Best mattress for college students 2024: 5 top-rated cheap beds

Siena Sleep memory foam mattress, featuring a person lying upside on the bed, with legs up the wall, reading a book
(Image credit: Siena Sleep)
Best student mattress: Menu

1. Best overall
2. Best cheap
3. Best hybrid
4. Best for hot sleepers
5. Best natural
6. Buying advice


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The best mattresses for college students are comfortable and supportive, reducing pressure so you wake up refreshed and ready for class. Essentially, the mattress should help you enjoy deeper, better sleep at a time in your life when you need plenty of energy. Our best mattress guide will help you find the best of the best, but you’re a student, so we know money might be tight. To help, we’ve rounded up mattresses for college students that offer restorative sleep at a lower price.

As well as providing a comfortable feel, a mattress for students must be available in a dorm-friendly size, such as twin or twin XL. And you don’t need to break the bank to find a bed that suits your needs. The Siena Memory Foam Mattress is one of our top picks, and a twin is just $199. 

We’ve put together this guide to beds for college students based on expert testing and review analysis. Frequent mattress sales can help you save, but if you don’t have the budget for a full mattress, a mattress topper can add a supportive barrier between you and a bed other people have slept in. Here’s our top recommendations for the best mattresses for college students.

The best mattress for college students, rated by experts

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The best mattress for college students

The Nectar Mattress, shown here with a woman reading in bed next to her male partner, is the best mattress for college students overall

(Image credit: Nectar)
Best mattress for college students overall

Specifications

Type: All-foam
Firmness (1-10): 6.5-7
Height: 12"
Trial: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime
Price range: Lower mid-range
Materials: Memory foam, other foams

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value for money
+
Keen balance of relief and support
+
Sleeps cool for an all-foam bed

Reasons to avoid

-
Larger sleepers will need more support
-
Cover is removable but not washable

Nectar's flagship mattress is a fantastic combo of comfort, quality, and value for money, making it our top recommendation for most college students. There's always a Nectar mattress sale going on, which means you can snag a queen size for as low as $699 or a twin XL for $569. That's not all — all Nectar mattresses come with a 1-year trial, a lifetime warranty, and free or discounted bedding, meaning you can get your entire sleep setup sorted in one go. 

We slept on a Nectar mattress and despite its medium-firm feel, we found it hits the sweet spot of sink-in pressure relief and ample support, particularly for side sleeping. Its 5-layer build consists of various different types of foam: cooling gel memory foam at the top, alongside dynamic support foam, and a transitional foam layer for some added bounce. It's all topped off with a polyethylene cover that wicks away moisture and body heat, allowing it to sleep cooler than most all-foam mattresses.

The Nectar is an investment that'll keep on giving if you plan to haul your mattress with you post-graduation. In fact, it also tops our list of the best mattresses under $1,000. No matter which life stage you're in, the Nectar mattress is a sound choice for restorative sleep at a price that won't decimate your wallet. 

The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: was from $699 $349 at Nectar Sleep

The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: was from $699 $349 at Nectar Sleep
Sitting in the lower mid-range price bracket, the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress undercuts most of its rivals on price while still delivering high quality support. There's always a Nectar mattress sale and the current up to 40% off deal has been live since Black Friday with only minor fluctuations. A queen is now $649 (was $1,099) and you'll get a 365-night trial and a forever warranty. Ideal if you want a mattress to see you through college and beyond.

The best cheap mattress for college students

Siena Memory Foam Mattress with a student lying on it

(Image credit: Siena)
Best cheap mattress for college students

Specifications

Type: All-foam
Firmness (1-10): 9
Height: 10"
Trial: 180 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Price range: Budget
Materials: Memory foam, other foam

Reasons to buy

+
Always on sale; a queen costs $399
+
Excellent edge support and motion isolation
+
Above-average temperature regulation

Reasons to avoid

-
Some sleepers will find it too firm
-
Doesn't hug like a typical foam bed

If the Nectar (#1) is out of your price range, check out its more affordable sibling, the Siena. (Both labels are a part of the Resident Home brand.) Siena runs an evergreen $300 off sale, which drops its memory foam mattress to $399 for a queen and $299 for a twin XL. Better yet, it comes with a 180-night trial and a 10-year warranty — incredible perks for a budget mattress. Meanwhile, you can add a bedding bundle with sheets, pillows, and a mattress protector for just $99.

The design is pretty advanced for a budget, all-foam mattress: 2.5" of gel-infused memory foam, plus a layer of rippled transitional foam – all topped by a breathable poly-blend cover. According to Siena, its memory foam mattress has a medium-firm feel, but our testing panel thought it was decidedly firmer than that. We rate it a 9 out of 10 on the firmness scale and believe it's perfect for stomach and back sleepers who fancy less of that typical foam hug, and want to be able to move around easily.

Edge support is stellar, too, so you won't have to worry about falling overboard if you're prone to sprawling out or hugging the edge. Thinking about sharing your bed with a roommate or significant other? Siena's got you covered with outstanding motion isolation so you're unlikely to disturb each other the night before a major exam. Add to that above-average temperature regulation and you have one of the best cheap mattresses you can buy for your dorm room or apartment.

Siena Memory Foam mattress:was from $499$199 at Siena Sleep 

Siena Memory Foam mattress: was from $499 $199 at Siena Sleep  
You can ignore the countdown on the Siena Sleep site – this 50% off sale is live throughout the year. It's a massive saving, reducing a queen size to just $399 from an MSRP of $799. This is a remarkable price for a mattress that's one of our favorite memory foam beds, and the 180-night sleep trial is pretty good too. Siena also offers a bargain sleep bundle, with a mattress protector, sheet set, and cooling pillow just $99 for a queen size – perfect for the big move.

The best hybrid mattress for college students

Allswell Mattress, on a wooden bedframe in a bedroom

(Image credit: Allswell)

3. The Allswell Mattress

Best hybrid mattress for college students

Specifications

Type: Hybrid
Firmness (1-10): 7
Height: 10"
Trial: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Price range: Budget
Materials: Foam, springs

Reasons to buy

+
A highly affordable hybrid mattress
+
Great motion isolation
+
Very good temperature regulation

Reasons to avoid

-
Too firm for lighter side sleepers
-
Lacks support for heavier bodies

Allswell is Walmart's bed-in-a-box brand, so naturally, its prices are super affordable. Take the entry-level Allswell hybrid mattress – a queen retails for $337, and a twin XL goes for $227. Allswell doesn't host too many mattress sales since prices are already firmly in the budget bracket, but you could get lucky and score the occasional 15% to 25% discount (you may need to sign up for text updates to save money, though). Each Allswell mattress comes with a 100-night trial plus a 10-year warranty.

It's not often that we see a hybrid mattress priced so low – as a rule, mattresses with springs cost more than all-foam models – but that's hardly a reflection of the Allswell's quality. We've yet to try the Allswell mattress ourselves, but it has a rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5) from over 3,500 verified customers. Sleepers highlight its incredible motion isolation and very good temperature regulation. That's a testament to the Allswell's charcoal- and copper-infused gel memory foam layer, individually-wrapped pocket coils, and quilted top cover.

Allswell labels its mattress as a medium (6 out of 10 on the firmness scale), but customers think it skews closer to medium-firm (around a 7 out of 10). Given its three-layer build and insights from user reviews, we recommend the Allswell mattress for petite and average-sized back and front sleepers who'd rather float on top of their mattress than sink into it. 

Whether you're in your final year of college or just starting your academic journey, the Allswell stands ready to serve as your sleep sanctuary while leaving you enough cash in your pocket for other campus essentials. 

The best cooling mattress for college students

Cocoon by Sealy Chill

(Image credit: Sealy)
Best budget cooling mattress for college students

Specifications

Type: All-foam
Firmness (1-10): 6.5
Height: 10"
Trial: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Price range: Lower mid-range
Materials: Memory foam, other foams

Reasons to buy

+
Heat absorbing cover
+
Excellent pressure relief
+
Free cooling bedding

Reasons to avoid

-
Edge support is lacking

No need to break a sweat when it comes to the Cocoon Chill mattress – this all-foam cooling model is among the most affordable of its type. An evergreen Cocoon by Sealy Chill mattress sale knocks 35% off the sticker price, making it possible to bring home a queen for $699 or a twin XL for $459. To further sweeten the deal, Sealy throws in a sheet set plus a pair of pillows with purchase, along with a 100-night trial and a 10-year warranty.

Full-foam beds are notorious for trapping heat, but the 4-layer Cocoon Chill mattress bucks that trend with a layer of breathable memory foam and a knit phase-changing cover. Our testers gave it two thumbs up for temperature regulation, beating out other mid-range foam mattresses. 

The Cocoon Chill is a medium-firm mattress with a subtle cradling sensation courtesy of its memory foam top layer. Based on our experience, this one's a winner for lightweight and average sleepers, regardless of their preferred sleep position. 

Heavier bodies will find it most comfortable on their backs or stomachs, but sleepers over 300lbs will find more support with the Cocoon Chill Hybrid, which adds a layer of responsive coils for reinforced edges and improved airflow over its all-foam counterpart. However, if you want a cooling mattress without the exorbitant price tag, the Cocoon Chill memory foam mattress is tough to beat.

Cocoon by Sealy Chill Mattress:was from $619$399 at Cocoon by Sealy

Cocoon by Sealy Chill Mattress: was from $619 $399 at Cocoon by Sealy
The all-foam cooling mattress by Sealy offers excellent temperature regulation at a lower mid-range price. The 35% off sale is evergreen, cutting a queen from $1,079 to $699 (or $899 for the hybrid version). On top of this, you'll also get a free Sealy Sleep bundle, including pillows and mattress protector. Add on a 100-night trial and 10-year warranty and you have a mattress that's fantastic value for money. It's pretty much impossible to find a specialist cooling mattress at a better price than this. 

The best natural mattress for college students

Awara Natural Hybrid Mattress in a bedroom

(Image credit: Awara)
Best organic mattress for college students

Specifications

Type: Latex hybrid
Firmness (1-10): 8
Height: 10"
Trial: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime
Price range: Mid-range
Materials: Dunlop latex, coils

Reasons to buy

+
Adapts to any sleep style
+
Excellent build quality
+
Up to $499 in extras included

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too firm for petite sleepers
-
Pricer than other options here

The mid-range Awara Natural Hybrid is an outright steal in the realm of organic beds, which are priced accordingly to help meet strict environmental guidelines. Thanks to frequent sales, a queen sells for $1,099 and a twin XL fetches $899, and adding an Awara promo code will yield even lower prices. But that's not all — all purchases include a premium bedding bundle (sheets, pillows, and a mattress protector) valued at up to $499, plus a generous 1-year trial and a forever warranty.

The 10-inch Awara mattress consists of a support base with individually-wrapped 8-inch coils, two inches of Dunlop latex, and a cover made from organic cotton and New Zealand wool. What impressed us most about the Awara was its ability to adapt to any sleep style, despite its firmer-than-average bed feel. (Awara rates it as a 7.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale, but we found it's closer to an 8.) 

While petite sleepers may find it too solid, most others should find a just-right level of pressure relief with plenty of support. Our panel also gave the Awara high marks for temperature regulation and edge support, which is on par with most hybrids.

Between a lifetime warranty and its impeccable build quality, the Awara Natural Hybrid is the best mattress for college students who are shopping with their future in mind. Sure, it may be the most expensive model here, but you can easily take this top-rated organic mattress with you once you're ready to venture into the real world. 

Awara Natural Hybrid mattress: $1,299$649 at Awara Sleep

Awara Natural Hybrid mattress: $1,299 $649 at Awara Sleep
Organic mattresses are typically expensive beds and while the Awara Natural Hybrid doesn't completely buck this trend, it is an eco-friendly option at a more budget friendly price. The up to 50% off sale at Awara has been running for a while now, so we're keeping our fingers crossed it's the new evergreen deal. A queen is only $949 (was $1,699) and you'll get a 365-night sleep trial plus a forever warranty.

Best mattress for college: Buying advice

What mattress is best for college?

The best kind of mattress for college will largely depend on where you'll be living. Dorms are usually tight on space so twin XL is the most common mattress size for on-campus housing. (It's five inches longer than a standard twin, so it's better suited to older teens and adults.) However, if you're going to be living off-campus, you may have more room to play with so consider a full size or queen size mattress instead. 

One caveat is that twin XL is among the hardest sizes to shop for when it comes to bedding and accessories. If your dorm or apartment can't accommodate anything larger, try to take advantage of a mattress sale with free or discounted bedding included. You may also get lucky and find something you like during current bedding sales.

Beyond that, you're probably best opting for a bed-in-a-box model, which arrives compressed and rolled, making it nice and easy to get into place. In a battle of bed in a box vs traditional mattress, boxed models win out on convenience and are often better value for money, too. (If you're wondering if boxed mattresses are any good, the answer is yes – many of our top-rated models fall into this category.) 

How much should you spend on a student mattress?

Most of the choices on our list fall into the budget or lower mid-range brackets, which is $800 or less for a queen. If you only need something to get you by for a year or two, you don’t have to go all-out. A decent no-frills mattress should do just fine. 

On the other hand, if you want a mattress to accompany you post-graduation, it’s worth investing more in something that’ll last for the long haul. Just know that as the years roll on your sleep needs will change, whether it’s due to injuries or agreeing to share a bed with a partner. You could turn your college mattress into a guest bed, or learn how to dispose of a mattress responsibly and legally.

If your dorm or apartment comes with a mattress but you find it uncomfortable, look for a mattress topper deal to make your bed softer, firmer, or more cooling. Not only will going this route cost much less than buying a full-fledged mattress, but it'll also be easier to transport whenever you move out. 

Alison Barretta
Freelance reviewer and writer

Freelance writer and editor Alison is an expert mattress tester for Tom's Guide, and hails from Philadelphia, USA. Alison has reviewed a wide range of mattresses, pillows and other sleep accessories for Tom's Guide, putting the latest hybrid, memory foam and cooling mattresses from Casper, Nectar, Awara, Brooklinen and other leading brands through their paces. Alison has been sharing buying advice and retail news for over a decade. When she isn't reviewing mattresses, other home products or hunting for great deals to save you money, Alison can be found teaching/training in martial arts, fawning over skincare, and indulging in her quarantine-borne hobby: cooking.

With contributions from