Part of our series on getting better sleep.
When it comes to sleep quality, the kind of pillow you choose is super important. Although this may seem obvious, research has shown that sleep quality is connected to pillow comfort.1Your Pillow May Not Guarantee a Good Night’s Sleep or Symptom-Free Waking
Among the myriad pillows on the market, research consistently shows that best latex pillows improve sleep quality the most.
For example, one study in particular found that latex pillows were more effective at reducing neck pain and improving sleep quality than any other pillow.2Pillow use: The behaviour of cervical pain, sleep quality and pillow comfort in side sleepers The latex option beat out feather, polyester, and memory foam pillows.
Let’s look at the research to see why the best latex pillows seem to always beat the best of any other pillow.
(And if the research doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip straight down to our latex pillow recommendations.)
Side Note: Latex vs. Rubber
A quick side note to address this question: Are latex and rubber the same thing?
Technically, no. But for most uses, they’re close enough. We won’t get into the science of latex and rubber, but here’s a really basic breakdown.
Natural rubber is a product of the sap of certain types of plants, and is itself a type of latex. Not all latex is natural rubber, though. Most of the latex on the market is actually synthetic—man made.
At some point, people started referring to rubber and latex interchangeably. This matters in some arenas, but when it comes to pillow material, natural rubber doesn’t have any advantage over latex. (And most “rubber” pillows are actually synthetic latex pillows anyway.)
Latex Pillows: Why They Win
As mentioned above, latex pillows consistently score better than other options when it comes to improving sleep quality. Why is that?
Research has shown that pillows with extra neck support lead to better sleep and less neck pain.3Neck pain and pillows – A blinded study of the effect of pillows on non-specific neck pain, headache and sleep Since latex tends to be a bit more firm and supportive than memory foam, they tend to support the neck even better.
Interestingly, it appears that pillows with neck support also tend to stay cooler than alternative options. One study found that the greater the curvature of the pillow’s neck support, the lower the temperature of the pillow.4Improving the Quality of Sleep with an Optimal Pillow: A Randomized, Comparative Study
Which ties in with latex pillows’ next advantage:
Although the ideal temperature can vary from person to person, staying comfortably cool can help with deeper sleep. (We discuss this in more detail in our article on cooling blankets.)
As expected, then, research shows that pillows with cooler temperatures can actually help improve sleep quality.7Effects of Two kinds of Pillow on Thermoregulatory Responses during Night Sleep Although you won’t find many with active cooling, plenty of pillows are designed to dissipate heat. Latex pillows are among the best options for this.
Molded vs. Shredded Latex Pillows
Are shredded latex pillows as effective as molded latex? We can use the research cited above to weigh out the pros and the cons.
Molded: More Neck Support
Shredded latex pillows can be very comfortable, but one of their disadvantages right off the bat is that they don’t have as much neck support as some other options.
Since shredded latex pillows usually form that standard pillow-marshmallow shape, they can’t feature any extra curvature for cervical support.
Many molded pillows, on the other hand, do feature neck support. Because ergonomic support is so important when it comes to sleep quality, this is something to keep in mind when deciding between a shredded latex pillow and a formed one.
Shredded: Even Cooler
One advantaged that shredded latex pillows have over their molded counterparts is that they can stay even cooler at night.
Latex is already excellent at wicking away heat. Even molded pillows do a great job of staying cool. And to help these pillows keep even cooler, a lot of manufacturers design their pillows with ventilation holes.
Shredded latex pillows take this to the next step. The loose fibers allow for a lot of airflow and heat dissipation throughout the pillow. This makes many shredded latex pillows noticeably cooler than alternatives.
Latex Pillow Recommendations
With all that in mind, here are our recommendations for the best latex pillows.
As discussed above, pillows with neck support can lead to improved sleep quality compared to pillows without neck support. The extra support for can also help with managing neck pain and headaches.
Latex already tends to be cooler than memory foam, but with the addition of ventilation holes, this pillow keeps even cooler.
And like most neck support pillows, this one features a bigger contour on one side and a smaller one on the other. That way you can find the perfect amount of support for your neck and head shape.
If you’re not a fan of neck support pillows, there are also plenty of rubbery pillows in the standard marshmallow shape. They come in a lot of different sizes and thicknesses, so there are plenty of options no matter your preference.
Like the pillow recommended above, this one also features ventilation holes to help keep it cool. And it comes with a chic, 100% organic cotton pillow case.
If you find most rubbery pillows to be a little too firm, a shredded latex pillow might be a good option for you.
As the name implies, these pillow are stuffed with smaller strands of latex instead being constructed as one continuous body.
Not only are shredded latex pillows more comfortable for some people, but they also have the potential to keep even cooler than other pillows due to the extra ventilation.