The thickness of a mattress determines the comfort and support it will offer when you sleep on it. But, a particular mattress thickness may not suit all body types and sleep positions. Mattresses that are too thin or thick can not only hamper sleep quality but health as well. Similarly, mattress height that is too low or high can impact getting in and out of bed in the mornings. So, how thick should a mattress be?
Here is a mattress guide that helps you know the different mattress types based on thickness, ideal mattress thickness, pros and cons of a thick mattress, what factors affect the thickness of the mattress, and how to choose.
Mattress Thickness Chart
Based on thickness, mattresses are classified into 5 categories. See the different mattress thickness levels in the chart below.
2 to 5 Inches
5 to 8 Inches
8 to 12 Inches
12 to 16 Inches
Deep, thick, or tall Profile
More than 16 Inches
Extra deep, extra-thick, or extra tall profile
(Please note: Most high-quality mattresses are 8-14 inches thick.)
Low Profile Mattresses
The mattress height is – 2-5 inches and is usually air mattresses. They are best for old-way beds and cribs or for guest rooms. They break down quickly, so they are ideal for toddlers.
Slim Profile Mattresses
The thickness of the mattress is between 5-8 inches and contains several foam layers making them highly comfortable and durable. Slim mattresses are ideal for children and people with limited mobility.
Standard Profile Mattresses
They are between 8-12 inches in height with 6 inches comfort layer and 6 inches quality foundation. Standard profile mattress best serves people with different sleeping positions. It is a standard mattress type and is quite popular for its cozy performance.
Deep or Thick Profile Mattresses
The mattress thickness is between 12-20 inches. Deep or thick profile mattresses are thicker and durable. But, the added layers make the mattress a bit expensive. It gives optimal mattress comfort to sleepers and provides pressure relief.
Extra Thick Profile Mattress
With a mattress thickness of 20 inches or more, this mattress type offers great comfort. But are quite heavy and difficult to move from one point to another. It is the most expensive mattress thickness.
How Thick Are Mattresses?
There are two or more layers that affect the depth of a mattress. Below are two basic layers (designed to provide support to sleepers) found in all mattresses.
This is the top layer of the mattress and is mostly 2-3 inches thick, which is close to your body when you sleep on the bed. The Comfort layer is generally made of wool or cotton or polyfoam. It is designed to contour to your body curves and relieve pressure. Therefore, it gives you a plush feel.
Some comfort layers are designed to isolate motion transfer, which is an added advantage for couples. You can toss and turn on your bed, without disturbing your partner.
There are some brands manufacturing mattresses with more than one comfort layer that impacts the overall mattress depth (can be 3-4 inches thick). These extra layers may offer targeted back support and some may provide cooling technologies
Base or support layer
This layer is the foundation of your mattress. It is made of latex, polyfoam, or pocketed springs. It affects at least 50% of your mattress thickness. A 6-7 inch thick base layer is important for 14 inches thick mattress.
If your mattress has thin base layers, it is likely to sag quickly and deteriorate prematurely. On the contrary, thicker base layers increase the longevity of your mattress.
There is another layer between the comfort and base layer called the transition layer. It is made of high-density latex, or wool or poly-foam, to work as an insulator. It provides a buffer between the firm core layers and soft top layers. In some mattresses, the transition layer is designed to offer comfort to sensitive body parts such as hips, shoulders, and back.
How to Choose a Mattress Thickness?
No single mattress thickness fits all the sleepers’ needs. Below are a few factors to keep in mind to choose a mattress thickness that best caters to your sleep preferences and requirements:
Whether a mattress will support your body weight or not depends on its thickness and materials used for comfort and support.
If your body weight is above 230 pounds you should choose a mattress thickness – 12-14 inches thick with a 6 inches thick comfort layer to prevent mattress sinkage.
If your body weight is less than 130 pounds you should opt for a mattress thickness of 12 inches. Thicker comfort layers conform to your body, provide pressure relief and reduce body aches.
If your body weight is between 130-230 pounds, you should choose mattress thickness – 10 to 12-inches. Sleepers with average weight usually feel comfortable on a medium bed. Before buying a new mattress consider your sleeping position and the material used for construction that influences the feel of your mattresses.
The feel of the mattress changes with the thickness and this can affect your sleep quality no matter in which posture you sleep. Mattresses are available in a range of thickness levels that support different sleep needs. Some sleep positions demand high support, while others demand extra cushioning.
For sleeping on sides – you require a mattress that is 12 to 14 inches thick and offers extra cushion for pressure points like hips and shoulders. So, plush layers of this type of mattress can prevent pressure build-up.
People who prefer sleeping on stomachs – require 10-inch thick mattresses to support the natural spinal alignment. A firmer sleep surface has a thinner comfort layer. It resists compression beneath your abdomen.
If you are a back sleeper – you should choose mattress thickness – 10 to 12-inch thick to maintain a natural curve of your spine while sleeping. This type of mattress is designed to have a thick base layer and thinner comfort layer so they offer proper support to your back and prevent mattress sinkage. Spinal misalignment is a risk factor for neck pain, back pain, and muscle stiffness.
For those who have no fixed sleeping position – it is better to choose a 12-inch mattress thickness that gives a medium feel. You may sleep in different positions throughout the night, so find a mattress that offers a good balance between softness and firmness.
Number of sleepers
Before buying a new mattress, consider if you will be sleeping alone or sharing the bed with your partner. Sleeping alone puts less pressure on the bed as compared to sleeping with a partner. So, thinner mattresses damage quickly when couples sleep on them due to extra body pressure.
It is better to buy a mattress at least 10 to 12-inches thick with a tall base layer for two people to sleep together. You can opt for thinner mattresses if you are to seep alone.
Height of Your Bed Base
The total height of your bed including the mattress and base should not exceed 25 inches. So, if you are having an 18 inches thick mattress, your foundation should not be more than 7 inches.
So, before buying a thick mattress, please check out the height of your box spring, platform, foundation. Do you have or need an adjustable bed? Mobility is a factor to consider here! Older adults and those with joint aches or back pain find it difficult to get in and out of taller beds.
Specific Medical Conditions
People suffering from hip or shoulder pain and arthritis should choose mattresses 12 to 14 inches thick with plusher comfort layers. It is because people with these medical conditions need extra cushioning. They need mattresses that conform to the body and offer pressure-point pain relief.
People with back pain may need a firmer mattress having thinner comfort layers. Medium-firm mattresses of 8 to 12-inches are ideal for people with back pain. These mattresses prevent mattress sinkage and well support the neutral spinal alignment. Sleeping on a bed that offers lumbar support can relieve back pain.
Are you planning to buy a mattress that lasts long and stays comfortable for years? Then buy an 8 inches thick mattress with at least 2 to 3-inch thick comfort layer and a 5 to 6-inch thick base layer.
Pros and Cons of Thick Mattresses
- The thicker layer supports side sleepers
- Perfect for heavyweight people
- Supports well under heavy body pressure
- Resist sagging
- Longer lifespan than thin mattresses
- Expensive than thinner mattresses
- Heavy and difficult to move and clean the mattress
- Cannot tolerate the weight of two adults
- Not ideal for older adults and people with limited mobility
- Thick layers increase the mattress height make it difficult to get into and out of your bed
Pros and Cons of Thin Mattresses
- Cheaper than thicker mattresses
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Lower to the floor and easy to access
- Compatible with older foundation or bed frames that do not support the weight of a thicker mattress
- Shorter lifespan than thicker mattresses
- May not support your and your partner’s weight for very long
- Tends to sag quicker
Not all thick mattresses provide high-quality comfort and support. The thickness of the comfort layer and support layer and the materials used for designing them affects mattress thickness. The right mattress thickness for you depends on your body weight, sleeping position, bed height if you have a specific medical condition or sharing a bed with someone.
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Mattresses that are 10 inches or more are highly supportive and comfortable, especially for stomach sleepers to prevent sinkage beneath your abdomen. A 12 to 14-inch mattress thickness is ideal for a side sleeper that requires a soft cushion. A 10 to 12-inch thick medium-firm mattress is ideal for back sleepers.
Memory foam mattress thickness should be 10 to 14 inches to last longer and provide sleepers with the proper support. A thinner mattress may deprive you of the natural comfort of memory foam as well as sag quicker and damaged prematurely.
The average thickness of a mattress is between 8 to 14 inches. A high-quality mattress should have a 2-3 inches thick comfort layer and 6-8 inches base layer and a 1-2 inch thick transition layer (if present). This average mattress thickness ensures adequate comfort and durability.
The standard mattress thickness is between 6-9 inches. Some luxury mattresses are 12 inches thick and some can be even 16 to 18 inches.
Latex foam mattress thickness of 6-9 inches is ideal for back sleepers.