man and woman discussing mattress thickness

How to Choose Your Mattress Thickness:

A thick, plush mattress is a dream to climb into. The multiple layers provide unparalleled comfort and support, and tend to be longer lasting. But how thick should a mattress be to achieve that dreamlike sleep?

A mattress can range anywhere in thickness between 6-20 inches. Most people prefer to have a mattress thickness in the 10-16 inches range.With so many height profiles available it can be tricky to sort out what the thickness means, and what might be best for you. So to help you find your sweet spot, we’ve put together some info to demonstrate the relationship between mattress thickness and sleep quality.

How to Assess Mattress Thickness

First things first, you need to understand the structure of the mattress that’s making it, well, thick. A mattress is comprised of two to five layers.

You have the foundational layers, which include the base and mattress technology. The foundational layers in a high quality mattress should comprise about half of the overall mattress thickness. If the mattress has a foundation layer of less than 5 of the 10 inches, it probably won’t last very long because of insufficient foundational support.

Your comfort layers often consist of a dedicated comfort layer(s), and support layer(s). These layers provide additional support for your body, usually contouring foams of different shapes and densities. These pressure relieving layers are what makes a mattress feel plush. Look for a mattress with comfort layers that are at least 2 inches thick. More than that will be up to your support and comfort preferences, which we will discuss further on.

How Thick Should A Mattress Be?

A mattress that is too thin will not provide adequate pressure relief or support. If you have a heavier body, a thin mattress that you sink too far into will have you encounter the uncomfortable and firmer foundational layers.

This is why most high quality mattresses that you encounter will not measure any less than 10 inches in thickness. The structure of anything less than that will have a very short lifespan and most likely not yield enough support. The sweet spot tends to be in the 10-12 inch range.

You might be wondering if there’s such a thing as too thick of a mattress? There is! If you have comfort layers so thick that a mattress is 16-20 inches, you might not even sink far enough to those support layers to experience their pressure relieving benefits.

Factors that Affect Mattress Thickness Preferences

Mattress preferences are personal, and there are many factors that make your support needs unique. It’s important to remember that these combination of factors are why there is truthfully not one ideal mattress thickness, but instead a wide range. Most people select a mattress of a certain thickness based on the following factors:

Body weight

Taking your build into consideration is important when determining how thick of a mattress you might need. The more you weigh, the more support a person typically needs while sleeping. Even then, the thickness can differ depending on firmness preferences.

If you are heavier and prefer a firmer mattress, around 3-4 inches should be sufficient to support you while giving you that desired firmer sleep surface. If you are heavier and prefer a soft mattress, a very thick mattress will boost your support, reduce sinkage, and give you the plush comfort you are looking for.

If you are a lighter build, sleeping on a very thick mattress may make it so that you never even sink down into those support layers–meaning you lose out on the benefits of the mattress. A comfort layer of 2-3 inches is ideal for you.

Couples

When you have two partners sharing a bed, a mattress has to withstand the combined weight. If your mattress is too thin, you might notice a crater forming in the center of your mattress after just a short time. So if you’re shopping for you and a partner, mattresses that are thicker and with high resiliency foams are best.

In the case of a couple, a 10-inch mattress would be sufficient, but the 12-14 range would be best. We know it is probably more expensive, but you are paying for increased durability and longevity—meaning it will actually save you money in the long run.

Typically, two partners sharing a bed do not weigh the same. Some couples have drastically different body types, with one partner being heavier and 6’ 1”, and the other is 5’ 1” and petite. How do you find a thickness that works for both of you? We recommend looking for customizable sides, ones that allow you to adjust the firmness and support needs for each body type.

Health and medical conditions

Depending on any health or medical conditions that you may have, a firmer or more plush sleep surface might be best for you. Fewer and denser layers may be best for someone who suffers from back pain that seeks a firmer mattress. For those who wish to reduce pressure points because of arthritis, fibromyalgia, shoulder or hip pain, having many comfort layers should give you that cradling comfort you want and need.

Mobility Issues

The profile of a mattress also makes a difference in accessibility to your bed. Remember when you are shopping to consider not only the mattress thickness, but also its combined height with your foundation and frame.

If you experience difficulty getting into bed, search for mattresses that are not so thick. Going beyond a 14-inch mattress is not recommended for someone with mobility issues. No one wants to struggle to get in and out of bed every morning.

If you find a thicker mattress and don’t want to compromise the quality and comfort of your sleep surface, then consider investing in a lower profile mattress base/foundation to even out the height of your bed.

Temperature Control

Typically, a thicker mattress will trap more air and heat throughout the night. That isn’t usually the case in high quality mattresses that feature cooling properties like wool, gel-infused foam, and cut foam designs that increase airflow.

If you find a thicker mattress that you love, double check that is has sufficient cooling properties so that you aren’t waking up hot night after night.

Bedding

Usually an oversight, sheets and bedding sets are not always designed for high-profile thick mattresses. If you end up purchasing a mattress with a thickness above 10 inches, make sure you find ones that are designed for “deep-profile” mattresses or are “deep-pocketed.” This will hopefully remedy the issue of fixing annoying sheets that can barely stay on after a few nights.

Conclusion:

When you are mattress shopping, mattress thickness should be a factor, but there is no need to obsess over the profile range. Shop first for a mattress that meets your support needs and preferences, and then as a reference, see if it falls under the standard mattress thickness for a high quality mattress as a checkmark. But that being said, sometimes that extra inch of foam may not seem worth the splurge, but depending on what you need, it can make a world of the difference in the long run. Our advice? Talk to a sleep expert!