Best Memory Foam Pillow
What is the best pillow for a good night’s rest? For some sleepers, the answer is a memory foam pillow because it can provide a blend of pressure relief, support, and softness to help a sleeper achieve better rest.
In this guide, we cover the types of memory foam pillows, pillow sizes, and pillow lofts available. We go over the pros and cons of memory foam, the expected price and lifespan of a memory foam pillow, and which sleeping styles best benefit from using a memory foam pillow.
Our Recommendation: Zoma Pillow
We designed the Zoma Pillow to not only be comfortable but moldable. The shredded foam and polyester MicroCushions™ inside the pillow let you shape and fluff the pillow to your liking.
Our MicroCushions™ fill the pillow by the hundreds and keep you cool by dissipating heat. The hypoallergenic MicroCushions™ naturally resists bacteria and dust mites.
A queen-size Zoma Pillow is 16 inches by 27 inches and 6 inches high. The pillow can fit comfortably on most mattresses.
The pillow comes with a machine washable cover made from 97 percent polyester and 3 percent spandex. The breathable, stretchy knit lets air flow in and out.
Our Zoma Pillow is also machine washable. We advise washing the pillow core on a delicate cycle with mild detergent every six to twelve months, then dry it on low heat.
You can get a queen-size Zoma Pillow for $75 with free shipping. The Zoma Pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty to cover repairs or replacement. Any sleeper that isn’t satisfied by their pillow can return it for free.
Why A Memory Foam Pillow?
Memory foam is created by adding materials to polyurethane to make it more viscous and elastic. This means memory foam contours to the body when a sleeper lies down, but quickly reverts to its original shape when the sleeper gets up and leaves the bed.
Memory foam’s ability to shape itself around the sleeper makes it one of the best materials to alleviate pressure and pain. While a memory foam mattress is the best way to relieve pressure points, a memory foam pillow can provide further support and relief for your head and neck.
Types of Memory Foam Pillow
There’s not just one shape when it comes to a memory foam pillow. While there is the traditional solid rectangle available, you can find a variety of other pillow shapes and lengths.
A solid memory foam pillow comes in different thicknesses to better suit various sleepers.
A one-piece memory foam pillow requires little maintenance— just the occasional spot-cleaning and regular vacuuming. It has a shorter expected lifespan than a shredded memory foam pillow.
Instead of one solid block of memory foam, numerous pieces of memory foam fill a pillow for better customization. You can add or take away from the fill to change the pillow’s loft and firmness. The broken-up pieces mean more air can flow through, keeping the pillow cool throughout the night.
A shredded foam pillow can require frequent fluffing, like you would with a feather pillow. Unlike a solid memory foam pillow, many shredded pillows can be machine washed.
A contour pillow supports the neck’s muscles while you sleep. The pillow has two raised ends, one higher than the other, to let you choose which side provides better neck support. The head rests in the dip between the pillow’s two slopes.
While we recommend contour memory foam pillows for side and back sleepers, stomach sleepers should not use one. A stomach sleeper may aggravate their neck by resting on a contour pillow.
A wedge memory foam pillow has a triangular shape made to elevate your head while you sleep.
Wedge pillows can help with a few different health issues. A wedge pillow can help control acid reflux or snoring when used as a head pillow.
For acid reflux, raising the head, neck, and shoulders helps keep stomach contents in place. For snoring, elevating the head prevents the throat’s soft tissue from blocking the airway.
If you have lower back pain, a wedge pillow can help if you place it underneath your knees, with the crook of your knees resting on the pillow’s right angle. This takes the pressure off the lower back area.
A body pillow is large, typically 20 inches wide and 48 to 54 inches long. Twin-bed sleepers may feel cramped with a body pillow, but it should comfortably fit on a full-size mattress or larger.
Many side sleepers benefit from sleeping with a body pillow, as hugging a body pillow can prevent tossing and turning. A body pillow can also help a sleeper make the change to side sleeping.
Pros and Cons of Memory Foam Pillow
Like any material, memory foam has its pros and its cons. It’s one of the best materials for pressure and pain relief, but that might not be what a sleeper most needs from their pillow.
One of the biggest appeals of memory foam is its pressure and pain relief. If you wake up with neck pain or headaches, a memory foam pillow can help you get a painless night of sleep.
If you need silence to sleep, memory foam is one of the quietest bedding materials. It remains completely silent when you move, unlike a buckwheat or feather pillow.
Memory foam is one of the more versatile pillow fills on the market. Memory foam pillows are typically one solid piece of foam in varying thicknesses and firmnesses, or full of adjustable, shredded foam.
A memory foam pillow is easy to find— you can order one online or find one in the bedding aisle of most department stores.
The main downfall of traditional memory foam is how it can absorb too much body heat, disturbing sleep. Many brands solve this problem by adding cooling gels to the foam mix, creating gel memory foam. Others mix in graphite, charcoal, or copper for a similar effect.
A memory foam pillow can lack durability, but this mostly applies to a one-piece design. A shredded foam fill lasts about three or four years.
Many sleepers notice an unpleasant smell when first opening their memory foam pillow. This smell results from a process known as “off-gassing” and occurs when organic compounds in the pillow break down at room temperature. The smell should dissipate within a few weeks at most.
Who Should Buy a Memory Foam Pillow?
A memory foam pillow may not be for everyone; it depends on your preferences, sleeping position, and budget. However, a memory foam pillow can help others achieve a better night of sleep.
Side sleepers need a mix of support and pressure relief. A high-loft, firm memory foam pillow can keep the neck aligned while soothing pressure points. And a knee or leg pillow can keep the hips aligned during the night.
Side sleepers spend the night with part of their face pressed into their pillow. We recommend a cooling pillow with a breathable cover to prevent heat retention.
A shredded memory foam pillow is a good way for a back sleeper to find their perfect loft and firmness without having to try out numerous pillows. A back sleeper who snores or has acid reflux can alleviate their symptoms with a wedge foam pillow.
Sleepers With Allergies or Asthma
A memory foam pillow can prevent and alleviate allergy or asthma symptoms. The dense structure of memory foam works to keep out allergens and pests such as dust mites and bed bugs. Dust mites, in particular, can worsen allergy symptoms.
A memory foam pillow is a good choice for any sleeper with a natural fiber, feather, or latex allergy. According to Sleep Like The Dead, a quality memory foam pillow should last longer than other hypoallergenic fills such as polyester or down alternatives.
You can use a mite-proof cover on your pillow to further prevent an allergen invasion. Washing your bedding every week can help, too, especially if you wash it in hot water to kill any lingering germs or dust mites.
Sleepers With Neck Pain
If you’ve woken up with a sore or stiff neck, a new memory foam pillow can be just what you need for a better night of rest. A traditional rectangular pillow can mold itself to your head and neck for relief. A contour pillow, however, can help you wake up pain-free by offering separate support for your neck and head.
We recommend staying away from a high-loft or stiff pillow if you experience frequent neck pain. A pillow that’s too high or stiff keeps your neck flexed throughout the night.
Common Sizes of a Memory Foam Pillow
You can find memory foam pillows in a few different sizes, as shown below.
|Bed Pillow Size||Common Pillow Dimensions|
|Standard||20 inches by 26 inches|
|Super Standard||20 inches by 28 inches|
|Queen||20 inches by 30 inches|
|King||20 inches by 36 inches|
|Body||54 inches by 20 inches or 48 inches by 20 inches|
Most mattresses can accommodate a standard, super standard, or queen size pillow.
Common Lofts of a Memory Foam Pillow
When we talk of pillow loft, we’re referring to the pillow’s height or thickness. Pillows come in low loft, medium loft, and high loft.
|Pillow Loft||Pillow Height|
|Low loft||Less than 3 inches|
|Medium loft||Between 3 to 5 inches|
|High loft||More than 5 inches|
The right pillow for you promotes a healthy spine by keeping your head and neck aligned. Your sleeping position and type of mattress can help you figure out what your ideal loft is.
Sleep Styles and Pillow Lofts
Each sleep position works best with a different loft, as the height needed to keep the neck and head aligned changes with your body’s position.
A side sleeper often gets their best sleep on a pillow with a higher loft, between 4 to 6 inches. We recommend side sleepers shop for a firm pillow, rather than a plush pillow that might let their head sink in too deep.
Back sleepers sleep best on a memory foam pillow that falls in the middle when it comes to loft and firmness.
We do not recommend stomach sleeping, as it can cause or aggravate health concerns such as back pain, neck pain, and restless sleeping. We advise stomach sleepers try side sleeping or back sleeping instead.
However, those who choose to continue stomach sleeping should look for a low-loft pillow or skip the head pillow entirely. Instead, we recommend using a pillow underneath the abdomen to better keep the spine aligned.
How Does Mattress Type Impact Loft?
A memory foam mattress or latex mattress molds to your body, leaving less space between your neck and the mattress. So if you sleep on a foam bed, a lower loft pillow keeps your neck properly aligned with the rest of your spine.
If your bed is an innerspring mattress or a hybrid, you won’t sink in as deeply as you would on a foam bed. This creates more space between your neck and the mattress, requiring a higher loft to provide enough support.
How Much Should a Memory Foam Pillow Cost?
Many memory foam pillows fall into the $30 to $75 range, although a few cost more than $100. Extra features such as cooling gels and adjustable loft can increase the price.
Memory foam pillows typically rest in the middle when it comes to pillow prices. Often, a memory foam pillow costs less than a natural fill such as down or buckwheat, and more than a synthetic fill such as down alternative or polyester.
For a queen-size pillow, we recommend a budget between $50 to $80. A lower-cost memory foam pillow is unlikely to give you several years of use.
How Long Should a Memory Foam Pillow Last?
You can expect about three to four years of use from a pillow with memory foam filling. We recommend keeping the pillow receipt in a safe place so you’ll know exactly when you bought it.
This may seem like a short amount of time, but pillows need regular replacing because they absorb dead skin, hair, and sweat. These s inevitably attract dust mites, a microscopic pest many people are allergic to.
The weight of your head flattens your pillow over time, causing it to provide less support. A shredded memory foam pillow tends to last longer than a one-piece pillow since you can fluff it up to keep it in shape.
So how do you know when your memory foam pillow needs replacing? If any of the below describes your pillow, it’s probably time to shop around for a new one:
- Your pillow has developed lumps or is otherwise losing its shape
- Your pillow has stains that won’t wash out
- You wake up with neck or shoulder pain
- You wake up with headaches or have more headaches than normal
- You wake up tired
- You see an increase in allergy symptoms after you’ve slept
Taking Care of Your Memory Foam Pillow
To better protect your memory foam pillow, we recommend a pillow cover or protector. Some pillows come with a cover, but if not you may want to take the time to purchase one. A removable cover is easy to wash, and using one can help you get the most out of your pillow.
Wash any pillowcases and pillow covers once a week with your other bedding.
A solid memory foam pillow should be spot cleaned on a regular basis, ideally about every once every one to two months and at least every six months. Clean your pillow if you’ve recently spilled something on it or if you’ve just recovered from an illness.
Do not put your one-piece memory foam pillow in the washer or dryer, as the agitator may break the foam apart. Instead, gently clean it by hand and allow the pillow to air dry. Make sure it’s completely dry before you pull the cover and pillowcase back on.
To freshen up a one-piece memory foam pillow, sprinkle baking soda on it and give it some sunlight for a couple of hours. Then vacuum the pillow, flip it and repeat the process. Vacuuming your pillow regularly can keep it free of dead skin and allergens.
Because a shredded memory foam pillow is already in pieces, it typically can go into a washer and dryer. Read any included care instructions for the recommended water temperature and wash cycle.
Fluff a shredded memory foam pillow regularly to help it keep its shape. You can fluff a pillow manually with your hands or by running it in the dryer for a few minutes.
Sleeping on the Right Mattress
Even the perfect pillow for you can only do so much when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. To get the most out of your bed, sleep on the best mattress for you.
Just as the right pillow works to keep your spine happy by keeping your neck and head supported, the right mattress maintains a healthy spinal alignment.
You don’t have to overspend to find a top-rated mattress, either. It’s possible to find a great mattress for under $1000.
Sleep Trial, Warranty, and Return Policy
Not every pillow comes with a sleep trial, warranty, or return policy, but we highly recommend looking for a pillow with all three policies attached. At the very least, we advise shopping for a pillow with a warranty.
A sleep trial is the time period you have to try out a new pillow. Not every pillow comes with one, particularly the more inexpensive ones. If you’re spending $75 or more on a pillow, though, we recommend you check if there’s a sleep trial attached.
Some pillow sleep trials last about a month, while others extend to between 90 to 120 days.
Warranties provide security for the customer, assuring them the pillow they’re buying is a quality product.
Memory foam pillow warranties often include tears, rips, or splits in the foam extending beyond normal usage. If the pillow comes with a cover, the warranty may only protect the pillow and not any damage to the cover’s fabric or zipper.
Many memory foam pillows need to be replaced every two or three years, although a high-quality pillow may last you about five years. A good warranty will cover at least three years.
We strongly advise against buying a pillow that does not have an attached warranty. Warranties are a measure of the company’s faith, so what does it say if the company doesn’t include a warranty?
A return policy outlines how you process a return, the time period in which you can make a return, and for what reasons you can make a return. To make it easier on yourself, take the time to read through it before you buy rather than wait until you want to return your pillow.
If you still have questions after reading through the policy, contact customer service for answers. We advise choosing a pillow with a return policy that covers at least 30 days. Memory foam pillows can flatten over time. A shredded memory foam pillow is less likely to flatten than a solid memory foam pillow thanks to the hundreds of pieces inside. When it starts getting flat, you can just fluff it up so it will regain its shape. You shouldn’t wash a one-piece memory foam pillow because a washing machine can break up the foam. Instead, try vacuuming your pillow every three months. A shredded foam pillow often is machine-washable. Pillows yellow as they age and trap dirt, debris, and sweat. Washing your pillow regularly can help keep it clean and stain-free. Just make sure your pillow is safe to toss into the washer. Side sleepers should look for a high loft pillow to support their neck and head. Otherwise, they'll wake up with stiff neck muscles or a headache. Shredded memory foam pillows are a good choice for side sleepers because their fill is adjustable. They can be fluffed up or flattened. The pillow also adapts as you toss and turn. It's better to keep your shoulders off your pillow while resting. If your shoulders are on the pillow, they'll likely create a gap between your neck and the pillow. Without support, your neck muscles will strain to hold up your head and feel sore the next morning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Memory foam pillows can flatten over time. A shredded memory foam pillow is less likely to flatten than a solid memory foam pillow thanks to the hundreds of pieces inside. When it starts getting flat, you can just fluff it up so it will regain its shape.
You shouldn’t wash a one-piece memory foam pillow because a washing machine can break up the foam. Instead, try vacuuming your pillow every three months.
A shredded foam pillow often is machine-washable.
Pillows yellow as they age and trap dirt, debris, and sweat. Washing your pillow regularly can help keep it clean and stain-free. Just make sure your pillow is safe to toss into the washer.
Side sleepers should look for a high loft pillow to support their neck and head. Otherwise, they'll wake up with stiff neck muscles or a headache.
Shredded memory foam pillows are a good choice for side sleepers because their fill is adjustable. They can be fluffed up or flattened. The pillow also adapts as you toss and turn.
It's better to keep your shoulders off your pillow while resting. If your shoulders are on the pillow, they'll likely create a gap between your neck and the pillow. Without support, your neck muscles will strain to hold up your head and feel sore the next morning.
Did We Help?
A memory foam pillow can provide many sleepers with a restful night of sleep. If you’re unsure what loft and firmness are right for you, we recommend a shredded foam pillow for its adjustability.
When it comes to pillows, what you pay for is typically what you get. Don’t be afraid to invest $10 to $30 more to ensure you get a pillow that will last for years to come.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.