Best Memory Foam Pillows
Learn which memory foam pillows are the best, why memory foam might be a good pillow option for you, and the difference between memory foam and down.
Memory foam originated in the 1970s and has since been incorporated into a variety of products, among the most common of which are mattresses, pillows, and sleep accessories. Memory foam pillows are attractive for a number of reasons, but they’re most well-known for their contouring. They cradle sleepers’ shoulders, neck, and head, making them an excellent choice for pain relief. For the best pressure relieving mattresses, see our picks for memory foam mattresses.
When pillow shopping, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each type, the best ones on the market, and how to choose the right pillow for you, so read on to learn more about memory foam pillows in this guide.
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Best Memory Foam Pillows
- Layla Pillow – Editor’s Pick
- Leesa Premium Foam Pillow – Best for Back Sleepers
- TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow – Best Luxury Pillow
- Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow – Best Cooling Pillow
- Nest Easy Breather Pillow – Best Down-like Pillow
- Pillow Cube – Best for Side Sleepers
Editor’s PickThe Layla pillow is made with shredded memory foam and fibers from the kapok tree, which add a down-like consistency. The cover, infused with copper, helps keep the pillow cool, and the company claims it can also improve blood flow for sleepers with poor circulation. While it only comes in one firmness and loft option, it has a medium-soft feel that will suit most and works well for all sleep positions. The pillow comes with a 120-night sleep trial, a five-year warranty, and free shipping. Check out the best pillows for back sleepers and pillows for combination sleepers for more options.
Best for Back Sleepers
The Leesa is a solid, one-piece pillow made with premium performance memory foam. It’s engineered with hundreds of ventilation channels to offset the heat-trapping tendencies of memory foam, and the cover is machine washable and breathable. This pillow will work best for back sleepers thanks to the pain relief offered at the neck and shoulders. The Leesa comes in standard size and king size and includes a 3-year limited warranty.
Best LuxuryMade by the well-known brand Tempur-Pedic, this pillow is made from Tempur memory foam, which has a medium soft feel that’s great for sleepers in any position and of any size. The Tempur foam has incredible contouring abilities, and the pillow has a thin layer of Tempur-Breeze gel on each side that helps you stay cool. Tempur-Pedic offers free shipping and a five-year warranty, but a sleep trial is not included. It’s available in queen and king sizes, and we recommend this pillow for those who are okay with the luxury price point and regularly struggle with head or neck pain.
Best CoolingThis gel-infused pillow is made of open-cell, fast response memory foam and is covered in a premium-quality circular-knit. The gel draws heat away from the pillow’s surface, and the pin core provides ventilation in the center. The Luxury Cooling Pillow is also naturally antimicrobial and is resistant to allergens, bacteria, and dust mites. It’s available in a high or low profile, and the company recommends high for side sleepers, low for stomach sleepers, and either for back sleepers.
Most Down-LikeThe Nest Bedding Easy Breather is made from a breathable Tencel cover with shredded memory foam fill on the inside. This pillow mimics down and feather pillows while providing better support for your neck and head. It can easily be opened to remove some of the fill to fit your preferences, and it’s available in standard, queen, and king sizes. It comes with a 100-night sleep trial, free shipping, and a 2-year warranty.
Best Memory Foam Pillow for Side SleepersIf you sleep exclusively on your side, the Pillow Cube has a design that specifically accommodates you. Because of its cube-like shape, it slots comfortably into the right angle that’s created by your head and shoulder when you lay on your side, meaning it won’t require you to angle your neck uncomfortably as you sleep. Plus, at just $69.99 it’s relatively affordable when compared to other pillows of similar quality.
Types of Memory Foam Pillows
With many options both in stores and online, distinguishing between the different types of memory foam pillows available can be helpful as you make a decision. Memory foam pillows can be distinguished by their thickness, filling, and cover.
Shredded memory foam pillows are filled with small, shredded pieces of memory foam, whereas solid or “traditional memory foam” pillows have a single piece of foam inside. Shredded varieties tend to be more customizable in firmness and loft, as most have a zippered inner casting that can be opened to remove or add foam to your liking. Solid memory foam pillows trap more heat but will give those who love the classic feel of memory foam the deep, slow sink they’re looking for.
Thickness, or loft, will vary depending on how much solid memory foam is used and how stuffed a shredded memory foam pillow is. Thicker pillows will work well for side sleepers, allowing more space for the shoulders. Thinner pillows work well for stomach sleepers, whose spines can be thrown out of alignment if the head and neck are lifted too high.
Most memory foam pillows now include a cover that can be removed for easy washing. Manufacturers recently began to introduce added benefits through cover materials. For example, some covers are copper-infused, enhancing the pillow’s ability to regulate temperature throughout the night. Others incorporate a quilted cotton material that’s soft to the touch, and some use moisture-wicking bamboo.
Benefits of Sleeping with a Memory Foam Pillow
- Contouring: Highly moldable, memory foam pillows have a unique feel that some people love. Memory foam pillows’ contouring abilities are outstanding, providing better pain and pressure relief in the neck, head, and shoulder areas than other pillow types.
- Affordability: It’s rare to see a memory foam pillow over $100, with the average falling between $45 to $65. Shredded versions run slightly more expensive than solid types.
- Variety: Since memory foam has been around for several decades, pillow manufacturers have had time to tinker with the production and introduce a variety of covers, makes, lofts, and sizes. One-piece and shredded memory foam pillows are widely available, so there’s a memory foam pillow out there for everyone.
- Silence: When compressed, memory foam pillows make almost no noise. This is an excellent benefit for those who wake easily or have a partner who does.
- Maintenance: Memory foam pillows are relatively easy to maintain. One-piece memory foam pillows should be spot-cleaned from time to time, and shredded memory foam pillows should be fluffed regularly to help maintain their shape.
- Moldability: Shredded memory foam pillows are customizable in the sense that sleepers can fluff or scrunch them as they please. This is unique to shredded varieties, as one-piece memory foam pillows require no fluffing and hold their shape over time.
Cons of Memory Foam
- Heat Retention: Memory foam becomes softer as it comes into contact with body heat, which is what makes its contouring so wonderful. However, this also makes memory foam a heat trap. Some manufacturers have created proprietary memory foams that sleep a little cooler, but memory foam will generally still sleep hotter than down or latex.
- Smell: Due to off-gassing, some memory foam pillows may have an unpleasant smell. This will vary by the type of memory foam used, the cover, and the manufacturer.
- Durability: Some memory foam pillows start to degrade relatively quickly. Sagging and indentations that don’t spring back can be experienced as soon as 12 months after purchase.
- Weight: Some sleepers dislike the weight of memory foam pillows. One-piece designs can weigh more than 5 or 6 pounds.
Memory Foam Versus Down Pillows
If you’re shopping for a pillow, you’ve probably heard of the down pillow. But what is it, and what’s the difference between memory foam and down?
Down pillows are filled with the soft, inner feathers from the back, wing, or chest of a bird, usually a duck or goose. They’re more expensive than memory foam pillows and typically cost at least $100. They’re comfortable to the touch and are softer and fluffier than memory foam. If cared for correctly, high-quality down pillows can last ten to fifteen years.
Memory foam, on the other hand, offers better support than down. It’s the ideal choice for those suffering from neck and back pain. Memory foam also bounces back fast, making it very resilient. Pillows with memory foam cores maintain their shape better throughout the night, whereas down pillows may sink around the contours of the head, creating discomfort and neck pain.
When deciding whether down or memory foam is right for you, consider your sleeping position and preferences. If you prefer soft pillows, don’t have neck issues, and have a larger budget, down is a nice option. If you need upper body support and have limited money to spend, memory foam is the way to go.
How Often Should I Change My Pillow?
The frequency at which you should invest in new pillows will vary depending on the type of pillow you purchase. For example, latex pillows can last up to three or four years, whereas polyester pillows only last about 18 months. The National Sleep Foundation recommends changing your pillow every 1 to 2 years, but here are a few indicators that it may be time to invest in a new one:
- You notice you’re sneezing more often, which could indicate the presence of dust mites.
- You’re breaking out more frequently, which could result from oil, dust, and dirt build-up in your pillow.
- You’ve switched sleeping positions and find that your current pillow isn’t comfortable.
- Your pillow doesn’t spring back to its original position when folded in half.
- You have a larger budget for a pillow and want to purchase something nicer.
- Your pillow has permanent stains or the filling has lumps that won’t separate.
Memory foam pillows are widely available today both online and in-store. While these guidelines can help you determine whether memory foam is right for you, it comes down to personal preference. Do your research and be sure to choose a bed pillow that will ensure you a great night’s sleep regardless of your budget, size, sleeping position, and personal preferences.
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