In this article I’ll be talking about two different styles of pillows, memory foam and latex.
I’ve chosen three models of each style so you can get a good sense about what each material is like, what they feel like, and which sleepers might be most compatible with which.
Let’s get started.
When it comes to choosing the right pillow, there’s a lot to take into account, not the least of which is material.
Obviously, not all memory foam is going to feel the same. Not all latex is going to feel the same.
However, there are some consistent features within each group.
When it comes to memory foam, you’re really going to get that deep sink into the material.
It’s going to offer a slower response to pressure and really a conformance to your head and neck.
The feel of memory foam really depends on the construction.
For example, a solid piece of memory foam is going to feel differently than shredded memory foam, and that’s going to feel different from a shredded blend of memory foam and another material.
Latex on the other hand, typically offers a quicker, more bouncy response to pressure, still conforming to your head and neck, like memory foam does, but in a more buoyant way that’s not really so much of a deep sink into the material as it is a supportively light lift.
Latex does tend to be less dense than memory foam, but again, the feel of latex depends on its construction.
A solid piece of latex is going to feel different from shredded latex. Dunlop latex is going to feel different from Talalay latex.
Let’s take a close look at some specific pillow examples.
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Out Cold Pillow
First up is from the memory foam corner. It’s the Out Cold pillow from I Love My Pillow.
This is an example of a solid piece of memory foam. This memory foam is the company’s proprietary memory foam.
It’s built to be a lighter-weight memory foam. It’s actually not as dense as some solid pieces I’ve tested.
One of the main characteristics of a solid piece is this super slow response to pressure.
It’s obviously conforming to pressure, conforming to your shape, so that when you do sink your head into the pillow, the sides are slowly cradling your head, really conforming to your neck.
That’s going to help you to maintain healthy posture throughout the night. It really adapts to your body as you transition positions.
Some things to note about solid memory foam is they do have the potential to trap a little bit of heat, which is why some folks do prefer shredded memory foam.
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay
First up from the latex corner, we’ve got the Talalay latex pillow from Brooklyn Bedding.
This is also a solid piece. It’s a solid piece of Talalay latex, which you could probably predict from the name.
Let me explain what I mean by bouncy, quick response to pressure.
You can literally bounce it off the bed. It’s extremely airy, light. This support is just very buoyant.
It’s going to really let your head rest on the surface of the pillow because it really is giving you that supportive lift.
When it comes to a solid piece, it really is going to be a little less shapeable, a little less malleable.
Again, it’s adapting to pressure, it’s conforming to your head and neck, but in that quick, bouncy way.
This is Talalay latex, which is going to be a little bit lighter, a little less dense than Dunlop latex.
Next up in the memory foam corner we’ve got the Layla pillow.
This is an example of a shredded blend of memory foam and another material. The other material in here is a natural tree fiber called kapok.
We know that memory foam in going to offer that nice, slow response to pressure, that deep lush sink into the pillow.
The kapok is working to create a balance between plush and supportive. What I mean by that is the kapok actually does have a buoyant quality to it. It is a little plusher a little lighter.
When you mix it with a shredded blend of the memory foam, memory foam when it’s shredded, the individual pieces help the pillow to not heat up.
It also allows the individual pieces to move more freely than a solid piece.
You’re getting less of that deep sink and pressure-conforming, and just a little bit more shapeability, a little bit more fluffability, and that balance between plush and densely supportive.
Avocado Green Pillow
Next up, for the latex side, I’ve got the Avocado Green pillow.
This has a much different feel and support than the Talalay latex pillow. That’s because this is filled with an even mix of natural Dunlop latex shreds and the natural tree fiber kapok.
Dunlop latex is going to be denser than Talalay. It doesn’t have that intense buoyancy that Talalay has.
However, it does have a quicker response to pressure than memory foam.
The kapok is combining with that denser, firmer Dunlop latex to give it a really soft-medium plush feel.
This pillow, in particular, would be a great pick for combo sleepers.
The latex is giving it that quicker response to pressure, that conformance to your head and neck.
The kapok is giving it this shapeability that would lend itself really well to combo sleepers.
Easy Breather Side Sleeper
Next is the Easy Breather Side Sleeper pillow from Nest Bedding.
This is an example of 100 percent shredded memory foam. Nothing else inside here, but 100 percent shredded memory foam.
It still has a slow response to pressure, but the individual shreds of memory foam, which are about the size of pieces of popcorn, move more freely within the pillow.
It’s still really doing a great job of conforming to your head and neck, but the response to pressure isn’t quite as slow as a solid piece of memory foam.
The sink into the pillow, it’s still deep, it’s still really characteristic of memory foam, but it’s going to do a better job of dissipating your body’s heat, and just allowing for a little more shapeability.
What I love about this pillow and about shredded memory foam is that you can reach in and pull some out. Why would you do that?
Well, if you want to adjust the loft of this pillow to your liking, you can just reach in. You can move the fill to different parts of the pillow.
If you want the middle to be a little loftier, if you want to remove some of the fill because you want the loft to be a little lower, this pillow really allows you to do that.
You’ll notice that the shape of this pillow is unique. It’s in this boomerang shape.
As you might have guessed by the name, it’s intended to accommodate folks who sleep on their sides.
Also, this middle section, which has got a little bit less loft, it’s going to be great for back sleepers as well.
Back and side sleepers who love that body conforming, slow sink into memory foam are going to be particularly compatible with this pillow.
Last up for the latex, we’ve got the Saatva pillow.
You probably couldn’t necessarily guess that this is a latex pillow. It looks super fluffy. It looks like it’s got a totally different feel from the others.
That’s because it does.
However, it does have this interesting three-layer construction where you’ve got cotton on the outside.
Then we’ve got the inner pillow. On the inside, this pillow has this plush, really fluffy down alternative. It’s really adding that comfort factor, really making it squishy.
Then on the inside of this pillow, known as the pillow’s core, is 100 percent shredded Talalay latex.
This is the core of the pillow. It’s shredded rather than a solid piece, which offers a very different feel and look from the solid piece of Talalay latex.
The material inside is offering this buoyancy, this bounce that, once you combine it with the rest of the pillow, is really going to offer that quick response to pressure, that supportive but light lift for your head and neck.
That is very characteristic of latex. Not every latex pillow is going to feel the same.
This one definitely has a different feel than a lot of the other latex pillows I’ve tested.
You can really see the quicker response to pressure, the bounce that the core of the latex inside is really going to provide.
As far as which sleepers I think might be most compatible with this one, I don’t know. It’s got a pretty lofty build.
I’m liking it for side sleepers, but the outside does have that fluffy down alternative. I think the combination of these two materials would make it great for back and side sleepers.
We’ve learned a little bit more about memory foam and latex.
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Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.