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unbiased Mattress Guide For Large & Small People

Based on 2,758 Actual Consumer Experiences

July 30, 2018

Large people (230+ pounds) and small people (under 120 pounds) often have special mattress needs and should be aware of and understand the following five factors.

1. Mattress Thickness

Large People

The heavier a person is the more thickness they tend to need to support their weight. Sleeping on a mattress that is too thin for one's weight will often result in "bottoming out" and excessive pressure points, especially for side sleepers and when sitting.

For the internal makeup of a mattress, the support part or bottom portion of the mattress (whether it be springs, foam, latex, or air) should be at least six inches thick and ideally make up the majority (51%+) of overall mattress thickness.

Small People

The lighter a person is the less mattress thickness they tend to need to support their weight. And because thinner mattresses are often less expensive than thicker ones, buying a thicker mattress than one needs can be a waste of money. In addition, thicker / taller mattresses can be a challenge for smaller / shorter people to get on and off of.

Thickness Chart

The chart shows the suitability of common mattress thicknesses for large and small people.

Mattress Thickness Large Person Small Person
6 inches poor Fair
8 inches fair to poor good
9 inches fair good
10 inches good to fair good to fair
12 inches good fair
13+ inches good fair to poor

2. Mattress Firmness

Large People

A large person often prefers a mattress with medium to firm firmness. Such a mattress tends to provide the support a large person needs especially if they are side sleepers. Also, a firmer mattress does not often feel overly firm to a large person because the person tends to exert enough pressure on the mattress to have it conform and contour to their body resulting in minimized pressure points. Learn more about which firmness may be best for your size, body type and sleep position.

Small People

A small person often prefers a mattress with soft to medium firmness. A small person does not tend to exert enough pressure on a firmer mattress to allow it to conform and contour to their body; the result is often pressure points and discomfort. Learn more about which firmness may be best for your size, body type and sleep position.

3. Mattress Density

Large People

High-density mattress support is often best suited for a large person. In regard to foam mattresses, this means high-density (1.8 lbs/ft or higher) base / support foam. In regard to innerspring mattresses, having high density mainly means that the coil count is dense or high, specifically 600 or more (queen). Unfortunately, density related specifications are not always provided by the manufacturer.

Small People

A low-density mattress comfort layer is often best suited for a small person. This means having low-density (3.5 lbs/ft or lower) foam, including memory foam, in the comfort layer. Low-density foam often conforms more easily to a small person's body resulting in more comfort. Unfortunately, density related specifications are not always provided by the manufacturer.

4 . Mattress Durability / Longevity

Owner experience data suggests that there is some correlation between poor mattress durability / longevity and heavy sleeper weight. Therefore, large people should place extra emphasis on mattress durability / longevity and remember the following chart which compares the different mattress types on the issue of durability / longevity.

mattress lifespan heavy person comparison

Learn more: mattress lifespan comparison.

5. Mattress Owner Satisfaction Rates

Mattress owner satisfaction rates are determined by a sample of mostly average sized-people (130-230 lbs). Therefore, large and small people should not necessarily assume that a popular or highly rated mattress will suit them. They should instead evaluate a mattress according to the points above.

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