January 05, 2020

Sleeping with the OOLER

The big question with an OOLER is:  Will it help me get better sleep?

The short version is:  Yes. 

Now, let’s do the long version so you understand how it works and decide if it's for you, because it is NOT a “set ’n forget” device.

I’ll start with what it is:  The OOLER is a small white box about the size of two old-school toasters.  It has a small water reservoir inside along with a heating and cooling element.  The OOLER connects through long hoses to a specially constructed mattress pad that can be cooled or heated to your desired temperature.  It's made by the folks at Chilipad, who are additionally awesome and generous with making sure veterans get great sleep, but that's another story.

The OOLER helps keep your mattress cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  Not, as I first tried out, cooler in the summer and cooler in the winter.  Cool sleeping in the winter is a shiver-fest, and I did enough of that in another lifetime.

This brings up an important point with the OOLER: You have to find a temp that works for you.  Finding that temperature can take more than a night or two of dialing it in. 

So, does that mean that you just set temps for a “Summer Schedule” or “Winter Schedule” and be done with it?  You certainly can with an OOLER; the device hooks up to an app that lets you set heating and cooling schedules, and you can have both summer, winter, shoulder season, or whatever other temperature profiles you want. 

If you work 5 days a week and have the weekends off, you can see your weekdays and weekends to be different.

On the larger mattresses you can set two different zones so you and your partner can have a different sleeping temps.

This was one of the things I was most excited about when getting the OOLER.  I would have thought that I burn pretty hot at night and would need a much cooler temperature than Lee, but it turns out that reality is a little more complex.

That complexity is part of what makes the OOLER especially interesting and useful.


In the summer, Lee likes to sleep with at least two thick blankets over her.  I like just a sheet.  With two blankets on top, Lee sleeps best about 4 degrees cooler than me (she’s at 64, I’m at 68) with just a sheet. 


If you’re like Lee & I and more or less don’t heat or cool your house no matter the temperature outside, you’ve got to be proactive about how you change your mattress temperature.  As I write this in December of 2019, the inside temperatures have started dipping into the 40s (that’s depths-of-winter chill here in San Diego), and thinking that I could just leave the OOLER set at my summer temps and add more blankets turned out to be a recipe for a chilly night.


In the winter, we both pile on the blankets and I comfortably sleep about 2 or 3 degrees cooler than Lee (she’s at 70, I’m at 68).  That took 3 or 4 nights to figure out, but once we dialed in our temps, we both sleep much better.


We track that quality of sleep with our Oura rings, which we’ve had since Oct of 2018.  The variances aren’t huge, but we’re trending in better directions, and that’s enough to continue to experiment. 


One of the most fascinating things OOLER has that I haven’t fully explored is changing the temps at night while you sleep to trigger more deep sleep.  Since you can set the temp minute-to-minute, I’ve been playing around with 30-60 minute “waves” of cooler temps to see what it does to deep sleep. 


One of the most comforting things about the OOLER is setting it so the sheets are chilly when you first get in bed in the summer, which is flat out ecstasy, and equally pleasant is firing up the heater so you snuggle into a warm bed on a cool winter night.  That takes a pretty set sleep schedule (mine kicks on at 9:30 pm and is plenty warm by 9:45), but is one of those things that make crawling into bed that much more enjoyable at the end of a long and radical day. 


Finally, the OOLER isn’t a perfect be-all end-all device for the best sleep of your life.  In the summer it won’t turn your bed into an ice-box, it’ll keep it at or a few degrees below the bedroom temperature.  It does make some noise, which Lee & I have found acts as excellent white noise and has improved our sleep, but that may not hold true for you.

For apex sleep, you’ll need to dial in the usual sleep hygiene of a cool, dark, and quiet room, a regular sleep schedule, and a supportive feeding window for great sleep. 

So, should you get one?  If you can afford it, they are totally worth trying out and finding out how much mattress temperature affects YOUR sleep.  We’re pretty darn happy with ours!

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Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

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