Mattress Sizes: Finding the Right Size Bed for You

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If you’re in the market for a new mattress, you may feel overwhelmed with choices. With so many mattress sizes to choose from, you may not know where to start. Don’t worry – we’ve got you.

Young woman shopping at furniture store for a new mattress.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

Understanding mattress sizes

You probably know it’s time for a new mattress if your sleep has been suffering. For example, you may be a young mom who needs a better place to sleep.

Or maybe you need a newer, bigger mattress because your family has grown.

“We switched to a king-size bed and mattress right before having kids, and it was the best decision,” said Tamara Tsaturyan of Thriving In Parenting. “Both of our kids keep migrating to our bed in the middle of the night. It wouldn’t be possible with a queen-size bed as we also need a good night’s sleep to function with everyday busyness.”

On its face, a queen-sized mattress sounds pretty generous, and it is. A queen mattress measures 60 inches wide by 80 inches long.

However, by upgrading to a king mattress, Tamara and her family gained 16 inches overall in width. That’s plenty of space for a toddler to crawl into bed with you.

The most common mattress sizes that stores sell are twin, full, queen and king. However, there are other options, too. 

For example, most college dorm rooms have twin XL mattresses. Then, there is something called a California king, which is even longer than a regular king mattress.

Mattress sizes and dimensions

To help you figure out which mattress size is right for you or the space where you’re putting a bed, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of measurements. According to the Sleep Foundation, here are the dimensions for the most common types of mattresses:

  • Twin mattress: 38 inches wide by 75 inches long
  • Twin XL: 38 inches wide by 80 inches long
  • Double or full size: 54 inches wide by 75 inches long
  • Queen: 60 inches wide by 80 inches long
  • King: 76 inches wide by 80 inches long
  • California King: 72 inches wide by 84 inches long

Other elements of mattress size to consider

Mattress dimensions can vary slightly between manufacturers, such as the Costco brand mattresses that Stearns and Foster make for the store. So, make sure you double-check measurements before making a purchase. This is especially important if you’re hoping to reuse sheets or a bed frame you already own.

Existing bedding is one of the reasons that Michelle Price of Honest and Truly never upgraded to a king-sized bed after getting married years ago.

“I sleep in a queen-size bed, in part, because my first apartment fit a queen size bed, and I was single at the time,” she recalled. “Once I had my bed, it always seemed like such a hassle to change. I do wish that I had a king size bed for the space, but at the same time, mattresses and sheets and everything else for a king size bed are so much more expensive than a queen size bed.”

The height of a mattress can also vary, but it typically ranges from 6 to 18 inches. Note: if you decide to upgrade to an 18-inch high mattress, you’ll probably have to buy all new sheets. However, make sure you know the return policy at the store, in case you buy the wrong size.

For thicker mattresses, you’ll want sheets labeled as “deep pockets.” Regular sheets on a deep mattress will simply “pop” off the corners as soon as you make the bed. Deep pocket sheets, on the other hand, will have enough room in the fabric to go under the mattress corners and stay put.

Who sleeps on which size mattress

Maybe you’re like Tamara and want a bigger mattress size to accommodate your growing family. Or perhaps you’re transitioning a small child from a toddler bed to a big kid bed. That doesn’t mean you have to stop reading them bedtime stories, of course.

Here are the details on which sleeping arrangements make the most sense based on mattress size.

An African-American family of four napping together in bed.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

Toddler bed

Usually, a child goes from sleeping in a crib to sleeping on a toddler bed. The mattress size for each is very different in that you can’t take a crib mattress and put it on a bed frame.

A crib mattress is approximately 24 inches wide by 38 inches long, whereas a toddler bed mattress is approximately 28 inches wide by 52 inches long.

Twin mattress

Also known as a single mattress, the twin mattress is ideal for children or single adults. A bed that takes a twin mattress is also perfect for a small guest room in a house or apartment.

Twin XL mattress

Whether they want to or not, most college students end up sleeping on a twin XL mattress in a dorm. Regular twin sheets from home won’t fit them. Remember: the twin XL mattress is 5 inches longer than a regular twin mattress.

Furniture in a college dorm room.
Photo credit: Target.

If you have a student moving into a dorm for the next school year, the Target college dorm registry can ensure that well-wishers buy them the correctly sized twin XL sheets that dorm beds need.

Double or full mattress

You can use the term double mattress or full mattress synonymously. They have the exact same measurements.

This size mattress can accommodate two people. However, it may be a tight fit unless you are both super small adults.

Queen mattress

According to Good Housekeeping, queen is the most popular mattress size on the market. It’s ideal for couples or individuals who want more space to stretch out.

Also, given its dimensions, it probably fits more easily into most bedrooms. That’s the case with Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska.

“Our bedroom is so small we have to have a queen size,” she said. “We only have 18 inches to the wall on either side of the bed.”

King mattress

A king mattress is the largest of the standard-size mattresses available online or from retail stores. It is perfect for couples who want more space to sleep, such as families with small children who might crawl into bed with their parents or animal lovers who like to sleep with their pets.

California king mattress

A very tall person will probably want to consider the California king mattress for one simple reason: it’s four inches longer than a regular king mattress (84 inches versus 80 inches).

Final thoughts on mattress sizes

So, whether your family has grown and you need a bigger bed or it’s simply time to replace your mattress, hopefully this information about mattress sizes makes your shopping that much easier, and you can find the right bed for you.

Leah Ingram is the author of 15 books, including “Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less” and “The Complete Guide to Paying for College.” She shares shopping advice for getting the most value for your time and money at www.leahingram.com.

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