Viscoelastic polyurethane foam, also known as memory foam, is a popular material for mattresses and pillows because it alleviates aches and pains in the sleeper’s most sensitive areas. Memory foam becomes softer when it comes into contact with body heat, allowing it to conform closely, and then recovers its shape when it cools down.
Pillows made of memory foam may be constructed from a single piece of foam or filled with shredded foam. Additionally, some memory foam pillows are raised to elevate the neck and provide better support for sleepers with chronic neck and/or shoulder pain. Memory foam should never be machine washed, but most pillows include removable, washable covers to help keep the pillow hygienic. Memory foam pillows have below-average price-points compared to pillows made from other materials, such as latex, wool, or buckwheat hulls.
Read on to learn more about memory foam pillows and important considerations for selecting the right model. Below you will find our picks for the best memory foam pillows sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that’s been treated with chemicals to give it special properties. It’s also known as viscoelastic foam, a moniker that accurately describes the way the material softens and contours in response to heat and pressure, gradually regaining its shape once heat and pressure are lifted.
Memory foam is popular in pillows because it molds to the head and neck, providing a supportive surface that can be shaped to the user’s liking. This close-conforming material is unrivaled in its ability to alleviate pressure points.
In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the pros and cons of memory foam and cover some of the most important aspects to look for when purchasing a memory foam pillow.
The market is flooded with manufacturers who tinker with their memory foam to give it different qualities, such as using gel infusions to achieve better temperature neutrality. Some proprietary foams do succeed in their aims, but it can be very difficult to tell before trying the pillow out for yourself.
Before you shop for a memory foam pillow, it’s important to understand the basics behind how they are constructed and what kind of options exist. Focusing on the following factors can help you see past the marketing hype to choose the best memory foam pillow for you.
Memory foam pillows come in two types: one-piece and shredded.
*One-Piece: One-piece memory foam pillows are made of a single solid block of memory foam. This can either be in the shape of a traditional pillow, or in a tailored shape that mimics the curves of the head and neck. One-piece memory foam pillows conform very closely and have a slower response to pressure. They tend to go back to their original shape when you take your head off the pillow.
*Shredded: Shredded memory foam pillows can either contain 100 percent memory foam or be blended with other materials such as latex or fiberfill. The advantage of using shredded memory foam is that users can add or remove filling to adjust the pillow loft to their liking, as well as customize the shape of the pillow to a certain extent. Shredded memory foam generally allows more room for airflow compared to a one-piece memory foam pillow.
Here are some other factors to consider when buying your pillow:
*Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position is one of the main things that will dictate what type of pillow you should choose. One-piece memory foam pillows tend to be higher and better-suited to side sleepers, while stomach sleepers often prefer shredded memory foam pillows with most of the loft taken out.
*Price: Memory foam pillows have an average price-point, with shredded memory foam pillows running at a slightly higher price-point than one-piece pillows. Some companies offer free pillows along with a mattress purchase, which can be a good option if the pillow matches your needs.
*Pressure Relief: Memory foam offers exceptional pressure relief, and both one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows conform closely to prevent pressure build-up in the head and neck. Because of its conforming abilities, memory foam is often used in specialized orthopedic pillows to help people with neck pain or other problems.
*Quality Materials: Memory foam eventually loses its ability to bounce back to its original shape, which in turn affects its pressure-relieving capabilities. A pillow with higher-quality foam will last longer than an inferior one – a difference that is often reflected in the price.
*Firmness Level: The ideal firmness level for your pillow depends on your sleep position, body type, and personal preference. Most memory foam pillows are medium soft to medium. One-piece memory foam pillows offer just one firmness level, but many shredded memory foam pillows allow users to customize the firmness level somewhat by adding or removing the filling.
*Loft: A pillow with the right loft, or height, will help keep your head and back aligned and prevent neck pain. One-piece memory foam pillows usually have a medium to high loft, while shredded memory foam pillows can have the loft adjusted to virtually any height. While not as customizable as shredded memory foam pillows, some solid-foam pillows have removable inserts for users to choose between two or more settings.
*Cooling Properties: Heat build-up in your pillow can make you uncomfortably warm and disrupt your sleep. Memory foam is notorious for heat retention, although today’s manufacturers use many techniques to get around this. Of course, shredded memory foam naturally allows more room for airflow, so all other things being equal, a shredded pillow will sleep cooler than a one-piece pillow.
When discussing the benefits and drawbacks of memory foam pillows, it’s important to note that one-piece pillows have certain advantages over shredded foam pillows, and vice versa. First, let’s look at some general pros and cons for both memory foam pillow types.
Pros of one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows include:
*Pain and Pressure Relief: Because of the closely contoured fit, memory foam tends to reduce more pain and alleviate more pressure in the head, neck, and shoulders than other pillow types.
*Support: Memory foam generally provides enough support for most sleepers, due to its conforming and shape-retaining properties.
*Noise: Memory foam pillows are virtually silent when compressed, making them a good option for people who awaken easily during the night (as well as their sleep partners).
*Availability and Variety: One-piece and shredded memory foam pillows are widely available. Most are medium- to high-loft, and fall between Medium and Firm for most firmness ratings.
Cons of one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows are as follows:
*Heat Retention: Memory foam retains high levels of body heat compared to other pillow materials, which may lead to discomfort from sleeping hot.
*Off-gassing: Many memory foam pillow owners complain of unpleasant, long-lasting smells that are emitted when the pillows are unpackaged.
*Lifespan: Memory foam can degrade somewhat quickly, and owners may experience sagging and indentations after using their memory foam pillow for a couple of years.
Now, let’s look at some unique pros and cons for one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows:
*Moldability: Shredded memory foam pillows are highly moldable, making them ideal for people who need to scrunch their pillow to achieve the desired feel. One-piece pillows, on the other hand, offer little to no moldability.
*Shape: One-piece memory foam pillows require no fluffing whatsoever, whereas the contents of shredded memory foam pillows tend to bunch up and become lumpy.
*Maintenance: One-piece memory foam pillows should be spot cleaned, which requires extra time and patience. Shredded pillows are usually machine washable.
*Weight: Shredded memory foam pillows tend to be much lighter than their one-piece counterparts, making them easier to move and adjust throughout the night.
Memory foam pillows are generally suitable for the following types of sleepers:
*People who sleep on their side, since this position requires added support for spinal alignment and targeted pressure relief.
*Back-sleepers, who tend to be more comfortable on shredded memory foam pillows due to their moldability.
*People who prefer to sleep on pillows that are relatively high-loft, and/or pillows rated between Medium and Firm.
*People who sleep with a pillow between their knees in addition to their primary head pillow due to back or leg pain.
Memory foam pillows may not be suitable for the following groups:
*People who sleep on their stomachs, since memory foam pillows can feel dense and overly thick to people who choose this position.
*People who sleep hot, due to the heat-retaining properties of memory foam compared to other pillow materials.
People who are sensitive to smell, as memory foam pillows may emit persistent, unpleasant off-gassing odors.
Even if you don’t know anything about Memory Foam Pillow, you can still make a smart buying decision with the right information in hand. At US Expert Locks, we perform extensive research in every product category. To avoid bias, we always decline offers from manufacturers for “free” samples. We want to be your go-to source for honest, thorough product reviews you can trust.