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This guide is meant to help you make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing the best memory foam pillow.

What is “memory foam”?

The beginnings

The memory foam pillow design was invented in 1966 by NASA in order to improve the safety of an aircraft pillow. Unlike any feather pillow, the memory foam fill they created was made out of polyurethane mixed with a few additional chemicals in order to give the best memory foam pillow elasticity and viscosity.

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The pillow was also sensitive to heat. Nasa released the plans to make the foam to the general public in the 1980s, but only one company attempted to manufacture memory foam pillows. This was due to the fact that memory foam options were extremely expensive to make, and the manufacturing process was sometimes unreliable.

The transition period

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 the best memory foam pillow everywhere.

Nowadays memory

Newer versions of memory foam pillows sometimes come with green tea extract, aloe vera, and activated charcoal. These additives prevent odors from attaching to the memory foam pillow and sometimes provide aromatherapy for a sleeper. 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 while being comfortable around the user’s neck.

Why Memory Foam Pillows?

Some users claim that they have gotten the best good night s sleep ever on a solid memory foam pillow. Others are not so sure. Dr. Donna L. Arand, Ph.D. (Sleep Specialist), states that the data is inconclusive as to whether or not king sizes memory foam pillows are best for side sleepers or stomach sleepers. She says that the means of objectively verifying the data are inconclusive at best and that it really hasn’t been studied in-depth.

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If you like thin pillows, memory foam contours with not much support, then it probably isn’t the best for you. But if you like a pillow that feels good and has good support for your head, neck, and shoulders, then a memory foam pillow might be right up your alley. Another sleep position specialist states that memory foam pillows can relieve painful pressure points, but they aren’t the best for sleep apnea or other sleeping positions disorders encountered by side sleepers or back and stomach sleepers.

There are other reasons that people choose memory foam pillows:

  • A memory foam pillow is hypoallergenic
  • A memory foam pillow is hygienic
  • A memory foam pillow is firm
  • A memory foam pillow provides Good support and balance
  • A memory foam pillow helps with pain relief

Potential Drawbacks for the best memory foam pillows

There are a few things about memory pillows that some users 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 “easy breather” claims.

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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 neck pillow. This is due to the manufacturing process, as well as the quality of the foam and construction of the best pillow types.

Memory Foam Pillows Types

There are 3 types of memory foam—traditional, air-cooled, and gel. Traditional was the very first type of foam and was a specially designed pillow for side sleepers to cradle their body when they are side sleeping. However, due to the nature of the foam, the pillow tended to retain a lot of body heat, and some users found that uncomfortable.

Air-cooled memory foam

Scientists went back to the drawing board and designed a foam pillow that would provide an easy “breather” a lot better and therefore did not retain as much heat as traditional foam did.

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Holes, cells, and good old fashioned science have combined to produce a foam pillow that is comprised of multiple internal components that quickly whisk away any heat and leave the pillow material nice and cool.

Gel foam

Gel foam is basically memory foam infused with a cooling gel-like substance like you would find in the shoe inserts you find at the store. The gel-infused memory foam has anti-microbial properties and can really help out if you suffer from allergies. The gel memory foam pillow 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 the pillow is more durable, and the manufacturers can offer a much longer warranty.

Traditional memory foam can also come in two different styles: shredded foam and one-piece.

A pillow is filled with shredded memory 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, also for the back and side sleepers. One-piece is a singular piece of foam cut to the size of a pillow and then sewn into a pillowcase. These pillows are usually low loft (height) and provide excellent support for the head and neck, and shoulders.

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With so many pillows on the market, which ones are the best? We have chosen our top 4 favorite best 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.

Top Pick
Snuggle Pedic Ultra Luxury

Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam

Shredded Style Combination Pressure Relieving Memory Foam Pillow That NEVER GOES FLAT

The Snuggle-Pedic pillow is an all-around great cooling pillow that has many of the benefits of the 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 sleep style is (side sleeper, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, or combination sleepers such as side and back sleepers). This pillow comes with two zippers and an outside bamboo cover, which makes it easier to wash.

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This pillow features Kool-Flow® technology with cooling properties, which allows it to keep you cool and wicks away heat for any sleeping position. 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 users have claimed during their sleep trial 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 and neck. A quick pillow fluff was needed to return it to its original state.

Hypoallergenic Choice
Coop Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow

Hypoallergenic Cross-Cut Memory Foam Fill

World’s best adjustable pillow with just the right individual balance between support and comfort

This fully adjustable pillow is made out of shredded memory foam, along with an outer machine washable cover. The cover is made of bamboo. This allows for greater ventilation and can wick away heat retention. You can add or remove shredded memory foam as you see fit in order to get the perfect density. Some people like it with more shredded memory foam, others with less. Simply unzip it and grab the shredded memory foam pillow with your hands and store it in a safe place (in case you want to add it back in the future).

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The bamboo cover and the shredded memory foam pillow 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 or in its cover.

Like all best memory 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 breather pillow out of the box after you receive it and let the airflow in and out overnight (and the next day). Other users have claimed that a shredded memory foam pillow does not provide the same sleep 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.

Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam

Standard Size Pillow

Cervical Support Pillow for Sleeping, Made in the USA with 5 Year Warranty, White

The Sleep Innovations pillow is the least expensive option we are reviewing. This pillow features a contour memory foam pillow, which is great for helping relieve back, shoulder pain, 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 head pain, but also back pains have subsided after a few days of usage. This can be attributed to the contour pillow shape, which provides neck support and keeps the spine in alignment.

There are many rave reviews for this pillow, but some users claim that when they rinsed it in water (in an attempt to wash it), the pillow 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 (it is not machine washable).

GhostBed Luxury

Memory Foam Pillow

The world's most advanced real-time cooling pillow, now with ice Fabric

Ghostbed Ghost Pillow takes the best pillow technology to the limits. These pillows are made to be comfortable, stylish, and quite affordable for the exceptional quality they have to offer. With these pillows, you get the convenience of a triple cooling memory foam pillow technology, something that lacks in ordinary pillows. And you don’t have to worry about any deformation since these pillows are designed to keep their shape and last for a lifetime.

If you’d like to read our extensive write-up of the GhostPillow, find it here.

Whether you’re looking for comfort or pressure relief from back or neck pain, a memory foam pillow for side sleep is a great investment, not only for neck pain relief. 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 night’s sleep.

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