Mattress Thickness: How Thick Your Mattress Should Be?

Mattress Thickness Guide

Luxury hotels have raised the bar for comfort using thick, elegant, gorgeous beds. We are talking about 12-inch profiles here, thereabouts. But the fact is, thick mattresses do not work for everyone. The standard measurement is pegged between 6 and 9 inches. Within this range, a bed can pretty much accomplish what it was made to do: provide comfort and support to sleepers.

How thick should a mattress be? This question goes beyond what a luxury hotel mattress made you feel while snoozing on it for a few days. To find the right fit, you have to consider several factors. This article simplifies and walks you through the checklist, so you can enjoy mattress shopping without fuss.

Click on the Table of Contents to go to the section that has the information you need or that simply piques your interest. We enumerate the 4 factors to help you determine the right mattress thickness, as well as what affects mattress thickness in the first place.

How Thick Should A Mattress Be?

Personal preferences aside, here are the 4 factors to consider to help you decide whether or not to get a thick mattress.

Weight

As you’ll learn a bit later, there are a couple to several layers that make up your mattress. Now if the top is plush, you are most probably going to sink toward the other layers at a certain depth, depending on your weight. Those who fall on the heavy side are likely to hit the base.

The bottom part should then be strong, solid, and supportive enough to afford you some pushback. To achieve this, the base should be high-density or thick. There should also be 2 or more layers to reinforce support and ease your body into the firmness awaiting at the bottom.

Health

In general, the mattress provides you with therapeutic benefits. The more its qualities match your needs, the better. When it comes to thickness, there is no single correct answer. If you are suffering from pain in your pressure points, such as the shoulders, neck, and back, you need a thick yet soft mattress. It’s as we described above: several layers with the top being plush and the bottom being firm.

If you are required by your doctor to lie on a firm surface, a thinner mattress should do the job. This design has fewer layers to allow you to feel the pushback immediately.

Mobility

Those who have limited mobility lean toward a thin mattress. This is because the mattress has a lower profile, making it easier for them to reach the floor when they get up. We are talking about people with an injury or illness here. So the opportunity to exert as little effort as possible matters a lot to them.

This is also an important factor for small children or petite adults. Climbing a thick mattress every bedtime could feel like scaling the beanstalk like Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk or sleeping unreasonably on a tall bed like the princess in the Princess and the Pea. You have to match the bed height with your height to allow for ease of movement and access.

Height

We’ve talked about this in the article called High vs Low: How High Should Your Bed Be? To know if the bed height you currently have is ideal, sit at the edge of the mattress. If your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are at the same level as your hips, you have the correct height.

If the bed is too low, your knees are higher than your hips. If too high, they’re angled toward the floor. Getting a thicker or thinner mattress than the one you have may be the solution. Otherwise, you can remedy it by using the appropriate bed frame/foundation or a mattress topper.

You need to balance this factor with your height to ensure you won’t be straining your body while getting in and out of bed.

What Affects Mattress Thickness

Layers

Comfort Layer

Usually, comfort is derived from the surface first. This is where the cover and the topmost layer work together to deliver you that blissful feeling when you hit the sack. However, the comfort layer in modern mattresses can refer to the first several layers that provide support, contouring, cooling and temperature regulation, motion isolation, and of course, comfort.

It can be divided into the comfort layer and the support layer. Your comfort layer is usually where the sink or lift is initially experienced. It consists of one or more layers that are comfortable, conforming, and supportive. What follows is the support layer, which can be composed of one or more layers too as it reinforces the contouring and supportive parts.

Support Layer

The support layer, as stated above, is the lower chamber of what we collectively call the comfort layer. However, many mattress manufacturers simply show it separately. So it would be good to let it have its own subsection. But in general, the comfort layer and support layer should be at least 4 inches thick to provide comfort.

Usually, this is the part that supports the surface if the latter is too plush. It can also feature targeted zones that offer pressure point relief. It can be contouring or responsive or both, depending on the materials used. We’ll talk more about the materials in the next section.

Transition Layer

Some mattresses don’t have a transition layer. But those that do may be thicker than their counterparts. The transition layer sits between the base and the previous layers. Mainly, it acts as a buffer that eases you into the bottom part, typically a high-density foam or a heavy-duty spring system. This allows your body to gradually feel the transition from the gentle firm or soft surface to the firm base.

Those that do not have a transition layer may be thinner and thus, firmer. Although you should not automatically assume that a thin mattress does not have a transition layer. 

Base Layer

As its name reveals, this is the layer found at the foundation. It is also called a foundation layer for that matter. It is made of high-density foam or a set of springs. The modern spring system comprises individually encased coils. The base layer is responsible for durability, support, and breathability.

This is what usually gives the mattress its shape and structure. And it’s the thickest individual layer there is. For all the work it has to deliver, it needs to be dense. 

In the case of flippable mattresses, though, you won’t find a literal base. Although either side is strong enough to handle the weight and pressure. But it’s the core layers that balance things out for this kind of bed.

How Thick Your Mattress Should Be

Materials

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are composed of memory foam and other types of foam. And other mattress types, such as hybrids, can have memory foam as their comfort/support layer. No matter the type, you would want the memory foam layer to be thin, as this material is notorious for sleeping warm. As a cushion for an innerspring bed, it should be infused with a cooling component at the least.

Specifically, a good starting point for a memory foam mattress is 10 inches thick. But if you go beyond 14, you should check how much of it is memory foam.

Read our full review of the Best Memory Foam Mattresses in 2019 here.

Latex Foam

Latex foam is more breathable and responsive than memory foam. It has conforming properties, too, but not as body-hugging. You can find latex in hybrids and all-foam mattresses all the time. They also usually mix with other types of foam.

There are two kinds of latex: Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop is denser than Talalay. So you’ll find either as a comfort layer, but the former is preferred as a core or support layer. 

If you have an all-latex model, the mattress can be between 6 and 12 inches thick. Blended latex ones range from 8 to 12 inches.

Polyurethane Foam

Also known as PU foam and polyfoam, polyurethane foam may sound familiar to you because it is a common cushioning material for innerspring mattresses. Polyfoam is also blended with other foam types in all-foam beds. It has a springy feel that isn’t found in memory foam. And unlike latex, this one is made 100% synthetically.

Polyfoam can be resilient, so it is typically used as a base. But you can also find it acting as a comfort or support layer. The thickness of this material often goes together with its density to ensure the durability of the bed.

Spring/Coil

Finally, you have the spring/coil system. This material makes up the base. Often, you will find pocketed coils in modern models. But some still use conventional and low-cost Bonnell ones. The coils are thick and tall under the foam layers, including the cushioning layer in innerspring types.

A few models dish out dual coil systems where the base is composed of an upper and lower sub-layers of coils. In between, there is a material, such as a PU foam, to add thickness to the layer. 

In hybrids, you’ll come across 7 inches of spring (length, as thickness, is measured in gauge). Innersprings may have 7 or more inches. 

Complement your reading with this guide on how to find the perfect mattress for you.

Benefits of A Thick Mattress

Comfort and support for heavy individuals remain the top reason people go for a thick mattress. Thick layers can withstand weight and pressure, preventing the comfort layers from compressing all the way down. This also works for co-sleepers. The added weight and pressure may produce sagging in a thinner mattress. But a thicker bed can feel comfortable and supportive enough for both sleepers. The tall profile also enhances a sense of security.

Another reason would be durability. Packed with more layers and materials, the bed can bump up support where needed. The base is made up of either a high-density foam or a spring system. Top and core layers contain several layers, each with its own task to perform. This makes the mattress stronger to endure daily wear and tear. 

People who are pregnant or suffering from a condition need enhanced comfort and support present in a thick mattress. It definitely delivers reliable performance for those who are prone to back, neck, and shoulder pain. There is more room for manufacturers to include targeted zone support in a thick mattress. Plus tall profile helps mothers-to-be get in and out of bed easily.

Downsides of A Thick Mattress

On the other hand, people with limited mobility may find it easier to get in and out of a thinner mattress. Moving their joints and legs may be hard for some of them. A thin mattress can help them reach the floor quickly when they need to empty their bladder at night. But a thick bed will only pose problems in this kind of situation.

Aside from further limiting mobility, a thick mattress can also prevent you from redesigning the room or cleaning the bed. The latter is important in keeping your mattress safe and healthy. Mattress cleaning requires you to lift it, flip or rotate it, and even take it outside the room. This is hard to do alone, so a thick mattress is not recommended for solo sleepers.

Read our complete guide on How to Clean A Mattress.

Lastly, those extra layers entail additional costs. A thick mattress is often marketed as premium, so expect it to be pricier than its thinner counterparts. Those who are on a tight budget may find this part difficult to contend with. Should you really need to buy a thick mattress, check out if the manufacturer is offering to finance through a third party company.

Conclusion

We just walked you through the factors you need to consider when choosing mattress thickness. We cannot emphasize enough how important these are. Not because a mattress is thick doesn’t mean it is the right one for you. And what is a truly thick mattress anyway?

As we mentioned, the standard size is between 6 and 9 inches for all mattresses. But each type follows its own standard thickness as well. At 10 inches, a mattress can start to feel thick. This is where manufacturers begin their high-profile offerings. At around 12 inches, you can really feel the elevation. But 14 inches may already feel too thick for comfort. 

Knowing all these details, you are now ready to decide whether or not to buy a thick mattress. If you are on the affirmative end, what made you go for a thick mattress? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

For more information on mattresses and sleep, go to phatfusion.net.

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