Memory Foam vs Pillow Top

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Memory Foam

Memory foam is a blend of polyurethane (a polymer made as a byproduct of petroleum refining) and additional chemicals that give the memory foam its low-resilience. It was originally developed by NASA in the 1970s for airplane cushioning and has since become one of the widest materials used in mattresses and pillows.

In plain English, what makes memory foam is its ability to contour to pressure and return to its original shape slowly after pressure is released. This process allows for it to react to pressure differently across its surface and provide a contoured, but aligned feeling for sleepers.

In mattresses, older or lower quality memory foam may sag from the repetitive pressure of laying or sitting. For this reason, those that are heavier should do additional research about soft memory foam bedding as they will sink more than alternatives and could lead to discomfort for some body types.

Lastly, over the recent years, there has been reports of off-gassing and toxic odors released from memory foam. Some lower quality or treated memory foam may have this problem and cause respiratory inflamation. It is important to make sure that memory foam is high quality.

Pros: Contouring comfort, competitive pricepoints, and widespread options.

Cons: Sagging and off-gassing problems with lower quality foams.

Pillow Top

A pillow top is a surface layer of soft material that is stitched and packed into the cover. This provides a soft as a cloud feel to the surface of the mattress.

There are multiple types of pillow tops, though the most popular recently is a memory foam pillow top. A memory foam pillow top has a thin layer of soft memory foam that is stitched into the cover. Though memory foam is a popular material for pillow tops, you can also find them with latex, cotton, cashmere, wool, or goose down/feathers.

Pillow top mattresses generally have spring support systems in the middle of the mattress, though there could be a pillow top on a memory foam mattress as well (it is just not very common).

Pros: A plush feel on the top of the mattress that pillows the body on top of the support layers.

Cons: The pillow top alone will not make a good bed -- the materials used in the pillow top and the rest of the mattress can sag or have issues if they are lower quality.


Learn More About Memory Foam

Learn More About Pillow Top

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Material Scores

Overall Score:
Memory Foam: 9.3/10
Pillow Top: 8.9/10

Comfort:
Memory Foam: 9.4/10
Pillow Top: 9/10

Softness:
Memory Foam: 9.5/10
Pillow Top: 9.4/10

Cooling:
Memory Foam: 8/10
Pillow Top: 8.2/10

Hypoallergenic:
Memory Foam: 8.1/10
Pillow Top: 8.5/10

Odor:
Memory Foam: 8.4/10
Pillow Top: 8.8/10

General Support:
Memory Foam: 8/10
Pillow Top: 8.2/10

Eco-Conscious:
Memory Foam: 8.5/10
Pillow Top: 8.5/10

Price Value:
Memory Foam: 9.4/10
Pillow Top: 8.2/10

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