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Things You Need for a College Dorm – Replacing Your Mattress

by Pam Silvia

In most cases, moving into a college dormitory signals a fleeing of the nest. It is as much an exciting prospect as it is a nerve-wracking one. Your friends at Mattress Land know that part of settling into a new living situation is ensuring a certain level of comfort, so the last thing you need is a shabby, passed-down mattress that compromises your quality of sleep. It is widely understood that a key component of excellent academic performance is good sleep, so a new dorm mattress is not just a sensible investment but it is also a high-stakes one. As such, it requires careful deliberation when choosing between a plush, medium, or firm mattress and selecting the right mattress type, from traditional coil options to modern foam models.

Along with a checklist of things you need for a college dorm (from toiletries to small appliances), our Mattress Land experts have the lowdown on the best college mattress brands and products for your preferred sleep position and unique needs. Read on — class is in session!

Dorm room with bed

College Dorm Checklist

Moving into a new living situation is already stressful enough. To prevent anything from falling through the cracks, we developed a helpful checklist of things you need for your college dorm:

✓ Dorm room furniture – As applicable (depending on whether your dormitory already supplies them), this includes a bed frame, a nightstand, a dresser, file storage, a desk, and a desk chair.

✓ Dorm room décor – Spice it up! To add visual intrigue to your space, you may opt for posters, pennants, banners, framed photos, wall ornaments, string lights, and more.

✓ Office essentials – This includes a desk lamp, writing utensils, a stationery set, file organizers, a computer or laptop, and a printer.

✓ Personal dishes – This includes drinkware, plates, Tupperware, and cutlery.

✓ Laundry products – This includes a clothing hamper, a laundry basket, detergent, and fabric softener.

✓ Toiletries – At the very least, your hygiene products should include shampoo and/or conditioner, body soap, a shower caddy, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. In addition, don’t forget items for your personal regimen, including deodorant, skincare, and grooming products.

✓ Optional appliances – Depending on your dormitory’s amenities, this can include a mini-fridge, microwave, and/or coffeemaker.

As you round up the things you need for a dorm, you may be asking yourself, do you need to bring your own mattress to college? Well, most student housing services supply each resident with a mattress. But what if this mattress is uncomfortable, saggy, or otherwise not to your liking? Depending on the institution, this decision may be out of your hands, as student housing services may deny you the opportunity to replace the mattress. That said, there are ways to make your passed-down college bed more comfortable, including adding a mattress protector, mattress topper, premium bed sheets, and blankets. 

But if your institution allows you to bring your own mattress, then count yourself lucky! The ability to purchase your college mattress allows you to select your ideal comfort level and mattress type. However, if you opt for this route, be sure to consult with student housing officials about the storage or disposal of the old mattress.

Best Mattress for College Students: A Rundown

Woman studying on laptop

Of course, any new mattress for your dorm is bound to be an upgrade when you consider the alternative is a well-worn model. A juried selection can make all the difference when it comes to experiencing deep, restorative sleep. After all, quality sleep is critical for feeling alert in classes and retaining information for midterms. Check out our guide for mattress comfort levels and materials:

Comfort Level: Plush Mattress

Contrary to popular belief, a mattress doesn’t have to be firm to be supportive. If you are a side sleeper, a sleep surface that is softer will let you sink deeply, providing pressure relief to your shoulders, hips, knees, and feet as you doze off. In addition, because side-sleeping is prescribed for those who suffer from sleep apnea, a plush mattress is considered the best bed for heavy snorers.

Comfort Level: Medium Mattress

If you suffer from back pain, a medium-firm mattress will lessen discomfort, as your body won’t sink into the surface to cause further aches. Simply put, medium-firm beds are designed to provide enough support to keep your spine better aligned without leading to sore joints.

Research shows that most people prefer beds that fall somewhere in the middle of the firmness scale — this gray area is also termed within the industry as “universal comfort” or “hotel style.” Generally, unless you suffer from a sleep disorder, you’ll probably get the best night’s sleep from a medium comfort-level mattress. This type of bed is also recommended for back sleepers.

Comfort Level: Firm Mattress

If you are a stomach sleeper, you’ll sleep soundly on a firmer mattress, as the sturdy surface will help prevent arching in the back and curb the potential for lumbar pain. Additionally, your body’s distribution of weight could direct you toward a firmer mattress. Experts state that individuals who weigh more than 230 pounds will experience better sleep on a firmer mattress than a softer one since a firm or extra-firm bed can keep spines better aligned to prevent lower-back pain.

Mattress Type: Memory Foam Mattress

Do you have persisting back and neck pains that make REM sleep a nightmare? You can minimize these disruptions with adaptive-cushioning foam technology that is designed to a) respond to your precise body heat and pressure points and b) cradle your entire body in comfort. If your memory foam mattress includes a layer of gel-infused memory foam, this premium model is designed to provide a cooler sleeping surface. A gel memory foam layer may also improve spinal alignment, minimize the amount of pressure applied to joints, and reduce the risk of snoring.

Mattress Type: Coil Mattress

An oldie but a goodie (and the most affordable mattress option), an innerspring mattress balances and distributes weight while holding your spine in healthy alignment, thanks to steel coils that readily absorb your body weight.

By contrast, a pocket coil mattress has individual coils that are wrapped in fabric pockets. This arrangement allows the coils to move independently from each other, which results in a more comfortable and supportive sleep experience. Additionally, pocket coil mattresses are more durable than other traditional mattresses.

Read More: The Best Mattresses Under $1,000

Mattress Type: Hybrid Mattress

The best of both worlds, a hybrid mattress facilitates the decision between a tried-and-true coil mattress and a modern memory foam mattress. While the combination of materials varies from model to model, hybrid mattresses are all constructed with coils used in innerspring or pocket coil mattresses and adaptive foam from memory foam mattresses. A hybrid mattress amounts to moderate firmness, superior support, and plush padding.

Read More: Memory Foam & Hybrid Mattresses: Head-to-Head

Mattress Type: Bed in a Box

It’s what it sounds like. A bed in a box can arrive at your door, changing how you shop for mattresses forever. Touted for being a hassle-free buying option, this memory foam mattress uses automated compression technology so it can be rolled up and packed in a box small enough to be shipped to your door. Once these beds are unboxed, their unique foam structure allows these mattresses to fully bounce back and expand to their original shape. Due to its design, a bed in a box ensures great longevity.

Read More: Best Bed in a Box Mattresses

FAQ: What mattress do college dorms use?

Answer: Twin XL mattresses are the standard for college dormitories. A twin XL mattress measures 80 inches in length and 39 inches in width.

College Dorm Bedding

Sitting on college bed

Because most college mattresses are a twin XL size, most of the bed frames that are supplied in dorms are capable of only supporting this mattress size. Unless you are granted the approval to replace your dorm’s bed frame, your new bed will most likely be a twin or twin XL mattress. As such, you should purchase bedding for your college bed size. If you are purchasing new bedding, the set will most likely denote which mattress size it accommodates.

For optimal comfort, here is a list of college dorm bedding and accessories to consider:

✓ Comforter or duvet – A comforter is a thick quilted blanket. By contrast, a duvet is a type of bedding that is a soft flat bag filled with down, feathers, wool, or a synthetic alternative. It is protected with a removable cover, the duvet cover. A duvet is a single covering instead of a combination of sheets, quilts, and other bed coverings.

✓ Sheet sets Bed sheets are made of a variety of fibers, including linen, cotton, synthetics (often blended with natural fibers such as cotton) and, occasionally, silk. These sets usually include a fitted sheet, a flat top sheet, and one or two pillowcases.

✓ Blanket – An optional covering, a blanket is a large piece of woolen or similar material used as an extra bed covering for optimal warmth and comfort.

✓ Pillows and throw pillowsBed pillows are designed to support the head and neck during sleep. For decorative purposes, there are also throw pillows in a variety of shapes and sizes. In some cases, throw pillows may be included in comforter or duvet sets.

✓ Mattress protector – Designed to safeguard your mattress against spills and body sweat, a mattress protector may come as a fitted sheet or zippered covering that is placed between your bare mattress and your fitted bed sheet.

✓ Mattress topper – An optional covering, a mattress topper is a fitted sheet or pad that can be placed between your mattress protector and fitted bed sheet to add an extra layer of comfort.

Mattress Land’s Top 3 Beds for College Students

Here are our recommendations for the best mattress for college students. These picks come from three of our top mattress collections: SleepFit, Sleep Essentials, and Beautyrest Black.

NOTE: The following recommendations come from our friends at BrandSource. Availability of products is not guaranteed.

1. Sleep Essentials Oasis Innerspring Luxury Firm Euro Top Mattress (Model #: 27728)

Sleep Essentials Twin Mattress

Built to the most exacting standards, this Sleep Essentials innerspring mattress exudes the latest technology and materials from the brand. Featuring an open coil system, this firm coil mattress is sure to deliver the best night’s sleep to individuals who suffer from back pain and who may weigh over 230 pounds. Plus, don’t let the “traditional” construction fool you — with layers of medium-firm foam, this coil mattress takes notes from more modern mattresses and uses premium-grade materials to ensure an ultra-comfortable, sweatless sleep.

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2. Sleep Essentials Manito 2.0 Pocketed Coil Plush Mattress (Model #: 27742)

Sleep Essentials queen mattress

This Sleep Essentials bed is a SleepFit-exclusive mattress that offers a 100 percent natural fire barrier, meaning your bed is fire retardant and ultra-safe. When it comes to comfort, this plush option is made with super-soft, gel-infused foam that conforms to your body and helps you sleep cooler. In fact, this pocket coil mattress includes layers of soft and medium-firm foam to cradle your body and cushion your pressure points. Meanwhile, the base’s high coil density and fabric-encased coil system deliver personalized comfort even as you lie on the edge of your mattress. If you’re not sure if you should take the leap from a traditional coil mattress onto a foam mattress, this option won’t rock the boat.

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3. Sleep Essentials Driscoll Innerspring Euro Top Mattress (Model #: 27721)

Sleep essentials Driscoll Mattress

If you're looking for a twin mattress that will help you sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed, look no further than the Sleep EssentialsSleep Fit Driscoll Innerspring Euro Top Twin Mattress. This mattress features a 100% natural fire barrier for your safety, as well as soft foam and layers of medium firm foam that conform to your body to help you sleep cooler. Additionally, the open coil system provides active support throughout the night so you can rest easy. Plus, the euro top design adds an extra layer of plush comfort. 

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Mattress Land College Program (Coming Soon!)

Using laptop while studying

This upcoming academic year, be on the lookout for Mattress Land’s college program! We will offer a limited selection of dorm-appropriate mattresses, a bedding bundle, and more, for a discounted all-in-one price — college move-in weekend will never be smoother. Check our website soon or contact your nearest Mattress Land for more details!

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 Things You Need for a College Dorm at Mattress Land

At Mattress Land, we provide quality name-brand mattresses for great prices. Our sleep experts are always happy to help you find things you need for a college dorm — starting with a bed. With locations throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington, Mattress Land is bound to have a sleep solution for everyone. 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: The Best Twin Size Mattresses for Your Home