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The 14 Very Best Memory-Foam Pillows

Memory-foam pillows that cradle your head as if they were made just for you.

Photo: Hugo Yu
Photo: Hugo Yu

In this article

Memory foam is known for being supremely responsive and durable, and it can help side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers alike achieve the ideal head, neck, and spine alignment that’s key to healthy sleep. The goal is a “balance of support and pressure relief,” explains Logan Foley, a sleep-science coach and the managing editor at sleepfoundation.org.

Unlike some other pillow fills, memory foam is dynamic and unique because it can be shredded, solid, gel-infused, and mixed with other fill types — making it adaptable to serve a variety of sleep needs. Available in different densities, firmness levels, and shapes, memory-foam pillows are comfy and supportive, and though they typically run on the warmer side, if you are a hot sleeper, some memory-foam pillows can be cooling too.

I talked to Foley and seven other experts about the memory-foam pillows they recommend, and as the Strategist writer tasked with covering the sleep beat, I also tested many myself. If you already know what kind of memory-foam pillow you’re looking for, use the table of contents to jump ahead, or read on for what to look for as you shop.

What we’re looking for:

Solid versus shredded foam versus cross-cut

In the past, almost all memory foam pillows were made of a single, solid piece of foam that was designed to conform and contour to your head and neck. These days, there’s a lot more variety, with memory foam fill primarily available in one of two “formats”: solid or shredded — and cross-cut, which is a version of shredded. (The difference is that the process of cross-cutting the foam instead of shredding it creates more consistently sized chunks of foam, which can create a more consistent feel.) Solid memory foam pillows are firmer and typically perforated for ventilation; they’ll provide consistent contoured support and don’t need to be readjusted or fluffed. Shredded memory foam pillows have a more variable density that feels supportive yet plush because the shredded pieces of foam can move around within the pillow (which also helps to promote airflow). Many shredded memory foam pillows are adjustable, meaning you can add or remove fill to customize the loft height and firmness level.

Cooling feature

Memory foam can be hot, and if you run warm while you sleep, a solid memory foam pillow that’s made from a single piece of foam can cause a slightly elevated body temperature to become a full-on night sweat. To keep things cool, many memory foam pillows have ventilation holes to promote air circulation, or they may be infused with gel or phase-change materials (PCMs) to pull heat away from your body. Shredded and cross-cut memory-foam pillows naturally allow air to flow a bit more more freely, and the chunks of foam can also be blended with gel-infused fibers for a cooling boost.

CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold certifications

Dr. Dennis Colonello, a celebrity and professional-athlete chiropractor at Peak Wellness, warns, “Many pillows are treated with chemicals that are potential health hazards. Look for CertiPUR-US certification to ensure your choice is healthy and safe.” A CertiPur-US certification ensures foam-based products are not made with chemicals that are harmful to the user or the planet. While some brands list their CertiPUR-US certification along with a GREENGUARD Gold certification, they are not the same. GREENGUARD tests products to determine if they contribute to indoor air pollution, while CertiPUR-US certification indicates that your pillow is free from chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment.

Loft

The loft, or height, of your pillow makes a big difference when it comes to finding the perfect match. According to experts we’ve talked to, the general rule is that side sleepers need a higher loft to fill the square-ish space formed by the side of their head, neck, and the top of their shoulder shoulder. Back sleepers fare better with lower and medium lofts that support their head enough that it isn’t dipping too far back while also preventing their neck from wrenching upward. And for stomach sleepers, a lower loft is preferable to keep their head, neck, and spine in alignment. If you’re a combination sleeper, consider an adjustable pillow that will let you get the loft just right.

Care instructions

As with all of your bedding, your pillow needs to be washed regularly. Memory foam is typically not designed to be soaked and dried in the wash; most of the pillows below have a removable, washable cover to keep them fresh.

Best memory-foam pillow overall

Fill and cooling type: Cross-cut memory foam and microfiber blend | Certifications: CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold | Loft: Adjustable | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

One of our favorite bed pillows, the Coop Sleep Original Loft pillow offers a great introduction to memory-foam pillows. It’s filled with cross-cut memory foam and tufts of fluffy microfiber, giving it a consistently plush and supportive feel. Like most of Coop Sleep Goods’ pillows, this one is adjustable and comes with a bag of extra fill. Side sleepers can add more fill for a firmer, loftier pillow while back and stomach sleepers can remove some to lower the loft. The pillow is CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certified, and its breathable and machine-washable viscose-rayon-and-polyester-blend cover will help keep you from overheating (though the cover doesn’t actively keep you cool either).

If you’re new to memory-foam pillows, these are a solid starting point. I slept on this pillow for a couple of weeks and as a side sleeper, I found it was both squishy and dense, consistently conforming around my head. The fill stayed evenly dispersed inside the pillow, so when I flipped from my right side to my left, I didn’t need to do any middle-of-the-night re-plumping.

Best (less expensive) memory-foam pillow

Fill and cooling type: Gel-infused solid memory foam with perforation | Certifications: CertiPUR-US | Loft: Medium-high | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

This budget-friendly memory-foam pillow is perforated to keep air flowing, as well as infused with cooling gel that helps to pull heat away from your body. With five inches of loft, this pillow is on the taller end, making it a good choice for side sleepers. Unlike the Coop Home pillow, its fill is solid and not adjustable, so it will appeal to those who prefer a firmer place to lay their head. You can choose from three sizes — standard, queen, and king — and the cover is machine washable.

Best cooling memory-foam pillow

Fill and cooling type: Three-piece perforated foam with graphite bands and phase change materials | Certifications: None listed | Loft: Medium | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

With a triple-layer foam construction, the Casper foam pillow is designed to be especially supportive. Compared to pillows filled with shredded and cross-cut foam, this one is far denser and heavier, and slightly firmer as well. The pillow contains Casper’s branded “Heat Delete” graphite bands, as well as phase-change materials, to absorb heat and draw it away from your body. The foam is perforated, too, to encourage airflow.

When I first unboxed this pillow, I thought it had a fairly mellow cool-to-the-touch feel. In fact, when I initially laid on it, the cool effect was underwhelming and not as noticeable as I thought it’d be. Notably, though, it stood out over time for never heating up, and overall I slept cooler when using it.

Best adjustable cooling memory foam pillow

Fill and cooling type: Gel-infused shredded memory foam | Certifications: CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold | Loft: Adjustable | Care instructions: Machine washable cover

JD Velilla, the head of sleep experience for Serta Simmons Bedding, says, “One of the biggest sleep disruptors is sleeping hot.” If you run warm, you’ll want to look for a cooling pillow like this one from Snuggle-Pedic. Stuffed with CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold-certified gel-infused shredded memory foam, the pillow has a plush, lofty feel. The filling can be adjusted to fit your comfort preferences and sleep style, and your purchase includes a bonus bag of fill. The pillow’s cooling power is boosted by its breathable bamboo cover, which is also machine washable.

Best memory-foam pillow for stomach sleepers

$59

Fill and cooling type: Single piece of memory-foam fill | Certifications: CertiPUR-US | Loft: Medium | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

In our guide to the best bed pillows, the Tempur-Cloud was named our pick for combination sleepers, but it’s also a favorite of Strategist junior writer Brenley Goertzen, who prefers the stomach position. Goertzen says its extra-soft memory foam lets her head slowly sink into the center, while the medium-level height prevents her neck from flexing forward or craning past a comfortable angle. As a result of her upper body’s more natural alignment, Goertzen says she found that this pillow helped reduce tossing and turning, plus waking up throughout the night. And compared to the down-alternative fill pillows she’s owned for years, Goertzen says this Tempur-Pedic one is bouncier and always returns to its original shape so there’s no need for constant fluffing. It also comes with a removable hypoallergenic cover that’s machine washable.

Best memory-foam pillow for side sleepers

Fill and cooling type: Copper gel-infused solid memory foam with perforation | Certifications: CertiPUR-US | Loft: High | Care instructions: Spot clean only

“More than half of Americans are side sleepers, so the loft is critical,” explains Dr. Colonello. The DreamCloud has a higher loft of 5.5 inches and a two-inch gusset that ensures an even height across its full width. (Note that side sleepers with narrower shoulders or smaller frames may still want to opt for a lower-loft or adjustable pillow.) The solid piece of memory foam is infused with copper gel, which helps to wick away moisture, and perforation holes allow air to circulate. The pillow is available in a standard or king size, and to keep the cover in tip-top shape, the brand recommends only spot cleaning.

Best memory-foam pillow for combination sleepers

Fill and cooling type: Single piece of medium-density perforated foam | Certifications: Not listed | Loft: Medium | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

This memory-foam bed pillow from Ostrich, the maker of one of our favorite travel pillows, is ergonomically designed to provide support for every sleeping position, making it especially well-suited for combination sleepers. The oval-shaped pillow has a dipped, lower loft in the center with taller edges — so whether you rest on your back, stomach, or side, you can achieve proper alignment of your head, neck, and shoulders. Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio and Goertzen both tested the Ostrich pillow, with Trolio saying she was impressed with its ultra-plush consistency that’s incredibly soft compared to other foam-based options she’s tried. Meanwhile, Goertzen says she likes that, because of the carved-out, cradling design, the pillow’s sides act like cushy bumpers on either side of her head. The unique construction even allowed her to fall asleep on her back, which is typically an unpleasant position for her due to her tech neck, she says. It also comes with a lightweight modal cover that Goertzen describes as super-breathable so both sides always feel cool against her face.

I’ve tried this pillow myself, and like Trolio, I noticed that one of its standout features is the spongy feel of the memory foam. Some foam pillows are very weighty and dense, but this one is much lighter and squishier. While it does offer a bit of that quintessential “sinkiness,” the lightness makes it more springy and responsive than I’d typically expect from a single-piece all-foam pillow. The center dip is like a little pocket for your head, while the taller edges provide support for your neck.

Best memory-foam body pillow

Fill and cooling type: Shredded memory foam | Certifications: CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold | Loft: Medium | Care instructions: Entire pillow is machine washable

“Sleeping with a body pillow between your knees can be a great way to alleviate joint pain in your knees, hips, and lower back, as it can put the spine in more proper alignment,” explains sleep consultant Kelly Murray. Filled with shredded memory foam, the Snuggle-Pedic body pillow has a soft bamboo cover that allows air to freely circulate so you’re able to stay cool even while you’re hugging the pillow. Just like the Snuggle-Pedic gel-infused bed pillow above, the entire pillow is machine washable.

Best high-loft memory-foam pillow

Fill and cooling type: Graphite and gel-infused foam | Certifications: CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold | Loft: High | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

High-loft pillows are usually five inches or more in height, and they are especially well suited for side sleepers and folks with broad shoulders who need more loft to keep their neck, head, and spine in alignment. The Tuft and Needle original foam pillow has a five-inch loft, a denser feel, and an open cell design to promote airflow and keep you cool. It also has a graphite-and-gel-infused core to further help with temperature regulation. The pillow is available in standard and king sizes. Like most memory-foam pillows, the actual pillow is not machine washable, but the breathable micro-polyamide-and-polyester-blend cover is.

Best low-loft memory-foam pillow

Fill and cooling type: Gel-infused memory foam with perforation | Certifications: CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold | Loft: Low- to medium | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

Back and stomach sleepers need flatter, softer pillows to ensure their “head will be closer to the mattress, keeping the integrity of the neck’s natural alignment,” explains Dr. Colonello. Designed to be lower profile than the average medium-loft pillow, the BlueWave Bedding Super Slim pillow is available in three somewhat confusingly labeled low-loft heights: “Hyper Slim” (2.25 inches in height), “Ultra Slim” (2.75 inches in height), and “Super Slim” (3.25 inches in height). The Hyper Slim and Ultra Slim are ideal for stomach sleepers, while the Super Slim can work for stomach or back sleepers. The pillow is available in two sizes, king and standard, and the solid memory foam is perforated and infused with cooling gel to help regulate your temperature. It comes recommended by Strategist senior editor Crystal Martin, a back sleeper who found that the Bluewave helped resolve the neck pain she was feeling after sleeping on too-high pillows. Martin uses the Super Slim, which “supports my neck enough so it’s not dipping too far back.”

The bamboo-and-polyester-blend cover is also cooling, as well as machine washable. If you are a hot sleeper, for approximately $10 more, some sizes of this pillow are available with additional cooling technology in the form of a graphite-infused coating on the pillow and a cooling Tencel-blend cover.

Best cervical memory-foam pillow

Fill and cooling type: Solid memory foam | Certifications: CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold | Loft: Contoured | Care instructions: Machine-washable cover

The natural curves of your spine can twist out of wack from injury, age, or tech neck, explains Dr. Thomas Schuler, the chairman of the National Spine Health Foundation’s Medical and Scientific Board and founder of the Virginia Spine Institute. Pillows for neck pain, like this one by Elviros, can help alleviate pressure and hold your neck in place while you sleep. Available in standard and queen sizes, the solid memory-foam fill contours to your neck and head to provide medium-firm support, and you can position the pillow so your neck rests on the higher-loft side or the lower-loft side to help customize your sleeping experience. Unlike the other solid memory-foam pillows on this list, this one doesn’t have ventilation holes, but the breathable, machine-washable “ice silk” viscose cover is designed to help keep excessive heat at bay.

Some more memory-foam pillows we’ve written about

Our experts

• Dr. Dennis Colonello, celebrity and professional-athlete chiropractor at Peak Wellness
• Logan Foley, sleep-science coach and managing editor at sleepfoundation.org
• Brenley Goertzen, Strategist junior writer
• Kelly Murray, sleep consultant
• Crystal Martin, Strategist senior editor
• Dr. Thomas Schuler, chairman of National Spine Health Foundation’s Medical and Scientific Board and founder of Virginia Spine Institute
• Jen Trolio, Strategist senior editor
• JD Velilla, head of sleep experience for Serta Simmons Bedding

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The 14 Very Best Memory-Foam Pillows