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Memory Foam Pillows buying guide

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What is Memory Foam?

Probably, the most significant answer is that memory foam has come to be a term synonymous with a good night’s sleep for millions of people around the world.

Memory foam is also known by its nickname “space age foam” because it was originally conceived by, and developed for NASA. NASA required foam that would substantially reduce the stress that is placed on the pressure points of an astronaut’s body by G force pressure.

Modern applications for memory foam include such items as the memory foam pillow, memory foam mattress, memory foam furniture, and the memory foam mouse pad just to name a few.

Memory foam pillows are also known by a quality or benefit they have or by specific popular brand names such as comfort memory foam pillows, luxury memory foam pillow, night memory foam pillow, flex memory foam pillow, k flex memory foam pillow, or sensation memory foam pillows.

They are also frequently referred to by their product composition with such names as visco memory foam pillow or visco elastic memory foam pillow. This is because memory foam categorized products must be made of synthetic petroleum based visco elastic polyurethane foam, which contours to any part of the body that rests on it, relieving pressure points. Its conforming ability responds not only to the weight of the body part in contact with the foam but by the heat generated from the body.

Memory foam has the following well-documented benefits:

  •  It is hypoallergenic.
  • It moulds to the body by responding to the body’s temperature rather than the temperature of the surrounding area.
  •  It conforms to the body by creating compliant cells or soft cells where the heat and weight of your body are in direct contact with it.
  •  It forms firmer support cells in the areas where your body weight and temperature are not in direct contact with it.
  •  It is slow to recover, which means that once it conforms to the part of the body it is in contact with, it does not return to its original shape quickly like traditional foam would.
  •  It is anti-bacterial and dust mite resistant.
  •  It accommodates contact pressure points and relieves them by spreading out the load. It also changes those pressure points in response to your change of positions as you sleep.
  •  When body contact pressure points are relieved, it results in better circulation while you sleep.
  •  Memory foam is available in an extensive array of products, especially those related to sleep such as pillows and mattresses.
  •  It also reduces the effect of the tossing and turning of your sleeping partner.
  •  Both memory foam and latex reduce pressure point contact. Memory foam seems to conform to the body when it is touched where latex foam bounces back.
  •  When pressed into with the hand, memory foam tends to hold your handprint longer than latex does.

What is a Memory Foam Pillow?

Bed pillows memory foam come in a variety of shapes from the traditional to the contoured. Regardless of shape, all memory foam pillows disperse pressure point contact so that weight bearing is evenly distributed. It accomplishes this by conforming or displacing air from contact points and redistributing that air to other areas of the memory foam pillow.

Read the Types’ section of this guide to learn more about the various shapes of memory foam pillows. Check out the Buyer’s Tip section for help selecting the best memory foam pillow for you as well as a list of buyers’ related pros and cons about this product. Finally, click on the Jargon Buster section for help with terminology that you may run across in your search for your memory foam pillow.

Things to consider before buying

  • Check out the guarantee, first off. Manufacturer’s do not tend to guarantee an item if they know they will likely have to replace it. Many memory foam pillows come with a 5 to 10 year warranty. If they do not, one has to wonder, why not.
  • Also, draw your finger across the memory foam; if it feels moist, it is good quality memory foam. If it feels dry, it is probably better to select another memory foam pillow.
  • All memory foams soften a bit over time, but they do not tend to sag or lose the support ability, unless the memory foam is of poorer quality and/or a lower density level. Some people prefer a softer, lower density pillow. Just make sure that it has enough support for you.
    Here is where the guarantee mentioned in the first bullet point of this guide can help.
  • Some memory foam pillow users have complained that the product tends to trap and retain heat around the face and head area. This is true, because the product is heat sensitive and conforms to the head and neck by dispersing air to other areas of the pillow and from the memory cells in contact with your head, heat is trapped there. A solution to this problem is to select a memory foam channelled pillow which has very small grooves cut into it, which allow air to pass through to keep the pillow and your skin cooler.
  • Some memory foam users have also complained about an odour associated with memory foam products. A slight odour is apparent when the product is new but the odour diminishes with time and fresh air. Remember that the odour associated with true visco-elastic memory foam is non-toxic. However, beware of deals that seem too good to be true. Memory foam pillows that are sold extremely cheap may have formaldehyde mixed in as a fixer. Although this is not true visco-elastic memory foam, it may be labelled or advertised as such. This chemical can cause an allergic reaction for some people and is extremely unpleasant smelling for most people.
  • Another way to check the quality is to remember that generally, the higher the density, the better the quality of memory foam.
  • There are many height/weight/size as well as guides by other criteria for selecting both memory foam pillows and memory foam mattresses. They are available in online and catalogue product descriptions and on some memory foam pillow packages.

Types of Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillow by most popular shapes and sizes

  • Memory foam baby pillow - Several companies including Grobag have produced a memory foam baby pillow. Just like the adult version of a memory foam pillow, heat from the baby’s body allows the memory foam to conform to the shape of the baby’s head. This relieves stress points and is a help in keeping the baby’s spine aligned.

    Some experts claim that it prevents Plagiocephaly or Flat Head Syndrome in babies. This is found in some memory foam baby pillow product descriptions such as the Clevamama Memory Foam Baby Pillow
  • Memory foam body pillow - This type of pillow is generally large and can be used to relieve stress points on a variety of body parts such as draping a leg and arm over the pillow to relieve hip, leg, shoulder, or arm stress points.
  • Memory foam channelled pillow - The channelled surface version of a memory foam pillow is available in many shapes including contoured. A channelled surface has tiny grooves or wave shapes cut out of the surface of the pillow. This allows for a massaging effect as well as ventilation. Some customers do not like the heating of the skin that memory foam can induce because of its density. The groove or waved cut out version allows better air circulation while still providing the conforming and support benefits of the traditional memory foam pillow.
  • Memory foam contour pillow - This category covers not only the wave shaped memory foam bed pillow but also other shapes such as neck pillow shapes like the U shape or S shape. The most common memory foam contour pillow is the pillow that is approximately the size of a traditional pillow but has a lip that fits neatly under the neck and aids the correct alignment of the spine.
  • Memory foam contour travel pillow - This type typically has a cut out for the neck to fit in comfortably, or it is shaped like the letter U. The U shape pillow is sometimes called a V shape memory foam pillow. It can also be shaped like an S. The travel contour pillow is typically smaller than one made for bed use. This is so that it is easier to carry along when travelling.
  • Memory foam cylindrical pillow - The cylindrical shaped pillow can be used equally well in a number of applications, although it is most often considered a lumbar spine memory foam pillow used while sitting.
  • Large memory foam pillow - Large size memory foam pillows also come in a variety of shapes from the king size memory foam pillow in the traditional shape, to the memory foam body pillow. The latest addition to the large size pillow group is the type that can be attached to the back of chairs such as a rocking chair or office chair.
  • Memory foam neck pillow - This type comes in various shapes such as the cut out, the wave shape, and the U shape pillow.
  • Memory foam quad cushion - The quad was designed to be placed between the knees and thighs. It relieves lower back pain as well as hip pain and is especially popular for pregnant women.
  • Memory foam chair cushion pillow - This square shaped chair cushion can be added to just about any chair from hard wooden kitchen chairs to the seats of cars, office chairs, or wheelchairs.
  • Memory foam travel pillow - This type comes in a variety of shapes including the U shape, and cut out forms. They are generally slightly smaller than bed size pillows and are perfect for trips by train, bus, plane, or car.
  • Memory foam U-shaped pillow - This shape is most commonly recognised for use as a neck pillow.
  • Sound asleep memory foam music pillow - Built in speakers allow you to relax and fall asleep to the comfort of your favourite music. It requires an IPOD, MP3, or any other device with a 3.5mm stereo plug. Music source such as MP3 and cables can be easily removed for machine-washing the pillow. It is a great traveller as well.
  • Standard memory foam pillow - The memory foam bed pillow is shaped just like a traditional bed pillow and is available in memory foam pillow king, also known as the king size memory foam pillow as well as standard size.

Jargon Explained

Ambient temperatureThis term refers to the temperature of the surrounding area, the room temperature or air temperature.
Heat Reduction Channels (HRC) systemHeat reduction channels or HRC are a system of small channels in the surface area of a memory foam pillow that allow air to pass through, keeping the skin cooler during use.
Memory foam cells These tiny, open-cell structures are round in shape, sensitive, and responsive to temperature. They are made of visco-elastic. In areas that are warmer due to body contact and increased temperature, the cells respond by redistributing air to other sections of the foam that are cooler or in room temperature. The result is that the foam seems to conform to your body shape.
PolyurethaneThis is a thermoplastic polymer used in furniture, padding, and insulation.
Its flexibility varies. It is often used in adhesives and foams.
Slow recovery foamFoam that once altered in contour by heat, such as body heat, returns to its original shape gradually rather than rapidly like traditional foam.
Surface Modified Technology (SMT)This is a specific, patented system of grooves cut into the surface of the pillow to reduce heat build-up.
Temperature sensitive foamTemperature sensitive foam is a foam type that responds or changes when in contact with a heat source such as body heat.
Visco-elastic memory cells Please see memory foam cells above.
Viscous This term seen often in association with memory foam, refers to its consistency, which is thick, glutinous, or sticky.

Buying Guide to Memory Foam Pillows
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