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11 best memory-foam pillows

Sleep better with a pillow that moulds to your body in response to heat and pressure

Study claims one third of Brits prefer to stay up late ( Getty Images )

The right pillow is the holy grail of a good night's sleep – and many swear by memory-foam pillows.

Memory foam was developed in the 1970s for NASA as a way to improve seat cushioning and crash protection for aircraft seats. Made from a substance called viscoelastic, it moulds to the body in response to heat and pressure, resulting in an even distribution of body weight. Once the pressure is removed, it returns to its original shape.

There are a wide range of memory-foam pillows around, varying in firmness, depth and price. 

Sleep expert John Groeger, Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, says: ‘Because we usually sleep in temperatures we have made comfortable, we tend not to think of heat when we think about sleeps’ main enemies: worry, stress, illness, the people or pets that might wake us, noise and light. We probably think far less about our beds, mattresses and bedding than we should. 

"Bed clothes and pillows are really important ways of maintaining or changing our body temperature. As we lie down and sink our heads into a pillow, losing heat when we need to becomes more difficult if the pillow doesn’t help temperature control. Preference for harder, softer, higher or lower pillows is more about our body posture during sleep – which needs to be able to change at various points in the night, as well as the stiffness or sensitivity which arose during the day because of injury or poor daytime posture.’

With this in mind, we’ve selected 11 memory-foam pillows and tested them on their appearance, price and how they felt to sleep on for at least two nights.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The Simba Hybrid® Pillow, £95, Simba 

This pillow doesn’t feel like a one big sponge like many memory-foam pillows and has a texture which is more like a feather pillow. This sensation is created by the fact that it's filled with memory-foam tubes, or Nanotube technology.

The ingenious design enables you to remove as much, or as little, of the memory-foam tubes as you wish to achieve the optimum sleeping position. It comes with a small bag in which to safely store the directions about the quantity of ‘handfuls’ to remove in order to go from a firm, to a medium, to a soft. 

It also offers a different sleeping experience on each side – with one side being made of OUTLAST®, which helps regulate your body temperature, and a layer of soft duck. And the other of a cotton and microfibre layer for a softer, cloud-like feel.

These innovative design ideas enables a comfortable night's sleep whatever your head height and support preference, and makes the slightly higher price tag extremely justifiable. 

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Memory foam pillow, £59, Eve

Eve deserves an award for the stylishness of their packaging. The bold and fresh yellow and white design of the pillow is echoed by the box, which is adorned with famous sleep quotes.

This pillow offers a good combination of support and comfort, and the stretchy breathable cover allows easy removal for washing. It has also been coated with an antimicrobial UltraFresh finish to prevent staining and odours.

Just as the packing suggests, this pillow ensures that ‘Our finest life is when we are in dreams awake’ (to paraphrase the essayist Henry David Thoreau). 

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Memory Foam Comfort Pillow, £45, The White Company

With the appearance of a traditional pillow, this is made with shredded memory foam, which makes it supportive and comfortable.

It bridges the gap between shoulder and neck to aid alignment when side-sleeping, while being soft enough to mould delightfully to your body. It’s perfect if you’re not looking for something too rigid.

The stylish white cover can be removed for washing. 

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COOLMAX® 3 Way Contour Memory Foam Pillow, £39.50, Marks and Spencer

Ingeniously incorporating three heights within one pillow, this pillow includes a large contour for sleeping on your side, a lower contour for on your back, and or the reverse side for sleeping on your front. 

This Ultra Firm Support pillow is precisely as described – substantially firmer than some of the others on the market, offering fantastic support and maintaining a higher sleeping position. 

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OTTY Deluxe pillow, £54.99, OTTY 

Thicker than many of the pillows tested, this is well-suited to people who prefer a slightly higher sleeping position. 

Made entirely from a unique thermostatic Cool Blue Gel-infused memory foam, this pillow moulds to your head and shoulders well.

This, combined with the invisible airflow perforations, results in a heat dispersion which keeps you feeling cool.  

It’s hypo-allergenic, too.

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Teddy Bear Memory Foam Pillow, £25, Dunelm

Just as the name suggests, this pillow is covered with a layer of soft, fluffy teddy-bear style fleece. This luxuriously soft washable cover ensures its popularity with children and adults alike merely for the fact that it is like sleeping on a giant teddy bear.

The memory-foam filling offers the perfect balance of head and neck support, while also being soft enough to provide the comfort of that sinking-soft feeling as soon as you lie down.

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Memory Foam Impress Pillow, £36.99, Silentnight 

With a support rating of 3 (with 1 being extra soft and 10 being extra firm), this ergonomic contoured shape moulds perfectly to your head, neck and shoulders, providing a comfortable, relaxing sleep.

The reasonable price tag and fact that it’s non-allergenic and comes in a machine washable cover proves it to be a fantastic all-rounder and a perfect solution to finding a pillow that offers support without you really noticing.

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Pocket Springback Pillow, £39.99, Sealy 

Endorsed by the Orthopedic Advisory board, this pillow offers support to maintain spine position as you sleep, while also feeling soft enough to be comfortable. The support it offers is subtle, so the sleeping position isn’t too high. Plus, you still get that lovely sinking feeling which some of the pillows lack.

Containing 28 tiny individual spring pockets nestled into the memory foam layers, it encourages air circulation too, which made for a brilliant night's sleep for our tester. 

The cover is thick and looks like it would wear well, making it a good choice for longevity, too.

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The Emma pillow, £65, Emma Mattress

This reversible pillow offers both a comfort side (allowing your head to sink in gradually) and a supportive side (providing optimum support for the head and neck). It's a winner if you’re looking for something for a guest room or for the opportunity to alternate depending on your mood.

This pillow comes with a 100-night trial, so if you’re not completely satisfied it can be returned. 

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Aloft memory foam pillow, £45, Next

This pillow looks smart – with a navy piping around the edge. At first, it emits an odour caused by the volatile organic compounds of memory-foam pillows. Don’t be put off, however, as the smell fades within a few uses and the pillow is an ideal combination of support and comfort. 

Best buy 

Memory microfibre rectangular pillow, £30, Habitat

This looks like an ordinary pillow and isn’t as thick as some of the memory-foam pillows tested. This makes it well-suited, though, for anyone who prefers a slightly lower sleeping position. 

Soft and sinkable, it’s a good all-rounder of a pillow at a reasonable price.

Best buy  

The Verdict: Best memory foam pillows

We spend one third of our lives sleeping, so The Simba Hybrid® pillow is well worth the investment. The removable memory-foam contents make it appealing whatever pillow-height you're looking for. The fact it offers a different texture on each side means that it’s guaranteed to satisfy most sleeping preferences. It looks pretty good, too.

For lower budgets, the Dunelm Teddy Bear Memory Foam Pillow is a steal, while the Habitat option a good all-rounder.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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