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Best Firm Pillows of 2023

TSA reviewer Connie Hack

Written by Connie Hack

Sleep Advisor

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22 November 2023 12 min read

A pillow is of utmost importance for a good night's sleep, and it is almost impossible to sleep if the pillow is not suitable. But each person has its own preferences and needs, which is why we prepared the best firm pillows for you!

The importance of the mattress is often discussed, which is certainly positive, but the pillow must not be neglected because only if both are suitable you can have a restful sleep every night. The choice of pillow is highly personal since only you use it. Therefore, no universal standard can be a guarantee that a certain pillow will be comfortable for you. Maybe it is perfect for your friend who recommended it to you, but not for you.

For some reason, pillows are usually portrayed in movies and books as soft. Soft pillows are certainly comfortable, especially in the first moment when you lay your head on it. But for many, soft pillows are not useful. If you are one of those who look for support and firmness from a pillow, instead of softness then this guide is perfect for you. We will compare some of the best firm pillows on the UK sleep market and also explain everything you need to know before deciding on the perfect one.

Our top picks

And now it is time for the stars of our article. Nothing is perfect, but the following five pillows proved to be the best after our weeks of testing. They met various criteria, and we think they deserve a place among the out top picks. Whether one of them will be perfect for you depends not only on the quality of the product and the conclusions we made, but also on you personally.
Pillows 1
a product image of simba hybrid pillow with stratos
Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow
Pillows 2
Product image of Dormeo Octasense Pillow.
Dormeo Octasense Pillow
Pillows 3
a product image of Emma Original Pillow
Emma Original Pillow
Pillows 4
Product image of Bluewave Bedding Memory Foam Pillow.
Bluewave Bedding Memory Foam Pillow

Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow

One of the very few pillows that can be really firm when you need it.
a product image of simba hybrid pillow with stratos

There is no doubt Simba Hybrid pillow is a fantastic product, but it is soft to medium. That's why Simba launched the Simba Hybrid Firm pillow, which is medium-firm to firm. Firmness is not the only difference, since these two pillows have a completely different construction. Inside the pillow there are two Simba Renew layers, which are soft layers made of recycled PET plastic bottles.

There is also one layer of small Aerocoil springs that are very firm. You can change the arrangement of layers and get a medium, medium-firm and firm pillow. Cover has two sides. One is 100% cotton for those who like a natural feel, and the other side is cotton with Stratos technology, so you always have a cool side of the pillow. Breathable mesh border and the entire construction including springs which act as a fan make it cooling even during the summer.


An icon representing an eco-friendly & sustainable concept
Eco-friendly + carbon-neutral delivery.
An icon depicting a thermometer illustrating a good thermo regulating properties
Perfect for all seasons due to efficient thermo-regulation.
An icon depicting a firm & supportive surface indicating support & firmness
Adjustable firmness
Adjust the level of firmness as you wish.


An icon representing a non-removable cover
Non-removable cover
You cannot remove the cover.

Dormeo Octasense Pillow

If you are not sure whether you always want firm support, then the 2-in-1 design of Dormeo Octasense pillow is good option.
Product image of Dormeo Octasense Pillow.

Do you want firm anatomic support one night, and then the following night you crave to sink into a soft pillow? If the answer is yes, know that you are not alone.

Octaspring memory foam tube is medium-firm and supports your head and neck in all three sleep positions. Due to the 3D structure, memory foam tube is five times more breathable than traditional memory foam. The other side of the pillow is filled with plush synthetic fibres. The pillow is great for allergy sufferers since it is 100% hypoallergenic and the cover is washable. It is low on the sustainability scale because all materials are synthetic and that is the biggest downside.


An icon depicting a washing machine, illustrating a product that is suitable for machine washing
Machine washable
Just put it in a washing machine & wash at 40 degrees.
An icon depicting a leaf indicating hypoallergenic properties
100% hypoallergenic due to synthetic fibres.
An icon depicting air passing through a fabric
3D memory foam tube is highly breathable.


An icon representing a non-removable cover
Non-removable cover
You cannot remove the cover.

Emma Original Pillow

Every customer may change loft and firmness numerous times with Emma Original pillow.
a product image of Emma Original Pillow

Three foam layers are the heart and soul of this pillow. Each of the layers can be removed, so you can sleep on one, two or all three. There are other similar concept pillows on the market, but what sets Emma Original pillow apart are three different layers. Three types of memory foam are in charge of pressure relieving, support and breathability.

The polyester cover is supposedly moisture-resistant and breathable. In comparison with other polyester covers, that is true, but it certainly cannot be compared to bamboo or cotton. You can 30 nights to test it and make sure it is the right one for you. Two year warranty is expected from premium company such as Emma Sleep.


an icon depicting a removable cover
Removable cover
Remove the hypoallergenic cover and wash it easily in a washing machine.
An icon depicting air passing through a fabric
Cooling & breathable
Thanks to polyester cover and three layers, you will stay cool all the time.
An icon depicting a medal indicating a warranty
2-year warranty
You get 2-year warranty & 30 nights of trial.


An icon depicting off gassing
Off gassing
Slight off gassing is possible upon unpacking.

Bluewave Bedding Memory Foam Pillow

Bluewave Bedding Memory Foam Pillow is one of the thinnest pillows on the market, ideal for stomach sleepers.
Product image of Bluewave Bedding Memory Foam Pillow.

Before we get to the features of this pillow, we must first give you some unpacking instructions because they are a bit different than usual. When the pillow arrives, fluff it in clothes dryer on medium heat for about half an hour, and then give it another 24 hours to fully expand. After that period, it will be odor free too.

This pillow is only 7 cm thick, which means that it belongs to low loft pillows. Such profile is excellent for stomach and small-framed side sleepers. It will be good for some back sleepers, but there is a possibility that it will be too low. Gel infused memory foam and ventilation holes help make the pillow better than some other memory foam ones in terms of breathability and cooling.


An icon depicting air passing through a fabric
Due to ventilation holes & gel memory foam, you enjoy the optimal airflow.
an icon depicting a removable cover
Removable cover
The bamboo cover is completely removable & washable.


An icon depicting off gassing
A bit of off gassing
Do expect some slight off gassing in the beginning.

Who should use firm pillows?

In general, there are no one-size-fits-all products in the sleep industry. Adjustable pillows have changed that claim to some extent, but there are still too many influencing factors – one feature can’t be equally good for everyone. This includes firmness. While a firm pillow will be great for some, it can cause neck pain, back pain and even insomnia for others. So let's first find out who should use firm pillows and who should stick with softer ones.

Side sleepers

Three quarters of people are side sleepers, which makes this position by far the most common. Many side sleepers will not agree that a firm pillow is comfortable for them. This is where we come back to personal preferences when it comes to pillow characteristics. But we have to analyze the situation generally.

an image of a woman sleeping on her side

And why do side sleepers benefit the most from firm pillows? Because there is a big gap between the head and the neck. If that space is not supported by a pillow, the spine will not be aligned, causing numerous problems both short-term and long-term. However, a pillow for side sleepers should not be firm as a rock either. Medium to firm is the ideal firmness, in order to support the head and neck, but at the same time allow a slight sinkage for sake of the comfort. The firmness of the mattress also affects the position of the body, and thus the choice of pillow firmness.

Heavy sleepers

Unlike side sleepers who sometimes like a softer pillow, heavy sleepers in 99% of cases need a firm pillow. Sleepers who weigh more than 90 kg significantly compress the pillow, making it too flat if it is not firm enough.

When you flatten the pillow too much, then the position of the head, neck and spine is irregular, and we know that we have to avoid that if we want to wake up rested and pain-free. The higher the body mass index is, the firmer pillow is needed.The same is true in reverse. Lightweight sleepers should go with soft to medium pillows and lower loft because they do not compress the pillow almost at all.

Stomach sleepers

Height of the pillow is more important than firmness for front sleepers. Stomach sleeping is placing the neck under a significant amount of strain. That's why this is considered the least healthy sleep position, but many people can't fall asleep otherwise or combination sleepers always end up on stomach during the night.

An image of a man sleeping on stomach in his bed.

Since the head is close to the mattress when you lie on stomach, the pillow should not be thicker than 10 cm, especially if it is firm. For example, a firm pillow around 7 cm thick is an excellent choice. If the loft is higher than 10 cm, then a firm pillow is not a good choice, but a softer one is needed so that the head sinks and the neck is in a more natural position.

Back sleepers

Back sleepers can choose most pillows that are somewhere between 4 and 8 on the firmness scale from 1 to 10. Head and neck should not curve backward too much, so every pillow that will provide enough support either because of firmness or loft is suitable. Nevertheless, firmer one is better than very soft for back sleeping or else head are going to fall below the level of spine.

an image of a man sleeping on his back and snoring

Popular types of firm pillows

We have already mentioned at the beginning how rich the offer of pillows is on the UK sleep market. Dozens, maybe even hundreds of companies manufacture the most diverse possible models. There are traditional ones made from natural materials, memory foam ones, hybrid ones and the list goes on and on. The following are the most popular types of firm pillows.


This is a type of synthetic foam that is mostly found in shredded form in pillows. However shredded filling is not ideal for those who are looking for firm pillow, so if you want firm polyfoam pillow try to find one with solid polyfoam core. Polyfoam features vary significantly, and the main advantage over memory foam pillow is the price but density is lower.

Memory foam

Memory foam has been hands down the most popular material in the sleep industry for the past 20 to 30 years. Although it is not high on the sustainability scale, just like other synthetic materials, it has so many benefits and that is why it has taken precedence.

Memory foam pillow can be both very soft and very firm, and that depends on the density. High density foam is firm and if you want to buy a firm pillow it is a good choice. Of course, such memory foam is not pressure relieving like lower density memory foam, but it is possible to strike a balance between support, firmness and pressure relief. Hot sleepers are not huge fans of memory foam pillows because of heat retention.

memory foam density


Down is an animal product obtained from the underside of feathers, usually goose or duck feathers. As such, it is not vegan-friendly, but it is sustainable and eco-friendly. Down is also so soft and comfortable, and it is one of the best temperature regulating materials. It is very expensive.
Since a 100% down pillow would be too soft and expensive, feathers are usually added to make it firmer. Even with the addition of feathers, there is a possibility that down pillows will not be firm enough for some types of sleepers.

down & feather filling

Down alternative

Although they have similar names, down and down alternatives are actually very different. Softness is one of the few characteristics they share. Down alternative is a synthetic material that was created with the aim of providing customers with a cheap, vegan-friendly alternative to down.
The first feeling you will have when you lie down on the down and down alternative is relatively similar, but later the differences become apparent, primarily temperature regulation and breathability. Also, the down alternative is not sustainable. We believe that most of those who are in the market for firmer pillow will bypass down alternatives.


Feather is firmer and less fluffy compared to down, which is why it is a better choice in this case. Stomach sleepers often find feather pillows comfortable because of the lower loft and firmer feeling. Durability of feather pillows is great and they are cheaper than down, but more expensive than down alternatives. Feather is not for vegans too. True feather allergy is very rare, and the reaction is usually a consequence of mite allergens present in feathers or feather physically irritating the skin so it is suitable for most allergy sufferers.

an image of down feathers


There is no doubt that wool is a fantastic natural material. No material is better in temperature regulation, it is sustainable, and it is also vegan-friendly unlike down, because sheep shearing is necessary for the animal to live.

Nevertheless, wool pillows are not common. You can certainly find them on the market, but they are often pillows filled with wool plus some other material. Also, firmness is soft to medium, which is not what we are currently looking for at the moment. Go with wool duvet for example, but look for firm pillow elsewhere. Buckwheat is great firm natural alternative.

An image of a faux wool rug.


Latex can be natural or synthetic. Natural is obtained from rubber tree sap and is eco-friendly. Both natural and synthetic are similar in feel to foam. Same as with memory foam, latex density determines firmness. Synthetic latex is more dull and less durable than natural, but also cheaper. There is also a blend of natural and synthetic latex.

Natural latex has a quicker response than memory foam, and it is also much more cooling. Since heat retention is one of the main disadvantages of memory foam, latex is dominant in that category. It is 100% hypoallergenic.

An image of rubber trees with bowls for collecting latex.

What to consider when buying best firm pillows

Before moving on to the best firm pillows of our choice, we want to first talk about things to consider when buying best firm pillows. Most of these things are relevant to all types of pillows, so you can apply the advice when buying a softer pillow as well.

Height of pillow

Pillows are divided into three categories – low loft, mid-loft and high loft. There is no rule written in stone, but low loft is considered thinner than 8 cm, mid loft from 8 to 14 cm, and thicker than 14 cm is considered high loft.

An image of Dormeo Octaspring True Evolution Anatomic pillow.

You choose loft according to the sleep position, but also weight. As we have already mentioned, heavy sleepers significantly compress the pillow and therefore need a higher loft. Sometimes the loft is measured as the height when the head is on the pillow, but it is not possible for the manufacturer to indicate the loft like that because everyone compresses the pillow to a different extent.

Level of support

Support is a feature that tells us how much a pillow can stand the weight of your head without flattening. We believe that you all know very well what pillow support is and how it affects your night's sleep, even without us explaining it to you.
Although a firm pillow must also be supportive, firmness and support are not synonymous. Pillow can be soft to medium, and yet supportive. Exactly how supportive it will be depends on the material and construction of the core.

Pressure relief

Pressure points are under so much tension during the day because we sit a lot, and we don't have enough physical activity and stretching. The situation worsens during the night if the mattress and pillow are not pressure relieving.

Memory foam and latex pillows are the best for pressure relief. At the same time, they can provide you with firm support and pressure relief due to the characteristics of the material. Therefore, if you feel tension in the pressure points, and especially if you are a side sleeper, do not forget this very important feature.


Moldability of a pillow is good if you can easily manipulate the shape of it. It is usually combination sleepers who are looking for a moldable pillow. You cannot expect a firm pillow to be as moldable as a soft one, but not all firm pillows are the same.

An image of a woman sleeping on Octaspring True Evolution Anatomic pillow.

You can mold down, feather and similar pillows even if they are firmer. On the other hand, pillows whose core consists of a single block of memory foam or latex have moldability close to zero.


Temperature regulation is often mistaken for breathability. While breathability certainly plays an important part in temperature regulation, it is not the only one. Pillows with good temperature regulation will disperse body heat and help you have a cool night's sleep.

Sleep manufacturers try in different ways to make certain materials cooling and thus attract hot sleepers. Since firmer pillows are usually dense, this is not good for temperature regulation. Memory foam has a problem with heat retention anyway, and high density memory foam is even worse. That's why hot sleepers should choose latex or another type of firm pillow that is not memory foam. Gel memory foam is better in terms of temperature regulation but usually softer.


Allergies are one of the most common health problems in the world. In the UK alone there are more than 20 million allergy sufferers. They can develop at any age, and symptoms vary from very mild to severe.

For all people alike, whether they have allergies or not, it is important to choose hypoallergenic sleep products. Exposure to allergens for 8 hours every day will almost certainly have a negative effect on the immune system and lead to the appearance of allergies. All synthetic materials are hypoallergenic, and if treated in the right way, most natural materials are also safe but you should double-check with manufacturer and your doctor.

Tips for buying and using firm pillows

You rest your head on a pillow for about 8 hours every day. That is why it is of the utmost importance to choose the right model. If you have decided that you want a firm pillow, you probably know that such a pillow suits you. Since you have decided on firmness, it is time to analyze other features.

Start with the material because you will be able to conclude more about hypoallergenic properties, breathability and temperature regulation, as well as sustainability. Then check loft, sustain, support and pressure relief. If you often change the sleep position, don't forget moldability.

The advantages of owning best firm pillows

Some of the advantages of owning the best firm pillows are the same as for any other pillow. We cannot start this part without saying that the main advantage is a good night's sleep. When you wake up in the morning rested and full of energy for the upcoming day, you will understand how important the pillow is.

If we are going to go more specific about advantages of firm pillows, then we have to start from support. The support that your neck and head will receive has an impact on the whole body. For example, if side sleepers do not have good support between the neck and the head, where is the empty space, that will lead to back pain, and later to problems with the lower body too.

FAQs about your firm pillows

Let's finish this guide with answers to some of the frequently asked questions about best firm pillows.

What sleeping position suits firm pillows?

In general, side and front sleepers may benefit from firm pillows, but it can be good choice for some back sleepers too. So many other factors are most important than just sleeping position.

What is a loft of a pillow?

Loft is another word for a height of the pillow.

What pillow sizes are available?

Sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Sometimes only one size is available and sometimes there are many sizes.

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