Perhaps one of the most talked about pillows in recent years is the memory foam pillow. Whether you love them or want to learn more, it’s important to know that memory foam pillows come in a variety of densities, designs, and types of foam. For a complete look at the types of memory foam pillows available, read our guide below.
Foams Used in Pillows
In today’s market, memory foam pillows are made of different types of foams. Each foam type is uniquely created to improve sleep quality through a wide range of benefits.
Traditional Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam is the most common type of foam used in pillows because it’s durable, comfortable, conforms to the human head, improves sleep quality, and offers proper support for the neck and back. It’s the original foam released to the public in the 1980’s and often the foundation for other types of foam compositions. Despite its many wonderful benefits, traditional memory foam does have a few drawbacks: it tends to trap heat and make the pillow feel warmer throughout the night, and some people have complained that there is a sinking feeling when laying their head down on the pillow.
Latex Foam (natural and synthetic)
Latex foam builds off the success of memory foam pillows, by improving on such areas as pressure point support and softness. Additionally, latex foam pillows are more breathable which means that they don’t retain heat like memory foam pillows do. Latex foam comes in two types: natural and synthetic. Natural latex is harvested from a rubber tree and then chemically processed into the foam. Synthetic latex is created in a lab out of petroleum oils and chemicals.
Natural Memory Foam
A natural memory foam pillow is similar to a traditional memory foam pillow, but with an alteration in the manufacturing process. Instead of using just petroleum based substances, natural memory foam replaces a percentage of petroleum with natural substances like cedar oil or soy. This eco-friendly alternative also has several advantages over traditional memory foam: it’s more breathable, more durable and has a faster recovery time which eliminates the sinking feeling. However, this foam often sees an increased cost.
Cooling Gel Memory Foam Pillows
Cooling gel memory foam aims to alleviate traditional memory foam’s biggest downside – heat retention. It’s similar to latex foam in regards to providing a cooler pillow but accomplishes the coolness in a different manner. Latex foam is naturally a more breathable substance that alleviates heat retention, but gel foam pillows are a hybrid form of memory foam where a gel is infused to create an open cell structure that promotes air movement to transfer the heat from the pillow’s surface.
High Density and Low-Density Memory Foam Pillows
The density of foam simply refers to its weight per cubic foot. Typically, memory foam pillows come in low density or high density. Low-density foam pillows tend to be softer, lighter and less expensive, while the high-density foam pillows are more durable, stiffer and more temperature responsive, which means that one’s body heat will cause the pillow to shape or mold quicker to their head.
Types of Foam Pillows
Memory foam pillows come in a variety of different types, with each one providing a distinct look, feel and purpose. Shape and fill style play a large role in the comfort, support, and benefits of memory foam pillows.
Traditional foam pillows look like the standard rectangular pillows that are commonplace in homes and hotels. They are ideal for users who like the look and feel of standard pillows but want the benefits of foam pillows. This type of foam pillow typically doesn’t clump, can be molded for just about any sleeping position, and offers support for neck and spine. Traditional foam pillows range in price from $15 to $100 depending on size, foam, and manufacturer.
Shredded pillows get their name from the shredded pieces of memory foam used as the filler. This is in stark contrast to most other foam pillows that use a thick or solid piece of foam. The shredded pieces offer users flexibility with molding the pillow into an ideal sleep position that provides comfort and spinal support. Look for shredded memory foam pillows at a price range of $20 to $70
Adjustable foam pillows are the most flexible and versatile memory foam pillows offered. Their customizability also makes them the best pillows for neck pain. These pillows allow users to adjust the thickness by removing foam filler from within. It virtually guarantees that users can fold, mold, flip or shape the pillow into any position needed for optimal sleep support and comfort. Adjustable foam pillows range from $25 to $80 and can meet just about all of the benefits that other foam pillows are designed for.
Hybrid Memory Foam Pillows
Hybrid memory foam pillows, like the Zefiro Pillow, are the most advanced form of pillows on the market today. Designed to provide optimal support, spinal balance and comfort for customers, these pillows have a core of steel springs that are individually wrapped in a layer of memory foam. Hybrid memory foam pillows are suitable for all sleeping positions due to the incredible responsiveness of the internal steel springs. Additionally, the composition of the springs and memory foam allow for maximum airflow, which creates a cooler sleeping experience throughout the night.
With a wide range of options, memory foam pillows are designed to bring NASA-inspired comfort technology into the bedroom. When evaluating a memory foam pillow for yourself, consider the following.
Sleep position plays a large role in the memory foam pillow you select. Side, back, stomach and multi-position sleepers all have different needs. See our list below to find the right pillow firmness for your preferred sleep position.
Side sleepers require more height in their memory foam pillow than other sleepers in order to compensate for their shoulders. Firmer, or more fully stuffed memory foam pillows are recommended in order to help side sleepers achieve better neck and upper spine alignment by providing better lift and support.
Back sleepers benefit the most from medium fill memory foam pillows. These pillows can easily confirm, rising to support the neck of the sleeper, while the increased pressure from the back of the head compresses the memory foam, leading to ideal head, neck and spinal alignment.
Those who find themselves most comfortable on their stomachs should choose a softer or low fill memory foam pillow. This will present the least resistance against the cheek as they sleep, while not adding significant pressure to the front and side of the neck. This ensures gentle comfort without giving sleepers the feeling of pressure on the throat.
Multi-position sleepers are often looking for the best of all options. While it’s common to recommend a medium firm memory foam pillow for these sleepers, the best choice is an adjustable pillow. Adjustable memory foam pillows, especially those with chipped memory foam fill, not only allow the addition and removal of filling, but are often more easily formed to shapes. This adjustability ensures that restless sleepers can easily adjust the pillow for optimum support throughout the night.