Cooling Bedding Guide: The Cooling Pillow
Down fill is easily the warmest and is traditionally considered the fluffiest of the fill types. Down fill is created using the soft, under-layer of feathers from ducks, geese, and other birds. The most commonly used down feathers are those gathered from ducks.
If a down pillow becomes compressed or lumpy, the down fill can be easily reshaped. So if you are someone who likes to fluff their pillows each time they get into bed, choosing a down pillow might be a great option.
On the other hand, down is not normally hypoallergenic. This means that if you have severe allergies, down fill inside your pillow might not be conducive to a good night’s sleep. The other aspect of down that might not always go into the “plus” column is the heat retention. Down may make your head a bit too warm, and if you are looking for a cooling pillow that can be a problem.
Foam fill has become extremely popular over the past 5-10 years. The memory foam craze has picked up a great deal in the mattress market, but many people started out by buying a memory foam pillow to give it a shot. There are also memory foam pillows that use cut up memory foam inside their case to create a softer, less structured feel. But these pillows are literally using the leftover scraps and rejected materials produced during the manufacturing of their well shaped counterparts, meaning you are getting a low quality product that is not designed to reduce heat buildup.
Memory foam tends to be plush, but hot. You sink into this cloudlike surface, falling asleep, only to wake up drenched in sweat. That is why many of the companies creating memory foam pillows are infusing “gel” technology into them to create a cooler surface.
Our Recommendation: Polyester or Polyester Blend
Our Recommendation: Cotton
As our post Bamboo Bedding: What is Viscose? discussed, almost all fabrics that are made from bamboo are actually created using viscose fiber. The viscose fiber is made by taking bamboo as a raw material and processing it through chemical means to extract the cellulose and turn it into a regenerated fiber.
Manufacturers of bedding products using bamboo based viscose have marketed them as products that are hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and antifungal, as if other viscose products are not. This seems a bit dishonest, because bamboo viscose has almost no differentiation from other types of viscose generally created from wood pulp.
That being said, viscose is a fiber that can be extremely effective at increasing the performance of your bedding and can be integrated in a number of blends.
Another popular technology employs the use of moisture wicking fabrics. These fabrics work by wicking moisture away from skin through the fabric itself, in order to evaporate more easily, thereby lowering body temperatures. Moisture wicking technology achieves its wicking quality through the use of specific raw materials and weave or knit patterns, limiting the construction method and characteristics it can produce.
In terms of using moisture wicking technology in pillows, the shell of a pillow may be able to wick away the sweat from your head and neck but won’t actually have an effect on reducing heat until you are already so hot that you are sweating. This is what makes moisture wicking a reactive heat regulation technology.
Gel technology is all rage right now. The reason it has gained in popularity over the past 5-10 years is its signature look and feel. Gel is especially common in cooling pillows that employ memory foam because it is easy to apply in that situation. Gel technology kind of needs to be applied to a firm surface, because the material itself is almost solely created as a solid layer.
The problem with gel is that while it feels cool to the touch, it does not actually help your body regulate its own temperature. It simply feels cold until it doesn’t and then you are back to being hot.
Temperature Regulating Technologies, such as Outlast® can be applied to bedding products in a variety of different ways. While gel and moisture wicking technology is limited in the ways it can be constructed into the product, temperature regulating technologies can be injected into fibers for use in fills and fabrics, coated onto fabrics, and even sprayed onto foam.
The best part of this technology is that it isn’t meant to just feel cold either. It works with your external body temperature to help regulate your internal core temperature throughout the night. While you sleep, your body temperature rises and falls naturally. The temperature regulating technology actually helps prevent your body from swinging too far in one direction throughout the night by absorbing excess heat and then releasing it once the temperature drops.
Our Recommendation: Temperature Regulating Technology
Hopefully this provides some guidance to those looking for the best cooling pillow on the market. Have a comment or another cooling pillow recommendation? Drop us a line in the comments below.