Best Memory Foam Pillows

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Memory foam pillows are made from viscoelastic polyfoam, which conforms to the sleeper’s head, neck and shoulders. Memory foam reacts to body heat; it will conform when warm, and recover its original, even shape when cool. Two types of memory foam pillows are commonly sold: one-piece (also known as ‘traditional memory foam pillows.’) and shredded.

Memory foam pillows are often suitable for people who experience neck and/or shoulder pain, since the close conforming can help alleviate pain and pressure points. The material is also fairly supportive for most sleepers, and produces little to no noise. However, memory foam pillows also have drawbacks, including body heat retention, below-average durability, and high odor potential. Other pros and cons are specifically associated with shredded and one-piece designs.

Read on to learn more about shredded and one-piece memory foam pillows, and how they are different from other pillow types.

 

What is the Makeup of a Memory Foam Pillow?

Memory foam is treated with chemicals to sink deeply and conform closely to relieve pain and pressure, which sets it apart from standard polyfoam. As the name suggests, one-piece pillows consist of a single segment of memory foam that is cut to size. In addition to flat-surface pillows, some one-piece memory foam pillows are contoured to create a more supportive surface for the head, neck and shoulders.

Shredded memory foam pillows typically feature cases stuffed with tiny pieces of memory foam. Some shredded designs have cases with zippers, which allows owners to add or remove individual pieces in order to achieve their optimal firmness and loft. Shredded memory foam pillows without zippered cases can be fluffed to adjust the feel.

Cover materials for memory foam pillows vary by brand, but most are made from cotton or polyester blends.

 

Which Sizes Are Available for Memory Foam Pillows?

Memory pillows are commonly available in the following sizes:

  • Standard: Standard is the most common pillow size. It is the shortest and most compact option, and generally the cheapest as well.  
  • Queen: Queen-size pillows are four inches longer than Standard-size pillows. This makes them suitable for sleepers who find Standard options too compact, including those who toss and turn or shift their position throughout the night.
  • King: The King is two inches longer than the Queen size. This adds extra padding for particularly restless sleepers, and this size may also work as a headrest or backrest for people who sit up in bed to read or watch television.
  • Body: Body pillows are exceptionally wide, and designed for people who prefer to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep.

The table below features standard measurements for the Standard, Queen, King, and Body pillow sizes.

Pillow SizeDimensions
Standard20W” x 26L”
Queen20W” x 30L”
King20W” x 36L”
Body Pillow54W” x 20L”
48W” x 20L”
 

Pros and Cons of Memory Foam Pillows

When discussing the benefits and drawbacks of memory foam pillows, it’s important to note that one-piece pillows have certain advantages over shredded foam pillows, and vice versa. First, let’s look at some general pros and cons for both memory foam pillow types.

Pros of one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows include:

  • Pain and Pressure Relief: Because of the closely contoured fit, memory foam tends to reduce more pain and alleviate more pressure in the head, neck, and shoulders than other pillow types.
  • Support: Memory foam generally provides enough support for most sleepers, due to its conforming and shape-retaining properties.
  • Noise: Memory foam pillows are virtually silent when compressed, making them a good option for people who awaken easily during the night (as well as their sleep partners).
  • Availability and Variety: One-piece and shredded memory foam pillows are widely available. Most are medium- to high-loft, and fall between Medium and Firm for most firmness ratings.

Cons of one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows are as follows:

  • Heat Retention: Memory foam retains high levels of body heat compared to other pillow materials, which may lead to discomfort from sleeping hot.
  • Off-gassing: Many memory foam pillow owners complain of unpleasant, long-lasting smells that are emitted when the pillows are unpackaged.
  • Lifespan: Memory foam can degrade somewhat quickly, and owners may experience sagging and indentations after using their memory foam pillow for a couple of years.

Now, let’s look at some unique pros and cons for one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows:

  • Moldability: Shredded memory foam pillows are highly moldable, making them ideal for people who need to scrunch their pillow to achieve the desired feel. One-piece pillows, on the other hand, offer little to no moldability.
  • Shape: One-piece memory foam pillows require no fluffing whatsoever, whereas the contents of shredded memory foam pillows tend to bunch up and become lumpy.
  • Maintenance: One-piece memory foam pillows should be spot cleaned, which requires extra time and patience. Shredded pillows are usually machine washable.
  • Weight: Shredded memory foam pillows tend to be much lighter than their one-piece counterparts, making them easier to move and adjust throughout the night.
 

Who Is a Memory Foam Pillow Good For?

Memory foam pillows are generally suitable for the following types of sleepers:

  • People who sleep on their side, since this position requires added support for spinal alignment and targeted pressure relief.
  • Back-sleepers, who tend to be more comfortable on shredded memory foam pillows due to their moldability.
  • People who prefer to sleep on pillows that are relatively high-loft, and/or pillows rated between Medium and Firm.
  • People who sleep with a pillow between their knees in addition to their primary head pillow due to back or leg pain.

Memory foam pillows may not be suitable for the following groups:

  • People who sleep on their stomachs, since memory foam pillows can feel dense and overly thick to people who choose this position.
  • People who sleep hot, due to the heat-retaining properties of memory foam compared to other pillow materials.

People who are sensitive to smell, as memory foam pillows may emit persistent, unpleasant off-gassing odors.

 

Memory Foam Pillow Ratings

CriteriaOne-piece Memory Foam Pillow RatingShredded Memory Foam Pillow RatingExplanation
AffordabilityFair to GoodFair to GoodThe average price-point for a memory foam pillow falls between $50 and $60, with shredded pillows being slightly more expensive.
DurabilityFair to GoodFair to GoodOne-piece memory foam pillows may sag or form indentations somewhat quickly, while shredded pillows will begin to feel lumpy unless they are regularly fluffed
SupportGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodBoth one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows offer above-average support, according to owners.
NoiseVery Good to ExcellentVery Good to ExcellentMemory foam pillows produce little to no noise, whether they are one-piece or shredded designs.
WeightFair to GoodPoor to FairSome one-piece memory foam pillows weigh more than 5 pounds. Shredded pillows are slightly lighter, but still heavy compared to other pillow types (such as down or feather).
OdorPoor to FairPoor to FairOff-gassing is one of the chief complaints among memory foam pillow owners, although some products produce less offensive and persistent smells than others.
WashableFair to GoodGood to Very GoodOne-piece memory foam pillows should be spot cleaned, as conventional washing machines could damage them. Shredded pillows, on the other hand, are usually machine washable.
Loft OptionsFair to GoodFair to GoodMost memory foam pillows are medium- to high-loft, with a firmness of Medium to Firm, but some manufacturers sell pillows with different settings.
Firmness OptionsGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodMost people are satisfied with the firmness of memory foam pillows, but very few designs are available below a Medium rating.
AvailabilityVery Good to ExcellentVery Good to ExcellentMemory foam pillows are widely available.
 

Buying Tips for Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows are available from a wide range of brands. Additionally, they are found in numerous online and brick-and-mortar home goods stores, as well as online-only retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com.

In terms of price-point, memory foam pillows usually cost between $50 and $60. This puts them on par with latex pillows. Memory foam pillows are generally less expensive than other pillow types, such as down, buckwheat, and natural/organic, and more expensive than others, such as polyester, down alternative, and feather pillows.

Memory foam pillows are fairly easy to maintain over time. One-piece pillows should be spot-cleaned periodically, but never need to be dry-cleaned. Shredded pillows should be fluffed regularly to maintain a consistent shape.

The graph below lists average price-points for eight of the most common pillow types.

 

Memory Foam Pillow Price Comparison

Memory Foam Pillow Brands and Models

The table below compares five leading memory foam pillow brands sold today.

Brand and Model NameClassic Brands ConformaCoop Home Goods Eden PillowSleep Innovations (Multiple Models)SpineAlign PillowTempur-Pedic (Multiple Models)
Price Range (Standard Size)$71.13 (Amazon.com)$69.99$28.99 to $51.73 (Amazon.com)$129.00$62.30 to $279.30
SizesQueen
King
Standard
Queen
King
Body
Standard
Queen
King
QueenStandard
Queen
King
Shape/ContentsOne-piece, Non-contouredShredded Gel Memory FoamOne-piece, Contoured and Non-contouredShredded, ContouredOne-piece, Contoured and Non-contoured
CoverVelour-knitPolyester Blend
Zipper
Varies by ModelTencel® Blend
Zipper
Varies by Model
Firmness OptionsMedium SoftMedium FirmMedium Soft to FirmMedium FirmSoft to Firm
Loft OptionsMediumAdjustable (Zipper Cover)Low to HighAdjustable (Zipper Cover)Medium to High
TrialNone100 Nights5 Year Warranty90 Nights5 Year Warranty
CleaningMachine WashableMachine WashableSpot CleanSpot CleanSpot Clean
Customer Satisfaction Rating86% (1,736 Customer Reviews)89% (8,982 Customer Reviews)79% (1,109 Customer Reviews)84% (2,193 Customer Reviews)88% (12,763 Customer Reviews)
 

Conclusion

For more information on memory foam pillows and other pillow types, please visit our Best Pillows Guide.

 
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