What size mattress do you actually need?
Because no one wants to feel cramped at night—or when they get up in the morning
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At least once a month, my boyfriend will say we need a bigger bed. This is usually because he comes to bed after me and the dog, meaning he’s relegated the tiniest sliver of space at the edge of the mattress. I’m less-than-sympathetic to his plight, however, because: 1. We already have a queen-size mattress, and 2. He was the one who insisted the dog should sleep in the bed.
In my mind, a queen-size mattress should be plenty big enough for two medium-sized humans, but is it really? Standard mattress classifications seem random, to say the least—seriously, where did California king come from?—so it can be pretty confusing to figure out what mattress side you actually need.
To help you out, here are some concrete guidelines to help you pick the proper mattress size.
The 411 on standard mattress measurements
Let’s be honest: Terms like “full,” “queen,” and “king” don’t really give you a good idea of how big a mattress is. Most of us know that they’re ascending in size, but not how much bigger each one is in terms of dimensions.
So, let's clear things up once and for all. Here are the standard measurements of today’s popular mattress sizes, in width by length:
- Twin: 38-39” x 75”
- Full: 53-54” x 75”
- Queen: 60” x 80”
- King: 76” x 80”
- California King: 72” x 84”
There are also a couple XL sizes, which are popular among taller individuals, as they give you five extra inches of length:
- Twin XL: 38” x 80”
- Full XL: 54” x 80”
A few key takeaways here:
- Queen to king is the biggest jump in size, giving you 16 additional inches of width. By comparison, going from a full to a queen only gives you seven extra inches.
- Queen and king mattresses are five inches longer than full or twin mattresses.
- California king mattresses aren’t wider than standard king—they’re actually narrower by four inches, but give you four additional inches of length.
How many people can each mattress accommodate?
With these dimensions in mind, you can start to figure out which mattress size will fit your space. However, you’ll also need to consider how many people—and potentially animals—will be sharing the bed.
Just one person using the bed? That makes things easy! Twin mattresses are typically recommended for children, and twin XL mattresses are good for tall teens or young adults (they're the standard size bed in college dorms). Both these mattresses sizes can comfortably fit one person—and maybe a cat or small dog.
Because twin beds are perceived as childish, however, single adults often opt for full-size mattresses, which give you about 15 extra inches of width to spread out. Full-size mattresses are also a good option for an individual whose pet or child sometimes joins you in bed.
If you live with a partner—or have one who stays over frequently—you’ll want a mattress that can comfortably fit two people. This is where mattress shopping gets tricky, however, as different people have their own sleep preferences.
For couples who are all about cuddling, a full-size mattress might work fine. Just keep in mind that it will be a tight fit, especially if one or both of you are bigger individuals. Additionally, people who are over six feet tall may want to upgrade to a full XL (a rare size, to be sure), otherwise their feet may dangle off the end of the bed.
If you or your partner like to have more space while snoozing, a queen-size mattress is a better option—this is the most popular size in the U.S., according to Mattress Firm. Even though they’re only seven inches wider than full mattresses, queen beds typically accommodate two people with room to spare.
A queen-size mattress might not offer enough space, whether you and your partner are bigger or taller or just like having some elbow room, or you have children or spoiled pets (like my dog) who often climb your bed during the night. In this case, you may want to upgrade to a king mattress, which is the equivalent, size-wise, of two twin mattresses side-by-side. (In fact some people opt for what’s called a “split king” using two twin mattresses and a bed bridge kit.)
While king mattresses are undeniably spacious, keep in mind they also take up a lot of space in a bedroom and are cumbersome to move. You’ll want to measure your bedroom, door frames, and stairs to make sure this large mattress will fit in your home before you take the plunge.
As for California king mattresses, they’re mostly beneficial if you or your partner is super tall. Think of them more as a king XL.
Get out there and find your dream mattress
I shouldn't have to tell you just how important sleep is to your overall health: It plays an integral role in your well-being, so a high-quality, properly sized mattress is a worthwhile investment. (And make sure you’re cleaning your mattress regularly, please.)
If you’re still unsure which size mattress is best for you, go to a mattress store and try them out for yourself—and be sure to bring your partner and/or kids with you (Fido, sadly, will have to stay home). Test one size or test them all, and be sure to choose a mattress that provides proper support for your sleeping position. From there, you can either buy one in-store or purchase one of our top-rated mattresses in a box for delivery right to your doorstep. Either way, better sleep awaits!