Can’t fall asleep on a summer night? Just flip your pillow to the cool side. You’ve probably heard this advice since you were a kid, and might’ve used it to get through some warm evenings.
But what happens when you’ve flipped your pillow so many times that both sides are radiating heat? Unfortunately, most pillows can’t regulate body temperature. They simply absorb it, so that when you’re hot, the pillow’s hot. But there’s an easy fix to this frustration, and it lies in your pillowcase.
Cool or cooling pillowcases use specially designed textiles that minimize moisture, boost airflow, and regulate body temperature. Because they slip over your existing pillows, they’re often cheaper than cool pillows, which contain gel and memory foam. And they’re easy to find online or in chain stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond.
But which one should you choose? We reached out to three companies that make cool pillowcases to see which one was best for summer slumber. Here’s what we discovered:
This case has a crisp, almost starchy, feel to it, similar to the pillowcases you’d get in a hotel. But its tech comes straight from outer space. Slumber Cloud utilizes Outlast® fabric, which was originally developed for NASA astronauts to protect their suits from heat spikes or arctic blasts. It’s not a wicking pillowcase, which refers to a textile, often a polyester blend, that moves (or “wicks”) moisture away from your body. Outlast manages heat by absorbing, storing, and releasing it.
The case doesn’t feel icy when you rest your head on it, but you’ll notice a difference between Slumber Cloud and a standard cotton case. I was most aware of this around my neck, which wasn’t saturated in its usual thick layer of summer heat. By the second night, I was less conscious of the Slumber Cloud, though it still made sleeping more pleasant as the temperatures outside my window climbed.
The best word to describe this case is silky. It’s so silky, in fact, that it seems like it’ll melt right into the mattress. Downlite uses a 100 percent nylon knit fabric infused with natural minerals that promises enhanced airflow and dryer pillows. It’s moisture-wicking, and hypoallergenic. The tech is also certified by the Hohenstein Institute, a German research lab that specializes in textiles.
The Downlite was the most impressively chilly pillowcase out of the box — or sealed pack, in this case. It has a certain amount of drama, even luxury, to it, since it’s so soft and frosty. But it feels slight somehow, more like a slip than a pillowcase. And while the Downlite cover was the coldest on my first night of use, it started to level off by night two.
The Sheex was also kinda silky, though not as thin as the Downlite. It also wasn’t quite as starched as the Slumber Cloud, making for an excellent middle point in terms of texture. Sheex weaves this particular case with 100 percent Tencel® Lyocell, which is a somewhat trendy material on the cool pillowcase scene.
Lyocell is a type of rayon that’s derived from wood pulp, while Tencel® is the brand name for any lyocell made by the Austrian company Lenzing. Lyocell fibers manage moisture in a way that reduces bacteria growth and, combined with Sheex technology, provide a smooth, cool surface for you to rest your head.
This was my favorite cover of the group. It didn’t feel all that different from the pillowcases I’ve used my entire life — just a little softer, a little nicer. An upgrade, but not a radical rehaul. Except thankfully, it wasn’t packing heat the way cotton does. This is the case I’ll be using as we move into the scorching summer months, which, as of last weekend, have very much arrived.