About Memory Foam
New Shape for a Popular Material
Memory foam was introduced to the bedding market in 1991. Known for its conformity and pressure relief, it is a popular mattress material, and is found in most popular mattresses, especially bed-in-a-box models.
Memory Foam in Pillows
Memory foam’s first commercial use was in seat cushions. Now it is the filling in many pillows, though it has not become as dominant as in mattresses. Again, the reason for its popularity is conformity. However, heat retention, weight, and cost factor against being more widely used.
Memory foam is designed to be temperature sensitive. Therefore it absorbs heat, which means it becomes warm. Open-cell memory foam does not get as warm as the original closed-cell material. Also, perforated foam is more widely used, cooling it even more. Still, for the head, this can be too warm for some persons.
Memory foam is dense. Therefore it is heavier than polyurethane foam and latex. The newer open-cell memory foam is lighter, but it is still heavier than other pillow fillings.
Let’s face it. Cost is a factor for many or most customers. Quality memory foam is not cheap. In pillows, including body pillows, it has to be good enough to be worth the cost. Apparently, in some pillows, it is.
The Down Standard
For a long time, the comfort of pillows has been compared to down pillows as the standard. They are soft and conforming. They can be fluffed up and shaped to fit. Pillows filled with fibers, whether cotton, wool, or polyester, often become lumpy. On the other hand, cut or molded foam – latex or memory foam – can’t be re-shaped for a better fit.
Shredded Foam in Pillows
Now shredded foam – memory foam and latex – is used in pillows. Judging by the numbers of customer reviews on Amazon, shredded memory foam is vastly more popular than shredded latex. Shredded foam can be pinch-molded to the desired configuration. It then retains that shape until it is intentionally re-shaped. The top-rated memory foam pillows on Amazon (with over 900 customer reviews) are dominated by shredded memory foam, and that is the filling of the top two brands as ranked by Sleep Like the Dead.
The top brand, Snuggle-Pedic, uses a blend of two varieties of shredded memory foam – Biogreen (which is extremely low in emissions) and regular memory foam certified by CertiPUR-US as free from heavy metals and toxic chemicals – in its pillows: Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Shredded Memory Foam Pillow and Snuggle-Pedic Shredded Memory Foam Body Pillow.
The next top brand, Coop Home Goods, has straight shredded memory foam in its two highest rated pillows: Coop Home Goods Original Pillow and Coop Home Goods Total Body Pillow. In some of their other pillows, such as Eden and Dawn, the shredded memory foam is blended with microfiber. Eden also adds gel-infused memory foam to the mix.
Advantages of Shredded Memory Foam
The first advantage of shredded memory foam is that it is memory foam. It conforms to the shape of the body based on body heat. This distributes its support evenly, relieving larger parts of the body and supporting the smaller parts. When a head pillow shapes itself to the head, it makes headaches less likely. With a body pillow, this also relieves pressure on the hips and supports the lumbar and neck.
Adding gel to the memory foam is supposed to make it cooler. However, the effectiveness of gel has been called into question by several experts in the use of memory foam, including Dr. Rick Swartzburg, a chiropractor and the designer of several memory foam mattresses.
When the foam is shredded, it becomes more breathable and cooler, because it lets air flow through the pillow. This airflow is part of the comfort of a down pillow, even with tightly-woven down-proof ticking. This is probably the leading reason for shredded memory foam pillows being at the top of the ratings. While shredded memory foam pillows are higher-rated than solid memory foam pillows, shredded latex does not appear to rate more highly than solid latex.
An advantage of shredded foam in general is it malleability. The shredded foam can be pinched, pulled, and pushed though the cover to reshape the pillow to customize it for the individual user.
As to cost, shredded memory foam should be less expensive than blocks of memory foam. It can be made from new memory foam trimmed from slabs of memory foam to size them for mattress layers.
Because of its coolness, enhanced conformability, and customizability, shredded memory foam pillows is foreseen to gain a larger share of the pillow market with increased availability and lowered prices.