If you like your bed to stay warm, you’ve got no shortage of options. Hot water bottles, heated blankets, or of course, just more and heavier blankets are all at your disposal. If you want warmth while you sleep, there’s nothing stopping you, and I’m happy for you. Like upside down smiley face emoji levels of happy for you.
The Cube, in all its glory. Photo: Shep McAllister
I, however, can’t sleep when I’m hot. At all. I don’t want to be freezing, but I want to be cool. What’s out there for me? The “Egyptian Method” is kind of a mess, and I’m sorry, but I’m not putting my sheets in the refrigerator. And even these methods aren’t active cooling measures in the same way that a heated blanket provides constant heat. At best, you’ll only get warmer and warmer as the night wears on.
We recently covered the launch of Eight Sleep’s new liquid cooled mattress, and after publishing that post, we were made aware of ChiliPad, a climate controlled mattress pad that can add the same benefits to any mattress. The company sent me one to try out, and for hot sleepers, it really is a total game changer.
Inside ChiliPad’s plush exterior is an array of small, water-filled tubes that are attached via a hose to the “Cube,” a pump and temperature control unit that constantly circulates the water, while either cooling or heating it to your desired temperature. My bed wasn’t tall enough to slide the cube underneath, so it sat in front of my nightstand, looking ridiculous. The hose popped out from the foot of my bed and snaked back underneath to reach the cube, and a casual observer might think it was a catheter. I don’t care; this thing is that good.
Sorry, wife, they only sent a single. Photo: Shep McAllister
The Cube itself produces a slight drone when it’s running, but it’s quieter than a white noise machine, and it just sounds like a fan. Its buttons, however, are a disaster, requiring so little pressure that I often changed the temperature by seven or 10 degrees when I was only trying to change it by one. Luckily, Chilipad also includes a remote, which is a little easier to work with.
I set the ChiliPad up under my fitted sheet, but above my mattress pad so that its cooling properties wouldn’t be buried under too much insulation. Laying down on the bed, I could definitely feel a few extra lumps, but after a couple of nights, I barely noticed it anymore. Of course, you could just put it under a plush mattress pad and crank down the temperature a few extra degrees, if that’s a concern.
My catheter hose bed will surely be on the cover of Southern Living soon.Photo: Shep McAllister
You can start to feel ChiliPad’s effects within a few minutes of turning it on, but the effect gets more noticeable the longer it runs. It would actually be an ideal candidate for smartphone or Alexa control, so that you could schedule it to start cooling or warming your bed ahead of time, but alas, you’ll just have to remember to turn it on yourself.
To really put Chilipad to the test, I slept under a sheet, a quilt, and my 25-pound weighted blanket, the latter of which hasn’t been allowed in the bedroom since I literally drenched the mattress in sweat one night earlier this winter. The first night, I cranked the Chilipad all the way down to 55 degrees and woke up freezing, still under that 25-pound blanket, around 2AM. During subsequent nights, I settled in on a sweet spot of around 64 degrees, but since you can choose any water temperature from 55 and 110 degrees, anyone should be able to dial in their favorite setting. Sleeping under a weighted blanket is a revelation, and if the extra heat has been holding you back, this is a perfect(ly ridiculous) solution.
It should be noted that those temperatures are referring to the temperature of the water, not the temperature of the bed. In fact, after running the Chilipad for about an hour on the coldest setting, my IR thermometer indicated that the surface of the bed had only cooled by about two degrees. But when it comes to skin-to-sheet contact, even a few degrees can make a huge difference in your perception.
Available in a variety of sizes for $500 – $1200 (the larger ones include two cubes and dual-zone temperature control), ChiliPad costs more than some mattresses, and I probably would only recommend it at that price to someone who has a lot of trouble sleeping or just has too much money. But on the other hand, you spend a third of your life in bed, and if you consistently get less sleep than you should because you just feel too hot, it’s worth every penny.