Do you love memory foam pillows but find them too hard? The comfort of a pillow largely determines whether you’ll have a good night’s sleep or not. The good news is that you can soften memory foam pillows and make them comfortable to sleep on.

If you have a very stiff memory foam pillow, read on to get some tips on making it soft. You will also learn what makes these pillows hard and the difference between memory foam and regular pillows.

What Makes Memory Foam Pillows Hard?

Before we delve into making your pillow soft, let’s first understand where the hardness comes from.

Memory foam pillows are often hard because manufacturers have to balance conformity and rigidity. And achieving the perfect balance highly depends on the type of material used to make the pillows.

Just like their name suggests, memory foam pillows are made of memory foam as the primary product. Memory foam itself is made with visco-elastic polymers, which are naturally stiff.

If you were to observe a memory foam pillow under a microscope, you’d see taught fibers that shrink in low temperatures and stretch when temperatures are high or when subjected to pressure.

Another thing that would make you feel like your memory foam pillow is hard is that you are used to sleeping on pillows made of other materials such as cotton or feather.

If that’s the case, your body might take time before adjusting to memory foam pillows, and they can be very uncomfortable for the first few days.

Pressing memory foam pillow.

Do Memory Foam Pillows Get Softer Over Time?

Is your memory foam pillow very hard, and you keep wondering if one day it’ll turn out soft and comfortable?

Memory foam pillows become soft over time. The more you sleep on your pillow, the softer it becomes. Sleeping on it works the same way as applying pressure, only that it takes more time.

You will notice significant softening during the initial days of use. The only thing you’ll need is patience as you wait for it to get soft on its own.

If your memory foam pillow doesn’t get soft over time, then it’s probably a poor-quality type. You may, therefore, want to get a replacement.

So, should you wait for days on end for your good-quality memory foam pillow to soften so you can finally enjoy relaxed sleep at night? Not at all. There are ways to accelerate the process of breaking into your pillow. We’ll talk about this later on in this article.

How to Tell Your Pillow Is Too Stiff

It’s not that difficult to know if your memory foam pillow is very stiff and needs to be softened. If you don’t feel comfortable when resting your head, it should be the first indication that your pillow has some problems.

Feeling discomfort or tension in the head, neck, or shoulder areas is also one of the most obvious signs. Another sign is restlessness, which often leads to sleep disruption.

That said, very soft pillows are not good either since they make the head rest in a very unnatural position, causing discomfort or even injuries.

Have you ever slept and woke up to pain in the neck or shoulder and didn’t have any idea what caused the pain? It could be that you used a very soft or too stiff pillow.

Although they might feel hard the first time you use them, memory foam pillows are the best when it comes to quality. They ensure that both the neck and the head are aligned the right way since they offer full support.

Additionally, they are made to stand the test of time. These are not the kind of pillows you’ll need to replace after a short period of use.

6 Ways to Soften a Memory Foam Pillow

1. Apply Pressure on the Pillow Before Sleeping

Some people don’t believe that this technique works, but it surely does. When subjected to pressure, the fibers in the pillow loosen, making it softer. Applying pressure on a memory foam pillow softens it within minutes.

Here is a step by step guide on how to do it:

  • Place the pillow on a flat surface such as the floor.
  • Use a broom handle or other blunt object to whack the pillow a few times, like three or four. Don’t go beyond that, as it might make the pillow lose its shape. You can also use your hands to do this.
  • Alternatively, you can let a child jump over it a few times. Make sure you turn the pillow on the other side as well to ensure uniformity.

When applying pressure on the pillow, focus more on the stiffest parts to make it soften uniformly. You can repeat the process if it has not gotten as soft as you’d prefer.

It will only take you a few minutes to make a memory foam pillow soft using this method. And the best part is that you don’t need to use any special tool.  

2. Stuff It

Stuffing the pillow with softer materials makes it comfortable to sleep on as you wait for it to gradually soften.

To do this, Put the pillow inside a pillowcase and add some soft materials such as cotton on one side. Other materials you can use for stuffing include feathers and polyester. If you can’t find them, use what is readily available at home, such as old towels or clothing. 

Make sure the material is properly distributed to avoid forming clumps, which makes it uncomfortable to sleep on.

Also, use clean materials. Old or dirty materials can trigger allergic reactions or make it difficult to breathe. Also, avoid heavy materials such as denim since they are hard and can cause discomfort.

Note that this method will work better if combined with other methods such as applying heat or pressure. It should just be a short-term solution.

3. Put the Pillow at Warm Temperatures

Applying heat to a memory foam pillow is one of the fastest and easiest ways of making it softer. These pillows are temperature-dependent, meaning they are stiff when cold and soft when warm.

Memory foam pillows tend to get very stiff in cold areas. For example, if you left home for a week and the thermostat was not working all that time, you’ll get back and find the pillow has gotten very hard. In such a case, turning the thermostat on for some time should do the trick.

You’ll also notice that these pillows tend to get stiff during winter due to low temperatures. Contact with cold water also makes them stiff.

Although increasing your room temperature is an effective way of softening these pillows, it doesn’t work fast, and you’ll have to wait a little longer before your pillow becomes softer.

The most effective method is using an electric blanket. The procedure is simple. Take the blanket and wrap it around the pillow. Let it be on for around 15 minutes.

If you don’t have an electric blanket, there are other methods you can use to warm the pillow. One is placing it near a heating system or a radiator. Another is to iron the pillow with a towel over it.

Other options include putting a bottle of hot water on the pillow for about 15 minutes or placing the pillow near a heat source. However, you need to be careful with the last approach as you may risk causing a fire.

Note that it’s not good to dry these pillows using a dryer since the high temperatures can damage them.

Avoid using a machine to wash them, too; otherwise, you risk damaging the stuffing inside. Use your hands and allow the pillow to air dry.

4. Leave It Outside for Some Time

Leaving the pillow exposed to the sun is another method of applying heat. It’s easy, and you don’t need any equipment. Just take the pillow outside and put it on a clean surface where it will get maximum sun exposure.

Flip it over on the other side after some time to ensure that both sides are exposed to the sun. Leaving the pillow outside also comes with other benefits besides softening it. For example, it allows air to flow through it and gets rid of odors that may have accumulated with time.

However, don’t let it stay in the sun for too long, as its color might start fading. Around three to four should be enough.

5. Increase Your Body Temperature

When you increase your body’s temperature and sleep on the pillow, it will absorb the heat and get loose.

You can move around before bedtime to increase the body’s temperature. For example, you can do a few jumping jacks or do any other physical activity you are comfortable with. Having hot soup or beverages is also an effective way of increasing the body’s temperature.

It might seem tiresome at first, trying to warm up every time you want to sleep. The best thing is that you don’t have to do it forever since the pillow will lose its firmness over time.

6. Use It Regularly

It may take several days for you to use a memory foam pillow and feel comfortable. However, the more you use it, the better it becomes. You can decide just to be patient and let the pillow get softer on its own by regularly sleeping on it.

The weight of your head is enough to make it softer, although that will take a lot of time. Sleeping on it regularly loosens the fibers, making it more flexible and comfortable, which you need to enjoy your sleep.

So, if the stiffness isn’t making you uncomfortable, you can wait for time to take its course. If you have dumped your pillow since it’s too hard, it’s time to take it back as it gets better with time.

You can also use it for other purposes rather than supporting your head when sleeping. These include placing your legs or supporting your back when seated. The goal here is to apply as much pressure as you can.

The best thing about these pillows is that they are made of high-quality materials. So, even if they soften, they still stay comfortable.

They don’t go beyond a certain level of firmness even after you sleep on them for a long time, meaning they don’t get overly soft and fail to perform their intended purposes. That means you’ll only have to replace it after several years of service. Getting overly soft is a common issue with pillows made of some low-quality materials.

What’s the Difference Between Memory Foam and Regular Pillows?

Memory foam pillows are usually very firm, and they tend to maintain their firmness over a long period. The firmness of regular pillows largely depends on the material they are made of. Most of them are not as firm, and they remain the same despite changes in temperatures or pressure.

Memory foam pillows are also more friendly to people who suffer from different allergies, such as respiratory allergies. One reason for this is that they don’t retain dust compared to traditional pillows. Additionally, memory foam pillows are easier to clean than regular ones since they are not usually enclosed.


Having a very stiff pillow can make you very uncomfortable and affect your quality of sleep. Luckily, you can make your pillow softer and more comfortable. You only need to apply pressure or heat on it, and within no time, it will achieve the softness you prefer.

Memory foam pillows have so many benefits and are available in different types, each having unique characteristics to suit your needs. So don’t shy away from these pillows just because of their initial stiffness.

Related: How to Flatten a Fluffy Pillow

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