That feeling you get when your head first hits a nice, soft, and cool pillow is in my opinion, one of the few simple pleasures in life. Whenever I travel, which is quite often, one thing I always look forward to is that first time experience of plopping my head down on the cool fluffy hotel pillow at night. When a pillow is not just soft, fluffy, and lofty (a pillow’s loft is the height at which is lies while on a flat surface; lofty is just an adjective I made up to describe high loft pillows) but cool as well, I can fall asleep in mere seconds after my head hits the pillow, as if I was a pretty lady and Bill Cosby was also in the room.
My personal top two factors when it comes to what makes a great pillow for me? Fluffiness/loftiness and coolness. The first factor is important because I sleep on my side and high loft pillows are ideal side sleeper pillows. The pillow I’m talking about is none other than Snuggle-Pedic’s memory foam pillow. I absolutely adore this pillow, which I think is the best pillow for side sleepers. The second is important because my body is more sensitive to temperature changes than mercury, and I’ve been known to wake up from a deep slumber at even the slightest rise in temperature. Unfortunately, while most pillows can easily stay fluffy throughout the night, despite my massive skull resting upon them, the same cannot be said about them staying cool. Inevitably as the night passes, my pillow gets warmer and warmer (which I guess is my fault, indirectly) and I usually end up waking up at least once in the middle of the night to flip it over to the cool side, usually jolting me out of a nice and restful REM sleep cycle.
That is until I mentioned my major, life threatening issue to a friend of mine over coffee, and she casually remarked, “Why don’t you just get one of those temperature control pillows?” then went back to sipping her coffee. “Temperature control pillows?” I thought to myself, “What in God’s are those?” with visions of pillows with tubes containing industrial coolant sticking out of them like some steampunk drawing on DeviantART.
That was 6 months ago, and after quite a bit of research as well as personal experience, I would like to share with you some of the types of pillows I found that come with some natural ‘temperature control’ properties; no tubes (but some fluid) required.
- Memory Foam Gel Pillows – “Wait a minute”, I hear you exclaiming now, “Aren’t memory foam pillows even warmer compared to normal pillows?” This is a true statement, however fortunately for us, this only applies to the earlier generation memory foam pillows which were made of a viscoelastic polyurethane foam. The first generation memory foams, which saw widespread use and production starting in the 90s were definitely quite warm and this was certainly the number one complaint in relation to them. The second generation however, improved upon this somewhat, utilizing an open-cell matrix structure to improve breathability. It’s the third generation memory foam however, that I’m talking about here. Developed in 2006, this memory foam is no longer a pure foam at all, but rather its memory foam fused with gel particles. This is extremely effective at reducing trapped body heat; basically you get all the benefits of memory foam without any of the drawbacks. An excellent choice for most ‘cool sleepers’. Some pillows even those not made of memory foam, also come with ‘gel packs’ stitched onto the one or both sides of the pillow to achieve that same purpose. Those pillows with the gel packs only one side are called ‘reversible’ pillows.
- Buckwheat pillows – One of the less common natural pillows, buckwheat has higher air flow and circulation (and thus less trapped body head) compared to its other natural counterparts such as feathers, down, cotton, or wool. Just be aware that these pillows are NOT washable at all and they also make a crinkly noise when you shift positions in the night, so if you are very sensitive to noises and wake easily, this may not be for you.
- Bamboo Pillowcases – Bamboo pillowcases are a common standard package with temperature regulating pillows such as memory foam gel or shredded memory foam. Thus, you don’t have to worry about getting these separately. Best part? You don’t even have to be Asian.
That concludes our brief primer on so-called ‘temperature regulating’ pillows. Please note that these pillows are designed to absorb less heat during the night and will not actually decrease the average temperature. There are specialty pillows that do that however, such as gel pillows that require refrigeration prior to use.