When it comes to pillow talk, it often boils down to personal preference. Some of us like our pillows soft while others need something firmer.
Consider this though, what if there was a pillow made from material that ticked all our boxes?
In recent years, memory foam has begun to flood the pillow market. If you're sitting there wondering what a memory foam pillow is then you've come to the right place. Keep scrolling for a quick breakdown of everything you should know about memory foam.
Table of contents
- What is memory foam?
- What are memory foam pillows good for?
- Types of memory foam pillows
- Why you should choose a memory foam pillow over a regular pillow
- What about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in memory foam pillows?
- Pillow fights will never be the same...
What is memory foam?
Memory foam is commonly made from “viscoelastic” polyurethane foam, which is commonly found in sofas, mattresses, insulation and spray foam. Interestingly, it was first created by NASA for use in spaceship seats and seatbelts owing to it's ability to absorb shock and relieve pressure.
It gets its name from it's inherent ability change shape under pressure but then quickly return to its original shape when the pressure is gone.
Although it can initially feel firm to the touch, a memory foam pillow softens in response to body heat and come come in a number of different forms, including:
- Traditional memory foam - first introduced for in the early 90's, this type of memory foam is commonly used to insulate walls. However, owing to it's innate ability to retain heat, traditional memory foam often makes sleepers feel hot during warmer months.
- Open cell memory foam - consider this the softer younger sibling of traditional memory foam. Open cell memory foam is designed with strategic air pockets that make it less dense for better air flow.
- Gel infused memory foam - think of this as the final evolution of memory foam. It encompasses open cell memory foam that is infused with gel to help with breathability and cooling capabilities.
What are the benefits of memory foam pillows and what are they good for?
Owing to it's chemical makeup, "viscoelastic foam" or memory foam is quite elastic, meaning it can slowly contour to your body when applied with pressure.
Now, having covered the science, let's explore the range of benefits that you can enjoy when sleeping on memory foam.
Contouring for improved support
Designed to distribute weight evenly, a memory foam pillow can conform to the shape of your head for improved support and pressure relief during sleep.
Say goodbye to the endless head sinking that you get when sleeping on other materials!
May help to alleviate snoring
Most pillows force your head to tilt upwards, closing off your air passages which can cause those unwanted snorts.
With a memory foam pillow however, your air passages remain aligned with your neck and spine, often remediating or preventing the dreaded snore and perfect for those loud partners!
Hypoallergenic and antibacterial
Memory foam pillows are often cased in naturally hypoallergenic materials, like a bamboo pillow for example, that can help to prevent the build up of bacteria.
It also helps with warding off moulds and dust mites that often come with cotton and other materials.
If you or your partner suffer from allergies, memory foam could be the long-lost cure you've been searching for!
The University of Rochester advises that to maintain good posture, the muscles and ligaments in your back should be well aligned while sleeping.
Which means that through memory foam's ability to support your neck while sleeping, your trusty back can get in line as well, delivering regenerative spine alignment without you doing any work!
Relieves pressure points
Much like the above, viscoelastic foam pillows can help to alleviate a range of different pressure points, but the most pertinent one of them all is your neck.
If you find that sleeping causes you neck pain, there's a good chance it's being caused by your sleeping position.
Memory foam pillows work to conform and cradle your neck which helps you to avoid uncomfortable turns throughout the night.
But don't fear, it's a great remedy for those of you with should pain as well.
A good memory foam pillow is a high-density, hypoallergenic, easy-to-maintain, and durable pillow all in one!
Again owing to their material makeup, memory foam pillows are more durable than other regular pillows on the market.
Pillows made from cheap materials rarely make it past 6 months' of use, while a memory foam pillow will be your dreamtime companion for up to three years!
Easy to maintain
Unlike many other pillows, most memory foam pillows come with a machine washable cover that can be easily undone and cleaned for better sleep quality.
When looked after correctly, the encasing (such as bamboo) will absorb any dirtiness, acting as a protector for the foam underneath.
Types of memory foam
We know you're probably thinking, 'but hey, wait a minute, you've already discussed the different types'. Well, not exactly, earlier on we outlined the different types of materials used to make memory foam pillows.
They also come in two different physical forms which offer varying benefits depending on your needs.
Solid memory foam
Designed for the specific purpose of supporting movement and improving body temperature, solid memory foam is is thick, supportive, and chocker-block full of foam cells.
Consider a solid memory foam pillow if:
- You prefer to sleep on your side or back
- Your prefer resting your head on a cool pillow
- You need a firm and supportive pillow
- You deal with ongoing neck pain
Shredded memory foam
Unlike their solid counterparts, shredded memory foam pillows are designed using a large collection of individual potions of foam which provides better airflow for heat to be evenly distributed, helping to maintain a cool sleeping environment.
Consider a memory foam pillow if:
- You prefer soft and more mouldable pillows
- You're in need a pillow that distributes weight evenly to nullify certain pressure points
- You need even and comfortable support
Why you should choose a memory foam pillow over a regular pillow
Apart from the fact that regular pillows tend to get all floppy and saggy over time, there's a number of reasons why you should go with a memory foam pillow over a traditional one the next time you're in the market.
- Firmness - regular pillows wither and lose their form over time, often inside the first 6-12 months of use, whereas memory foam pillows remain firm for longer
- Spinal alignment - we discussed this earlier but it still rings true right now, good posture needs your body aligned while sleeping and memory foam pillows help with such alignment
- Hygienic - nobody wants to sleep on dirty, dust mite and bacteria infested pillows that can compromise your health. Memory foam pillows are hygienic and easy to wash
- Hypoallergenic - if you have allergies to dust, cotton, feathers or something else, a memory foam pillow has your name written on it
- Support - we can't endorse this enough, support for your head, neck and back while sleeping is fundamental to long and sustained health
Is that someone whispering "but what about latex pillows?"
Well, for those of you who are latex curious, it's a reasonable alternative to memory foam in the sense that it's hypoallergenic. However, latex pillows tend to be softer than memory foam pillows and don't offer the same contouring that memory foam pillows do, so if you need the support, memory foam should be your go-to.
What about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?
Let us preface this first by saying, this is only an issue with dodgy manufacturers.
Some memory foam products on the market may contain additional chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, and naphthalene.
To avoid purchasing a memory foam pillow that may contain VOCs, we recommend doing your research and making sure the foam is certified, like CertiPUR-US Certified for example, which meets approved standards for content, emissions, and durability.
It is important to consider these aspects when investing in a good pillow. Responsible Australians should also consider how to dispose of pillows.
Pillow fights will never be the same...
Memory foam pillows are firmer than your standard pillow, so we advise caution when entering a pillow fight.
In saying that, they return to form after pressure so if pillow fights are a regular occurrence in your house you're going to get great bang for your buck with memory foam.
They're also great for building pillow forts.
One last thing, they're not a silver bullet for all ailments, so for all the stomach sleepers our there, it's important to maintain a healthy sleeping position so try to sleep on your back or side as much as possible.
And if you're currently on the march to really up your bedding game, check out our range of bamboo bedding.
- University of Rochester Medical Center, Health Encyclopedia, "Good Sleeping Posture Helps Your Back" (Accessed 2021)