Sleeping with a cooling pillow can prevent night sweats

Toss and turn damp sheets. Waking up drenched. The need to shower as soon as possible when getting out of bed. It’s because of those dreaded night sweats. Sound familiar? There are nearly 110,000 Google searches per month in the United States for “night sweats“, and that’s not counting the tens of thousands of people who research the “causes of night sweats” or “sweating during sleep”. Suffice it to say, this is a tricky problem, especially if you have over 50. Common causes of excessive nighttime sweating as you age, and what you can do to help alleviate that unwanted wetness.

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After 12 months without a period, a person could very well be going through the natural biological process known as menopause. the the average age is 51 in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic, but it can also happen before age 50. And with menopause, you can expect physical symptoms that include, yes, hot flashes.

“For many women, their menopausal hot flashes are worst at night,” Danielle Kelvasdoctor, Chief Medical Advisor for Sleepline, tell Better life. Hot flashes vary in frequency and intensity, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, but for 80 percent of women, hot flashes occur for two years or less. Not coping with menopause, but still sweating at bedtime? Keep reading.

Woman having a late night snack

Turns out your late night snack might be the culprit. “Generally, eating before bed causes our digestive system to secrete many hormones that can disrupt sleep,” Kelvas says. In addition, she adds, “Eating introduces energy into the body, so our digestive system speeds up metabolism. This process slightly increases our core body temperature, whereas normally our body temperature should decrease slightly with the beginning of rest and sleep.”

Other causes of night sweats, she says, are metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or insulin resistance. And that’s not all. According to the Mayo Clinic, other causes of night sweats may include medications, anxiety disorders, alcohol use disorders, and a host of other conditions and illnesses.

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Man sleeping on cooling pillow
Babakova Anastasia/Shutterstock

While it won’t fix the underlying issue causing your night sweats, many people swear by cooling pillows. “A cooling pillow can prevent heat build-up during the night”, Alex Savya certified sleep science coach and founder of Sleeping Ocean, says Better life. If it’s a breathable pillow, it will allow heat to dissipate instead of letting it build up. If the pillow uses gel particles, they will draw excess heat away from the sleeper and lock them in. That’s why cooling pillows can be a big help with night sweats. Read on to see some of Savy’s specific product recommendations.

Cooling memory foam pillow
Alexander Penyushkin/Shutterstock

Give the GhostPillow by GhostBed A try. Savy explains, “It’s a memory foam pillow that excels at alleviating pressure. The foam is gel infused and has small air channels for breathability, allowing this pillow to stay fresh all night.”

According to its product description, it also has a “cool-to-the-touch cover” that neutralizes heat on both sides of the pillow, as well as over 4,000 five-star reviews. One reviewer shared, “This is a great pillow. I haven’t woken up from sweating and can comfortably sleep on my back or on my side.”

Hand on the cooling pad

Savy also recommends the Kapok pillow by Layla. “Kapok is a natural fiber. It’s super breathable and wicks away excess moisture pretty well,” he says. “This means the Layla pillow can help with thermoregulation during sleep. Plus, it’s super comfortable and adjusts to the sleeper’s loft preferences.”

A verified buyer on Laya’s site shared, “Very comfortable and cooling. The adjustability of this pillow is key.” Forbes also praised it in its 2022 roundup of the best pillows for side sleepers, saying “In a nutshell, the Layla Kapok has it all: softness and support, durability, adaptability, washability, hygiene features and cooling, and of course, great customer reviews.”

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Woman fanning herself in bed
Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

Saatva’s latex pillow is another of Savy’s recommendations. “This design uses shredded latex for the core and fine, fluffy fibers for the comfort layer. As a result, air flows freely through the pillow. This is how the Saatva prevents heat buildup” , he explains.

A reviewer on Saatva’s website says she noticed a change in her sleep quality from the first night. She wrote, “I normally wake up several times during the night to rearrange the pillows that have become hot or flat in bed. Instead, the Saatva pillow has carried me from evening to morning, now both temperature and comfort. A must for some quality bedtime.”

Person adjusting thermostat

In addition to a cooling pillow, Tony Klespisa certified sleep science coach and sleep accessory reviewer at Mattress Clarity, says Better life that cooling sheets can also help. “Certain materials like bamboo or percale-woven cotton can help keep you cool at night.” And here’s another great tip: “While many people associate a higher thread count sheet with higher quality, a lower thread count sheet is actually better for airflow, which is better to keep you cool,” says Klespis.

He also recommends using blackout curtains to keep excess sun from heating up your room during the day, keeping your thermostat at 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoiding foods and substances that make you sweat (like caffeine and alcohol).

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