How Thick Should a Mattress Be? Tips to Choose the Best Thickness


If you start shopping around for mattresses, you’ll quickly discover that there are some super-thick models on the market.

They look incredibly upscale and luxurious. They also may cost a bit more. No wonder so many of us look at models that are 14, 16 or even 18 inches thick and think, “That’s the one for me!”

Salespeople are only too eager to ensure that we choose the thickest, undoubtedly because it will net them a larger commission, but do you really need the thickest mattress on the market in order to get a good night’s sleep?

Check out my two recommendations here and our list of mattress reviews here to see which ones we think are crap.

The truth is, you probably could get one that’s just as good that is between nine and 14 inches thick as long as that mattress is well-constructed and gives you the support you need in all the right places.

On the other hand, some people might actually sleep better on a thicker one. It’s also worth considering that the type of frame or platform that you are using may affect your thickness choice.

Let’s take a closer look at mattress thickness and why it might matter to you.

Construction Talk

When it comes to getting an ultra-comfortable mattress, construction almost always is more important than thickness. Consider questions such as:

-How many layers?
-What materials are used in each of the layers?
-How firm or soft are the layers?
-How thick is each individual layer?

A well-constructed model that is 10 inches thick can deliver you a superior night’s sleep if it is put together with skill and thoughtfulness.

However, what if you or your partner is a heavier person who likes to sleep on his side? It may be that an extra-thick 14 inches or higher mattress might be of incredible benefit to you.

Mattress Layers

Most on the market today have a minimum of two and a maximum of about five layers.

These layers consist of a foundation or base layer that may make up as much as half of the thickness.

TIP: The thickness of the foundation layer is critical to comfort and longevity.

Above the foundation layer for comfort and support. In general, comfort layers include a pillow top, a layer of memory foam, or a cover. These layers are placed at the top to give you that all-important body contouring.

TIP: Comfort layers also are what provide essential pressure relief. When shopping, take time to assess if you are a back, side, or stomach sleeper and how each mattress feels on your unique pressure points like shoulders and hips.

The support layer, which is most often found between the foundation and comfort layers, is what gives the mattress its ability to resist force. This is the layer that is really critical for your spine.

If the combination of the comfort and support layers is too thin, you won’t get the cozy body contouring, necessary pressure relief or enough support.

People with a heavier body weight may find that they sink right into it, bringing their pressure points into direct contact with the too-firm foundation layer.

Accordingly, it is wise to select a model in which the top two layers are each a minimum of two inches thick.

This means that most highly recommended models will measure a minimum of 10 inches, giving you two inches of comfort layer, two inches of support layer and six inches of foundation layer.

Does the Bed Frame Affect Mattress Thickness?

Thickness isn’t just a question of getting you the most comfortable night’s sleep possible. Sometimes, the type of platform or bed frame that you are using also is a critical factor.

Let’s take a look at some different options and which thickness might be best.

How Thick Should a Mattress Be for a Platform Bed?

Platform beds are incredibly popular right now. They may make sense for you if you want to do away with the need for a box spring or if you just like their simpler aesthetic.

Platform beds come in all of the familiar sizes like twin, queen, and king so you don’t have to look for a specially sized model.

What is more critical is the thickness of the mattress? The height of the platform bed is one of the most critical factors.

If you opt for a low profile platform bed, then you will need one measuring 14 inches thick or more. This type of bed frame provides a minimalistic look to the bedroom that many prefer, but it can be harder to get in and out of, necessitating a thicker mattress.

TIP: If your platform bed does not have a lower profile, you may be able to get away with a thinner mattress.

How Thick Should a Mattress Be for a Bunk Bed?

Kids love bunk beds, and they usually have fewer aches and pains than adults, which may mean that they are less choosy.

That is a lucky combination because, in general, thinner models work best on bunk beds.

A total thickness of about six or seven inches is recommended if ceiling height allows. This is because a thicker mattress might be too high for the safety rail and you don’t want your child to roll out of bed…when six feet in the air.

TIP: Some manufacturers make bunk bed specific mattresses. One of these may be the best option.

How Thick Should a Mattress Be for an Adjustable Bed?

The answer to this one can vary widely and also greatly depends on the rigidity (it has to be flexible to follow the contours of the adjustable bed frame right?).

In general, most thinner mattresses of between nine and about 14 inches will do all right with virtually any adjustable bed.

However, if you’re looking at a much thicker mattress that is approximately 16 inches or thicker, then you will have to look very carefully for a compatible adjustable foundation.

Before making a purchase, ensure that you are choosing a thickness that is designed to work with an adjustable foundation. These mattresses must have extra flexibility and durability to cope with having the head and foot sections repeatedly raised and lowered.

How Thick Should a Mattress Be for a Toddler?

In general, models that are designed for toddler beds are thinner than those that are made for adults. This is true for several reasons.

Thinner mattresses tend to fit better in kid-size, including bunk beds. This also keeps kids sleeping lower to the floor, which may be important if they are prone to rolling out of bed while sleeping.

TIP: Ultimately, it is important to look for a kids’ mattress that has great edge support to help keep kids in bed instead of on the floor!

How Thick a Mattress for a Daybed?

Daybeds are a great space saver as they usually are twin beds with a frame on three sides. Because daybeds are used for sleeping and used as a sofa during the day, it may make sense to choose one that is a bit thinner.

A thickness between nine and 12 inches may be ideal. Of course, you’ll have to try both laying on it for sleeping and sitting on it for watching television before you make a final decision.

Thickness of Mattress for a Heavy Person

In general, thicker ais recommended for heavier people. You’re looking at a minimum of 10 inches, but to get a really good, supportive sleep, it’s probably wise to look for 13 inches or greater.

This is because the heavier a person is, the more likely it is that their pressure points will sink deep into the mattress. This may bring you into contact with the harder foundation layer, and that can be painful.

Go thicker, and you’ll enjoy more restful nights.

How Thick a Mattress for Vans?

When you need to relax and get away from it all, there’s nothing like a camper van. Of course, it’s essential to have a comfortable and supportive bed for a good night’s sleep.

Camper vans do have size limitations though. Thicker models generally make van interiors feel claustrophobic, so go with a thickness of about six to 10 inches to ensure comfort.

Use these guidelines to ensure that you get a comfortable, restful, and supportive night’s sleep.

Check out my two recommendations here and our list of mattress reviews here to see which ones we think are crap.

Scott Boyd

A semi-retired workaholic in Thailand is a challenge. It is too hot to keep building adobe and earthbag buildings so a new project was needed. I became interested in bed frames after purchasing a bamboo bed frame from a local supplier here and I learned there is little information about them on the Internet. So now I spend my days researching, testing, and reporting my findings to help others while having an occasional beer and istening to 60s and 70s B side rock, blues, and much more.

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