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Why can a memory foam pillow be harmful?

15 October 2023
Memory Foam Pillow, Foam Pillows, Memory Foam
Memory foam pillows have gained tremendous popularity due to their purported ability to adapt to the body's shape and provide a comfortable night's sleep. Despite their several advantages, there are also certain drawbacks that can have a negative impact on health. It's essential to be aware of these drawbacks and eliminate memory foam pillows from your bedrooms.

Although many manufacturers and sellers offer memory foam pillows, especially those made from chemical memory foam production methods, they haven't been a novelty for several decades. This product has been on the market since the last century, and it was replaced long ago by more innovative and comfortable pillows. Primarily, these are pillows with healthier properties compared to memory foam ones.
Shaped Memory Pillow, Bedroom Pillows, Memory Foam

Support for the head on a memory foam pillow

Memory foam pillows are supposed to provide a comfortable night's sleep, which is merely an illusion. They have an extremely significant flaw that significantly affects the quality of support for the head and spine during sleep. It mainly concerns the fact that memory foam, from which these pillows are made, quickly sinks under the influence of body temperature.

It's precisely this significant characteristic that can lead to issues with supporting the head and spine, which may worsen during the night. Initially, on a memory foam pillow, we feel pleasant support for the head and neck. The foam adjusts to our shape, providing comfort. Over time, the foam starts to sink under the head and neck. This means that the initial support, which was good, turns out to be very deceptive because it gradually weakens as the pillow sinks.

This effect is also noticeable for those who change positions during sleep. Every movement requires the foam to readjust, and at the same time, the foam hasn't regained its previous shape, which can result in insufficient support during sleep. Consequently, the head and neck may be exposed to improper alignment, which, in turn, can lead to neck and back pain in users.

It's worth noting that the effects of this problem worsen with prolonged use of a memory foam pillow. Therefore, although they may seem comfortable at first glance, they can have a negative impact on our health in the long run. Hence, to enjoy a healthy and comfortable sleep, it's worth considering modern alternatives that provide lasting support for the head and spine without sinking.
Thermoelastic Pillows, Foam Pillow, Neck Pain

The impact of a memory foam pillow on the cervical spine

Memory foam pillows, known for their supposed shape memory, can be the cause of serious neck pain problems for users. The key issue with a memory foam pillow is that the sinking viscoelastic foam is unable to properly support the cervical spine in a physiological position, often leading to a range of adverse health effects on various levels.

The cervical spine, consisting of seven vertebrae, plays an incredibly important role in maintaining balance and stability in the body. When sleeping on your side, your head should be aligned with the cervical spine to avoid excessive muscle tension and pain. Therefore, proper support during sleep is crucial for maintaining the correct body posture.

However, almost always, a memory foam pillow, although initially adapting to the shape of your head and neck, quickly loses this ability as the material sinks in. This effect causes your head to gradually droop downward, and the cervical spine is no longer properly supported by such a pillow. As a result, the head may be in an uncomfortable position, which can lead to neck and back pain, as well as muscle tension in the user.

Prolonged use of a memory foam pillow that does not provide proper support for the cervical spine can result in serious health problems. Individuals at risk of this problem may experience chronic neck pain and an increased risk of more serious spinal conditions in the cervical and thoracic spine. Such individuals are also more likely to experience migraines and other discomforts.
Sleeping Pillows, Spine Pillow, Night Sweats

The thoracic spine and a memory foam pillow

Properly maintaining body posture during sleep is a key factor influencing our health, especially in the thoracic and cervical spine areas. Unfortunately, a memory foam pillow can have a negative impact on these body regions. It's important to understand why memory foam pillows can lead to problems with the thoracic spine and why it's significant for our health.

In principle, the head during sleep should be in a position where it is facing the ceiling, meaning the face should be looking upward. This means that the cervical and thoracic spine should be properly aligned and supported by the right pillow to maintain the natural curvature of the spine. In the case of a memory foam pillow, the problem arises when the material starts to sink over the course of sleep.

When a memory foam pillow sinks, the user's head begins to be brought toward the chest. This not only disrupts the natural curvature of the cervical spine but also has a negative impact on the thoracic spine. Excessive head flexion can lead to muscle strain, which can eventually result in pain and discomfort in the thoracic spine area.

Additionally, the incorrect position of the head and spine can hinder breathing. Proper head and neck positioning are crucial for adequate lung ventilation during sleep. If a memory foam pillow doesn't provide proper support and, consequently, positions the head too close to the chest, it can lead to breathing difficulties, especially in individuals suffering from sleep apnea or other respiratory conditions.
Thermoelastic Pillow, Visco Pillows, Night Sweating

Sweating due to a memory foam pillow

For many people, memory foam pillows are a source of discomfort, and one of the main issues is excessive sweating during sleep. This phenomenon is often associated with the properties of memory foam, the material from which these pillows are made. It reacts to body temperature, which, as a result, makes it soft and gives the impression that it conforms to the body's shape. As the pillow heats up, the foam can sink in more strongly, enclosing around the head and neck of the sleeping person.

This sealing of the cells of memory foam also affects air circulation. When the cells are closed, it hinders air circulation as it begins to resemble a polyurethane skin layer. At the same time, the skin of the human head and neck becomes less ventilated, which subsequently leads to a sensation of heat and sweating. For many people, this is not only uncomfortable but also disrupts peaceful sleep.

Sweating on a memory foam pillow can be particularly troublesome on hot days when body temperature rises. Even on cooler days, the effect of cell sealing in memory foam can lead to excessive humidity and discomfort during sleep for many people. That's why many users of popular memory foam pillows switch to functional pillows made from highly elastic foam, which have different properties.
Thermoplastic Pillow, Orthopedic Pillows, Back Pain

Differences in memory foam

Memory foam pillows, much like memory foam mattresses, gained popularity due to their promoted ability to conform to the shape of the body, which is questionable based on the facts presented. However, it's important to remember that not all memory foams are the same. There are significant differences between them, especially in terms of production methods. These differences impact the quality, durability, and comfort of use of these products.

Memory foams produced using chemical methods, although available to pillow manufacturers at a lower cost, have their drawbacks. One of the main characteristics of these foams is that they sink rather quickly. The material conforms to the body because its dynamics are weak, which means it loses almost all of its elasticity and resilience in a relatively short period of time. This can lead to a loss of comfort and support during sleep.
Pneumatically produced memory foam pillows are better, but they are also not suitable for everyone.
Those produced using pneumatic methods are characterized by significantly better durability and resilience in the long run but are more expensive. These foams more stably maintain their shape over a longer period of time, providing better support during sleep. Thanks to their superior dynamics, they do not quickly lose their resilience, which also translates into a longer product lifespan. Despite this, they still have the same drawbacks, albeit in a milder form, so they may not be suitable for everyone.

These differences have a significant impact on the comfort and spinal health of pillow users. People using those produced by pneumatic methods often experience better support and more comfortable sleep than those who choose foams produced using chemical methods. Long-term use of a memory foam pillow produced while maintaining high-quality standards can contribute to improving sleep quality and overall comfort in life, but only for some individuals.
Thermoelastic Pillows, Memory Pillow, Neck Pain, Migraine

Innovation instead of a memory foam pillow

A rarely seen innovation in the form of a pillow made from high-quality highly elastic foam with open cells opens up entirely new possibilities for us and, as a result, brings users a range of benefits compared to memory foam pillows. Most commonly encountered memory foam pillows, especially those with a completely anatomically contradictory wave-shaped design, have a tendency to sink around the body, which can lead to a loss of comfort and support during sleep.

Meanwhile, highly elastic foam with open cells changes this paradox. Its main advantage is much greater dynamism, which means that this type of pillow also adapts to the body's shape in the right way but does not sink in a way that limits sleep comfort. It is the ability to maintain its shape that ensures continuous head and spine support throughout the night. There's no need to worry that a sleep pillow will lose its dynamism.

It's also worth noting that HR foam with open cells has another significant advantage. Its porous structure provides better air circulation. Thanks to the open cells, this material does not enclose itself around the body, allowing for free airflow. This means that you won't sweat during sleep, as often happens with memory foam pillows.
It's worth opting for high-resilience foam pillows.
Memory foam pillows made from materials with open cells undoubtedly elevate the standards of quality and comfort during sleep. Their ability to conform to the body does not disrupt adequate resilience, and they are also known for ensuring proper air circulation. This makes them an excellent choice for those seeking a healthier and more comfortable alternative to memory foam pillows. This knowledge can contribute to improving sleep quality and overall comfort, even for you.

The most functional pillows available in our range are designed for sleeping on the back and side for adults. It is worth making the right pillow choice, with the help of our specialists, just like choosing a universal orthopedic mattress. In our assortment of pillows, you will find:
  • Yoko pillow for individuals with a slim to medium build;
  • Asana pillow for individuals with an average build;
  • Enso pillow for individuals with an average build, being the most versatile choice;
  • Hiro pillow for individuals with a massive build.
We also encourage you to explore other articles on the best sleep and health blog, as well as the Encyclopedia of Healthy Sleep prepared by the ONSEN® team of specialists. For those who care about spine health, we recommend a set of spine exercises prepared by our physiotherapist.
Thermoelastic Pillow, Headache Pillows, How Not to Sweat at Night

FAQ: Memory foam pillow

What is a memory foam pillow?

A memory foam pillow, also known as a memory foam pillow, is a product made from viscoelastic polyurethane foam that adapts to the body's shape in response to temperature and pressure. This allows for contouring support to the head and neck during sleep, although it also has several significant drawbacks.

What is a high resilience pillow?

A high resilience pillow is a modern and innovative solution that is rarely found on the Polish market. Created from high-resilience foams, orthopedic pillows are based on foams with open cells that maintain their shape and elasticity for a very long time. They provide continuous support for the head and spine and better air circulation.

How to choose a pillow to avoid sweating?

To avoid sweating on a pillow, it is worth paying attention to the pillow's interior and its construction. It is advisable to look for pillows with open-cell foams, primarily high resilience pillows, which provide the best air circulation and help minimize sweating during sleep. Pillows with memory foam should be avoided as they can increase perspiration.

Which pillow is the healthiest?

The healthiest pillow is one that provides proper support for the head and spine, maintains the correct body posture during sleep, and minimizes the risk of health problems such as back pain or muscle tension. It should also alleviate difficulties related to sweating on the head or neck. Therefore, when choosing a pillow, it is worth considering individual needs and preferences, as well as paying attention to its interior. Currently, high resilience pillows are the healthiest option.

What is the best foam pillow?

The best foam pillow is made of high-resilience foams that can adapt to individual preferences and needs. Pillows made from modern high-resilience foam with open cells are gaining popularity due to their ability to maintain shape, support, and sleep comfort for a long time. This is currently the best solution for many people looking for a comfortable and healthy foam pillow.

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