Considering the following question. Do you sleep:
- On your side
- On your stomach
- On your back
- All of the above?
If you answered all of the above, you’re a combination sleeper! Combination sleeping (referring to people who sleep in more than one position, typically two of the positions above) actually describes the majority of people.
What You Need to Know About Being a Combination Sleeper
Because we spend over a third of our lives asleep, it’s important that our sleep is restful and allows the body to recover from the stresses of the day. Your body recovers best when your spine is kept in alignment.
Side sleeping is considered the healthiest sleeping position because it keeps the spine and pelvis aligned, reduces snoring, and provides heartburn relief. Back sleeping keeps your spine aligned and can help prevent acid reflux and facial wrinkles from pillows, but it also increases your risk of snoring and developing sleep apnea. Stomach sleeping is worst of all, as it twists your neck and allows your stomach to sink down into the mattress, causing back pain and spinal alignment problems.
As a combination sleeper, you minimize the aches and pains associated with back and stomach sleeping by also spending time asleep on your side.
What Is the Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers?
Because you rotate through the various positions as you sleep, combination sleepers enjoy all the benefits associated with the different positions, as well as improved circulation and a lower risk of numbness since the body adjusts to stay comfortable. However, combination sleepers also have a difficult time finding a mattress than those who sleep in a single position, since they have to account for the different needs of the various positions.
Ideal Mattress Firmness for Combination Sleepers
Combination sleepers should look for a mattress that’s medium to medium firm on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most firm. Heavier sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds should look for a mattress on the higher end of the scale, while lighter sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds should look for something on the lower end of the scale.
Which Types of Mattresses are Best for Combination Sleepers?
Combination sleepers need a mattress that will offer adequate support, regardless of the sleeping position.
Before you start shopping, think about your deepest sleeping position. It’s the one where your body sinks the deepest into the mattress (and it’s usually the side position for combination sleepers). Now, look for a mattress that gives enough support for that position, without compromising your other sleeping positions.
How exactly do you do that? With the right comfort, middle, and support layers for your unique sleeping patterns.
Comfort layers sit on top of the support core. They come in varying sizes that can either help or hinder different sleeping positions. One that is too thin will be uncomfortable for side sleepers, but one that is too thick will cause aches and pains for stomach sleepers. Aim to get a mattress with a comfort layer that’s a little thinner than the thickest one needed for any of your sleeping positions. A quick quide:
- Stomach sleepers need the thinnest comfort layer – just enough to provide support for your bony parts without allowing your pelvis to sink down too far.
- Back sleepers need a medium comfort layer – just enough to fill in the gap at the small of your back.
- Side sleepers need the thickest comfort layer – enough to provide pressure point relief when you’re in your deepest sleeping position.
The support layer is the base of the mattress and is typically firmer than the comfort layer. Different combination sleepers require different things from their mattress support layer. For example:
- Stomach and back sleepers tend to move more during the night, so they need a thinner comfort layer and a more conforming support layer.
- Side and back sleepers don’t move as much during the night, so they need a thicker comfort layer with a firmer support layer of innerspring or firmer foam.
The best mattresses for combination sleepers are latex and innerspring mattresses, as we’ll explain in further detail below.
Tuck Mattress Guide for Combination Sleepers
|Mattress Type||Latex||Innerspring/Coil||Memory Foam||Hybrid||Airbeds|
|Lifespan||8 years||3 years||7 years||4 years||8 years|
|Combination Sleeper Grade||A||A||B||C||F|
Innerspring mattresses use coils for support with foam and fabric on top for comfort. Combination sleepers should look for one that uses pocket coils or offset coils in the support core. Offset coils have a hourglass shape design that makes them well-equipped to conform to your body, ideal for stomach and back sleepers. Pocket coils, on the other hand, are thin knotless coils enclosed in fabric columns. Because they’re not wired together and come pre-compressed, they provide a firmer mattress with better motion transfer, ideal for side and back sleepers.
- Price*: Starting at $150 for a queen size, average about $1,100
- Lifespan: 3 years
- Pros: Widely available, provide better edge support than all foam beds
- Cons: Prone to collect dust, tend to sag, shorter lifespan
Latex mattresses are constructed entirely of all-natural latex or a combination of natural with synthetic latex and other memory foams (known as latex hybrid mattresses). Latex mattresses are extremely dense and durable, so their high price point pays off. Because they’re made of rubber, latex mattresses have a springier feel while providing firm support. They quickly bounce back after being compressed to adjust to your sleeping position, making them ideally suited to combination sleepers.
- Price: Starting at $750 for a queen, average about $2,300
- Lifespan: 8 years
- Pros: Can be fully organic, good contour ability and elasticity, extremely durable
- Cons: Heavier and harder to move, limited availability in stores, trap heat, initial offgassing odor from latex, expensive
Memory foam mattresses are designed to contour to your body shape, although they don’t bounce back as quickly as all-latex, hybrid or innerspring mattresses. The support core is made of polyurethane foam and the comfort layers are visco-elastic foam. Combination sleepers should look at the thickness of the comfort layer to choose an appropriate memory foam mattress for their common sleeping positions.
- Price: Starting at $150 for a queen size, average about $800
- Lifespan: 7 years
- Pros: Superior motion transfer, consistent support, long lifespan, excellent contour ability, more affordable
- Cons: Heavier and harder to move, can trap heat, initial offgassing odor from foam, inferior edge support, less elastic than latex mattresses
Hybrid mattresses combine an innerspring coil support core with comfort layers of memory foam, gel foam, natural fibers, or latex. These provide solid support for combination sleepers, but they don’t last as long as latex mattresses. However, hybrid mattresses are much better at staying cool through the night, which may be preferable to sleepers who tend to sleep hot.
- Price: Starting at $400 for a queen, average about $1,100
- Lifespan: 4 years
- Pros: Supportive, great edge support, superior temperature regulation, above-average contour ability
- Cons: Heavier and harder to move, shorter lifespan, more expensive
Airbeds use an electric air pump to inflate the support core of the bed and have a basic foam comfort layer on top. Because the main support is provided by air, rather than springs or foam, they don’t conform to the body all that well. As a result, they’re often too firm for combination sleepers.
- Price: Starting at $1,000 for a queen, average about $2,300
- Lifespan: 8 years (but often need to replace a part of the bed within that timeframe)
- Pros: Extended durability as long as individual parts are replaced, adjustable firmness
- Cons: Tend to lose air and sag during the night, typically only support up to 300 lbs, poor contour ability, expensive
*Prices as of 2017. Sourced from over 200 mattress retailers by Tuck research team.
Buying a Mattress
As you may know from previous experience, mattress prices can be as low as a few hundred dollars or as high as several thousand. The ultimate cost of your mattress will depend on the size, brand, type, quality, and seller of the mattress.
Online sellers and retail stores typically offer discounted pricing compared to manufacturers. Another advantage of online sellers is that they typically offer a trial period of 100 days, a significant increase over the standard 30 day trial period you’re likely to find at a store.
It often takes a few weeks for a mattress to fully break in and feel the way you can expect for the long-term. Give yourself 30 days to adjust before you make the decision to return. "
Additional Resources for Combination Sleepers