Memory foam pillows can get a bad rap. In the past, the rock-solid slabs of artificial foam could be uncomfortable for those who sleep in certain positions and were no good at all for anyone who gets hot in the night. And let’s be honest, they never looked quite as good on a bed as a plumped-up feather pillow.
Made by a company renowned for mattress technology, this innovative Emma pillow is another matter. With three levels of foam and memory foam, it’s completely customisable so you can adjust its height and firmness according to personal preference. It even promises to side-step the issue of sweaty nights with a combination of ultra-breathable and moisture-resistant materials.
But can one pillow really work no matter which position you sleep in yet still not compromise on support? We hit the sack to find out.
How we tested
We dozed on the job to decide whether the Emma pillow was the answer to our wildest dreams. We asked front, side and back sleepers to take it to bed and see if it really did suit everyone, and even propped it up behind us for lazy morning reading.
We tested for comfort, how well it kept aches and pains at bay and how soundly we slept, plus if we woke up feeling well rested.
Emma original pillow: £59.50, Emma-sleep.co.uk
- Dimensions: 40cm x 70cm
- Filling: Foam and memory foam
- Firmness: Adjustable between medium and firm
- Cover: 98% polyester and 2% elastane
Firmness and comfort
The choice is yours. The pillow comes with three separate layers of foam and memory foam, which you can swap around to find the perfect level of comfort or even remove completely if you prefer less height.
Layers are bafflingly space-age and include a firm pressure-relieving viscoelastic memory foam developed by astrophysicists to evenly distribute weight across your head, back and shoulders. Next, there’s a firmly supportive HRX (High Resiliency Extra) hyper-soft cold foam which keeps your spine evenly aligned while the final ultra-breathable, open-pored layer of Airgocell memory foam absorbs moisture to keep you cool and dry and mimics the soft support of a feather pillow.
Still confused? Us too. Once we’d unfurled it from the surprisingly small box, we found we needed to spend a couple of nights working out the best combination to suit the way we slept and the level of firmness we preferred. The pillow easily unzips so you can add and remove layers as required. We finally settled on using it without the HRX layer, which proved a little firm for our tastes.
Once we settled on our perfect combo, we slept like a baby. The pillow was blissfully comfortable and never left us too hot. The breathable, dimpled outer cover felt super-cosy and worked a treat at dispersing heat and optimising air circulation for the dream sleeping temperature.
This is where the Emma pillow is really clever. The adjustable layers mean this pillow will work whether you prefer to snooze on your side, back or front. Emma recommends side sleepers should use all three layers to support spinal alignment while back sleepers may prefer fewer or softer layers. Those with neck pain should try pairing the memory foam with the HRX cold foam for maximum pressure relief and support, while front sleepers can make the pillow whatever height that suits them best, or even use it under their stomach.
With our chosen two layers, we found the pillow supported our head and neck in exactly the right position, relieving any niggling pains that had built up during a day working at the computer. We also felt we slept a lot more deeply than usual and woke feeling unusually refreshed, even on dark winter mornings. Our restless sleeper found it a bit trickier to choose the right combination of layers but finally settled on the two layers of memory foam and said they had never slept better.
The Emma pillow is a great option if you’re prone to any kind of respiratory allergies caused by down or feathers as the foam is naturally hypoallergenic and won’t cause any problems so you can breathe easily. Though the chemicals used in some memory foam pillows have been known to trigger a rare irritation, this pillow is non-toxic so you’ll have no problems. It is also certified to OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Class 1, meaning it has been tested for harmful substances and is harmless for human health.
Memory foam is hard to recycle so not the best option for the environment. We would have liked to see a little more information on Emma’s website addressing sustainability issues. However, the pillow doesn’t use feathers or down so is suitable for vegans, and Emma plants a tree for every order if you buy directly.
It’s easy to unzip the elasticated polyester outer cover and throw it in the washing machine at a maximum of 60 degrees. The pillow itself should not be washed, although the foam layers will return to normal once dry if anything spills on them.
If you’re especially clumsy with your morning cuppa, you may want to consider using a pillow protector for added reassurance.
Though the price of this pillow does tend to fluctuate, it generally offers great value, particularly as you can adjust to suit once you’re home rather than getting stuck with a pillow that’s not quite right. It’s a safe bet to suit all sleepers and a godsend if you suffer with neck or back pain.
Still not sure? Emma will let you test one in your own home for a generous 200 nights to be certain it’s the right pillow for you.