The Best Pillows for Combination Sleepers Offer Neck Support Plus Body Alignment
We’re talking adjustable fills and custom firmness.
Published Jun 24, 2022 4:50 PM
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Side, back, stomach: We’ve all got a preferred sleep position. But what if you’re between a few (or all)? Just like there are mattresses for those who can’t commit, the best pillows for combination sleepers are for those who struggle to find that nice, comfy, cocoon-like spot all night long. And if it feels like you’re fighting your head’s resting spot on a regular basis, it might be time to swap that out for a more suitable sleep accessory. These pillow picks can easily get you into a prime position—even if you have more than one.
- Best overall: Brooklinen Marlow Pillow
- Best value: Buffy Cloud Pillow
- Best durability: Layla Kapok Pillow
- Best customizable: Pluto Pillow
- Best adjustable: Silk & Snow the Pillow
- Best cooling: Coop The Eden Pillow
Best Overall: Brooklinen Marlow Pillow
Sizes: Standard, king | Firmness: Adjustable | Cover: Cotton, sateen | Sleep trial: No; returns within 365 days
What we like:
- Reasonably priced
- May sleep firm
- Not washable
Why we chose it: It’s cool, comfy, and supportive; a comprehensive solution for frequent middle-of-the-night sleep changes.
The Marlow Pillow, from bedding favorite Brooklinen, is an easy all-around choice. The adjustable cooling-infused, memory foam-polyester fill and mesh takes into account the varying support required by any number of positions a combo sleeper may encounter. Brooklinen makes sure the filling stays right where the sleeper wants it, thanks to zipper-adjustable firmness. At $59 for a standard size ($77 for king), it’s practically a steal, especially considering the brand’s overall reputation for bedding excellence.
Best Value: Buffy Cloud Pillow
Sizes: Standard, king | Firmness: Soft, medium, firm | Cover: Tencel Lyocell | Sleep trial: 7 days
What we like:
- 100% Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certified, BPA-free
- Moisture-wicking material
- Wood pulp–sourced rayon material is nontoxic and free of essential oils that act as skin irritants
- 1-week sleep trial
Why we chose it: A sustainably made choice with a few firmness and fill options at a more-than-reasonable price point.
Pillows aren’t always the most budget-friendly, which is why we were pleasantly surprised by Buffy Cloud Pillow’s modest price. It offers a lot of bang for your buck; quite refreshing considering the 300-thread-count cover is made from sustainably harvested wood sources like eucalyptus. You get three levels of support to choose from—soft, medium, firm—and the fluffy fill is made in part from recycled plastic bottles. Plus it’s certifiably free of BPA (a chemical frequently used in plastics and resins), which makes it an ideal family- and pet-friendly option. We would understand the temptation to purchase the four-pack, so you do you.
Best Durability: Layla Kapok Pillow
Sizes: Standard | Firmness: Medium-firm | Cover: Polyester-viscose blend | Sleep trial: 120 nights
What we like:
- Cooling copper-infused fibers
- Long-lasting loft
- Floaty fibers can be messy when refilling the pillow
- Can get lumpy over time
Why we chose it: A sturdy option that fulfills a combo sleeper’s needs with the help of sustainably harvested kapok fill and memory foam.
Oh, you don’t know what kapok is? Here’s the gist: It’s a cottony, silklike fiber from the kapok tree known for buoyancy and moisture wicking. This eco-friendly material has an extremely long life span compared to its down, cotton, and polyester counterparts. As for how this relates to combination sleepers, well, switching positions throughout the night is taxing on the body, and likely your pillow, too; it’s key to have something that can stand up to that. The Layla pillow helps your neck, shoulders, and spine stay in alignment, and your back will get ample cushioning as well. Durability plus support? We’ll take it.
Best Customizable: Pluto Pillow
Sizes: Standard | Firmness: Customizable | Cover: Customizable | Sleep trial: 110 nights risk-free
What we like:
- 35 variations of pillow types
- Free shipping and returns
- Easy-to-navigate pillow-building process
- Very mild foam scent that dissipates within a few hours
Why we chose it: This high-performance hybrid is created using a personalized questionnaire.
The Pluto Pillow is all about the science behind sleep. Before recommending yours, the company asks you to fill out a survey about your sleep style; the condition of your current pillow and how well it satisfies your needs; body measurements (weight and height); and your preferred pillow core height and density, along with any other factors you’d like your “pillow builder” to consider. Then the company uses this input and packs it all into a foam core and outer polyfill plush cover designed just for you.
What’s standard is the pillow’s temperature-regulating, quilted exterior, and it’s filled with fibers that are individually air-blown into the material, then sealed inside. And while all options are made to be responsive, no two pillows feel quite the same. Talk about personalized service.
Best Adjustable: Silk & Snow the Pillow
Sizes: Standard, king | Firmness: Medium | Cover: Cotton | Sleep trial: 100 nights
What we like:
- Accommodates all sleeping types
- Adjustable fill
- 3-year warranty
- Fill may be noisy
Why we chose it: Foam and comfy microfiber that can be shifted around for alignment, no matter which sleeping position you prefer.
Filled with hypoallergenic shredded memory foam and fluffy microfiber, Silk & Snow’s pillow meets the criteria for all types of sleepers. You can remove varying bits of foam to mold it for head, shoulder, and neck alignment. The shell’s breathable cotton construction makes it a smart pick for hot sleepers, too; plus it’s conveniently machine washable. This pillow comes with a three-year warranty, and there’s a 100-night sleep trial—but give yourself at least 30 days to make the call on if it’s a keeper.
Best Cooling: Coop The Eden Pillow
Sizes: Queen, king | Firmness: Medium-soft | Cover: Polyester | Sleep trial: 100 nights
What we like:
- Absorbent, breathable cover
- Comes with an extra half-pound of fill
- Greenguard Gold and CertiPur-US certified
- Only available in king and queen sizes
- May need routine fluffing
Why we chose it: A temperature-regulating gift for hot sleepers.
Both the fill and cover of the Eden form a team that keeps air flowing, no matter how many times you toss and turn in bed. On one hand, there’s the cooling, gel-infused memory foam-and-microfiber adjustable fill accessible by a zipper (you get an extra half pound with each purchase, just in case you need more stuffing). The cool factor increases with the case itself, which has the same breathable quality: Air easily penetrates the absorbent Lulltra fabric, a polyester-viscose-rayon blend. A mesh tape gusset securely seals the fill, ensuring it doesn’t clump and create dense, heat-attracting pockets.
How We Chose These Products
The best pillows for combination sleepers effortlessly address spinal alignment issues, plus they ensure that you’re comfortable no matter how much movement happens throughout the night. When researching the market, we looked for cooling properties (combo sleepers exert a lot of energy, and temperature regulation is crucial), hypoallergenic qualities, adjustable options, warranty, cover material, brand reputation, and any standout sustainability aspects. We took these factors, along with the expertise of Wajjad Hussain, director of Sonno Beds, into consideration.
Our Shopping Checklist
Fill and Covers
Combination sleepers can benefit from fills that don’t clump easily, particularly because the material needs to be able to maintain its uniformity and support even if you’re frequently rotating between the stomach and side sleeping positions. Fills that allergy sufferers and those with skin sensitivities, in particular, want to choose are hypoallergenic like latex, poly, shredded memory foam, kapok, or a down alternative. While memory foam is prone to sleeping hot, many brands address this issue with cooling-infused gel or open construction that allows air to easily flow through the material.
Let’s talk covers, now: It’s hard to not appreciate washable shells (convenience rules around these parts), so keep a lookout for low-maintenance and highly breathable fabrics like cotton, viscose, and Tencel.
Loft and Firmness
“For a combination sleeper, finding the loft that feels just right can get tricky,” Hussain says. “Ideally, you need to find a pillow that can either adjust to your different positions, or has higher and lower areas so you can alternate depending on your position at any one time.” Generally, he explains, the recommended height for a pillow is between 4 and 6 inches, but this may change depending on height, weight, and other factors.
Combination sleepers should seek adjustable fills (like shredded memory foam or latex) that can be flexibly molded into a comfortable position, or those with removable fill (kapok, buckwheat hull). Firmness is a personal choice, but pay attention to a pillow that allows your head to sink too low or a stiff one that props your head up too high—this could force your body out of alignment and potentially cause strain, headaches, and other issues.
Care and Maintenance
As our picks indicate, some pillows for combination sleepers can be machine washed, while others that may contain down or memory foam should only be spot-cleaned or professionally dry-cleaned. For best results, follow the pillow’s care instructions.
Q: So what exactly is a combination sleeper?
Anyone who frequently changes position throughout the night. Combination sleepers typically doze off on their stomachs, backs, or sides but wake up in a different position.
Q: Should shoulders be on pillows when sleeping?
Typically this isn’t recommended because it could cause your body to be an unaligned sleeping position. “As a general rule of the thumb, shoulders should be just beneath the pillow if you’re a back or side sleeper,” says Hussain.
The Last Word
As a combination sleeper, you need a supportive, flexible pillow with removable or adjustable fill—we love the Marlow Pillow in this case. Made from memory foam fibers and breathable mesh that caters to all sleeping types, its easy-adjust firmness will help someone who’s all over the place come nighttime adapt accordingly.