When trying to improve sleep, most people automatically think about purchasing a new mattress. And while a mattress is certainly one of the key factors in achieving good sleep, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a quality pillow. But pillows – like mattresses – come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Some of the most popular pillows are those constructed with memory foam. Learn more about memory foam and see which brands Sleepopolis recommends with my memory foam pillow reviews below.
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What Is Memory Foam?
Memory foam was originally developed in the 1960s for NASA airplane seats. It’s made from a visco elastic substance and molds to your body when it comes into contact with pressure and your body heat. Because a memory foam pillow continuously adjusts to your body throughout the night, it can reduce pressure points in your neck and head.
Selecting the Right Memory Foam Pillow
Choosing the best pillow is a highly personal decision. Several factors can affect the decision to choose a memory foam pillow. For example, many people with health problems – including back and neck trouble – select memory foam pillows for the added support and even alignment. However, those who suffer from severe allergies may be bothered by memory foam’s slightly chemical odor (this phenomenon is known as off-gassing and it’s why you should always air out your pillow before using it). Still, most consider memory foam pillows to be anti-allergy because the foam reduces the chance of mildew and dust mites.
Another consideration when choosing the best pillow for you is your sleep position. If you tend to stay in the same position throughout the night, a memory foam pillow is a great choice. Those who move around a lot might consider a half-and-half pillow, with memory foam on one side and latex foam on the other.
Back sleepers generally find a thin or medium pillow the best to cradle their neck without throwing their head too far forward. Side sleepers need firmer pillows that will give support between the ear and outside shoulder – otherwise, you’ll develop a crick in your neck. Medium density pillows are best to keep the spine straight throughout the night. Stomach sleepers often need super flat pillows that are very thin.
Memory Foam vs. Other Pillow Types
Even though many pillows look the same on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Memory foam – which is made of polyurethane – is one of the three most common types of foam pillows. Natural latex foam and synthetic latex foam are the others, and they are also thought to be durable and flexible. They don’t have the same chemical odor as memory foam pillows and are also hypoallergenic.
Other pillow types include everything from down pillows – filled with duck and goose feathers – to buckwheat, aromatherapy, water, down alternative, cotton and gel pillows. There are also some memory foam pillows with a gel layer, like those manufactured by Nature’s Sleep.
Types of Memory Foam Pillows
When you’re reading memory foam pillow reviews, it’s important to consider the variety of memory foam pillows available on the market today, including the following types:
- Traditional. These pillows look like regular pillows, but are made from memory foam. They’re rectangle, one piece, and cut to size. In addition, traditional memory foam pillows are tailored with a single seam around the four edges – with angled/sloped edges – or a double-seamed edge that gives the pillows a higher loft.
- Contour. A contour memory foam pillow dips in the middle, a feature that delivers neck support and a place to cradle your head. This type of pillow is especially great for back sleepers.
- Neck roll. Yep, it is what it seems – this type of memory foam pillow is one long roll that can easily support your neck while sleeping, or while you’re traveling by car or plane.
- Wedge. Shaped like a sloping triangle wedge, these pillows have numerous purposes. Not only can you use them under your head for sleeping, but also to elevate your lower body and relieve pressure on your lower back. Some women even use them during pregnancy.
- Shredded. A shredded memory foam pillow is filled with shredded foam pieces that make the pillow more breathable and cooler than normal memory foam.
Benefits of Memory Foam
As mentioned, many choose memory foam pillows for pain relief and extra neck and back support. Other benefits include:
- Consistent Feel. There’s no need to fluff a memory foam pillow throughout the night. It will hold its firmness and keep supporting your neck and head without you having to do a thing.
- Keeps your spine aligned. Because your neck isn’t bending with memory foam, these pillows keep your spine straight – preventing health issues both now and down the road.
- Reduced snoring. A memory foam pillow contours to your neck, which keeps your air passages open and not blocked as with many traditional pillows that tilt your head.
Potential Cons of Memory Foam
While memory foam pillows can be a great buy, they aren’t for everyone. As mentioned, there can be a bit of a chemical smell that generally lasts 3-10 days when you buy anything with memory foam. Other cons or disadvantages of memory foam pillows can include:
- Higher cost. A good memory foam pillow (like those from Nest Bedding, I Love My Pillow, and Nature’s Sleep) can cost anywhere from $60 to more than $100. While this is more than a $20 standard pillow, it has certain benefits. It’s up to you to decide if the cost is worth it.
- Retains heat. Visco elastic foam traps heat and tends to sleep hot. However, newer innovations have created more breathable designs that keep the benefits of memory foam without making the user quite so warm.
Shopping for a memory foam pillow can get frustrating, because finding the perfect one is so often a trial and error process. I’ve taken the guesswork out of the shopping with my memory foam pillow reviews. Take a look and find the best pillow to suit your needs – whatever they are.