Memory foam became all the rage a some years ago, and soon after followed the cooling gel pillow. Memory foam was a marvelous new substance that brought exquisite comfort to sleepers everywhere. But the many hot sleepers among us needed just a little something more. The addition of a cooling gel component to the shape-conforming wonder-pillow provided the cool relief that the foam alone could not.
The popularity of the memory foam gel pillow combination gave rise to a multitude of brands and versions of the same basic concept. There is the gel pillow designed for neck pain and the gel pillow cut to provide support to the back, and then there is the gel pillow that focuses more on the cooling aspect and the gel pillow that caters to the restless sleeper.
This is a brilliant development since the gel pillow now conforms to our needs rather than us having to make do with a single type. So many different kinds exist, however, that it will take a bit of research and consideration to find the gel pillow that best suits the needs of the particular individual.
To help out, here is a run-down of the different types available and what they are good for:
First off, note that the best quality memory foam gel pillow is made of the highest grade memory foam. This material provides the greatest comfort, is hypoallergenic, doesn’t stain or fade easily, and is washable.
This highest grade of memory foam comes at the highest price, however. When looking for your gel pillow, check the quality of its memory foam component as well as additional features that provide unique benefits.
One type of gel pillow is made with what is known as dough memory foam. The memory foam is infused with gel as well as having the standard gel pillow layer on top. This gel pillow tends to be softer while providing an enhanced cooling effect.
Another type of gel pillow is typically made with a poly blend fill that provides good air circulation. It is designed for the more general crowd of people who like to sleep on their backs, sides and stomachs. Many of these premium pillows come with a bamboo rayon cover that augments the cooling effect.
A third type is the gel-filled fibre pillow. These pillows are made with what is called plush gel fibre. The gel is blended closely with the pillow fibres to create a comfortable mix of softness and coolness. These pillows are also made so that they do not shift as you sleep. They are foldable, but therefore tend to be on the firmer side.
Ventilated memory foam gel pillows are made with vertical holes in them. These holes are infused with cooling gel. This construction provides a direct avenue for heat dispersion during sleep. This construction can, however, damage the integrity of the pillow. Quality memory foam is very durable, but these holes can cause the material to tear more easily than it would otherwise. The typical shape of this pillow is flat, and so unsuitable for stomach sleepers.
The open cell memory foam type of pillow is a newer design that promotes better air circulation. The foam is more porous than other types, being of a more interconnected cell structure rather than the traditional closed cell foams. This also makes it softer than high-density visco-elastic foam types. The gel pillow pad added to these types provides surface coolness while the foam dissipates heat.
The gusseted gel pillow provides extra support for side sleepers. With additional layers around the edges, this pillow is firmer to fit the concave area of the neck between the ears and the shoulders. The gel pillow pad is also contoured on these pillows to provide a comfortable surface for the head to rest upon.
Some gel pillows are made with tiny beads of phase change material (PCM). PCMs are capable of absorbing and releasing large amounts of thermal energy. The inclusion of this material causes the gel pillow to absorb that heat away from the head when it gets too warm. Its regulating properties also act in reverse, releasing heat when the material is too cool.
The shredded memory foam pillow is made not from a solid block of foam but small pieces. Shredded memory foam retains the materials comfort while providing a softer surface. The shredded material is also more moldable than any other memory foam, making it ideal for those who shift during sleep. Shredded foam pillows usually come with either a gel pillow top layer or are encased in gel to provide a dual sleeping surface.
Gel-encased pillows are typically of the standard rounded pillow shape. This makes them double-sided, but requires customization by the user. To create the perfect fit, these pillows must be fluffed and shaped to create the desired form to provide neck support and a comfortable place to rest your head.
Some gel pillows are rounded with the single gel layer to provide a choice of sleeping surface – a cool side and an extra soft side. These pillows are made for all types of sleepers, but therefore do not provide any specific support for either the neck, shoulders or back.
One-sided gel pillow pads are commonly found on contour-type memory foam pillows. These pillows are designed to provide both support and comfort for side, back and stomach sleepers. Like the gusseted gel pillow, the contour provides the additional support needed for the neck while remaining supple. The contour memory material provides just the right level so that the neck is not strained, thus preventing tension that can cause pain and extend to back problems. Different sizes are available to better suit the user.