What is a Combination Sleeper?
Someone who changes position while sleeping: from curled up tight in a ball to “starfish” or “Superman” and back again. Combination sleepers use 2+ sleep positions instead of sticking to just one. Many people, for instance, like to fall asleep on their sides, but they shift onto their backs over the course of the night. If you tend to fall asleep in one position and wake up in another, this probably describes you!
This article will discuss the best things to look for in a pillow if you are a combination sleeper. It will guide you through choosing a material and level of firmness and explain the various options you have for an adjustable pillow. Finally, we’ll also cover the health benefits of being a combination sleeper: shifting from position to position during sleep tends to happen naturally and isn’t really something you can train, so you’re quite fortunate if this style of sleep is your natural preference!
But first, here are our 5 best pillow picks for combination sleepers:
The Best Pillows for Combination Sleepers
First up is the Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow. The Snuggle-Pedic is a classic design filled with shredded memory foam. This design differs from a standard memory foam pillow for a few different reasons. First, traditional memory foam pillows are made from a single molded block of foam. While these pillows offer great head and neck support, they are impossible to adjust. If you’re a combination sleeper, a standard memory foam pillow might not be the best bet for you. Instead, consider opting for this shredded foam pillow.
Since it’s made from many different pieces of foam, a shredded memory foam pillow conforms easily to your desired shape while offering maximum flexibility. Despite its softness and flexibility, this pillow is still made of memory foam, meaning that it holds its shape and loft excellently once you’ve arranged it how you like. No going flat!
Shredded foam material pillows are rather unique on the pillow market in general, since they simultaneously offer adjustability, softness, and support. Usually, you have to pick between firm support and plushness, but not here. In addition, the pillow cover comes with a zipper, so you customize it for your needs by adding or removing foam.
Second, a normal memory foam pillow has somewhat poor breathability, whereas shredded memory foam is far more open to air flow. To further enhance airflow, the Snuggle-Pedic pillow comes with a bamboo-cotton-blend pillow case, which helps keep you even cooler at night. A standard memory foam pillow can feel a bit sweaty, but not this one!
Furthermore, shredded memory foam pillows are hypoallergenic, so they offer a great improvement over old style down pillows in that category. This pillow is also made without the use of ozone depleters and is free of harmful heavy metals like mercury or lead.
Yet another feature that really makes the Snuggle-Pedic pillow stand out is the warranty. The company offers a 120-night trial period. If you decide that the pillow is not for you within this time frame, you can return it for a totally hassle-free refund. Also, Snuggle-Pedic has a twenty-year warranty on their product. Yes, twenty years. A lot of traditional down pillows will be lucky to make it for a quarter of that time.
To further help prolong the life of your pillow, the Snuggle-Pedic is machine-washable, so no worries on keeping it clean over the years! Shredded memory foam is an incredibly resilient material, so while the pillow may cost you a bit more to begin with, you save money in the long run. Over the long-term, the high performance and extended warranty service make the Snuggle-Pedic pillow a fantastic option for anyone, including combination sleepers.
Next, we have the Premium Adjustable Loft Shredded Certipur Memory Foam Pillow by Coop Home Goods. Like the Snuggle-Pedic, the Coop Home Goods pillow is made of shredded memory foam and comes complete with a bamboo-mix pillow cover. As stated above, shredded memory foam offers a few key advantages over standard memory foam. When shredded, memory foam is easily shaped to conform to specific users. It offers good head and neck support, even for combination sleepers. Also, shredded memory foam is very breathable, especially with the help of its bamboo pillow cover. This pillow is hypoallergenic and filled with CertiPUR-US Certified foam, which means that it contains no ozone depleters, heavy metals, or other toxic chemicals.
The Coop Home Goods option is also user-adjustable. The bamboo-mix cover unzips, allowing you to add or remove foam as needed to achieve your preferred loft. This feature makes it an awesome choice for any combination sleeper.
Coop Home Goods offers a trial period, during which the pillow is eligible for return with full refund, as well as a five-year warranty. While this is not quite at the level of the Snuggle-Pedic guarantee, the test period is more than adequate to determine if the pillow is right for you. Taking care of this pillow is easy, since the cover is removable and machine-washable. Overall, the Coop Home Goods pillow is a great shredded memory foam option for anyone in search for a high-quality adjustable pillow.
Another fine choice is the Pancake Pillow, an adjustable layered pillow. This pillow is a unique option for people seeking a truly adjustable pillow to suit their sleeping habits. Featuring a microfiber fill, this pillow is a great alternative to a traditional down filling that offers the same overall fluffy feel. Of course, as a down alternative, this fill may lose a little loft over time, because it is not a memory foam or gel fill. Despite this, since the pillow is fully user-adjustable, you can ensure that it will fit you properly before you go to sleep. Since the fill is synthetic, it is of course hypoallergenic, which is a great advantage of the material, especially since down is infamous for harboring dust mites and other allergens.
The Pancake Pillow comes with six thin layers which can be added or removed, all within one large pillow cover. This allows the user to adjust the pillow any way they want—from only one “pancake” up to a stack of six!—with thickness options that work well for people who sleep in any conceivable position. If you’re not sure exactly what you want, this pillow is a fantastic option for you. You can experiment with different heights until you discover the perfect one.
It should be noted that it is not a quick change process: you have to unzip the pillow and pull a layer out, so doing it while sleeping could be a pain. However, once you adjust it to your personal preferences, you’re good to go for sound sleep. The adjustability give this pillow great potential to help you find just the right amount of loft for you.
Next up there’s the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow. This interesting pillow is made of a special gel fiber material, which maintains support and breathability. Gel pillows hold their shape very well. Like shredded memory foam, the filler material is soft and plush yet still retains its shape quite well. This gel pillow is a great pillow option for combination sleepers, especially since it remains comfortable for people sleeping in all sorts of positions. Since this pillow is made of synthetic materials, it is of course hypoallergenic and mold resistant. It’s also machine-washable, which further extends its useful life and reduces the risk of allergens hiding where you sleep. The Beckham Hotel Collection offers their gel pillow with a thirty-day trial period, so you have a full month to decide whether or not you like this pillow.
Gel pillows are fairly new to the market, and as such have yet to gain a major following, but the durability of the material, combined with its great support and comfort for a variety of sleeping positions.
Finally, we have the Sleep Restoration 1800 Series Gusset Gel Pillow. This is another gel fiber pillow which allows the user maximum support and comfort throughout the night. Like the Beckham Hotel Collections option above, the Sleep Restoration pillow has a wonderful plush feeling and is also hypoallergenic and mold-resistant. It even has the exact same thirty-day satisfaction guarantee.
So what makes this pillow stand out? The Sleep Restoration pillow features a distinctive gusseted cover. This gusseting forces the pillow to maintain its shape and loft during a long night. The gusseted cover might seem like a minor feature, but it in fact makes a substantial difference, maintaining the pillow’s loft and structure all night long. The Sleep Restoration pillow offers consistent support as you move and change positions throughout the night.
Though gel fiber pillows in general have excellent head and neck support, they do collapse a bit after a while. Depending on exactly how you sleep, this can be a disadvantage. For this reason, the Beckham Hotel Collections Pillow may be better for people who want a softer, more malleable pillow, while the Sleep Restoration pillow will better suit people in search of firmer support for their head and neck.
Weighing in at nearly 9 pounds, this is rather a heavy pillow, so it is definitely not designed to travel with you. It is, however, a good choice for use in the home. While gel fiber pillows are quite new and unique on the market, they offer a real middle ground in terms of firmness. They are not as stiff as solid memory foam or latex pillows, but also not quite as malleable as shredded memory foam pillows.
How Can You Differentiate Among These Choices?
Each option on this list has a specific design element or distinctive feature that sets it apart. To help you decide which option is the best for your personal needs, we’ll first walk you through the main characteristics to consider before purchasing a pillow. Then, we’ll talk about the different categories of pillows featured here, focusing in particular on the materials used.
What Should Combination Sleepers Look For in a Pillow?
Primary factors to keep in mind include:
First off is adjustability. Many pillows are designed specifically for only one sleeping position (back, stomach, or side). For instance, a simple flat pillow may work just fine for a back sleeper, but its loft won’t be high enough for a side sleeper. On the other hand, a higher, firmer pillow might work great for a side sleeper but end up cramping your neck if you switch to sleep on your back.
What you need is a versatile, multi-purpose pillow that provides the right amount of support—keeping your neck in a neutral position—regardless of how you’re sleeping. An adjustable pillow is a good idea for this reason, since you can alter it to fulfill a variety of functions.
Next up, firmness. Medium-firm is ideal for most combination sleepers, since it’s the compromise that works best for a variety of positions. Avoid a super-rigid pillow that might inhibit movement. While some people with neck pain prefer firm, specifically shaped pillows to provide strong support, that’s often not a great option for the combination sleeper. The last thing you want is to bump up against a hard ridge that will wake you up as you’re rolling over! A medium pillow will support your neck but also provide enough give for you to move easily.
Finally, consider your pillow’s material. Combination sleepers tend to enjoy materials that provide some flexibility and conform to the shape of the head and neck. A material like shredded memory foam, gel fiber, or microfiber will mold perfectly to your shape, offering both plushness and customized support. That’s why the pillows we’ve chosen contain these materials.
If you’re an especially mobile combination sleeper, you might also consider multiple pillows—not to stack on top of each other but to spread out next to each other on your bed—or even a larger body pillow.
The three main types of pillows on this list are:
- Shredded memory foam pillows
- Adjustable Pancake Pillow (microfiber fill)
- Gel fiber pillows
Shredded memory foam pillows offer great head and neck support while also being adjustable and fluff-able. These pillows are moderately priced, and the Snuggle-Pedic especially comes with a truly exceptional warranty of twenty years. Shredded memory foam pillows are perhaps the most versatile option, useful for a wide range of people. They are truly in the Goldilocks Zone, not too firm, not too soft. They offer the support of memory foam with the adjustability of down, without the downsides of either an overly firm block memory foam pillow or a flimsy down pillow.
Next, the Pancake Pillow is a rather unique option, offering maximum adjustability if that is the top factor for you. It is made from a synthetic down compound (microfiber), so it’s light and fluffy, but will compress a little over time. The feel is luxurious, similar to a down pillow. Though costly, the Pancake Pillow is a solid choice for people who demand a pillow they can tailor to their individual needs. Because this option is so adjustable, it is ideal for combination sleepers who spend part of the night on their stomachs and therefore require a lower loft than most pillows offer.
Finally, gel fiber filled pillows are essentially a new, modern take on the traditional down pillow. They are nice and plush and with some care, can last you a long time. They do lose loft overnight but not nearly as much as would a down pillow, which can end up nearly flat within just a few hours. The fibers also tend to breathe quite well, so you won’t end up in a pool of sweat. Many people who give gel fiber pillows a try feel as if they’re sleeping on a cloud.
There are many great options out there for combination sleepers. The best overall choice is most likely the shredded memory foam pillow, particularly since it is both supportive and medium-firm yet adjustable, a rare combination of qualities in a pillow. Though every pillow on this list will serve you well, the Snuggle-Pedic stands out as a fantastic choice, especially with its astonishing 120-day trial period. Plenty of pillows have trial periods, but one this long is nearly unheard of. Likewise, the 20-year warranty is incredible. Take care of this pillow, and it will take care of you for decades.
But whatever you buy, buy with confidence, knowing that you will sleep better because you have a pillow that will support you no matter what sleeping positions you use. And keep in mind that, since most pillow companies offer at least some trial period, you can always test one out for a while to see if works for you.
Health Benefits for Combination Sleepers
If you are a combination sleeper, you’re in luck: this sleep style is really good for you. Most people spend anywhere from 6 to 9 hours per day sleeping, which is a very long time to be constrained in any one position.
For example, some side-sleepers may find that staying on one side all night squashes their shoulder and leads to pain. Back-sleepers are at risk for snoring and sleep apnea. Stomach-sleepers tend to lie with their heads twisted far to one side, placing excessive stress on the neck. Combination sleepers, in contrast, adjust their bodies throughout sleep, helping maintain good circulation and avoid straining any one joint.
The principle is the same during waking hours; sinking into your chair to work for eight hours straight is well-known to be awful for your neck and back, not to mention your overall health and longevity. It’s much better to get up and stretch every once in a while, walk around, or at least change positions. Likewise, rolling from your side to back every few hours while you sleep is a great way to mix it up. Of course, you don’t have control over your movements while you’re asleep, so consider yourself fortunate if your natural sleep style promotes better spine health.
Are There Any Downsides to Being a Combination Sleeper?
One major challenge is selecting a pillow that will work for multiple positions—which we’ve covered extensively above. Fortunately, there are plenty of pillows that can accommodate more than one sleeping position.
Another challenge may arise if you share your bed with a partner—moving around throughout the night is just fine for you, but it could seriously interrupt your partner’s sleep. If this is the case, you might want to consider a mattress made of memory foam, which will absorb your motion rather than transferring it. Investing in a larger mattress (queen or king, rather than double) is also a good idea if you continually bump into your partner.
Finally, combination sleepers sometimes encounter difficulties staying asleep! Moving and shifting is good; tossing and turning not so much. You want to remain fast asleep as you shift seamlessly between positions. Luckily, establishing a good sleep set-up—including an appropriate pillow—will help keep you comfortable.
Overall, combination sleepers reap numerous benefits from shifting between the various sleeping positions. You just have to make sure your pillow works with you and not against you so that you get the best night’s sleep possible. Choose your pillow materials carefully, avoid pillows that are extremely firm or that box you into one position, and take a look at some of the excellent adjustable pillow options on the market.