Sure, pillows don’t take up that much space on your mattress. But don’t be fooled by the way they just lie there innocuously! A good pillow is critical to a solid night of slumber. If you want an out-of-this-world sleep experience, you should definitely look into memory foam pillows.
The Manual may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
While the statement above might be a tad hyperbolic, memory foam was actually created by NASA to enhance the safety of aircraft passengers. Its applications have since evolved and memory foam has become a popular material for both mattresses and pillows. This is due in large part to the fact that it reacts to pressure and temperature. In turn, this allows memory foam to soften and closely conform to the objects placed upon it. Hence it’s great for bedding since it can easily mold to bodies, offering the necessary support and pressure relief. We should note that memory foam pillows are better for back sleepers and side sleepers than they are for stomach sleepers. And they’re also good for people who prefer a thicker pillow with a softness ranging from medium to firm.
Now that you’re intrigued by the prospect of memory foam, it’s time to take a look at our top pillow picks.
Queen – $80
Your troubles are bound to melt away as soon as you lay your weary head on an Eden Memory Foam Pillow. Or, at the very least, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. That’s because this pillow offers the perfect combination of softness and support. Indeed, it closely conforms to the neck, head, and shoulders, helping to keep your spine aligned throughout the night. Just as important, the Eden has an adjustable loft. That’s right — it’s made with shredded foam which you can add or remove to achieve your desired thickness. Thanks to a combination of cooling gel in the memory foam and the breathable Ultra-Tech cover, you’ll stay cool and comfortable all evening. Finally, Coop Home Goods is so confident you’ll love this pillow, the company offers a 100-night sleep trial and an impressive five-year warranty.
- People of all sizes/weights
- Individuals with neck or shoulder pain
- Side sleepers and back sleepers
Queen – $60
The Snuggle-Pedic is so comfortable, you’ll even resist waking up from a nightmare. Manufactured with shredded memory foam, this pillow conforms to your head and neck, providing the proper orthopedic support. You can also adjust the height and firmness to find your perfect plush. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Snuggle-Pedic has a micro-vented bamboo cover for increased breathability. It’s also hypoallergenic, dust mite-resistant, and can even be machine washed. Still not sure you’re sold? Well, Snuggle-Pedic offers a 120-night sleep trial and a whopping 20-year warranty.
- People who sleep hot
- People of all sizes/weights
- People with neck and shoulder pain
Queen – $45
Tired of waking up with neck pain? You’ll definitely want to check out the Cool Memory Foam Contour Pillow from Sleep Innovations. Its ergonomic shape ensures your neck is gently cradled and that your spine stays aligned. This helps to reduce pain and stiffness and ensures you’ll awaken in the morning feeling well rested. Beyond the therapeutic support, the pillow is also made with a cooling memory foam that facilitates air flow. You won’t have to worry about overheating with this puppy. While the pillow does a great job of retaining its shape, Sleep Innovations does also offer a five-year limited warranty.
- People with neck pain
- People who sleep hot
- People on a budget
Queen – $99
Look, not everyone loves waking up in a pool of sweat or finds joy in overheating. If you fall into this category, Layla has made a pillow for you. Soft yet supportive, this shredded memory foam pillow smartly combines traditional foam with the fibers from a Kapok tree. Kapok fibers are soft and retain far less heat than foam. They’re also 100-percent natural and free of pesticides. The pillow’s cover is woven with copper which helps regulate temperature as well. And as an added bonus, copper is known to improve blood flow and boost brain function. Finally, you’ll be comforted to discover that Layla offers a 120-night sleep trial and a fantastic five-year warranty.
- People who sleep hot
- People who are average to lighter weight
- People who like medium-soft pillows
Small – $40
Wedge pillows are great for people who suffer from acid reflux, sleep apnea, or other breathing issues. This is largely due to the fact that these pillows keep your head and upper body elevated as you sleep. And if you’re on the hunt for a wedge pillow, InteVision manufactures a top-of-the-line option. Its pillow is made with a 2-inch memory foam layer that’s attached to a firm foam base. Both layers have built-in channels to improve airflow and help keep you cool. And while you can’t wash the pillow itself, it does come with a cover that’s machine-friendly.
- People with acid reflux
- People with respiratory issues
- Back sleepers
Hot to Choose a Memory Foam Pillow
All right, you’ve seen our top picks and you’re interested in them, but you still want to do a little more research. Don’t worry — we’re not offended. In fact, here are a few things we think you should consider as you shop.
Types of Memory Foam:
- Traditional: Armed with a classic rectangular shape, traditional memory foam pillows consist of one solid piece of foam that’s cut to size. Within this category, there are two main options. The first is tailored by a single seam and features angled or sloped edges. The second, known as a gusset pillow, is made with a double seam. It generally provides a higher loft and more support than a single seam.
- Shredded: The name isn’t a misnomer; shredded memory foam pillows are comprised of hundreds (or even thousands) of small pieces of shredded foam. What’s the benefit of all that shredding? For starters, it makes the pillow more breathable. It also allows you to scrunch and mold it more easily (though the foam does occasionally bunch up). Even better, most shredded foam pillows let you add or remove filling as desired. That way you can achieve your preferred loft/thickness. Finally, like their traditional counterpart listed above, these pillows are also typically rectangular in shape.
- Contoured: A contoured memory foam pillow is constructed with two ridges and a groove in the middle. This design cradles the head and holds the neck, offering maximum stability and support. It’s a good option for both back sleepers and people dealing with neck issues.
- Wedge: As you might have guessed, wedge pillows are shaped like giant triangles. They feature a gradual slope that’s perfect for propping up your body. As mentioned, this position is extremely beneficial if you happen to suffer from acid reflux, sinus problems, or respiratory issues. As an added bonus, wedge pillows make reading in bed an absolute pleasure.If you’re feeling adventurous, you can place the pillow underneath the back of your knees to alleviate pressure on your lower back.
- Standard (20-inch by 26-inch): The most common and compact option, standard pillows are also the cheapest of the bunch. They are a solid choice for most people and work especially well on full mattresses.
- Queen (20-inch by 30-inch): Four inches longer than the standard (you’re welcome for that math), queen-sized pillows are ideal for people who tend to toss and turn or shift position throughout the night.
- King (20-inch by 36-inch): The king-sized pillow definitely provides some extra padding. It’s also good for particularly restless sleepers.
- Body (48-54-inch by 20-inch): If you love to snuggle and spoon your pillow, well the body size is really the way to go.
Pros of Memory Foam:
- Support: Thanks to their ability to retain their shape, memory foam pillows generally provide great head and neck support.
- Curbs snoring: Memory foam pillows are a great option for back sleepers who tend to snore. The strong neck support helps to open the throat, allowing air to travel more easily.
- Pain and pressure relief: The close contouring that memory foam provides helps to alleviate pain and reduce pressure from the neck, head, and shoulders.
- Hypoallergenic: Memory foam is typically hypoallergenic due to the properties of the foam, which reduce the chances of mildew and dust mites.
- Lasting comfort: Since solid memory foam doesn’t compress that much, these pillows stay comfortable and fluffy throughout the night. You won’t need to worry about flipping or rearranging them. What a relief.
Cons of Memory Foam:
- Heat retention: Memory foam is not very breathable and thus is prone to heat retention. So if you tend to sleep hot, it might not be the ideal choice for you.
- Rigidity: There’s a certain rigidity to memory foam which makes it a poor choice for stomach sleepers.
- Heaviness: Memory foam pillows tend to be dense and compact. Hence they are typically heavier than a down pillow. We should note that shredded memory foam does tend to be lighter.
- Off-gassing: Many people report that their memory foam pillows release an unpleasant smell when first taken out of the packaging. The odor is attributed to the chemicals used to make the foam. Fortunately, it does fade over time.
- Price: Memory foam pillows can be more expensive than other types of pillows (we’re looking at you, down).
Look, purchasing pillows isn’t a life or death decision but they’re certainly integral to getting a good night’s sleep — catching some quality Zs is vital to your health. Consider the info provided above and make sure you’re buying the perfect pillow for you. If you’re ready to upgrade your mattress, we’ve also found mattresses for side-sleepers, mattress toppers, and more.
- The Ultimate Pillow Guide: The 6 Best Pillows for All Sleepers
- The Best Latex Pillows for Neck and Back Pain
- How to Choose the Best Organic Mattress for Greener Sleep
- The Best Rooftop Tents: Sleep Off-Grid and Off-the-Ground
- Wake Up Rested With the Best Down Pillows of 2019