A comfortable mattress undoubtedly allows you to have a good night’s sleep. So, what makes a mattress comfortable? It’s the thickness of the mattress that will decide whether you feel comfortable sleeping on it.
The thickness of a mattress can impact its comfort, support, and durability, and it’s essential to choose a thickness that suits your needs and preferences. In this article, we will explore the standard thickness of mattresses, the factors that influence thickness, and why it matters for a good night’s sleep.
What is The Standard Thickness of Mattresses?
There are all kinds of mattresses, from ultra-thin foldable and rollable designs to extra tall, princess-and-the-pea style options. But mattresses are generally split into five thickness categories in the mattress world. These are:
1. Low Profile Mattresses
Low-profile mattresses measure between 2 and 5 inches. These extra slimline options are more like sleeping pads than traditional mattresses. They’re frequently used for toddler beds, futons, fold-out beds, and camper vans and RVs.
While some can still offer a surprising level of comfort, they’re only sometimes recommended as a regular mattress for use in your bedroom at home.
2. Slim Profile Mattresses
Slim-profile mattresses measure between 5 and 8 inches. Most will feature multiple foam levels, and those towards the thicker end of the range sometimes come with springs.
Slim profile mattresses are a popular choice for people with mobility issues, for example, someone who uses a wheelchair or walks with a cane, as the relatively low height makes it easier to get in and out of bed. They’re also frequently found in children’s bedrooms, particularly on bunk beds, where reduced bulk and weight are preferred.
3. Standard Profile Mattresses
Standard-profile mattresses measure between 8 and 12 inches in height and make up the majority of mattresses on the market. These are a popular choice as they suit many different types of sleepers.
The majority of standard profile mattresses are 9 inches in height. This extra thickness offers considerably more back support than slim profile mattresses. They also elevate the sleeping surface higher for those who prefer sleeping further from the ground.
4. Deep Profile Mattresses
Deep-profile mattresses measure anywhere between 12-20 inches. This extra-thick option may be too high for those with mobility issues. However, if it’s comfort and support you are looking for, then the thicker, the better.
These mattresses are also more durable and less prone to sagging. Plus, they help to relieve pressure on joints and the spine better than their thinner counterparts. The downside is that they’re harder to move and cost considerably more money.
5. Extra Deep Profile Mattress
Any mattress measuring over 20 inches is considered an extra deep profile mattress. They offer comfort and support and will last many years with proper care.
But while certainly luxurious, extra deep profile mattresses are extremely heavy. Plus, they’re some of the most expensive mattresses on the market.
As you can see, a “standard profile” mattress measures between 8 and 12 inches and is the most popular choice. But no matter what thickness you choose, mattresses generally consist of at least two layers; the base layer and the comfort layer.
An adequate base layer prevents the mattress from sagging. The base layer offers structure and support and typically takes up at least half of the thickness of the mattress. For example, the base layer in a standard 9-inch mattress should be around 4.5 inches thick. Base layers are constructed with either pocketed springs, polyfoam, or latex.
The comfort layer is the top layer of the mattress. It’s designed to relieve and absorb pressure and feel plush against your body as you sleep. No matter the thickness of the mattress, you should aim for a comfort layer of at least 3 inches. Some mattresses are constructed with more than one comfort layer for additional back support; some even have a gel comfort layer to keep you cool during the warmer months.
There is often a thin transition layer between the base and comfort layers. It absorbs shocks and acts as an additional barrier between your hips, back, shoulders, and the firm base layer at the bottom half of the mattress.
What to Consider When Choosing The Right Mattress Thickness?
So, now that you know about the five categories of mattress thickness, it’s time to choose the right one. Many people opt for a standard profile mattress between 8 and 12 inches, but there may be options that can better meet your needs.
So, here are some factors to consider when choosing the thickness of a mattress:
1. How Tall is Your Bed Base?
The average bed (including the mattress and base) is 25 inches high. This height allows most adults to sit on the edge of the bed and rest their feet on the floor.
So, if you’re considering a deep or extra deep profile mattress, remember to factor in the bed base’s height to ensure your bed will not be uncomfortably high. It’s particularly important for older adults, young children, and anyone with mobility issues who may struggle to get in and out of a high bed.
2. What is Your Usual Sleeping Position?
Your usual sleeping position dictates the support and cushioning you need from your mattress. If you sleep on your back, supporting and maintaining the natural curve of your spine is key. It’s also true if you prefer sleeping on your stomach.
So, in this case, it’s best to choose a standard profile mattress measuring 9-11 inches thick with an ample base layer and a relatively narrower comfort layer. This ratio will offer more support and help to keep your spine aligned. Plus, it will prevent the mattress from sagging.
If you’re more of a side sleeper, a thicker, plusher mattress is a better choice. Opt for a deep or extra profile mattress measuring 12 inches or thicker. Also, consider a mattress with a thicker comfort layer to provide extra cushioning around your hips and shoulders.
3. How Much Do You Weigh?
Consider the level of support you’ll need for your body weight.
If you weigh more than 220 lbs., choose a deep profile mattress of 12 inches or more, with at least 6 inches of the base layer. It will help prevent premature sinkage and sagging.
If you weigh less than 120 lbs., a standard profile mattress with a thicker comfort layer is a perfect choice.
If you are an average weight, a standard profile mattress with a 1:1 base layer to comfort layer ratio is the most popular choice.
4. Do You Have a Disability or Medical Condition?
If you have limited mobility, you should avoid purchasing a thick mattress unless your bed base is very low to the ground. Placing a deep profile or extra deep profile mattress on top of a standard bed frame will make the bed too tall to comfortably and safely get in and out.
If you or your partner suffers from joint pain, e.g., arthritis, choose a thicker profile mattress with a generous comfort layer. The softer surface will conform to the contours of your body and provide extra cushioning around areas like your hips, back, knees, and shoulders.
Those with chronic back pain may benefit from a thinner, firmer mattress with a thick base layer, such as a standard 8-12 inch option. It prevents too much sinkage and will provide prolonged support for your spine and lumbar region.
5. How Often Will You Use the Mattress?
Consider durability and how long you need your mattress to last. If you’re purchasing a mattress for a guest bedroom, it won’t be used very often. You can save money and choose a thinner standard or a slim-profile mattress. Even a 5-inch mattress can provide many years of durability if used sparingly.
However, suppose you’re purchasing a mattress for your bedroom. In that case, you will opt for a thicker, more durable, and long-lasting option. Sleeping in the same spot on the mattress every night will gradually change the shape of the comfort layer.
Eventually, it will sink and sag. But the thicker the mattress, the longer this will take to happen. So, if you want your mattress to stay in good shape for several years, choose a deep profile mattress of 12 inches or more with an ample base layer.
Thick vs. Thin: Which is The Right Mattress Thickness For You?
Below, we’ll examine some pros and cons of thick mattresses:
- It will last much longer than a thin mattress.
- It will take longer to sag and sink.
- Ultra-supportive for larger people.
- Perfect for people who prefer sleeping on their side.
- Provides extra plush comfort.
- Bulky and heavy, making it very difficult to move.
- It can raise the height of the bed significantly, making it more
difficult to get in and out.
- Not recommended for people with mobility issues.
- They are much more expensive than thinner mattresses.
- More difficult to clean.
The Pros and Cons of a Thin Mattress:
- Lightweight and easier to move.
- It keeps the bed at an accessible height, making it
perfect for people with mobility issues.
- It can be cooler than thicker mattresses.
- Less likely to damage an older bed frame.
- They are much more affordable than thicker mattresses.
- Won’t last as long as a thicker mattress.
- Prone to sagging and sinking.
- Not as plush and comfortable as a thicker mattress.
Mattress thickness is one of the most important things to consider when shopping for a new mattress. For some people, a thinner mattress will be a better choice, especially if you’re on a budget. But thicker doesn’t always mean better.
Whichever thickness you choose, be sure to get a high-quality mattress with an adequate base layer and comfort layer so that your mattress will last for several years.