The University Network

Best Mattresses For College

Sleep is a rare and valuable commodity in college. Between late night study sessions and parties that last into the waking hours, it can be hard to come by. When you do get a chance to get some shuteye, you want to make it count. That’s why a comfortable and supportive mattress is such an important thing to have in college. Getting a good night’s sleep will help you feel more well-rested and avoid any unnecessary back problems you might get from sleeping on an unsupportive mattress.

If you’re living off campus, a mattress is a necessary purchase, unless you are planning on bringing one from home. 

If you are planning on living in a dorm, you may not need to purchase a mattress. Typically, dorm rooms come equipped with an XL twin bed and mattress. However, given the extra health concerns around dormitory living during COVID-19, it may be worthwhile to swap out your complimentary used mattress with a brand new one. 

You should also bring your own mattress to school if you suffer from back problems or have trouble sleeping. Colleges typically provide their students with thin and unsupportive mattresses, so if you have any health issues that are related to or can be exacerbated by poor sleep or poor back support, it may be worthwhile to invest in a quality mattress.

If you’re looking for a new mattress to start off the school year and need help shopping, we’ve put together a buying guide to help you make your selection, including a list of our favorite mattresses for college students.

What is the best month to buy a mattress?

The month of May is often considered to be the best time to buy a mattress. The mattress industry generally brings in new models for the year beginning in June, so many mattress stores try to clear out old models by the end of spring. Memorial Day, in particular, is a great time to find clearance prices and a great deal on a good mattress.

If you are planning on buying a mattress at the start of the new semester, local mattress stores around your campus may hold “Back to School” sales for university students in August and September as well.

How thick should a mattress be?

Generally speaking, you should look for a mattress that is somewhere between 9 and 14 inches thick. Thicker mattresses provide more cushion and often include memory foam padding. Heavier people and side sleepers will typically prefer thicker mattresses because of the extra support they provide. However, thicker mattresses are also heavier and more difficult to transport. A smaller, more portable mattress might make more sense for the lifestyle of a college student.

How do I choose a mattress?

In general, a quality mattress should be supportive, comfortable, and affordable. However, when shopping for a mattress, it is important to base your decision on your lifestyle and individual preferences and needs. A young and generally healthy college student does not require the same level of support from their mattress that someone older or with back problems does.  

For college students, affordability and portability may supersede support or even comfort. Students often move 3 or 4 times during their college careers, so they need something that can be moved easily. Many students ultimately dispose of their college mattress after graduation, particularly if their home is far from campus. Don’t invest in an expensive mattress unless you plan on using it after graduation.

However, support and comfort are the difference between a poor and a quality night’s sleep. 

Pay attention to the firmness of the mattress. Mattresses are typically rated on a firmness scale of 1-10, with higher numbers indicating a firmer mattress. Firmness largely comes down to personal preference. However, firmness doesn’t necessarily translate to support. There are both firm mattresses that are unsupportive and soft mattresses that are supportive.

Consider the material your mattress is made of. Traditional spring mattresses are often relatively firm and offer support, but don’t contour to your body as well as foam mattresses do. Some people prefer memory foam mattresses, which are known for conforming to the shape of your body but also known for retaining a lot of heat. Heavier people and back and stomach seekers tend to prefer spring mattresses, while smaller people and side sleepers may prefer foam.

Lastly, you will need to decide what size mattress you want. Most people prefer bigger mattresses that give them more space to spread out on when they sleep. For a single person, a full bed is generally more than enough space to sleep comfortably. If you have a small bedroom or value a mattress that will be easy to move, you can even consider a smaller twin mattress. If you are buying a new mattress for your dorm room, you will most likely need a twin XL mattress to fit the bed frame that is provided by your college.

In the end, a mattress purchase is a very personal decision. When you’re shopping, try out a few different mattresses to get a better sense of what you find comfortable and makes the most sense given your living situation.

What is the best mattress?

Allswell Luxe Hybrid

Allswell’s Luxe Hybrid mattress is a comfortable and supportive hybrid mattress that comes at a relatively affordable price, making it a solid option for any student. These hybrid mattresses are constructed of both innerspring coils and memory foam, providing the support of the former and the added comfort of the latter. On the top of the mattress is a plush topper that includes a cooling gel foam to keep you comfortable. A full mattress costs under $700, making it one of the better bargains available.

Ghostbed Flex Hybrid

Ghostbed’s Flex Hybrid is another mattress that should appeal to many students. The 13-inch-thick mattress includes a layer wrapped coils, three layers of foam, and a layer of cooling fibers. At $1,475 for a full mattress, however, it is a more costly investment.

What is the best mattress for side sleepers?

Helix Sunset

Designed for side-sleepers, the Helix Sunset is an ultrasoft hybrid mattress that includes three foam layers in addition to wrapped coils. It can be used on an adjustable or a flat bed frame, and is designed to stay cool. At $750 for a full mattress, it is also very affordable for a high-quality mattress.

Purple Mattress

Purple’s mattresses are topped with a layer of a patented gridded mattress topper made from an elastic polymer. The non-toxic polymer, which is made from recyclable materials, creates a responsive cushion that provides support regardless of sleeping position. Because of this uniquely engineered layer, the Purple Mattress is ideal for people who sleep on their sides or who change sleeping positions throughout the night.

What is the best mattress for back pain?

Saatva Classic Mattress 

The Saatva Classic Mattress is pricey, but still a value for such a high-quality mattress. The spring mattress includes two separate layers of springs: a base layer of steel coils as well as a layer of 884 wrapped coils. The mattress is known for being great for soothing back pain, and is available with three different firmness options.

Bear Mattress

The Bear Mattress is an affordable high-density foam mattress that is great for treating back pain. The mattress is specifically designed for people with active lifestyles who need extra support to keep their back in shape. The Bear Mattress is composed of three layers of foam: a base layer of support foam, a layer of transition foam designed to offer pressure relief, and a layer of graphite-gel memory foam that conforms to your body with reduced heat retention

What is the best memory foam mattress?

Leesa Original Mattress

The Leesa Original Mattress is a medium-firm, all-foam mattress that includes a dense foam base, a layer of memory foam, and a layer of breathable cooling foam. Moderately-priced and durable, it should be a worthwhile investment for students who want to invest in a mattress to use long-term.

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud

Tempur-Pedic mattresses are costly, but they are also the industry standard. Tempur-Pedic’s TEMPUR-Cloud mattress is an all-foam mattress that includes two layers of Tempur-Pedic’s patented memory foam in addition to a supportive base layer of foam. Tempur-Pedic’s prices are prohibitive, but if you’re looking to make a long-term investment, there is no better option.

What is the best bed in a box mattress?

Nolah Original 10

The Nolah Original 10 is a moderately-priced, supportive foam mattress that is ideal for side sleepers and people who suffer from shoulder and hip pain. It can also be used on any type of bed frame, whether on slats, a flat surface, a boxspring, or an adjustable bed.

DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress

DreamCloud’s Luxury Hybrid Mattress is a luxury hybrid mattress that includes a layer of innerspring coils, two layers of memory foam, and an intermediate layer of supportive transfer foam.

What is the best eco-friendly mattress?

Awara Organic Luxury Latex Hybrid Mattress

Awara’s hybrid mattresses are built with natural and certified organic materials and wrapped in a soft and breathable wool from New Zealand. The mattress includes a spring support core layer of pocketed coils as well as a 4-inch layer of ethically-sourced latex foam.

Eco Terra Hybrid Latex Mattress

Made entirely of non-toxic materials, Eco Terra’s hybrid mattresses are topped with a thick layer of all-natural talalay latex that conforms to the contours of your body. These sit atop a supportive layer of cloth-wrapped coils. All wool and cotton that is used is organic.

What is the best value mattress?

Sleep Innovations Shiloh 

Available for less than $400 for a full mattress, the Sleep Innovations Shiloh is an affordable and hypoallergenic all-foam mattress. The 12-inch Shiloh is medium firm with two foam layers — a memory foam layer on the top and a thicker base foam on the bottom.  A 14-inch variation with a third layer of breathable air channel foam is also available at a higher price point.

Nectar Memory Foam Mattress

With prices starting at $499, Nectar’s memory foam mattresses cost less than most high-quality mattresses, but they don’t sacrifice quality. They include multiple layers of memory foam padding, including a cooling gel foam layer and a quilted memory foam mattress topper. A mattress purchase from Nectar also includes two free pillows, a set of sheets, a mattress protector, and a lifetime warranty. And if you are unsure, try out the mattress over a generous 365-day sleep trial.