The 10 Best Memory Foam Pillows
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in May of 2016. A consistent lack of restful sleep has been linked to a variety of ailments, including upper and lower body pains, high blood pressure, stress, and even depression. If you find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night, one of these memory foam pillows may be just what the doctor ordered. Our selection includes options engineered to support back, side, and stomach sleepers. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 28, 2021:
We didn't alter any of our rankings in this round, but we do want to bring your attention to one issue. Memory foam is somewhat notorious for its warmth due to the lack of airflow inside the material. Some, like the Perform Pillow and Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury, mitigate this with an extra-breathable outer layer. Others, like the Malouf Z Gel, claim that their gel infusion keeps the pillow cool. Unfortuantely, in objective testing, gel infusion doesn't do a whole lot to keep you cool, although many people do find it remarkably comfortable, so we still recommend the Malouf for cold sleepers. Overall, the overstuffed Nest Bedding's The Easy Breather is still our top choice for a traditional pillow. If you're having neck or shoulder issues, we recommend checking out the Epabo Contour as a somewhat unconventional but often effective solution.
March 31, 2020:
We know that pillows are very personal; what feels soft and comfortable to one may very well feel hard and unpleasant to another. But we've kept a selection of options that run the gamut from hard to soft, so there should be one for every type of sleeper. Keep in mind, though, that memory foam pillows tend to be harder than down pillows. If you're seeking a super fluffy and soft pillow, a shape-holding memory foam option may not be your best bet. If you need a lot of support, on the other hand, they can do the trick.
As for top picks, those on the harder side include the Perfect Cloud GelBasics and the Malouf Z Gel. They'll give you support, but with a firm feeling. This is also true of the Weekender Ventilated, which is a good choice for sleepers who tend to overheat in the night. Those who require a softer experience might look at the Clara Clark Sleep-A-Head, the Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury, or The Easy Breather by Nest Bedding. These boast shredded memory foam, which you can add or remove as needed to achieve the firmness level you want. There's also the Epabo Contour, an interesting choice with a removable piece in the middle that changes the amount of neck support it offers. But we removed the WonderSleep Premium, as it's known for having a chemical smell that takes too long to dissipate.
The Purple Pillow The Purple Pillow is not actually made of memory foam, but the textured hyper-elastic polymer material is great for those who are looking for an alternative. You can sleep on it every night without worrying that it will flatten or lose its shape, and if it should get dirty, you can even wash it with plain soap and water. purple.com
Ecosa Pillow The Ecosa Pillow is height adjustable, but if you're still worried that it's not for you, don't be — it comes with a 100-night trial period with a money-back guarantee. And if you do like it, you're in luck, as it arrives with travel stuff sacks that let you take it wherever you happen to roam. ecosa.com
The Saatva Pillow For something a little different, The Saatva Pillow might be just the ticket. Instead of typical memory foam, it offers a shredded Talalay latex core that gives you the support you need while resisting dust mite buildup and unpleasant mildew growth. An organic cotton layer surrounds this core to give you plush, soft comfort that lasts all night long. saatva.com
A Brief History Of Memory Foam
You see, NASA had a problem in the early 1960s: the seats on the space shuttle were putting too much pressure on the astronauts' spines during lift-off.
Finding the right pillow is serious business. If you've ever slept on a pillow that's too hard, too soft, or just a little lumpy, then you know how much it can disrupt your sleep and ruin your whole day. That's why memory foam is so popular. By conforming to your head and neck, it provides the perfect amount of support every time.
Memory foam is literally a space-age technology. You see, NASA had a problem in the early 1960s: the seats on the space shuttle were putting too much pressure on the astronauts' spines during lift-off. Engineers needed to find something that could cushion against the massive G-forces, while also being customized to each individual astronaut's body.
There was one issue that made this problem even more daunting than it first appeared: astronauts' bodies change significantly during training, as well as during an extended space shuttle mission. The engineers soon realized that what they needed was a material that could change with the spacemen's bodies.
The answer was visco-elastic, or memory foam. Not only did it provide ample, customized cushioning, but it also dissipated heat and improved blood flow to high-pressure areas.
In the early 1980s, NASA released the patent into the public domain. Naturally, mattress manufacturers were among the first to experiment with it, but the manufacturing process was still expensive at the time. As a result, most memory foam products remained outside of the average consumer's price range.
However, hospitals found it was fantastic for bedridden patients, as its ability to keep a healthy blood flow to all areas of the body reduced the likelihood of bedsores or gangrene. This was enough to keep memory foam production afloat, and manufacturers continued to explore ways to reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of the product.
In the early 1990s, Tempur-Pedic found success in the United States and Sweden with its memory foam line. Seeing the potential profit involved, other companies began to create their own memory foam products, and soon new innovations increased the fabric's breathability and durability.
Today, gel-infused memory foam lasts longer, feels softer, and offers more support than the original foam that NASA created. It is now possible to enjoy better sleep than Neil Armstrong ever dreamed possible — and you don't have to go to the moon to get it.
How To Choose The Right Memory Foam Pillow
Buying a memory foam pillow can do wonders for your sleep, but there are quite a few options to choose from, and getting the wrong one can literally keep you up at night. With that in mind, here are a few pointers for finding the perfect pillow for you.
The main thing to consider is the type of pillow you want. The most basic is the traditional pillow, which looks like any other pillow you've ever had. If you don't feel like you need any bells and whistles, but still want the support that memory foam provides, a traditional pillow should be a good fit.
Additionally, cleaning instructions will vary from pillow to pillow, so look for one that you'll find easy to keep unsullied.
There are also contour pillows, which have a ridge at their bases to support the neck, and a dip in the middle to cradle your head. These are excellent if you have neck problems, or if you're a back sleeper looking to alleviate snoring.
You may also see egg crate and wedge pillows. Egg crate memory foam is made of the same material as regular memory foam, except it's created in a dimpled fashion that some people feel offers additional support and ventilation. Not all egg crate pillows are made of memory foam, however, so check before you buy. Wedges, meanwhile, are designed for other parts of your body, like the lower back, and can be used in conjunction with a traditional or contour model.
The next thing to consider is the density level you prefer. Low-density models will be softer and less expensive, but also provide less support than higher-density alternatives. This is largely a matter of personal preference, but it's worth checking with your doctor or chiropractor to see if there's an option they'd recommend for you.
Some are made of hypoallergenic materials, which is a must if you have allergies. Additionally, cleaning instructions will vary from pillow to pillow, so look for one that you'll find easy to keep unsullied.
Ultimately, if you're buying your first memory foam pillow, you'll likely find any model to be superior to traditional cushions. The important thing is to find one that's right for you — and one that can easily be used to smack your partner if they don't stop snoring in the middle of the night.
Other Ways To Promote Neck Health
While getting a memory foam pillow will go a long way towards solving your sleeping problems, there are other steps you can take to ensure that you wake up refreshed and pain-free each morning.
The most important thing is to make sure that your head and neck are properly aligned, and that your spine is straight. If your pillow is too bulky or too soft, it will hold your head at an angle, and you'll pay for it in the morning.
Following these guidelines will ensure you greet each morning with a smile.
Don't take your phone or tablet to bed, either. If you're like most people, looking at a handheld device causes you to hold your neck in a poor position, leading to aches and pains over time. If you must indulge, hold the phone in a way that promotes proper alignment.
Stretching before turning in can help, as well. This will keep the muscles in your neck loose and limber, as well as work out any trigger points that built up during the day. Your sleep will be better as a result, and your body will find it easier to heal and reset itself.
It's amazing how much neck pain can ruin your day, so keeping your spine healthy is definitely worth the effort. Following these guidelines will ensure you greet each morning with a smile.