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Memory foam pillows conform to the head and neck, offering supportive sleep that changes with sleep position.

Some people like the soft cushioning of memory foam, while others believe it is more ergonomic. The best memory foam pillow may make sleep more comfortable without triggering back or neck pain.

There is no conclusive scientific evidence proving memory foam improves a person’s health or presents any specific health risks.

Benefits of memory foam

Some research suggests that memory foam and other pillow materials that offer support and contour to the body may reduce pain and promote sleep comfort.

Memory foam feels soft but conforms to the body, offering a sleep surface that can feel both plush and supportive. People who want neck and head support but do not want to feel like they are sleeping on a hard surface may prefer it.

A 2020 study suggests that latex or memory foam pillows may offer additional neck support and improve sleep quality. A very small 2019 study that compared people undergoing chiropractic treatment alone to those receiving chiropractic and sleeping with a memory foam pillow found that the second group saw more significant improvements in neck pain.

Learn about the best pillows for neck pain here.

Possible health risks

Some advocates argue that memory foam may contain volatile organic compounds (VOC). These chemicals may be harmful to a person’s health, increasing cancer risk, and some other health issues.

There is no conclusive scientific evidence proving that memory foam is dangerous. However, people who worry about toxic chemicals may want to choose a pillow that is certified as being free of such chemicals.

Memory foam pillows sometimes feel hot, especially to people who sweat in their sleep.

Learn about hypoallergenic pillows here.

Some things to look for when shopping for a memory foam pillow include:

  • Toxic chemical certifications: Some memory foam pillows have earned the CertiPUR-US designation, indicating they are free of many harmful chemicals.
  • Support: The size, shape, and amount of foam in a pillow can affect how supportive it is. People who want more support might choose a thicker, wider pillow.
  • Cover and materials: Some people prefer organic or washable covers. Check to ensure the cover is removable and safe to wash before buying.
  • Price: Cheaper memory foam pillows may be a better option for people who are unsure whether they like memory foam. However, these pillows might not last as long and may not carry organic or CertiPUR certifications.
  • Warranty and in-home trial: Especially for more expensive pillows, a warranty or in-home trial can help a person save money if the pillow is not a good fit for their needs.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow

The Tempur-Cloud pillow is cooler than traditional foam options. It contains internal cooling gel, which will help prevent overheating. This may suit people prone to sleeping hot or night sweats.

This pillow comes with a 5-year warranty. The removable cotton cover is machine washable, and the pillow offers medium-firm support.

The Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow is available for purchase online.

Leesa Pillow

Leesa’s memory foam pillow offers firm support that feels soft and molds to a person’s body.

The cover is washable and breathable, and the foam contains cooling chambers to prevent overheating.

Reviewers say that the pillow works well for all positions, including for people who switch positions throughout the night.

Buyers get a 30-day in-home trial and a 3-year warranty.

Leesa’s memory foam pillow is available for purchase online.

Ikea Ergonomic Pillow

An ideal choice for sleepers on a budget, this ergonomic pillow features a slight curve to support the neck and head.

The solid foam core offers firm support ideal for back sleepers and side sleepers with neck pain.

Some reviewers complain that the pillow is too small for a standard pillowcase.

The Ikea Ergonomic Pillow is available for purchase online.

Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow

This pillow uses shredded foam, offering the support of traditional foam, but in an adjustable form. Simply remove foam for a lower, less supportive pillow.

This pillow boasts a CertiPUR certification. It comes with a 100-night home trial and a 5-year warranty.

Reviewers say that shredded foam does not retain heat as much as traditional memory foam.

The Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow is available for purchase online.

Weekender Gel Memory Foam Pillow

An affordable alternative to the traditional memory foam pillow, this gel pillow conforms to the body but does not overheat.

The cover is washable, and the foam has earned the CertiPUR designation.

Reviewers say the pillow is firm. It comes with a 3-year warranty.

The Weekender Gel Memory Foam Pillow is available for purchase online.

Some options to consider instead of memory foam pillows include:

  • Adjustable pillows: Adjustable pillows come with removable inserts, often containing different materials, to adapt the pillow to a person’s comfort level.
  • Down pillows: Down pillows offer plush support, and a person can fluff or move the pillows to adjust their level of support and the height of the pillow. Learn more about Down pillows here.
  • Hybrid pillows: Some pillows use a combination of memory foam and other fillers, such as gel or down. These pillows offer high support but may feel plusher or offer cooling benefits.

People may want to consider memory foam mattresses or mattress toppers as well.

A memory foam pillow is not a medical device and will not treat any underlying medical condition. A person should talk with a doctor if they:

  • have severe insomnia or daytime fatigue that does not respond to lifestyle changes
  • wake up with neck or head pain even after trying several different pillows
  • have chronic pain that is getting worse
  • develop allergies or other symptoms following the use of a memory foam pillow.

A memory foam pillow offers an alternative to traditional pillows, molding each night to a person’s body and preferred sleep position.

As with most pillows, it helps to try the pillow first and compare how a person feels after using it for several nights.