Most of us are completely unaware of how important a good pillow is, not only to a good night’s sleep but also to a pain-free day. When choosing a pillow you should consider the big picture of what your whole body is lying on, and whether you sleep on your side, back, or (hopefully not) stomach most of the time. Ideally, your pillow should be able to adapt to position changes either by being turned from one side to the other or through the moldable quality of the material it’s made from.
Some of how you experience a pillow can have to do with how the rest of your body sinks or doesn’t sink into the mattress. On a mattress that doesn’t allow your shoulders and hips to sink in enough, you may need a thicker, more supportive pillow that will support your cervical curve better. On a more supple mattress, you may need less loft in the pillow, but it is always important to support the cervical spine (aka neck) whether lying on your side or on your back. Letting the neck vertebra hang without support while sleeping is asking for trouble.
The best pillow is one that fits to and supports the curve of your neck but since we are all different, no one pillow will suit everyone. Regardless of our differences, however, we all have the same spinal curvatures. While awake these curvatures are supported by your muscles but your bed and pillow take over every night so make sure they suit you. Your best gauge is how you feel when you wake up. If you’re stiff, sore or have a headache it might be time for a new or different pillow.