6 of the best pillows tried and tested
There are few things more important than a good night's sleep, that’s why we’ve tested a range of pillows so we can recommend the best option for tired parents
Considering we spend, on average, 1 third of our lives sleeping, it’s safe to say that getting a good night's rest is very important. But many parents are probably not getting the blissful 8 hours sleep that so many experts recommend, so every minute counts. There are so many factors that can affect your sleep, from room temperature to noise levels, light pollution, and – of course – the changing needs of our babies and children. Not all of these are fully within our control, but one thing we can change is what we sleep on. And one element that is easy to overlook is the importance of the pillow we use.
6 of the best pillows at a glance
- Best firm pillow: Scooms Hungarian Goose Down Pillow, from £90
- Best budget buy: M&S Temperature Control Pillows, £35 for 2
- Best pillow for side sleepers: Tempur Comfort Pillow Cloud, from £109
- Best memory foam pillow: Emma Premium Pillow, £145
- Best pillow for back sleepers: Aeyla The Foamo Pillow, £69
- Best cooling pillow: Aeyla Dual Pillow, from £48.30
The trouble is, in a world of expensive pillows that promise the earth, it can be hard to find the right pillow for you. That’s why we’ve tested a range of pillows from some of the major sleep brands to help you get the best night's sleep possible.
What pillow is best for me?
When deciding which pillow is best for you, there are a few things to consider.
Sleep position – You may well be using the wrong pillow type for your preferred sleeping position, which can contribute to pain and trouble falling asleep. “If you sleep on your side with a soft pillow that doesn't provide enough support under your neck, your head has to extend sideways to meet the pillow,” notes Harvard Health Publishing. “If you sleep on your stomach—a position that hyperextends the neck backward—then using a firm pillow pushes the head back even farther.”
Materials – Commonly, pillows are either filled with down (feathers), memory foam, or synthetic or microfibre wadding. Usually, down and synthetic pillows are on the softer side while memory foam pillows are firmer, though this isn't always the case – as evidenced with some of the options on our list. Which you pick will be determined by your preferred firmness and sleeping position. Some people may also find they are allergic to down, while others avoid it on ethical grounds.
Pillow height – If you are a side sleeper, you don't want a pillow that is too flat as it will lead to your neck being poorly aligned and may cause pain in the sides of your neck. Some pillows offer the ability to adjust the stuffing, allowing you to tailor the pillows height to your needs to ensure a comfortable nights sleep. Others have side "walls" to keep them fluffy.
The best pillows in 2023
1. Scooms Hungarian Goose Down Pillow, £90
– Best for a firm pillow
Machine Washable: Yes, at 40 degrees every 6-12 months | Pillow Type: Goose Down | Sizes Available: Standard (50 x 75 cm), King Size (50 x 90 cm) | Trial Offered: No
If you’re the kind of sleeper that prefers a down pillow and you place value in the materials your pillow is made from, then the Hungarian Goose Down Pillow from Scooms is a great option.
The feathers are responsibly sourced, something many of the budget options on the market are unable to confirm. Scooms also note that the pillow was constructed using “eco-friendly technology.”
In our testing, we found the pillow to be a bit firm straight out of the box, but it quickly adjusted after a few nights of use. Despite this, the pillow retained its ‘plumpness’ even after 2 weeks of use, with its impressive size and firmness maintained too.
Unlike many of the cheaper options on the market, the packaging for the Hungarian down pillow is minimal, with only a cardboard box and a reusable bag. The box was entirely recyclable and the bag can be reused for storage making this a great option if you’re eco-conscious.
Overall, if you’re someone who values responsibly-sourced products and you prefer a firmer pillow then the Scooms Hungarian Goose Down Pillow could be your ideal pillow.
Pros: Responsibly sourced feathers, eco-friendly construction
Cons: Might be too firm for some
Available from: Scooms
2. M&S Temperature Control Pillows, £35 for 2
- Best budget buy
Machine Washable: Yes, up to 40 degrees | Sizes Available: N/A | Pillow Type: Fiber | Trial Offered: No
One of the biggest surprises from our pillow testing was the reasonably-priced yet remarkably good M&S Temperature Control pillow. This competitively-priced option is the only one on our list to offer 2 pillows as standard and yet it still offers a high quality, supportive sleep.
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“I have recurring issues with my neck and usually have a sore neck after staying in hotels/away from home,” noted MFM group marketing manager Emma, who tested the pillow. “But I woke up really well-rested with no soreness at all after only a few nights using the M&S pillows.”
As their name suggests, the M&S Temperature Control pillows are advertised as including technology that “complements the skin's natural ability to regulate its temperature, keeping you warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot.” During testing, Emma backed up this claim noting that the pillow didn’t overheat or feel warm in the morning and that her sleep remained undisturbed throughout the night.
I've been very comfortable and more than happy to continue using the pillow,” Emma noted, “I'd definitely recommend it to someone who has similar issues with their neck as me.” They are available in medium and firm and are made from 100% recycled polyester.
Pros: Reasonably priced, supportive
Cons: No trial offered, no size information available
Available from: M&S
3. Tempur Comfort Pillow Cloud, from £109
- Best for side sleepers
Machine Washable: Yes, the cover is removable and can be washed up to 60 degrees | Sizes Available: 74 x 60 | Pillow Type: Memory Foam | Trial Offered: Yes, 30 night trial available
If you’re a side sleeper, you know how tough it can be to find a pillow that doesn’t cause you to wake up with neck or shoulder pain. Enter the Tempur Comfort Pillow Cloud, a thick, firm pillow that offers the ideal support for side sleepers.
SEO and content manager Holly, who tested the pillow, noticed they were turning less in order to find a comfortable position ultimately leading to them falling asleep more quickly. The pillow also remained cool during testing, avoiding the typical overheating problems associated with cheaper pillows. One particular point Holly noted was the nice amount of give the pillow had despite its firmness. It conforms to the contours of your head and neck, while returning to its original shape without requiring re-plumping.
It is on the more expensive side, but the removable cover allows you to keep the pillow clean improving its longevity. Holly also noticed that it was a bit tricky to fit into their pillow case initially due to its thickness but that, once it was inside a pillow case, it didn’t move around or require any readjustment.
Overall the Tempur Comfort Pillow Cloud feels like a premium product with a weighty, solid feel that provides solid support while also keeping you cool throughout the night, something few pillows we tested were able to achieve.
Pros: Remains cool, washable cover, premium feel, 30 night trial offered
Cons: Expensive, might be too big for some pillow cases, only one size option
Available from: Tempur
4. Emma Premium Pillow, £145
- Best memory foam pillow
Machine Washable: Yes, removable top cover can be washed at up to 60 degrees | Sizes Available: 70 x 40 cm | Pillow Type: Memory Foam | Trial Offered: 30 night trial
Emma is well known for its premium sleep products, and the appropriately-named Premium Pillow is no different. Just like the brand's mattresses, the Premium Pillow comes vacuum packed in plastic and stored in a recyclable cardboard box elevating the unboxing experience.
Beyond the design, the Premium Pillow is firm and comfortable, providing excellent support around your neck and shoulders. The pillow also includes what Emma calls ‘Premium ThermoSync Foam’, designed to help regulate your temperature while you sleep, something our tester noticed during use.
The removable cover can be machine washed to keep it clean and there are three removable foam layers you can remove to adjust the height of the pillow to suit your preferred sleeping position.
“Maybe my pillow beforehand wasn't great but I have noticed a difference,” said MFM's ecommerce writer Cordelia, “I’ve noticed less tossing and turning trying to get comfortable.”
“It was the right firmness for me,” she continued, “but people who like to fully sink into more of a soft, fluffy style pillow probably wouldn't get on with this one.”
Thanks to the high quality memory foam material, the pillow retained its shape after 2 weeks of testing and didn’t require repeated plumping to ensure it remained firm. It is on the more expensive end of the market but the pillow includes a number of features that are designed to ensure that it lasts a long time.
Overall, if you prefer a softer pillow you sink into, this pillow probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a firm pillow with excellent support and a high quality design, then the Premium Pillow from Emma is a great fit for you.
Pros: Premium design, adjustable height, temperature regulating
Available from: Emma
5. The Foamo Pillow by Aeyla, £69
- Best pillow for back sleepers
Machine Washable: No | Sizes Available: 50 x 75 cm | Pillow Type: Memory Foam | Trial Offered: 30 night money back guarantee
Have you ever felt your pillow was too soft? Or too high up? Maybe its a bit too firm? You wish you could just pull out a bit of the stuffing to make it just right for you? Ayela’s 'Foamo' pillow does just that. The pillows stuffing is made up of small foam pieces you can add and remove in order to achieve that perfect height and firmness for you.
In our testing, it took a couple of nights to adjust to the pillow and find the right level of stuffing but when we did it was absolutely worth it. From the moment you unbox this pillow it feels like a different experience. It comes packed in a premium looking box complete with instructions for adjusting the stuffing and taking care of the pillow. The pillow itself is protected by a soft cover, which you need to remove to access the inner cover where you’ll find the zip to adjust the stuffing.
Even though this is a memory foam pillow, the nature of the stuffing means it feels closer to a down pillow when in use. The pillow conforms to the contours of your neck and head without feeling too firm, even without removing any of the stuffing. When I made those adjustments, though, I was able to get the pillow into the perfect shape to provide maximum support while sleeping. The shape of the pillow and adjustable height makes this a great fit for both side sleepers and back sleepers, something we noted during our testing.
The Foamo pillow also has impressive eco credentials as they are made from bamboo without the use of any harmful chemicals or toxins.
The main drawback I noticed during testing was the need to plump the pillow regularly. After around two weeks of use, a distinct groove had formed in the middle of the pillow. This was quickly solved by adjusting the stuffing - something it's worth noting you cannot do when traditional pillows experience this issue. Overall, if you’re looking for a pillow that you can shape to suit you and your sleep requirements, then the Foamo pillow from Aeyla is a great fit.
Pros: Adjustable stuffing, excellent neck and shoulder support
Cons: Requires regular plumping
Available from: Aeyla
6. The Dual Pillow by Aeyla, from £48.30
- Best cooling pillow
Machine Washable: Yes | Pillow Type: Hypoallergenic Microfiber Filling | Sizes Available: 50 x 75 cm | Trial Offered: 30 night money back guarantee
Searching for a softer pillow can often lead to purchasing thin, flimsy pillows that provide little to no support while sleeping. That’s why the Dual Pillow from Aeyla is the perfect option for those who prefer sleeping on something a little softer.
The unique design provides ample support while still allowing you to sink into the pillow. The breathable, microfibre stuffing is not only hypoallergenic but it also aids in regulating temperature ensuring that you remain cool throughout the night, something that we found a particular highlight during our testing.
Unlike other soft pillows, The Dual Pillow provided ample support for your neck and shoulders while still allowing you to relax. Aeyla advertises the pillow as being balanced between soft and firm, but we’d definitely say it leans more on the softer side and, as such, is probably best avoided if you prefer a firmer pillow. It’s also worth noting that Aeyla also advertised the pillow as providing “effective neck & shoulder pain relief” from night one, but we still found that there was an adjustment period of a few nights during our testing.
The premium feel of the pillow is immediately noticeable from the minute you unbox the product. Like The Foamo, the Dual Pillow comes packaged within a sleek looking box in vacuum packed plastic. It also lives up to the promise that it will retain its shape as we haven’t noticed any warping across our 2 weeks of testing and the pillow has always returned to its original shape after use.
Overall, if you’re looking for a softer, premium feeling pillow that will still provide you with plenty of support around your neck and shoulders, then the Ayela Dual Pillow is the right choice for you.
Pros: Retains shape, breathable materials, premium build, soft yet supportive
Cons: Not as well balanced as advertised, requires a few nights to adjust
Available from: Aeyla
How we tested pillows
In order to test the pillows we featured in our list, we worked with a team of testers from across the MadeForMums team. They carried out the testing process from their own homes across a 2 week period, filling out 2 surveys at the beginning and end of the process.
The initial survey was to guage first impressions of the pillow after a few nights sleep as well as to gather feedback on the unboxing process. With this survey, testers paid particular attention to the packaging used to transport the pillow as well as the immediate comparison to their previous pillow.
The final survey was designed to gather feedback on the testers overall experience, focusing on the quality of sleep over the 2 week testing period. We also focused on if the pillows retained their shape during the testing period as well as if they regulated temperature well.
Testers looked at value for money, focusing on their sleep experiences when compared to their price as well as the build quality and longevity of the pillows. We also gathered numerical ratings regarding the testers sleep quality (out of 10) at the start and end of the testing process to help us to see if there was any improvement in sleep quality across the testing period.
Pic credit: Product websites
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