Bed Sizes: How to Pick the Right Mattress Size

Bed Sizes: How to Pick the Right Mattress Size

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Is there some trick to choosing the right mattress size? Not really, but there are some things you should keep in mind during your decision making.

Good sleep is the cornerstone of good health and our beds are are the tools we need to get it. If a mattress isn’t up to par, your sleep won’t be either. Determining the right mattress size for you is one step on the path to better rest.

What is the size difference between a king size bed and a twin bed? What mattress size is best for a person my height and weight? You will find the answers to these mattress-size questions and more in this handy guide.

How to Choose the Right Bed Size

If you are getting ready to buy a bed, you want to make sure you get the right size. The last thing you want is to settle into your bed, only to want a bigger one. Or, you may find your mattress is too large for your furnishing. There are several things you should consider to make sure you get the right bed size for your needs.

Making the Mattress Size Decision

Number of sleepers on the mattress – How many people will be using your bed? While that is nobody’s business but you’re own, you do want to make sure there is room for everyone. If you have pets or kids who sometimes share your sleep space, figure them into your bed size considerations and give them ample room. 

Height of sleepers – You don’t want your head and feet hanging over the footboard. The mattress should be at least six inches longer than the height of the tallest sleeper using the bed. If you are buying the mattress for a child, think about how much they may grow during the life of the mattress. A mattress should last at least seven years, if you plan it right you can get that and more without outgrowing the mattress. 

Width of sleepers – Bumping elbows with your partner will be distracting for both of you. To make sure your bed is wide enough for both of you, there is a test you can do. Lie down as you normally would and place your hands behind your head. If you don’t bump elbows or hang beyond the mattress edge, your mattress is big enough. 

Weight of sleepers – If one of the people using your bed is over 200 pounds, you should get a mattress with a 10” profile, at least. Heavier people will sink into a mattress more than lighter ones. If the mattress is too thin, there isn’t enough mattress to support a heavier person well and they can bottom out. Even without completely bottoming out, the comfort of the mattress will be compromised if compressed under too much weight. 

Bedroom size – How big is the room the bed is going in? Make sure you have at least 22 inches clearance around the frame so you can comfortably walk around it without bumping into it or items on the wall. Take a tape measure and see which beds will fit with all your other bedroom furniture. Getting a mattress that is too big for the room is a common and problematic mistake. The extra time spent measuring the space could save a lot of money and heartache. 

Type and size of frame or furnishing – Bedroom furnishings come in all shapes and sizes. Take measurements of your bed, the headboard and other necessary parts of the furnishing to make sure it will fit into your frame. Keep the mattress height in mind as you do. You don’t want to have to ship your mattress or furnishing back. By taking a few measurements first, you can avoid the headache of return shipping. 

Doors, elevators and walkways – How will the mattress get to your bedroom? You need to make sure you can get it where it needs to be. Measure your doors and walkways and factor in the mattress dimensions and weight. Keep in mind some beds, like innersprings, cannot be folded or bent, so don’t plan on squeezing too hard through spaces. 

Some internet bed companies ship their mattresses compressed in a box, which is easy to carry and fit through small spaces. Once the box is in the bedroom and opened, a mattress unfurls in a matter of minutes. These “mattress unboxings” are actually popular posts on Youtube. People record themselves unpacking their mattresses for others to watch. It is an interesting sight if you haven’t seen it before. 

Mattress Dimensions

While every mattress is different, there are some industry standards when it comes to size. Here are the mattress dimensions you are likely to see when shopping. 

Bed SizeWidth MeasurementLength Measurement
Twin38 to 39 inches75 inches
Extra Long twin38 to 39 inches80 inches
Full/Double54 inches75 inches
Queen60 inches80 inches
King76 to 78 inches80 inches
California King72 inches84 inches

As you can see, the main variations are in the width measurements, which double from twin size at 38 inches to king size at 76 inches. Split king beds are actually made by using two twin XL beds side by side. Mattress lengths are between 75 inches and 84 inches, though most are 80 inches.

Mattress Sizes

In this section we take a closer look at each mattress size by name. You are probably familiar with most of these bed sizes, but some may be new to you. Take a look to see which mattress size is best for you and the people you are shopping for.

Twin Bed

The twin size bed is perfect for a single person, adult or child. Many of us spent our younger years on a twin bed. These mattresses are the smallest and therefore the least expensive. If you are much taller than 5’6”, you may want to try a twin XL bed.

Twin XL Bed

The most common choice for dormitory rooms, twin XL beds are about 5” longer, and sometimes a little wider than the average twin bed. If you are worried that a twin bed may be too short, or just feel like reliving your college years, a twin XL is perfect. You may want to try a regular twin and an XL to see which feels right. 

Full Size Bed

Also called a double, the full size bed is popular for couples and individuals. It offers enough room for two, though each person only has about the same room as the average crib. For a single sleeper who tosses and turns a lot, the full size bed is a good choice. If you’re looking for a full size bed, you shouldn’t have trouble finding one. They are one of the most widely available mattress size options on the market.  

Queen Size Bed

Queen size beds are the most popular choice for both couples and single sleepers. They provide more head and elbow room than a double, but are also a little more expensive. Couples have room to move around and spread out comfortably on a queen size bed. Those who like more elbow room should try a king or California king. 

King Size Bed

The aptly named king size bed is the biggest of all the mattress sizes. California king beds are longer, but more narrow, giving king size beds about three more square feet of sleep surface. Couples have plenty of room to toss and turn during the night without hitting each other. These are for large bedrooms only, so make sure you have enough room.

California King Bed

Slightly longer and narrower than a king size bed, California kings offer almost the same amount of sleeping surface. They are great for people or couples who are taller than average and like a lot of room.

The Right Bed for You

Before you head out to the store or login to that mattress website, think about what your needs are. Beds can easily cost five figures or more, but you don’t need to spend that much.  Quality sleep is vital for our health. We spend a third of our lives asleep, usually on a mattres. There is much to be gained by taking some time to consider your purchase carefully. You can save hundreds of dollars and improve the quality of your life. 

Measure your space and think about the people who will be using the bed. Do you need a new foundation? If you are upgrading in size, you will need a new foundation for your bed, also. See which types of foundations are best for your bed. Some may not work well on a box spring and other may require them. Warranties can be voided if you don’t use the right foundation. Ask the retailer which foundation is best for your bed. 

Mattress size is an important aspect to consider when looking for a bed. If you get the wrong size, it can cost you time, money and precious sleep. It takes a little time, but you should take all the necessary considerations into mind before choosing a bed size.


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