Updated at: 16-01-2023 - By: Jane

When it comes to finding a mattress that provides the proper amount of support and cushioning, memory foam and pillow-top mattresses are both viable options. When comparing a memory foam mattress to a pillow top, you’ll notice that they feel very similar, yet the support structure is very different.

Memory foam mattresses are supported by high-density poly-foam, whereas pillow-top mattresses are supported by innerspring coils. The added cushioning sewed on top increases the bed’s plushness and comfort. Adding a pillow top to a typical innerspring mattress provides additional comfort since it reduces the rigidity of the underlying steel coil layer.

What is Memory Foam?

In order to maintain its shape, memory foam that responds to temperature and pressure changes in your body provides body contouring properties. Memory foam mattresses adjust to the shape of your body, distributing your weight evenly over the surface and relieving pain in your muscles and joints.

Memory foam’s ability to mold to the shape of the body makes it perfect for back and side sleepers, as well as those who sleep on their stomachs.

Memory foam provides better lumbar support since it conforms to the spine’s natural curvature.

Types of Memory Foam

With time, new generations of memory foam have been developed that are better at preventing heat retention, the most prevalent complaint of old memory foam.

Plant-Based Memory Foam

Natural plant-based oils can be substituted for some of the petroleum in the mattress to keep it cooler. The coolness of the bed is enhanced by replacing a synthetic element with something more natural.

Gel Memory Foam

Incorporating “phase-changing material” (PCM) into memory foam, such as cooling gel or gel beads, improves the mattress’ ability to retain its coolness.

Other Cooling Additives

Incorporating good heat conductors like graphite and copper into your memory foam will keep you cool while you sleep.


Benefits of Memory Foam

  • Having a form-fitting design alleviates pressure points.
  • Those with back and joint problems can benefit from this treatment.
  • Durable.

Drawbacks of Memory Foam

  • Heat may be retained by conventional memory foam.
  • Toxic scents from a new product can be found in some memory foam mattresses.

What is Pillow Top?

Additional padding is sewn on top of the mattress to make it more comfortable. A variety of materials are used in the construction of the pillow’s top layer, including cotton, wool, down, fiberfill, memory foam, and latex foam. The coil or innerspring support layer beneath these materials provides bounce and firmness, however these materials encourage plushness at the expense of these properties.

Types of Pillow Tops

In addition to the standard pillow-top mattress, there is the Euro top. The Euro-style developed in Europe, where it is more prevalent. Both provide a layer of cushioning to alleviate discomfort.

Regular Pillow Top

There is a distinct gap above the comfort layer that is sewed on top of a conventional pillow top, providing the impression of additional cushioning.

Euro Pillow Top

Edge support is better on a Euro top mattress since the additional padding layer is sewed into the mattress cover, making it look more uniform. The foam or fiberfill used in Euro top layers gives them a thicker and denser appearance than standard pillow tops.

Benefits of a Pillow Top

  • The mattress is more breathable because of the coil layer.
  • Cheaper than some of the other options.
  • Off-gassing is less likely.

Drawbacks of a Pillow Top

  • Other types of mattresses have a longer lifespan.
  • Sleep disturbances may result from motion transfer.

Difference between Memory Foam and Pillow Top

There may be some memory foam in the pillow top mattress, but this isn’t enough to distinguish it from a mattress with innerspring coils or motion-restricting foam.


ParametersMemory FoamPillow Top
FeelBody-conforming, pressure reliefResponsive and bouncy from the coiled support layer
DurabilityHigh-quality memory foam beds are more durableCoil layer degenerates faster affecting the bed’s durability
Temperature RegulationTraditional memory foam retains heat, but memory foam with cooling properties, like open-cells, cooling gels, and other cooling additives help beat the heatInnerspring coils promote airflow making the mattress cooler and more breathable
Motion IsolationExcellent in isolating motionLittle to no motion isolation because of innerspring coils
Off-gassingMore likely to off-gas due to synthetic polyurethane foamSlight off-gassing, depending on if the pillow top contains foam
PriceUsually more expensive than a pillow top with the price for a queen size ranging between $600 to $4000Usually less expensive than memory foam with the price for a queen size ranging between $200 to $2000


Can you have a pillow top on a memory foam mattress?

When it comes to memory foam mattresses, pillow toppers aren’t necessary—they’re more popular in innerspring beds, where they serve as a comfort layer.

What is the difference between a hybrid mattress and a pillow top?

Unlike pillow top mattresses, which also use innerspring coils as a support layer, which are individually wrapped, hybrid mattresses use pocketed coils, which reduce motion transfer. Memory foam or latex comfort layers at least 2 inches thick are also seen in hybrid mattresses. In terms of thickness, a pillow top mattress may have a comfort layer of memory foam, latex, or any other substance like cotton, wool or fiberfill.

Are pillow tops or memory foam mattresses better?

Mattresses with memory foam tops are more popular than those with pillow tops because they are more comfortable and last longer. Although pillow toppers can improve the comfort of an innerspring mattress, they aren’t the first option for many buyers.

Do pillow top mattresses wear out faster?

Most beds have a longer lifespan than pillow tops because they are built of thick layers that compress rapidly and lose their life.


Are memory foam mattresses good for your back?

Because they conform to your body and adjust to your movement, memory foam mattresses are excellent for alleviating back pain and removing stiffness.

Can you flip a pillow top mattress over?

Pillow top mattresses cannot be flipped because the stiff coil layer would be exposed instead of the plush pillow top layer. Retailers recommend rotating these mattresses every several months to avoid wear.

How can I make my pillow top mattress more comfortable?

If the firmness or softness of your pillow top mattress isn’t just right, you can add a mattress topper to soften or firmen it up. Mattress toppers come in a number of firmness levels to fit a wide range of sleep preferences.


When it comes to choosing a mattress, your sleep demands and priorities play a crucial role.

Consider a memory foam mattress if you have a snoring companion and are in need of pain relief. Those who appreciate the bounce of classic innerspring mattresses and prefer a luxurious resting surface should opt for a pillow top mattress.

Keep in mind that a pillow top mattress has a shorter lifespan than a memory foam mattress. You may have to buy a new mattress sooner than you wish if you buy a pillow top.

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