Best Memory Foam Pillows

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

36 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
501 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best memory foam pillows

Last Updated July 2019

A bad pillow can make getting a good night’s rest nearly impossible and spell disaster for your neck. While many pillows never quite live up to their lofty promises, memory foam pillows deliver consistent comfort and support, night after night. If you long for a pillow that doesn't make mornings a pain in the neck, or you simply want something that retains its shape, a memory foam pillow could be the right choice for you. Whether you like them soft, firm, contoured, or adjustable, there’s a memory foam pillow out there for you. But with so many options to choose from, finding the right one can be a daunting task.

If you’re losing sleep over choosing the right memory foam pillow, we’re here to help. Here at BestReviews, we aim to make every shopping experience as stress-free as possible. We’ve compiled the detailed guide below to help you find the memory foam pillow of your dreams, and we’ve included a few of our favorites to make your shopping even easier.

Viscoelastic foam, or memory foam, was initially developed under a NASA contract in the mid-1960s to boost the comfort of airline seats and increase the odds of surviving a crash.

Key considerations

Types of memory foam pillows

When it comes to getting a great night’s sleep, the right pillow is just as important as a good mattress. After all, what use is a healthy back when you can barely turn your neck? Because a good pillow can mean different things to different people, familiarizing yourself with the various types of memory foam pillows is essential.

Traditional: These consist of a solid piece of foam that's cut to size. Traditional memory foam pillows generally have a low to medium loft and are available in two cover styles: single-seam and gusseted. While single-seam pillows tend to have a more pronounced slope at the edges, gusseted varieties have double seams that give them a bit of added loft around the sides, making these the preferred choice for people seeking additional neck and shoulder support.

Shredded: From the outside, shredded memory foam pillows look just like any other pillow, but the filling is entirely unique. Rather than a solid piece of foam, these pillows consist of hundreds of little shredded bits of memory foam. This innovative design boasts a two-fold benefit: the tiny gaps between the shreds deliver superior breathability and, if you choose an adjustable model, the filling can easily be added or removed to achieve your desired loft.

Contoured: Contoured pillows consist of a solid slab of memory foam shaped in a manner that can be especially beneficial for back and side sleepers or those who frequently suffer with neck problems. With two curved edges and a concave center, this design supports the neck while cradling the head.

Wedge: With a unique triangular shape, wedge pillows are often recommended as a prop to combat respiratory problems, sinus issues, or acid reflux. While this design might not be the most popular choice for the average sleeper, these pillows are fantastically versatile and can also be positioned under the knees to reduce pressure on the lumbar spine or used during pregnancy, when side sleeping with an ever-expanding belly can feel uncomfortable.

Firmness

Memory foam pillows are available in a range of firmnesses, including soft, medium-soft, medium, medium-firm, and firm, making it easier to find a good fit for your needs. While the best firmness for you largely boils down to personal preference, it's a good idea to consider your sleeping style as well. The guidelines below can point you in the right direction.

Soft: Softer pillows that provide extra give can be ideal for front sleepers. Just remember to choose a thinner pillow or a shredded model that can be adjusted to help keep your spine in correct alignment.

Medium: Medium to medium-firm pillows provide a good balance of comfort and support that works well for back sleepers.

Firm: The firmest memory foam pillows can feel too hard for some average users, but if you need extra support, one of these might be a good fit. Firmer pillows typically work best for back or side sleepers.

Size

Just like regular pillows, memory foam pillows come in different sizes. Although it's always a good idea to choose a pillow size that closely fits the dimensions of your bed, remember to factor in your body type and shoulder width as well.

Standard: Measuring 20 inches wide by 26 inches long, standard memory foam pillows are the most compact size available. These work well as a single pillow on a twin bed or two placed side by side on a full-size bed. If you have an average build, this length should be more than adequate.

Queen: At 20 inches wide by 30 inches long, these pillows are exactly four inches longer than standard pillows and fit a queen-size bed perfectly. They're also ideal for people with larger frames or restless sleepers.

King: With dimensions that measure 20 inches wide by 32 inches long, king-size pillows deliver an additional two inches of length. This not only provides a fuller look for larger beds, but the generous length also provides plenty of cushioning for those who toss and turn. If you enjoy reading or watching television in bed, one of these can make a fantastic headrest.

Body: These extra-wide pillows measure either 48 or 54 inches long by 20 inches wide. A body pillow is the perfect bedtime companion for those who like hold onto their pillow while they sleep.

DID YOU KNOW?

By taking pressure off the joints and muscles, the right memory foam pillow can significantly reduce neck and shoulder pain.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you love the plush comfort of down pillows but need extra support for your head and neck, the soft, pliable texture of a shredded memory foam pillow is a safe bet.

Memory foam pillow features

Cover

Even if you intend to cover your pillow with a pillowcase to match your bedding, the materials enclosing your memory foam pillow still warrant some attention. Because memory foam has a tendency to retain heat, a breathable case is a feature worth looking for. If you're a hot sleeper, another factor to consider is how well the materials wick moisture away from your head. Let's take a look at some of the most common memory foam pillow cover materials.

Bamboo: Hypoallergenic, breathable, and naturally antimicrobial, bamboo does an outstanding job of keeping your head cool and comfortable throughout the night. For this very reason, many memory foam pillows have covers that consist largely of bamboo.

Cotton: Cotton is comfortable, breathable, and hypoallergenic, but when it comes to wicking away moisture, this material generally isn't the best option. Highly absorbent cotton holds onto moisture and won’t do much to keep your pillow dry. If you like the idea of a cotton cover but also want something that’s durable and dries quickly, consider a poly-cotton blend.

Polyester blends: Durable, easy to care for, fast-drying, and exceptionally good at wicking away moisture, polyester is often blended with other materials used in memory foam pillow covers.

Cooling technology

As mentioned above, one of the main drawbacks of memory foam pillows is that they can absorb and hold onto heat. To combat this problem, many manufacturers are incorporating cooling technology in their designs. This can be as simple as adding ventilation holes to solid memory foam pillows or as high tech as infusing the foam itself with cooling gel. Shredded memory foam pillows already have an edge over solid varieties when it comes to keeping cool, but if you have a tendency to overheat while sleeping, don't overlook models with breathable, moisture-wicking covers or gel-infused foam pieces.

Adjustable loft

In general, memory foam pillows aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. While side sleepers require extra loft to keep the head and cervical spine in proper alignment, stomach sleepers will benefit from a pillow that's nearly flat. Moreover, different body types have different support needs. For instance, if you’re a side sleeper with broad shoulders, you’ll require a higher sleeping surface than someone with a narrow frame. This is why adjustable loft is such a desirable feature. The ability to add or remove height from your pillow offers support that can be tailored to your individual needs.

Memory foam pillow prices

On average, memory foam pillow prices range from $20 to $80 and more. The type of memory foam pillow you choose, along with its size, features, and the overall quality of its construction will have an impact on cost as well.

Inexpensive: Memory foam pillows priced between $20 to $30 are usually traditional solid pillows or nonadjustable shredded varieties with a mixed filling. Although additional features might be sparse or even nonexistent, budget-priced memory foam pillows can still deliver contouring support for a healthier night’s sleep. While it’s possible to obtain a set of of two at the higher end of this price point, a single pillow at this price is likely to yield superior quality and durability.

Mid-range: You’ll find a satisfying selection of memory foam pillow types and sizes within the $30 to $40 price margin. Whether you’re looking for a top-notch traditional memory foam pillow, a contoured option for precise cervical support, a set of nonadjustable shredded memory foam pillows, or even a single shredded memory foam pillow with adjustable loft, you’ll have plenty of options at your disposal.

Expensive: If you take your sleep seriously and just can't reach cloud nine unless your head is cradled in the lap of luxury, shelling out between $40 and $80 or more for a high-quality memory foam pillow could be a worthwhile investment. At this price point, you’ll have choices aplenty when it comes to size, style, and specialized features like adjustable loft and cooling technology.

EXPERT TIP

Covering your memory foam pillow in a natural fiber pillowcase with a low thread count will optimize breathability to help you stay cool.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Don't be alarmed if your brand-new pillow is flat as a pancake when you unbox it. Shredded memory foam pillows are often highly compressed for packaging. While most will eventually expand by themselves, you can speed things along by gently fluffing up your pillow and separating compressed clumps of foam with your fingers. A quick spin in the dryer on low can be helpful.

  • Give yourself time to adjust to a contoured pillow. If you've decided to opt for a contoured memory foam pillow, keep in mind that the unique shape and firm support of these pillows can take some getting used to. Place the pillow flat side down on your bed with the larger of the two contours at the bottom. Once you lie down, give your pillow a few minutes to warm up, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. As transferred body heat begins to soften the foam, the pillow will mold to the shape of your head, neck, and shoulders.

  • Use your wedge pillow when awake, too. Aside from helping to alleviate discomfort caused by acid reflux or respiratory issues, wedge pillows can be fantastic companions for any waking hours spent in bed as well. Positioning your wedge pillow with the base on your mattress and the tall end against the headrest or wall instantly transforms it into a comfortable backrest. Like to work on your laptop from the comfort of your bed? Placing your wedge pillow on your lap with the tall end facing your feet creates an ergonomic work surface that can reduce pressure on your wrists.

Other products we considered

Although we tried to include a varied selection of memory foam pillows in our product matrix, we realize that sleep comfort is an highly personal matter. If you couldn't find a good fit among our top five contenders, our supporting cast might be more to your liking. For those who need extra cervical support and like to flip from back to side, the EPABO Contoured Memory Foam Pillow has a unique shape with elevated sides and a slight center indentation to better support both positions. Front sleepers will appreciate the flatter dimensions of the Bluewave Bedding Super Slim Gel-Infused Memory Foam Pillow and can take their pick from slim, super-slim, and ultra-slim models for a perfect fit. Anyone looking to reduce acid reflux, snoring, or respiratory problems can count on the high-density top layer of the Cushy Form Wedge Memory Foam Pillow to deliver years of versatile support.

The high-tech construction of memory foam is naturally resistant to dust mites and other common indoor allergens, helping allergy sufferers find welcome relief from nighttime symptoms.

FAQ

Q. What is memory foam density?
A.
Density measures the weight of one cubic foot of memory foam. This is determined by how tightly the foam is compacted. Generally, memory foam densities are rated as follows:

  • Low: 3.5 pounds and under

  • Medium: 3.5 to 5 pounds

  • High: 5 pounds and over


High-density memory foam conforms more closely to contours, provides more support, and is by far the most durable, but it's also more sensitive to heat, so keep this in mind if you sleep hot. Low-density memory foam, on the other hand, typically isn't as supportive, but it might be more comfortable for users who overheat easily and don't necessarily need a highly supportive pillow. Medium-density memory foam strikes a good balance between the two in terms of support, breathability, comfort, and durability.

Q. How do I keep my memory foam pillow clean?
A.
Although memory foam pillows should never be machine washed, you can (and should) hand-wash your pillow when it's time for a deep clean. Simply submerge your pillow in lukewarm water along with some mild detergent and gently squeeze it a couple of times to allow the water to penetrate the foam. Never twist or wring your pillow because this can cause irreversible damage. Following this step, refill your bathtub or basin with clean water and give your pillow a rinse, gently squeezing until all the remaining dirt and soap has been removed. Once your memory foam pillow is clean, give it a squeeze to remove excess water and allow it to air-dry.

Q. My new memory foam pillow smells strange. Is this normal?
A.
This is perfectly normal and is caused by a process known as off-gassing. While many find the odor of freshly unwrapped memory foam products slightly unpleasant, the good news is that it does dissipate over time and eventually goes away completely. It's usually best to allow new memory foam pillows to air in a well-ventilated room for a few hours before using. Should any lingering odors persist, try sprinkling some baking soda onto your pillow and allow it to sit for an hour or two before vacuuming it off.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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