- The Impact of Temperature on Sleep Quality
- What to Look For in a Bed Cooling System
- Top Five Bed Cooling Systems
- What Bed Cooling System Should You Get?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrap-Up: The Best Mattress Cooler
Temperature is an incredibly important factor in sleep quality. And in addition to regulating the temperature in your bedroom, one of the best ways to prevent night sweats is to use a cooling system for your bed itself.
This review is a comparison of the five most popular bed cooling systems, including the Pod Pro and Pod Pro Cover from Eight Sleep, chiliPad and OOLER from ChiliSleep, and classic bed fans like the BedFan or bFan.
I’ve been sleeping with the Eight Sleep Pod Pro for several weeks, and recently started using the chiliPad. As a result, this review is based on my hands-on experience with both Eight Sleep and ChiliSleep, as well as product specifications from the respective manufacturers and the feedback I’ve gotten from others who use such products.
The Impact of Temperature on Sleep Quality
As I mentioned above, temperature plays a vital role in determining the quality of your sleep. That’s because your body’s core temperature naturally changes before you can fall asleep, as well as throughout the night.
The problem is that most of us have central HVAC systems that make it difficult to manipulate the temperature of our bedroom without also affecting other parts of the home. That makes turning down the air conditioner’s thermostat in order to sleep cooler a potentially costly and energy-wasting practice.
Plus, depending on where the bedrooms in your home are located, centrally reducing the temperature might lead to inconsistent temperatures across your rooms.
For example, we have bedrooms on both the main and lower levels of our house, and it’s always colder downstairs than upstairs because hot air rises and cold air sinks.
So what’s the solution to this problem?
The best solution that I’ve found for avoiding overheating and night sweats is to cool the surface of the mattress. So let’s talk about the different types of bed cooling systems that are out there and look at how they compare.
What to Look For in a Bed Cooling System
Bed cooling systems, like the ones I cover in this article, come in various shapes and forms.
My goal with the following chapters is to help you understand the important differences between five of the most popular sleep systems, so that you can make an informed decision and get the best product for your budget.
My favorite method of influencing the temperature under the sheets is water cooling. It’s an active cooling method that can either drastically cool down the surface temperature of your mattress or heat it up, if you like.
With water cooling systems, we’re talking about a temperature range of about 55-115 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other hand, there are air-based or fan-based cooling systems, such as BedFan, that blow air under the sheets to push hot air away from your body.
Both systems provide relief to varying degrees. But if you’re a hot sleeper, water-based cooling is usually much more effective.
Think about sitting in an office without air conditioning on a hot and humid summer day. A fan can certainly make the ambient temperature more bearable, but it can’t replace an air conditioning unit that actively cools the air.
Of course, that comparison is not 100% fair because neither of these bed cooling technologies changes the humidity of your bedroom, and humidity is a factor that directly influences how you perceive temperature. However, there is still a significant difference in comfort between water-based and fan-based cooling systems.
Plus, some people (including my wife) don’t like the sensation of air blowing right on their skin — something that’s unavoidable with bed fans.
Last but not least, there are also cooling gels that you can place on top of your mattress. I didn’t think they were as effective as the solutions covered in this article, so I omitted them.
Temperature Control and Range
Water-based cooling systems usually offer a fairly broad temperature range. That means you have direct control over how cool or warm the surface of your mattress gets at night.
It’s worth mentioning that the two water-based bed cooling systems mentioned below have a different approach when it comes to temperature control.
With Eight Sleep, you can change the temperature on a scale from -10 to +10, whereas ChiliSleep allows you to set a temperature directly (in Celsius or Fahrenheit).
Additionally, some of the more advanced cooling solutions, such as Eight Sleep, can automatically adjust the mattress surface temperature for the various stages of sleep (based on your body’s natural changes in core temperature).
Plus, they can take the room temperature and other factors into account, which can influence how warm or cold you feel.
Water-based cooling solutions usually have a motor that pumps water through the tubes of the mattress cover. As a result, you might hear the pump and the sound of water rushing through the tubes.
Bed fans, much like ceiling fans, have a motor that turns the blades, and you might hear that in addition to the sound the air makes as it passes under your sheets.
I consider the noise from both technologies to be white noise, which studies have shown can improve sleep because it masks environmental noises. Others believe that white noise mimics the sounds babies hear while in the womb.
My wife and I, as well as our kids, use white noise pretty much every night for better sleep and to mask environmental noises.
As a result, I personally don’t consider the noise of either technology to be disturbing.
Maintenance and Setup
All of the five solutions presented below are relatively easy to set up and maintain, but some of them require ongoing maintenance like cleaning or refilling the water tank every couple of weeks (or every six to eight weeks in the case of Eight Sleep).
All the products that I cover in this review take up some amount of floor space and require a power outlet at the foot of (or beside) your bed. Additionally, a water-based cooling solution requires sufficient clearance around it so that air can circulate freely.
To prevent the inside of the water tubes or the pump from growing mold, you might have to run a cleaning program from time to time, or use an antiseptic additive (such as hydrogen peroxide) when you refill the water tank.
Bed Compatibility and Pricing
One of the most important considerations when choosing a new cooling system for your bedroom is whether or not you want to keep your old mattress.
That’s because you can choose between complete sets that include a mattress or an add-on pad that allows you to retrofit your existing mattress.
For example, Eight Sleep offers both a complete system (including a comfortable memory foam mattress) and a topper only. ChiliSleep offers only toppers (without a mattress), and BedFan is just what the name implies: a fan.
As a result, the comparison table below shows such vastly different price points that making a direct comparison is challenging.
Besides the main components (mattress, topper, control unit), some of the products covered in this review include sleep and biometric tracking technology that contributes to a higher price tag.
For example, Eight Sleep features advanced sleep tracking, the ability to automatically adjust the temperature, vibration-based smart alarms, sleep fitness scores and much more.
Other solutions, including the ones from ChiliSleep, offer only basic features (such as manual temperature changes), while bed fans offer nothing of the sort.
As a result, you have to decide how much technology you want and need, as well as how much you’re willing to pay for it.
I strongly believe that it’s easier to improve your sleep when you can measure your sleep quality. For example, knowing how much time it takes me to fall asleep, and how much time I spend in the various stages of sleep (light, deep, REM), allows me to take targeted actions and then measure their effectiveness. That’s why I’m a huge fan of sleep tracking.
Additionally, I also appreciate that the technology I use keeps tabs on my heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate and more, so that I’m able to better judge how my body is doing and how well it’s recovered from daily stressors.
The good news is that if you’re already using a reliable fitness tracker — such as Biostrap*, Oura Ring or WHOOP* — you might not need that technology as part of your sleep system. I currently track my sleep and biometrics using Eight Sleep, Oura Ring and WHOOP, to see how they compare each night.
Depending on the size of your bed and whether or not you have a partner, you might need a solution that covers the entire mattress and allows you to use separate temperature settings for both sides individually.
On the other hand, if you’re single you might only need to cover half of the mattress.
Some of the solutions mentioned in this article cover the entire mattress, whereas others can be used for individual sides of the bed only.
Top Five Bed Cooling Systems
Below is a comparison table of the five best products for controlling your sleep temperature.
|Pod Pro||Pod Pro Cover||chiliPad||OOLER||bFan|
|Brand||Eight Sleep||Eight Sleep||ChiliSleep||ChiliSleep||Tompkins Research|
|Method||Water cooling||Water cooling||Water cooling||Water cooling||Air cooling|
|Temperature range||55 – 110° F||55 – 110° F||55 – 115° F||55 – 115° F||N/A|
|Mattress coverage||Full||Full||Half or full||Half or full||Half|
|Components||Control unit, mattress cover, mattress||Control unit, mattress cover||Control unit(s), mattress cover(s)||Control unit(s), mattress cover(s)||Fan|
|Warranty||10 years||2 years||2 years||2 years||30 days|
|Starting price||$2,595||$1,595||$499 (half) $999 (full)||$699 (half) $1,399 (full)||$169.95|
If you look at the above comparison table, you’ll realize that it’s difficult to compare the pricing of these individual sleep systems because they vary so widely.
For example, the Pod Pro by Eight Sleep consists of a memory foam mattress, a temperature-controlled mattress cover (Active Grid) that doubles as an advanced sleep tracker, and a Wi-Fi-connected Hub that can be controlled via a mobile app.
Unsurprisingly, such an advanced system demands a higher price tag than BedFan — a traditional fan that “simply” blows (more or less) cool air under your sheets.
ChiliSleep offers two solutions — the chiliPad and the OOLER sleep system — that are somewhat in the middle, both technologically and from a pricing perspective.
1. Pod Pro by Eight Sleep
- Most advanced bed cooling system
- Includes a comfortable memory foam mattress
- Advanced sleep tracking and sleep fitness analysis
- Super quiet
- Sophisticated temperature control
- The most expensive solution in the mix
- Covers the full mattress (not available for individual sides)
By far my favorite solution among the ones I’ve tested is the Pod Pro by Eight Sleep.
Maybe that’s because I’m a tech nerd and the Pod Pro is the most technologically-advanced cooling system on the market. But I also really like Eight Sleep because all of the components — including the Active Grid (mattress cover), the Hub, and the memory-foam mattress — look really slick.
What’s worth mentioning is that the Pod Pro, which is the complete system that includes the mattress, is only available for queen, king and California king-size beds, and it covers the entire mattress. So you can’t get the Pod Pro for one side of the bed only.
The good news is that you can set the temperature and smart alarm for both sides of the bed individually. In other words, you and your partner don’t have to fight over who controls the temperature in bed.
From a technological perspective, Eight Sleep offers incredibly advanced features that track your sleep, stages of sleep (deep, REM, light), heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), respiratory rate and other biometrics.
Unlike ChiliSleep, Eight Sleep allows you to set different temperature settings for the individual stages of sleep, including bedtime, sleep onset, final stage and wake up. This supports the body’s natural change in core temperature as it cycles through the various stages.
Additionally, Eight Sleep accounts for variables like room temperature (and other factors) that might influence how hot or cold you feel.
While Eight Sleep offers a fairly broad temperature range of 55 to 110 Fahrenheit, you can’t set your preferred temperature directly using its mobile app. Instead, you have to indirectly set your desired temperature on a scale from -10 to +10.
I’m not sure why that is, but it could be because Eight Sleep takes the ambient temperature and other factors into account — factors which influence how you perceive a certain temperature.
Considering that the Pod Pro by Eight Sleep is the most sophisticated cooling solution in this review, it should come as no surprise that it’s also the most expensive product in the mix.
The good news is that you can use my affiliate link (see above) to save $150 off the purchase price.
My wife and I have been using the Pod Pro for several weeks and absolutely love it! To learn more, make sure you check out my dedicated Pod Pro review on this blog, my YouTube channel and the unboxing video I recorded when I received the Pod Pro.
2. Pod Pro Cover by Eight Sleep
- Same cooling technology as the Pod Pro
- Works with existing 10-16” full, queen, king and Cali king mattresses
- Advanced sleep tracking and sleep fitness analysis
- Super quiet
- Sophisticated temperature control
- Covers the full mattress (not available for individual sides)
Technologically, the Pod Pro Cover offers the exact same features as the Pro Pod. The main difference is that the Pod Pro Cover doesn’t include a memory-foam mattress. That means you can use the Pod Pro Cover to retrofit any existing 10-inch to 16-inch mattress.
Additionally, the Pod Pro Cover is also available for full-sized mattresses, while the Pod Pro is only available for a queen or larger mattress.
Beyond that, everything I said about the Pod Pro is also true for the Pod Pro Cover.
As a result, the Pod Pro Cover is the perfect mattress cooling system if you want to retrofit an existing mattress while enjoying all the advanced sleep fitness tracking that Eight Sleep has to offer.
3. ChiliPad by ChiliSleep
- Priced between bed fans and higher-end solutions
- Works with many types of beds and mattresses
- Low-profile design
- Works for one side of the bed or both
- Doesn’t contain any electronics inside the mattress topper
- Requires regular maintenance
- Supports manual temperature changes only
- Doesn’t come with a mobile app
- No sleep and biometrics tracking
- No vibration alarm
One day after I placed the order for the chiliPad, I received the package in the mail and was shocked (in a good way) by how quickly ChiliSleep delivered its product.
At that point, I realized that I had accidentally ordered the original chiliPad rather than the OOLER. But since the two solutions are somewhat similar, I decided to keep it.
Much like the OOLER, the chiliPad uses a hydro-powered Chili Cool Mesh Pad that you can use to retrofit an existing mattress. The mesh pad is held in place by two elastic straps, and it’s connected to the control unit by a flexible hose.
The advantage of the elastic straps is that you can take the chiliPad on and off relatively easily. On the flip side — and depending on your activity level in bed — you might have to readjust it from time to time.
That’s particularly true if you decide to get the “WE” version that comes with two separate pads instead of a large one that covers the entire mattress.
We recently had the interior of our house painted, and thus couldn’t sleep in our usual bed for several nights. So I was glad that I could simply grab my chiliPad and take it with me to the guest room.
While this separation has a few advantages (see the example I gave above) it also means you have to operate and maintain two separate control units.
That’s less than ideal because it leads to twice the power consumption, water tubing and maintenance effort. Additionally, if you prefer a quiet sleeping environment, you might find the noise of two units bothersome.
What I’ve noticed while using the chiliPad is that I have to turn down the temperature to below 60° F to feel comfortable. That’s relatively close to the minimum temperature (55° F) that chiliPad supports. So if you’re an incredibly hot sleeper (which I’m not), chiliPad might not provide sufficient cooling power.
As I mentioned above, the original chiliPad doesn’t have a smartphone app. Instead, you can turn the unit on and off, and change the temperature settings, using a wireless remote control.
If you don’t like the idea of having yet another remote control in your house, you can also use the buttons located on top of the control unit — assuming you position it within easy reach.
Much like the OOLER, the chiliPad doesn’t track your sleep or biometrics. That can have both advantages and disadvantages.
On the bright side, no sleep tracking means that the pad doesn’t require any sensors or wiring that might cause electromagnetic radiation.
But on the other hand, if you purchased the chiliPad to improve the quality of your sleep, you’ll need an alternative method to track whether or not it’s working. As a result, you might have to invest in a separate sleep tracker, like WHOOP or Biostrap.
If you already own a reliable sleep tracker and just need a reasonably priced solution to better control the temperature of your bed, chiliPad can be a great and relatively inexpensive choice!
The chiliPad starts at $499 for the “half queen” version that covers half of a queen-size mattress. For $100 more, you can get the “half king” or “half Cal king” version.
To cover the entire surface of your mattress, you have to spend between $999 and $1,199, depending on the size needed.
Between now and 12/31/2020, you can use code Chili22 to get 22% off chiliPad!
4. OOLER by ChiliSleep
- Available for individual sides or the full mattress
- Ability to set a different temperature for bed and wake time
- Variable fan speed settings
- Works with many bed and mattress types
- Automatic cleaning function
- Doesn’t adjust to natural changes in body temperature during sleep, or the ambient (room) temperature
- No vibration alarm
- No sleep or biometrics tracking
The OOLER is ChiliSleep’s upgraded bed cooling solution, and it has a couple of extra features compared to the original chiliPad that I own.
Most notably, the OOLER comes with a mobile app that enables you to set an individual temperature for bedtime and waking up.
This is ChiliSleep’s version of an unobtrusive alarm; it’s supposed to wake you by warming up the bed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include a vibration feature, which I think would be more effective for people who have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
In other words, I could imagine that a warm and cozy bed makes it even less likely you’ll want to get out of bed in the morning.
The OOLER has three different fan speed settings (low, medium, and high) that allow you to control how much noise the fan makes. Some people complain that the fan in the original chiliPad is too noisy, but it has not bothered me.
Maybe that’s because we sleep with white noise every night, which is much louder than the noise emanating from the chiliPad control unit.
Without white noise, I agree that the noise made by the original chiliPad is noticeable. If you prefer a quiet sleeping environment, the OOLER is potentially the better product for you.
Another difference between the OOLER and the chiliPad is its automatic cleaning function, which relies on a built-in UV lamp to ensure no mold or mildew grows inside the water tubing.
Last but not least, the OOLER features a slightly different form factor that arguably looks more appealing than that of the original chiliPad.
Pretty much everything else the OOLER has to offer is comparable with the original chiliPad (see above).
In a nutshell, the OOLER is a small upgrade from the original chiliPad. For some users, it might be worth the extra $200 the individual unit costs.
The OOLER starts at $699 for the “half queen” version, which covers half of a queen-size mattress. For $100 more, you can get the “half king” or “half Cal king” version.
To cover the entire surface of your mattress, you have to spend between $1,399 and $1,499, depending on the size needed.
Between now and 12/31/2020, you can use code Chili22 to get 22% off OOLER!
- The least expensive solution in the mix
- Works with any size bed and mattress
- Doesn’t significantly reduce the temperature
- Not everyone likes the sensation caused by the airflow
- Limited temperature control (via fan speed)
- Noisier than water-powered solutions
I stumbled across the original BedFan a few years ago and wanted to give it a try. At the time, it was the only bed cooling solution that I knew of, and the idea of having a fan blowing air under my sheets sounded exciting.
Unfortunately, I never got around to trying it. So everything I say below is based on second-hand experience and what I’ve read about the product.
Technologically, bed fans are comparable to ceiling fans; they move air. While doing so doesn’t change the temperature of the air, it can make you feel cooler.
That’s because moving air can reduce the amount of body heat that gets trapped underneath the sheets.
If you’re wondering how effective that is, consider the difference between air conditioning and a ceiling fan. Both can provide relief, but AC is significantly more effective because it actually changes the temperature of the air (while also removing moisture).
Cooling mattress toppers don’t influence humidity, but they actively cool the surface of the mattress, thus providing better and more sustained relief if you’re a hot sleeper.
Bed fans are easy to set up, and they’re compatible with almost any type of bed and mattress. There’s also not much maintenance involved with them, and if you run them at lower speeds, they’ll last for a long time and won’t make a lot of noise.
The downside to bed fans is that they move air, and you can feel that on your skin. Some people enjoy that sensation, while others don’t.
For example, my wife doesn’t want me to turn up the ceiling fan too high because she doesn’t like air blowing in her face. So I doubt she’d like to sleep with a bed fan blowing air all over her body.
The clear advantage of bed fans is their price compared to more advanced mattress cooling solutions, such as ChiliSleep or Eight Sleep. For example, the bFan costs only $169.95, which is significantly less than any hydro-powered solution I’ve seen.
What Bed Cooling System Should You Get?
As I already mentioned, the rating above reflects my personal preferences and use cases, but I appreciate that yours might be different.
To better assist you with the decision-making process, here are some general recommendations as to what system you might want to get:
- If you want the most advanced cooling system out there, with all the bells and whistles, and you’re also in the market for a new mattress, get the Pod Pro by Eight Sleep*.
- If you fall into the above category but love your existing mattress, get the Pod Pro Cover*.
- If you’re on a budget, don’t care about sleep fitness tracking, and just need an effective cooling solution, get the chiliPad*.
- If you’re looking for an excellent cooling solution that covers only half of the bed and that should be portable, get the chiliPad* or OOLER*.
- If money is tight, you’re not a super-hot sleeper, and you don’t mind air blowing directly on your body, get a bed fan (such as this one).
If you don’t fall into any of these categories and still don’t know which product to get, leave a comment below with as many details as possible and I’ll try to assist.
Frequently Asked Questions
That’s a tough question because the differences between these two solutions aren’t significant. Personally, I think the chiliPad offers better value.
If you need more advanced features than what the chiliPad offers and a great mobile app, I’d go with the Pod Pro Cover from Eight Sleep — at least if you’re trying to cover the whole mattress.
If you only want to cover half of the bed but need a mobile app and some limited temperature control, then go with the OOLER.
I have not measured the cooling effect of bed fans as far as (perceived) skin temperature is concerned, but to get an idea, turn on your ceiling fan and stand underneath it. That’s approximately how a bed fan will feel.
The chiliBLANKET is a weighted cooling blanket with built-in water tubing. In other words, you can connect it to a ChiliSleep control unit.
Personally, I prefer controlling the temperature of my mattress surface rather than that of my blanket. That’s because mattresses, and memory-foam mattresses in particular, are typically less breathable than sheets and blankets. As a result, they’re more likely to trap air.
However, you can certainly give this cooling mattress a try and see if you like it better than a temperature-controlled mattress cover. If I get a chance, I might give it a try!
What’s important is that one chiliPad cube can power either the Chili Cool Mesh Pad or the chiliBLANKET, but not both. However, you could get two control units and have both sides cooled at the same time. I don’t think that’s smart as you’ll be freezing, but it’s a possibility nonetheless.
Only ChiliSleep sells its solutions on Amazon*. Eight Sleep and bFan don’t.
Yes, all of the solutions I mentioned in this article can help if you suffer from hot flashes, a common symptom some women experience during menopause.
I’ve seen it on Amazon* but never tested it. Based on what I’ve seen, it looks like the bFan on steroids. However, if you plan on spending $500 to $1,000 for a mattress cooler, I’d go with a water cooling system instead of a fancy fan.
It’s a fancy term that BedJet uses to automatically adjust the air temperature for different stages of sleep. I think that’s a great idea that gives BedJet a leg up over ChiliSleep.
Eight Sleep is whisper quiet and you can barely hear it. My chiliPad is a bit louder, akin to the noise a modern ceiling fan on low speed makes.
Wrap-Up: The Best Mattress Cooler
A hot environment is a recipe for a poor night’s sleep. That’s why it’s important to control the temperature of both you bedroom and your bed.
While turning down the AC or cranking up a ceiling fan can provide some relief, it doesn’t always help to prevent hot air from accumulating around your body.
As a result, you might have trouble falling asleep if your body has a hard time reducing its core temperature — a requirement for falling asleep. Additionally, any time you uncover yourself at night because you’re feeling too hot, your sleep gets disrupted and you might spend more time awake than necessary.
Bed cooling systems address this issue by cooling down the surface on and around your body, thus increasing your chances for quality sleep.
The good news is that, if you’re on a tight budget, you can already get some relief by spending less than $200 on a bed fan.
Hydro-powered cooling systems are far more effective but also more expensive. If you’re on a budget, consider chiliPad. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it maintains a consistent mattress surface temperature.
If you want to go all-out and better understand the quality of your sleep — for example, how much time you spend in deep and REM sleep each night — I recommend checking out the Pod Pro Cover or Pod Pro from Eight Sleep (depending on whether you need only a mattress cover or also a new mattress).
The latter is what my wife and I have been sleeping on for the past two months, and we absolutely love it.
What’s your experience with bed cooling solutions? Let me know by leaving a comment below!