How to Select the Ideal Mattress Thickness

Mattress thickness is a critical decision that has a significant impact on your overall well-being and sleep quality. Maintaining proper spinal health, pressure point relief, and body alignment all depend on having the proper mattress thickness. Individual differences in size, sleeping position, bed size, and number of partners all influence the ideal mattress thickness. Making the right choice when it comes to this important decision will depend on your understanding of the factors involved in choosing the proper thickness for your mattress.

Mattress Thickness

Mattress Thickness Sizes

Mattresses come in a range of average sizes and thicknesses, ranging from low profile to extra thick. Even though all of these mattresses have their uses, most consumers will opt for a middle-range model, saving the edge cases for unique situations.

2-5 inches: Low Profile Mattress

Low profile mattresses are the thinnest mattresses available. They are commonly used in temporary bedding arrangements such as trundle beds, fold-away beds, and air mattresses. Low profile mattresses can be used as temporary bedding for small children but are not supportive enough for adults to sleep comfortably.

5-8 inches: Slim Profile

Slim profile mattresses are another thin mattress option for children’s bedding or people with mobility issues. These mattresses are made of dense foam with no additional layers for plushness. This makes them supportive but not soft. Some of the most supportive slim profile mattresses are made using memory foam that forms to the sleeper’s body. Slim profile mattresses are ideal for trundle beds, bunk beds, daybeds, and guest rooms where space saving is more important than comfort.

8-12 inches: Standard Profile

The majority of people will choose a mattress with a standard thickness of 8 to 12 inches. With an adequate base layer and comfort layer, this thickness provides both support and comfort. This is the minimum mattress thickness recommended for adults, as it allows most adults weighing 130-230 pounds to sleep supported and comfortably. This size mattress is best suited for back sleepers, but it will also accommodate side and stomach sleepers.

12-16 inches: Thick/Deep Profile

Thick profile mattresses contain multiple layers of foam that provide added comfort and support. Hybrid and multi-layered construction is common in thick mattresses. This can help heavier sleepers or side sleepers find comfort and support. These thicker mattress profiles have a more complicated construction process and contain more material, making them more expensive than standard mattresses. However, the price may be worth it if you require more sleeping support and intend to keep the mattress for many years.

More Than 16 inches: Extra Thick/Deep Profile

Extra thick mattresses have multiple layers for maximum support and comfort. These mattresses are most beneficial to people who weigh more than 230 pounds or who require extra relief at specific pressure points. This mattress thickness offers plenty of contouring and support, making it ideal for side sleepers. These thick mattresses are extremely heavy due to their multiple layers. This means that they are more expensive to ship and difficult to move. Extra thick mattresses are also the most costly mattress choice.

Factors That Influence the Mattress Thickness

A mattress is made up of several layers, each of which contributes to its comfort, durability, and support. The thickness of each of these layers varies, resulting in the wide range of mattress thickness sizes available. Mattress layers include a support layer, a comfort layer, and a transition layer. Thinner mattress options consist of just one layer. A standard mattress has at least two layers, and many high-quality and hybrid models have three.

Support Layer

The support layer is the bottom layer of any mattress and the only layer on some types of mattresses. This layer helps to maintain proper spinal and body alignment, which guarantees restful sleep. Coils and foam are the two primary types of support layers. Coils and foam are combined in certain hybrid mattress types.

The support layer of any mattress should be at least 5-6 inches thick, though in high-quality mattresses, this number will be closer to 50% of the total mattress thickness. This will ensure that the mattress is sufficiently supportive and does not wear out after a few years of use. Low profile mattresses provide little support because they are often just a layer of foam.

Comfort Layer

The comfort layer provides plushness to the mattress. This often consists of cotton, wool, or poly-foam layers that provide pressure point relief. Comfort layers should be at least 2-3 inches thick. Some mattress types may include thicker layers to incorporate specialized technologies such as temperature regulation or motion isolation. Mattresses with thicker comfort layers feel plusher, while those with thinner comfort layers feel firmer.

Transition Layer

The transition layer is not present in every mattress. This is a layer in specialized mattress varieties to enhance features in specific regions like the head, shoulders, back, hips, and feet. This allows the user to purchase a mattress that meets their specific needs in terms of support and pressure distribution, breathability and coolness, and motion isolation.

Considerations When Choosing a Mattress Thickness

The proper mattress thickness is determined by a number of personal factors and preferences.

Body Weight

Body weight is a significant factor in determining mattress thickness because it directly impacts how much support you need to get a good night’s rest.

  • Lightweight Sleepers (under 130lbs): Lightweight adult sleepers may find that standard mattresses in the lower ranges provide adequate support, as they do not exert as much pressure on the mattress.
  • Average Sleepers (130-230lbs): Standard mattresses between 10-12 inches in height work well for most average sleepers, providing a good balance of comfort and support.
  • Heavyweight Sleepers (Over 230lbs): Thicker mattress sizes are often required by heavyweight sleepers because they provide more robust support cores and ample cushioning for pressure relief and good spinal alignment.
  • Couples with Different Body Weights: Partners with different body weights should find a compromise that works for both of them. A mattress thickness of 10-12 inches works well because it provides adequate support for heavy sleepers while not being too thick for lightweight sleepers.

Sleep Position

The way that you sleep impacts which parts of your body need support and which areas need pressure relief.

  • Side Sleepers: Side sleepers put pressure on their shoulders and hips when they sleep, so they typically need a thicker mattress or at least a thicker comfort layer. Side sleepers require at least a 10-14 inch thick mattress, depending on their body weight, to support optimal sleep.
  • Back Sleepers: Back sleepers require additional support in the lower back, just above the buttocks. To promote proper spinal alignment, look for a mattress that is at least 10-12 inches thick with an ample cushion layer that follows the natural curvature of the spine.
  • Stomach Sleepers: Stomach sleepers require firm support to keep their midsections from sinking into the bed and causing back pain. Standard mattresses in the 8-10 inch range provide sufficient support and comfort.
  • Combination Sleepers: People who switch between sleeping positions require a mattress thickness that strikes a balance between comfort and support. A standard 10-12 inch mattress has enough of both to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Health Considerations

You may require more support or pressure relief in certain areas of your body for specific health needs such as joint pain, back pain, sleep apnea, or pregnancy. It is worth considering a specific mattress thickness for chronic conditions that may help alleviate your symptoms. A new mattress would not be the best use of your resources for short-term health needs. Temporary solutions, such as extra pillows or a supportive mattress cover, may provide some quick relief.

Bed Frame

The mattress’s thickness may vary depending on the bed frame you select. For low profile beds to look proportionate, the mattress must be thinner. Higher beds can accommodate thicker mattresses while remaining proportionate. Some specialty beds, such as trundle beds or Murphy beds, require a specific mattress thickness to store properly.


The effect of mattress thickness on sleep can be greatly influenced by age. Little ones can sleep on slim profile mattresses with ease, but as they get older, they will require more support. Seniors have a range of needs, depending on their individual circumstances. Some people prefer thinner standard mattresses with minimal additional padding because they find firm mattresses easier to move around on. Thick mattresses are a better option for those who desire additional support for their joints.


Thicker mattresses feature additional material and often specialized layers for temperature control, movement isolation, and pressure relief that increase the cost significantly. This makes thick and extra thick mattresses the most expensive mattress options.

Personal Preferences

Everybody has different ideal sleep needs, regardless of age, weight, or health needs. The ideal mattress thickness for you will depend greatly on your personal preferences. While some individuals find that they sleep better on top of the mattress, others would rather sink into it.

Partner Considerations

Sharing a mattress will influence your mattress thickness selection because more weight necessitates a more supportive mattress. A thicker mattress will provide more support for the additional weight while also ensuring that the mattress lasts longer.

Other factors that may influence your mattress selection with a partner include their preferences, sleeping position, weight, and health concerns.