What Is a Memory Foam Pillow? – What to Know Before You Buy

Are you wondering, “What is memory foam pillow?” Lots of people can’t get a good night’s shut-eye without these advanced pillows. Many find that they are excellent for improving sleep quality and offer great neck support. But others are not quite as fond of these pillows. 

The mixed opinions on memory foam pillows can make it tough to decide whether to buy them or not. In this guide, we discuss both the advantages and disadvantages, so you can find out if it will be a good sleep solution for you. 

What Is Memory Foam Pillow?

Memory foam pillows can be layered with several different material types, but they are mostly made of memory foam. Memory foam is made from polyurethane, a type of plastic that is used for manufacturing all sorts of products, including sofas, memory foam mattresses, spray foam, building insulation, and more. 

This material is called memory foam because it changes shape under pressure but will return to its original shape when the pressure is removed. 

These alternative pillows are specifically designed to adjust to your unique shape and can offer you extra head and neck support when you sleep. 

Advantages of Memory Foam Pillows

These contour pillows are considered health pillows because they offer a great many benefits that can improve your sleep quality and reduce pains and aches. Here is a quick look at some of the benefits you can get from sleeping on this type of pillow.

Promotes Spine Health

With a traditional pillow, your spine is often positioned in an unusual position while you sleep because there’s no support to keep the spine straight. Memory foam pillows are designed to support certain parts of your neck, shoulder, and head, so your body will maintain the natural curve of a healthy spine

Increased Blood Circulation and Air Flow

With your spine straight and the right neck support, the blood can effectively circulate through your head and brain. This ensures good blood circulation and healthy oxygen levels throughout your body while you sleep. 

Reduces Neck Pain

what is memory foam pillowThe right memory foam pillow can make quite a difference in chronic neck pain or shoulder pain because the natural curve of your spine is supported, blood circulation is promoted, and the contour pillow offers pressure relief.

Reduced Risk of a Stiff Neck

A stiff neck can be terribly painful, and it can take a long while for those injured muscles to fully recover. Memory foam pillows can prevent a stiff neck because your head will be positioned deliberately and comfortably while you sleep.

Different Shapes and Sizes

These pillows are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes. They range from kids sizes to extra large adult sizes, and you can get anything from a traditional rectangular shape to something with an orthopedic curve that is specially designed for back sleepers. 

Disadvantages of Memory Foam Pillows

Not everyone is fond of these ergonomic pillow types because they can have a couple of drawbacks. Here is a quick look at the cons of memory foam pillows.

They Get Hot

Foam traps heat and can get warmer while you sleep. This can make you feel sweaty. If you prefer a cooler sleeping environment, these might not be a good fit.

They Can Give Off Emissions

Some memory foam products contain chemicals that emit gasses called VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The emissions can sometimes smell bad when the pillow is new and is unappealing to people who might be sensitive to smells. The extra odor can cause headaches, nausea, eye irritations, throat irritations, or asthma, but it should fade after a few days. 

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Memory Foam Pillow

There are many different types of memory foam pillows available on the market. It’s very important to find one that suits your particular sleep position, or you could end up feeling terribly uncomfortable. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you go shopping for the perfect pillow.

Back Sleepers

If you are a back sleeper, then you should consider a pillow with a flatter design that comes with a rounded neck roll. This will give you extra neck support and will keep your head level with your body so you won’t have breathing difficulties.

Side Sleepers

what is memory foam pillowSide sleepers should consider a contoured memory foam pillow with a higher pillow that is higher at the neck and slightly lower at the head. This will keep your chin straight and your head in a neutral position, which could help prevent a stiff neck.


If you commonly find yourself sleeping on a plane or in a car, then it’s best to get an additional horseshoe-shaped memory foam pillow. These pillows will support your neck so your head won’t drop to the side. Just be careful to choose one that is low at the back so your head won’t be pushed forward too much. 

Sensitive Individuals

If you are sensitive to odors or if you suffer from medical conditions like asthma or allergies, then it’s best to look for traditional memory foam pillows that are labeled “low VOCs.” These pillows won’t emit as many gasses and won’t have a strange smell.

Cool Sleepers

If you prefer to sleep on cool and breathable bedding and linen, then you should consider a memory foam pillow with a combination of materials or a shredded memory foam pillow. Extra layers of foam with a memory foam center won’t feel as warm to sleep on and can still give you that little bit of extra support you need for a good night’s rest. 

Bottom Line

We hope that this article adequately answered the question, what is a memory foam pillow? If you’re shopping for the perfect memory foam pillow, or if you want to learn more about other types of pillows, then you should have a look at some of the other guides we have on Pillow Insider

With our guides, you’re bound to find a sleep solution that works for you – no matter what your sleep needs might be.

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