This guide is meant to help you make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing a memory foam pillow.
What is “memory foam”?
Memory foam was invented in 1966 by NASA in order to improve the safety of aircraft cushions. The foam they created was made out of polyurethane mixed with a few additional chemicals in order to give it elasticity and viscosity. It was also sensitive to heat. Nasa released the plans to make the foam to the general public in the 1980’s but only one company attempted to manufacture memory foam. This was due to the fact that memory foam was extremely expensive to make and the manufacturing process was sometimes unreliable.
Due to high manufacturing cost, the foam was too expensive for the general public so it was relegated to hospitals and medical centers where it was used as a mattress for people who had to spend unhealthy amounts of time bed-ridden. Over the years the cost came down and now you can find memory foam everywhere.
Newer versions of memory foam sometimes come with green tea extract, aloe vera and activated charcoal. These additives prevent odors from attaching to the foam and sometimes provide aromatherapy while you sleep. The manufacturers even figured out a way to prevent the foam from retaining so much heat, thereby making it perfect to use for a pillow.
Why Memory Foam Pillows?
Some people claim that they have gotten the best night’s sleep ever on a memory foam pillow. Others are not so sure. Dr. Donna L. Arand, PhD (Sleep Specialist) states that the data is inconclusive as to whether or not these kinds of pillows are better to sleep on. She says that the means of objectively verifying the data are inconclusive at best and that it really hasn’t been studied in-depth.
If you like a thin pillow with not much support then it probably isn’t for you. But if you like a pillow that feels good and has good support for both your head and neck, then memory foam might be right up your alley. Another sleep specialist states that the foam can relieve painful pressure points, but it won’t do much for sleep apnea or other sleeping disorders.
There are other reasons that people choose memory foam for their pillows:
- Good support
- Pain relief
There are a few things about memory foam that some people might consider “drawbacks”. For example, due to the fact that the foam is made out of polyurethane, it can give off a distinctive chemical smell when brand new. Some people claim that the foam can “exhale” harmful chemicals, but researchers have yet to substantiate these claims.
Another potential drawback is that the foam retains heat and some people might consider it uncomfortable in warm weather climates. However, with the advent of modern climate control systems for domiciles (along with just plain ol’ opening a window at night), a body-heated pillow is usually a moot point.
Finally, memory foam can sometimes be a bit pricier than your traditional pillow. This is due to the manufacturing process as well as the quality of the foam and construction of the pillow.
Types of Memory Foam
There are 3 types of memory foam. Traditional, air-cooled, and gel. Traditional was the very first type of foam and was designed to cradle your body when you sleep. However, due to the nature of the foam, it tended to retain a lot of body heat and some people found that uncomfortable.
Enter: Air cooled memory foam. Scientists went back to the drawing board and designed a foam that could breathe a lot better and therefore did not retain as much body heat as traditional foam did. Holes, cells and good old fashioned science have combined to produce a foam that is comprised of multiple internal components which quickly whisk away any body heat and leave the material nice and cool.
Gel foam is basically memory foam infused with a gel-like substance like you would find in the shoe inserts you find at the store. The gel foam has anti-mircobial properties and can really help out if you suffer from allergies. The gel gives the foam a harder like property than traditional foam, which is great for people who suffer from severe back and neck pains. This also means that it is more durable and the manufacturers can offer a much longer warranty.
Traditional memory foam can also come in two different styles: shredded and one-piece.
Shredded is when a machine shreds the foam into little pieces and then it’s inserted into the center of a pillow. The height (or “loft”) is about average thereby making these an all-around general good pillow to sleep on. One-piece is a singular piece of foam cut to the size of a pillow and then sewn into a pillow case. These pillows are usually low loft (height) and provide excellent support for the neck and shoulders.
With so many pillows on the market, which ones are the best? We have chosen our top 4 favorite memory foam pillows. We selected them based on average customer reviews, overall build quality and price. We looked for pillows that were popular that didn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy.
The Snuggle-Pedic pillow is an all-around great pillow that has many of the benefits of a memory foam pillow, without any of the drawbacks. This pillow is made with shredded memory foam which provides for a quality night’s sleep no matter what your sleeping style is. It has two zippers and an outside bamboo cover which makes it easier to wash.
It features Kool-Flow® technology which keeps it nice and cool and wicks away body heat as you sleep. It’s also eco-friendly, both in how it is constructed as well as the types of materials used in the construction. There are no harmful ozone-depleting chemicals or anything else that could negatively affect your health.
Some people have claimed that it has a strong odor when you first open the package, but it should dissipate a few days after usage. It’s generally recommended that you “air out” the pillow for 24 hours after purchasing it. Others have claimed that the foam material inside tends to “slip away”, leaving little support for your head. A quick pillow fluff was needed to return it to its original state.Buy on Amazon
This fully adjustable pillow is made out of shredded memory foam, along with a bamboo outer cover. This allows for greater ventilation and can wick away body heat. You can add or remove foam as you see fit in order to get the perfect density. Some people like it with more foam, others with less. Simply unzip it and grab the foam with your hands and store it in a safe place (in case you want to add it back in the future).
The bamboo cover and memory foam technology make this pillow dust/mite resistant and hypoallergenic. There is also a 5 year warranty and they guarantee the pillow will not go flat. The foam itself is made without harmful chemicals, or ozone depleting elements. An independent lab has verified that such harmful elements as formaldehyde, phthalates, and heavy metals are not present in the foam.
Like all foam pillows some users claim that there is a strong smell when you first open the box. This smell will dissipate after 24 hours. It’s advisable to take the pillow out of the box after you receive it and let it air out overnight (and the next day). Other users have claimed that since it’s shredded foam, it does not provide the same support as a one-piece unit. Therefore they find themselves having to “punch” the pillow every so often in order to get it back to its original shape.Buy on Amazon
The Sleep Innovations pillow is the least expensive one we are reviewing. It features a contoured single piece of memory foam, which is great for helping relieve back, shoulder and neck pain. If used properly, it will help promote good spine alignment. The foam will retain its shape throughout the night due to the one-piece construction. There have been reports that people’s neck and back pains have subsided after a few days usage. This can be attributed to the contour shape of the pillow which supports the neck and keeps the spine in alignment.
There are many rave reviews for this pillow, but some people claim that when they rinsed it in water (in an attempt to wash it), it became saturated with water. They tried to dry it in a hot room, then in the home dryer to no avail. Finally after 7 days of attempting to get all of the water out of it, they threw it in the trashcan as it began to get moldy. So word of caution if you’re planning on getting this pillow wet with water in an attempt to wash it.Buy on Amazon
Ghostbed Ghost Pillow takes the pillow technology to the limits. This pillow is made to be comfortable, stylish and quite affordable for the exceptional quality it has to offer. With it, you get the convenience of a triple cooling technology, something that lacks in ordinary pillows. And you don’t have to worry about any deformation since the pillow is designed to keep its shape and last for a lifetime.
If you’d like to read our extensive write-up of the GhostPillow, find it here.Buy on Amazon
Whether you’re looking for comfort or relief from back or neck pain, a memory foam pillow is a great investment. We, as humans, spend a lot of our lives sleeping, so why not spend a few extra dollars to ensure that you’re comfortable and well rested. There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning with a sore neck after a poor nights sleep.