's not a heavy pillow since it's shredded and the design allows for some ventilation as well. Unlike some memory foam designs the gel also helps to act as a barrier to the foam so you don't have that nasty gassing off smell at all. This looks like a slightly lower, regular pillow so it fits easily into pillow cases.
Cons: Unlike solid foam the shredded design doesn't maintain shape and can become compressed and lumpy. It's quite stiff compared to standard pillows but still softer than the average solid foam block.
The height is incredibly thin which almost feels like there's nothing there and may not be high enough for some sleepers.
Perfect Cloud Dual Cooling Gel Memory Foam Pillow
This is one of the most well known names in pillows and while it's not surrounded it does have gel gel inserts completely across one side of the pillow.
The gel is partitioned into miniature pillows to give better cushioning and to stop it becoming compressed. The memory foam provides a medium solid support for head and neck without a particularly high loft.
This is ideal no matter which angle you sleep at to help support your neck. It's hypoallergenic and has ventilation holes to keep the foam cool.
Both sides are slightly different so you can pick and choose which level of coolness you want when sleeping, or if it becomes too warm flip it to a cooler side which just has memory foam support.
It's designed to feel more like down which is softer than traditional memory foam and has a plush cover. It has quite a high loft and is very soft compared to the Equinox.
– Hypoallergenic/Mite resistant
– Single Gel layer
– Removable cover
Pros: This is much softer than most memory foam designs and feels somewhere between the Malouf and the Equinox. It's tall enough to provide good neck support without being obnoxious.
The gel stays cool well throughout the night and there's a short breaking in period until it becomes co mfortable which usually happens with memory foam.
It's one of the few designs that's hypoallergenic and despite having some gassing off it's not as bad. This makes this one of the few options if you do have breathing issues.
Cons: This is too low for side sleepers and it's not particularly cool at all even when you first sleep on it. The memory foam side is simply hot as with most memory foam.
It has a reasonable amount of gassing off but less than the Equinox. It's almost double the price of some others without really providing a lot of difference.
The design has a very soft feel and this isn't great for providing support so you may end up having to put other pillows underneath it. These also only come in one standard size.
Deluxe Home Gel Fiber Pillow
These are one of the few gel pillows out there that are traditional fiber filled and not memory foam. It seems like everyone wants to jump on the memory foam bandwagon these days but they're simply not comfortable for everyone.
If you want a traditional pillow that's simply cooler this is a better alternative. These are very soft and poofy which makes them better for cuddling and stomach sleepers.
The fibers are hypoallergenic and anti-microbial with loft recovery technology to stop them clumping up and to allow better ventilation.
They're made in the USA and machine washable. While these are a bit larger than a standard pillow they will still fit into a normal pillow case.
This is actually a pack of two pillows so you're getting two for the same price as one of the other memory foam designs.
– Machine Washable
– USA Made
– Premium .9 Micro Denier Poly Gel Fiber
– 100% Cotton Cover
Pros: With no gassing off period these are comfortable the first night and beyond. They're super plushy and feel more like a standard poly filled pillow.
The fibers are stronger than poly and designed not to lump up though. The gel fiber allows for maximum ventilation inside the pillow without having that slimy/squishy feeling that gel pockets provide.
This is also one of the few companies to offer USA made which makes for better quality control and customer trust. They spring back into position as well as memory foam and are cloud soft.
Cons: These are super soft pillows and don't offer a lot of support which makes them poor for back and some side sleepers.
The gel fibers don't really do a lot of active cooling, they're simply less heat retentive than poly foam. This isn't much different than a standard pillow, and it's hard to tell if the “gel fiber” is simply a gimmick or not since you can't actually see the difference inside.
It doesn't maintain its shape very well and will eventually clump like a normal pillow unlike memory foam.
Malouf Z Gel Dough Memory Foam + Liquid
Unlike the other Malouf this also features a liquid gel panel on one side for extra cooling. It's got a mid loft that's ideal for most sleepers but also comes in a higher loft option.
It's available in three sizes and has the same gel infused memory foam design.
The doughier foam allows the pillow to be formed and shaped for comfort while still allowing ventilation inside.
The Z gel top helps to distribute body heat better and stop it getting reflected back from the memory foam.
These also include a 5 year warranty and have a soft removable velour cover that helps make the liquid feel less strange against your face.
– Gel Dough Memory Foam
– Single Liquid Gel layer
– Removable/Washable cover
– Mid/High loft option
Pros: The dough foam helps to provide comfort and softness without seeming too dense like solid pillows, since it's moldable it's also better for those who want something to cuddle but still like support. The gel does a good job creating a barrier between you and the hot foam.
It's not a particularly soft pillow like the gel fiber but it's definitely softer than the molded foam of the Equinox.
Unlike the fibers though, this does not loose its shape and this helps to provide continued support over time with even weight distribution.
The gel works well and draws away heat as it should. Thanks to the bamboo cover the gel layer isn't very noticeable so you have to check to make sure which side it's on.
Cons: As with other memory foam designs this does have a gassing off and it's quite considerable. It's pretty heavy at about 4lb and since you can't wash it at all it will likely stain over time. This also isn't great for allergens or mites or from drool.
The best cooling gel pillow has to be the Malouf Z Gel Dough emory Foam + Liquid. You're getting the best of both worlds with this as it's a solid and supportive memory foam design that has gel inside and outside for maximum cooling.
It's not going to clump up like fiber filled pillows and it's not going to feel like a brick like solid memory foam. It may take some getting used to from standard pillows but it's much cooler overall and will keep you supported for a good nights rest