What’s the Difference Between a Single vs. Twin Mattress?
When shopping for a new mattress, you may find some models sold in a twin size while others are sold in a single. These two terms refer to beds with the same width and length dimensions, making them virtually interchangeable. Single and twin mattresses typically measure 38 to 39 inches wide, and 75 inches long. This makes them the smallest among standard mattress sizes. They are consequently often the most affordable, as well.
A twin or single mattress is optimal for one adult or child sleeper. They are fairly common in hotels, rental homes, medical facilities, and other establishments that accommodate a large number of solo guests. Because they conserve floor space, they are also widely used in dorm rooms.
Who Is a Single or Twin Size Mattress Best for?
If you belong to one or more of the following groups, then you're an excellent candidate for a twin or single size mattress.
- Solo sleepers: A twin or single mattress measures a little over 3 feet wide. The beds will be too narrow for most couples, but those who sleep alone should have enough room to rest comfortably without coming too close to the edges. If you have a small pet, then they may be able to share a bed with you, but larger animals – including many dog breeds – may make the bed feel too cramped.
- Children: Twin or single size mattresses are ideal for many young children. Kids' rooms tend to be smaller than master bedrooms, and a smaller bed can conserve floor space. Twin and single beds are also the most affordable size for most models. Kids who experience major growth spurts often need to increase their mattress size, so a twin or single model means you'll spend less for a bed that may need to be replaced. Twin/single is the default size for many bunk beds, too.
- Anyone who is 6 feet 2 inches or shorter: Most twin and single size mattresses measure 75 inches long, which is equivalent to 6 feet, 3 inches. If you are 6 feet, 2 inches or shorter, you should be able to rest comfortably on one of these mattresses without your feet dangling over the side. If your height falls between 6 feet, 3 inches and 6 feet, 7 inches, you may want to consider a longer twin XL, queen, or king, all of which measure 80 inches long.
- College students: Dorm rooms tend to be fairly compact, and many students who reside on campus will opt for twin or single mattresses to save floor space. Dorm-friendly bunk beds are usually compatible with these mattress sizes, as well.
The twin/single is considered a standard mattress size. Most beds sold today are available with these dimensions, but some models are only sold in larger sizes. If the mattress you'd like to purchase does not come in a twin or single size, you may want to consider a twin XL or full/double instead. These sizes are also relatively small and more affordable than the queen, king, and California king sizes.
- Twin/single dimensions: 38 to 39 inches wide x 75 inches long
In terms of length, a twin or single bed is equivalent to a full or double size model, and shorter than a twin XL, queen, king, and California king. You should be able to rest comfortably on a twin or single bed if your height is 6 feet, 2 inches or shorter. Otherwise, you should opt for a longer bed.
- Twin/single surface area: 2,850 to 2,925 square inches
Thanks to its relatively small surface area, you'll be able to fit a twin or single mattress in most bedrooms, including smaller children's rooms. If the mattress is compressed for shipping, then moving the package between your front door and bedroom will be fairly easy. If the mattress is not compressed, then carrying the bed may be a bit more difficult. We recommend measuring the dimensions of your front door, as well as any stairs or hallways you'll need to navigate with the mattress. You should also clear the path of any obstacles prior to moving the bed.
As the smallest mattress sizes, twins and singles are generally also the most affordable. In addition to size, price-points for specific mattress models depend on a few other variables.
Material construction plays a major role in pricing. All-foam and innerspring mattresses tend to have the lowest price-points. For a twin or single, you'll probably pay between $500 and $1,000. On the other hand, a latex or hybrid mattress may cost more than $1,000 in a twin/single size. Airbeds can also be expensive in these sizes, but many airbed models are not available as a twin or single.
Prices also vary from brand to brand. Mattresses from brick-and-mortar stores tend to be somewhat expensive because store owners need to offset their operating costs. The overhead is lower for online brands, and this allows them to sell their mattresses at lower price-points.
Time of year is another consideration. Many online and brick-and-mortar mattress brands offer annual sales that coincide with federal holidays such as Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. Discounts and promotions for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other shopping holidays are also fairly common.
As we've discussed, mattress type is an important consideration when shopping for a new bed. Every model is unique, but most beds sold today fall into one of the six general categories.
- Foam mattress: A foam mattress entirely consists of polyfoam layers. Softer foams provide cushioning on the surface while the base layers feature high-density foam for stability and support. A foam mattress may be ideal if you experience pressure points and like some padding from your bed, but you don't enjoy the deep body cradle of memory foam.
- Innerspring mattress: Innersprings are constructed with polyfoam comfort layers and steel coil systems in their support cores. The coils make the mattress feel very responsive and bouncy. The comfort layer won't conform very closely but you can count on extra support and good overall breathability from an innerspring.
- Memory foam mattress: Memory foam is specially engineered foam that becomes softer and conforms closely when it is exposed to body heat. This creates a pressure-relieving cradle for your body. Memory foam mattresses often excel at motion isolation and do not produce any noise, making them ideal for couples.
- Latex mattress: Latex is a durable and responsive material derived from the sap of rubber trees. It offers some contouring but won't sink beneath your body like memory foam. Latex also absorbs a minimal amount of body heat. If you tend to sleep hot on all-foam beds, then a latex mattress might be a more comfortable alternative.
- Hybrid mattress: A hybrid is a specific type of innerspring constructed with comfort layers of memory foam, polyfoam, latex, and/or minicoils over a pocketed coil support core. For many sleepers, hybrids offer the best of both worlds: the conforming and pressure relief of an all-foam or latex mattress coupled with the strong edge support and breathability of an innerspring.
- Airbed mattress: An airbed features adjustable air chambers in its support core. You can add or release air from these chambers to change the overall feel of the mattress. People whose firmness preferences vary from night to night should consider an airbed – but unlike other mattress types, airbeds are less likely to be sold in twin or single sizes.
What Else Should I Consider When Choosing a Mattress Size?
Before settling on a twin or single size mattress, here are a few factors to take into account.
- Support system: If you've transitioned down to a twin or single from a larger mattress size, then you'll probably need to purchase a new box spring, foundation, or other type of support system for the smaller mattress. Using a support system with a size that does not match your mattress can lead to early wear and tear for the bed.
- Bedding: Sheet sets are widely available for twin and single mattresses. These sets normally include a fitted sheet with elasticated corners, a flat sheet, and one pillowcase. Most bedding brands only include two pillowcases with a full size set or larger.
- Children and pets: Due to their narrow dimensions, twin and single size mattresses may not provide enough space for more than one person. Very small children and some pets may be able to fit, but if you anticipate unexpected nighttime visitors, you may want a larger bed (such as a full size) that offers more room.