Home / Blog / Dorm Mattresses Are Notoriously Uncomfy, But These 6 Hacks Can Help

Dorm Mattresses Are Notoriously Uncomfy, But These 6 Hacks Can Help

Jul 01, 2023Jul 01, 2023

Our advice is expert-vetted and based on independent research, analysis and hands-on testing from our team of Certified Sleep Coaches. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test mattresses

Don't put up with an uncomfortable dorm room mattress all year when this is all it takes to make it comfier.

Don't settle sleeping on an old, uncomfortable dorm mattress. Follow these tips to make it cozier.

Moving into a new college dorm room is exciting, but let's face it -- there's nothing fun about sleeping on a firm, saggy dorm room mattress. It can be difficult to get a full night's sleep on your not-so-comfy dorm room bed. Sleeping soundly through the night is important for knowledge and memory retention, with some studies stating a good night's rest before an exam can lead to better grades and a higher GPA.

In a perfect world, your bed should properly accommodate your specific needs like sleeping position and or preferences. Dorm room mattresses tend to be firm and are made with either low-quality foam or innersprings. You would also hope the mattresses are switched out with each incoming new resident, but that's far from the truth. There's no saying how much dust mites and dander have collected inside the beds over the years. Fortunately, there are ways to make your sleeping space feel more clean and comfortable -- even if you're on a budget.

Below, we list the best ways to upgrade your dorm room mattress for a comfortable, improved sleep.

For more tips on how to upgrade your sleeping set up, check out our article on how to make a memory foam mattress sleep cooler

Read more: Best Mattress for 2022

A mattress topper is a great way to make your bed feel firmer or softer, depending on what you're looking for. It can also change up the feel of your mattress, whether you like memory foam or a latex foam feel that's more responsive. You can even consider a cooling mattress topper that's breathable and/or offers cooling relief. There are also budget mattress toppers that cozy-up your mattress for less than $70.

Protect your mattress from bed bugs, household allergens and nasty spills by getting a mattress protector. Your dorm room has limited space and the odds that you'll have at least a few meals in your bed while binge-watching Netflix is pretty high. A spilled drink on your mattress can cause stains and your foam to wear down. With a protector, you make sure you keep your bed nice, clean and good-as-new.

They go on your bed like a fitted sheet in between your sheets and the bed (or topper). They're water-resistant, comfy -- and depending on the material -- breathable. Typically, mattress protectors are made from cotton, polyester, polyurethane, latex, spandex or vinyl.

Not only should your pillow be comfortable, but it should also accommodate your sleeping position. Side sleepers usually sleep best on a tall pillow that keeps their head propped up, in line with the neck and spine.

You can sleep much better with comfy pillows and sheets

On the flip side, stomach sleepers should consider a thin pillow that doesn't keep the neck kinked like you're watching a movie in the front row of the theater.

Back sleepers should look for a pillow somewhere in the middle. The goal is to have a nice, neutral "C" shape in the neck. If you have a pillow that props your head up so much you're looking at the wall in front of you rather than the ceiling, your pillow is too tall.

Read more: Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

Your college might provide you with a catalog of college dorm bundle sets you can purchase at a low cost. The problem with this bedding is that it's cheaply made and will match anyone else who purchases from the catalog.

I made the mistake of doing this when I moved into my college dorm for convenience sake, and I ended up having the same matching, uncomfortable starchy bedding as my roommate. Consider looking for sheets with a thread count of at least 200 and a quality comforter to upgrade your dorm bedding set-up.

One of the biggest buzzkills for sleep is a hot temperature. If you're going to an older college, you may not have air conditioning in your room. Newer dorms have central air conditioning, but you may not be able to control the temperature. Survive a hot dorm room by opening a window and blowing a fan next to your mattress. You can even make-shift an AC by putting a bowl of cold ice water in front of your fan, forcing it to blow cool icy air towards you.

Your college might not let you bring your own mattress, but it's worth asking. Call your university's student services and see what their policy is on bringing in your own twin XL bed. If they do, even a cheap mattress is usually more comfortable than an old dorm room mattress. This way, you can choose a comfy bed that's clean, fits your specific preferences and sleeping position.

For easy ways to improve your sleep, learn how to make the perfect sleep playlist or take a look at our wellness editors' favorite sleep hacks.




Mattress Reviews

Bed Accessories

Sleep Tech

Read moreRead more