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For thousands of years humans have been sleeping on pillows made of granite, wood, straw, horse hair, kapok, wool, cotton, you name it!
And they usually got the shape wrong! It was usually an oval without any thought to cradling the head and neck evenly.
The current contoured pillow, in a soft yet supportive density/material, has really only been around for 40 years. An amazing delay when you think of the scientific studies over the past 200 hundred years into the spinal cord and our increasing knowledge of good posture, 'back saving' devices and exercise techniques.
Perhaps the recent awareness of the benefits of contoured pillows has something to do with the increasing number of chiropractic, osteopathic, and physiotherapy / physical therapy clinics staffed by Health professionals who are scientifically trained to care for the spine.
Quite simply if you marry the right density, to the right shape, to the desired sleeping position - back or side (you really don't need a pillow if you're a tummy sleeper), then you will encourage the natural alignment of the spine through the night. And that's good ... because you won't be fighting your pillow through the night, trying to find the 'perfect' position for your neck and head. With the correct contoured pillow, your pillow will find that position for you ... and you'll wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead!
You can acquire a contoured pillow in traditional foam, visco elastic foam (memory foam), combinations thereof, natural latex rubber (from the rubber tree), or even polyfill. More information on Pillow Science.
But beware of cheap versions that cost little and offer even less support ... as well as collapsing within weeks!
Pay the little extra and get yourself a contoured pillow that will not only support the neck and cradle the head, evenly, but also stand the test of time. And if you have any qualms about which size for you, then go to an adjustable version such as CompleteSleeprrr in Memory Foam (Original) or Memory Plus or Traditional foam, or perhaps Sleepezy in polyfill.