The correct pillows are absolutely essential for a proper night’s rest. Granted sometimes we’re so tired we could use an old boot as a pillow and sleep like a baby, but for the most part, we need something special to unmoor us and send us sailing into the dream realm.
Thankfully, we as a species are truly beginning to understand the importance of uninterrupted sleep, so the focus on developing pillows that facilitate this has doubled. Numerous specialist designs are now available, each claiming to be your ticket to a peaceful night, but one, in particular, that’s turning heads at the minute is the Emma Pillow.
Emma was founded in Frankfurt, Germany in 2015 by bank consultant, Dennis Schmoltzi and Manuell Mueller, and their first product was…Emma. Emma is their flagship mattress design scientifically developed to optimize spinal alignment in any sleeping position.
It wasn’t long before Emma started drawing attention from the sleep-deprived across Europe and beyond, winning plenty of awards and garnering countless shining customer reviews along the way.
Needless to say, when the Emma pillow was released, it was into the shadow of this hugely popular mattress. In this review, I’m going to assess whether the new pillow on the block lives up to the Emma name.
One of the biggest selling points of the Emma Pillow is that it has a modular design. The pillow is constructed using three removable layers. Strip the cover and you’re free to take them out, swap them around…whatever you need to do to start slinging some zees.
One of the layers is a cold foam, which doesn’t mean it stays cool, on the contrary, it actually features advanced heat retention. This kind of foam has great elasticity, which means it’s adaptable and doesn’t lose its shape. It’s breathable, supportive, and it’s fantastic for people who suffer from allergies as it resists mite infestation.
Some people will be put off by this polyurethane layer due to VOCs, but Emma claims that this pillow is 100% non-toxic and 100% vegan too.
The central layer is an air gel foam, which is similar to memory foam, but it’s less springy. If you press your hand into it, then pull away, the shape of your hand will very slowly lift out of the material. It gives you the wonderful sensation of being cradled, but if you’re feeling irritable, it can quickly sour into a feeling of being trapped.
That’s only if you’re using it as a top layer, though. In the middle, the other layers do a fine job of preventing claustrophobic feelings. It has a velvety soft skin-feel, and thanks to a 50-50 air to solids balance, airgocell foam offers enhanced cooling, promoting an optimal sleeping climate.
Pressure-Relieving Visco-Elastic Memory Foam
Also known as zero gravity foam, this layer is all about providing that floaty, cloudish feeling for when you’re craving maximum comfort. It’s not quite as supportive as the cold foam, but if you’re really looking to snuggle in tight, this is the layer for you.
Although this tri-layer design is quite innovative, if you’re somewhat of a pillow flipper, always in search of that crisp, cool surface, the bottom layer will have a different feel under head.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention that once these layers have been removed, it can be quite an effort to get them back into place. Other than that, though, this structure is thoughtful, versatile, and innovative, and the fact that the whole thing is washable is a massive boon.
The Emma Pillow cover is made almost entirely out of polyester, 98% to be precise, with the last two percent made up of elastane. This is some awesome textile teamwork! Polyester is water-resistant, durable, colorfast, and can be made devilishly soft.
The elastane ensures the cover always fits the form of the interior even when you’ve removed a layer to reduce pillow height. It’s fast-drying, shrink resistant, and ready to supply some sweet dreams.
Polyester is a fantastic choice for pillow covers, but like anything, has some limitations. For one, although it has some water-resistant qualities, it’s a sponge for oils, which can lead to some pretty stubborn stains.
It’s also not exactly the most breathable fabric in the world, but Emma has combated this using pores. These indentations span the whole cover, offering a cooling airflow, keeping you comfortable the night through.
The ingenuity just doesn’t stop with the Emma Pillow. When you isolate the cover from the rest of the design, you can really see how much thought, research, and effort has gone into producing every last detail.
Comfort and Support
While it’s true that each of the customizable layers will offer you shed loads of either comfort or support, that’s not to say that they don’t offer you both. The supportive cold foam is very comfortable, and the memory foam does offer a certain degree of support. This versatility rests at the very heart of what makes the Emma Pillow great.
Companies don’t normally understand that ‘sleep style’ and, ‘kind of sleeper’ are incredibly reductive terms. Nobody is just one kind of sleeper. Having realised this, Emma has created a product that can help us find sleep no matter how we’re feeling.
2 layers of your choice are perfect for sleeping on your back, all three layers offer the most support for side-sleeping, and a single layer provides the perfect barrier between you and your mattress when you sleep on your belly.
There are however some aspects you should be aware of before purchasing an Emma Pillow. Firstly, it’s an incredibly flat profile design. I personally love that about it. It makes for an equal platform as your head shifts throughout the night.
For others, though, the difference in feel it provides compared to a traditional pillow may be more distracting than it is practical. Secondly, it is simultaneously quite a bouncy pillow and firmer than most, an interesting contradiction that may be a deal-breaker to some.
From resting on this pillow, you can definitely tell that Emma got their start with mattresses. I wouldn’t be the first to note that it’s as if the Emma Pillow is in fact a tiny mattress for your head.
Off-Gassing and Smell
Emma products do emit VOCs over the course of their production, storage, and dispatch. When you open your Emma box, there will be a distinct ‘new bedding’ odor. It’s quite strong and far from pleasant, and you’ll need to store it in a well-ventilated room for a week before it dissipates.
I know this is unavoidable, but it is a little disappointing that you can just throw your lush new pillow on your bed and start enjoying it straight away.
Price and Size
The Emma pillow available today is more of an Emma 2.0 as the original was widely deemed far too large. Reduced to a more palatable 40x70cm, the latest Emma pillow is gaining some serious traction in the market.
They can run a little pricier than some other specialist pillows, but when you consider the fact that most of the fabrics involved are highly specialized and patented inventions of the Emma company, you can see why. These are materials you simply can’t find in other products, and what’s more, Emma runs a 100-sleep trial period, and if you find you don’t like it, you can return it for free!