Sure, pillows don’t take up that much space on your mattress, but don’t think for one moment that they aren’t essential. A good pillow is critical to a solid night of slumber — and if you want the optimal sleep experience, you should definitely look into memory foam pillows.
Memory foam was created by NASA to enhance the safety of aircraft passengers. Its applications have since evolved, and memory foam has become a popular material for both mattresses and pillows. This is due in large part to the fact that it reacts to pressure and temperature. In turn, this allows memory foam to soften and closely conform to the objects placed upon it. Hence, it’s great for bedding since it can easily mold to bodies, offering the necessary support and pressure relief. We should also note that memory foam pillows are better for back sleepers and side sleepers than they are for stomach sleepers. Additionally, they’re great for people who prefer a thicker pillow with a softness ranging from medium to firm.
At a glance:
- Best overall:
- Best versatility: Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow
- Best 3-in-one layering: Casper Foam Pillow
- Best value for full size pillow:
- Best contoured pillow:
- Best cooling pillow:
- Best wedge pillow:
- Best customizable: Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow
- Best shredded foam blend: Brooklyn Bedding Premium Shredded Foam Pillow
- Best ergonomic: ROSENSKÄRM Ergonomic Pillow
Best overall: Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow
Your troubles are bound to melt away as soon as you lay your weary head on an Eden Memory Foam Pillow. Or, at the very least, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. That’s because this pillow offers the perfect combination of softness and support. Indeed, it closely conforms to the neck, head, and shoulders, helping to keep your spine aligned throughout the night. Just as importantly, the Eden has an adjustable loft. That’s right — it’s made with shredded foam, which you can add or remove to achieve your desired thickness. Thanks to a combination of cooling gel in the memory foam and the breathable Ultra-Tech cover, you’ll stay cool and comfortable all evening. Finally, Coop Home Goods is so confident you’ll love this pillow that the company offers a 100-night sleep trial and an impressive five-year warranty.
- People of all sizes/weights.
- Individuals with neck or shoulder pain.
- Side sleepers and back sleepers.
Best versatility: Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow
Having made a name for themselves in high-quality affordability, Tuft & Needle creates a highly versatile memory foam pillow ideal for almost everyone – including back, stomach, and side sleepers. Crafted with graphite and cooling gel-infused open-cell foam, these pillows allow you to reach the cool side every time you turn them over. They also hold their contoured shape all night, so you won’t have to wake up and fluff. They come with a washable cover and a 100-night risk-free sleep trial to make sure you really love them before committing to the purchase — just make sure you hold onto your receipt and documentation.
- Great for all sleep positions: Back, side, and stomach.
- People who sleep warm.
- Those who prefer to sleep through the night without needing to fluff their pillow.
Best 3-in-one layering: Casper Foam Pillow
Casper’s Foam Pillow design has three layers of comfort. The inner core’s durable foam allows for optimal contouring to the head, neck, and shoulders while the two outer layers are crafted for outstanding cushioning of the softest support you’ll find. This combination of low and high-density foams integrated with spinal aligning and highly breathable materials creates one of the top pillows on the market. Perfect for all sleep positions and hot sleepers as well, this pillow is also available with a 100-night sleep trial.
- All sleep positions.
- Hot sleepers.
- Those who need additional neck or upper back/shoulder support.
Best value: Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam
The Snuggle-Pedic is so comfortable that you’ll even resist waking up from a nightmare. Manufactured with shredded memory foam, this pillow conforms to your head and neck, providing the proper orthopedic support. You can also adjust the height and firmness to find your perfect plush. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Snuggle-Pedic has a micro-vented bamboo cover for increased breathability. It’s also hypoallergenic, dust mite-resistant, and can even be machine washed. Still not sure you’re sold? Well, Snuggle-Pedic offers a 120-night sleep trial and a whopping 20-year warranty.
- People who sleep hot.
- People of all sizes/weights.
- People with neck and shoulder pain.
Best contoured pillow: Sleep Innovations Cool Memory Foam Contour Pillow
Tired of waking up with neck pain? You’ll definitely want to check out the Cool Memory Foam Contour Pillow from Sleep Innovations. Its ergonomic shape ensures your neck is gently cradled and that your spine stays aligned. This helps to reduce pain and stiffness and ensures you’ll awaken in the morning feeling well-rested. Beyond the therapeutic support, the pillow is also made with a cooling memory foam that facilitates airflow. You won’t have to worry about overheating with this option. While the pillow does a great job of retaining its shape, Sleep Innovations does also offer a five-year limited warranty.
- People with neck pain.
- People who sleep hot.
- People on a budget.
Best cooling pillow: Layla
Look, no one loves waking up in a pool of sweat or finds joy in overheating. If you fall into this category, Layla has made a pillow for you. Soft yet supportive, this shredded memory foam pillow smartly combines traditional foam with the fibers from a Kapok tree. Kapok fibers are soft and retain far less heat than foam. They’re also 100% natural and free of pesticides. The pillow’s cover is woven with copper, which helps regulate temperature as well. And as an added bonus, copper is known to improve blood flow and boost brain function. Finally, you’ll be comforted to discover that Layla offers a 120-night sleep trial and a fantastic five-year warranty.
- People who sleep hot.
- People who are light or average weight.
- People who like medium-soft pillows.
Best wedge pillow: InteVision Foam Wedge Pillow
Wedge pillows are great for people who suffer from acid reflux, sleep apnea, or other breathing issues. This is largely due to the fact that these pillows keep your head and upper body elevated as you sleep. And, if you’re on the hunt for a wedge pillow, InteVision manufactures a top-of-the-line option. Its pillow is made with a 2-inch memory foam layer that’s attached to a firm foam base. Both layers have built-in channels to improve airflow and help keep you cool. And while you can’t wash the pillow itself, it does come with a cover that’s washing machine-friendly.
- People with acid reflux.
- People with respiratory issues.
- Back sleepers.
Best customizable: Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow
The Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow arrives with its cozy cover overstuffed with the company’s highly supportive foam blend. Is it too full for your preference? Simply locate the zipper on the end of the pillow to remove as much foam fill as your tastes require, then zip and plump for a good night’s slumber. Rated number one among the company’s online pillows, you won’t need to worry about any chemical smell or off-gassing with this pillow. It’s also great for anyone allergic to latex who wants to have the optimal sleep experience.
- Side sleepers.
- Anyone allergic to latex.
- Those who need adjustable pillows.
Best shredded foam blend: Brooklyn Bedding Premium Shredded Foam Pillow
If you’re looking for a decadent shredded foam blend for a much lower price than most, give Brooklyn Bedding’s Premium Shredded Foam Pillow a glance. This pillow is filled with a proprietary blend of foam and latex, sure to cool off the head and neck on a warm summer evening. Wrapped in a stylish hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking removable cover, this pillow unzips to allow sleepers to adjust their fill level according to their own personalized comfort. It’s available in king and queen sizes and is great for side and stomach sleepers.
- People looking for a high-quality pillow for less.
- Side and stomach sleepers.
- People who sleep hot.
Best ergonomic: ROSENSKÄRM Ergonomic Pillow
This pillow can be manipulated into the best position for back and side sleepers or anyone in need of superior neck and back support while they sleep. Move the higher portion into position or turn it so the lower part supports you – whatever works best for you. Equipped with solid layers of both soft and dense foam, the memory foam top layer cradles the shoulders and neck into a perfectly contoured position. It comes with a removable, moisture-wicking machine washable cover with a super cushy 236 thread count. What’s more? The ROSENSKÄRM is only $15.
- Both side and back sleepers.
- Anyone seeking a great budget value.
- Those with neck pain.
How to choose a memory foam pillow
You’ve seen our top picks and you’re interested in them, but you still want to do a little more research. Don’t worry — we understand. In fact, here are a few things we think you should consider as you shop.
Types of memory foam
- Traditional: Armed with a classic rectangular shape, traditional memory foam pillows consist of one solid piece of foam that’s cut to size. Within this category, there are two main options. The first is tailored by a single seam and features angled or sloped edges. The second, known as a gusset pillow, is made with a double seam. It generally provides a higher loft and more support than a single seam.
- Shredded: The name isn’t a misnomer — shredded memory foam pillows are comprised of hundreds (or even thousands) of small pieces of shredded foam. What’s the benefit of all that shredding? For starters, it makes the pillow more breathable. It also allows you to scrunch and mold it more easily (though the foam does occasionally bunch up). Even better, most shredded foam pillows let you add or remove filling as desired. That way, you can achieve your preferred loft and thickness. Finally, like their traditional counterpart listed above, these pillows are also typically rectangular in shape.
- Contoured: A contoured memory foam pillow is constructed with two ridges and a groove in the middle. This design cradles the head and holds the neck, offering maximum stability and support. It’s a good option for back sleepers and people dealing with neck issues.
- Wedge: As you might have guessed, wedge pillows are shaped like giant triangles. They feature a gradual slope that’s perfect for propping up your body. As mentioned, this position is extremely beneficial if you happen to suffer from acid reflux, sinus problems, or respiratory issues. As an added bonus, wedge pillows make reading in bed an absolute pleasure. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can place the pillow underneath the back of your knees to alleviate pressure on your lower back.
- Standard (20-by-26-inch): The most common and compact option, standard pillows are also the cheapest of the bunch. They are a solid choice for most people and work especially well on full mattresses.
- Queen (20-by-30-inch): Four inches longer than the standard (you’re welcome for that math), queen-sized pillows are ideal for people who tend to toss and turn or shift position throughout the night.
- King (20-by-36-inch): The king-sized pillow definitely provides some extra padding. It’s also good for particularly restless sleepers.
- Body (48 to 54 inches by 20 inches): If you love to snuggle and spoon your pillow, the body-sized one is really the way to go.
Pros of memory foam
- Support: Thanks to their ability to retain their shape, memory foam pillows generally provide great head and neck support.
- Curbs snoring: Memory foam pillows are a great option for back sleepers who tend to snore. The strong neck support helps to open the throat, allowing air to travel more easily.
- Pain and pressure relief: The close contouring that memory foam provides helps to alleviate pain and reduce pressure from the neck, head, and shoulders.
- Hypoallergenic: Memory foam is typically hypoallergenic due to the properties of the foam, which reduce the chances of mildew and dust mites.
- Lasting comfort: Since solid memory foam doesn’t compress that much, these pillows stay comfortable and fluffy throughout the night. You won’t need to worry about flipping or rearranging them. What a relief.
Cons of memory foam
- Heat retention: Memory foam is not very breathable and is prone to heat retention. So, if you tend to sleep hot, it might not be the ideal choice for you.
- Rigidity: There’s a certain rigidity to memory foam that makes it a poor choice for stomach sleepers.
- Heaviness: Memory foam pillows tend to be dense and compact. They are typically heavier than a down pillow. We should note that shredded memory foam does tend to be lighter.
- Off-gassing: Many people report that their memory foam pillows release an unpleasant smell when first taken out of the packaging. The odor is attributed to the chemicals used to make the foam. Fortunately, it does fade over time.
- Price: Memory foam pillows can be more expensive than other types of pillows (we’re looking at you, down).
Purchasing pillows isn’t a life or death decision, but they’re certainly integral to getting a good night’s sleep — catching some quality shut-eye is vital to your health. Consider the info provided above, and make sure you’re buying the perfect pillow for you. If you’re ready to upgrade your mattress, we’ve also found the best mattresses for a better night’s rest, the best body pillows to help you sleep, and more on our sleep hub.
- The 7 best mattresses for side sleepers who need support
- The 10 best pillows for side sleepers in need of support in 2020
- The best body pillows to help you sleep through the night
- The 10 best cooling pillows for hot-blooded sleepers
- The 10 best pillows for back sleepers in 2020