Part of our series on getting better sleep.
Can cooling blankets actually lead to better sleep?
Different people prefer to be a little warmer or a little colder when they sleep. And there are a lot of products on the market to help you stay comfortable in bed. From cooling blankets to heated ones, cold sleep masks to warm ones, it’s easier than ever to hit your preferred temperature.
But does being warm or cool actually help you sleep better?
Sleeping Cool: The Science
There has been a decent amount of research on the connection between ambient room temperature and sleep quality. These studies tend to agree on one thing: cooler ambient temperature, to a point, definitely increases deep sleep.1Ambient temperature and human sleep2Rem Sleep and Ambient Temperature in Man As long as you aren’t uncomfortably cold, cooler temperatures can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
This is especially true when suffering from elevated body temperatures. For example, women going through menopause often experience uncomfortable hot flashes. Similarly, when someone is running a fever, sometimes they just can’t get cool.
Whether you’re under the weather or just trying to get comfy, it’s not always possible to get the temperature of the room just right. Not everybody likes to keep the air conditioning cranked at night. Others might have to share a room with someone who likes it a bit warmer.
That’s where cooling blankets and other cooling bedding solutions come in.
How to Stay Cool
It’s a lot easier to stay warm in bed than it is to stay cool. It’s easy to generate heat with electricity, so there are plenty of heated blankets to choose from. But there’s no such thing as an electric cold blanket, so we have to get a little creative.
So here are some solutions for keeping cooler at night.
No Blanket (Not Comfy)
The simplest solution is to sleep without any blanket. As long as the room is cool enough, you can stay cool. But for most people, sleeping without a blanket isn’t very comfortable, and will probably impact sleep quality. It’s not an ideal fix.
Cooling Blankets (A Decent Solution)
The next step up is to get a lightweight cooling blanket. These blankets don’t feature any active cooling elements, but their breathability helps to dissipate body heat.
These are a great option of the ambient temperature in your bedroom is fairly cool. If somebody else in the room prefers warmer temperatures, you might convince them to don another blanket so you can crank the air conditioning.
Lightweight Cooling Blankets
Cooling Weighted Blankets (Sounder Sleep)
Cooling weighted blankets are a great option for keeping a lower temperature at night. These cozy comforters are typically filled with beads made of glass or ceramic. This can help with heat dissipation, making these blankets cooler than you might imagine.
As an added bonus, weighted blankets can help with getting better sleep—and that includes cooling weighted blankets.
For example, one study found that subjects suffering from insomnia slept longer under a weighted blanket than without, and even stirred less.3Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia Afterward, they reported that they felt they had settled down a lot more easily at night, slept better, and felt more refreshed in the morning. Cooling weighted blankets give you the best of both worlds!
Cooling weighted blankets usually come with several covers for the weighted portion. You typically get to choose between a warm material, such as fleece, and a cooler material, such as bamboo or microfiber. To keep cool, just throw on the lighter cover.
Weighted Cooling Blankets
Body Cooling Pads (Easy Chill)
For some people, a lightweight or weighted cooling blanket won’t be enough. The next step would be to try some sort of actual cooling element. Some people may try to take an ice pack to bed, but that’s a messy solution that usually ends up soaking your sheets.
Cooling gel pads are a similar solution. A bit more sophisticated than an ice pack, these pads are filled with pressure-activated gel that cools down under your bodyweight. To recharge, just throw the pad in the fridge or freezer. It won’t lose its chill until you’re ready to use it.
These chilly little mats work best when they’re body-sized, but pillow-sized options work great as well. You can slip the pad under your sheets to drop the temperature for a few hours—long enough to comfortably fall asleep.
Cooling Gel Body Bads
Water-Cooled Mattress Pads (Super Cool)
For people who need more than a few hours of cooling over a larger area, a water-cooled mattress pad might be a good option.
These soothing mats feature a small pump that pushes water through tight, anti-leak tubing in the mat itself. The pump typically doubles as small air conditioning unit that keeps the water cool as it flows through the loop.
This design helps these cooling mattress pads to continue to dissipate body heat throughout the night. No more tossing off the covers at night after your body turns your bed into a mini furnace. Combine this with a cooling blanket if you need to turn down the temperature a little more.
Water-cooled mattress pads are a good option for anyone who needs some serious, all-night cooling. Their biggest downside is that they sometimes need a little maintenance. For example, you’ll have to make sure the reservoir has enough water each night.
Water-Cooled Mattress Pads
The absolutely most effective and lowest maintenance option for keeping cool at night is the bed climate control unit. This is the holy grail of finely-tuned bed temperature control.
These are essentially mini air conditioning and heating units specifically for beds. We’ve come a long way from the humble cooling blanket.
Typically, you place the unit near your bed and tuck a small vent under your covers, held in place by a brace under the mattress. The unit then pushes air through a small duct and out of the vent, providing instant air conditioning into the bed itself!
These bed AC units solve most of the issues you might run into with any other bed cooling option. You don’t have to try to sleep without a blanket. You don’t have to worry about your body heat slowly warming everything up. And no need to stick anything in the freezer!
Although they might seem a little pricey up front, bed climate control units can actually help you save money in the long run. Since they can both cool and heat the bed, you have the option to turn off your room’s central air no matter the season.