Memory foam pillows adapt to the shape of a sleeper’s body while still providing excellent support, making them a popular choice for many people. NASA developed memory foam in 1966 and released the formula in the early 1980s, leading to its use in the bedding industry. Today, memory foam pillows are a popular option.
Memory foam pillows can look and feel significantly different than traditional pillows. They are available in both shredded and single-piece styles, and some include extra features like cooling materials or adjustability.
We’ll take a close look at some of the best memory foam pillows on the market and discuss which are likely to work best for different sleeper types. There is no single best choice, as different people want or need different things from their pillow. However, understanding what to look for can make the purchasing process much less complicated.
Sleep Doctor's Picks
Sleep Is the Foundation Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Fill Material: Shredded memory foam (gel-infused)
Firmness: Adjustable (Soft to Medium)
- Shredded memory foam is moldable and offers close contouring
- Loft and firmness are adjustable
- Removable and machine-washable cover
- Side and back sleepers
- Shoppers who aren’t sure of their ideal pillow loft
- Sleepers who enjoy squishing and molding their pillow
The Sleep Is the Foundation Shredded Memory Foam Pillow is an all-foam model that conforms closely to your head and neck. We found this pillow suitable for a wide range of sleepers, due in large part to the adjustable loft and firmness.
The pillow is filled entirely with shredded memory foam that you can remove or add as needed. The pillow has an 8-inch loft at its fullest, but you can reduce the loft by using less fill. The machine-washable cover is composed of a blend of polyester and bamboo-derived viscose.
Depending on the amount of fill you use, the pillow ranges anywhere from a soft to medium feel. Our testers gave the pillow high ratings for moldability, which means you can squish and shift the pillow into a shape that feels comfortable. Side and back sleepers across all weight groups gave the pillow high marks, since it fills the space between your neck and sleep surface. This helped prevent neck strain for side sleepers. Stomach sleepers up to 230 pounds felt comfortable when they removed a lot of the fill, but stomach sleepers over 230 pounds may prefer a pillow with a lower profile.
The Sleep Is the Foundation Shredded Memory Foam Pillow is available on Amazon.com. Shipping is free for Amazon Prime members, and you may return the pillow within 30 days. The pillow is also backed by a 1-year warranty.
- Adjustable loft and firmness
- Shredded memory foam and polyester filling
- 365-day return period
- Shoppers on a budget
- Combination sleepers
- People who want to try different lofts
Sleepers looking for an adjustable memory foam pillow with solid performance and a low price-point should consider the Marlow Pillow from Brooklinen.
Compared to shredded memory foam pillows that can be adjusted by adding or removing filling, the Marlow pillow’s adjustment process is easy and mess-free. A single zipper on one edge can be zipped up for a higher loft and firmer feel, or unzipped for a lower profile and a softer feel.
The Marlow’s adjustment system makes it ideal for combination sleepers who want the ability to change their pillow’s feel without getting out of bed. Side and back sleepers should be satisfied with the available loft options, though some stomach sleepers may still find the softer, lower option too high and firm.
The shredded foam and polyester filling is responsive and contours closely without sacrificing support. People who prefer the feel of a traditional pillow may appreciate the use of polyester, which gives the Marlow a fluffier feel than many other memory foam pillows.
The Marlow is available in standard and king sizes.
Brooklinen offers a 365-day return policy for the Marlow, which is far longer than most competitors. Customers within the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping.
The Marlow Pillow’s adjustable loft and reasonable price-point make it a good choice for those who want an affordable, customizable pillow. Additionally, its design is likely to suit a wide variety of sleepers.
Layla Memory Foam Pillow
- Adjustable loft and firmness with extra filling available for purchase
- Shredded open-cell memory foam and polyester filling
- Lined with gel-infused memory foam
- People in need of extra support without extra loft
- Back, side, and stomach sleepers
- Sleepers who enjoy the feel of a traditional pillow
Layla’s twist on a shredded memory foam pillow provides the contouring support and adjustability customers expect with a feel that’s closer to a traditional pillow than many of its competitors.
Shredded open-cell memory foam provides good airflow through the pillow, while polyester fiber gives it a responsive and fluffy feel. The pillow is also lined with gel-infused memory foam, providing extra contouring and preventing the surface from becoming bunched up or uncomfortable.
This pillow’s loft and firmness can be adjusted by adding or removing the filling. Extra filling can also be purchased if you need a firmer feel or a higher loft. This adjustability allowed a wide range of our testers to give the pillow high marks, regardless of whether they prefer to sleep on their back, side, or stomach.
Despite the memory foam lining, the pillow cover can be machine-washed and dried. Both queen and king sizes are available for purchase.
Layla provides customers with a 120-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty, which is exceptionally long for a pillow in this price range. Shipping is free within the contiguous U.S.
The Layla Memory Foam Pillow provides all-around comfort for a wide variety of sleepers, thanks to its adjustable loft and responsive feel. Its cooling design also makes it a good fit for those who sleep hot.
Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow
- Available in low- and high-profile lofts
- Single-piece design made with open-cell memory foam
- Copper and graphite infusions designed to prevent heat retention
- Very warm sleepers
- Those looking for a closely conforming pillow
- People with allergies
The Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow from Brooklyn Bedding comes with multiple features to ensure a comfortable sleep even in warm weather.
The pillow itself is made from perforated, open-cell memory foam. This allows for better airflow and helps keep the pillow at a comfortable temperature. The foam is infused with graphite and copper, which are thought to prevent the foam from retaining too much heat during the night. The infusions may also improve the pillow’s antimicrobial properties, which sleepers with allergies might appreciate.
Both back and side sleepers are likely to find that this pillow offers the right balance of support and cushioning, so long as they choose the appropriate loft. The lower loft option may also be appropriate for some stomach sleepers.
This pillow is available in queen and king sizes.
Brooklyn Bedding’s pillows can be returned within the first 30 days and come with a three-year warranty. Shipping is free for customers in the contiguous U.S.
The Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow uses multiple design elements to keep you cool while you sleep. It’s a particularly good fit for hot sleepers who want a pillow with several loft options and the ability to conform to your particular shape for added comfort.
Best for Neck Pain
Silk & Snow Pillow
- Adjustable loft with a medium feel
- Shredded memory foam core
- Down alternative outer chamber for an extra-soft surface
- People who enjoy sinking into their pillow but need neck support
- Most side, back, and stomach sleepers
- Sleepers with chronic shoulder tension
As a hybrid of traditional down alternative pillows and shredded memory foam pillows, the Silk & Snow Pillow combines a soft, fluffy feel with medium firmness and support.
The Silk & Snow Pillow’s core uses shredded memory foam that can be added or removed to change the pillow’s loft and overall firmness. However, the memory foam component only forms the pillow’s core. Its outer chamber uses a microfiber down alternative that offers a more traditional feel with a softer touch.
Most sleepers, with the exception of stomach sleepers over 230 pounds, should find this pillow supportive and comfortable. To retain the benefits of memory foam, sleepers shouldn’t remove all of the shredded foam filling when making adjustments.
The Silk & Snow Pillow sleeps cooler than most other shredded foam pillows, as the layer of down alternative improves airflow next to the skin.
Silk & Snow offers their pillow in standard and king sizes. Customers can take advantage of the company’s 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty. Shipping is free in the contiguous U.S. and all Canadian provinces.
The Silk & Snow Pillow offers a soft, conforming feel that works well for many different kinds of sleepers. Its combination of shredded memory foam fill with an outer layer of down alternative could be a winning option for sleepers who want the best of both kinds of pillow.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our team has decades of combined experience in the sleep product industry. We’ve researched the best memory foam pillows on the market by rigorously testing hundreds of the best-rated pillows available. Our sleep testers have a range of body types and sleep position preferences, allowing us to better understand what works best for a wide variety of sleepers.
What Types of Memory Foam Pillows Are There?
Memory foam pillows are made with either a single piece of foam or a case filled with shredded foam, and each type is available in various shapes and designs. Memory foam itself is made from treated polyurethane foam. The treatment process results in a foam that molds closely to your body to reduce pressure and tension. Once you get up, the memory foam regains its original shape.
While solid memory foam pillows are made from memory foam alone, some shredded foam pillows may contain a mix of memory foam and ordinary polyfoam, or a mix of memory foam and a down alternative.
Solid memory foam pillows tend to be more supportive and are sometimes shaped to provide targeted support to your neck and spine. They may have removable inserts, but they generally aren’t very adjustable. Shredded memory foam pillows, on the other hand, are usually less supportive, but their shape can easily be adjusted to suit your needs.
Because memory foam pillows can sometimes sleep hot, solid pillows may have tiny holes drilled through them. Pillows that use shredded memory foam have a bit of an advantage, since they already have good airflow around the irregular foam pieces that make up their fill. Additional features, like foam or fabric with cooling properties, can also help a pillow stay at a comfortable temperature.
In terms of firmness, most memory foam pillows are medium soft or medium. However, many shredded memory foam pillows have adjustable firmnesses based on how much foam you add or remove.
- One-piece (solid foam) pillows: Solid memory foam pillows are available in a traditional pillow style or shaped to give your neck and shoulders better support. People with neck or back pain may prefer this style. These pillows also tend to have higher lofts than shredded foam pillows, making them better for side and back sleepers.
- Shredded foam pillows: Shredded foam pillows are usually shaped like a traditional pillow. They also feel more like a traditional pillow since they allow your head to sink more deeply. However, this style also provides less targeted support. Shredded foam pillows often make a good choice for side, stomach, and combination sleepers.
Sizing Options for Memory Foam Pillows
Memory foam pillows are usually available in standard, queen, and king sizes. Standard size pillows are appropriate for most people, but larger pillows allow you to use the full width of a queen or king size mattress. Unique pillow shapes and sizes, such as memory foam wedge pillows or body pillows, are also available.
The height, or loft, of a pillow tends to vary depending on design. The width and length of a pillow may also differ depending on the manufacturer, but most follow the standard dimensions.
Memory Foam Pillow Sizes
20” x 26”
20” x 30”
20” x 36”
Will a Memory Foam Pillow Work for You?
Whether a memory foam pillow is suitable for you depends on your personal preferences as well as your preferred sleeping position, budget, and need for support.
Memory foam pillows are usually more supportive than traditional down or down alternative pillows. They also tend to avoid causing neck strain, which can be a problem with traditional pillows, which have a lower loft.
Down pillows tend to have a longer lifespan than memory foam pillows, but down alternative pillows have a shorter lifespan.
Memory foam designs are among the most popular nontraditional pillows. However, pillows made of other materials are also available.
Latex pillows are similar in design and price to many memory foam pillows, but they are made of natural rubber foam rather than synthetic polyfoam. These pillows generally sleep cooler than memory foam but conform less around the neck and shoulders. Latex pillows may be made with shredded fill or a single piece of latex.
Pillows made of buckwheat or synthetic beads can offer as much pressure relief as memory foam pillows. However, they tend to feel different than a traditional pillow, making them less appealing to some sleepers. Additionally, while they sleep cooler than memory foam, buckwheat and bead pillows can be noisy compared to memory foam pillows, which are completely silent.
Pros and Cons of Memory Foam Pillows
- Supportive, particularly one-piece pillows shaped to fit the neck and shoulders
- Conform closely to reduce pressure and muscle tension
- Allow the spine to rest in a neutral position
- Retain their shape for longer than down or down alternative pillows
- May be adjustable
- Resistant to bacteria, dust mites, and mold
- Widely available in a range of designs, including unique shapes such as wedge pillows
- May feel different than traditional pillows
- Tend to sleep quite warm
- Not always appropriate for combination sleepers due to their fixed shape
- Shorter lifespan than down pillows
- Some types are more or less suitable for different sleeping positions
- May release off-gassing odors when new
How Much Do Memory Foam Pillows Cost?
Most memory foam pillows cost between $50 and $150. Pillows that cost less than this range may be thin and lack durability, while those above this range often include luxury features.
Memory foam pillows often cost more than polyester or down alternative pillows. However, they tend to have a lower price-point than down pillows. Other types of pillows, such as latex or buckwheat, can vary widely in cost.
Are Memory Foam Pillows Good for Side Sleepers?
Memory foam pillows are an ideal choice for many side sleepers. The wrong pillow loft can cause tension on both sides of the neck and shoulders, but memory foam adapts to pressure to form a spine-supporting cradle.
While the surface of memory foam pillows may feel plush and comfortable, the core remains firm. This is a critical feature for side sleepers, as a pillow that’s too soft will lack the support side sleepers need.
What About Back or Stomach Sleepers?
Back sleepers require a pillow that supports the neck while cradling the back of the head. A pillow that’s too soft lacks the necessary support, while a pillow that’s too firm can cause neck strain. Single-piece memory foam pillows are supportive and contouring, making them a popular choice for back sleepers.
However, single-piece memory foam pillows are rarely suitable for stomach sleepers, who usually prefer a softer, flatter pillow. Some adjustable shredded foam pillows may work for stomach sleepers, but removing too much filling can cause these pillows to feel unsupportive. Other types of pillows, such as down or down alternative pillows, may be more appropriate.
Matching a Memory Foam Pillow to Your Needs
As with mattresses, the most critical step in choosing a pillow is to match your preferred sleep position and body shape. While deciding between a shredded foam or single-piece memory foam pillow is the first step, it’s also important to consider different designs within those categories.
Pillow Height (or Loft)
A pillow’s height is also called its loft. If a pillow’s loft is too high or too low, it can cause muscle tension and prevent your spine from resting in a neutral position.
Single-piece memory foam pillows usually have a single loft height, while the loft of shredded foam pillows can be adjustable.
What Pillow Loft Do You Need?
A memory foam pillow with a high loft is the best choice for side sleepers, as it holds the neck in alignment with the rest of the spine.
Back sleepers usually prefer a pillow with a medium loft. Single-piece pillows for back sleepers may have a high-loft ridge to support the neck and a lower-loft dip for the back of the head.
A flatter low-loft pillow is the best choice for stomach sleepers. Pillows with higher lofts can cause poor spinal alignment and tension throughout a stomach sleeper’s entire torso.
Single-piece memory foam pillows designed for combination sleepers may have a higher loft along one edge. However, many shredded foam pillows also allow for easy loft adjustment.
How Firm Should Your Pillow Be?
The ideal firmness for a memory foam pillow depends on your preferred sleep position. The appropriate firmness usually corresponds to the appropriate loft, with both factors working together to keep your neck in the correct place for good spinal alignment.
The surface of a single-piece memory foam pillow softens and conforms to your body without compromising the core’s firmness. Shredded foam pillows behave more like down pillows, though adjustable varieties may allow you to add or remove stuffing for a firmer or softer feel.
What Firmness Do You Need?
A firm pillow is best for side sleepers, as it prevents the head from sinking too far into the pillow. A pillow that’s too soft can cause tension in the shoulder closest to the mattress.
Back sleepers should look for a pillow with a medium feel. The back of the head should sink into the pillow enough to ensure good spinal alignment, but the pillow should also be firm enough to support the neck.
Stomach sleepers will likely enjoy soft pillows, which allow for good spinal alignment. However, a soft memory foam pillow that is too thick may feel uncomfortable even if it provides good support.
Combination sleepers usually prefer a medium pillow. Shredded foam pillows that allow sleepers to adjust both firmness and shape are generally best, though some single-piece pillows may also work.
Support and Keeping Your Spine Aligned
Support is key when discussing mattresses and pillows. When you are properly supported by your bed, your spine relaxes into a natural, neutral position, which prevents pressure buildup and tension.
Pillows usually have the greatest impact on spinal alignment in your upper back and neck. Sleeping on a pillow with the wrong loft, for example, keeps your neck at an awkward angle all night. This can cause next-day stiffness or soreness and contribute to chronic muscle tension.
Caring for Your Memory Foam Pillow
Memory foam pillows are not difficult to care for, but they do have different care requirements than other types of pillows. By cleaning your pillow regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying it for its entire expected lifespan.
Pillow Cleaning and Care
All memory foam pillows should be cared for according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. A cleaning routine that works for one pillow may not work for another pillow, even if they appear to be similar.
Most single-piece memory foam pillows can only be spot-cleaned. Some shredded foam pillows are machine-washable, but most require you to take the filling out before washing. Although waterproof pillow covers can prevent stains, this protection comes at the expense of airflow and may leave your pillow feeling very warm.
How to Handle Off-Gassing From Your New Pillow
New memory foam pillows sometimes have a new pillow smell, which is caused by volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. While generally considered harmless, VOCs can have an unpleasant chemical scent when they’re first unwrapped. Those sensitive to strong smells may want to leave their new pillow a well-ventilated place with good airflow until the odor is gone. Sunlight can also help, though prolonged exposure may damage the memory foam.
Boost Your Pillow’s Lifespan
Dirt, stains, dust, and oil from your skin can all cause a memory foam pillow to break down faster than it would otherwise. However, there are some steps you can take to help your pillow last longer.
- Always use a pillowcase
- Use a pillow protector if necessary
- Wash the pillow casings regularly
- Spot-clean or wash the pillow as recommended by the manufacturer
- If the pillow gets wet, make sure to dry it completely before using it again
- Regularly fluff shredded foam pillows
- Don’t leave heavy objects on the pillow