Memory Foam vs Pillow Top: What Is the Difference?

Memory Foam vs Pillow Top: What Is the Difference?

Written by Nectarsleep editorial team

Last Updated on Apr 27, 2022

In this article:

    Memory foam mattresses consist of polyurethane foam that conforms to your body, while Pillow top mattresses have an added layer of padding on top of the mattress. The difference between memory foam and pillow top is that memory foam mattresses are designed to provide support and comfort, while pillow-top mattresses are designed for a softer feel.

    While memory foam and pillow top are exceptionally soft and conforming, they have entirely different structures and support capacities; so which is best for you? 

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    Difference Between Memory Foam and Pillow Top

    Finding it hard to keep track of all the differences between memory foam and pillow top? This table is all you need to go through:

    Parameter Pillow Top Memory Foam
    Durability Not durable. Lasts for only 6 to 8 years. Considerably durable and lasts for 10 to 15 years.
    Motion Isolation Innerspring coils do not help with motion isolation Excellent motion isolation properties
    Temperature Regulation Breathable and cool Tends to trap heat
    Comfort Decent comfort and body conforming Superior comfort along with pressure relieving and back support
    Off Gassing No off-gassing if made without foam Synthetic foam leads to considerable off-gassing
    Affordability Pretty cheap and available between $200 to $1000 Expensive and can cost around $800 to $1500

    What Is Memory Foam?

    Memory foam is a material that is often used in mattresses and other types of bedding. It is known for its ability to conform to the body, provide support and comfort. In addition, memory foam mattresses and pillows help reduce pressure points and provide support for those with sleeping aches, injuries, or chronic pain. It is primarily made of polyurethane foam and is a common choice for plush comfort with medium firmness and soft bed levels. 

    The foam responds to your body temperature and molds accordingly as it is susceptible to temperature and pressure changes. In addition, the highly pliant soft layers of memory foam allow it to contour your body and evenly distribute your weight. 

    Types of Memory Foam

    Before we dive deeper into the memory foam vs. pillow top debate, let's check out the different kinds of memory foam you can choose from. 

    • Gel Memory Foam

    If you want to make the best use of a memory foam mattress that doesn’t spill excess heat, try a gel memory foam mattress. With an added layer of gel beads, the phase-changing material of gel memory foam mattresses absorbs your body heat and keeps your bed cool.

    • Plant-based Memory Foam

    Regular memory foam contains petroleum, adding to its natural heat-trapping properties. However, substituting petroleum with plant-based oil can reduce its heat absorption tendencies, keeping your bed cool all night.

    • Other Cooling Options

    If you want a different variation of memory foam mattresses with the goodness of extra cooling, try mattresses incorporated with good conductors. Metals like copper and graphite are often used in mattresses to subside their heat conduction abilities, automatically cooling your bed. 

    Pros of Memory Foam

    There are countless benefits of sleeping on a memory foam mattress. So let's take a quick look at the same:

    • Soft and durable for superior comfort
    • Excellent pain relief from joint and backaches
    • Consistent pressure relief to enable better sleep
    • Body contouring and malleable for extra support 
    • Helps with spine alignment and support 

    Cons of Memory Foam

    Although memory foam mattresses are superior in a lot of aspects, there are still a few drawbacks:

    • Being made of multiple layers of high-quality foam, they are comparatively expensive.
    • Some memory foam mattresses emit a strong chemical smell similar to those found in new bedding accessories; however, the smell subsides with time and isn’t lasting.

    What Is Pillow Top?

    Many people do not appreciate the structure of soft layers considering its lowering and permanent sinking effects on the mattress’ supporting capacity. If you are someone who needs more comfort without compromising on support, try a pillow-top mattress. 

    These mattresses are just like any regular mattress with an additional comfort layer stitched right on top. This extra layer is usually made of down, memory foam, latex, or fiberfill.

    Pillow tops were initially made to be stitched on innerspring mattresses but new-age latex mattresses being exceptionally firm, often come with an optional add-on of pillow tops. After all, what good is a firm mattress without comfort?

    Types of Pillow Tops

    Now that we know what a pillow top mattress is, let's check out the different options you have:

    1. Regular Pillow Top

    Regular pillow-top mattresses have an additional layer of comfort stitched above the mattress. There is a clear distinction between the mattress’s original comfort layer and the pillow top. This makes the extra padding much more recognizable. Depending on the brand, it might also help you choose the ideal level of extra comfort you need. 

    2. Euro Pillow Top

    Euro pillow top mattresses have extra padding stitched under the mattress cover so that it looks plush and comfortable as a whole unit. Since there is no distinction between the pillow top and the mattress, your additional comfort layer will receive better edge support, making the whole setup more durable. 

    Pros of Pillow Top

    Memory foam and pillow-top mattresses are strong contenders, but there are still a few additional perks of pillow-top mattresses that give it a lead:

    • The structural uniqueness of pillow top mattresses prevents off-gassing
    • These mattresses are affordable since the extra padding is limited to the top layer
    • The coil layer enables adequate airflow, making the mattress cooler and breathable

    Cons of Pillow Top

    Pillow top mattresses are unique, yet they do have some drawbacks you might want to consider before making an informed decision.

    • The distinct separation of the two layers makes it less durable, affecting its overall life. 
    • These mattresses do not limit motion transfer and often cause disturbance to the partner every time the other moves.

    Conclusion

    Deciding between a pillow top and memory foam can be tricky, considering how comparable they are in many parameters. However, each sleeper has individual needs exclusively met by a particular mattress type. For example, while memory foam mattresses are the best comfort, pillowtop mattresses offer little comfort and support. So, whatever you choose- pillow top or memory foam, a heavenly soft bed is awaiting you!

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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