Mattress Thickness Guide

Last Updated December 30, 2023

Mattress thickness, otherwise known as mattress height or depth, is an aspect that you just cannot ignore. So what say we jump in and do a thorough mattress thickness breakdown? In this article, you'll primarily be informed of why mattress thickness matters, the different mattress thicknesses you can find today, why the ideal mattress thickness differs for each person, and how you can find the best mattress thickness for you!

latex mattress

Usually ranging between 8 and 12 inches, mattress thickness can affect the overall cushioning and support provided by your mattress. The ideal thickness of a mattress can, however, differ from person-to-person. For instance, a heavy person may not appreciate what is offered by a thinner mattress. On the other hand, lightweight people often find thinner mattresses to be adequate for their needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Different mattress thicknesses available today include low profile mattresses (2-5 inches), slim mattresses (5-8 inches), standard mattresses (8-12 inches), thick mattresses (12-16 inches), and extra thick mattresses (above 16 inches).
  • Mattress thickness should be based on personal preferences, health conditions, sleeping position, body weight, sleep partner(s), bed base, bedroom type, and mobility requirements.
  • Thicker mattresses offer greater cushioning, contouring, support, durability, and weight distribution. However, they can be firmer for lightweight sleepers and may retain more heat. They also tend to be costlier, harder to move, and increase the overall height of the bed.
  • Thinner mattresses work well for back and stomach sleepers, offer better accessibility for individuals with mobility issues, and can be more affordable and easier to handle. However, they may lack cushioning and durability, and are unsuitable for heavier individuals.

how thick is a mattress

Why does mattress thickness matter?

A mattress' thickness affects a number of important features, including how it feels and how it performs. These features include:

  • Comfort

A thick mattress contains more material than a thin mattress. Thereby, it is able to provide more cushioning and plushness, two must-have features for a lot of sleepers. The enhanced cushioning can also mean greater pressure relief, as the mattress conforms better to your body contours.

  • Support

Spine support is a crucial aspect of gaining restful sleep. As thicker mattresses contain more layers, they can usually absorb a greater amount of body weight without causing sinkage. And when sinkage is prevented, you can sleep easy, knowing that your spine remains in a neutral alignment throughout the night.

  • Mattress Durability

Aside from improving sleep quality, a thicker mattress tends to last longer as well. This longevity can be attributed to the additional materials used in their construction. Plus, thicker beds can also withstand more weight, reducing the likelihood of issues like premature sagging.

  • Bed Height

The height of your bed, an aspect that affects bed mobility and bedroom aesthetics, can be decided by the mattress thickness you choose. Generally, the thicker the mattress, the higher your overall bed will be. So when you opt for an extra thick mattress, consider whether limited mobility and an incompatible aesthetic will be an issue.

Tip: - Want to raise the height of your bed without raising mattress thickness? Bed risers can work!

  • Weight Distribution

Thicker mattresses tend to distribute body weight more evenly, reducing the likelihood of creating uncomfortable pressure points. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with pressure ulcers. It can also be ideal for those who share the bed with a partner, as it minimizes motion transfer.

  • Sleeping Position

The thickness of a mattress can also play a role in accommodating different sleeping positions. For instance, side sleepers may find thicker mattresses to be better, as they provide more cushioning. Back sleepers and stomach sleepers, however, may find thinner mattresses to be ideal, as they are firm and supportive.

  • Cost

The thicker a mattress is, the more material needs to be used in its construction. This can lead to an increase in the overall price of a mattress. So, keep your budget in mind when you decide to increase mattress thickness.

What are the different mattress thicknesses available today?

mattress thickness chart

Mattress thickness profiles can be broadly categorized into five types. Let's take a closer look at each one:

  1. Low Profile Mattresses (2-5 inches)

A low-profile mattress, as its name hints, is designed to be lower to the ground. You'll find low-profile mattresses to be between 2-5 inches thick. Their slim, minimalistic build makes them a great choice for bunk beds, trundle beds, and rooms with low ceilings. While they may lack the plushness of thicker mattresses, they can still provide decent support and comfort. Low-profile beds are usually perfect for children.

  1. Slim Mattresses (5-8 inches)

A slim mattress can range anywhere between 5-8 inches thick. Slim mattresses are optimal for thin, short adults, people with mobility issues, children, and growing teenagers. They can also be suitable for situations where space is limited, such as guest rooms or RVs. Slim mattresses can provide a bit more cushioning than low-profile mattresses, but they still lack the extra cushioning provided by their thicker counterparts.

  1. Standard Mattresses (8-12 inches)

The standard mattress thickness, which is between 8-12 inches, is highly versatile and proves to be the ideal mattress thickness for most adult sleepers. Standard mattresses can comfortably support combination sleepers, making them suitable for almost every sleep position. They can also support most body weights, including thin, average-weight, and thick adults. You'll be able to find the standard mattress thickness at most mattress retailers.

  1. Thick Mattresses (12-16 inches)

A thick mattress, sometimes known as a deep mattress, is between 12-16 inches thick. Providing a greater amount of thickness than standard mattresses, it often features multiple layers of foam/coils. Thick mattresses can include plush comfort layers and a thick base layer, making them ideal for those who require extra cushioning.

  1. Extra Thick Mattresses (Above 16 inches)

Anywhere above 16 inches is where you'll find an extra-thick mattress. Also known as extra deep or extra tall mattresses, they typically feature multiple layers of high-density polyurethane foam, latex foam, or modern coil systems, providing exceptional support and comfort. They may not be for everyone, though, as they are costlier and less accessible than most mattresses. Extra thick mattresses are best suited for heavy individuals (above 230 lbs).

What defines a mattress's thickness?

base layer and comfort layer

A mattress usually has two layers - the base layer and the comfort layer.

  • Base Layer

The base layer forms the supportive core of a mattress and is usually made of high-density foam or spring coil systems. Dunlop latex, high-density memory foam, and pocketed coils are some of the best-quality base layers you can find on the market. A mattress's base layer is there to provide a strong foundation beneath you, promoting healthy spinal alignment. So look out for a base layer that occupies at least half the mattress's overall thickness.

  • Comfort Layer

Atop the base layer comes the comfort layer. Comfort layers are often made of softer mattress materials like Talalay latex, wool, cotton, and low-density memory foam. There can be more than one layer of foam/material in a mattress's comfort layer, all of which primarily aim to conform to your body's contours, offering pressure relief. Thicker comfort layers conform better, leading to greater cushioning. If you want a firmer feeling bed, opt for thinner comfort layers.

How thick should a mattress be?

Most mattresses have an average thickness of around 8-12 inches. This is usually how thick a mattress should be for an average adult. There are a few reasons why this thickness level is chosen so often.

how thick should a mattress be

First off, mattresses in the 8-12 inch range strike a good balance between comfort and support at a cost-effective rate. With sufficient foam in the comfort layer, they can provide a cushiony sleeping surface that conforms to the body's contours. At the same time, the base layer should be thick enough to offer the necessary support for proper spinal alignment.

Secondly, mattresses in this thickness range are generally versatile and compatible with various bedding accessories. They can work well with standard sheets, blankets, bed frames, and mattress protectors, making it easier to find bedding accessories that complement your mattress.

And lastly, mattresses in the 8-12 inch range are popular due to their ease of use and maneuverability. They are often easier to handle compared to thicker mattresses, making tasks such as moving, rotating, or flipping the mattress more manageable. Climbing onto these mattresses should also prove comfortable, especially if there's a bed frame present beneath.

natural and organic latex mattress topper

Thick mattresses vs. Thin mattresses: Which is better?

While the average mattress thickness (8-12 inches) may be ideal for many, the decision is entirely up to you. In this section, we'll discuss the pros and cons of thick and thin mattresses. The question of "How thick should a mattress be?" is for you to decide after considering these pros and cons.

Thicker mattresses

  • [Pros]

Thick mattresses can generally offer greater cushioning, contouring, and pressure point relief. They also offer adequate support.

Thick mattresses can handle more weight and are ideal for couples/families who share a bed.

Thick mattresses absorb motion very well, leading to less disturbance for sleep partners.

A thicker mattress can withstand more wear and tear, allowing it to be durable and long-lasting.

  • [Cons]

Lightweight sleepers below 130 lbs might find a thick mattress to be firmer than what they desire.

A thicker mattress can be costlier, as additional material needs to be added to the mattress to achieve greater thickness.

Some thicker mattresses, especially those with memory foam layers, can retain heat more than thinner options. This is primarily because thicker mattresses tend to use a higher density of foam, which can restrict airflow and trap more heat.

Thicker beds are heavier due to the additional material added to them. They can, therefore, be harder to move.

A thick mattress increases the overall height of your bed. For people with mobility issues or shorter heights, this can reduce accessibility to their beds.

Thinner mattresses

  • [Pros]

A thin mattress generally proves to be firmer and stronger than a thick one, making it better suited for back and stomach sleepers.

Thin mattresses work well in smaller bed frames, like bunk beds, and also fit in smaller rooms with low ceilings.

A thinner mattress is generally lighter and easier to handle compared to thicker options. This makes tasks such as moving, rotating, or flipping the mattress more convenient.

Thinner mattresses use less material than thicker ones, so they often have a lower price point.

  • [Cons]

Thinner mattresses tend to have a thinner comfort layer and less material overall, which can impact their durability over time.

The extra firmness of a thin mattress means reduced cushioning and pressure relief, making it less ideal for heavyweight individuals and the side sleeping position.

Thin mattresses cannot handle as much weight as thicker mattresses, ruling out their suitability for couples/families.

Too thin mattresses might pose accessibility issues for tall individuals and people with mobility issues.

How can you find the best mattress thickness for you?

mattress shopping

How thick should a mattress be to suit your preferred comfort level? You are the only one who can answer that question. Assess these qualities about yourself and find out what the best mattress thickness is for you -

  1. Health

Health conditions like back pain, joint pain, pressure ulcers, arthritis, and fibromyalgia require a mattress that relieves pressure. Thick mattresses do exactly that and are, therefore, better suited to manage such health conditions.

On the other hand, conditions like mobility issues, insomnia, or night sweats may benefit from thinner mattresses. Thin beds are lower to the ground and typically have better breathability, allowing for an easy-to-climb, cooler sleep surface.

  1. Sleeping Position

Side sleepers need a healthy amount of cushioning on their sides and shoulders. They also require a mattress that doesn't sacrifice spine support for comfort. Side sleepers, thus, stand to benefit more from thicker mattresses.

Back sleepers and stomach sleepers are usually recommended to sleep on a firmer surface, as it helps prevent excessive sinking of the hips and lower back. A firmer surface is provided by thinner mattresses, making them the optimal choice for these two sleep positions.

  1. Body Weight

Lightweight individuals (below 130 lbs.) require more cushioning from their mattresses. However, due to their lower body weight, they may not sink deeply into a thicker mattress, which can result in a firmer feel. As a result, opting for a thinner mattress (around 8-12 inches with thicker comfort layers) may help provide the desired cushioning sought by lightweight individuals.

Average-weight individuals (between 130-230 lbs.) should find standard mattresses (8-12 inches thick) to be sufficient for their needs. These mattresses offer a good balance of support and comfort, accommodating a wide range of sleeping styles.

Heavier individuals (above 230 lbs.) often benefit from thicker mattresses. The additional materials in thicker mattresses provide better weight distribution, spine support, and durability for individuals with higher body weights.

  1. Mobility

By mobility, we refer to whether you move around a lot with your bed. If you anticipate needing to transport your bed frequently, opting for a thinner mattress can be advantageous. Thinner mattresses are typically lighter and more flexible, making them easier to handle. Additionally, thinner mattresses are often more compatible with fold-away beds and adjustable bed frames, offering further flexibility.

  1. Sleep Partner(s)

When sharing your bed with one or more sleep partners, the weight placed on it will be higher. So, if you're an average couple, the right mattress thickness would be somewhere around 10-14 inches. But, if you're a family of four (or more), we'd recommend a mattress that is around 12-16 inches thick.

Another thing to consider is your sleep partner(s) preferences. Factors such as motion isolation, bed height, and comfort levels may vary between individuals. Discuss and find a compromise that suits all of your requirements.

  1. Bed Base

A bed base can include a bed frame, mattress foundation, and/or box spring. The base beneath your mattress can often influence your mattress thickness choice. For example, low-profile bed frames like the platform bed may accommodate thicker mattresses better, while tall and adjustable bed frames may work well with thinner mattresses.

If you don't have a bed base and choose to place your mattress directly on the floor, opting for a thicker mattress can have some advantages. Thicker mattresses can offer better resilience against impurities and moisture that may be present on the floor, improving the mattress's lifespan.

  1. Bedroom Type

When it comes to bedroom type, ceiling height can play a role in determining the ideal mattress thickness. For rooms with lower ceilings, opting for thinner mattresses keeps the overall bed height lower, creating a more spacious and balanced feel.

Additionally, the mattress thickness can contribute to the overall aesthetic of the bedroom. Thicker mattresses often provide a more luxurious appearance, which can complement a grand aesthetic. On the other hand, thinner mattresses offer a sleeker look, which may be preferable for those seeking a minimalistic bedroom style.

What is the biggest factor to consider besides mattress thickness?

Mattress type is one of the biggest factors to consider besides mattress thickness. There are a plethora of mattress types out there today, such as poly foam mattresses, hybrid mattresses, latex mattresses, innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, and air mattresses.

mattress types

An all-foam mattress type, like a latex mattress or memory foam mattress, provides more cushioning and pressure relief. Conversely, a spring mattress type, like a hybrid mattress or an innerspring mattress, is geared toward providing more support and bounce. Stop by our article on the best mattress type to find out more!

Whichever mattress type you desire, make sure you browse through high-quality mattresses from reputable retailers. A low-quality mattress will often let you down when it comes to comfort and durability.

natural and organic pillows

FAQs

  1. How thick should your mattress be?

Lightweight and average-weight individuals who sleep on their backs or stomachs will find 8-12 inches sufficient. Heavyweight individuals who prefer side sleeping will find 10-14 inches sufficient.

  1. How thick is an average mattress?

The average thickness of a mattress typically ranges from 8 to 12 inches.

  1. Is a 14-inch mattress thick?

Yes, a 14-inch mattress is considered thick and can offer enhanced cushioning.

  1. Is a 9-inch mattress thick enough?

While a 9-inch mattress can prove sufficient for many, it may not offer as much cushioning as thicker options.

  1. What thickness memory foam mattress is ideal?

An average-weight individual should find an 8-12 inches thick memory foam mattress to be ideal. Heavyweight individuals, however, might require a 10-14 inches thick memory foam mattress.

Related blog posts:

1. Mattress Sizes Chart and Bed Dimensions Guide

2. Kids Mattress Sizes

3. Twin Vs Twin XL Mattress Size Comparison

4. A Detailed Guide on Full vs. Queen Size Mattresses: Which One Should You Sleep On?

5. Twin vs. Full vs. Queen Mattress Size Comparison

Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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