Mattress Thickness vs Sleep Quality

Mattress Thickness vs Sleep Quality: What’s The Connection?

Affiliate Disclosure: I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase a mattress after clicking a referral link or using a coupon code on this site. That said, all content and opinions on this site are my own and are NOT affected by these payments.

Did you know there are 16-inch mattresses and even a few measuring 18-inches?

These super-sized mattresses are not the norm – most mattresses range between 8 and 12 inches.

Here at SleepDelivered, only two or three mattresses we have reviewed reach the 14-inch mark.

In general people love thick mattresses.

There is a perception that they are more comfortable, supportive and long lasting.

In a physical store, most people will be immediately drawn to the thickest brands displayed.

This is also perhaps because thicker mattresses tend to look more luxurious.

That said – does mattress thickness really have any bearing on how well your bed will sleep at night?  If so, what is the relationship?

What’s The Connection Between Mattress Thickness and Sleep Quality?

Many factors affect your sleeping experience – you sleeping style, your mattress’ firmness level, cooling ability, motion transfer and your body weight and contouring are some.

In some cases, for some people, mattress thickness does affect sleeping experience – while for others it is not an important factor.

Let’s try to break-down this conundrum.

We cannot talk about thickness apart from the structure and construction of the mattress. What matters first and foremost is how the mattress has been made. What materials are used in the different layers? What’s the thickness of each layer? How soft or firm are the layers?

Within normal thickness limits (9-12 inches) mattress thickness doesn’t matter much as long as the mattress is well made.  A well-constructed 10-inch mattress is going to be as comfortable and supportive as a well-constructed 12-inch mattress.

Increasing thickness of 13 inches, 14 inches and beyond will have an increasing impact on the sleeping experience.

But again, this depends strongly on how a mattress is made. A super thick 16-inch mattress may be inconvenient to set up, but if it is made from quality materials and has the right structure, it’s still going to be comfortable.

That being said, there are some distinct advantages of buying a thicker mattress. A 14-inch mattress will be better in certain situations than a 10-inch mattress. It can even help boost sleep quality.

Below we look at these benefits as well as potential downsides of owning a thick mattress.

Mattress Structure

Mattresses usually have between two and five layers.

Most have 3 or 4.

These layers often group together to do one thing or another.

The top layers form the comfort layer of your mattress. This is where most of a mattress’ comfort and support is derived. These layers are also responsible for cooling, responsiveness and reducing motion transfer.

The bottom layers usually forms the base or foundation of your mattress. The foundation layer(s) plays a major role in compression support for heavier sleepers as well as the durability of the mattress.

Foundation Layer Thickness

In a high quality mattress, the foundation will usually make up at least 50% of the mattress thickness.

If you buy a mattress whose base layer is only 3 or 4 inches out of the total 10 inches, then it’s probably not going to last very long. Insufficient foundational support often leads to sagging within a couple of years.

So if the mattress is 10-12 inches high, the foundation layer should be at least 5-6 inches thick.

Comfort Layer Thickness

The comfort layer can be further divided into two parts. There is a dedicated comfort layer (or layers) and a support layer (or layers).

The support layer is often at the very top of the mattress, where it provides adequate resistance to force – or support – which is especially important for your back.

The dedicated comfort layer often consists of memory foam and is positioned in the middle of the mattress to provide contouring and pressure relief. This is the layer that gives the mattress a nice plush feeling.

Sometimes, as is the case with the Saatva mattress, the comfort and support layers can be switched to give the mattress a softer and more luxurious feel.

The thickness of the comfort section (dedicated support and comfort layers included) is actually very important.

If it’s too thin, it doesn’t provide adequate support, pressure relief or contouring.

If you have a heavier body, you’ll quickly sink and encounter the uncomfortably firm base layer at the base.

Most experts recommend that each of the top two layers be at least 2 inches thick. That means a good mattress should have a minimum of 4 inches on top and around 6 inches at the bottom.

You can then see why the best mattresses sold online don’t go below 10 inches in thickness. This is the sweet spot that provides good comfort, adequate support and at least a decade of usage.

When a Thicker Mattress is Better

10 inches is not always ideal for everyone, however.

Sometimes a thicker mattress has more advantages.

Below we look at some of the benefits of 12-14 inch mattresses and situations where they are recommended.

Is Your Mattress On The Floor?

Mattress Thickness vs Sleep Quality

Mattress companies provide warranty coverage with the requirement that you place the mattress on the right foundation. This can be a box spring, platform or a slatted base. Some are also ok with placing the mattress directly on the floor, as long as the floor is flat and even.

If you are going to place the mattress on the floor, make sure it is extra thick, at least 12 inches. The floor is much harder than a box spring or platform, which tend to absorb some of the shocks when you lie on the mattress.

A thicker mattress, especially in the base layer, ensures the mattress can take your weight without sagging. It also goes a long way in keeping your mattress functional for years.

Are You A Heavy Person?

We all have different sleeping needs and preferences. If you sleep on your side, for instance, a softer mattress is necessary to ensure your hips and shoulder don’t press painfully into the mattress. Same if you have broad shoulders or wide hips.

For those with a heavier body, you need a mattress that can take the added weight without compromising the level of support and comfort. If the mattress is too soft, you will sink in, and the sleeping experience will be terrible.

You will also have a bad experience if the mattress is not thick enough. As with a soft mattress, the layers tend to sink in too far, which reduces the amount of support you receive. The mattress also tends to feel too firm because the only layer providing a measure of support is the firm base layer.

I recommend getting a mattress that is at least 12 inches thick and has a 4-inch or bigger comfort layer. A 13 or 14-inch mattress is also good. Also, make sure the mattress is firmer than average to boost support and reduce sinkage.

Couple Sharing a Bed?

The same challenge facing heavier-bodied individuals is the same one couples encounter. A thin mattress doesn’t last long under your combined weight. In a year or two, a crater starts appearing at the center. As it gets worse, support deteriorates, and you are constantly fighting to avoid rolling towards the center of the mattress.

Your sleeping experience becomes a nightmare, no pun intended.

If you are going to be sharing a bed with your partner, take extra care when shopping for a mattress. Be especially careful about the thickness of the mattress. Make sure it’s at least 12 inches high with a base of 6 or 7 inches and a comfort section of 4 or 5 inches.

A 10-inch mattress is still good, but a 12 or 14-inch one is even better, more supportive and long lasting. You may have to pay extra, but it’s worth it.

Another advantage of a thicker mattress for couples is the reduction in motion control. A thinner mattress (under 10 inches) tends to easily transfer disturbance from one end of the mattress to the other. A thicker mattress has more material to absorb the motion and stop it in its tracks.

Design / Aesthetics Reasons

Saatva vs. loom and leaf

Is a thicker mattress better looking? It depends on your particular tastes. Many people see thicker mattresses as more luxurious, hence the common misconception that they are always better.

But if you prefer the look of a thicker mattress, go for it. Saatva offers a thicker 14-inch mattress at the same price as the ordinary 12-inch one. Brands like Amerisleep also have luxurious 14-inch options, though at a higher price tag.

The aesthetics of a thicker mattress can be especially beneficial if you are sleeping on the floor. The mattress takes on the look of a full bed.


Finally, buy a thicker mattress if you want it to last for more than a decade.

Most 10-inch mattresses come with a 10-year long warranty, giving you a rough idea of how long the mattress is likely to last.

Thicker mattresses, especially those with a thicker base (around 7 inches), tend to enjoy the longer life and have a longer warranty.

The 12-inch and 14-inch thick Saatva mattress, for instance, has a 15-year warranty.

The Ghostbed, with its 7.5-inch foundation, has a 20-year warranty.

If you don’t want to buy another mattress for the next 15 years or more, then don’t go for anything less than 12 inches.

Pay special attention to the base layer which should be thick enough and made from a high-density material that maintains shape and form even after years of use.

The Downsides of a Thick Mattress

A thicker mattress has some disadvantages that you should know before making a purchase decision. Most of these are not bad enough to create a terrible sleeping experience, but they can cause issues for some people.

It’s Heavy

12 and 14-inch mattresses tend to be quite heavy.

A queen size mattress will weigh at least 120 pounds for memory foam mattresses, and around 150 pounds or more if there are springs inside the mattress.

Latex foam mattresses, because of the higher density, can be even heavier.

The weight of the mattress doesn’t affect the sleeping experience, it’s just an inconvenience. Setting the mattress up can be a real headache as you try to maneuver it into the house, into the bedroom and out of the box.  Cleaning it can also be a chore requiring two people instead of one.

If the mattress retailer/supplier does not provide set up services (also called white glove delivery), then make sure you have someone to help you.

You’ll also need help if you decide to turn the mattress around or move it to another room later.

Problems Getting Out Of Bed

If your feet barely touch the ground when you sit on your bed, buying a thicker mattress can make it even more challenging to get, or rather jump, out of bed. It’s a small issue, but it can be annoying having to struggle to get out of bed every morning.

That said, a too-tall bed can be especially problematic for people with mobility problems. I wouldn’t recommend a 14-inch mattress for an elderly person.

Temperature Control

Thicker mattresses tend to trap more air and heat within them, over the evening.

But this is usually a problem limited to thick, cheap foam mattresses.

Good quality brands use various techniques such as open-cell foam, gel-infused foam, and egg crate-style design to boost cooling.

Innerspring mattresses generally speaking have no heating problems, regardless of their thickness.

So, if you are going to buy a thick mattress, check that the manufacturer has sufficiently addressed temperature control.


Thicker mattresses tend to be pricier, because they need more materials to make a bigger comfort layer and a thicker foundation.

“Thicker” is also a marketing gimmick used to get you to pay more than you should.

If you really need a thick mattress, but your budget is tight, then look for a seller that provides a financing option. You can then pay in easy monthly installments while still enjoying your mattress.

Ill-fitting Bedding

Finally, expect to have some trouble making your bed when you buy an extra thick mattress. It will take a bit more searching, and money, to find bedding that will adequately cover the top and sides of the mattress.

Choosing The Right Thickness

Consider your specific situation and needs when deciding whether a thicker mattress is better for you.

  • Will you be sleeping on the floor?
  • Will you be sharing the bed?
  • Do you have a heavier body?
  • How long is an acceptable warranty?

Compare different brands to find out what kind of experience you can expect from each.

For example, in our Leesa vs. Casper comparison look at the construction & quality of each layer before looking at the thickness.

It is also worth noting that not all mattresses have to be extra thick to meet your needs.

For instance, when comparing a foam vs. spring mattress , the latter can be thinner while still providing great support and durability.

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Affiliate Disclosure: I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase a mattress after clicking a referral link or using a coupon code on this site. That said, all content and opinions on this site are my own and are NOT affected by these payments.

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