Can A Full-Size Mattress Fit Two Adults?

A common question that can be answered with a simple “yes,” but it really requires more exploration to decide if it can work for you.

By Dr. Sheryl Grassie

Can a full-size mattress fit two adults? Yes, if: if the couple is relatively small in height (like how small?), if they enjoy sleeping in very close proximity to each other (does that mean vertically instead of horizontally?), if there is no one else in the bed (what about the dog and the baby?), and if they are deep sleepers (they would have to be).

But seriously, couples sleeping on a full-size mattress was the norm for a long time. If you look at historical photos, or visit museums, you may be struck by how small the beds were before the mid-20th century. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that both queen and king sized beds entered the marketplace.

The full-size, or double bed as it is also called, originated at a time when it was expected that two people would have plenty of room in a 39-inch-wide bed. But keep in mind that people were significantly smaller then. In the early 1900’s, we started growing considerably bigger. Everything from height to shoe size, for both men and women, grew substantially during the first four to five decades of the 20th century. This made it more difficult for two people to sleep in a double bed and consumers started wanting larger models. This was in part solved by a trend for couples to sleep separately in single or twin beds, but that faded after the 1950’s.

How To Decide Between A Full-Size Bed Or Something Larger

As a couple, you are looking for a bed. Can you get by with a full-size, or do you need something larger? How can you tell?

Although there is a cost difference, full-sized beds cost less than larger models, the primary consideration is this: will you have enough room? Let’s look at sizes and get an idea.

Mattress Size Width  Space for Each Person 
Crib 27 inches 27 inches (assuming one person)
Single or Twin 39 inches 39 inches (assuming one person)
Full-Size or Double 54 inches 27 inches (assuming two people)
Standard Queen 60 inches 30 inches (assuming two people)
Olympic Queen 66 inches 33 inches (assuming two people)
California King 72 inches 36 inches (assuming two people)
Standard King 78 inches 39 inches (assuming two people)

Single beds are 39 inches wide and considered comfortable for one person. A full-size bed is 54 inches wide, which gives each person 27 inches of personal space or the equivalent of a crib. Every size beyond the full or double size increases by 6 inches, or 3 inches per person for a couple. If you think this through, you might ask yourself, “Could we each sleep comfortably (ignoring length for now) in a bed the size of a crib?” If the answer is yes, then a full-size may work.

The common wisdom, however, is that full-size beds are better for just one person. The cost difference to upgrade to a queen or king is generally worth it. Full-size beds are literally being viewed as larger single beds and are popular for kids’ rooms. In the scheme of bed sizes, the full is a relatively smaller bed, and couples generally get a better night’s sleep with a little more room. Some experts also caution that families tend to expand, (remember the dog and the baby) and you may need more room over time.

Reasons To Get A Full-Size Bed

There are a number of good reasons to purchase a full-sized bed, and they are still readily available. Here are some instances when full-sized may be just the right size:

  • If you have a small bedroom: Measure out the space. If you don’t have enough room to walk around a queen, you may need to make due with a full-size.
  • If the mattress is memory foam or pocketed coils: These mattress varieties minimize motion transfer, meaning if you move it won’t affect your partner. This can feel like it adds space to your mattress dimensions.  
  • For a guest room: Full-size is often ideal for a guest room. They don’t take up as much space, and most couples don’t mind sleeping snuggled up for a night or two when visiting.
  • They cost less: Although some mattress companies charge the same for a full or a queen, most have a higher price for the bigger mattress. The difference is about 15% more for a queen. This applies to the cost of other bedding items as well.
  • They are easy to move: A full-size mattresses is small enough that it can be moved by just one person. They can lay flat in the back of most SUV’s or can be easily secured to a roof rack.
  • You are just one person: Have you just broken up with your partner and are not planning to get into another relationship soon? Is the bed for your teenage son who needs something bigger than a single? Is your mother coming to stay for an extended period? There are many circumstances that a full-size bed accommodates perfectly.

Summary

Under certain conditions and given certain preferences a couple can fit in a full-sized bed. A larger bed, however, may be a better choice for many reasons, especially needed space. Take a hard look at bed sizes and the amount of room for each individual; consider your budget and your circumstances.


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