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Memory foam pillows have become the go-to pillow for many people with back pain, neck pain or waking up with headaches. The contour pillows are designed to cradle your neck and shoulders while allowing your head to rest naturally. With the spine, neck, and head aligned, you will get better sleep and wake up with less pain.

The best contour pillow is up for debate, but I try to settle that here. While there isn’t a one size fits all pillow, the best ones will allow any style sleeper the best chance at sleeping peacefully and waking up refreshed and pain-free.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Contour Pillow

There are quite a few things to think about before plopping your money down on a contour pillow. Comfort goes without saying. However, your sleep positions can have a lot to do with your comfort level. You will also need to consider your budget, materials used in the construction of the pillow and what benefits the pillow can offer you.

Your Sleep Position

We all sleep a little different. Some sleep on their sides, others on their backs. Some of us, like myself, sleep on our stomachs with our heads turned awkwardly trying not to breathe through our pillows.

Most contour pillows allow us to sleep in any position there is. Each move, roll, or adjustment is accepted by the pillow, and it bounces back to reshape and form to our new position with ease. The pillows are mainly designed for back to side and side to side sleepers, but those of us that prefer our stomachs will find the same alignment and comfort as the rest.

Not all contour pillows are made the same. Some are designed specifically for one type of sleep position or another. A few of them allow for multiple positions and the rare few covers all three. Finding the right pillow for your sleeping position is important.

Unlike a standard pillow, a contour pillow is made specifically to hold our heads in position; to keep them from getting out of alignment with our spines. The dips and curves and fill support all play a role in keeping us where we should be while we sleep.

Budget

Your budget will obviously play an important role in your purchasing decision. Some of these pillows can become quite expensive and may or may not work for you. Aside from the price tag, you need to look for a return policy or a warranty in case you aren’t happy with your purchase.

Some won’t allow a return because of the nature of what a pillow is for. However, some will, and it should be noted what the details of the warranty or return are and how to apply them.

Construction Materials

The pillows need to be able to breathe, that is: allow air to pass through freely. This aids in a few things, but mainly in keeping you cool while you sleep. If you are a hot sleeper a flexible and breathable material is needed.

You don’t want to get too hot while you sleep, as this will detract from the restful sleep the pillow could otherwise offer you. By nature, solid core memory foam pillows do not sleep very cool. Some manufactures combat this with various fillings and shapes to allow the air to circulate while we sleep.

Shape

Shape is important when choosing a contour pillow. The main functionality of the shape is to open your airways while you sleep to allow you to breathe better. It also aids in body posture regardless of sleeping position.

For example, our top pick, the Tempur-Embrace, has a very unique shape you won’t find in most other company’s lineups. The “rounded X” or bone shape has a few benefits depending on how you sleep. The first, noticeable aspect is for face-down sleepers.

The X shape allows you to lay on your stomach with your face to the left or right. No matter the direction you will have an open spot for your face, so that you can breathe easy. While the pillow is designed for side and back sleepers (specifically those that do both, known as “combo-sleepers”), face sleepers will get the contour benefits as well.

Fill Material

Fills and cover materials are also important from a health perspective. Hypoallergenic materials should be used in your pillows and having the Certi-Pur certification is always a good thing.

Tempur-Pedic does not claim to be hypoallergenic, for example. However, each of their products and materials are treated with an antimicrobial that does hinder dust mites and microorganisms.

The fill material is patented and known as “Tempur Material.” However, in this case it is a shredded poly-foam mixture. The memory foam the company is known for makes its way into the pillow cover for a firm but forgiving quality.

Memory foam and poly-foam can have allergy-inducing qualities. Most that you will find have been treated to prevent this, but off-gassing is going to happen.

When you first open your pillow packaging, you need to allow up to 24 hours for the pillow to plump to form and allow the built-up gasses from the foam to evaporate. Being packaged doesn’t allow these gasses to escape and will build up over time.

You will notice a slight odor when you first open the package. Allow the pillow to remain uncovered for a few hours and at least a full day before use to all the gasses to evaporate completely.

Benefits

Contour pillows offer a wide range of benefits. You should pay special attention to the flexibility of the pillow, the folds, and groves that are used to align your body and most importantly, the different sleep positions it caters to.

Even if a pillow gets high reviews and works great for a lot of people, it doesn’t mean it is designed to work for you. Stomach sleepers, for example, will have a difficult time finding a contour pillow that is designed for their specific needs.

The biggest feature, aside from the ability to use it with any sleeping position, is the cooling aspect. The entire pillow, from filling to cover is designed to increase airflow. If you are a hot sleeper or don’t like pillows that you constantly have to flip to the “cool side” you will enjoy most of these pillows.

Gel-filled pillows are the coolest with shredded foam coming in second, due to the shredded poly-fill and lack of solid foam core.

The covers should also be designed to vent air and pull heat away from the body and disperse it without heating the filling. As you can guess, some pillows will do this better than others.

The Best Contour Pillows

Below is the list of the best contour pillows you can find right now. Each one has their advantages and disadvantages based on the criteria from above. Read through the selections and find the perfect contour pillow for you.

#1: Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Embrace – Best Overall

Arguably the best contour pillow on the market right now is the Tempur-Embrace from Tempur-Pedic. The benefits of this pillow are numerous, and the disadvantages are few. Not only is it one of the very rare all position pillows, but it also supports the neck, spine, shoulders, and head.

The Tempur-Embrace has a unique shape you won’t find in most other company’s lineups. The “rounded X” or bone shape has a few benefits depending on how you sleep. The first, noticeable aspect is for face-down sleepers.

The X shape allows you to lay on your stomach with your face to the left or right. No matter the direction you will have an open spot for your face, so that you can breathe easier. While the pillow is designed for side and back sleepers (specifically those that do both, known as “combo-sleepers”), face sleepers will get the contour benefits as well.

The main functionality of the shape, though, is to open your airways while you sleep to allow you to breathe better. It also aids in body posture regardless of sleeping position.

Pros:

  • Easily adjust to any sleeping angle or position.
  • Full comfort and support to keep your body aligned.
  • Memory foam fill has just the right compression.
  • Best neck and shoulder support.

Cons:

  • Like most fiber-filled pillows there is some off-gassing.
  • The unique shape makes pillowcase matching difficult.
  • No return if you don’t like it.

#2: Perform Pillow Contour Neck Pillow – Runner-Up

The Perform Pillow Contour Neck pillow has a lot of different features that make it stand out as a good choice for many people. The two different sizes allow you to pick the best size and angle for your neckline contour.

The pillow is designed for back sleepers, and those that flip from back to side or even to the front will find this pillow doesn’t work very well for them. It is quite dense, with a solid foam core. While it will take a long while to soften and conform, once it does your neck pain is almost immediately relieved.

The bamboo cover gives the pillow a little, needed breathability, but it sleeps a little hot for those looking for a cooler pillow to use.

Pros:

  • Two sizes in one pillow make adjustments easier.
  • Back sleepers find this pillow a perfect solution.
  • Medium loft with low compression makes spine alignment simple.

Cons:

#3: Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Contour Breeze – Honorable Mention

Another entry form the Tempur-Pedic line is the Contour Breeze. This pillow is specifically designed for those that sleep on their sides and need a better spinal alignment.

It does have a solid foam core, but unlike the Perform Pillow, it breathes very easily. The soft foam easily contours to the lines of the neck and shoulders. However, back sleepers should beware. If you are smaller in stature or weight, you may find that the angles do more harm than good.

You may still sleep through the night because of the comfort level of this pillow, but smaller, lighter persons, especially back sleepers, will have a more chin-to-chest sleeping position, resulting in spine compression in the lower neck.

Pros:

  • Solid core sleeps cool for almost everyone.
  • Ideal for side sleepers with alignment problems.
  • Plush and forgiving design for higher compression.

Cons:

  • Not a good solution for back sleepers.
  • Need to have a more considerable stature or more weight for proper compression.

#4: Nature’s Best Cervical Support Pillow – Honorable Mention

The Nature’s Best pillow comes highly recommended by chiropractors and will conform well for combination sleepers. If you are a back and side sleeper, this pillow will allow you to change positions during the night without disrupting your sleep.

The unique center contour shape gives you various position and heights to choose from. It also has a lot of airflow due to the microfiber filling. If you find the pillow is too firm or too high, you can remove the filling to best suit your comfort level as well.

Pros:

  • An ideal pillow for combination sleepers.
  • Easily position the pillow for the proper height and alignment.
  • High air-flow ration to keep the pillow cooler than most others.
  • Microfiber, non-solid fill compresses easily.

Cons:

  • Only adjustable by adding or removing filling.
  • Will take quite a while to find the perfect position and loft.

#5: UTTU Sandwich Pillow – Honorable Mention

The UTTU Sandwich pillow is a new twist on an older design. The famous contour double-sided shape allows you to position the pillow for a higher or lower loft. However, UTTU has a third option: Remove the middle section for a lower loft and higher compression.

In total there are four different loft and compression positions which allow the pillow to work for all types of sleep positions, even combination sleepers. The cover is designed of bamboo fibers for a softer, more comfortable feel. It is also multi-layered for more moisture absorption and increased air-flow.

The entire pillow is hypoallergenic as certified by Certi-Pur. It also comes with a 96-day trial period and a five-year warranty on defects and craftsmanship.

Pros:

  • Adjustable for all sleep positions.
  • Better for stomach sleepers than most other contour pillows.
  • Sleeps cooler than other solid core contours.
  • Long warranty for reliability and durability.

Cons:

  • Can take quite a while to find the perfect loft and cushion combination.
  • Will have an off-gassing period.

In Conclusion

What it all comes down to is finding the right pillow for your sleeping habits. While we should all attempt to have better sleeping habits, it isn’t always possible. Instead, we can use a contoured pillow to help keep our head, neck, and spine aligned properly.

The cushion and comfort are essential, but so is the contour of the pillow. Finding the right shape for your sleep positions is arguably the most crucial aspect of the selection. The Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Embrace conforms to all sleep positions, and its unique design allows front sleepers a place to have their face without being forced to breathe through the cover.

If you require a hypoallergenic pillow, you may not find a decent one in the contour family. Tempur-Pedic does treat all of their products with antimicrobial solutions but are not hypoallergenic. For most of us, this won’t be a concern. However, if you know you are allergic to poly-foam materials, it is best you look for another solution.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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