Memory foam pillows, the pros and cons

Jun 17 2024

Memory foam pillows have become very popular in the last few years, as advancements in technology has improved quality and performance. Gained popularity in recent years due to their unique ability to conform to the shape of a person's head and neck, providing personalized support.

Memory foam pillows, the pros and cons
In this article, we’re weighing up the pros and cons of memory foam pillows, including some you may not expect.

Memory foam pillows – the pros

Personalised support

Memory foam pillows can provide better support and cause less muscle tension than traditional pillows. That’s because memory foam is designed to react to body heat, allowing it to gently mould to the contours of the head and neck. This means support becomes more specific for each sleeper, promoting proper spinal alignment and reducing pressure points.

Pressure relief

Scientific studies have shown that memory foam pillows can distribute pressure more evenly compared to traditional pillows. This can alleviate discomfort and reduce the aches and pains when you wake up. People living with chronic neck pain, may find memory foam pillows help by distributing cranio-cervical (head and neck) pressure more evenly and straightening the angle of the neck while sleeping.

Help for allergy sufferers

Memory foam pillows are naturally hypoallergenic. This is partly because memory foam is resistant to dust mites, making it fantastic for allergy sufferers. The dense structure of memory foam inhibits the dust mites that cause night time allergy irritation, from asthma to itchy eyes. For people who are allergic to specific animals, memory foam could be an even better solution than feathers, wool or alpaca pillow fillings.

Better airway alignment, and less snoring

Certain memory foam pillows are designed with contours that encourage a healthier sleeping posture, which may help open the airways and reduce snoring. Research suggests that improved sleep position can lead to decreased snoring in some people. Although not specifically about memory foam, a 1991 study by  Cartwright et al. did highlight the importance of sleep position in helping to manage connected disorders like snoring and sleep apnoea.

Foetal? Face-first? Starfish? Find out how sleep position affects your shut-eye.

Memory foam pillows – the cons
Heat retention

One potential downside of memory foam is its heat-retaining properties. The material can trap body heat, causing some ‘hot sleepers’ to feel a little too warm during sleep. This issue can be more pronounced in pillows with higher density foam. The secret? Select a memory foam pillow with open cell technology for temperature regulation, which ‘breathes’, allowing heat to dissipate and fresh air to replace stale air. A natural silk or linen pillowcase helps the surface feel cool and refreshing on skin.

Get our 8 hottest tips for a cooler night’s sleep.


When some memory foam pillows are new, they may off-gas. While these gases will dissipate over time, they may cause irritation in very sensitive people. This is usually easily fixed by leaving a brand new pillow unwrapped in an airy location for a couple of nights before using.

Durability and longevity

The longevity of memory foam pillows can vary. As with many things, you get what you pay for. Some lower-quality options may lose their shape and supportive properties relatively quickly, and may eventually start to break down with regular use. Higher quality, high-density memory foam pillows tend to have better durability. So if a memory foam pillow seems too cheap, or feels flimsy, leave it on the shelf.

Initial Firmness

While memory foam pillows may soften and conform slightly over time, some sleepers find the initial firmness uncomfortable – especially if they’re used to feather pillows. Like any new pillow, it can take a few nights to get used to the feel of a memory foam pillow. It’s likely that your neck and shoulders will start to feel relief and support after just a night or two.

Memory foam pillows offer plenty of health and comfort benefits supported by scientific research, like ergonomic support, pressure relief and even less snoring. Meanwhile, consider whether you can live with potential drawbacks like heat retention. It comes down to your own preferences.

We compare 5 common pillow types. Find out our top recommendations.

If you’re not sure whether a high quality memory foam pillow is for you, why not sleep on it? Hyoumankind pillows are designed for the ultimate combination of support and comfort, and crafted in New Zealand to the highest standards. That’s why we offer 30 days to love your pillow, or return or exchange it.