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Best Firm Pillows 2021

Last Updated: September 30, 2021

There are many pillows on the market, including different firmness levels and lofts, and getting the right pillow can help provide a better night's sleep. A firm pillow has the potential to provide pressure relief and offer added support.

According to a piece published in the Harvard Medical School✓, firmer pillows are better suited for side sleepers as they aid in supporting your head.

Keep reading for an all-encompassing review of the best firm pillows you can purchase on the market.

(Important Facts, Studies, Advice, Considerations & FAQs In Conclusion)

PILLOWTYPEFIRMNESSTRIAL & WARRANTYPRICE
Tempur Traditional PillowTempur MaterialFirm30 Nights
3 Years
£105
Ergoflex HD PillowHigh-Density Memory FoamFirmNA Nights
2 Years
£75
Kally Sleep Memory Foam Contour PillowMemory FoamMedium – Firm14 Nights
2 Years
£39.99
The Emma PillowPolyfoam & Memory FoamSoft, Medium & Firm200 Nights
NA Years
£89
John Lewis Synthetic Soft Touch PillowPolyesterExtra FirmNA Nights
2 Years
£10
Silentnight Firm Support PillowsHollowfibreFirmNA Nights
2 Years
£22
Prices are referring to the smallest size. Information may be subject to change, please check with the brand/manufacturer before purchasing.

1. Tempur Traditional Firm Pillow

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Tempur Traditional Firm Pillow
(Image credit: Tempur)
HIGHLIGHTSSUITABILITY
• TEMPUR® foam
• Visco-elastic cells
• 30-night trial
• Those with a bigger budget
• Sleepers seeking pressure relief
• People looking for added support

Tempur is a popular brand that focuses on producing quality products at a slightly higher price point. The pillow has received positive reviews, with some commenting on the comfort and how it helped to improve their sleep.

The firm pillow is designed with visco-elastic cells which can mould your head and neck while you sleep. This can provide a good amount of comfort, support and pressure relief to help you get a better nights sleep. The filling also includes TEMPUR®, which is an open-cell foam designed to adapt to the sleepers weight, shape and temperature. The pillow is covered in a 100% cotton cover, which is removable and washable at 60 degrees.

The Tempur pillow is designed to fit a standard pillowcase, and it is recommended to regularly fluff the pillow in order to maintain its shape. Upon purchase, you will receive a 30-night trial so that you can test the pillow in your own home. The pillow also comes with a 3-year guarantee.

2. Ergoflex HD Pillow

Up to 40% OFF
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Ergoflex HD Pillow
(Image credit: Ergoflex)
HIGHLIGHTSSUITABILITY
• TENCEL cover
•  Visco-elastic memory foam
• 2-year guarantee
• Those with allergies
• Sleepers seeking breathability
• People looking for durability

Ergoflex offers its HD Pillow, which contains specific materials to provide ergonomic support for the head and neck. Ergoflex also claims that the pillow can provide good posture support. The pillow is rated as firm and comes with a two-year guarantee.

The Ergoflex HD Pillow features a moulded core that is made from high-density visco-elastic memory foam. The foam offers support and cushioning without the sinking feeling. The firm feel is also designed to provide pressure relief and comfort. Ergoflex also states that their foam is long-lasting, with no need to plump up the pillows in order to maintain its shape.

The Ergoflex HD Pillow also comes with a removable TENCEL cover which is naturally anti-allergenic. This feature makes this firm pillow a suitable option for those who suffer from allergies and have sensitive skin. The TENCEL cover is also highly breathable and allows air to circulate while you sleep, keeping you cool.

3. Kally Sleep Memory Foam Contour Pillow

30% OFF
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Kally Sleep Memory Foam Contour Pillow
(Image credit: Kally Sleep)
HIGHLIGHTSSUITABILITY
• 7/10 firmness rating
• Slow rebound memory foam
• Wave-shaped design
• Back and side sleepers
• Individuals who snore
• Those with sensitive skin

Kally Sleep has developed the firm Memory Foam Contour Pillow to help people to get good sleep and remain comfortable. It is rated 7/10 for firmness and is suitable for back and side sleepers. The pillow has received many positive reviews and many commenting on the good quality and value for money.

The firm pillow has a curved wave shape, which has been designed to support your head, neck and shoulders. The waved design allows you to position your head correctly at a slight tilt, so your airways open which may reduce snoring capacity. The filling includes slow rebound memory foam, which offers support and durability.

The Kally Sleep pillow has been finished with a cotton fabric cover designed to be breathable and soft. The cover is also anti-allergy and has anti-bacterial fibres. Upon purchasing, you can take advantage of their 14-night trial, so you can test the pillow at home before fully committing.

4. Emma Pillow

Emma firm Pillow
(Image credit: Emma)
HIGHLIGHTSSUITABILITY
• HRX Supreme Foam
• Airgocell® memory foam
• Multi-layered design
• Those seeking spinal alignment
• Sleepers who prefer a choice of firmness
• Hot sleepers

The Emma Original Pillow is a multi-layered pillow with hundreds of positive reviews. It is very popular with many customers who enjoy its firmness and think it's a comfortable option. As the layers within the pillow can be swapped and removed, the pillow is able to suit all sleeping positions and preferences.

The Emma pillow has been designed with three separate layers of memory foam, each of which you can remove to suit your needs. The first layer consists of pressure-relieving visco-elastic foam, which offers weight distribution. This is followed by a layer of HRX Supreme Foam, which is designed to provide support and aid spinal alignment. The pillow also includes Airgocell® memory foam, which has an open-pored design to help provide breathability and moisture absorption.

The pillow is covered in a moisture-resistant top cover which has been added to encourage air circulation. The machine washable cover is also vegan, non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Upon purchasing, you get a 200-night trial which allows you to test the mattress at home.

5. John Lewis Standard Extra Firm Pillow

Up to 20% OFF
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John Lewis & Partners Synthetic Washable Standard Pillow, Extra Firm
(Image credit: John Lewis)
HIGHLIGHTSSUITABILITY
•  Extra-firm rating
•  Ultrasonic technology
•  Polyester mini ball clusters
• Individuals on a budget
• People looking for durability
• Those seeking a machine-washable pillow

The John Lewis & Partners Synthetic Soft Touch Washable Standard Pillow is an affordable option when looking for an extra-firm pillow. The polyester pillow is designed for both back, and side sleepers is designed to aid spinal alignment.

The filling is made from soft polyester mini ball clusters, which helps to keep the pillow's shape and loft intact. John Lewis & Partners have also used ultrasonic technology to seal the pillow's seams. This allows the pillow to stay intact, prolonging its quality and life. You can expect to have an even and balanced pillow with no loose threads or fraying.

The pillow is can be washed at 40 degrees and can be tumble dried on a cool setting. John Lewis & Partners advises against dry cleaning and suggests using a pillow protector for extra durability. The pillow comes with a 2-year guarantee.

(Video credit: John Lewis)

6. Silentnight Firm Support Pillows - 2 Pack

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Silentnight Firm Support Pillows - 2 Pack
(Image credit: Silentnight)
HIGHLIGHTSSUITABILITY
•  Soft-touch microfibre cover
• Firm fibre core
• Hypoallergenic fibres
• Those with allergies
• Side sleepers
• People who prefer to buy British

Silentnight is offering a pack of 2 pillows, which are deep-filled with hollow fibre, which provides a bouncy and supportive feel. The hollow fibres surround the firm fibre core in the centre, which has been added for extra firmness.

The Silentnight pillows contain hypoallergenic fibres, which makes them a suitable option for those suffering from allergies or sensitive skin. The pillow is covered with a soft-touch microfibre cover, which has been designed to provide support with a soft surface. Silentnight claim this pillow is ideal for side sleepers and can help to maintain spinal alignment.

When looking to maintain a safe and clean sleeping environment, you'll want to ensure that you can wash your pillows and your pillow covers. With Silentnight, you can pop their Firm Support Pillows in the washing machine to keep your bedding protected against harmful materials.

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Choosing A Firm Pillow 

While the firmness of a pillow may take priority for some, there are many other points to consider that could impact your decision. Before purchasing, it's wise to explore various considerations to ensure you're getting the most out of your money. 

firm pillow
  1. Materials: Different pillow materials can offer various benefits which can appeal to different sleepers. Memory foam is a popular choice amongst many, yet polyester is can provide a cheaper alternative with a soft feel. 
  2. Loft: The loft of a pillow refers to the height and thickness. Many higher loft pillows tend to be firmer; however, you can get high-loft plush pillows that can be both thick and soft. You can also find low-loft firm pillows that provide a thinner, firm surface.
  3. Pressure relief: While a firm pillow can help alleviate aches and pains, a medium-firm surface may also be a suitable option for those seeking pressure relief. Memory foam may provide a good amount of pressure relief due to its contouring abilities. 
  4. Breathability: Many firm pillows are made from memory foam, which is known for retaining heat. If you tend to overheat, open-cell memory foam or gel-infused memory foam may sleep cooler. Latex pillows are also a good option for hot sleepers. 
  5. Price: A good quality firm pillow can range from £20 - £100. The price can depend on the materials and the reputation of the brand. Memory foam tends to be more expensive, while hollowfibre and polyester are often cheaper options. 
  6. Trial Period: If you prefer to test the pillow before fully committing, it’s worth looking out for a trial. Trial periods allow you to test the pillow at home and return it with a full refund if it’s not to your liking. Trial periods can typically range from 2 weeks to a month. Some companies may not offer trial periods for hygiene reasons. 

Firm Pillow Materials 

Firm pillows can come in various materials, each offering its own advantages and disadvantages. Before purchasing, it's handy to know which materials appeal to you so you can find the right pillow to suit your preferences. 

firm pillow materials
  • Memory Foam: Moulds to the shape of your head and neck and can provide a good medium-firm to firm support. Despite this, it tends to retain heat, so perhaps not the best choice for hot sleepers. 
  • Polyfoam: Stands for polyurethane foam and is similar to memory foam but without visco-elastic properties - therefore may not mould to the head and neck as much as memory foam. Polyfoam also tends to be cheaper but can also be less durable. 
  • Polyester: A man-made and affordable material that resembles the feel of cotton. Polyester is known for being lightweight and soft. The downside is polyester can be less durable and may not be as effective at relieving pressure. 
  • Latex: This is a natural material that is derived from the sap of rubber trees. Latex pillows are known for providing good levels of support, elasticity and breathability. However, latex can also be more expensive. 

Pillow Loft Explained 

The loft refers to the thickness and height of the pillow. Pillows with a higher loft are thicker, while those with a low loft should be thinner. The best loft for you can depend on many factors, such as sleeping position, body weight and preference. A higher loft doesn't necessarily mean a firmer pillow. A high-loft plush pillow refers to a thick pillow that can provide plenty of sinkage and cushion. 

pillow loft

Generally, a lower loft is less than 3 inches thick, a medium should be 3-6 inches, and a high loft tends to be over 6 inches thick. Stomach sleepers may prefer a lower loft as it can align well with the rest of the body. Back and side sleepers could consider a medium to high loft pillow as it can provide sufficient support. Those with a heavier body or head weight may also appreciate a higher loft as the pillow is less likely to sag and sink under pressure. 

Mattress firmness can also play a part in determining the correct pillow loft. If your mattress is on the softer side and tends to sink, a firm pillow with a high loft may result in your head being too propped up and strained. If you're in doubt, try getting a pillow with a trial period so you can test it at home. 

Sleeping Positions 

Research✓ has shown that side sleeping is the most common position in bed, with one study finding 54.1% of 664 participants slept on their sides. Your sleeping position can determine what type of pillow is best for you, so it's something to be aware of while browsing for your next pillow. 

sleeping positions
  • Side Sleepers: Little research has been done on pillows for side sleepers; however, they may need more firm support for the head and neck as this can facilitate spinal alignment and help to ease pressure points and neck pain.  
  • Back Sleepers: Similarly to side sleepers, a medium-firm pillow may be a good option to keep everything supported and keep the spine aligned. Spine Health recommends that pillow height should be lower than that of side sleepers. 
  • Combination Sleepers: A medium-firm pillow can be a good compromise for those who tend to toss and turn throughout the night, as this firmness level tends to appeal to a wide group of sleepers. 
  • Stomach Sleepers: A firm pillow may cause the head and neck to be too raised, which can cause discomfort and may present problems with spinal alignment. A soft to medium pillow is recommended as the body tends to lay flatter on the mattress.

When sleeping with a firm pillow, "if you're on your stomach with your head to the side, you're sleeping in a full rotation position, and that can become painful,"

Dr. Lawrence Epstein

Firm Pillow Benefits  

There are plenty of benefits to having a firm pillow; although, this can depend on your personal preferences, sleeping style and characteristics. Here are some of the main advantages of owning a firm pillow. 

  1. Heavier People: Those with a higher BMI or heavier head may find that a soft pillow can cause too much sinking and lack the support needed. A firm pillow can also provide that extra durability. 
  2. Side Sleepers: A firm pillow with a higher loft can provide the support needed for the head and neck and to maintain spinal alignment. 
  3. Durability: Firmer pillows are often made from denser materials, so if you’re looking for a long-lasting pillow, this could be a suitable option. 
  4. Support: If you’re looking for added support and don’t enjoy the sinking feeling found in softer pillows, a firm pillow can offer that support required for the neck and head. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a firm pillow?

A firm pillow is often made from dense materials, such as memory foam to provide firm support for the head and neck.

What is the best firm pillow?

This can depend on your personal needs and preferences. Memory foam can be a good option for those who want the contouring abilities found with this material. For those who want a little extra cushioning, a medium-firm pillow could be more suitable.

How to break in a firm pillow?

One method could be to place a heating pad over the pillow to soften it up. You can also beat it with a hard object to help soften the filling.

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