Memory Foam vs. Feather: Making the Right Purchase

When it comes to purchasing a mattress, mattress topper or pillow there are two filling options which stand out as being the most popular: memory foam and feather.


Memory foam

Memory foam is made by taking polyurethane foam and injecting it with various other chemicals which increase its elasticity and density.

This allows it to soften when it comes into contact with heat, so in terms of mattresses and pillows, it will mould to your body due to your body heat and spring back to its original shape after use.

Memory foam was actually first developed in the 60s by NASA for use in aircraft safety cushions, before being commercialised from the 90s onwards in mattresses.

Nowadays memory foam is much more affordable and is one of the most popular options for mattresses and pillows due to its unique softness and warmth.

In particular, memory foam is popular with those who suffer from neck and back pain as it offers maximum support to these areas and creates a neutral alignment of the spine.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that memory foam isn’t necessarily for everyone, and it is on the pricier side to your traditional mattresses.

It can be hard to explain until you try one out for yourself, but lying on memory foam is a very different experience to feather or springs, and it can certainly take some getting used to.

There are two things in particular which can sometimes put people off. The first is the heat.

When you first get into bed, your mattress or pillow will likely feel quite cold and hard, but once it reacts to your body heat, it will soften and retain a lot of heat. This can be great in the winter, but perhaps a little too warm in the summer months.

The other thing that some people find strange is that once it has reacted to you and gone soft, it can actually be so soft that it can be a little difficult to actually move or get up, because you truly sink into it!

Despite this, memory foam is probably our most popular filling, particularly with those who have suffered from poor night’s sleep in the past.

Our range of memory foam mattress toppers in particular are very popular. The great thing about them is that they are available in a wide range of densities, ranging from rock hard to light and spongy, whichever suits your sleep style best.

Generally speaking, we think that the denser (firmer) memory foam is best as it provides the most support, but this is totally up to the individual.

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While memory foam is noted for its firmness, feather bedding is right at the other end of the scale.

These products are made with natural feathers, usually from ducks or geese, with one of the downsides being that the quills of the feathers can sometimes actually poke through the cover of the pillow/topper, and give you a nasty little prod!

If you’re unsure what the difference between feather and ‘down’ is; down is essentially a softer, fluffier layer underneath the main feathers, and doesn’t have a quill.

While usually a bit cheaper than memory foam, feather products are a lot softer, more luxurious, and also quite malleable, meaning they can be plumped up and shaped a lot more than memory foam.

Feathers are used because they mesh together and create lots of ‘fluffy’ air pockets which is very difficult to imitate with memory foam products.

The less feathers that are in the product, then the lighter it will be, and more importantly it will also be ‘breathable’.

This regulates your body temperature more and keeps you cool during those warm summer months and is a stark difference to the warmth of memory foam.

While they’re undeniably comfy, feather products severely lack in support compared to memory foam.

In terms of longevity, natural materials such as feather usually always outperform synthetics such as memory foam.

Even if you don’t suffer from any aches and pains, this could be an issue later in life as sleeping without proper support can put a strain on your neck over a period of time.

You’ll also definitely want to avoid feather products if you suffer from allergies. The feathers actually trap a lot of dust and dust mites, which produce allergens.

While most people think of feather duvets such as this Silentnight Duck Feather Duvet, we also have a range of feather and down pillows, as well as this extra soft Goose Feather Mattress Topper from Rest Assured.

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Which is right for you?

Of course, this questions comes down entirely to the individual. For anyone who has experienced even the slightest aches and pains while sleeping, we’d recommend at least giving memory foam a go.

It’s not for everyone, but those who like it, love it, and the extra support it gives to your joints can really help you get a better night’s sleep.

On the other hand, if you’re after a bit more luxury, feather might be better for you. The softness and fluffiness that feather products offer is unrivalled.