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Environmental factors can have a profound effect on the quality of our sleep. Bright lights in your bedroom can disrupt your slumber just like loud noises can. Some other variables that affect how many hours you sleep, however, aren’t so obvious. Temperature also plays a crucial role when it comes to achieving restful sack time. Cooler temps lead to better sleep and that’s where the Chilisleep Ooler Sleep System bed cooler comes in.  

The Ooler Sleep System promises to give you a better night’s sleep by helping your body reach lower temperatures at night. It then raises the temperature in the morning to wake you in a more natural way—no alarms needed. Even the best mattress cooling pad can’t do that.

What is the Chilisleep Ooler Sleep System?

Chilisleep Ooler Sleep System

The cooling system needs space around it to move air around. Sandra Gutierrez

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The Ooler Sleep System consists of three pieces. It includes a cool pad that covers your bed, a control unit, and the Ooler mobile app. The cooling mattress topper goes over your mattress and under your fitted sheet. You can choose a smaller size if you don’t want the cooling mat to cover the entire mattress. It houses a network of zig-zagging tubes in the textile. Even though you can actually feel the piping when pressing down on the pad, it’s definitely not harsh or uncomfortable. If you’re particularly sensitive to the sensation, a thicker sheet will almost definitely solve it. 

The second element, the control unit, has a tank that stores water, cools it, and continuously pumps it into the pad through a hose to help you sleep better at night. The unit is the size of a large shoebox and it’s designed to fit easily under your bed. This creates a slight problem for small bedrooms where space is at a premium. Having a bed frame with built-in storage, for example, will force you to place the Ooler unit next to your bed instead of under it. Even beyond the box itself, the control unit is basically a tiny bed air conditioner. As such, it needs 18 inches worth of space around it to ensure proper air circulation. This means you’ll need to clear out more or less half of the space under your bed for proper installation. In my case, this didn’t make the Ooler Sleep System very friendly with my tiny, closet-less Brooklyn apartment. 

The Ooler app ties the system together with Bluetooth connectivity. The platform is intuitive and easy to use. It allows you to set and design schedules so that your bed is already cold for you at bedtime, and starts warming up when it’s time to wake up.

Setting up the Chilisleep Ooler Sleep System

ChiliSleep Ooler Sleep System controls
Here’s a look at the buttons on the main cooling unit. Sandra Gutierrez

You’ll have to go through some trial and error to dial in the perfect settings. The app will recommend baseline temperatures you can start with. Then you can tweak the settings until you find your sweet spot. Finding that ideal temperature for you may take a while, especially if you run hotter or colder than most people. 

I’m the kind of person who’s always cold. I thrive in summer, look like a yarn ball during winter, and don’t mind a hot yoga class. I typically only set up my AC unit the second or third week of July. This is why the Ooler’s recommendation of 68 degrees Fahrenheit was a little low for me to start with, especially in May. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night to turn the whole thing off. Back then, I didn’t see the point in having a device that cooled down my bed. I thought I’d get much more use out of it come winter. But that was until the real New York summer began. 

Then came the heat wave

As soon as the first heatwaves started hitting the northeast coast, the Chilisleep Ooler Sleep System quickly became the only company I wanted to share my bed with. Sliding in between cool sheets is extremely refreshing as it is, but the fact that they would actually stay like that throughout the night was amazing. It took some getting used to. Our bodies are always warm and, as thermodynamics go, everything we touch will try to find an equilibrium. 

The Ooler sleeping schedules not only let you set a bedtime and a wake-up time but also add events in between. These are points throughout the night where you’d like the temperature to change. For example, if you want a low temperature to sleep in, but you don’t like the idea of having cold sheets waiting for you when you go to bed, then you can set up one temperature at bedtime and then add an event 30 to 45 minutes later (depending on how long it usually takes you to fall asleep) and set it for a more chilly vibe. 

The Ooler experience

ChiliSleep Ooler Sleep System pad
The pad can cover all or part of the bed. Sandra Gutierrez

When I first installed the Ooler Sleep System, I was looking forward to saying goodbye to my alarm. Unfortunately, the wake-up temperature is something that, personally, I still have not figured out. This feature starts warming up your bed at a specific time. It continues doing so for 30 minutes before turning off the entire Ooler system. By that logic, you’d need to set your wake-up time for half an hour before you actually have to get up. Personally, I register the temperature increase an invitation to stay cozy and sleep in. Maybe adding a wake-up light to your setup will finally crack the code.  

Who should buy the Chilisleep Ooler

The concept behind the Ooler Sleep System is great, but it’s inevitable not to feel intimidated by its steep price. Depending on your sleeping configuration and whether you’re purchasing for one or two, the Ooler goes from $799 for a half queen-sized pad with one control unit, to $1,699 for a full king bed with two separate units. But whether you use it to either cool down or warm up your bed, this gadget gives you unprecedented power to control the temperature between your sheets, which can dramatically improve your sleep and, by extension, your quality of life. 

This certainly isn’t the only way to try and stay cool while sleeping. The Sleep Foundation named Helix’s Midnight Luxe as the best cooling mattress for hot sleepers. Starting at $1,099 for a queen-sized bed, the Midnight Luxe is not exactly cheap, but for a good mattress that will last years, it is definitely within the market’s price range. On top of three layers of foam, the Luxe tops it all off with an ultra-breathable cover, which according to Helix was designed with technology to provide maximum airflow. Still, this kind of passive cooling typically can’t match a powered system like the Ooler. 

The Bedfan is another option. Starting at $185, these devices stand at the edge of your bed and blow cool air between your fitted sheet and duvet. It relies on airflow rather than liquid cooling, which may not be to everyone’s liking. 

The DIY alternative

If money is too tight to afford a bed cooling system and acquiring any of these products will break your bank, you might want to take a more frugal DIY approach to this thermal conundrum and just hang a wet bed sheet or towel over an open window. This is what the Egyptians did to cool off in the middle of hot desert nights—and if it worked for them, it just might work for you. The warm air from outside chills as it goes through the wet textile, turning into a refreshing breeze once it makes it inside your bedroom and hits your skin. This is cheaper than a cooling mattress or the Ooler system, though definitely a lot messier. Good luck connecting your phone to the wet towel, though.

Ultimately, while Chilisleep Ooler Sleep System is pricy, it delivers on its promise of cool sleeping. It’s up to you (and probably whoever you share a bed with) to decide if it’s worth the cash.

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