1. Best overall – Nectar
2. Best cheap – Siena
3. Best hybrid – Allswell
4. Best for hot sleepers – Cocoon
5. Best natural – Awara
6. Buying advice
How we test
We personally research and test the latest mattresses to provide unbiased recommendations. We rate each mattress out of 5 and use the review data to inform rankings. Read our mattress methodology for more.
Finding the best mattress for college students may not sit right at the top of your back-to-school shopping list... but it should. Arming yourself with the best mattress for your sleep style could boost your brainpower for those early morning lectures and marathon study sessions, and improve your chances of academic success.
According to one study, 70% of college students report insufficient sleep, which can result in compromised learning and lower grades among other negative physical and cognitive effects. We've rounded up five expert-approved picks below.
Our top choices mainly sit in the budget to lower mid-range price bracket, but they're not lacking in quality. They’re solid contenders, especially if you plan to take your mattress with you after graduation. The Labor Day mattress sales are a good opportunity to snag a discount, too.
Now, you might find a mattress waiting for you in your dorm, but if it’s not to your liking, a mattress topper could be what you need instead — and no matter what, don't forget to add a mattress protector to safeguard your bed from spills, stains, allergens, and bed bugs.
Have questions about finding the right college mattress? Scroll down to our FAQ section for some handy shopping advice. In addition to listing today’s best prices for each featured mattress, you'll also find any relevant mattress sales info to help you snag the lowest prices. Ready to shop? Here are the best mattresses for college students, as chosen by our experienced team of reviewers...
The best mattresses for students – as ranked by expert reviewers
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The best mattress for college students
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.
- Read more: Nectar mattress review
The best cheap mattress for college students
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 inches 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.
- Read more: Siena Memory Foam mattress review
The best hybrid mattress for college students
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 (June 2023). 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.
- Read more: Is the Allswell mattress any good?
The best cooling mattress for college students
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. Even our warmest sleepers stayed cool all night. If you're craving even more coolness, upgrade to the Extra-Chill version for an additional $99. This adds a layer of “Extra Chill” cooling memory foam and a cover woven with advanced cooling yarns.
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 300lb 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.
- Read more: Cocoon Chill mattress review
The best natural mattress for college students
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.
- Read more: Awara Natural Hybrid mattress review
The Snug is a recent addition to the Casper lineup, and it looks like a great college mattress option, in that it's basic and budget-friendly, but comes from a highly respected brand which suggests it'll be good quality and the customer service will be reliable.
The straightforward design is made up of two layers of foam: a 'breathable top foam' and a 'durable support foam'. At 8 inches tall, this is the thinnest mattress in our roundup. We'd usually recommend a minimum of 10 inches for adults, but as a stop-gap option for average or lightweight students it'll be fine (and the lower profile will make moving it around easier, if needed). Those of larger or heavier body types should opt for one of the thicker options to make sure they're getting enough support, though.
There's a lack of information on the Casper website, and at time of writing it's too new for there to be any reviews to comb through for more insights. For instance, we don't know what firmness it is, or what the sleep feel is. We'd assume a medium-firm softness, and because there's no mention of memory foam, not too much of a sink-in feel. We haven't tested this mattress out yet, but have been very impressed with this brand's other sleep products – head to our Casper Wave Hybrid Snow mattress review for a look at one of the top-range options, or our Casper Comfy mattress topper review.
Casper mattress sales are fairly rare and never hugely generous, but the Snug is in the budget bracket even at full MSRP, and it's significantly cheaper than most of this brand's beds (often a smart way to snap up a higher-quality mattress at a lower price). It comes with a 100-night trial, which you can use to make sure it's suitable for you.
What kind of mattress is good 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.