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When you’re on the hunt for the perfect pillow, there’s a long list of things to consider — not the least of which is material! Different pillow materials are more compatible with different sleep styles and body types. The key is finding the material that’s best for you. In this review, I’ll be taking a close look at two distinct styles of pillows: memory foam and latex.
First, I’ll go over the differences between memory foam and latex pillows. Next, I’ll describe which sleepers each pillow type might be best for. And I’ll round things out by comparing a few of my favorite latex and memory foam pillows.
Remember, there’s a wide world of pillows out there, so if you’re not sure about latex or memory foam after this review, check out our list of the best pillows for more options.
Not sure what latex and memory foam are? Don’t worry, I’m going to go over both materials here!
Memory foam is made from viscoelastic polyurethane. NASA originally created it for astronauts, though it never actually made it to space. It was first used as wheelchair seat cushions and post surgery padding before making the transition to bedding.
Memory foam can feel initially firm to the touch, but it softens in response to body heat. This material adjusts around pressure and is slow to bounce back, which gives it that typical “cushioning” feel. It’s known for being contouring and pressure-relieving.
Originally, latex was a natural foam made from the sap of the hevea-brasilienis rubber tree. These days, synthetic forms of latex are increasingly common. Synthetic latex is typically made from styrene-butadiene rubber. It can feel very similar to natural latex but does not always have the same durability.
Latex is naturally cooling and bouncy. Latex pillows don’t offer the contouring memory foam pillows do, and they usually feel a bit softer than memory foam pillows. Normally, eco-friendly shoppers prefer all-natural Dunlop latex, while luxury shoppers prefer more even-feeling Talalay latex. Learn about the differences between these foams in our Dunlop vs Talalay Latex guide.
Now that you have a basic overview of these two pillow materials, let’s talk about their similarities and differences.
So, which of these two pillow materials is better for you? That depends on your sleep preferences! Memory foam contours to your body and is slow to react, while latex is bouncier and more responsive. I’ll describe a few universal pros and cons of each material below to help you decide which you might prefer.
Still not sure about the right pillow material for your needs? Don’t worry, I’m going to directly compare three different types of memory foam and latex pillows to help you decide.
As a general rule, memory foam pillows offer a slow response to pressure, a deep sink into the material, and conform to your head and neck. Latex pillows are bouncier, with a quick response to pressure and a bit of light, supportive lift. However, solid latex and memory foam will feel totally different than shredded latex and memory foam. And both options will feel different than a shredded blend of memory foam or latex and another material.
So to help you decide which of these options might work for you, I’m going to compare a solid memory foam and solid latex pillow, a shredded memory foam and shredded latex pillow, and a shredded blend memory foam and shredded blend latex pillow below. Take a look at the lists below to see which pillows I’m comparing, and then read on to learn more about each!
Let’s start out by comparing a solid latex to a solid memory foam pillow. These solid pillows are similarly constructed — they’re both dense blocks of foam! But they feel very different. Read on to learn more about each.
Combo sleepers can enjoy light, buoyant support to ease neck and back pain in every position!
4.70 / 5Read Full Review Check Price
The soft and flat I Love Pillow could be fantastic for stomach sleepers!
5.00 / 5Check Price
Shredding latex or memory foam creates an entirely different feel than a solid construction. The individual pieces of foam or latex are broken up, allowing them to move freely within the pillow. This is going to offer more shapeability and breathability for both pillow types — but the overall feel and support of each material is still markedly different!
A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers.
4.80 / 5Read Full Review Check Price
It offers a nice amount of support, but still allows for some contouring around your head and neck. Plus, you can adjust the loft to a nice medium level for proper spinal alignment.
4.60 / 5Read Full Review Check Price
P.S. If you’re into the idea of shredded memory foam, but you’re looking for a more traditional shape, the memory foam pillow from Coop Home Goods might be just the ticket.
Mixing shredded memory foam or latex with a more traditional pillow fill material normally creates a balanced feel. I’d say the pillows below feel most similar to a traditional down pillow, but retain some of the special properties of memory foam and latex.
Made with all-natural latex, the Avocado pillow is both eco-conscious and supportive!
4.50 / 5Read Full Review Check Price
Constructed with shredded foam and natural fibers from a Kapok tree, this pillow is both plush and dense enough for side sleepers.
4.50 / 5Read Full Review Check Price
Well, we’ve gone over the memory foam vs latex basics and taken a look at six specific pillow examples. To recap, let’s go over the basics one more time so you know what to look for when you’re shopping for a pillow on your own.
A great new pillow is meant to complement a great new mattress, so make sure you’re sleeping on a bed that works for your needs. It would be a shame for your pillow’s hard work to go to waste because you’re sleeping on the wrong mattress!
If you’re a latex or memory foam lover, I want to point you to our best latex mattress and best memory foam mattress guides. Your pillow material doesn’t need to match your mattress material, focus on finding the feel that makes you most comfortable. We have plenty of great mattress options for all sorts of sleepers.
At the end of the day, everybody is different and our sleeping habits are prone to change over time. So, it’s important to remember that finding the best mattress or pillow for your needs can take a bit of research. Luckily, the Sleepopolis team is always here to help with that!
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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.