Best Mattresses for College Students

Updated on September 21, 2020 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about our affiliate program here.
 

So, you’re off to college! Congratulations! The first time living on your own is an exciting time when you’ll make many new friends, learn a lot about yourself, and spend most of the time chronically sleep-deprived.

That’s right – studies show that up to 60% of college students don’t get the 7-9 hours of quality sleep they need every night. College students are barraged by a variety of both avoidable and unavoidable factors that mess with their sleep. Energy drinks, blue light from screens, alcohol use, noisy roommates, social schedules or early-morning classes that disturb their sleep schedule, a part-time job, and exam stress all affect the quality of their sleep, which in turn affects their ability to concentrate. Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality in college students have been linked with lower GPA, anxiety and depression, suicidal feelings, obesity, and a host of other factors. One solution is investing in a comfortable mattress, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep and help you take advantage of the few hours you do have to catch a few winks.

The bed is the most important thing in your room in college. You’ll use it for sleep, for sex, and probably for studying and watching Netflix too, so it’s important to find a mattress that’s comfortable for all these activities. However, if you’re subsisting off instant noodles and googling “how much will they pay me for my kidney,” you might not be that enthusiastic about forking out a mint for your new mattress. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best mattresses for college students, all five of which offer great value for money. All of these are bed-in-a-box mattresses that can be shipped right to your front door in a convenient box for easy set-up.

What Are the Best Mattresses For College Students?

BrandModelMattress TypeFirmnessPrice (Queen)
Best OverallThe Casper MattressMemory FoamMedium-firm (6.5)$1,095
Best Memory FoamThe Nectar MattressMemory FoamMedium-firm (5.5-7.5)$799
Best LatexLatex for Less MattressLatex2 choices: medium (5.5) or firm (8)$1,399-$1,449
Best HybridSaatva MattressInnerspring Hybrid3 choices: Plush Soft (3), Luxury Firm (5-7), Firm (8)$1,099
 

Casper – Best Overall Pick

Why we like it:

  • Free shipping and returns in the contiguous U.S. and Canada
  • Sleeps cool
  • Zoned support
  • More than 17,000 reviews with an average of 4.5
  • 100-night sleep trial

Casper Logo

The Casper Mattress

The original Casper mattress is one of the most famous bed-in-a-box mattresses on the market. An all-foam mattress that stands at 12 inches tall, the Casper has 4 layers of foam in total.

The top layer is made of breathable open-cell comfort foam, followed by a layer of high-density (HD) memory foam for pressure relief. Under this is a zoned transition foam that facilitates proper spinal alignment, with plush foam under the shoulders and legs for pressure relief and firmer foam under the core and hips for better support. The base of the mattress is a durable support foam.

The Casper mattress is backed by a 10-year warranty and 100-night sleep trial. It’s available in all the regular sizes and the foams used are CertiPUR-US® certified to be low in volatile organic compound emissions (VOCs). The mattress works with most foundations.

This mattress is medium-firm, around a 6.5 out of 10 with 10 being the firmest. This should provide the right balance of support and pressure relief for most students. The resilient top layer is conducive to sex and switching sleeping positions. The mattress also has good edge support, perfect if you spend a lot of time sitting on the edge of your bed in your tiny dorm room.

 

Nectar – Best Memory Foam

Why we like it:

  • 365-night sleep trial and forever warranty
  • Good for side sleepers
  • Quiet
  • Dust-mite resistant and washable cover

Nectar logo

Nectar Mattress

The Nectar mattress is an all-foam mattress with 4 layers of foam. The quilted cover is padded with an inch of gel memory foam that sleeps cool. This is followed by a comfort layer with 3 inches of medical-grade memory foam with a density of 3.5 PCF. Next is a transitional layer of foam with a higher resilience so you don’t feel like you’re sleeping in quicksand, and finally a base layer of high-density polyfoam with a density of 2.2 PCF.

The top cover is made of moisture-wicking Tencel fabric, and the bottom cover has a non-slip surface. The materials used in the Nectar mattress are CertiPUR-US® and OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certified.

Nectar ranks around a 6.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale. It’s popular with side sleepers, many of whom find that the thick layers of memory foam help alleviate pressure points.

Since it’s an all-foam mattress, the Nectar makes virtually no noise, which is perfect if you’re moving around and don’t want to wake up your roommate. The top cover is removable for easier maintenance. The Nectar mattress comes in all the standard sizes and the box has convenient handles for easier maneuvering.

 

Latex For Less – Best Latex

Why we like it:

  • Eco-friendly
  • 120-night sleep trial and free shipping & returns in the contiguous U.S.
  • Made in the U.S.
  • 20-year warranty
  • Great bounce

Latex for Less Logo

Latex for Less mattress

Today’s students are ever more environmentally conscious, and that’s where the Latex mattress by Latex for Less comes in. This mattress is made from natural ingredients including 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and 100% natural wool from California, for an environmentally friendly mattress at an affordable price. The materials in the mattress are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), OEKO-Tex Standard 100, and Eco-Institut certified.

What sets the Latex mattress apart is the multiple options it offers. You can choose between a 9-inch tall mattress or a 7-inch tall mattress (when it comes to tiny dorm rooms, every inch counts!). The mattress is also flippable, with a medium side and a firm side.

Both mattresses have a cover made of stretched organic cotton, with a ½ inch natural wool fire barrier on the top and bottom of the mattress. This wool has no added chemicals, and it helps regulate body temperature.

The 7-inch mattress has a single internal layer of firm Dunlop latex with a density of D85. This layer is 6 inches tall and has an indentation load deflection (ILD) of 36.

The 9-inch mattress has a 6-inch layer of Dunlop latex, plus a 2-inch layer of natural Talalay latex. This layer of latex is lighter, with a density of N2 and an ILD of 19 for a medium firmness feel. Either side can be used as the top of the mattress, depending on whether you want a medium or firm mattress.

The Latex mattress is backed by a 20-year warranty. It comes in all the standard sizes. Latex is naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial and latex mattresses are also highly resilient, making them good for sex and for moving around in bed. This Latex mattress will provide excellent pressure relief so you can get the rest you need for your body to recover overnight.

 

Saatva – Best Hybrid

Why we like it:

  • Luxury mattress for an affordable price
  • Firmness and height options
  • Free White Glove delivery and old mattress removal
  • 120-night sleep trial

Saatva logo

Saatva mattress

Saatva is another well-known name in the online mattress industry. The Saatva mattress is a bit of an anomaly. Unlike most beds-in-a-box, this is a full-on innerspring mattress that is shipped right to your door. Because it can’t compress like a foam mattress, every order comes with free White Glove delivery and old mattress removal.

Saatva’s spin is that the company provides a luxury mattress for a fraction of the price, so with any luck, you’ll find this is one investment that will stay with you well past your college years.

The mattress comes in three firmness options: Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm. These rank a 3, a 5-7, and an 8 on the firmness scale, respectively.

The Saatva mattress is 14.5 inches tall, but it also comes in an 11.5-inch version in case you prefer a slimmer build. There is no significant difference in feel.

Two layers of coils make up the bulk of the Saatva mattress. On top is a layer of 14.5-gauge pocketed coils, which limit motion transfer and allow for airflow. The support core is built with 13-gauge coils made of tempered steel. The mattress also has additional support for the lumbar zone in the form of an active wire, plus a memory foam layer between the two layers of coils.

The Saatva mattress has a luxury Euro pillow top with an organic cotton cover, plus a dual perimeter edge support system made of firm foam. It comes in all the standard sizes and is backed by a 15-year non-prorated warranty.

 

Best Mattresses for College Students Buying Guide

Mattresses come in four main types: innerspring, memory foam, latex, and hybrid. While some types are generally cheaper than others, prices can vary widely depending on the materials used, the design, and many other factors.

When choosing a mattress for college, you’ll probably be looking for a budget-friendly mattress that helps you get the rest you need so you can live your academic and social life to the fullest. This is probably the first time you’re choosing your own mattress, so it’s important to do some research before buying your mattress online.

Important Mattress Features for College Students

  • Size: Your dorm room may already come with a mattress, but many dorms let you replace this mattress if you like – be sure to check the criteria for approved mattresses before you buy one. Most dorm beds will have twin XL beds, which are slightly longer than twin beds. If you’re staying in your own room off-campus, you’re free to choose any size mattress you like. Students in smaller rooms may want to opt for a twin bed that won’t take up too much space, but don’t forget that most mattresses last around 8 years. If you want to invest in a mattress that you can use after college as well, it might be a better idea to get a queen or a king size. Many students successfully use loft beds or Murphy beds in order to maximize space and their sleeping surface. Below is a list of dimensions for the most common mattress sizes.
SizeDimensions
Twin39” x 75”
Twin XL39” x 80”
Full54” x 75”
Queen60” x 80”
King76” x 80”
California King72” x 84”
  • Support: Hopefully you’re not suffering from chronic back pain yet, although no shortage of students will know the pain of spending all day hunched over their study notes during the exam period. Look for a mattress that keeps your spine aligned while you sleep so you don’t wake 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: If you plan to be sleeping by yourself, then motion isolation isn’t really an issue. But once you start sharing the bed, you’ll be glad to have a mattress where your partner’s movements don’t wake you up at night. If you want a mattress with minimal motion isolation, head for an all-foam mattress or a mattress with pocketed coils.
  • 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, such as innerspring, latex, or gel-infused memory foam, will sleep cooler than others.
  • Value and Price: College students face so many expenses, from tuition to food to rent, that buying a mattress isn’t likely to be allotted a very big budget. Add to this the fact that you may only anticipate staying in your room for a year before having to move to another room, and it becomes obvious that it will be important to find a mattress that’s friendly on your pocket. On the other hand, if you’re investing in a mattress for off-campus housing that you might keep for years, you might want to splurge on a better-quality product. It’s all about finding a balance so you can get a sound sleep without breaking the bank.

Additional Sleep Considerations for College Students

While every student is different and will have their own unique needs and priorities, there are several factors that are common to most college students. Don’t forget to consider these factors before deciding on a mattress for college.

  • Sleep Habits: Study workloads, busy social schedules, social media and other factors conspire to take up all your time and make you so stressed out that you have trouble getting the sleep you need. We realize it’s not that easy. You know that blue light makes it harder to fall asleep, but you feel you’ve earned an episode or two on Netflix to wind down after a stressful day of studying. You know you should be getting more sleep, but you also know that sleeping a full 8 hours doesn’t leave time to do homework and study for exams. One thing you can do to help combat the sleep problems typical of many college students is getting a great mattress.
  • Athletes: If you’re a student-athlete, chances are you’re dropping into bed exhausted from training. You’ll need a mattress that can provide pressure relief and support so your muscles can recuperate to the fullest. Football players and other bigger athletes, especially, will need a very supportive mattress.
  • Multi-tasking: If your room is small and you have nowhere comfortable to sit, your bed will have to do double duty. Although we strongly recommend against it, chances are that at some point your mattress will be used for studying or watching Netflix. If you foresee this happening, make sure you get a mattress with good edge support so you don’t fall off while sitting on the bed.
  • Convenience: You have enough to think about during the first week of college, so you’ll want to choose a mattress that ships to your door and is easy to set up – perhaps even one that can be installed right on your floor if needed.
  • Trial period and warranty: It’s impossible to judge a mattress before your body has had time to adjust to it by sleeping on it for a few weeks. Choosing a mattress with a longer sleep trial will give you more time to decide if you like it or not, so you’re not feeling pressured to return it right during midterms or final exam period. Likewise, a longer warranty will give you peace of mind in knowing that any manufacturing defects will be taken care of.

Sleep Accessories for College Students

Mattress Toppers and Mattress Pads

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 their main purpose is to protect the mattress from spills.

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.

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.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a pillow. As a student, you’re likely spending a lot of time on your laptop, so you’ll want a pillow that gives you proper support for fighting neck pain. You may also be using the pillow to prop yourself up while studying, so there’s that to consider as well.

Pillows come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Some of the most common materials are memory foam, shredded memory foam, down and down alternatives, foam, latex, and buckwheat. Like with mattresses, the price points vary according to material and make. Allergy sufferers will want to steer clear of down and feather pillows. Pillows can last for years, so you may want to consider investing in a good one.

Blankets and Bedding

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. Most companies make sheets, fitted sheets, and pillowcases tailored to fit each mattress size. 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.

Mattress Protectors and Covers

A mattress protector is a thin fitted sheet, usually waterproof or water-resistant, that protects your mattress from spills and bodily fluids. Since we all know dorm beds get used for more than just sleeping, it’s nice to put up a shield between you and the traces of the previous occupant. And if you’ve bought a brand-new mattress all to yourself, you’ll be thankful for your mattress protector when you spill your energy drink on it during finals. You’ll be doubly thankful when you realize that the mattress protector has saved you from voiding the warranty!

Mattress protectors and covers can be zippered or fit like a fitted sheet. Cheaper ones will feel like you’re sleeping on plastic, but there are also more high-end ones that are breathable or even a little quilted. In addition to protecting against stains, mattress protectors help prevent dust mites and dead skin cells from working their way into your mattress, which will help sleepers with allergies and will increase the longevity of your mattress.

 

Top picks

1Casper – Best Overall$1,095
2Nectar – Best Memory Foam$799
4Latex for Less – Best Latex$1,399
5Saatva – Best Hybrid$1,099
*Prices without discount/promo applied.
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