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How to sleep better

  • May 24, 2021
trust yourself

Get the Best Night’s Sleep

I’ve talked about my nighttime routine before, and what a champion sleeper I am. I’ve slept really well for the past eight years or so,  since I really started prioritizing sleep over exercise and set up my sleep space for success. But the game really changed when I got my first Chilisleep OOLER system two years ago.

OOLER is a water-cooled mattress topper that slides between your mattress and sheet. It circulates water at a specific programmed temperature all night long, so you can customize your sleeping experience. (Your bed-mate can too, as each side is controlled independently.) 

The last time I talked about Chilisleep, I got a TON of questions, which I answered one at a time in the comments or DMs. So today I’m going to talk about my sleep routine, the elements I use to set myself up for sleep success,  and how the OOLER system fits in, and answer some of your more pressing questions, including “is it worth the money?” (TL;DR it’s 163% worth it, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. I’ll share more.)

My bedtime routine: I rarely watch TV at night during the week, or eat after 7:30 PM. If I have my son, I’m often getting ready for bed at 8:30 after he’s asleep. I’ll use the last half-hour of my night to tidy the kitchen, meal prep for tomorrow, fold clothes, and maybe once a week, watch a Great British Baking Show with Brandon. I’ll sip on herbal tea or a Beak & Skiff CBD sparkling water (so relaxing). I resist the urge to check email one more time (stressful,) and read a book every night before I go to sleep to distract my brain from the running checklist of things I have to do/didn’t do/should be worrying about.

My bedtime set-up: My room is a cave. I have blackout curtains (four panels, to make sure they overlap plenty) and no visible lights from alarm clocks or charging cables. We even close the door the bedroom and bathroom so light doesn’t leak in from the outside. All phones and gadgets go on do not disturb. I also run white noise all night so the dog’s snoring doesn’t wake me up.

My bed set-up: I think I’ve perfected the most comfortable bed of all time. I have linen sheets and a duvet cover from Brooklinen (expensive and worth it—we have one set and rotate them in every other week with my super-soft bamboo sheets). Both materials are cooling and don’t make you sweaty. I’ve got my OOLER pad underneath,  programmed to the perfect schedule for me. (Brandon’s is just pegged at “as cold as it gets.” This is the beauty of duel-programming.) And I’ve got my Chilisleep heavy blanket on top, but without the water cooling. The weight is calming and grounding, and it doesn’t makes me hot because I have the OOLER underneath.

My OOLER schedule: It took me a while to perfect it, and my schedule won’t automatically be your schedule, but feel free to use this as a starting point.

  • At 9:00 PM,  the OOLER turns on and starts cooling down my bed to 65-67° (depending on the season). It’s not too cold, but cool enough that it feels cozy to burrow under the covers. 
  • At 12:30 AM, it cools down further to my optimal sleep temperature of 60-63°.
  • At 4:00 AM, around the time your body naturally hits its coldest temps, it bumps me up to 65-68°; not so much it wakes me up,  but warm enough that I don’t wake at 5 AM shivering. 
  • At 6:00, the unit turns off, which is 15-30 minutes before I wake up. Note, I do not use the “warm awake” feature, which warms up the mattress topper to help you wake up gently. I’ve discovered waking up just a little chilly makes me more alert and energized (so I can take my cold shower… I know, I might be a weirdo here.)

The OOLER FAQ: Here are the answers to so many of your OOLER and Cube questions!

What’s the difference between the Cube and OOLER? The Cube is a water-cooled mattress topper,  but it doesn’t let you program a schedule,  and it doesn’t allow each side of the bed to be independently operated. It works great if you’re a solo sleeper,  if you and your partner share the same sleep temp preferences, and if you’re happy to set it and forget it. The OOLER adds the features of a completely customizable program (you can set as many touch points in the night as you want!) and allows each side to be programmed separately. It’s CLUTCH when your partner is a raging inferno at night and you’re always cold (or vice-versa).

Can you feel it under your sheets? Nope, I really can’t, and I have an older model. It’s really thin,  and the hose that connects the control unit (which stays on the floor by your bed) to the mattress topper goes at either the head or foot of the bed, not where you sleep.

Is it sturdy, like if you have dogs on your bed? Yep. Brandon snuggles with Henry every morning and our dog’s claws aren’t anywhere near sharp enough to go through the top sheet AND the cover of the mattress topper.

Is it noisy? Nope! It has three settings—quiet, white noise, and boost. I set it to “white noise” because I like the light hum, but you can make it run silently if you prefer. Note, when it first gets going, I’ve noticed my unit is loud and rattles for about 60 seconds, but once the machinery warms up, that goes away completely.

How easy is the maintenance? Effortless. You top off the unit with water maybe once a month. (It’ll flash if it needs more water.) And it says to clean the unit with its cleaning tablets ($7.99) every 1-3 months. Amazon reviewers also mention using a homemade solution of 75% distilled water and 25% hydrogen peroxide to clean it, and still others say if you use distilled water to fill the unit,  you may not need to clean it at all. (I think you have to clean it every 3 months, however, to maintain the warrantee.

I sleep alone in a king bed. Should I get the bigger one? It depends on how much you move around. I sleep like I’m in a coffin, so just ordering one side would work for me. If you like to starfish, I’d recommend getting the bigger mattress pad,  so you don’t feel the edges in your sleep.

And the biggest question of all… is it worth it? I recognize this is an investment—the OOLER for two retails around $1,500. But in a word, YES, it’s worth every penny. Before the OOLER, I used to have to turn my A/C down to about 65 at night. That got expensive in summer, and I’d still wake up sweaty half the time.  I tried using a fan, but that just made it worse, because I’d get sweaty, then wake up cold and clammy as the fan hit me. (Plus at that temp, I froze my small child out of his bed.)

Now we keep our A/C at a much higher temp (right now it only kicks on at 72 degrees) and I sleep all the way through the night,  neither hot nor cold. Brandon controls his side, my kid is warmer in his basement bedroom, and I’m saving a ton on A/C bills. Energy Star says raising the temperature by just 2 degrees can save you about 14% in cooling costs over the course of the summer. The OOLER could easily pay for itself.

I’ll also mention we’re both just sleeping BETTER with the OOLER. We fall asleep faster, stay asleep all night long, and wake up refreshed, alert, and dry. That’s a HUGE factor in how the rest of my day goes. And I’ve heard from more than a fewfwq peri-menopausal women who say it’s been a godsend in helping them manage hot flashes, and one person with fibromyalgia who says it’s helped her get deeper sleep (of course, your mileage may vary).

I want to share one more thing here… I used the OOLER for more than a year before I agreed to start talking about it, because of the price. Accessibility is a huge focus at Whole30,  and I hesitated even talking about this item because of the price.  But once I started using it, and friends started using it,  and we all came back better rested than we’ve ever been, I realized the product really does live up to the hype. Though the Cube and OOLER won’t be accessible to everyone, for those who are able to invest here, I’m confident you’ll see the returns for many nights to come.

XO Melissa