Memory foam is one of the most popular bedding materials on the market. It’s known for its close-conforming capabilities and pressure relief, making it a great pillow fill.
Most memory foam pillows are either a block of solid foam or shredded foam, both of which offer different benefits to sleepers. Block foam pillows are sturdy, firm, and tall, while shredded foam pillows are malleable, soft, and responsive.
We’ve rounded up some of our top picks for memory foam pillows to help support your neck, prevent pain, and get you sleeping more deeply.
Our Comfort Classic Pillow is a sturdy memory foam block built to reduce pressure. We designed this pillow to help you sleep cool and experience balanced support.
The Comfort Classic Pillow is 6 inches thick—which is excellent for back and side sleepers—and made from plant-based Bio-Pur®, a cool and responsive memory foam.
Compared to traditional memory foam, our Bio-Pur® is breathable and contains cooling channels to keep air flowing through the pillow at night. Bio-Pur® is CertiPUR-US® certified, meaning the foam contains no toxic materials and is low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds, or chemical pollutants that are released when you open your new foam mattress).
Even low concentrations of VOCs can irritate your skin, cause difficulty breathing, and damage the central nervous system. Choosing CertiPUR-US® certified foam is the best option to keep you and your home safe.
The Comfort Classic’s outer cover is lightweight and moisture-wicking so you stay dry and cool. The soft liner is also removable and machine-washable.
The Amerisleep Flex Pillow is an adjustable pillow made from memory foam. It’s suitable for all types of sleepers, but the pillow’s moldability and responsiveness make it an especially smart option for combination sleepers.
Unlike the Comfort Classic Pillow, our Flex Pillow contains hundreds of MicroCushions, small pieces of foam you can mold to suit any sleeping position. You can fluff and scrunch up the pillow to make it a higher loft, or flatten it down for a lower loft.
The Flex Pillow is cool and breathable since air can flow between the MicroCushions, preventing hot sleeping. It also has a soft, lightweight cover to further ensure you don’t overheat.
Since the Flex Pillow is so malleable, you can machine wash it on a delicate cycle without worrying about it losing its shape or getting ruined, making our pillow’s maintenance just a bit easier than competitors’ pillows.
Our Dual Comfort Pillow features two firmnesses—soft and firm—to support side, back, and combination sleepers. You can choose a firmness option based on your sleeping position and preferences.
Both sides of the Dual Comfort pillow contain Bio-Pur® memory foam. The firm layer provides support for side and combination sleepers, while the soft layer is best suited for back sleepers.
The Dual Comfort Pillow is available in two lofts: 5 and 6 inches. We recommend the 5-inch loft for back sleepers and the 6-inch loft for side and combination sleepers.
All of our Amerisleep pillows are made in the USA. We also offer free shipping and a hefty 10-year warranty for our pillows.
How to Choose a Memory Foam Pillow
Like most popular pillow types, memory foam pillows are readily available through nearly every mattress and bedding retailer, but they’re not all equal. Many manufacturers use proprietary memory foams and unique constructions to create a comfortable and supportive pillow.
Block vs. Shredded Memory Foam
There are two primary types of memory foam pillows: shredded and block. Both contain some variation of memory, but their constructions are different. Block pillows contain a single piece of memory foam, while shredded foam is just hundreds of pieces of memory foam inside the pillow.
Block memory foam pillows are a solid, single piece of memory foam. They are usually rectangular, but come in other shapes with contours and cut-outs to better support your head and neck.
Solid memory foam pillows are firm, durable, and maintain their shape well, though they respond to pressure slowly.
However, block memory foam isn’t adjustable and is less breathable compared to shredded memory foam. But unlike shredded foam or other materials, block memory foam requires no fluffing.
Shredded memory foam pillows are made up of small pieces of memory foam. Some shredded foam pillows may be 100 percent memory foam, though others are blended with latex, polyester, or fiberfill.
Shredded memory foam pillows are great since they are customizable. You can rapidly mold the pillow to any shape or loft you prefer, which works especially well for people who switch positions throughout the night. Some companies even provide extra filling for their shredded foam pillows so you can add or remove filling as needed.
Also, shredded memory foam pillows are generally more breathable when compared to block memory foam because air can escape between the pieces of ripped up foam.
It’s always important to consider your sleeping position when researching pillows and mattresses because it affects the support you’ll need.
Side sleepers need higher loft, firmer memory foam pillows to keep their head propped up and in line with their spine. Both block and shredded memory foam come in high lofts, but block pillows are usually firmer, making it the best option.
Back sleepers need mid loft pillows and roughly a medium firmness. Shredded memory foam pillows have an adjustable loft and are softer than firm block pillows, so they work well for back sleepers.
Shredded memory foam pillows also work well for combination sleepers since sleepers can quickly adjust the loft and firmness based on their current sleeping position.
Conversely, we typically don’t recommend memory foam pillows for stomach sleepers since the pillows can be too firm and tall. However, some shredded memory foam pillows can work if you remove the filling to be thin enough to use comfortably.
Traditional memory foam gets softer and more cushiony when in contact with heat, only to firm up again when it cools down. However, this makes the foam susceptible to overheating, possibly making you uncomfortable.
Lots of memory foam manufacturers get around this by using cooling technologies to keep memory foam from getting hot as it can be disruptive to good sleep. Look for memory foam pillows infused with materials like charcoal, graphite, copper, or gel.
In addition, look for memory foam pillows with a Celliant®, bamboo, or cotton cover to further promote airflow and cool sleeping. Some fabrics even absorb moisture to keep you dry.
If you’re especially concerned about sleeping hot, you may prefer a shredded memory foam pillow over a block pillow. With shredded memory foam, more air flows between the pieces of foam, allowing you to sleep cooler.
Who Should Use a Memory Foam Pillows?
Memory foam pillows work best for side sleepers, back sleepers,or anyone else who enjoys a high loft pillow.
Side sleepers usually need the thickest pillows since their shoulders keep their heads high off of their beds. Since memory foam pillows often come in high lofts, they prevent side sleepers’ heads from curving to the side, leading to pain.
Back sleepers need a supportive, mid-loft pillow to keep their neck aligned with their spine at a comfortable angle. Shredded memory foam pillows are best as they compress under the head, ensuring sleepers are comfortable and their head is supported.
Individuals with Neck Pain
Memory foam is excellent at cradling your body’s curves and relieving pressure build-up. It also supports the neck’s natural curve and helps sootheYou can enjoy these benefits from a standard rectangular memory foam pillow, but you might also consider a cervical memory foam pillow for added support.
Individuals Who Prefer a High Loft Pillow
Most memory foam pillows are quite thick and won’t lose their shape, unlike polyester, cotton, or feather pillows. If you need a high loft pillow for any reason, look into memory foam pillows. Block memory foam pillows have a high loft, but with shredded memory foam pillows, you can often add or remove filling as needed.
Who Shouldn’t Use Memory Foam Pillows?
Although memory foam pillows can be great for some, their high loft and potential heat retention can make them unappealing for hot sleepers and stomach sleepers.
We’d like to preface this by saying not all memory foam pillows are prone to getting hot; however, cheap and low-density memory foam can trap body heat and get overly soft.
Hot sleepers who want memory foam should choose a pillow with specific cooling technologies to improve the pillow’s airflow and temperature regulation. Otherwise, hot sleepers should skip memory foam and look at more breathable materials, such as latex, cotton, or buckwheat.
Those who prefer stomach sleeping usually need thin, low loft pillows to ensure their heads are in line with their spines. So, most memory foam pillows may be too stiff and thick for stomach sleepers to use comfortably. Our Flex Pillow, however,
Advantages of Memory Foam Pillows
Memory foam pillows are popular for how well they support the head and neck. Not only is memory foam used for pillows, but many people also enjoy memory foam mattresses and mattress toppers.
Excellent Pressure and Pain Relief
Memory foam is popular for how well the foam cradles the curves, relieving pressure and pain. It also evenly distributes weight, ensuring you won’t experience pressure build-up around your neck.
Memory foam is conforming, but won’t lose its shape, supporting your head and neck and ensuring they stay aligned with your spine. Better spinal alignment lowers your chance of experiencing issues such as headaches, migraines, or neck pain.
Memory foam products emit practically no noise and they absorb motion better than materials such as down or buckwheat hulls. If you share a bed, the pillows won’t be disruptive if either your or your partner shift or get out of bed.
While memory foam pillows aren’t necessarily the cheapest pillows on the market, they’re less expensive than similar materials—such as natural latex—and still have a luxurious feel. Also, memory foam pillows are readily available through most retailers who sell pillows.
Drawbacks of Memory Foam Pillows
Although memory foam pillows are contouring, supportive, and luxurious, some people may avoid them since they can retain heat and smell.
Compared to other pillow materials, memory foam traps heat easily and lacks airflow. Getting hot at night can make it difficult to sleep, irritates existing pain, and can cause you to sweat uncomfortably.
Off-gassing is the unpleasant smell you may notice upon first opening a new memory foam product. It’s not necessarily dangerous butissues such as skin and eye irritation, itchiness, and headaches.
You can avoid off-gassing by choosing CertiPUR-US® certified memory foam pillows, which ensures the foam is made with no ozone depleters, heavy metals, phthalates, formaldehyde, fire retardants, and the foam is low in VOCs.
Are memory foam pillows machine-washable?
It’s always best to check the care instructions on your pillow for guidelines on how to wash and dry your pillow. Generally, shredded memory foam pillows are machine-washable on a gentle cycle, but most block memory foam pillows aren’t since the force of the washer and dryer can ruin their shape.
If your pillow is not machine-washable, you can gently hand wash it in a large sink or a bathtub or spot clean specific stains with a gentle detergent. Then, air dry your pillow completely before using it again.
Do memory foam pillows flatten?
All pillows flatten with time due to the weight of your head and neck and moisture build-up from sweaty nights. You can fluff up your shredded memory foam pillows to keep them lofty and usable, but you can’t do the same for block memory foam pillows.
How often should you change memory foam pillows?
You should replace your memory foam pillows every 2 to 3 years of nightly use. With frequent usage, your pillow not only flattens and grows lumpy, but it also accumulates dirt and dust. If you suffer from allergies, these bacterias can trigger an allergic reaction and make sleeping uncomfortable.
Some ways to tell your pillow has gone bad include:
- An odd or unpleasant smell
- Visible lumps, indentations, or it has gone flat
- It folds in half easily
- Discoloration or yellowing
- It needs to be fluffed frequently
- You wake up sneezing, with a runny nose, or with itchy eyes and skin
- You’re developing acne where your face touches your pillow
If you have a warranty for your pillow, you may be able to have it repaired or replaced—usually for a small fee with a limited warranty or for free with a full warranty.
How many memory foam pillows should I use?
You should only use one memory foam pillow under your head at a time. You might also use a second memory foam pillow under or between your knees for pressure relief, but otherwise, one pillow is enough. If you feel the need to use multiple pillows at the same time, they may be too low of a loft for you and should be replaced with a thicker pillow.
Why does my pillow hurt my head?
If your pillow is the wrong firmness or height for you, it might be hurting your head and neck. This can eventually cause headaches, migraines, or difficulty sleeping. Your pillow should be just tall enough to keep your head and neck in line with your spine to prevent head and neck pain.
Investing in high-quality, supportive bedding is one of the first steps to getting a good night’s sleep. Although some of us overlook pillows, a high-quality pillow can relieve pressure and soothe issues such as neck pain.
There’s not one perfect pillow for everyone, but memory foam pillows are an excellent option for many people. Memory foam makes for some of the best pillows since it’s generally more durable and supportive compared to different fills, such as down, buckwheat, latex, or cotton. Memory foam is usually decently priced as well, especially considering its quality.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.