Whether you’re a freshman away at school for the first time, a returning upper classman or a graduate student, a sound night’s sleep is essential to good health and academic performance. Sleeping well starts with choosing the right mattress size, construction type and underlying support system.
Living on Campus
Beds in most college dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses are usually twin or twin XL size, topped with thin, lumpy and generally uncomfortable mattresses. Even worse is stopping to think about how many people before you have slept on that same mattress and how much mold, bacteria, perspiration, body oil, bodily fluids and accidental spills it may have absorbed over the years.
Most schools prohibit students from supplying their own dorm room mattresses, but there are still measures you can take to help you sleep better. A cushioned mattress topper will add support and comfort to an old, sagging mattress. Adding a protective mattress cover will help contain allergens, dust mites, bed bugs and other unwanted creatures that may have accumulated inside the mattress. Color coordinated sheets, pillowcases, pillow shams and a comforter or duvet will help brighten both the room and your spirits.
Beds and Mattresses for Living off Campus
Off campus living often means renting an unfurnished room that needs a bed, bedding and mattress. Unless it’s a large bedroom, Twins or Twin XL beds with matching mattresses and supports are recommended, since they take up less floor space.
A Standard Twin Mattress size is 38” by 75” long, and is intended primarily for children and smaller bodied people less than 5’ 5” tall. A better choice for average and taller sized persons or young students who are still growing is a Twin XL bed and mattress combination. Twin XL mattresses have the same 38” width as a Standard Twin, but are a full five inches longer, and at 80” are the same length as a Queen mattress. If the bedroom is large enough, a 54” wide by 75” long Full mattress or a 53” by 80” Full XL mattress is also an option.
A good night’s sleep starts with choosing the right mattress. Things to consider when shopping for a mattress include your height, weight, body type, history of allergies, back, neck or shoulder pain, if any, and your preferred sleeping position. Here’s basic information on some of the most popular twin mattress types available at all Sit ‘n Sleep Mattress Superstores:
- – Firm and Extra Firm Mattresses offer sleepers the most support, and are usually preferred by people with back and neck problems. Firm mattresses help keep the spine properly aligned during sleep, which relaxes the back muscles and lessens lower back pain. A mattress that’s too firm, however, may actually cause back pain or worsen an existing condition.
A firm mattress evenly distributes the body’s weight, and since the sleeper’s skeletal system bears most of the pressure, blood flow and circulation are improved. Because of the extra support they provide, stomach sleepers tend to choose firm mattresses, as do people with circulatory problems.
- – Cushion Firm mattresses, which are also called Pillow Top mattresses, are firm mattresses topped with a layer of soft, cushiony material. They’re the choice of people who need some support but find firm mattresses uncomfortable. A Cushion Firm mattress provides the sleeper with a balance of softness, support and comfort.
- – Plush mattresses combine the best of Firm, Extra Firm and Cushion Firm mattresses. The cushioned top layer conforms to the body’s natural contours while still adequately supporting the neck, shoulder, back and arms. Offering a soft sleeping surface along with some degree of support, people who sleep on their sides or backs often choose Plush mattresses. Stomach sleepers, however, might find they need more spinal support than Plush mattresses provide.
- – Ultra Plush mattresses offer an ideal balance of comfort, softness and support. Also called Super Plush or Extra Plush, they’re the most luxurious mattress type available. Preferred by restless sleepers who toss and turn during the night as well as those who sleep on their sides, Ultra Plush mattresses help keep the sleeper’s spine properly aligned while the top layer gently cushions the shoulder and hip. Stomach sleepers, however, tend to choose firmer mattresses to keep the spine from sagging and help prevent waking up with a backache.
Mattress Construction Types
- – Innerspring mattresses are support systems consisting of a series of steel spring coils that evenly distribute the sleeper’s weight, and are the most popular of all mattress construction types. Depending upon the shape, number and thickness of the coils, they’re usually the least expensive mattress type, which not surprisingly make them popular among college students and young adults.
- – Memory Foam mattresses are made from a viscous polyurethane foam that provides the support needed to help alleviate neck and back pain. Reacting to the sleeper’s body heat generated, memory foam mattresses mold naturally to the body’s curves, but return to their original shape once the weight is removed. Originally developed for NASA, memory foam mattresses are frequently recommended by physicians, physical therapists and chiropractors for patients with chronic back, neck or shoulder pain.
- – Gel Foam mattresses are memory foam mattresses that have been infused with gel for extra comfort and support. The gel is either evenly distributed throughout the body of the mattress or in single top layer.
- – Latex mattresses are made from either synthetic or natural rubber. They’re anti-microbial, hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites, making them good choices for students with allergies. Under normal conditions, latex mattresses will outlast their polyurethane counterparts.
- – Hybrid mattresses are innerspring combined with top layers of memory foam, latex or similar synthetic materials. Hybrid mattresses are less expensive than memory foam or latex mattresses, although they provide comparable and support.
Mattress Supports and Bed Frames
Today’s one-sided mattresses don’t require box spring platforms, so choosing a one-sided twin mattress can help stretch a college student’s budget.
The alternatives to box spring supports are platform beds and foundations. Of the three systems, platform beds are the most versatile. They’re low, one-piece frames with wooden slats that support the mattress, which eliminates the need for either a box spring or foundation. Platform beds are sturdy enough to accommodate all mattress construction types, and their flat, solid surfaces provide the most support and comfort when used with foam and gel foam mattresses.
Foundation systems support the mattress, but unlike box springs or platforms, they neither distribute the sleeper’s weight nor absorb motion. Because of the growing popularity of foam and memory foam mattresses, many people today prefer foundations over both box spring and platform systems.
Choosing a College Student’s Sleep System
The key to sleeping better is correctly matching the mattress to the support system, which is where Sit ‘n Sleep’s friendly and knowledgeable Sleep Consultants can help. They’ll answer your questions and point out the pros and cons of each system to help you choose the mattress size, type and support combination that most closely meets your needs and fits your budget.
Twin mattresses prices vary, depending upon brand and model, so be on the lookout for one of Sit ‘n Sleep’s frequent twin mattress sales. Our huge selection of quality twin mattresses for sale are from well-known manufacturers such as Aireloom, Sherwood, Sealy, Tempur-Pedic, Serta and more. All 38 Southern California Sit ‘n Sleep locations are open seven days a week. Come by and test the various combinations of mattress sizes, types and support systems, and you’ll soon be sleeping well throughout the school year.