Is the ChiliPad Worth It? | Reviews by Wirecutter

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Chilisleep has rebranded to Sleepme, and the Chilipad we tested is now called the Cube Sleep System. The product itself has not changed. Chili And Chili Dryer Machine

Is the ChiliPad Worth It? | Reviews by Wirecutter

I’m one of those people who are always cold. So much so that when I was a teenager, my stepfather installed a lockbox over our thermostat to stop me from taking us to the brink of financial ruin every time the heating bill arrived. As I got older, I made sure to have a throw blanket within easy reach in every room in my house. But seven years ago, I married my opposite—someone who runs excessively hot.

Couples’ sleep-temperature incompatibility is a tale as old as time, and my husband, Carter, and I spent years trying to find a compromise. Making me warmer was easier than getting him cooler, so we mostly focused on him. We tried solutions like a cheap cooling mattress pad, but it ended up having the exact opposite effect. And even though innerspring mattresses typically sleep cooler than foam ones, we didn’t notice a difference after switching between the two. Finally, we began sleeping on breathable linen sheets, with Carter sometimes aiming a small fan directly at his head while I entombed myself under several layers, including a 20-pound weighted blanket. This wasn’t ideal for snuggling, but it worked well enough.

That was, until Carter’s night sweats shifted into overdrive. Though his doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with him, he would quickly become drenched every time he fell asleep. He would wake up periodically through the night, cranky and uncomfortable, and I had to wash our sheets every morning. So a few years ago, when Wirecutter’s sleep team put out the call for someone to test a bed-cooling system—then called the ChiliPad, now the Cube Sleep System—I volunteered Carter.

Electric blankets and heated mattress pads have been around for decades, but cooling contraptions like the Cube Sleep System and BedJet are newer innovations. Wirecutter has been skeptical of these brands’ cooling claims in the past, and for our test we excluded BedJet, in part because it works by shooting cool or warm air under the covers like a small HVAC system, which is precisely what it looks like, too. The Cube Sleep System, however, is designed to distribute its temperature settings more evenly via a machine-washable mattress pad that encases silicone tubing filled with water, and a separate control unit that circulates the water and regulates its temperature. Sleepme, the company that sells the Cube Sleep System, makes another system, the Dock Pro, which is essentially a Cube Sleep System that is integrated with an app that claims to adjust the temperature as you sleep based on “your real time sleep metrics.” All of these systems are expensive, with the Cube Sleep System starting at $649 for a single-person mat that covers only half of a queen-size bed.

The mattress pad portion of the Cube Sleep System lies flat beneath your fitted sheet, and it’s reversible, with a mesh side designed for cooler sleep and a cotton-polyester blend on the other side for those (like me) who prefer a warmer bed. Sleep as you normally would with a blanket, and the pad promises to keep the temperature around your body consistent for the night. A remote control allows you to adjust the temperature—anywhere between 55 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit—from bed. Eyeing those triple digits, I had to force myself to remember that this test was for Carter.

Setup took us less than 15 minutes, with the pad sliding easily over half of our mattress and held in place with two thick elastic bands. The control unit was less obtrusive than I expected from the photos, a few inches shy of 1 cubic foot, with a screen that displays the temperature. You add approximately 12 ounces of water to the control unit, turn it on so the water gets sucked into the tubes, and slowly pour additional water in until the unit is full again (around 24 ounces total). Sleepme encourages using distilled water to avoid potential sediment buildup in the tubing over time.

We programmed the Cube Sleep System to its coldest setting and placed our hands on the mattress pad to feel it go to work. It began cooling surprisingly fast, reaching 55 degrees within about five minutes. Then we climbed into bed. I buried myself under my normal blankets and watched as a smile spread across Carter’s face. “It feels nice,” he said. My side of the bed stayed warm as the control unit emitted what we both found to be a soothing hum, barely noticeable against the white noise machine we already use. The control-panel lights turned off after a few moments, eliminating any glow.

The next morning, Carter woke up bone-dry and said he’d slept better than he could remember sleeping in ages. Rolling myself across the mattress pad’s surface, I could distinctly feel the tubes beneath the padding, but he claimed he’d barely noticed them as he was drifting off. That’s when I spied a few dime-sized spots on our sheets, running along a short stretch of the pad’s edge, following one of the tubes. I worried we’d sprung a leak.

Carter guessed that the issue might be condensation; he pointed out that the tubes were colder than the air in our room, which has some natural humidity. A PR rep from the company confirmed his suspicion and said it’s a common experience for many Cube Sleep System users. After months of waking to a damp human-shaped shadow on Carter’s side of the bed every morning, I wasn’t concerned about a few tiny water blots, and besides, I’d outfitted our mattress with a waterproof cover long ago.

We tested 14 protectors and found that the SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector is the best at keeping mattresses dry while still being comfortable to sleep on.

If you or someone in your life has uncontrollable night sweats, start with a medical visit. Your doctor may be able to find and treat the underlying health issue. If not, the Cube Sleep System could be the way to find some relief. Neurologist Chris Winter, the president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia and author of two books on how to get better sleep, isn’t financially compensated by Cube Sleep System but probably should be for the amount of praise he gives it. “If you like a cold bed, this thing is amazing,” he told me in an email. Winter also said he has recommended the Cube Sleep System to many professional athletes who sweat a lot, and he doesn’t know of a single one who didn’t like it. And he told me a colleague has found it helpful for menopausal patients.

On the flip side, Winter said that its slight hum can be disturbing for some people—I’ve seen reviews voicing this same complaint from folks who prefer to sleep in a silent room. And, of course, Winter mentioned that the high cost is a big negative. But at least the Cube Sleep System is cheaper than most “cooling” mattresses. If you want to try one without committing, make sure you carefully follow the specific conditions of its 30-day free sleep trial so you can return the Cube Sleep System without a hassle.

We’ve been using the Cube Sleep System for two years now. We still dislike the look of it next to our bed, but Carter is devoted to it. When we’re on vacation, the machine’s absence is noticeable for both of us. We’ve also learned a lot about maintenance through trial and error.

First, follow Sleepme’s instructions and make sure to use distilled water, rather than tap. Mineral build-up in tap water can gum up the works of both the machine and the mattress pad tubing, and cause the device’s motor to start running loudly within a month. We were able to fix the issue with a full system flush that typically wouldn’t have been needed for six months and switching over to distilled water. (More on cleaning in a moment.)

You’re supposed to clean the machine monthly using the brand’s proprietary System Cleaner, which is sold separately. Sleepme describes the solution as a bleach-free “special mix of essential antimicrobial ingredients.” But using it monthly adds up to almost $100 per year. After doing some research on YouTube, we decided to try a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide instead, and for the recommended twice-yearly drain and clean of the pad’s tubes, we run a half a cup of hydrogen peroxide and a cup and a half of distilled water instead. (The unit holds two cups of water.)

Our DIY process has kept the machine running smoothly for us ever since. If we forget to do the monthly cleaning, the Cube’s motor begins to get a bit louder, alerting us to our oversight. Using a different cleaning method is a personal decision that we made and since we aren’t following the company's instructions, we automatically voided its limited-product warranty the first time we tried this hack out.

A monthly washing of the mattress pad is essential as well, and it’s easy—just pop the whole thing, tubes and all, into a washing machine and let it air dry. We once forgot to do this for an extended period of time. Remember those tiny dots of condensation that can sometimes build up? They blossomed into moldy spots on the Sleepme mattress pad. Repulsed, I went a little overboard and threw out our protective mattress cover instead of simply washing it, and then washed the mattress pad twice. I now remove it weekly to air out when I change the bedsheets so I never have to go through that again.

We got the Cube Sleep System for Carter, but I do get another benefit out of it besides dry sheets and a happier, more well-rested husband. He always gets up before me, and in the winter, he’ll switch the mattress pad from cooling to a high heat setting, so I can roll over to his side of the bed and cuddle with our cats in the warmth.

It’s Chill Week at Wirecutter! Read more about ways to cool down and get the most out of summer.

Joshua Lyon is the supervising editor of emergency-preparation and home-improvement topics at Wirecutter. He has written and edited for numerous outlets, including Country Living, Modern Farmer, The New York Times, V and VMAN, Marie Claire, Jane, and Food Network Magazine. He’s also a Lambda Literary Award–nominated author and ghostwriter. Learn more at

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Is the ChiliPad Worth It? | Reviews by Wirecutter

Motorized Chili Crusher Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).