I am asked this on almost a daily basis and my answer is usually as unique as the person who is asking it. Should you go harder, softer, memory foam, down, thick, thin or curved. These are just some of the variables that can effect whether you will get a good nights sleep or toss and turn throughout your time between the sheets.
The ultimate goal of using a pillow as I have been taught is to ensure that that neck stays in alignment with the rest of the body throughout the night as to not put undo pressure or torque on the system. All that being said, if you use the “perfect” pillow and find yourself not being able to sleep it becomes worthless.
Not being able to sleep is a gigantic detriment to your overall health and will add to any current aches and pains that you may be experiencing. This is because when you sleep your body takes the time to rebuild and fix the issues that have accumulated through out the day including cleaning the gutters in your brain. When you do not have sufficient amount of down time your body will be in a constant state of disrepair.
If you find yourself to be a side sleeper there is a common piece of advice I give to almost everyone asking this question; get a body/pregnancy pillow. This goes for males and females and will help to ensure that what your left side does, your right side will do. This will help to keep you in a neutral position as possible which limits the stress put on system. Imagine sleeping in a fetal position. Usually the pillows end up on the floor by the end of the night at first but by consistently using them when you first go to bed you will notice they will stay put longer.
To sum it all up, whatever pillow you use it must allow you to be comfortable enough to get into a deep sleep. Perhaps this will require you to try different ones but at the end of the search you will find what you are looking for.
Christopher Foust, DC, DACBSP