Best Mattresses for Bunk Beds
May 16th, 2023 •
Less headroom doesn’t have to mean less slumber. The best bunk bed mattresses offer the same comfort and support of regular mattresses, only in a thinner package.
This guide highlights our picks for best bunk bed mattress and offers tips on picking the right mattress for your needs in our buyer’s guide.
Best Mattress for Bunk Beds: Our Top Picks
- Best for Long-Term – Saatva Youth
- Best Mattress for Kids – Puffin Memory Foam Kids Bed
- Best Budget Mattress – Zinus Memory Foam 5-inch
- Best RV Bunk Bed Mattress – Dreamfoam Essential
- Best Innerspring Mattress – Signature Sleep Contour Reversible
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Saatva Youth – Best for Long-Term
- Growing children 3 years and older
- Children with allergies or sensitive skin
- Parents of accident-prone kids
“This is mattress is terrific for my growing daughter. It’s incredibly comfortable, very well made, and I love that it can grow with her, with different amounts of support as she gets bigger.” – Stephanie S.
Your kids grow quickly. Wouldn’t it be nice if your mattress grew with their needs? The Saatva Youth Mattress is designed to do just that.
Saatva’s Youth Mattress is dual-sided. One side is designed for smaller, lighter children between 3 and 8 years, and the other side for larger, heavier children who are 8 or older. This means you can buy one mattress at age 3 that might last them into their early teens!
And with Saatva’s commitment to quality, your new mattress truly could last for 10+ years of your child’s life. It’s accident proof with both an internal and external liquid barrier, protecting it from accidents and spills. It even comes with a lifetime warranty and a 365-night sleep trial.
The Saatva Youth mattress boasts the comfort and support that growing children need to sleep peacefully. It’s a 10 inch innerspring mattress—the middle consists of a layer of spring coils surrounded by layers of soft and comfy foam. Your kids will experience cuddly comfort combined with bouncy support. To top it off? The Saatva’s Youth is eco-friendly and hypoallergenic.
Read our full Saatva Youth mattress review.
Puffin Memory Foam Kids Bed – Best Bunk Bed Mattress for Kids
- Kids who sleep on their sides
- Parents looking for a good value
- Children who prefer a soft feel
“This is my 3 year old’s first mattress and we love it!” – Lauren R.
Nest Bedding’s Puffin Memory Foam Kids Bed (formerly the BKB) is a bed-in-a-box mattress for kids. By shipping the mattress directly to you, the consumer, Nest Bedding cuts down on costs. This means a high-quality mattress at a competitive price-point.
The Puffin is created for kids. As such, it is best for younger kids and lightweight teens. This memory foam mattress offers the plush, supportive feel that memory foam is well-known for. Thanks to a breathable upper layer, it doesn’t sleep hot like some foam beds.
Related: Best Mattresses for Kids
Nest makes their mattresses in the United States using CertiPUR-US foams and physical flame retardants. The result is a mattress that is non-toxic, just as parents want for their kids.
Nest Bedding’s Puffin comes in twin, twin XL, and full size for a larger bottom bunk, making this mattress great for any type of bunk bed.
Read our full Puffin Memory Foam Kids Bed review.
Zinus – Best Budget Bunk Bed Mattress
- Young kids and lightweight preteens
- Parents looking for a budget-friendly mattress
- Kids who love the plush memory foam feel
“I bought this for my daughter’s loft bed. She loves it! She says it’s just as comfortable as my memory foam bed.” – Megan K.
Zinus is a leader in the budget-friendly memory foam mattress space. Their 100% foam bunk bed mattress feels like sleeping on a cloud. At just 5” thick, the Zinus mattress is a great choice for bunk beds that require extra-thin mattresses.
Because the Zinus mattress is only 5” deep, it is best for light, young kids. Heavier kids or teens, especially those who sleep on sides, require a deeper mattress for adequate support and comfort.
For such an affordable mattress, the Zinus memory foam mattress is exceptionally high-quality. Their foams are all CertiPUR-US certified to be free from harmful chemicals. The cover is removable and machine washable, making it easy to keep clean. As such, it’s a good choice for kids with asthma or allergies.
Dreamfoam Essential – Best RV Bunk Bed Mattress
- RVs with non-standard frame sizes
- Side sleepers with hip or shoulder pain
- Adults who need a supportive mattress
“It literally feels like my $4000 memory foam mattress. It sleeps very cool and feels firm but forgiving at the same time.” – Ryan R.
Many RVs don’t accommodate a standard mattress size. With seven different bunk mattress sizes and five thickness options, the Dreamfoam Essential memory foam mattress likely comes in the size that you need.
Formerly known as the Brooklyn Bedding Wanderlust, the Dreamfoam Essential offers thickness options of 6 inches, 8 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches, and 14 inches. The thicker the mattress, the better it will be at cushioning pressure points and supporting weight. Thinner mattresses, however, create more headroom in low-profile spaces.
Related: Best RV Mattresses
It’s not only the customization potential that makes the Dreamfoam Essential a great choice for an RV. Its top layer of comfort memory foam hugs your curves, while the bottom layer of dense foam delivers solid support. Even the 6” mattress is incredibly comfortable for its height, even for the average adult. And with cooling gel and open-cell technology, it’s designed to keep you cool all night.
Signature Sleep – Best Innerspring Bunk Bed Mattress
- People who prefer a springy mattress
- Kids who need extra support
- Hot sleepers
“The mattress is extremely soft yet firm enough to sleep on. The individually wrapped coils transfer minimal motion.” – Brett M.
Signature Sleep’s Coil Mattress is one of the few reversible bunk bed mattresses available on the market today. By allowing you to flip the mattress and sleep on both sides, it reduces the risk of early sagging. This means a mattress that often outlasts its competition.
The middle layer is a bed of independently wrapped coils, creating the right amount of support and give at every part of the body. On each side of the coils are layers of memory foam and high-density support foam.
The high-density support foam delivers exceptional edge support. Layers of memory foam along both sides of the innerspring core elevate the feel and performance of this innerspring mattress above others. It makes the sleep surface soft, reduces noise from the springs, and minimizes motion transfer across the sleeping surface.
The quilted cover is ultra soft and breathable, but not removable, so be sure to use a waterproof mattress protector if your child is prone to spills or wetting the bed. Signature Sleep uses CertiPUR-US certified foam, ensuring a safe and healthy mattress.
How to Choose the Right Bunk Bed Mattress
Bunk beds are a convenient way to maximize room space (although many kids know them better as an essential for sleepovers). While most bunk beds are used in children’s rooms, some people will utilize their space-saving capacity in a guest room or a studio apartment. Some RVs and campers have bunk beds as well, or at least sleeping spaces suited for bunk-size mattresses.
Whether you’re finding a safe and durable mattress for your kids or a comfy mattress fit for adult slumber, there are many high-quality bunk bed mattresses that fit your needs. In this bunk bed mattress buyer’s guide, we will outline what you should look for to find the best mattress at the right price by going over:
- What is a Bunk Bed Mattress?
- What Sizes Are Bunk Bed Mattresses?
- What to Look for in a Bunk Bed Mattress
What is a Bunk Bed Mattress?
A bunk bed mattress is any mattress that can fit a bunk bed frame, not just in length and width but also in depth. Since vertical space is limited, the mattress should be thin enough to leave ample headroom. A trundle bed, which has the lower bunk sliding out from a recessed space beneath the top bunk, has similar size constraints.
Bunk bed mattresses should also be built to provide good support without a box spring, since they’re typically placed directly on a metal frame or wooden slats.
What Sizes Are Bunk Bed Mattresses?
Twin mattresses (38″ wide and 75″ long) are the most common size for bunk bed frames, although some frames are built for the longer twin XL mattress (38″ x 80″). Twin XL is the preferred size for college dorms, mainly since the extra length lets them accommodate taller sleepers up to 6’8″.
Some manufacturers also make “adult bunk beds” for queen-size mattresses or in the “twin-over-full” configuration with a full-size mattress space on the bottom.
Related: Best Bed Rails for Kids
What to Look for in a Bunk Bed Mattress
There is no one bunk bed mattress that is the right fit for everyone. Understanding the different types of mattresses and options available will allow you to find one that suits your unique needs. Here are a few of the factors you should examine when deciding which mattress is best for you.
There are many types of mattresses, each one with their unique pros and cons. Most bunk bed mattresses fall into the two most popular categories: innerspring mattresses and memory foam mattresses.
- Many people grew up with innerspring mattresses. The coils make them exceptionally bouncy and firm. Innerspring mattresses are still a popular choice for bunk beds, along with combination coil/foam or coil/latex hybrid mattresses. When shopping for an innerspring bed, look for one with individual pocketed coils rather than a continuous coil system. Individually wrapped coils allows each coil to move independently of the others, improving overall comfort, alignment, and support.
- Memory foam mattresses have quickly become a top choice for bunk beds. With memory foam, one does not need much depth for ideal body cushioning and support. When younger children are the primary sleepers, incredibly thin memory foam mattresses offer a cozy and affordable option. For this reason, memory foam is a great choice for bunk beds, especially those that require extra-thin mattresses.
As a whole, bunk beds require a thinner mattress than traditional bed frames. The thinner a mattress, the more headroom there is and the safer it will be to get in and out of the top bunk.
But thinner is not always better. A thin mattress doesn’t offer the same contouring and support as a thicker mattress. And the heavier the person sleeping on a mattress, the thicker it will need to be to provide adequate comfort.
When choosing the right mattress thickness, you want to find the right balance between saving space and creating a comfortable sleeping environment. As a general rule, we recommend going with the maximum thickness of mattress that your bunk bed allows.
Every bunk bed is different. Those designed for young kids usually require thinner mattresses than those crafted for adult use. As a general rule, 5 inches is the thinnest bunk bed mattress that you will find. And most bunk beds work best with a 10 inch mattress or thinner.
Related: Best Bunk Beds for Kids
When picking a mattress firmness, you want to ask yourself who will be using the mattress, and what position do they sleep in?
If you’re buying the mattress for your kids or yourself—and not a guest room—the position that you sleep in will largely dictate the right mattress firmness.
- Side sleepers need a medium-soft to medium mattress that easily contours to their shoulders and hips, ideally with memory foam or latex. Medium firmness offers the right combination of cushion and support for side sleepers.
- Back sleepers require just a bit of give with adequate support to keep the lower back and hips in line with the rest of the body. Medium-firm mattresses fit the needs of back sleepers best.
- Stomach sleepers do best on a firm mattress that prevents their hips from sinking too deeply and creating lower back pain. Go with a medium-firm or firmer mattress if you’re buying a mattress for a stomach sleeper.
- Combination sleepers alternate between sleeping positions during the night. They do best on a medium or medium-firm mattress with plenty of responsiveness so they can shift positions without too much effort.
For bunk bed mattresses in guest bedrooms, choose a mattress firmness based on the average sleeper. For the average sleeper, a medium-firm mattress with a fairly soft comfort layer creates the right balance of comfort and proper alignment.
Most bunk bed mattresses are purchased by parents for their children. Parents want to ensure that they’re buying a mattress that is safe for their child’s health. This is even more important for parents whose children have allergies, asthma, or sensitive skin.
Not every mattress is made with human health in mind. Some mattresses are manufactured using toxic chemicals. Two common sources of hazardous chemicals are certain mattress foams and chemical flame retardants.
Fortunately, there are many mattress brands that work hard to protect the health of their customers. This is the case for both affordable and luxury brands, so you don’t need to spend large sums of money to buy a safe bed for your child.
When shopping for a safe mattress, look for:
- CertiPUR-US certification. CertiPUR-US requires that mattress foams be made without dangerous compounds like some chemical flame retardants, ozone depleting compounds, and heavy metals.
- OEKO-TEX certification. OEKO-TEX certified latex or foam mattresses are tested to be free from certain toxic chemicals.
- Safe flame retardants. All mattresses sold in the U.S .must meet fire safety guidelines, but many chemical flame retardants are potentially unsafe for long-term health. Potentially hazardous mattress flame retardants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs).
- Organic or natural materials. You can shop for natural or organic mattresses to reduce harmful chemical exposure. You might look for covers made using organic cotton, or 100% natural latex mattresses.
Another safety tip—avoid thick mattresses. For the top bunk, you want a mattress thin enough to leave the safety rails easily accessible. Every bunk bed is different, so learn what size mattress is recommended for your bunk bed.
Related: Are Bunk Beds Safe?
Recap: Best Bunk Bed Mattresses
As a quick recap, here are our top bunk bed mattresses:
- Saatva Youth – Best for Long-Term
- Puffin Memory Foam Kids Bed – Best Bunk Bed Mattress for Kids
- Zinus Memory Foam 5-inch – Best Budget Bunk Bed Mattress
- Dreamfoam Essential – Best RV Bunk Bed Mattress
- Signature Sleep Contour Reversible – Best Innerspring Bunk Bed Mattress
What is the difference between a bunk bed mattress and a regular mattress?
Bunk bed mattresses are typically thinner than regular mattresses, although thin traditional mattresses are compatible with bunk beds. Thin mattresses are necessary to save headspace and keep the guardrail accessible.
What size is a bunk bed mattress?
Bunk bed mattresses range from twin size to queen size, with most being twin or full mattresses. Some bunk bed frames fit twin XL mattresses, which are 5 inches longer than twin mattresses.
Their depth is typically between 5 inches and 10 inches, but the maximum thickness depends on the bunk bed frame: how much weight it can support and how far apart the beds are spaced vertically. Before buying a bunk bed mattress, make sure to measure the frame and check the manufacturer’s recommended weight capacity.
Are bunk beds too small for teens?
Bunk beds are common even in college dorms. Most adults and teens can sleep comfortably on a twin mattress when sleeping alone. Some might do better on a full or twin XL, depending on their size and sleeping habits. If your teen would prefer more room, there are bunk beds designed for use with full-size and queen-size mattresses.
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