10 vs. 12 inch Mattress: Which Should I Get?

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
September 10, 2022
|
8
min read

If you’ve ever stayed up all night trying to fall asleep, it’s entirely possible that your discomfort comes from the thickness of your mattress.

 In this guide, we will discuss the difference between 10 and 12-inch mattresses, and whether they fit your lifestyle or sleeping habits.

 

 

What To Consider When Deciding On Mattress Thickness

Still not sure which type of mattress makes a better investment? Here are other factors to think about:

Body Type And Weight

While comfort is king when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, your weight and physique can determine what mattress is best suited for you. Below are the best mattresses for specific weight categories:

  • Lightweight sleepers (up to 130 lbs): Lighter People may prefer a thicker mattress like the Purple Hybrid Premier 3 which offers support and some give for for comfort. 
  • Average sleepers (130-230 lbs): Average sleepers may benefit from either 10 or 12-inch mattresses depending on how they sleep. Again, this will depend on their personal preference in terms of mattress firmness and thickness.
  • Heavier sleepers (130+ lbs): We recommend a 12 inch mattress, like the Purple Hybrid. This mattres is more firm for added support. If you prefer a more plush feeling mattress. Try the Purple Hybrid Premier 3.

Sleeping Position

When choosing a mattress, the way you sleep matters. Here’s a breakdown of the best thicknesses for different sleeping positions:

  • Side sleeping: Side sleepers can benefit from a more plush mattress that still support curvers in the shoulder and hips.  . We recommend a 12-inch model, like the Purple Hybrid Premier 3.
  • Back sleeping: Back sleepers can sleep well from either a 10-inch model or 12-inch model. The optimal mattress for a back sleeper should have a thinner comfort layer and a thicker support layer to support the natural alignment of the neck and spine as they sleep. We recommend the Purple Hybrid, which is more firm.
  • Stomach sleeping: Like back sleepers, stomach sleepers are better off using mattresses with thinner comfort layers and thicker support layers to prevent neck and spinal misalignment. The optimal mattress thickness level is 10-11 inches depending on manufacturer. We recommend The Purple Hybrid.
  • Combination sleeping: Combo sleepers tend to change their sleeping positions throughout the night and would benefit from a 12-inch model of medium firmness. We recommend the Purple Hybrid Premier 3.  The extra 2 inches provide comfort. Individually wrapped support coils providinf extra support.

Number Of Sleep Partners

The number of people sharing a bed is a factor in your decision-making process. Sharing a mattress with a partner means added pressure compared to sleeping alone – multiple sleepers can even cause sag if it doesn’t have the right support. 

If you sleep alone, you may opt for a thinner mattress. Remember: If you sleep with a partner, the more pressure this puts on your mattress, so consider a thicker mattress with better support. Thicker mattresses also have less motion transfer, which allows you to sleep better with a partner, especially if you are a light sleeper.

10 vs 12-Inch Mattress: What's The Difference? 

The main difference between a 10 and 12 inch mattress is the height. The larger height tends to mean a more of a plush feel. Where as a thinner mattress tends to be more firm.

While the major difference between 10 and 12-inch mattresses is a mere two inches, firmness is another factor that may come into play in your decision.

Mattress companies measure the feel and firmness of mattresses using a system called the Firmness Scale, rating beds from 1 to 10. One is the softest, and ten is the firmest. These are further subdivided into levels:

  • Soft
  • Medium-firm
  • Firm

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for what is considered comfortable. It depends on the sleeper, whether they prefer a firm vs medium mattress, or something softer. For instance, someone who suffers from back pain may want a mattress of medium firmness, which will offer better support and pain relief. 

Typically, thicker mattresses offer better support and pain relief compared to thinner mattresses. If you opt for a 12-inch mattress over a 10-inch one, you’ll get extra cushioning that may feel more comfortable when you sleep.

What Is Mattress Thickness?

While there aren't uniform standards for mattress thicknesses on the market, the average thickness of most mattresses is 8-14 inches. This list explains how mattress companies categorize their products according to thickness levels:

Thickness

Measurement range

Low profile mattress

2-5 inches

Slim mattress

5-8 inches

Standard mattress

8-12 inches

Deep, thick, or tall mattress

12-16 inches

Extra deep, extra thick, or extra tall mattress

16+ inches

Low-profile and slim mattresses are both considered thin mattresses. However, there is a distinction between these two types of mattresses. We’ll focus on these types for the rest of the article.

How Thick Should A Mattress Be? 

Some sleepers are content with sleeping on thinner mattresses, while others require thicker mattresses to get a good night’s sleep. Two inches may not sound like much of a difference when choosing between a 10-inch mattress and a 12-inch one, but it can make a world of difference.

Below are several factors to consider when choosing the right mattress thickness:

  • Body type: Are you on the average or heavier side? This will greatly affect your mattress choice, as heavier sleepers may require thicker mattresses.
  • Preferred sleeping style: Certain mattresses are better suited for side, stomach, or back sleepers. For instance, back sleepers will benefit from both a 10 and 12-inch mattress to support the natural curvature of the spine. Stomach sleepers will benefit from a thicker, firmer mattress that’s at least 10 inches tall, to help alleviate the pressure on their spine. Side sleepers need mattresses that will support their shoulders and hips, so a softer 10-inch mattress is better for them. 
  • Preferred mattress firmness: Do you like plush or firm mattresses? Do you want a mattress with a faster response time or a slower response time? Mattress firmness refers to how soft or hard a mattress feels. Most mattresses typically have two layers, the support layer, and the comfort layer. The firmness of a mattress is determined by the comfort layer, which ranges from 1 to 5 inches thick, while the support layer’s primary function is to support the sleeper, and is the thickest part of the mattress. Some mattresses have extra layers known as transition layers, which have functions like additional support or cooling technologies.
  • Physical health conditions: This is especially important if you suffer from mobility issues, fibromyalgia, arthritis, back pain, or joint pain. Elderly people with limited mobility will benefit more from a thicker mattress with motion isolation qualities.
  • Mattress elevation: Consider if your mattress will be on a frame or on the floor (like a Japanese-style futon) or if your bed will be on top of a bed frame, box springs, risers, and foundations. Ideally, the height of your bed should not be more than 25 inches. For instance, if your mattress is 12 inches tall, your bed foundation should be 13 inches tall. Mattresses that are situated lower on the ground may feel more uncomfortable for people with mobility issues, and taller foundations might make getting out of bed more difficult for people on the shorter side.
  • Height: Do you prefer a thinner or thicker mattress? Are you tall or short? A thicker mattress naturally equals a taller bed – if you are on the shorter side, getting out of bed may be challenging if you choose a tall mattress.

 

Factors That Determine Mattress Thickness

Mattress thickness or depth will depend on the layers inside. Most mattresses are made with two thick layers: the comfort layer and the support layer. High-quality mattresses may even have up to four different layers inside them – these are called transition layers.

Comfort Layer

A comfort layer is the top part of the mattress that lies closest to the body. The comfort layer of mattresses usually ranges from 1.5 to 6 inches thick. It primarily functions to:

  •  Provide both support and comfort
  • Ensure even weight distribution to the body for pain relief and to decrease pressure
  • Respond to the sleeper’s position, ensuring they are comfortable
  • Support parts of the body to maintain proper alignment, whether you lie on your back, side, or stomach

Comfort and transition layers can be made with different materials, as well:

  • Latex foam: All-natural or synthetic rubber has a faster response time to touch.
  • Polyurethane (PU) foam: Also known as poly-foam, it is affordable and most commonly used for mattress toppers.
  • Memory foam: Also made with PU foam, memory foam has a slower response time to touch.
  • Gel foam: A relatively newer form of mattress comfort material, gel foam is soft and durable but also more expensive.
  • Natural fibers: These include all-natural latex, cotton, bamboo fibers, wool, and even horsehair.
  • Micro/nano coils: These are small coils that are covered by a thin layer of foam, fiber, or a quilted cover.

 Support Layer

Known as the base layer or the core of the mattress, the support layer lies directly beneath the comfort layer, provides the mattress with durability, and aids with spinal alignment. 

In high-quality mattresses, the support layer takes up almost 50% of its entire composition and is typically made with dense foam. With hybrid and innerspring mattresses, the support layer contains coils. Latex beds may have a latex or PU foam support layer, while memory foam mattresses typically use PU foam.

10 vs 12-Inch Mattress: Which Is Better?

Choosing the right mattress types will truly depend on your preferred firmness level, your budget, and your physical condition. There are no hard and fast rules that determine if one is better than the other, as long as you get a good night’s sleep.

Standard mattress product stack

Frequently Asked Questions for 10 vs 12-Inch Mattress

Is an 8-inch mattress thick enough?

An 8-inch model may be good for a single lightweight sleeper who prefers a more firm mattress. If you prefer a firm to soft mattress, you may consider a thicker mattress.

Does the base layer affect mattress durability?

Yes. The lifespan of mattresses made with firm core foam layers can typically last up to 10 years or more, depending on the quality.

How thick is the average mattress?

Most adults sleep on standard mattresses that range from 8 to 12 inches tall.