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If you’re a college student in the market for a new mattress, the task may seem as simple as testing out a few at a local mattress store. However, once you start researching the best mattress for you, you’ll soon realize just how many factors there are to consider.

This article highlights some top tier mattresses for college students and the important factors to keep in mind before making your decision.

When looking for the best mattresses for college students, there are a few things we kept in mind:

  • safety of the mattress (regarding federal flammability requirements)
  • company policies for returns, refunds, and in-home sleep trials
  • reputation and longevity of the company
  • customer reviews (especially from college students and users of twin XL mattresses)
  • any certifications given to the company or specific mattress

Pricing guide

Prices in this article are based on twin XL mattresses since that’s the size most commonly found in dorm rooms. If you’re living off-campus and you’re looking for a bigger bed, prices will vary.

  • $ = under $800
  • $$ = $800–$1,000
  • $$$ = over $1,000

Best innerspring mattress for college students

Saatva Classic Mattress

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: innerspring
  • Height: 11.5 or 14.5 inches (in.)
  • Firmness: plush soft, luxury firm, or firm
  • Trial length: 365 nights

The Saatva Classic Mattress is a luxury innerspring available in two heights, both featuring CertiPUR-US certified memory foam and Saatva’s spinal zone technology.

The middle zone of the mattress is reinforced with more support, which is designed to help keep your spine in proper alignment and alleviate pressure on your low back. The mattress is apparently so back-friendly that the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations awarded it a seal of approval.

The Saatva Classic Mattress has a 3-inch Euro pillow top, foam rails to help prevent the edges from sagging, individually pocketed coils, a memory foam layer, and a base of more coils. Customers can choose their level of firmness: plush soft, luxury firm, or firm.

Saatva offers free white-glove delivery, a lifetime warranty, and a 365-night trial.

Pros

  • choice of height and firmness
  • comes with a 365-night home trial
  • hand-delivered and assembled for you

Cons

  • high price point
  • lacks the convenience of the bed-in-a-box model
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Best budget mattress for college students

Nectar Memory Foam Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Type: foam
  • Height: 12 in.
  • Firmness: medium firm
  • Trial length: 365 nights

Nectar conducted a survey of mattress owners to rank the comfort of their mattress, depending on which position they sleep in. The Memory Foam Mattress, which has a medium-firm feel, received high marks for all sleeping positions — especially people who experience back pain.

Nectar highlights the cooling features of this mattress, like the quilted mattress topper and gel foam. The gel memory foam is also designed to help reduce the feeling of being jostled at night if you share your bed with a partner who moves around.

Plenty of college students have voiced their positive opinions in the reviews, praising the cooling cover and the quality of sleep they’re getting.

Nectar offers a lifetime warranty and a 365-night home trial, but those perks don’t mean it breaks the bank. In fact, it’s the most budget-friendly pick on our list.

Pros

  • suitable for all sleeping styles
  • very generous 365-night home trial and warranty

Cons

  • not all sleepers enjoy the hugging sensation of memory foam
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Best boxed mattress for college students

Casper Original Mattress

  • Price: $$
  • Type: foam, hybrid
  • Height: 11 in.
  • Firmness: medium firm
  • Trial length: 100 nights

This mattress comes rolled up in a box straight to your door. Casper highlights the supportive and cooling features of the Original Mattress and says their mattress covers are made from recycled bottles.

The mattress has three zones of support with softer foam around the upper body and firmer foam around the lower body. The top layer of the mattress features a breathable foam, designed with tiny holes to filter away hot air and body heat. Plus, it’s made with CertiPUR-US certified foams.

Casper offers a 10-year warranty, a 100-night trial, and free shipping and returns.

Pros

  • convenient bed-in-a-box model
  • designed for ergonomic support and breathability
  • CertiPUR-US certified

Cons

  • high price point
  • all-foam design may not be supportive enough for people with more weight
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Best gridded foam mattress for college students

The Purple Mattress

  • Price: $$
  • Type: foam
  • Height: 9.25 in.
  • Firmness: medium firm
  • Trial length: 100 nights

The Purple Mattress features a breathable gel grid, which reviewers praise highly — and plenty of them are college students.

The manufacturer claims that the grid technology helps the mattress stay cool, allows for a quick spring and flex to your body weight or movement, and helps alleviate tender pressure points. The gel grid is combined with two layers of foam: a soft layer for cushioning and a firmer layer for additional support.

Purple offers free shipping and returns, a 10-year warranty, and a 100-night trial. The Purple Mattress is also made in the United States.

Pros

  • hypoallergenic and nontoxic
  • gel grid is designed to be supportive and breathable

Cons

  • some customers report durability issues
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Most eco-friendly mattress for college students

Avocado Green Mattress

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: hybrid
  • Height: 11 in.
  • Firmness: medium firm
  • Trial length: 1 year

For students with a bigger budget, or for more eco-conscious people, the Avocado Green Mattress is made from certified organic latex, wool, and cotton. The mattress is also endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.

As a hybrid mattress, this pick features coils uniquely arranged in five ergonomic zones. It’s nontoxic and needle-tufted, which means the layers are sewn together rather than glued with unsafe adhesives.

The mattress is made in the United States, and it comes with a 1-year trial and 25-year warranty.

Pros

  • organic, sustainable materials
  • users report balanced comfort, firmness, and support
  • generous year-long trial window

Cons

  • high price point
  • available pillow top is a costly upgrade
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Best mattress for side-sleeping college students

Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Type: foam
  • Height: 9.5 in.
  • Firmness: medium firm
  • Trial length: 100 nights

The Tuft & Needle Original Mattress is designed to be cool and supportive. It features adaptive foam that’s infused with cooling gel. The brand recommends it specifically for back and stomach sleepers.

Users say it strikes a good balance between affordability and quality materials. Reviewers also note that this mattress is on the firm side of medium-firm but that it makes for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Pros

  • reviewers note it’s easy to set up the mattress
  • budget-friendly option

Cons

  • some reviewers find that it lacked support along the edges
  • some users say the mattress is softer than expected
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MattressPriceTypeHeight (in.)FirmnessTrial length
Saatva Classic Mattress$$$innerspring11.5 or 14.5plush soft, luxury firm, firm365 nights
Nectar Memory Foam Mattress$memory foam12medium firm365 nights
Casper Original Mattress$$foam, hybrid11medium firm100 nights
The Purple Mattress$$foam9.25medium firm100 nights
Avocado Green Mattress$$$hybrid11medium firm1 year
Tuft & Needle Original Mattress$foam9.5medium firm100 nights

If you spend the recommended 7 to 10 hours a night sleeping, you’re likely in bed a lot. That makes picking the right mattress even more important. Here are some things to consider when shopping for yours.

Firmness

Some people might want to fall into their beds at night and be cocooned in their mattresses. Other people might prefer firmer surfaces.

Most companies use a 10-point firmness scale to rate the firmness of their mattresses. However, how firm a mattress feels will depend a lot on your body size and sleeping style. That’s one reason it’s a good idea to buy from a brand that offers a free trial period.

Type

Mattresses can be made of traditional springs, foam, individually pocketed coils, or a mixture of the latter two. Some mattresses are also organic or contain patented technology, like gel memory foam grids.

If you like the feeling of being cradled by your mattress, consider choosing one made of foam. Memory foam conforms the most to your body, while latex is springier.

If you prefer some bounce to your mattress, consider picking an innerspring or hybrid mattress.

Company

Do research on the company before making your purchase. Review their return policy, warranties, and in-home trials. Do they have a good reputation in terms of customer satisfaction, reviews, or awards and honors?

Reviews are a good indicator of a company and their products. Also consider the responsiveness of their customer service department.

Special features

If you’re a hot sleeper or if you toss and turn a lot, then look for mattresses that tout cooling properties or anti-motion-transfer qualities.

Deciding whether or not you should buy a mattress for college can be tough, but weighing a few big factors can help.

Budget

Is it financially feasible for you to purchase a mattress right now? Keeping popular sales times in mind might be helpful. The mattress of your dreams could offer significant savings around the holiday season.

Size and long-term plans

Consider your long-term plans. Maybe you’ll want to invest in a size you’ll keep for years to come, such as a full or queen.

Keep in mind that some colleges and universities may have stipulations that require you to keep their dorm-issued mattresses. Check with your institution before making a purchase.

If you’re unable to make a large purchase at the moment, your future housing situation is uncertain, or your school won’t let you swap out your mattress, consider a mattress topper.

This is a budget-friendly alternative to fixing an uncomfortable sleeping situation. Toppers come in a variety of types with different features, such as cooling options or ones specifically designed for side sleepers.

What size mattress should I buy for college?

Dorm rooms typically house twin XL mattresses, but whether you’re living on- or off-campus, it’s a good idea to check what size bed frames are provided to make sure you get one that will fit.

Should you use a mattress topper in college?

This is up to your personal preference. Dorm mattresses may not offer the support or comfort you need for restful sleep, and there are affordable mattress toppers that can make all the difference. Look for one with a removable, washable cover for easy care.

Are cheaper mattresses as comfortable as more expensive ones?

Price isn’t necessarily an indication of comfort, and you can definitely find a decent mattress without spending a fortune. Keep in mind, however, that higher quality materials will cost a little more, and there’s really no substitute for a good night’s sleep.

A good mattress should balance comfort with adequate support, but there are plenty of well-priced mattresses that will do the job.

Picking a mattress can be overwhelming, but it’s certainly something to consider if you’re not comfortable with your provided dorm mattress.

Conduct a little research to figure out which type of mattress you want (foam, spring, or hybrid), and consider visiting a store to decide on the level of firmness you prefer.

Once you have those elements lined up and you make your decision, an in-home sleep trial should help solidify your choice. If buying a new mattress isn’t an option, a mattress topper could be an affordable alternative.


Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.


Alex Shimalla

Alexandra Shimalla grew up writing princess stories on her family’s laptop in their makeshift laundry room/office. She’s now a freelance journalist based in Georgia. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and enjoys writing about health and wellness, gluten-free living, and higher education. Her writing has appeared in print and digital publications, such as Paste and Georgia Magazine. If she’s not at her computer, then she’s at the gym. Learn more about Alexandra by visiting her website (www.alexshimalla.com).