Cooling Blanket Buying Guide
Many of us have issues getting a good night’s sleep, and often those issues are related to temperature. Although the feeling of a heavy blanket can feel comforting, many top covers trap in heat and moisture leaving you in a sweaty mess. This will cause you to wake up in the middle of the night throwing off the soaked through covers, only to wake an hour later chilled to the bone after the sweat has evaporated. This is where a cooling blanket can help.
You may ask, “Why would I use a cooling blanket? I mean isn’t the point of a blanket to keep you warm?”
Well… yes, and no.
The purpose of any piece of bedding is to keep you comfortable. Often, feelings of warmth can equate to feelings of cozy comfort, but for many people, heat becomes the enemy of sleep. These individuals seek refuge from the furious battle between slumber and high temperatures that can turn a bed into a sweat soaked landscape of brutal insomnia. Their search for sanctuary commonly leads them to purchasing new bedding, mattresses, and even attempting unconventional sleeping practices.
Often the first choice is a cooling blanket, but with so many options on the market today it can be difficult to even know where to start.
The Lightweight Alternative
Many people prefer the weight of a relatively heavy top layer on their bed. This visceral feeling has both physical and psychological origins, and some believe that a heavy top layer of bedding (such as a comforter, duvet or quilt) mimics the feeling of being inside the womb. Studies actually show that weighted blankets can be extremely effective when used as a tool for calming individuals with autism and sensory issues.
But for many sleepers these types of covers are just not practical. A lightweight alternative can be a much more comfortable option for people whose body temperature get too high during their sleep.
What to look for
When you are looking for a high quality cooling blanket that is not a comforter or duvet, you must focus on a few key characteristics that affect temperature performance.
Knit vs Weave
Most lightweight blankets are manufactured using fabrics constructed using a knit pattern. While there are many different knit patterns and weaves, these two categories have general characteristics that differ in substantial ways.
- Looping pattern
- Stretchy in all direction
- Very Breathable
- Many decorative patterns
- Parallel/perpendicular pattern
- Stretchy in only one direction (if at all)
- Less Breathable
- Less number of decorative patterns
Superior breathability, versatility and appearance mean that cooling blankets often use knit fabrics in their creation. Find a blanket with a high quality knit pattern or a loose weave that is aesthetically pleasing and comfy.
In the cooling bedding market there are really only two widely used technologies implemented to achieve heat reduction.
Temperature regulating technology implements a number of methods to help fabrics absorb and disperse heat to keep you from having to push and pull at the covers all night.
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.
These technologies each have their own qualities that make them unique in the use of bedding materials.
- Works through Thermal Conduction
- Multiple implementations
- Works through evaporation
- Fiber and weave/knit exclusive
Temperature regulating technology is a proactive approach compared to moisture wicking in that it works directly to absorb excess heat and pull those temperatures away from the body.
Moisture wicking only cools the body once it has begun to sweat, allowing moisture to be pulled away from the skin for evaporation. In terms of cooling blankets, most prefer to not sweat through their blanket in order to cool down.
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.
Temperature regulating technology (like Outlast®) can be infused directly into raw fiber or yarn, making it easy to implement without limiting materials or patterns.
Temperature regulating technology is superior to moisture wicking when added to cooling blankets because it absorbs and disperses heat while you sleep. Consider a blanket with Outlast® Technology.
The use of various materials in the creation of cooling blankets has created a diverse market of products, but it can also make it hard to know exactly what you are looking for. That’s why we have created these handy tables showing the pros and cons of using specific fibers in the manufacturing of cooling blankets.
- The most common natural fiber
- Extremely breathable
- Not the easiest to care for
- Can shrink and wrinkle with washes
Cotton is one of the most popular fibers in blankets due to its softness and breathability. If you decided to go with a cotton blanket, try to choose one that has a thread count in the 300 – 500 range which generally means the blanket will not trap in heat, and is made of higher quality fibers.
- A natural temperature regulator
- Great insulator
- Can be soft (despite popular belief)
- Can be breathable (despite popular belief)
- Not absorbent
- Not always great on its own
- Can trap heat
- Washability can be difficult
- Can be heavy (depending on construction)
- More expensive
- Wool (lanolin) allergies aren’t uncommon
Wool blankets have always been popular, because their insulating capabilities can help bring extreme warmth. Many people don’t know that wool can also be very breathable and soft if knit or woven the right way.
Merino wool is known as the softest and highest quality and originally came from a breed of sheep in Spain. A big drawback can be price.
- A versatile addition
- Good in blends with natural fibers
- Doesn’t retain moisture
- Great for moisture wicking
- Avoided by many
- Not breathable
- Environmental impact
- Not known for softness
There are many synthetic fibers used in the creation of blankets, but polyester and acrylic are the two most common. Polyester is used to create polar fleece which is a great insulator, but doesn’t regulate temperature very well. Polyester and other synthetic fibers are the most common materials used in moisture wicking fabrics.
- Sensible choice
- Cool to the touch
- Can infuse with Temp. Regulating Technology
- Low public familiarity
Viscose is created when wood pulp is chemically processed to create an extremely uniform fiber that is soft, hypo-allergenic, and breathable. This puts viscose in a strange middle ground between natural and synthetic. The most commonly known type of viscose is Rayon, though there are many others on the market now, like Tencel.
Lyocell and Modal
Another type of Viscose that is gaining popularity, but hasn’t really shown any difference from the rest, is bamboo sourced Viscose. There is a lot of controversy surrounding bamboo, because of false marketing claims and mislabeled products.
Get the best of both worlds by going with a blend. Pick a high quality knit blanket that uses a wool or cotton blend with viscose that has been infused with temperature regulation technology.
We recommend the machine washable Stratus Wool Blanket from Slumber Cloud that was ranked as one of our Top 5 Cooling Bedding Products.
Hopefully this provides some guidance to those looking for the best cooling blanket on the market.