Introduction to Mattresses

A mattress is a filled rectangular pad placed on a frame or on the floor to provide a comfortable place for sleeping. It often contains some framing and/or springs and is likewise often used in conjunction with a foundation, which is often a box spring, a cloth-covered frame with rows of springs. Mattresses may cost a few hundred dollars or several thousand dollars, so it pays to know what you’re getting.


Mattresses come in an array of standard sizes as far as the name, but the actual measurements may vary. A crib mattress is specifically designed to fit a standard baby bed (“crib”): not a playpen or other. A twin is also known as a single, and is the size that fits in daybeds, trundle beds, and hideaways. Extra-long twins are standard in college dorms – good to know if you’re sending a child to school with new sheet sets. A double is also known as a full. A king is also known as east king.

Here are the measurements of the most common mattresses:

Size Dimensions (inches) Dimensions (meters)
Crib 27” x 52” .69 m x 1.38 m
Cot 30” x 75” .76 m x 1.9 m
Twin 39” x 75” 1 m × 1.9 m
Extra-long Twin 38” x 79.5” or 39” x 80” .97 m x 2.02 m or 1 m x 2.05 m
Double 54” x 75” 1.35 m × 1.9 m
Extra-long Double 54” x 80” 1.35 m x 2.05 m
Queen 60” x 80” 1.5 m × 2.05 m
King 76” x 80” 1.95 m × 2.05 m
California King72” x 84” 1.83 m x 2.13 m

home institute 1 Construction/Types

There are some important different types of mattresses to fit various needs:

  • Adjustable Beds—these are specialized beds that provide adjustments for people whose health conditions require them. They are not a standard sleeping solution for healthy people.

  • Air Bed—distinct from an air mattresses, which is not recommended for daily use because it doesn’t provide sufficient support, but works well as a guest bed for a brief stay. Air beds are made by Select Comfort have air chambers instead of springs, and each side of a queen size bed is adjustable to suit the sleeper.

  • Foam—there are a variety of types of foam: viscoelastic (also known as Memory foam), latex, and polyurethane. Viscoelastic is both the most durable and the most expensive. Polyurethane tends to compress and degrade over time. Latex is desirable because it is hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant.

  • Innerspring—has been the most used type of mattress for many years. Notable features remember are coil count and firmness levels, stain resistance, thickness, the type of spring used, and extra cushioning (called “pillow tops”).

  • Waterbed—still popular with people with allergies, and those who want to eliminate all pressure points. Some are heated and may come with padding and some even claim to be waveless.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Bed Desk Buying Guide
  • Portable Bed Rails
  • Bed Sheets Buying Guide
  • Futon Buying Guide
  • Air Mattress Buying Guide
  • Crib Safety
  • Introduction to Infant's Beds
  • Introduction to Featherbeds
  • Introduction to Mattress Toppers