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How to Find the Best Mattress Topper for Dorm Bed

by Angela Maple

empty university dorm room with lofted beds

At a Glance:

Why is Sleep Important for College Students?

What Are Mattress Toppers?

Mattress Topper Types

How to Choose a Mattress Topper for College

Other Sleep Accessories for a College Dorm Room

Why Trust Us?

Although your college student is home for the summer, it’s never too early to get a head start on your back-to-school shopping for the fall semester. Besides the classroom necessities, we can’t forget dorm room must-haves to personalize their new digs and sleep comfortably after classes. The most important aspect of comfort is their bed — whether your loved one is an incoming freshman or a soon-to-be graduate in their senior year, they deserve and need a good night’s sleep.

So, what’s the best way to make those uncomfortable and rigid dorm mattresses cozy? A mattress topper! This can soften that firm mattress and help your busy college students get the necessary sleep to perform their best academically and athletically!

With our guide on everything you need to know about mattress toppers to help, we’re confident you’ll find the best mattress topper for dorm beds before sending your loved one back to campus.

Why is Seep Important for College Students?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone 18 and up needs more than 7 hours of sleep per night. But between extracurricular activities, studying, writing papers, required reading, social events, and pulling all-night cram sessions, it can seem impossible for a college student to get their recommended amount of sleep. So, here are a few essential reasons why you need the right amount of sleep while in college.

  • Keep your circadian rhythm balanced.

Your circadian rhythm is the natural cycle of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that your body goes through in a 24-hour period. This cycle is affected by light and darkness in your environment and plays a big part in your sleep regulation. Since it largely influences your sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature, and other bodily functions, it’s no surprise that if your circadian rhythm is off, the rest of your body will be out of wack too.

  • Achieving Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle.

Did you know your brain is the most active during REM sleep? The REM cycle typically happens 90 minutes after you fall asleep, and as you sleep, each REM stage gets longer and longer until the final stage. Reaching REM sleep is essential because it stimulates the areas of your brain that help you learn. So, if you want to retain everything you’ve studied for your exams, it’s important to get enough sleep to reach the REM state so your brain can store everything you learned in your long-term memory.  

  • Being able to function the next day.

We’ve all had days where we’ve had too little sleep and are practically running on steam. On those days, you are sluggish, running on autopilot, and making careless mistakes left and right.  This happens when you don’t get enough sleep — you can’t function properly. With a proper good night’s sleep, your mind is better prepared to tackle whatever comes your way for the next day.

According to the CDC, not only is the amount of sleep necessary so is the quality of sleep. No one likes waking up feeling like they haven’t slept at all or repeatedly waking up to get comfortable on those overly firm dorm beds. That is why getting the best mattress topper for college student’s dorm bed is crucial for comfort and sleep quality.

What Are Mattress Toppers?

memory foam mattress topper

Mattress toppers can smooth out lumpy and uncomfortable mattresses, which is quite common in college dorms. You can alter the softness or firmness of your existing mattress with a mattress topper, whether it is old or new. A layer is usually 2 to 4 inches thick, has its own cover, and may or may not be quilted. The thickest layers can reach 8 inches thick.

Often, they are used to improve sleep quality or change the nature of sleeping surfaces, such as switching from latex to memory foam, or changing from memory foam to latex, polyester, down, or another filling. Mattress toppers should not be confused with mattress pads or protectors, which are thinner and serve more as a barrier against liquids, sweat, or other contaminants.

Dorm Bed Mattress Topper Thickness

What Makes This Your Best Dorm Bed Mattress Topper

2 inches

✓ Ideal for lightweight sleepers and those who like a firm mattress while adding a little more body support.

3 inches

✓ The best option for college students that are looking for just the right amount of support. It’s neither too thick nor too thin.

4 inches+

✓ As the thickest and plushest mattress topper choice, this one is perfect for those who want the most support possible when sleeping. It’s great for side sleepers and heavier set sleepers that need more comfort on their pressure points for a good night’s sleep.

Mattress Topper Types

When searching for the best mattress topper for a dorm bed, you have your pick of a pillow top, Euro top, and tight top options. Whether you want a gel memory foam topper or an egg crate mattress topper, the best mattress topper for your bed away from home depends on your firmness needs and preferences:

Euro Top: These toppers tend to be much softer than pillow tops and are also stitched right into the top layer of a mattress, so it is aligned with the edge. Euro toppers are an excellent choice for people who want the best of both worlds: comfort and support for your spine.

Tight Top: Tight mattress toppers are typically a layer of cotton, wool, or polyester, tightly stretched across the top of a mattress. Unlike their pillow and Euro topper counterparts, tight-tops are much thinner and firmer and lack a thick layer of cushioning attached to the top of a mattress’s comfort layer.

Pillow Top: A pillow topper is an extra layer of padding sewn into the top of a mattress for that extra plushness, unlike the Euro-top. This added layer of cotton, wool, down, fiberfill, memory foam, or latex foam brings advantages like a high-cushion level with a cloud-like feeling, extra quilting, excellent spinal support, pressure relief, and less motion transfer.

How to Choose a Mattress Topper for College

dorm bed with mattress topper

Still unsure? Here are a few things to think about when choosing the best mattress topper for a dorm bed.

Mattress Size

Choosing the right mattress topper may seem obvious but be sure that it’s the right size. Find out the exact dimensions of the mattress in the dorm room — most of them will be a twin (38” x 75”) or twin XL (38” x 80”). The college administration can help students determine the size of their dorm beds before arriving, or students can measure them when they move in.

Sleeping Position

If you’re sleeping on your side, you want a softer mattress topper. If you’re sleeping on your back, you’ll like a mattress topper that’s soft but not too soft. Now, if you’re sleeping on your stomach, you’d want a mattress topper that offers more support, especially around the hips.

Comfort Preferences

The majority of mattress toppers contain some kind of memory foam, but some contain other materials, such as latex or a foam alternative. A twin XL memory foam mattress topper should work for those who like to slowly sink into their sleeping surface. A latex foam mattress may be better for those who prefer something bouncy.

Budget and Durability

There is no doubt that budget is going to be a major issue, and most toppers come in under $500 for twin or twin XL sizes. Nevertheless, your twin XL mattress topper might become less durable as your price range drops. For example, a cheaper foam mattress topper probably will not contain as much high-density memory foam, and it might not last as long as a pricier, high-density memory foam topper.

Other Sleep Accessories for a College Dorm Room

For parents who want their students to get a better night’s sleep in their dorm rooms, they should consider purchasing the best mattress topper for twin XL dorm bed for their comfort and preferred firmness. Here are a couple of other must-haves that will ensure they get the best sleep possible in their dorm room.

Earplugs: Let’s face it, dorm rooms can be quite noisy. Roommates may snore, and loud neighbors may be more concerned with partying than studying. Earplugs may be a simple answer to this problem, and for a small fee, students may be able to block out the majority of these noises while sleeping soundly on their gel mattress topper.

Sleep masks: When sleeping in a dorm, college students aren’t always in charge of the light; they may have a roommate who stays up late watching TV or working on their computer, or light may come in through their window. All of this can interfere with sleep and disturb circadian cycles, but a decent sleep mask can block out the majority of these harmful rays.

Bedding: Students should have sheets and comforters that support a good night’s sleep. If they sleep hot, they should outfit their cooling mattress topper with cotton sheets and a breathable comforter that won’t overheat at night. Also, a duvet cover, which can be slipped over a comforter and is much easier to launder, is a good option.

Pillows: Choosing the appropriate pillow can go a long way toward ensuring a good night’s sleep, so don’t go for the cheapest option. Don’t go overboard, but choose a pillow that fits your child’s sleeping position and comfort preferences.

Learn More About Sleeping Accessories

Mattress Topper FAQs

Although we may have covered quite a bit of how to your best mattress topper for a dorm bed, we know we may not have answered all of your questions. So here are some of the frequently asked questions we get from our customers. We want to ensure you’re confident in your dorm bed mattress topper choice before you or your young adult heads back to campus.

Q: How thick should a mattress topper be for a dorm bed?

The thickness of a mattress topper will depend on sleep position and personal preference. A thicker mattress topper (3 to 4 inches) is recommended for those who sleep on their sides. A back sleeper can be satisfied with a thinner mattress topper (2 to 3 inches). For stomach sleepers, a very thin and firm mattress topper is recommended.

Q: Is a mattress topper necessary for dorms?

Many college students will find that their dorm mattresses are too firm for their liking. An easy and affordable way to address this conundrum is to invest in a mattress topper. Mattress toppers not only provide comfort, but they can also provide much-needed support. This additional support will go a long way in avoiding pain or other discomforts.

Shop Mattress Accessories

Mattress Accessories

So much goes into finding the best mattress topper for a dorm bed before sending your incoming freshman or returning junior to campus. And it can be hard getting adjusted to sleeping in a new and unfamiliar place. So, at Mattress Land, we make it our goal to help you and your family get the best stress-free sleep you need with the supportive comfort of a soft or firm pillow, bedding, mattress, or mattress topper.

Why Trust Mattress Land?

Since 1996, Mattress Land has been making strides in the mattress industry to provide our customers the sleep experience they need — and deserve. We do that by offering the ultimate customer experience, complete with our trained experts, BedFIT™ computerized diagnostics, and our impressive showroom. We’ll make sure that you find the right sleep solution for your sleeping habits so you can feel energized in your day-to-day life.

We are also proud of our diverse, employee-driven culture, where our teams work hard toward a common goal. We know that better sleep makes all the difference, and our commitment to changing the landscape of traditional mattress shopping is how we know Mattress Land is one of the best mattress stores around.

Shop Mattress Toppers at Mattress Land

At Mattress Land, we provide quality name-brand mattresses for great prices. Our sleep experts are always happy to help you choose the best mattress topper for dorm beds. With locations throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington, Mattress Land is bound to have a sleep solution for everyone. We are more accessible than ever! You can call us at 800-909-9299, visit our website to shop Mattress Land sales, and check out Mattress Land reviews online. Or better yet, stop by one of our showrooms to discover why we are everyone’s favorite local mattress store. Visit us today!

Learn More: Guide to Mattress Firmness: What Should You Know