In Our Search for the Best Cooling Pillows, These 2 Were Unmatched
One zips from firm to cushy in seconds.
Published Sep 17, 2022 3:03 AM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
If you’re a sleeper that tends to run hot, a cooling pillow might just be the answer to your midnight woes. We know what you might be thinking: Do those gimmicks really work? Sweet, icy relief is real, folks, and we’ve personally sleep-tested an array of options on the market to find the best of the best that do indeed (believe it or not) help you chill out.
After weeks of trials, there were two products that clearly rose to the top of our list— seriously, old pillows were tossed in favor of these picks. Read on for the best cooling pillows that will keep you both comfy and breezy all night long.
Best Firm Support: The Marlow Pillow
Size: Standard or king | Firmness: Firm but adjustable | Fill: 80% memory foam, 20% hypoallergenic polyester fiber
What we like:
- Adjustable firmness via zipper
- Great price
- 365-day return policy
- Has more of a downlike feel than you’d expect from memory foam
Why we chose it: Fluffy and lofty, this pillow provides firm neck support and cooling comfort.
The Marlow is one of those rare memory foam pillows that feels almost like down. For slumber seekers who prefer natural feathers to synthetic gel, you might actually love this option. It has none of the squishy, molded features typically associated with memory foam.
In fact, on first feel, we were concerned that it could even be too fluffy. Shocking, right? We slept on it—as is—and liked it. Then we realized the double zipper situation. The next night, we chose to unzip one side, revealing an ultra-breathable mesh insert that allowed for our perfectly desired level of loft. And if you’re looking for even more softness, unzip the other side, too. What begins as quite a firm pillow transforms into something highly adaptable to fit your evolving needs.
When it comes to an advanced cooling pillow, you’re likely to spend $100 or more for a reputable brand. At $65, the Marlow feels like a serious steal. Made by Brooklinen, a Domino fave, and constructed from vegan and hypoallergenic materials, this pillow was built on seven years of research and NASA-crafted, gel-infusion technology. Marlow also just released a companion product—the Marlow Pillow Protector, which has dual-layer thermoregulation tech and an antimicrobial outer coating.
Best Soft Support: Serta Arctic Cooling Pillow
Size: Standard | Firmness: Plush but durable | Fill: CertiPUR-US certified memory foam with Reactex technology
What we like:
- Double-sided cooling
- Squishy, sink-in softness
- Much lighter than most memory foam options
- Thinner loft; may require a second pillow behind it if you prefer more support
Why we chose it: A lightweight memory foam that’s literally cool to the touch.
Most memory foam cooling pillows we tested for this story felt as dense as bricks. Seriously, there were a few options we couldn’t even make it through a single night with because they were just too hard. The Serta Arctic Cooling Pillow is the total opposite. It still has that signature memory foam mold and absorbance, but it feels like a cloud you can sink into. A chilly, snow-filled cloud.
This plush headrest uses unique, pressure-activated cooling technology that is designed to pull heat away from the body. It’s so advanced that it even stores and releases that heat when not in use to prepare for the next night. Cool, huh? And it eliminates “the cold side of the pillow” game, offering dual-sided cooling that’ll never have you flipping for more. The breathable fabric cover adds to the appeal, too.
To note: If you prefer firmer support, this one may not be for you. Its 5-inch loft looks and feels thinner than most other options we tested, prompting some reviewers to note it performs better when used with a second pillow behind it. But if light and plushy is what you’re after, we highly recommend this option that’s both cushiony and crisp.
We Also Like
The Saatva Latex Pillow is another fantastic downlike option. It feels heavier and less fluffy than the Marlow but still maintains a sink-in squishiness. While this pillow doesn’t use specific cooling technology, its superb breathability grants it a spot on our runners-up list (natural latex tends to feel cooler than polyurethane foam—plus it’s hypoallergenic and extra buoyant). But oof, that $165 price tag is steep.
Pottery Barn’s Hydrocool Down-Alternative Pillow also makes our list thanks to its supersoft feel and can’t-beat price tag. It’s made from a moisture-wicking and 100 percent down alternative, so you’ll stay comfortably climate controlled through the night. We found ourselves surprised by how much we enjoyed this low-loft, light-support pillow with ultra-plush hotel vibes. And though it works for dozers of all types, it’s especially ideal for stomach sleepers.
How We Chose These Products
Each pillow we tested was slept on for a minimum of one week. Our methodology included testing against cooling technology, breathability, material, support, and, of course, comfort. To ensure consistency of results, we used the same pillowcase on all. We looked out for funky smells—many pillows, especially those made of memory foam, emit heavy chemical scents, and we made sure that none of our picks do—and shape retention after cleaning care. Once we found the cozy companions we wanted to keep on our beds for good, we knew we had our winners.
Our Shopping Checklist
We prioritize the use of natural materials whenever possible. That sentiment is especially true when it comes to objects on which we’re resting our faces (hello, sensitive skin). For cooling pillows, look for cover fabrics and fill materials that are high quality, hypoallergenic, and certified by rigorous standards for eco-friendliness, like CertiPUR-US.
Most companies have their own trademarked processes and productions for cooling technology. They vary from brand to brand. For example, Serta uses Reactex, and Pottery Barn uses Hydrocool. Most work similarly by extracting heat from the body, drawing it into the depths of the pillow, and enabling airflow around the outer layers. All reputable sleep brands will have vetted and tested these technologies, but we found the ones mentioned, above, to be the most effective.
You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t the type to keep your bedroom thermostat below 65 degrees—we know your sleep style is “overheated.” But sleep position should always be a factor when pillow purchasing. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll favor a softer, lower-loft variety. Side and back sleepers may require a bit more firmness to support bodily alignment. At the end of the day, you know what feels most comfortable for your body—take your own experience into account when searching for a pillow that best suits your individual needs.
Firmness and Loft
Again, firmness and loft preferences really come back to sleep style and personal choice. We love that the Marlow has an option for adjustable levels of firmness with its innovative zipper system. The most important factor is that a cooling pillow retains its loft and shape through the night; you don’t want to compromise support when it comes to comfort.
Q: What pillowcase is best to use with a cooling pillow?
A: Any natural, moisture-wicking fabric should have breathable qualities. For maximum coolness, your best best will be 100 percent cotton, silk, or bamboo materials. Though silk pillowcases can feel like a big investment, they’re worth it. And don’t forget Marlow’s new Cooling Pillow Protector.
Q: How do I wash my cooling pillow?
A: It depends on the pillow. Most options—including both of our top picks—are recommended for spot treating only, though some inserts may be machine washable. Follow the care instructions on your individual product to protect the cooling technology, and remember, if you’re wetting a down pillow, you must ensure it’s completely dry for use to avoid mildew.
The Last Word
Yes, there are cooling pillows out there that really work (not all do, but that’s why we’ve tested so many options for you). For hot sleepers, they can be revolutionary for chasing away night sweats. Cooling pillows come in all sorts of varieties—from soft to firm, and from memory foam to down. When finding your perfect fit, prioritize high-quality materials, breathability, support, and comfort. With these attributes in mind, you’ll be well on your way to sweet, climate-controlled dreams.