Do you find that you doze off on your side but wake up on your back or stomach? Are you one of the lucky people who can easily adjust your sleeping position in the night and still keep right on sleeping?
If so, you are a combination sleeper. While most people have one primary sleeping position, combination sleepers are more flexible and alternate positions through the night. As a result, combination sleepers need their mattress to be able to provide support regardless of their position.
This guide covers key information for combination sleepers including details about mattress types and the most important shopping considerations. You can scroll through this guide to learn more, or click here to jump directly to our recommendations for the best mattresses for combination sleepers.
About Combination Sleeping
Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position followed by back and then stomach sleeping. While people may make minor adjustments within these positions — such as adjusting the location of their arms — it is normal for most people to remain in one position through the night.
Combination sleepers are the exception because they sleep in at least two of these positions over the course of the night. It is difficult to quantify just how many people are combination sleepers, but they are a small minority.
Pros and Cons of Combination Sleeping
In order to understand the benefits and downsides of combination sleeping, it helps to know the best and worst elements of each of the main sleeping positions.
|Side Sleeping||+Promotes alignment of spine and pelvis
|-Can increase facial wrinkles|
|Back Sleeping||+Limits twisting of body
+Reduces facial wrinkles
-Raises sleep apnea risks
|Stomach Sleeping||+Reduces snoring and airway obstruction||-Challenging to maintain spinal alignment
-Can cause neck stiffness
-Can increase facial wrinkles
Because combination sleeping involves multiple positions, it can create a mixture of some of these benefits and risks. This will vary for any individual based on how much time they spend in each position. However, with less time is spent in any one position, combination sleepers may find that they can find a middle ground that reduces the severity of any downsides.
Understanding Your Own Combination Sleeping
Because each combination sleeper has their own breakdown of time spent in each position, it can be helpful to reflect on your own patterns. For example, ask yourself:
- Do you have a primary sleeping position that you spend the most time in?
- What is your preferred position for falling asleep?
- What position do you normally wake up in?
- Have you noticed any patterns related to your sleeping positions? Examples could include feeling back stiffness if you spend more time in a specific position.
If you can identify a primary or preferred position, make sure that your mattress shopping and selection focuses on supporting you in that position. While you’ll want to find a mattress that works for multiple positions, it just makes sense to give the highest priority to the one that you use most frequently.
What Are the Most Important Mattress Considerations For Combination Sleepers?
Before starting your shopping, it can be helpful to know about the factors that are most likely to influence your satisfaction with the mattress. This section introduces those factors and some of the key terminology for understanding them.
To get a good night’s sleep without back pain or stiffness, it’s important for the spine to be aligned in a way that avoids dramatic contortion or twisting, and the mattress plays an integral role in this. For combination sleepers, it is important to have a mattress that has a high level of responsiveness. A responsive mattress compresses in proportion to weight and pressure and will be able to contour to your body in different positions. Of the three main sleeping positions, sleeping on your side generally requires the most responsiveness while sleeping on your back requires the least.
By definition, combination sleepers move around during the night. But not all mattresses are created equal when it comes to permitting movement on top of the mattress. If you sink deeply into the mattress — such as on very plush mattresses or some memory foams — it can inhibit motion. As a result, combination sleepers typically benefit from a mattress with more resilience, which means that it quickly retakes its original shape when you lift weight off of it. These mattresses usually have a bouncier feel that enables moving with ease on top of the bed.
Your comfort on the bed is directly affected by the firmness, or “feel,” of the mattress. If it is too soft, you may feel like you’re being swallowed by the mattress. If it’s too firm, it will be painful to lie on, especially for the bonier parts of the body. While firmness is subjective, most people find medium to medium-firm mattresses to be the most comfortable. On the typical firmness scale, these fall between a 4 and a 7. If you weigh over 230 pounds, you typically benefit from erring toward the higher end of this range.
You can learn a lot about a mattress from customer reviews. Combination sleepers should look for mattresses with a large body of positive reviews as these will be more likely to reflect the opinions of sleepers in all positions. In surveying customer reviews, though, make sure to focus on reviews from verified purchases as these provide the most unbiased information.
A mattress that is breaking down is not going to provide support or comfort to you in any sleeping position. For this reason, durability is a vital consideration when shopping for a mattress. As a general principle, the durability of a mattress is determined mostly by the quality of the materials and workmanship that goes into the building of the mattress.
What Mattress Features Should You Look For?
As you start looking at individual mattress models, it helps to have some guidance about what to look for. This section identifies the important elements to scrutinize when you evaluate a mattress.
If you’re investing in a mattress, you want to know that the manufacturer invested in high-end materials. A mattress made with components that are both well-designed and well-built has a much higher likelihood of providing a durable, comfortable, and supportive bed for combination sleepers.
Determining the quality of materials in a mattress can be tricky. A big step in this process is reviewing the internal design. Start by finding the detailed mattress specifications, which should be available on the website of the mattress maker. These should include the types of materials that are used and their characteristics, including things like ILD and/or density for foam products. If full specifications are not posted, it is often a red flag indicating that they may not have used top-end materials.
After you have found the specifications, look at how each layer is designed. This includes the number of layers as well as their thickness and composition. Be wary of any mattress that has one or more layers that appear to be weaker as one weak link can erode the mattress performance on the whole.
Sturdy comfort layer
The comfort layer is at the top of the mattress and is most directly involved in offering support. In some mattresses, the comfort layer is actually composed of several thinner layers. Overall, combination sleepers should look for a comfort layer that is at least 3” thick. A thinner comfort layer may “bottom out” or fail to offer enough cushioning, especially when sleeping on your side. A sturdy comfort layer should also have strong materials. For example, we advise looking for comfort layers that have foams with a minimum density of 3.5 pounds per cubic foot (PCF).
The rise of online, direct-to-consumer mattress sellers has brought a new level of competition to the industry that has made it easier than ever to get great value. With online shopping, it is easier to compare mattresses, allowing you to more readily assess whether the price for any one mattress is in line with its competitors. In most cases, you can also find coupons or promotions that make your purchase an even better value.
Free shipping has become extremely common, especially for mattresses bought online. While free shipping isn’t a “must-have,” you’ll want to make sure that you factor any shipping costs into your overall budget.
Sleep trial with no-risk returns
The vast majority of mattresses sold online come with a sleep trial, often of around 100 days. During the trial, you can test out the mattress in your own bedroom, and if you are not satisfied for any reason, you can return the mattress and receive a full refund. Look for sleep trials that include include free return shipping (or even free pickup) and that don’t have confusing terms and conditions.
What Types of Mattresses Are Available?
Available mattresses can be broken down into 5 types:
- Foam: these mattresses use a combination of foams — including various types of polyurethane foam (polyfoam) and memory foam — to give a mattress a specific feel. Foams are often very responsive, though the firmness, support level, and resilience of a foam mattress will depend on how the layers of foam are designed.
- Latex: latex is a rubber product that can be produced naturally (from trees) or synthetically. While some mattresses use one layer of latex among other types of materials, we use the term “latex mattress” to refer only to mattresses whose interior is designed entirely of latex. Other terms for this type of mattress include “all latex” or “true latex.” Latex is known for its bounce, but it can also be a very responsive material as well.
- Innerspring: in an innerspring mattress, the primary form of support is a series of metal springs arranged in the core of the mattress. These springs tend give these mattresses a bouncy feel, although the level of bounce and contouring can vary based on the type of coils used. Many innersprings have a layer of latex, foam, or fiber fill placed above the coils to offer some additional comfort and/or support.
- Hybrid: the support core of a hybrid mattress is the same as in an innerspring — an array of metal coils. However, a hybrid has more additional materials layered above this support core. Those materials can be foam, latex, polyester, or cotton, but for us to classify it as a hybrid, those materials must be 3” or greater. Typically, hybrids have a higher level of responsiveness because of this thicker comfort layer.
- Airbed: the key feature of an airbed is a support core that can be inflated or deflated in order to adjust the feel of the mattress. The amount of air in the chamber is regulated by either a mobile app or an attached remote, so making adjustments is quick and easy. Some airbed models try to increase support with the addition of a foam or latex comfort layer.
Which Mattress Types Are Best For Combination Sleepers?
Because there are wide variations in design of mattress models, it is impossible to say that one type is always best for combination sleepers. That said, we can offer general guidance about which types are most likely to meet the needs of combination sleepers.
Best: Latex, Hybrid
Combination sleepers need an excellent blend of responsiveness and resilience, and this is most easily found in latex and hybrid mattresses. These mattresses have the bounce needed to permit changing positions without difficulty but also provide enough pressure point relief to enhance spinal alignment in any position.
Honorable Mention: Foam, Airbed
Foam mattresses tend to be excellent when it comes to responsiveness, so they can be a fantastic choice for meeting the support needs of combination sleepers. The main concern is that for some people they may permit too much sink without enough bounce.
Airbeds, especially airbeds with additional comfort material, receive an honorable mention because of their ability to be adjusted. This level of flexibility allows combination sleepers to modify the feel of their mattress in real-time.
Proceed With Caution: Innerspring
Because they provide more bounce than contouring, innersprings may not offer sufficient support, especially for people who spend a lot of time in a side-sleeping position.
What Are the Best Mattresses for Combination Sleepers?
You may not have the time or energy to scour the internet trying to find the best mattress, so we’ve outlined our picks for the best choices for combination sleepers, organized by mattress type.
The Zenhaven, made by the makers of the Saatva innerspring mattress, is our top choice for a latex mattress for combination sleepers.
- The high-end latex in the Zenhaven provides the mix of bounce and contouring that best serves combination sleepers.
- Each side of the mattress has a different firmness level, which means that it is almost like having 2 mattresses in one. You can simply flip the mattress over to switch between a medium-firm and more gentle-firm feel.
- Latex mattresses can be more expensive than other mattress types, and this is true of the Zenhaven.
- The sleep trial is not entirely risk-free since the company will deduct $99 for return shipping if you decide that you do not want to keep the mattress.
Learn more about this mattress in our Zenhaven mattress review.
The Novosbed is a top choice for combination sleepers who want a memory foam mattress.
- For customers looking for responsiveness, the Novosbed’s memory foam offers a high degree of contouring that memory foam is known for.
- The foams used in the Novosbed are all of a high density, increasing their ability to hold up well over years of regular use.
- The cost of the Novosbed is a bit higher than many other foam mattresses, especially other models that are sold online.
- The Novosbed sleep trial is more complicated than most and includes some unique terms and conditions that are not especially customer-friendly.
The Leesa mattress is another worthy consideration for combination sleepers wanting a foam mattress.
- The Leesa provides a combination of both resilience and pressure point relief through two 2” foam layers in the comfort layer.
- Leesa has a strong reputation for customer service and has received consistently good reviews from thousands of customers.
- Based on some customer reviews, sleepers who weigh over 250 pounds may have issues with insufficient support or with sagging of the mattress over time.
Additional information can be found in our Leesa mattress review.
Though innersprings are not usually a best bet for combination sleepers, the unique design of the Saatva mattress makes it a viable option.
- With a second layer of micro-coils placed above the main set of springs, the Saatva is able to enhance its level of contouring relative to most innerspring mattresses.
- While the Saatva is available in a medium-firm model, it also has 2 other firmness levels that customers can select if they prefer a softer or firmer mattress.
- While the Saatva comes with an extended sleep trial, you cannot get a full refund if you return the mattress. The company deducts a $99 return shipping fee from any refund.
Find out more about this mattress in our in-depth Saatva mattress review.