Are Memory Foam Pillows Good?

by Jane | Last Updated: May 15, 2017 When you buy something using the links on our posts, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Jane here! I’m going to answer a question that we get a lot: Are memory foam pillows good?

If you ask me right now, my answer would be a big resounding yes. Memory foam pillows are the bomb. These days, I love my memory foam pillow nearly as much as Philip loves his salt lamps.

We like them so much that when Philip and I go to our spa trips, we invariably bring our memory pillows along. This, even when we’re going to hotels and lodges that are known for providing the ultimate in comfort and relaxation.

But you know what? If you had asked me this question a couple of years ago when I ordered our very first memory pillow, my answer would have been a big fat NO.

Here’s the lowdown on memory foam pillows:

The Bad

They smell bad… at first

I was soo excited when I got my first ever memory foam pillow. I was having difficulty sleeping and kept waking up with a stiff neck or a frozen shoulder so my ortho doc recommended I try out memory foam pillows. Boy, was it heavy as I lugged it home!

I opened the box and there was a flat pancake of a pillow staring at me. Oh right. I had to take it out from its plastic wrap and let it “breathe” and puff out to its natural shape.

And it did! But that wasn’t the problem. Soon enough, I started noticing this awful chemically smell. Oh noooo! It’s the pillow. My supposedly delicious pillow smelled worse than a newly painted room!!

A quick Google search told me to leave it overnight for the “off gassing”. Apparently, because it’s made from polyurethane and other chemicals, the off-gassing phase is a common occurrence.

Sadly, one day didn’t do it. A week didn’t do it. I thought the smell was never going away! I hated my first purchase so much that I just left it in the guest room.

So how did I get around to using it? Philip picked it up. By that time, it was odorless. And apparently very comfortable. I got jealous enough to steal it one day and try it out for myself.

And the rest is history. Since then, I’ve become savvier in choosing brands that don’t smell bad. So yeah, don’t make the same mistake I did.

There’s a period of adjustment

The first few days of using my memory foam pillow weren’t at all comfortable for me. I was used to soft downy pillows and my new pillow was very firm. It felt like a brick in comparison. I didn’t even understand how it was “memory foam”.

I was happy that I gave it a few days though because once I got used to it, it was wonderful. I got good nights of sleep from then on and there was simply no going back to normal pillows.

sleeping on memory foam pillows

I think the best comparison would be to my ergonomic keyboard. I had to adjust to it for a week and it was super inconvenient but once I did get the hang of it, I was an instant convert. (Come to think of it, they both got rid of chronic pain for me.)

The Good

Great support

I believe that what eventually got rid of my initial discomforts from regular pillows was the support that memory pillows provided. The same firmness that I had to adjust to in the beginning ultimately became the same feature that helped me get rid of chronic pain.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the same as sleeping on bricks as I may have mentioned earlier. When your head and neck are resting on your pillow, it yields AND the same time supports your body.

I highly recommend this type of pillow if you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, or suffer from body pain, or worse, chronic pain.


Actually, a lot of anti-fans complain about these type of pillows as being too hot. I didn’t have this experience though. This may have to do with the fact that the pillows that we got had cooling features. One had a cooling gel side.

memory pillow with cooling gel

A memory pillow with cooling gel

The other — our top pick on our Top 5 list for memory pillows — was shredded and had a bamboo polyester fabric cover.

Xtreme Comforts Pillows for Sleeping - GreenGuard Gold Certified Adjustable Standard Memory Foam...
Xtreme Comforts Pillows for Sleeping - GreenGuard Gold Certified Adjustable Standard Memory Foam...
  • Adjustable - Whether you prefer firm, fluffy, or fine, our memory foam pillows can meet your napping needs. Add or remove the padding with...
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Last update on 2024-06-23 at 10:47 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info

On a hot day, they’re still cool and when you turn the AC on, they make me feel like I’m lying in a cool puddle of water for a couple of minutes.

Alleviates chronic pain

A lot of people who’ve made the switch to memory pillows have done so primarily because their chronic pain (pain that you live with day in and day out) went away.

And that’s my experience too. This pillow molds to your head and neck and keeps your spine aligned too.

Try getting a memory foam pillow if you suffer from diseases like cervical spondylosis, a frozen shoulder, spinal stenosis, back pain, and so on.

How to choose a memory pillow for you

I made my first purchase on the blind so here are some tips to help you avoid the mistakes I made:

Jane NeuAuthor: Jane Neu

Jane is the creator of Complete Home Spa – “It’s a good idea,” she said. But even she has been taken aback by its success. She lives with a cranky Englishman in a quiet countryside retreat. And in the past year, has become mom cat to a spunky rescue named Mina. Connect with her on Twitter @completehomespa.