Question About Mattress Thickness: How Thick Should My Mattress Be?

When shopping for a new mattress, people are on the lookout for things like price, materials, firmness level, cooling capabilities, or other technologies that they could benefit from in order to get more comfortable and feel more supported in their favorite sleeping position.

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But something that few people seem to care about is the thickness of the mattress. Is this really important and what is the right thickness level.

How Thick Is a Decent Mattress?

There is no standard answer to this question because everyone has different sleeping needs and body types, so it’s important to ask yourself the right questions because deciding how thick a decent mattress FOR YOU is. There are three things to consider when choosing a mattress thickness: body weight, favorite sleeping position, and special medical/health concerns.

1. Body weight

You will apply more or less pressure to your bed depending on your weight. As a result, you’ll require a different thickness to match your body type and provide optimum comfort and support.

  • Lightweight sleepers are those who weigh less than 130 pounds. They are usually better off sleeping on a 12-inch mattress.
  • Average-weight sleepers weigh between 130 and 230 pounds. They typically require mattresses that measure 10 to 12 inches.
  • Heavyweight sleepers weigh more than 230 pounds. These sleepers need a thicker mattress to support their body weight, usually 14 inches or more.

2. Favorite sleeping position

Your sleeping posture has an effect on the mattress thickness that is optimal for your body. Your sleeping posture dictates your body’s primary pressure points and the amount of contouring necessary for comfort.

  • Side sleepers – They often require a bigger mattress, perhaps 12 to 14 inches thick, with a deep comfort layer to adequately cushion their largest body regions, the hips and shoulders.
  • Back sleepers – They often require a mattress between 10 and 12 inches thick that can keep their spine aligned. The best beds for back sleepers have a thin comfort layer and a thick base.
  • Stomach sleepers – They require the narrowest, firmest mattresses, ranging in thickness from 10 to 12 inches. They require a thin comfort layer and a deep support layer to prevent their hips from sinking and properly maintain their bodies to an aligned position.

3. Medical/health concerns

Individuals with specific medical issues may require thicker or thinner beds to provide enough support and alleviate pain.

If you have fibromyalgia, hip or shoulder discomfort, or arthritis, you may require a thicker mattress (around 12 to 14 inches), which is soft enough to cushion your body and alleviate pain.

Back pain sufferers, on the other hand, often require a thinner and firmer mattress (usually between 10 to 12 inches) to avoid sinkage and accommodate their spine.

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What’s the Difference in Mattress Thickness?

You might have noticed that some mattresses are 8 inches thick, while others are 14 inches. The difference between these two is pretty huge, and it leaves a lot of people wondering where this difference in mattress thickness comes from.

There are a lot of different factors that contribute to the thickness of the mattress, but they all boil down to one thing: construction. Mattress models are constructed differently from one another, so let’s take a look at what sets them apart. 

Comfort layers

When you first lie down on a mattress, your body puts pressure on the comfort layers, which are located at the top, right underneath the cover of the mattress or its pillowtop. Comfort layers basically define how comfortable your mattress is, and their thickness will vary from one manufacturer to another.

Comfort layers are designed to take some of the pressure off your body and based on the materials and their density, they can either allow your body to sink into the bed or push against it, causing you to stay on top of the mattress rather than sink into it. 

The comfort layers of a mattress are composed of different materials, ranging from cotton to memory foam or polyfoam, and are designed to mold to your body’s curves.

Transition layers

Right underneath the comfort layers, some mattress models have what is known as a transition layer. The transition layer is mostly added to act as a buffer between the comfort layers on top of it and the base layer underneath. Not every mattress model has a transition layer, but adding one contributes to making the mattress thicker.

Based on the construction of the mattress, a transition layer can add more comfort to certain body parts, like the hips or shoulders. The thickness of this layer is usually no greater than 2 inches, but there are exceptions to this rule.

Base layers

The base layer, also known as the support layer, is the mattress’s foundation and is typically composed of springs, latex, or polyfoam. This layer should account for at least 50 percent of the thickness of your mattress.

Generally, mattresses with a thick foundation layer are more durable, whereas those with a thinner base layer may sag. Therefore, if your bed is 14 inches deep, you should ensure that the base layer is 6 to 7 inches thick.

Pillow tops

Some mattresses (mostly luxury models) have what is known as a pillow top. A pillow-top is an additional layer of padding material sewed into the mattress’s surface. The majority of pillow-tops are composed of adaptable foam or a variety of other materials that impart a softer feel to the mattress compared to what it would feel like without the layer. 

The phrase “pillow-top” refers to a gusseted layer stitched into the mattress with a visible gap, whereas a “Euro-top” layer is sewed flush with the mattress’s edges for a more uniform appearance. However, both sorts of layers perform the same function.

Why Are Mattresses So Thick Nowadays?

The construction of a mattress has changed a lot over the years. If people used to sleep on spring beds and have the coils poke them in the ribs when the mattress is all worn out, we now have dense upper layers that would never allow these coils to disturb the sleeper.

Mattresses used to have a fairly straightforward construction before branching out into pillow tops and other types of memory foam. And because consumers have gotten more discerning in terms of personal comfort, there are all these new possibilities for thicker mattresses. You definitely need to understand the height variations before you buy, as they are significantly taller now.

Most of the thick mattresses that you will currently find online are luxury and expensive models, and they are thick because they have multiple well thought-of layers, with each playing an important part in delivering comfort to the sleeper.

What Is Considered a Thick Mattress?

Generally speaking, any mattress that has above 12 inches in height is considered a thick mattress. Even if thick mattresses are considered to be luxury items, not everyone can benefit from this particular type of bed.

A mattress that is too thin or too thick might degrade your sleep quality and may have a negative effect on your health. Everyone knows that poor sleep quality can have dire consequences, from microsleep sessions to breakdowns of the immune system. The thickness of your mattress has an effect on your support and comfort when sleeping.

Mattress Thickness Chart

Mattress Thickness Chart

There is a ridiculous number of mattresses out there, so knowing the different thicknesses is only the first step in knowing which to choose. This chart will help you rank mattresses based on their height in both centimeters and inches.

Mattress ThicknessSize in CentimetersSize in Inches
Very thick38.10 cm x 50.8 cm15 to 20 inches
Thick33.02 cm x 35.56 cm13 to 14 inches
Standard25.40 cm x 30.48 cm10 to 12 inches
Low-profile12.70 cm x 20.32 cm5 to 8 inches
Topper2.54 cm x 10.16 cmLess than 4 inches

Mattress Types & Their Thickness

If you think that all mattress types are available in all thickness options, know that the materials used to construct a mattress have limitations when it comes to the mattress profile. Here is some information on the topic:

  • Mattresses with profiles between 4 and 8 inches are usually made with foam and memory foam, with some models being available in a latex construction. However, there are also a few innerspring beds that are super thin, since they are only made with a coil layer and a thin cushioning between the support core and the sleeper.
  • Standard mattresses that measure between 8 and 12 inches are commonly found in all types of materials, such as memory foam, latex, springs, etc. 
  • Mattresses that are thicker than 14 inches are usually hybrids that have a pocketed coil support layer of at least 7 inches, and multiple comfort and transition layers on top of that. Airbed mattresses are also pretty thick, since the air chambers inflate and deflate so that you can adjust the firmness of the bed. 

Pros & Cons of a Mattress Thickness

Most mattresses that are currently available on the market have a thickness between 9 and 12 inches. The differences between these thickness profiles aren’t that important if the mattress is properly constructed. That being said, thickness isn’t always a benefit, but there are a few advantages and drawbacks to choosing a thicker mattress:

  • Pro: Thick mattresses are better for heavyweight individuals because each layer is thicker and is capable of providing support under heavy body pressure while making sure the sleeper gets a decent amount of support. In other words, it’s pretty difficult for a 9-inch mattress to support someone who weighs 250 pounds. 
  • Con: Thick beds are heavy. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you want to clean underneath the bed platform or, for whatever reason, have to move the mattress around, you are most likely going to need the help of at least one more person to move a thick mattress around.
  • Pro: Thicker mattresses usually have a longer lifespan because they won’t sag as fast as thin mattresses. This is especially true because the support core of a thick bed usually measures more than 6 inches, and that means it lasts longer.
  • Con: If, for whatever reason, you have limited mobility, thick mattresses will make it difficult to get in and out of bed. People with mobility problems have a difficult time getting out of bed, so thick mattresses aren’t that suitable for the elderly.

Pros & Cons of a Thin Mattress

Analyzing the pros and cons of a thick mattress can lead us to making the following list of advantages and drawback for a thin mattress, so here it goes:

  • Pro: Thin mattresses are cheaper. In fact, you are much likelier to find a very good mattress under $1,000 if it measures 10 or 11 inches in thickness rather than a good one for the same price, but with a 15-inch profile.
  • Con: They have a shorter lifespan when compared to a thick mattress. The layers that are used to make up a thin mattress are, obviously, thin as well, which makes them likelier to sag faster. Thin mattresses don’t usually last for a full decade.
  • Pro: A thin mattress is compatible even with older bed frames and foundations that might not be able to support the weight of a thick mattress. So, unless you plan on replacing that old wooden bed frame, you should consider investing in a thin mattress. 
  • Con: If you share a bed with another person, a thin mattress might not be able to support the weight of two people for a very long time. In fact, it’s quite likely that the mattress will start sagging in the middle pretty fast. 

Is It Important?

Throughout the years, we’ve seen people care about a lot of different things when it comes to buying a new bed, but rarely have we seen people inquire about thickness. Some of you might wonder if there is indeed a relationship between the height of the bed and the quality of sleep, and we’ll try to answer that for you.

As you know, mattresses aren’t a one-size-fits-all type of product, and something that works for a sleeper might feel terrible to another. The height of the mattress might not be as important as other aspects, but it isn’t something that you want to neglect, especially in the following situations:

  • Placing the mattress on the floor. If you are the type of sleeper that likes to place their mattress on the floor, you will need a thicker mattress. That’s because the floor isn’t the most hygienic or the most temperature-safe place in the room. In fact, placing the mattress on the floor might actually cause you to void the warranty of your bed (some manufacturers clearly state that the warranty of the mattress becomes void if it’s not used with a compatible platform base).
  • Being a heavyweight person. In the next section of this article, we are going to further address the issue of how thick a mattress should be depending on your body weight. Needless to say, the more you weigh, the more the materials inside the bed will compress, which makes the height of the bed a more important factor.
  • Sharing the bed with a partner. Couples that share a bed need to consider the fact that their body weights will add up, which means that a thin mattress might not be able to handle the total weight of two sleepers.
  • Having limited mobility. The height of the mattress will determine how easy it is for people to get in and out of bed. This is a situation that varies from one individual to another, and the height of the right mattress needs to be established depending on what medical condition is responsible for limiting your mobility. You don’t want to make getting in and out of bed a real nightmare.

Body Weight & Mattress Thickness

As we’ve mentioned above, your weight is one of the most important factors that will have a say in what thickness your mattress should have. Here are some general guidelines that might prove useful the next time you go mattress shopping:

  • For the most part, people that weight below 225 pounds won’t need a mattress that’s thicker than nine inches.
  • People who sport between 225 and 275 pounds will need a mattress that measures about 10 inches in height.
  • People that are above the weight of 275 pounds are much better off with a bed that’s at least 12 inches in height.

The truth of the matter is that the thickness of the mattress will also determine its lifespan. As you can imagine, when resting on top of several layers of material, you are more likely to have a bed that lasts for a decade.

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Other Mattress Thickness-Related Considerations

When you stand at the edge of the bed, the soles of your feet have to touch the floor entirely, while the back of your knees should form a perfect 90-degrees angle. That is how you know that your mattress is the right height for you. Of course, you also have to take the height of the foundation into consideration (together with any risers you might have installed underneath the frame).

One particular thing that we still want to address is the matter of mattresses that are too thick/too thin. While the ideal thickness of a bed varies between the 9 and 12-inch intervals, there are mattresses out there that measure six inches in height, while others measure more than 15. Are these mattresses bad?

Well… yes and no. Typically, a mattress that measures six inches in thickness will have a terrible construction, but if it’s designed for a crib or toddler bed, it might be decent. For an adult, having a mattress that’s six inches thin will most likely result in poor support.

As far as really thick mattresses are concerned, it’s all a matter of personal preference. If you find a 15-inch mattress that you really like but happen to find too expensive, there’s most likely a similar one measuring 12 inches in height and available at a better price. We are not saying that thick mattresses aren’t worth the money, but if you’re short on cash, there are alternatives.

Even more, buying a 15-inch mattress is completely justified if you opt for beds that have pillow-tops that add a few inches to the height of the mattress. Pillow-tops are particularly awesome in beds that are designed for side sleepers.

Conclusion

While the right thickness for your future mattress is a number that relies on a variety of different factors, for the most part, people are generally comfortable when paired with beds that have between 9 and 11 inches in thickness.

Keep in mind that there are certain “special cases” that demand a thicker mattress. For instance, people who have a few extra pounds will compress the layers of the mattress and their beds are more likely to sag if the mattress is too thin.  While there is no PERFECT mattress thickness that everyone can turn to and be happy about, a mattress should be thicker if you are heavier (or if you share a bed with a partner). Except for that particular situation, the thickness of a mattress is a very subjective topic.

FAQ 

What is the difference in mattress thicknesses? 

Mattresses can be divided into multiple categories depending on their thickness. A mattress that measures between 2 and 5 inches is a low-profile bed, one that measures between 5 and 8 inches is a slim mattress, beds with a profile between 8 and 12 inches are standard mattress, and measurements above that are considered to be high profiles. 

How thick is a 10 inch mattress? 

A 10-inch mattress is thick enough to support people who sleep on their stomach because they won’t allow too much sinkage into the bed as to prevent the spine from sitting in a position as close to its natural one as possible. A 10-inch mattress is also thick enough to support the spine’s natural curvature.  

What is the depth of a standard mattress?

Standard mattresses have a depth that varies between 8 and 12 inches, so anything within this range is considered to be a thick mattress. 

How thick is the average queen mattress?

The size of the mattress doesn’t really make a difference when it comes to thickness. For instance, if you find a mattress with a construction and thickness that is suitable for you, you have every chance of finding it available in a Queen-size.