A high-quality supportive mattress holds your body through thick and thin and carries your body through phases of your life. A supportive mattress helps you get up fresh and feel the mattress holding your body in sleep. Moreover, the better your mattress's supportive function, the better it is for your overall physiological health. Your entire body at rest needs its time and a correct posture to recover and rejuvenate while asleep. Irrespective of a healthy or an ailing body, a good posture while sleeping, sitting, or working out is essential for long-term health. And the best way to ensure a good posture and a fitter body are with a supportive mattress.
Why does mattress thickness matter?
Since the mattress has to last a long time and support your body as good as day one, the right kind of mattress thickness is essential. Mattress thickness also directly correlates to the comfort and overall support that you get. For some people, a sinking or excessively contouring mattress might not be a preference. That is why mattress thickness and overall density in the material is essential for support. The thickness of each layer crafted for maximum comfort and support help uphold your body and provide comfort at the same time. However, the excess thickness isn't suitable for your body or comfort, especially if the materials in place are low-quality.
The comfort layer and the support layers have different thicknesses and densities depending on the purpose. Mattress manufacturers focus on creating the product that suits your body and supports the functionality and purpose of different layers working together. That is why mattresses that use different layers and high-density materials are the best suited for long-term use, and the thickness factor is the cherry on the top. Together, the comfort layer and support layers help make each mattress's sleeping experience and contribute the most to the mattress thickness. Even though most mattress's thickness might comprise the core, the comfort layer and support layers have different and essential purposes.
What is the comfort layer, and how does it help?
The comfort layer helps make the mattress more suitable and plushier, or more suitable for the body to feel at ease. The comfort layer makes sure that even if your mattress is meant for support and firmness as its primary function, it can offer an immediate sense of calmness. That is, you wouldn't feel you're going to sleep on a rock-hard surface or anything that doesn't suit your preference the moment you lie in bed. As the topmost layer of your mattress, the comfort layer helps make your mattress as comfortable or plush as possible and is responsible for the immediate sitting or lying experience.
The comfort layer's density and thickness also determines the plushness and overall looks of your mattress. Moreover, the comfort layer also regulates body temperature and air and is responsible for your comfort, from the contouring to temperature and general feel. If you're looking for a more comfortable mattress, it also means that the comfort layer allows you to sleep in different sleeping orientations. Irrespective of sleeping on the back or side, the comfort layer doesn't restrict blood circulation. The comfort layer usually consists of materials like memory foam or PU foam and changes depending on the mattress construction and type. The comfort layer can also take a separate form in luxury mattresses as in a Euro top or Pillow top, offering more dedicated comfort for your body.
What is the support layer, and how does it help?
The support layer is the layer beneath the topmost comfort layer and acts as the first supportive element in your mattress. Naturally, the support layer is usually high-density and consists of materials like HR Foam, rebonded foam, latex foam, or even memory foam. Depending upon the mattress and the overall requirements, the support layer can also be present in two places. The support layer is also vital for the mattress's structure and can help shape the mattress and prevent sagging. The support layer helps uphold the above comfort layer from sinking in excessively and acts as the layer responsible for maintaining the integrity of both the base/core layer and the comfort layer.
The support layer's primary purpose is to provide a layer for your body to feel a sense of support and posture alignment. Although it is a relatively thinner layer, the support layer makes sure that your body stays upright and in an intended posture than feeling excess sinking or elevation. The support layer isn't the primary layer that gives a supporting experience by offering some degree of relaxation and movement. It acts as the layer that complements the core or base's support and dampens the pressure on other layers from body pressure and from any innerspring coils beneath it.
The role of thickness in comfort and support layers:
Now that you understand how the comfort and support layers work for your body and the mattress, the thickness also determines their purpose. Additionally, both the comfort and support layer may have multiple stacks or layers of even thinner foam layers stacked together. For example, the comfort layer may have two or three layers of memory foam or PU foam stacked together as one layer to be firmer and may take up to two or three inches of a six-inch thick mattress. The thickness of both comfort and support layers can vary vastly depending upon mattress construction and purpose.
That is why best mattresses that offer more comfort or contouring have softer or thinner layers of support layers than ones that offer more support. The density and thickness of the comfort and support layers also determines the way your body reacts. A thinner comfort layer would allow your body to sink in the mattress or offer more freedom to move without discomfort. However, a thinner comfort layer also means that the mattress would rely more on the support and base/core layers to provide support and comfort.
In contrast, the support layer is usually 3-4 inches thick to offer more bodyweight support. The materials in place in support layers are usually high or very high-density and contribute to making the mattress firm and supportive or offering more uniform body support. So, even though the support and comfort layers may have different densities, the thickness is essential in giving the mattress shape and bodyweight support. Most mattresses have a thickness of 5 inches on average and a maximum average of 6 inches.
Mattress thickness depending upon type:
Different mattress construction and material types necessitate different thicknesses. This is because while one density of a layer may offer a certain degree of reactive pressure, the same density of another material may offer lesser reactive pressure. To make the sleeping experience better, mattresses need a varying thickness level, which applies especially to the comfort and support layers.
- Memory foam mattress thickness: A memory foam mattress offers a sinking/hugging experience that offers extreme comfort for your body. People who prefer and can benefit from a memory foam mattress usually have a healthy or normal BMI that prevents them from sinking in excessively. High-density memory foam may offer some degree of support yet contour enough to allow your body to relax in any position. Although memory foam is most widely used in a mattress's comfort layers with a 2-2.5 inch thickness, it should remain under 3 inches thickness.
Memory foam's primary purpose is to absorb any pressure from your body without giving it back, and for that, it has to compress. This also means that while memory foam is an excellent option to support it from beneath. A support layer consisting of PU foam or HR foam may be an excellent choice for the mattress's structure and comfort.
A high-density support layer makes sure that the entire mattress doesn't lose its form, sag, or sink excessively to harm the body posture. To ensure that the mattress holds its own and provides comfort, the support layer and the base's comfort layers contribute up to 6 inches of thickness. So, a pure memory foam mattress shouldn't be any lesser than 6.5 or 7 inches and can be more depending upon construction.
- Latex foam mattress thickness: In a latex foam mattress, the comfort layer comprises a medium-soft to medium-firm density variation of latex foam. Moreover, the comfort layer may also use a PU foam layer in the quilting to make the mattress even more comfortable. Since latex foam is more rubber-like and offers a bounce or hugging/floating sleeping experience, PU Foam adds a degree of comfort. A latex foam layer may use up to 2-3 inches of medium-firm or medium-soft density latex foam in the comfort layer.
Since latex foam is a natural sap sourced from rubber trees, it is expensive due to demand and sourcing. So, an all-latex foam mattress would be very expensive or unaffordable. Because of this reason, latex foam mattresses or other hybrid innerspring mattresses use it in the comfort layer. It is rarely used in the support layer, but these factors also depend on the latex foam density used.
Latex foam can be made as low or as high-density to give a more supportive or firm sleeping experience, making it a right choice for orthopedic use too. In most cases, a 2-3 inch layer of latex foam serves its purpose and lasts long, giving the mattress its longevity and shape for years or even a decade.
- Innerspring mattresses thickness: Innerspring mattresses have a dynamic and varying thickness level because of the support and comfort layer and different spring systems. However, irrespective of the type of material in place in the topmost comfort and support layers, the spring coils are present in the core/base layer or even support layer.
Innerspring mattresses are an excellent choice for a generally supportive sleeping experience; the spring layer's thickness should not exceed 4 inches. Irrespective of the spring coils or the spring system, any less or greater thickness could impact the mattress's longevity and structure. Moreover, spring systems that are thinner or thicker than 4 inches may also be counterproductive for giving more comfort and support. The overall thickness of an innerspring mattress, on average, should be up to 7 inches.
Based on the comfort and support layers' density or the requirement of a specific sleeping experience, innerspring configuration and count vary. The mattress can be made softer or more supportive with the type of coils, number, and the variability of density and thickness in support and comfort layers. The innerspring comfort and support layers also have to vary depending upon orthopedic use. Moreover, innerspring mattresses or ultra-high luxury mattresses may vary in thickness depending upon the requirement.
- Foam mattresses thickness: The thickness of foam mattresses depends more on the comfort layer than anything else. This is because the comfort layer in a foam mattress may sink more or depress more under bodyweight without substantial support from below. So, the base and the support layers need to compensate to ensure some support and ensure mattress integrity. If a mattress has two or three layers in the comfort layer, they need to be thick enough not to depress or impact the comfort layer permanently. So, a thickness of 2-3 inches works excellent for most foam layers in a foam mattress. The ideal thickness of any foam mattress should stay within 6-7 inches on average.
- Bonded foam mattress thickness: The bonded or rebonded foam is mostly used in orthopedic or firmer foam mattresses. As the go-to option for most orthopedic mattresses, bonded foam is also a good option for overweight individuals. Able to hold the bodyweight with a uniform reactive pressure, bonded foam mattresses do not need excess thickness.
Suitable for use in the support or base layer, the bonded foam mattress needs to be as thick as up to 3 inches to uphold most people's mattress and bodyweight. Moreover, bonded foam can also make up the bulk of orthopedic or foam-based orthopedic mattresses depending upon the requirement. Its thickness could vary in the core or support layers. Moreover, dual-comfort mattresses using bonded foam may also need ultra-high or high-density core of bonded foam in general. This may require a more resolute or thicker bonded foam layer.
- Dual-comfort mattresses thickness: Dual-comfort mattresses need different support layer densities and thicknesses and varying comfort layer densities too. Because of this, the thickness of either side of materials may constitute varying density of materials in place. On average, dual-comfort mattresses should be up to 7 to 8 inches thick to uphold both sides and maintain the mattress structure over time.
The higher thickness or height of dual-comfort mattresses is also essential because both sides have to hold together. Moreover, either side's support layer can be as thick as up to 3-4 inches. The comfort layer takes up to 2-3 inches thick; dual-comfort mattresses depend on the core's thickness.
The core has to be high-density firm or ultra-firm to offer a more resilient and structurally sound mattress. This also ensures uniform support and a similar supportive experience on either side. Depending on the different sides' configuration and thickness, dual-comfort mattresses may use vastly different thickness and density configurations.
Why should the comfort layer thickness lie between 2 to 4 inches in a 5-8 inch mattress?
The comfort layer is the most critical in the mattress when it comes to the direct experience of sitting or lying in bed. So, depending upon the mattress type, the comfort layer should lie between 2-4 inches despite different densities. The softer layers in use in a mattress necessitate a generally thicker comfort layer to comfort people.
This larger thickness also helps ensure better body pressure absorption while maintaining its form. Softer than the core or support layer, the comfort layer has to absorb most of the pressure and offer comfort at the same time. The comfort layer is essential in absorbing body pressure, therefore, relieving pain and offering a contouring sleeping experience. Because of these properties, it helps ensure that your body has a painless and comfortable sleeping experience. However, all this comfort and lower density also mean that the layer will sink or depress significantly.
A support layer is essential to offer a supportive experience for both the mattress structure and bodyweight support. Sinking or depressing further would cause posture problems and a poor sleeping experience. Without a high-density supportive layer or core layer to uphold the comfort layer, your body would assume a poor sleeping posture. Such a sleeping experience would lead to back issues or chronic pains as the spine is in a bad position irrespective of sleeping posture. The 2-4 inch thickness of the comfort layer is also suitable for the body to feel at ease when sleeping on a foam-based mattress.
Why should a support layer's thickness be between 3 to 4 inches in a 5 - 8 inch mattress?
A support layer's thickness should be between 3-4 inches to make sure it holds up the comfort layer and your bodyweight. The support layer should be thicker and denser, especially in foam mattresses where it needs to support the comfort layer. It takes up a significant portion of a 5-8 inch mattress because it has to support the body weight and prevent the comfort layer from sinking further in.
Moreover, this kind of support and thickness also offers more support and alignment to the spine in different sleeping postures. If people sleep on the side or the back, the bodyweight distribution pressure could be varying and depress the comfort layer differently across the cross-section. As a result, the support layer impacts your body's overall posture before relying on the base/core support. As a result, your spine can enjoy resting in its natural S-shaped position.
Different mattress thickness options:
As mentioned above, mattresses can have different thickness levels depending upon their materials and construction. Although the mattresses may use varying thickness levels of comfort and support layers, the general thickness levels for different mattresses are as:
- Slim mattresses: Although most mattresses may be made of several layers combined, some mattresses may have a slimmer form factor. This makes the mattress suitable as a low-cost option or a spare guest mattress and easy to store. Slim mattresses may either use one uniform density material throughout or use two layers of foam to take only up to 2 -5 inches.
- Luxury or everyday use mattresses: Most mattresses suitable for everyday use may be as thick as 8-12 inches. Again, this factor also relies on the thickness of the core, comfort layer, and the support layer. Everyday luxury mattresses may average up to 7-8 inches of the total thickness, and select mattresses can go up to 12 inches.
- Hospitality or select mattresses: Since hospitality or special use mattresses need to comfort people and sustain their form for several years, they are much thicker than most. This is because they need to be fire-retardant, use thicker mattress layers, and have a higher-fabric density making them thicker, more extensive, and much more robust. Hospitality or special use mattresses may be as thick as 12-16 inches.
Sleeping orientation and mattress thickness:
Sleeping orientations can vary vastly depending upon body weight and BMI and necessitate a particular thickness requirement. That is where a back-sleeping person wouldn't need as much mattress thickness; sleeping on the side would need a thicker comfort layer. Factors like this instance also affect the mattress thickness that manufacturers need to consider.
- Sleeping on the back: Sleeping on the back needs adequate thickness to make the spine rest easy just above the support layer. While the comfort layer may allow your back to sink enough to feel comfortable, the support layer is responsible for its orientation. So, people who prefer to sleep on the back may need up to 2-3 inches of comfort layer and about 3-5 inches of the support layer. Overall, a back-support mattress may be as thick as 6-8 inches on average.
The core may take up additional thickness, which means that your mattress can be thicker than 8 inches, especially if the mattress has a thicker comfort layer. Configurations like Euro top or Pillow-top may also need added thickness and a denser and thicker support layer. In the case of sleeping on the back on a dual-comfort mattress, the comfort and support layers need to be 2-4 inches and 3-5 inches thick, respectively. Some back-support mattresses may also be above 8-10 inches in thickness.
- Sleeping on the side: Most spinal and body pains, especially shoulder pains, can start with inadequate mattress thickness or excessive firmness levels. Since sleeping on the side or in a fetal position is a position that most people use, the comfort layer needs to allow the shoulder to sink. At the same time, the spine needs to be straight and not sink unnaturally, or parts of the spine depress more than others. So, the support layer may need to be firmer and denser to compensate for the comfort layer's freedom. If people prefer to sleep on the side, the comfort layer can be up to 3-4 inches thick and further depending on exceptional construction cases. This allows ample space for the shoulders to relax without compensating for blood circulation or impacting shoulder muscles. The support layer needs to do most of the work supporting your shoulders gently and can be a medium-firm to firm layer that is 4-5 inches thick. Mattresses for side-sleeping people may be as thick as 8-10 inches. Depending on bodyweight, mattresses for side-sleepers can also be as thick as 12 inches and above since they need to support the pelvic area.
- Stomach sleeping: Although stomach sleeping is not the best way to sleep, stomach-sleeping is still a preference people may find hard to let go of. To allow and make stomach sleeping a pleasurable experience, mattress manufacturers need to ensure that the spine is unaffected. Since abdominal fat could also be an issue and that can affect both the internal organs and the spine, the thickness is considered accordingly.
In the case of people with little abdominal fat, stomach sleeping may need a denser comfort and support layer offering a uniform surface. This helps the spine stay upright without sinking into an unnatural position. Moreover, mattresses for stomach-sleeping people may be up to 10 inches depending upon the thicker comfort and support layers.
Bodyweight consideration and mattress thickness:
One of the most important factors influencing a mattress's suitability is the body weight, BMI, and distribution. These factors are quintessential for mattress suitability because overweight people may have specific conditions, inability to sleep in a particular position, among other issues. Moreover, obesity and overweight also need a decent level of support. The best mattress has to support the body weight and make sure the spine and entire body rests at ease in different sleeping orientations.
- Low body weight: People with below-average bodyweight wouldn't need special mattress requirements and would be comfortable with a range of different options. However, lower body weight means they're good to use most softer mattresses and foam mattresses for orthopedic use. As a result, the comfort layer and support layer don't need special consideration except for offer proper comfort and support. A mattress having a 2-4 inch thick comfort layer and similar support layer thickness would work. Therefore, a mattress that's up to 7-8 inches thick is better and suitable and easily allows you to jump out of bed.
- Average bodyweight: A healthy body weight would be comfortable on supportive and plush mattresses both. However, the comfort and support layers in a mattress need to support the body weight. A healthier body weight means the person can find both supportive and plush mattresses as excellent options, and the thickness can follow the average norms. A 2-3 inch thick foam layer in the comfort layer or thicker depending upon density would be a good option for people with average body weight. Moreover, a supportive layer would also help uphold the body weight, and a 3-4 inch support layer or varying depending upon construction would be beneficial. Overall, the mattress can be its perfect 6-8 inches thick or more as per construction. Since no special requirements are needed, the mattress is useful and suitable for many people.
- Overweight or obese individuals: Since the pressure and bodyweight support would be excessive, mattresses not only need to be thicker but denser too. Moreover, overweight or obese people might have blood circulation or posture issues, among other complications. As a result, everything from the comfort layer to the support layer needs to be thicker and denser. The comfort layer might need to be medium-firm to address any orthopedic issue, and the support layer needs to be innerspring or ultra-high density. As a result, most support layers in mattresses for overweight or obese people would need a thickness of up to 5-7 inches on average. However, the medium-firm comfort layer would also need to be up to 3-5 inches, and the core or base would vary. So, a mattress would be thicker and denser and be as thick as up to 10-12 inches on average.
Sleeping with a partner:
Since multiple people with different bodyweight distribution and physiology may share the mattress, it needs to incorporate both. In other words, a mattress intended for multiple people would not only need to support the bodyweight but also prevent motion transfer. So, while the comfort layers may be a high-density or medium-firm depending upon the requirement, they can be as thick as 2-4 inches depending upon density.
Materials like a medium-firm support layer made of latex foam or rebonded foam would suit this scenario best. Latex foam would prevent any motion transfer, last long, and provide support at the same time. Innerspring systems like a pocket coil system is also a right choice since it would prevent motion transfer and would tailor support and comfort differently.
A uniform reactive pressure like high-density rebonded or HR foam wouldn't be a good idea for multiple people. Therefore, a medium-firm 3-5 inch thick support layer and similar comfort layer would be best for both people. In most cases, a 7-8 inch thick mattress or above would suit multiple people or an individual, in general.
Advantages of thicker mattresses:
Mattress thickness can vary vastly depending upon mattress and personal requirement factors. So many factors can influence mattress thickness; however, the majority call for a thicker mattress. A mattress as thick as 8-10 inches or above has its advantages and disadvantages:
- Durability: While most mattresses may lie in the 6-8 inch thickness range, sometimes thicker mattresses would mean that they need to last long. Using different materials, high-density foam layers, innerspring systems, and multiple layers may make the mattress thick and durable. Hospitality mattresses or orthopedic or ultra-luxury mattresses may be as thick as 10-12 inches to last long, suit a wide variety of people, and offer more general comfort.
- Comfort: Thicker mattresses may offer extreme comfort because of thicker comfort layers, base, and support layers that work to sleep in the air experience. There is more room for comfort layer and support layers to work optimally to support your back and allow shoulders to sink. As a result, a thicker mattress may be more comfortable, denser, and deep. Moreover, people with low-lying bed heights might prefer a thicker mattress, making it easier to jump out of bed or settle in.
- Spinal alignment: While an excessively thick mattress may not be suitable for people with back issues, a back-support mattress can be deep. That is, a thicker layer of supportive foam or innerspring at the base would be beneficial. Additionally, the support and comfort layers would also need to be thicker to offer more contouring and alignment to your spine in different sleeping orientations. The same spinal alignment level wouldn't be possible in a thinner mattress with a thinner comfort and support layer.
- Support multiple people: Thicker mattresses have an innerspring system or enough thickness and density in support layers for two people. The comfort layer can be thicker and denser, and the same applies to the support layer. However, it needs to be the right height/thickness not to cause excess movement. Latex foam or innerspring coils minimize motion transfer for multiple people sleeping in the same bed. The thicker comfort and support layers can work to give a better sleeping experience minimizing motion and maximizing individual comfort preference.
Disadvantages of thicker mattresses:
- Difficult to get out of: Some tall or thicker mattresses may be soft or dense enough to make getting out of bed a challenge. Although most people wouldn't face this issue, excessively thick mattresses (above 16-18 inches) would make it difficult to get out of bed.
- Costlier: Thicker mattresses need to be durable and can have multiple layers of thick and dense foam and innerspring coils. As a result of high-density, costlier construction and overall supreme materials, the cost can be high. These mattresses may last long and offer general comfort, but it comes at a price. Ultra-high luxury mattresses and hospitality or thicker orthopedic mattresses fall under this category.
Bed base and mattress thickness:
The bed height or bed base and strength are essential factors that one should consider when buying a thicker mattress. A thicker mattress would be heavier and difficult to pick up or move after setup. Therefore, the bed frame needs to be durable and as noise-free as possible to prevent noise or durability issues. Moreover, the bed altitude is another factor that one needs to consider with thicker mattresses.
These days, most people prefer low-lying minimalistic beds and a thicker mattress. While this is a good idea for most healthy people without issues, it can strain muscles and bones in older people or people with deformities, injuries, or physiological issues. The bed height should be tall enough, and the mattress within 6-7 inches in these risk categories. A tall bed and a thick mattress wouldn't work, but a thinner mattress and a tall bed would be physiologically better and be more comfortable to get into/out of for most people.
Mattress thickness is just as important as finding the right type of mattress. While most mattresses may lie in the 6-8 inch mattress thickness range, special requirements and construction can increase or decrease this factor. The ideal thickness for most mattresses and the general preference lies between 7-8 inches, and a thicker mattress would always be better than one that's 5-6 inches thick.
In 7-8 inch thick mattresses, the comfort layer is usually between 3 or 4 inches, and the support layer is a similar 3-5 inches. These configurations work for most people and make this mattress thickness the best to choose. Unless you have orthopedic or other requirements like bespoke beds or hospitality beds, most mattresses should lie under 8-10 inches. The second ideal thickness for orthopedic or hotel mattresses is between 10-12 inches and can vary depending upon the hotel chain and demographic.
Thickness plays an essential role, but it is secondary to finding the right mattress. Once you have the right mattress or the perfect or more compatible mattress, you can choose different thicknesses or get custom mattresses for special requirements. Our SleepID algorithm pairs you with the best mattress for your body, and you can use it to shortlist the thickness in the next step. Our in-store experts or team can help you with custom sizing for special thickness requirements.