March 15, 2021 6 min read
Fed up waking up in a sweaty mess several times through the night? We hear you! It’s no fun lying there in bed, your head turning from side to side, wishing you had a cool pillow. And by cool, we don’t mean ‘trendy’ but, rather, chilled.
Whether your problem is down to a room too hot, menopausal symptoms or illness, the good news is you don’t have to suffer in silence. Really. There are ways to keep your pillow cool. And we have compiled a list – or explanation – of some of the more popular ways right here in this article.
But why focus on a cool pillow rather than say, the sheets or pyjamas? Well, because if your pillow (or head) is hot then you can bet your body will be too.
Just like you lose heat through your head if you go outdoors on a cold day, your head can also be a repository of heat when it’s very hot indoors. Bring down the temperature of your head via a cool pillow and your over-hot body will thank you for it.
There are lots of routes we can take to maximise our ability to sleep, even before we jump in between the sheets and our head touches down on what we hope will be a cool pillow. Exercise, for instance, can induce us to sleep through sheer tiredness, even exhaustion (provided it is taken early in the day and not two to three hours before bed - otherwise it will stimulate us and keep us awake for longer).
Caffeine is a well-known stimulant and those sensitive to it should consider drinking their last cup of coffee or strong tea around lunch time. By the same token, alcohol may cause us to drift off initially, but it’ll soon wake us up – either during the night or early in the morning.
If our room is too hot or too cold then, not surprisingly, we won’t find it easy to drop off either. Also, it’s important to understand that our body temperature drops around 4am, meaning we don’t need our pillow to be quite so cool then.
That’s because the ideal sleep temperature for our body is 60 to 67 degrees F, or 15.5 to 19.5 C. So, even if you do discover how to keep a pillow cool – how are you going to warm it up at that point in the night when your body needs it?
Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. And the science behind it makes absolute sense. Take our Moona Cooling Pillow, for instance. Rated ‘best cooling pillow 2021’ by the Sleep Foundation because it improved both sleep length and quality, the review site Tuck 2020 came to the same conclusion.
So why is the Moona Cooling Pillow so effective? Well, it’s all down to active thermal regulation.
Because the temperature of the Moona Cooling Pillow changes with your body temperature as the night goes on, it’s described as ‘an active’ cooling aid. It uses water to regulate the temperature of your pillow as you sleep.
This is contained in a sleeve that is inserted into your pillow and linked to a smart pod that sits on your bedside table. It’s so accurate in temperature control that some users actually swear by the pod as an extremely efficient alarm clock.
Of course, you could try a crude DIY version of a specially-formulated cooling pillow – without the active thermal regulation.
Simply wait until your ice pack is frozen and you’re going to bed, then wrap it in a towel or tee-shirt, lay it underneath your pillow and you’re away. Well, apart from when your head and neck get soaked during the night as the ice pack starts to melt…
Why? Because if you lie on the printed side it’ll be cooler than the actual pillow. Just make sure the print is all intact, otherwise if it’s flaking then it could irritate the skin on your face.
Yep, the ‘luxury’ angle is to buy a pillowcase made of silk. Certainly, it’s better than a pillowcase made of cotton since all this will do is trap heat. The silk pillowcase, on the other hand, will absorb moisture and wick it away.
Apparently, a silk pillowcase is good for combating wrinkles too – thanks to the amino acids and natural proteins the material contains.
Yes, blow away the cobwebs – or rather the hot hair – using a fan small enough to sit on your bedside table.
So, forget those big, noisy circular versions – try one that doesn’t sound like a tractor and can bend, allowing you to direct the cool air at your pillow. Some fans can even diffuse relaxing scents such as lavender and well, whatever botanical smell makes you feel relaxed.
And speaking of scents…
A diffuser which is also a humidifier will be less noisy than a fan yet still offer coolness. It does this by spraying a cool mist your way all night while you sleep. Yes, you might be sick to death of a particular scent by the end of the week but well, you can always change it.
Many diffusers these days are small enough to sit in your palm – so there are no worries about them taking up too much space on your bedside table. Some even change colour for when you get fed-up looking at it – or just fancy coordinating it with your bedsheets.
The Japanese traditionally used buckwheat pillows to keep cool while they slept. They even have a name for such a head rest – a Sobakawa. It’s the shell (or husk) of the Buckwheat that is used as a filling for the pillows.
Being slightly cupped, the shells are a triangular shape and smooth. When together inside a pillowcase they form to create thousands of tiny air pockets between them, ensuring they don’t radiate heat. It’s only when a head is laid on them that they compress.
However, the pillows work best during the first week. After that, the buckwheat tends to settle, so it isn't as springy. Otherwise, you have to keep filling the cushion with newer buckwheat.
The underside of your pillow is cooler because it remains at room temperature. The top side has got warmer because your head is lying on it. The difference is usually a few degrees C but it’s enough to be annoying and can wake you up.
Flipping the pillow so that the underside is now on top will feel cooler - until, that is, it starts to warm up too after you lay your head on it.
This ‘flipping’ method works best if you’re the type of person who falls asleep quickly (i.e. when the pillow is still cool enough on the newly-flipped part).
So, what’s the best way to get a cool pillow?
Yes, there are several ways you can attempt to keep your pillow cool for the six to eight hours during the night you plan on sleeping for. But what’s the best method?
Some of the ways we mentioned in our above list mean compromising your hairstyle. The ice pack when it melts, or the diffuser which is certain to turn straight hair with a kink into curls by morning.
The compact bedside fan may prove a tad expensive, especially if it runs on electricity or batteries. And if scent isn’t your thing – sometimes it can cause headaches - then you won’t want a diffuser or the buckwheat cool pillow.
As for the printed tee-shirt, do you want to wake up with your face scratched?
So, that really just leaves our Moona cooling pillow. Yes, it’s more expensive than some of the other methods but you have to ask yourself – what’s the cost of a good night’s sleep?
An average American spends over $2327 per year on coffee and yet loses a total of $2280 in productivity.
Of course, if you’re not sure how to keep a pillow cool, then why not try all of the above? That way you will know for sure what is going to give you the best shut-eye.
It also means that when someone recommends one of the others you don’t have to listen to them harping on about it – you can tell them you’ve already tried it.
If you want to cut to the chase when it comes to sleeping all night with a cool pillow, then check out the Moona Cooling Pillow. You heard it here first…
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