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Back, stomach, and side sleepers alike know that the right pillow can be life changing for getting quality sleep. And if you tend to sleep hot, you probably know that a too-warm pillow can get in the way of a good slumber. Enter: gel pillows.

Gel pillows are either made with foam (usually memory foam) or synthetic fibers. Brands often infuse these materials with gel to help catch and lower your body temperature, providing a cooler and cushioned night’s rest

There are a lot of gel pillows out there that claim to offer the icy chill that hot sleepers crave. So how can you know which one works best for you?

Below we’ll walk through our top gel pillow picks and give you some tips to help make your decision a breeze.

These are the criteria we used when making our picks:

  • Materials. Because this list is focused on the best gel pillows, every pillow features some gel element to help keep you cool all night long.
  • Variety. Whether you need something hot, cold, squishy, firm, flat, or contoured, our list covers you. We selected a wide range of pillow types with different materials to accommodate just about every sleeper.
  • Customer reviews and editorial testing. We always read reviews, so you don’t have to. But, in some instances, we personally tested products over multiple slumbers to ensure our recommendations reflect our own experience with these products, too.

Pricing guide

Pricing for a good gel pillow varies. We marked each product with one of the following to help indicate price:

  • $ = under $76
  • $$ = $76–$150
  • $$$ = over $150

Best gel pillow for back and side sleepers

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Ergo Cooling Neck Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Material: Gel-infused memory foam

This cooling pillow from Tempur-Pedic is contoured — meaning the edges of the pillow are higher than the middle — and designed to help relieve neck and shoulder discomfort.

It also has gel-infused memory foam that reviewers say is cool, but doesn’t send them to bed shivering.

While this product is ergonomically designed to relieve tension, it’s intended for back and side sleepers who prefer to doze on denser and thicker pillows.

Because it’s also categorized as a neck cushion, it’s smaller than a standard pillow, so expect some wiggle room in your pillow case.

In testing, we found that this cooling pillow helped us stay asleep longer. It took us 2 nights to get used to this shape, though. So, if you don’t currently use a contour pillow, it might take a little adjusting before you can drift off to sleep with ease.

Buy the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Ergo Cooling Neck Pillow online.

Best adjustable gel pillow

Leesa Hybrid Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Material: Polyester microfiber and ventilated gel

Leesa designed the Hybrid Pillow to adjust to fit your needs as they change from one night to the next (or even in the middle of the night).

This firm, thick pillow is double-sided: one side features a fluffy, down-like material and the other has a firmer cooling gel. It also has a separate insert that you can add between these layers to adjust the height.

Leesa’s customers write glowing testimonials, confirming the effectiveness of the cooling features and even saying they’ve purchased more pillows to gift to their friends.

While only a handful of reviews offer a single star, these users typically say they prefer lighter, softer pillows.

Buy the Leesa Hybrid Pillow online.

Best gel pillow for stomach sleepers

Helix Adjustable Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Material: Gel microfiber

Helix’s pillow is also adjustable, but, unlike Leesa, their pillow is thinner and better suited for stomach sleepers.

The pillow’s fill is made with gel microfibers. In testing, this felt similar to the soft, fluffy feel of down.

The pillow also has a removable insert that helps you find the right height and firmness. Helix says adding the insert is best for side, back, and combination sleepers. We found the pillow a little too flat for side sleepers, even with the insert added.

Still, reviewers can’t get enough of this pillow, describing it as plush and luxurious. While there are a few complaints, most mention that the pillow isn’t quite thick enough for side sleepers.

Buy the Helix Adjustable Pillow online.

Best cooling gel pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Material: Open cell memory foam

Brooklyn Bedding designed their Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow to keep sleepers cool all night long, without the need to flip it over.

The pillow contains open cell memory foam, which allows for better airflow than traditional memory foam.

The foam is infused with gel, copper, and graphite, which the brand says help draw away heat and promote breathability for the ultimate cool.

In testing, this was our favorite gel pillow. It was easy to adjust to its dense feel, and it helped us drift off to sleep really quickly.

Most reviews online agree. Though, some reviewers complain this pillow doesn’t feel as cool-to-the-touch if you cover it with a thick pillowcase.

Buy the Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow online.

Best soft gel pillow

Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Material: Adaptive foam

If you dream of sleeping on a cloud, you’ve met your match with Tuft & Needle’s Original Foam Pillow.

At first glance, this pillow appears dense, heavy, and best suited for side sleepers. But, after resting on it, your head will slowly sink past the soft cover and into the pillow’s plush interior, which is made from a bouncy foam infused with graphite and gel.

In testing, we thought the pillow felt a bit too flat for side sleepers, but we also thought it made a great snuggle companion. The gentle cooling effect was apparent, but subtle. We also slept better when using it, and we tossed and turned less.

Reviewers agree that this pillow helps improve their sleep and that it’s super comfortable. One reviewer even referred to it as “magic.” But others say it’s too flat and wish it was thicker for more support.

Buy the Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow online.

Watch our video review of the Tuft & Needle Pillow

While all gel pillows listed here offer a cooling comfort, there are still several elements to consider when choosing which one is right for you.

Materials

When it comes to gel pillows, what’s on the inside really counts. Many gel pillows are constructed from either gel-infused foams or fibers.

A lot of gel pillows are made with foam. Memory foam is a popular option because it’s known for providing pressure relief. A 2020 study also found that memory foam pillows are ideal for supporting your neck while sleeping, which can improve overall sleep quality.

The foam used in gel pillows can be solid or shredded. Pillows made with solid foam are more likely to be dense and heavy, which works well for side and back sleepers who need a little extra support.

Shredded foam is usually softer than solid foam, but it can still provide good neck support, too.

Pillows filled with other fibers — like gel-infused microfibers — will feel soft and fluffy and will likely work best for stomach sleepers or people who love a super soft feel.

Loft

Loft refers to the height of pillows. The key for all sleeping positions is keeping your neck and spine properly aligned.

A 2015 study showed that pillows 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) high are ideal for back sleepers.

A separate 2015 study showed similar results for side sleepers. This study also found that pillows 10 and 14 centimeters high can help reduce muscle activity in the neck and mid-to-upper back.

Stomach sleepers should look for flatter pillows (or no pillow at all) to help keep their spine neutral.

Keep in mind that these guidelines aren’t hard and fast rules. Everyone is different.

Use these tips to get started, but also look for pillows that are adjustable or have sleep trials, so you’re not stuck with an uncomfortable pillow.

Firmness

While every product is designed uniquely, pillows made from solid foam — as opposed to shredded memory foam or microfibers — tend to be heavier, denser, and best for side and back sleepers.

Stomach sleepers typically prefer softer pillows.

But, since pillow firmness is largely a personal preference, it might take a little trial and error to find what works best for you.

Temperature regulation

While almost every gel pillow advertises its cooling properties, product reviews suggest that firmer cushions and gel inserts seem to be the most effective at providing their consumers that desirable cool-to-touch effect.

We also found that these products weren’t too intense for customers who run chilly.

Price

Keep in mind that shelling out money for the most expensive pillow doesn’t guarantee your best night’s sleep.

Instead, it’s best to think of pillow shopping like dating — think about your own needs and preferences before hitting “add to cart.”

More expensive pillows are often heavier or intended to support your head, neck, or back.

But, if you’d rather sink in to your pillow than lay your head on it, a plusher, less expensive option might be your perfect match.

Thermal environment plays a huge role in how well you sleep. Studies from 2012 and 2018 show that overheating at night can increase wakefulness, decrease slow wave and REM sleep, and reduce overall sleep quality.

It’s not totally understood how bedding can play a role in regulating body temperature as you sleep. But many people swear by using gel pillows to prevent them from overheating — or at least from constantly flipping their pillow.

Based on what we found in reviews, people who sleep on the cool side still like gel pillows.

Gel pillows can be a good option for a lot of people, though it’s still important to pay attention to the materials, height, and pillow shape that work best for you.

Whether you snooze on your side, back, or stomach, choosing a pillow with the right materials may be the key to sweeter dreams and a better night’s sleep.

If you’re looking for a gel pillow for its cooling abilities, dig deeper into customer reviews to make sure the company’s product actually lives up to its description. A little research can help prevent you from tossing and turning in an angry sweat for hours on end.


Growing up, Megan Sauer’s favorite pastimes were writing plays and coercing her cousins into performing them in her grandparents’ living room. Now, the recent Medill graduate reports on politics, travel, and health. Her work has been published in USA Today, Condé Nast Traveler, Tampa Bay Times, SKATING magazine, and more. When Sauer isn’t writing about her life as if it belonged inside a book jacket, she spends her time figure skating, binge-watching The Office, and typing incoherent ideas in her iPhone’s Notes app when she’s half asleep.