Technology isn’t always something you plug in. Sometimes it’s the result of high technology, sometimes, it’s a product that fills a need you didn't know you had. In looking at products this holiday season, we took a look at the Snuggle Pedic Adjustable Shredded Style Memory Foam Pillow. Its soft cushiony feel belies the technology that led to its widespread adoption
Let’s start in the bedroom with the pillow. Most of us grew up with pillows made of two materials, either some kind of feather or down fill, or polyester fill. Polyester and its variants had the advantage of lower cost, hopefully a hypoallergenic fill, and easily washable. But, they didn’t hold their shape for long, and most of the time after a year or two it was time to toss them and get new ones. Down and Feathers had the disadvantage of high-cost, variable quality, and ever shifting fill. But a great down pillow is a treat worth waiting for.
For some background on memory foam, Wikipedia states that, “Memory foam consists mainly of polyurethane as well as additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as "viscoelastic" polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam (LRPu). Higher-density memory foam softens in reaction to body heat, allowing it to mold to a warm body in a few minutes. Newer foams may recover more quickly to their original shape.Memory foam was developed in 1966 under a contract by NASA's Ames Research Center to improve the safety of aircraft cushions. Ames scientist Chiharu Kubokawa and Charles A. Yost of the Stencel Aero Engineering Corporation were major contributors to this project. The temperature-sensitive memory foam was initially referred to as “slow spring back foam”;
Yost called it "temper foam". Yost later founded Dynamic Systems Inc. in collaboration with NASA to commercialize the foam, including it in both medical equipment such as X-ray table pads and sports equipment such as American / Canadian football helmet liners.
When NASA released memory foam to the public domain in the early 1980s, Fagerdala World Foams was one of the few companies willing to work with the foam, as the manufacturing process remained difficult and unreliable. Their 1991 product, the "Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress" eventually led to the mattress and cushion company, Tempur World.
Memory foam was subsequently used in medical settings. For example, it was commonly used in cases where the patient was required to lie immobile in their bed on a firm mattress for an unhealthy period of time. The pressure on some of their body regions impaired the blood flow to the region, causing pressure sores or gangrene. Memory foam mattresses significantly decreased such events.Claims have also been made that memory foam reduces the severity of pain associated with fibromyalgia.
Memory foam was initially too expensive for widespread use but became cheaper. Its most common domestic uses are mattresses, pillows, shoes and blankets. It has medical uses, such as wheelchair seat cushions,hospital bed pillows and padding for people suffering long-term pain or postural problems; for example, a memory foam cervical pillow may alleviate chronic neck pain. Its heat-retaining properties may help some pain sufferers who find the added warmth helps to decrease the pain.
Unfortunately, the heat-retaining properties can also be a downside when used in mattresses and pillows so in the second-generation memory foam, companies began using open cell structure to better help with breathability. In 2006, the third generation of memory foam was introduced. Gel visco or gel memory foam consists of gel particles fused with visco foam to reduce trapped body heat, speed up spring back time and help the mattress feel softer. This technology was originally developed and patented by Peterson Chemical Technology, and gel mattresses became popular with the release of Serta’s iComfort line and Simmon's Beautyrest line in 2011. Gel-infused memory foam was next developed with what were described as "beads" containing the gel which, as a phase-change material, would achieve the desired temperature stabilization or cooling effect by changing from a solid to a liquid "state" within the capsule. Changing physical states can significantly alter the heat absorption properties of an element, which is why the technology was applied to memory foam.
Since the development of gel memory foam, other materials have been added. Aloe vera, green tea extract and activated charcoal have been combined with the foam to reduce odors and even provide aromatherapy while sleeping. Rayon has been used in woven mattress covers over memory foam beds to wick moisture away from the body to increase comfort. Phase-change materials (PCMs) have also been used in the covers that are used on memory foam pillows, beds, and mattress pads.”
Ok, so there you have it, sleep with a memory foam product, and you are sleeping with NASA technology. There have been documented issues with outgassing of some foam formulations and early products used PBDE as a fire retardant, but both of those issues have been addressed with the recent class of products. What this history does tell you is that it’s important to pay attention to the manufacturer, and the materials used in any products you consider.
The best pillow we have seen is the Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Combination Shredded Style Memory Foam Pillow with Kool-Flow Micro-Vented Cover. Whew, that’s a mouthful, so for now we will just refer to it as the Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Pillow.
What makes the Snuggle-Pedic different from other competing models is their use of shredded foam so you can customize the pillow, pull some out, it’s softer, want a firmer pillow keep it all in. The pillows are easily washable, you can remove the pillow cover, or just wash the pillow as it is. According to the company, they use “a proprietary mix of a special hypo-allergenic and extremely low V.O.C. Biogreen® memory foam and CertiPUR-US® certified foam. This proprietary mix of foams come directly from our very high-end, all U.S.A. produced mattresses made right in our Westlake Village, CA factory. The very small pieces are extremely soft and fluffy and make our pillow lighter and more resilient than the usual shredded memory foam pillows found on the market.”
We compared this to other memory foam pillows and found their claim to be true. Where competing pillows felt like a heavy sack of flour, the Snuggle-Pedic Pillows were lighter, and cooler in use. What might be the best thing about them is the incredibly soft “Kool-Flow™ Micro-Vented Bamboo Cover”, which we made the mistake of immediately covering up. Most of us grew up with the expectation of a pillow-cover, to keep the pillows clean, as well as a pillowcase for looks, and to match sheets and bedding. But this is actually the wrong approach to take with these pillows, which depend on a highly breathable fabric to keep them cool. When I asked about selecting a material for the pillowcase that was acceptable, the company’s advice was to take the fabric up to your mouth and breathe into it. If your breath flows easily through the fabric, it should be fine. If not, it’s not breathable enough. Many users actually skip the cover entirely, and just wash when needed. It's really that soft.
Firmness is a debatable subject, subjective with few ways to accurately measure it. There are measures, such as the firmness guide that most companies use, but for most people, those are rough guides at best, as one person’s “firm” is another person’s “hard as concrete” while someone else can find it too soft. Accordingly, we found the Snuggle-Pedic Pillow as firm, but since it responds to heat, it softens up a bit as you sleep on it, and we found little need to adjust the foam, although we tested the pillows with some of the foam removed as a reference, and were able to create a softer pillow. In the end, we found the shipping density just right.
The company makes full sized mattresses, one of which we were able to sample during a press event in New York. Similar to the pillows, they ship with the air sucked out of them, so highly compressed, and as you unwrap them, they slowly expand to their full size. They state that their “Dense memory foam and polyurethane are naturally dust mite resistant, making it the most comfortable and hypoallergenic material in bedding.” and we found both the Queen and King Sized pillows well-made, and that the company’s claims for them accurate. The pillows are made from the trimmings of excess foam from their mattresses, so it’s great to see a product made in the U.S.A. taking advantage of recycling from their own processes.
They offer a full-range of pillows from Kid’s Size, Standard, Queen, King, and a full-sized Body Pillow. The warranty is 20 years with a 90-day sleep trial, and offer mattresses, and mattress-toppers. We were curious about testing a mattress topper given their popularity, but at press time they were out of stock. Hopefully we can report back later on them.
If you are looking for a memory foam pillow, that can be easily customized, uses carefully produced and tested materials, has a killer warranty, and carries a high Amazon rating, the Snuggle Pedic Adjustable Shredded Style Memory Foam Pillow comes highly recommended.
Harris Fogel and Nancy Burlan, posted 11/28/2017
For more information on the Snuggle Pedic Adjustable Shredded Style Memory Foam Pillow visit: http://www.snugglepedic.com/snuggle-pedic-bamboo-pillow.html