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Best Student Mattress Buying Guide

By Direct Bed Team October 09, 2018 0 comments

Mattresses For College & University Students

You’re a new college student, and you probably want to get the least expensive mattress that your hard earned money can buy. We don’t blame you! You might be looking for a twin XL so you don’t have to sleep on a cramped single, or you’re studying abroad and you want a decent mattress that gives you a good sleep, but only for a few years, when you move past student life.

Student life is a time that includes a lot of learning, studying, while also balancing a lot of tight schedules and decisions about the future. Maybe for the first time, you are learning how to do your own laundry, make your car payments and enter adulthood.

While getting the cheapest mattress ever might sound like a great idea, you might want to stop and consider the benefits of getting a good Sleep on a good Mattress. If you’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night (highly unlikely!), you’re spending a third of your day on your mattress. Considering you’re getting less sleep than you probably should, we think it should be quality sleep.

Mattress Types For Dorm Rooms

Okay, so a good sleep is important, you probably understand that, it feels so good to get a good sleep and you know you are going to be a better performing student when you get a good sleep. How can a mattress help you sleep better? You probably have had your parents buy your mattress for you up until now so you have never had to think about buying your own mattress.

Here is a quick technical guide of what goes into a mattress (along with a Student Mattress Rating):

Spring / Coil – These beds use springs or coils, and then combine a comfort layer on top of the coil support system. Your “stock” dorm mattress is probably a spring bed with very little comfort layer. Often universities have a contract with a very basic local mattress company that provides very basic beds. Spring beds are responsive and bouncy, and tend to be more supportive and long lasting. We usually recommend mattresses with springs in them for heavier body types because they can support the weight better and won’t break down as fast as an all-foam bed would.

Memory Foam – Memory foam heats up and softens to pressure, and then is slow to respond once that pressure is removed. When you lay down on it, you’ll probably notice that you slowly sink down into the material as it contours to your body. Memory foam is one of those things where you either love it or you hate it. Active sleepers tend to not like memory foam because it can be hard to move around on, giving you the sensation of feeling “stuck.” Also, cheaper memory foam tends to change firmness level with heat. In the summer, beds will be softer, and they’ll firm up in the winter.

Gel Memory Foam – Gel Foam Memory Foam Mattresses have special beads injected into the memory foam which make a mattress more conductive. If foam is more conductive, your body heat will transmit through the foam, instead of being trapped in the foam. This makes the bed much cooler when you have Gel Memory foam in your upcoming student mattress. Given that some of the dorm rooms don’t really have air conditioning, a cool mattress should be at the top of your list!

Latex Foam – Latex is a really neat material. Latex, comes from the rubber tree and is naturally sourced. Pure latex sap is then transported to our Canadian Factories and formed into a foam mould . Latex is a high end option and should be considered only if you can afford it. Many students are not looking for a long term mattress, so latex is not at the top of the list as a requirement in your new student mattress.

“Internet” Foam Mattresses – You may read about other types of foam under private labels. These are usually foams that factories have slightly modified the traditional foam  formula and labelled for the many “mattress in a box” companies that you see on the internet. These brands are the indie kinds of the online mattress community. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Make sure they have a trial-period in the case of those beds that don’t work out.

Air Mattresses – For the most part, air mattresses are the cheap mattresses that you would use on a camping trip or a quick overnight stay. There are also some popular air mattress brands like Sleep Number however, these beds are very expensive and require more regular maintenance than most beds. Sleep Number beds are more difficult to set up than traditional beds and are not recommended as a student mattress due to their price and their difficulty in setup.

Water Bed – Wow! A waterbed! Boy does that sound neat. You would be the talk of the campus with all of your fellow students. Well, okay. Waterbeds died in the 90’s and it is probably best they are not resurrected.  Waterbeds have poor postuerpedic support, rebound if you even move just slightly. And they pop more commonly than you’d think. You would probably be evicted from your dorm room if your waterbed popped.

Polyurethane Foam – Most Mattresses are Polyurethane Foam. Modern day Polyurethane uses a high component of Soy Bean based oil to create the foam, so don’t be scared off by the term “polyurethane foam”. A good polyurethane foam mattress is probably going to be your best student value mattress. Really popular brands like Tuft & Needle, Morphiis, and Casper Essential are (majority) poly foam beds.

Gel-Like Materials – This is a lot less commonly used material, but the most popular brand that makes a gel-like mattress is Purple. They have four different models (original Purple, Purple 2/3/4)that all have really good airflow and support. People either love it or hate it. Another brand of Gel Like mattresses is the Intellibed, which is an $8,400.00 Mattress!

Sleeping Position Matters Also

Hopefully our guide gave you a good idea which mattress will work for your Dorm Room. There is one final complication though (life is always complicated ; )

You might have picked the perfect style of a mattress for your budget and support needs, but the final question is, are you going to be comfortable on this mattress? If you are not comfortable, then the mattress won’t work for you.

There are two ways you can determine whether your mattress pick is the right comfort for you. Firstly, you can come on in to our store and try out any one of our suggestions in store. Each mattress is available to try and to determine if it is the right comfort for you.

Secondly, you can read our guide below and double check the mattress is right for you before buying right online through our convenient ordering process with free fast delivery.

If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll probably want a softer mattress that can bend to the curves of your hips and shoulders instead of pushing against them and giving you a dead arm. Side sleepers want to make sure their spines are aligned, including their necks. Usually softer mattresses are best for this. A softer mattress will reduce pressure points.

If you sleep on your back or stomach, you will probably want a firmer mattress that will support the heavier areas of your body which are your hips, shoulders, and neck. Softer mattresses will let these areas sink into the bed and this will cause your spine to arch, which can lead to back pain in the morning. Firmer mattresses will keep your spine supported properly. Getting a firmer bed is important if you’re dealing with a lot of lower back pain in particular.

So to recap, a softer mattress if you are a side sleeper. A firmer mattress if you are a back or stomach sleeper.

Consider your Body Weight

How much you weigh directly correlates to how firm or soft a mattress will feel to you. This is because it dictates how much pressure you’re applying to the surface of the bed.

100-180 pounds

Let’s use some examples. Our first example is the teeny tiny art student. You wear black turtlenecks and a beret and you like to drink wine on the weekends with your friends while you discuss philosophy. Some of your paintings or sculptures probably weigh more than you do. Most mattresses will feel pretty firm to you, because you barely put any weight into the mattress, so you’re basically laying on top of the bed. You might want to look for softer beds, especially if you sleep on your side.

180-280 pounds+

Our next example is a college D1 athlete who has to live in the dorms as a part of his scholarship. He is probably too tall for the twin XL dorm bed and he’s in need of some good sleep after his four hour long practice days. Because he’s a big dude, most beds are going to feel on the softer side, because he’s going to sink down into the mattress more. This guy might want to look for a firm mattress, especially if he sleeps on his back. Here’s our list of the best mattresses for heavy and overweight people.

If you’re a body type that’s somewhere in the middle, you can choose the firmness level of your bed at your own discretion.

Do you need a Bed?

Most Dorm rooms will come with a bed but some won’t. If you need a bed, there are few different options you can choose. You can go for a traditional steel bedframe and box spring, a platform bed, or a headboard and footboard slat bed.

Direct Bed offers a Canadian Designed line up of platform beds that adjust from twin to double, so they are perfect for any dorm room application. They are portable, easy to set up and ship easily in a box so they are not difficult to bring into your dorm room. This would be our Top recommendation for a student bed. They are also going to last you for years and years to come (40+ years life time) so you will be able to take our Quagga Designs beds with you for the rest of your life. 

If you are looking for more value options, we recommend the T2400 bed or just a traditional bed frame and box spring.

Protect your New Mattress Purchase

If you plan on giving away or re-selling your mattress after you graduate and take that job in the big city (or moving back in with your parents, this is 2019), you should probably take care of your mattress while you have it.

Most mattresses don’t come with machine washable covers, unfortunately. If you’re concerned about stains or spills (coffee while studying in bed, anyone?) we recommend getting a mattress protector to keep your mattress brand new underneath. That will keep things worry free, and can also protect against extra wear and tear on your bed, which will prolong the life of your mattress and protect your warranty. Here are our top recommendations for Waterproof Mattress covers.

Top Student Mattress Bundles

Okay that is a lot to think of, but hey you are starting to make big decisions and this is one of them. It probably ranks third place after your choice of college / university, buying a car and picking your meal plan.


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