The Best Mattress for College Students 2021

Updated on March 3, 2021 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about our affiliate program here.
 

For many college students, the combination of a demanding academic schedule and a busy social life can have a negative impact on sleep. Studies suggest as many as 60% of students don’t receive the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Other factors such as poor sleep hygiene and stress can also contribute to lack of proper rest. For these reasons, the right mattress can make a huge difference for sleep-deprived scholars.

Whether you reside in a dorm or in off-campus housing, your bed serves many purposes while you’re in college. In addition to sleep, you may lie down in your room to study or unwind in the evenings, and you may also share your bed with an overnight guest. New mattresses can be fairly expensive – especially if you’re operating on a student budget – but this isn’t always the case, and many high-quality beds can be shipped directly to your doorstep.

 

Best Mattresses for College Students Buying Guide

Most mattresses sold today fall into four different categories: foam, latex, innerspring, or hybrid. Each type is associated with different features and qualities that appeal to different people based on their body type, primary sleep position, and personal preferences.

Since your college mattress will likely be the first one you purchase on your own, it’s important to research different brands and models to get an idea about price expectations. This will make buying your mattress online an easier, less confusing process.

Important Mattress Considerations for College Students

Type of Mattress: Each type of mattress has distinct features characteristics that will affect your sleep experience. In particular, these categories are defined by the components that make up the comfort layers that cushion your body and the support core stabilizes your mattress. Prices also vary significantly.

Mattress TypeComfort Layer MaterialsSupport Core MaterialsStrengthsWeaknessesTypical Price Range (Queen)
FoamPolyfoam and/or memory foamHigh-density base foamPressure relief
Motion isolation
Sleeping hot
Sinking and losing support over time
$700 to $1,200
LatexLatexLatexDurability
Pressure relief
Less motion isolation
Expensive prices
$1,500 to $2,000
InnerspringThin foamHourglass coilsTemperature regulation
Support and stability
Below-average durability
Low pressure relief
$600 to $1,100
HybridThick foam and/or latexPocketed coilsPressure relief
Temperature regulation
Sleeping hot
Expensive prices
$1,300 to $2,000

Size: If you live in a dorm, then your room should come equipped with a mattress and bed frame. Schools frequently allow students to replace their used, standard-issue mattress with a newer model, but due to space constraints and bed frame limitations, you’ll probably be limited to twin, twin XL, or full sizes. All three of these sizes are best suited to solo sleepers. Twin and full models each measure about 75 inches long, while the twin XL adds 5 extra inches for those who need extra legroom.

In addition to these three sizes, those who live in apartments, houses, and other types of off-campus residences can also opt for a queen, king, or California king mattress – provided their room is large enough. A couple can comfortably share a queen mattress, but king and California sizes offer much more width.

SizeDimensions
Twin38W” x 75L”
Twin XL38W” x 80L”
Full54W” x 75L”
Queen60W” x 80L”
King76W” x 80L”
California King72W” x 84L”

Support: When discussing mattresses, “support” refers to how well (or poorly) a mattress promotes even spinal alignment. Since many students spend their days sitting in rigid classroom chairs or hunched over notes in the library, a supportive mattress can prevent them from waking up stiff and sore.

Firmness: Mattress firmness is largely a matter of personal preference. In general, lightweight individuals and side sleepers favor plusher mattresses, while heavier individuals and stomach sleepers favor firmer mattresses. Average-weight individuals and back sleepers will usually fall somewhere in between.

Motion Isolation: Some mattresses absorb movement better than others, so you and your sleep partner will notice less of a ripple effect across the surface when the other person gets in and out of bed or changes positions during the night. Generally, all-foam mattresses and hybrids with foam layers provide the best motion isolation.

Temperature Regulation: Some people naturally sleep hotter than others and will want a breathable mattress that doesn’t make the problem worse. Some mattress materials promote temperature control better than others. These include comfort layers made of ventilated latex or foam infused with cooling gel, and coil support cores that circulate air throughout the interior. Covers made of cotton or Tencel also tend to sleep cooler than those made from other fabrics.

Value and Price: From tuition and books to food and living costs, college students face a barrage of expenses – and for many, an expensive new mattress will be out of their financial reach. That said, the average mattress performs for about seven to eight years, so choosing a high-quality bed can be a smart investment for the future. Ultimately, you should pick a comfortable, supportive mattress within your budget that you can potentially still use after you finish school.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I buy a mattress?

Most cities and towns have at least one brick-and-mortar mattress store where you can purchase a new bed, but visiting these locations requires you to confine your shopping to store hours. Prices also tend to be somewhat steep at these establishments due to high overhead costs.

By comparison, buying a mattress online is more convenient and less costly. Online mattress brands typically offer free shipping within the lower 48 states and, for an added fee, you can often arrange for couriers to set up the mattress in your residence and haul away your old bed. 

One downside is not being able to try out the mattress before placing your order, but most online mattress brands offer “sleep trials” that allow you to sleep on the bed for a certain length of time. These trials typically last at least 90 nights, but some span a year or longer.

What’s the best mattress for my living arrangement?

Dorm-dwellers and those who live in fraternity or sorority houses should look for a mattress that won’t take up too much floor space – especially if they share a room with someone else. Those who have a bedroom to themselves may have more flexibility when it comes to mattress size and dimensions, but this depends entirely on the available space in their sleep area. 

If you share your bed with a partner, then a queen size or larger is recommended. Twin and twin XL sizes are designed for single sleepers. Full sizes are a bit wider than twin options, but most couples will still feel too crowded. 

Should I buy a used mattress?

Definitely not. Buying a mattress directly from the manufacturer or retailer is always better than purchasing one from an unauthorized third-party seller on sites like Craigslist or Amazon.com. Ordering from brands will ensure the mattress is in good condition, hasn’t been used, and comes with warranty coverage.

Sleep Accessories for College Students

Mattress Pads, Protectors, and Toppers

Mattress toppers and mattress pads are effective at creating a barrier between you and the dorm mattress, which has been slept in by dozens of people before you. Both toppers and pads have their own unique features.

Mattress pads are thin and are made to stay on top of your mattress using elastic straps or by being slotted inside your fitted sheet. They often have some quilting that will slightly change the feel of your mattress, but pads can also protect your sleep area from spills.

Mattress protectors are solely designed to safeguard your mattress against spills, dirt, and stains. They have little to no effect on how your mattress feels. Some protectors have elastic edges to fit over the corners of your mattress much like a fitted sheet, while others fully encase the mattress for added security against dust mites, bed bugs, and other contaminants. 

Mattress toppers, on the other hand, aim to upgrade the feel of your mattress by providing a thicker layer of foam, latex, or other materials commonly used in mattress comfort layers. They are often used as a solution to fix the feel of a bed that doesn’t feel quite right, or which has lost its pressure-relieving abilities. If you don’t like the feel of your mattress but you don’t want to invest a lot of money in a new one, a mattress topper may save the day. Toppers can also be useful for worn dorm mattresses.

Pillows

You may not realize the important role a pillow plays in your sleep quality until you get a good one. The style of pillow that works best for you will depend on your sleeping position, body type, and personal preference. Back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers will each require something different from a pillow.

As a student, you’ll likely spend a lot of time on a laptop, so you’ll want a pillow that provides extra support and reduces neck pain when you’re reading or completing assignments in bed. Composition is another important consideration. Common materials used to fill pillows include memory foam, latex, down and feathers, polyester-based down alternative fibers, and buckwheat hulls. Each of these materials has certain pros and cons related to factors like durability, breathability, pressure relief, and allergy potential.

Lastly, the ideal pillow for a college student will be easy and affordable to clean. Opt for a machine washable pillow if possible. Hand washing your pillow can be a time-consuming affair, and paying for dry cleaning can get expensive.

Sheets and Blankets

Sheets, like pillows, come in many different materials including cotton, linen, flannel, and microfiber. Each of these materials has a different feel, and the longevity of your sheets will depend on the material as well as the quality. Buying a sheet set that includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and pillowcases is often more cost-effective than buying these items individually. Sheet sets for each mattress size are widely available.

If you’re living in a dorm or an apartment without a washing machine, you may want to check how easy it is to clean and dry your sheets so you don’t have to spend all day at the laundromat. Aside from the fun things like the color and pattern, you may want to also check whether your new sheets do a good job of resisting stains and wicking away heat. Most sheets don’t come with a warranty, although some come with a short trial period so you can test them out before committing.

For students living in colder climates, a comforter or duvet will be an essential part of the bedroom. These are essentially the same thing, except that a duvet needs a removable cover. Duvets and comforters can be filled with a range of insulating materials including down, synthetics, and wool, each of which offers pros and cons in terms of warmth, comfort, ease of washing, and price point. If you’re living in a tiny room, you may want to choose a thinner comforter or duvet for easier storage during the summer.

 

What Are the Best Mattresses For College Students?

BrandModelMattress TypeFirmnessPrice (Queen)
NectarFoamMedium firm (6.5)$799
AllswellHybridFirm (8)$375
eLuxFoamMedium firm (6)$430
OkiFlexHybridFirm (7)$550
 

Nectar

Why we like it:

  • 3 memory foam layers for precise body-contouring
  • Good pressure relief for side sleepers
  • Isolates motion and won’t make noise
  • 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty

Nectar logo

Nectar Mattress

The Nectar is ideal for people who enjoy the contouring feel of memory foam. The quilted cover is padded with an inch of gel memory foam, followed by two additional memory foam layers. Although the Nectar excels at conforming, the mattress has a medium firm feel and most people weighing up to 230 pounds won’t sink excessively. A support core of high-density polyfoam offers extra reinforcement.

The top cover is made of moisture-wicking Tencel fabric to help you stay cool, and the bottom cover has a non-slip surface. You can remove the cover whenever it needs to be cleaned. Comparatively, most “bed-in-a-box” models come with non-removable covers.

Like other memory foam models, the Nectar isolates motion very well whenever you share your bed with someone. The mattress is also virtually silent, so you won’t need to worry about waking up your roommate if you live in a dorm.

The Nectar’s price-point is very reasonable given its premium construction. Your order also includes a sleep trial that enables you to test out the mattress for up to an entire year before deciding whether to keep it or return it. You’ll also receive a lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind about your purchase.

 

Allswell

Why we like it:

  • Exceptionally firm and supportive feel
  • Memory foam comfort layer provides even body-contouring
  • Zoned pocketed coils to reinforce the perimeter
  • Very good breathability and temperature regulation

Allswell logo

The Allswell is a great choice for anyone who prefers a firm sleep surface. This hybrid mattress is constructed with a memory foam comfort layer that provides gentle contouring and a support core of individually pocketed coils. You’ll have very little trouble moving across the surface thanks to this bed’s sturdy construction, but the quilted cover padded with an inch of polyfoam adds cushioning to the surface and prevents the mattress from feeling overly stiff.

Hot sleepers should also find the Allswell quite comfortable. The coils circulate air throughout the interior to help keep you cool, and the memory foam is also infused with charcoal and copper gel for added breathability. Edge support is another strong point. Thicker coils are placed along the perimeter to create more push-back when you sleep near the edge or get in and out of bed, so deep sinkage shouldn’t be an issue.

The firm feel of this mattress is best suited to back and stomach sleepers. People who primarily use these positions often feel less support for their torso and hips because we tend to carry a disproportionate amount of weight in these areas, and this can lead to pain or pressure points. The Allswell’s robust coil system should keep these sleepers on an even plane and minimize uncomfortable sinkage. 

While hybrids tend to be fairly expensive, the Allswell is a notable exception. You can also bundle your purchase with other sleep accessories such as a pillow, mattress pad, or duvet insert. Ground shipping is free, and your purchase includes a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty. 

 

eLuxury eLux

Why we like it:

  • Comfortable balance of contouring and support
  • Memory foam alleviates pressure for side and back sleepers
  • Gel-infused comfort layer helps to cool off the surface
  • Great motion isolation and no noise

If you enjoy the cushioning and conforming of an all-foam mattress but also want a supportive feel, then you’re a good candidate for the eLuxury eLux. This medium firm (6) model is constructed with a memory foam comfort layer that molds to the unique contours of your body without hugging too tightly, while denser polyfoam layers reinforce the sleep surface and minimize sagging around your heavier areas.  

The memory foam is infused with cooling gel intended to draw heat away from your body, so the eLux shouldn’t sleep too hot. The cover is also composed of knit jacquard fabric that is quite breathable. If you’ve had uncomfortably warm experiences with other foam mattresses, then the eLux should be a refreshing change of pace. 

Since the mattress has a medium firm feel, it is best suited to people who weigh up to 230 pounds – side and back sleepers in particular. The eLux also isolates motion well and won’t make any noise, so you and your partner can sleep soundly without disturbances.

In addition to a low price-point, the eLux also qualifies for free ground shipping throughout the lower 48 states. eLuxury offers a sleep trial that allows you to test out the mattress for 120 nights before deciding whether to keep it, as well as a 10-year warranty against structural defects. 

 

OkiOki OkiFlex

Why we like it:

  • Memory foam contours evenly to reduce pains and pressure points
  • Foam-encased pocketed coils provide sturdy edge support
  • Cooling fabric to regulate surface temperature
  • 365-night sleep trial

OkiOki Logo

The OkiFlex from OkiOki is another high-quality hybrid mattress with a sticker price that goes easy on the typical college budget. Its comfort layer is made of contouring memory foam and an additional foam layer is placed underneath to reinforce the sleep surface, resulting in decent pressure relief along the spine, but the mattress has a firm (7) feel and won’t hug your body too closely. 

The OkiFlex is particularly well suited to side and back sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds. The coils also reinforce the edges quite well, making it easier to get in and out of bed for those with mobility issues. 

The memory foam is infused with graphite, which has natural cooling properties, and the coils promote airflow throughout the interior. A cover composed of proprietary Ice Yarn fabric also excels at temperature regulation. The OkiFlex should appeal to anyone who sleeps hot or attends school in a warmer part of the country.

The OkiFlex’s approachable price-point and strong performance make the mattress a high-value hybrid. OkiOki also offers a sleep trial that spans 365 nights – one of the longest in the online mattress industry – and backs the mattress with a 10-year warranty that covers excessive sagging and other structural defects.

 

Top picks

1Nectar$799
2Allswell$375
3eLuxury eLux$430
4OkiOki OkiFlex$550
*Prices without discount/promo applied.
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