One of the biggest keys to getting a good night’s sleep is comfort and your pillow has a large part to play in that. Everyone has slightly different preferences when it comes to the perfect pillow, but for many, especially those who are side sleepers or who suffer from neck or back pain, that pillow is a firm one.
Our Top Picks of 2021
- Best Overall:
- Best For Chronic Neck Pain:
- Best Latex Pillow:
- Best Cooling Pillow:
- Best Extra-Firm Pillow:
The Best Firm Pillows
Once you start shopping for a good quality firm pillow you will quickly find that there are a lot to choose from, perhaps more than you expected.
This can make the purchasing decision hard, especially as it’s almost impossible to determine how well a pillow will suit you until you have slept with it for a few nights. Careful shopping and a little pre-purchase homework can help a lot though.
To help you find the best firm pillow for you we took a close look at some of the best-selling firm pillows on the market. And with the help of our own testers, and the reviews left by consumers who had purchased these pillows already we came up with this shortlist.
1. Best Overall: Leesa Pillow
Why We Love It: Excellent, cool sleeping support and a 30-night free trial!
You may have heard of Leesa before, as they are one of the leading ‘mail order mattress’ firms. What you may not have known is that they offer pillows as well.
The Leesa pillow is made from the same cooling, durable memory foam that their best-selling mattresses are, and so they offer the same even support and cool sleeping. In addition, they come with a washable cover that will help ensure you are always getting a clean and dust free night’s sleep as well as a comfortable one.
Our testers found the support offered by the pillow to be firm without feeling like a brick (which some very dense memory foams can) and loved the soft ribbed cover. Reviewers praised its neck pain relief properties as well as its ease of care, something we loved too. And everyone liked the 30 night free trial!
PROS: cooling and responsive, extreme comfort, very easy to care of, medium-firm feel, perfect spinal alignment, great for combination sleepers, 3 year warranty, 30 night free trial
CONS: some people may not want to pay this much for a pillow (although we think it’s well worth the price), filling cannot not be removed, so the pillow is not considered ‘adjustable’
2. Best Firm Pillow for Chronic Neck Pain: Eli & Elm
Why We Love It: Great choice if you’re looking for a comfortable pillow to relieve neck pain
If you suffer from chronic neck pain getting to sleep can be hard. Trying to sleep with a pillow that offers little support only makes things worse. Yes, at first glance this pillow looks odd as it is strangely shaped. The shaping is deliberate though, as the ‘cutout’ at the bottom is designed to provide additional support for your neck.
The pillow is designed for those who sleep on their side and find that standard flat pillows do not support their neck well enough. And although our testers found making use of it a little strange for the first few minutes, they found it to be great for their neck.
Many reviewers felt the Eli & Elm Pillow has indeed helped relieve neck pain and stop them from waking up with a stiff, sore neck.
They also found that it was just firm enough and some even felt it helped keep their neck aligned better, reducing their waking discomfort. The filling is ‘adjustable’, as in it can be removed and replaced to help you find your own ‘best level’ of support.
PROS: designed specifically for superior neck support and alignment, organic cotton cover is cool and breathable, can be adjusted to find the “perfect fit” for you
CONS: the pillow’s filling is 75% latex, which some may be allergic to, some found the shape too strange to sleep on at the beginning, best for side sleepers, only available in one size (17″ x 29″)
3. Best Latex Pillow: Plushbeds
Why We Love It: Eco friendly firm support that is very cool sleeping too.
Latex has been making waves in the mattress world recently as this natural material is both supportive and cooling. The shredded latex used in this pillow is designed to provide support but still be soft enough to adjust to your shape and provide a more comfortable place to rest your head.
The latex used in the PlushBeds pillow is durable Dunlop latex and it is e GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) certified organic, making this a very environmentally friendly choice. It will not, the manufacturers claim, go flat over time as the springy latex helps the pillow retain its shaping longer.
Latex is also naturally cool sleeping, and our testers found that to be very true. There is little worse than waking up a hot sweaty mess thanks to a too warm pillow and this one prevents that very well.
PROS: all natural, environmentally friendly latex fill, very cool sleeping, latex resists dust and debris, making this pillow ‘cleaner’ than some other options, available in standard, queen and king
CONS: those who are allergic to latex must avoid this pillow
4.Best Temperature-Regulating Pillow: Bear Pillow
Why We Love It: For a cooler night’s sleep this pillow delivers every time.
As we mentioned earlier, a hot pillow is far from conducive to a good night’s sleep, let alone a comfortable one. The Bear Pillow boasts an extra ‘cooling layer’ of ‘ice fabric’ designed to prevent that while also offering firm support for most people.
What we liked most about this pillow was the cooling, – it has a special ‘cooling side’ -but we also liked the not too hard, not too soft firmness and the fact that it comes along with a 100 night free trial, giving you plenty of time to find out if this is the right pillow for you or not.
Many others also appreciated the cooling feature of the Bear Pillow, with some commenting they never needed to flip the pillow to its cooling side as it was just fine however it was slept on.
PROS: lives up to its claim to be a superior cooling pillow, good support, not to hard or too soft, 100-night free trial to let you try out the pillow before fulling committing to its use, 2-year limited warranty
CONS: is more expensive than other premium pillow options, some users found it was not firm enough for their personal taste, only available in queen and king
5. Best Extra-Firm Pillow: MyPillow
Why We Love It: A more affordable way to get a high quality extra firm pillow
Some of us prefer a pillow that is very supportive. Not solid, but one that has a little more loft and firmness than most. If that is your personal preference, then the MyPillow in the ‘blue’ firmness level – there are four ‘color’ levels available – is an option well worth considering.
Offering very firm support at a reasonable price many reviewers felt that the pillow offered the extra firmness they needed to keep neck and back pain at bay. You can remove some of the polyester fill to create a more customized feel and the whole pillow is machine washable, offering you an easy way to keep it clean, fresh and ‘fluffed’ to your liking. On the downside some users did feel that the pillow was just “too flat”.
PROS: comfortable to sleep on and molds well to your individual head shape, machine washable and dry-able, one of the less expensive ‘premium’ pillows on the market, multiple firmness options, sleeps cool
CONS: a slight smell when new, the filling is a little ‘lumpy’ at first, pricey considering it is a poly foam pillow
[Also Read: The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers ]
How To Shop For a Firm Pillow
The pillows on our list are just some of those available to choose from, there are many more. When making your choice, no matter which option you end up buying there are some important general considerations to keep in mind as you shop.
Here is a look at some of the most important.
There are an increasing number of materials being used to fill pillows these days; polyester foam, memory foam and latex to name just a few. Checking what type of fill a pillow uses is important, so here are a few things to keep in mind.
Shredded memory foam pillows don’t clump, are moldable and offer good support, however, they tend to have a chemical odor and can soften and become too thin when body heat is absorbed.
Shredded latex pillows are moldable, breathable and eco-friendly, however, they can be expensive and can be too soft for some.
Cotton pillows are odorless, free of toxic materials and breatheable, however, they’re not very moldable and with use they can become lumpy and uncomfortable.
The term loft level refers to a pillow’s height when it is lying flat on the bed. A very flat pillow will rarely provide the support anyone needs, even if they do not suffer from pain when sleeping, so looking for a pillow with decent loft is a must for most.
That being said for some a pillow that is too high is uncomfortable to sleep on, especially if it is firmer and has less give. In these cases it may be best to look for a pillow that features filling that can be removed as desired, as is the case for several of the options on our list.
If you tend to ‘sleep hot’ anyway, which many people do, a hot pillow only makes things worse. Looking for a pillow that specifically offers extra cooling might be something to keep in mind as you shop. Memory foam seems to be the most popular material for cooling pillows. Shredded is even better as it provides better airflow. Latex is another popular choice of filling material for those that sleep hot.
Durability and Longevity & Replacement
For many of us, until recently, the most we have ever spent on a pillow is about $10. All of these premium pillows cost considerably more than that, so ensuring that your choice has a reputation for durability – and won’t go flat and get lumpy after a month – is a another must to get the best return on your investment.
- Memory foam pillows should be replaced once a year.
- Latex is more durable than memory foam, so this can be replaced once every two years
[Also Read: The Best Latex Pillows To Sleep On in 2021 ]
The Bottom Line
Our top pick for the best firm pillow is the Leesa Pillow.
While each of the pillows on our list is a good option, we chose the Leesa as our overall top choice for lots of good reasons and can highly recommend it.
Those reasons, to recap, included the fact that it is very comfortable, offering just the right amount of firm, not hard, support, the cover is comfy, soft and washable and you do get that 30 night free trial to help ensure you really have made the right choice!