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King-Size Mattress: The King of All Sizes

We all know that bigger is better, but that saying is never truer than when it’s applied to your bed. Because from snoring, to cover-stealing, to active sleepers, partner disturbance is one of the most common reasons for poor sleep quality.

So what’s one of the easiest ways to alleviate this issue? A bigger mattress! Many new bed-buyers make the mistake of purchasing a too-small mattress. Lots of couples sleep on a full-size mattress and think they’re fine – it’s called a “double” for a reason, right? But did you know that two people sharing a double means that each person has as much sleeping room as a baby’s crib? Yikes.

Couple in small bed, man's hand sprawled out and in girl's face space.

The fact of the matter is that the larger the mattress is, the less you will feel your partner’s motions, and vice versa. In fact, the recommendation for mattress size is that you and your partner should be able to lie next to each other, put your hands behind your heads with your elbows out, and not touch each other. So unless you are both very small people, a king-size mattress is almost always the best solution.

But not all king-sizes are created equal!

What Is a King-Size Mattress?

Mattress dimensions vary by country — for instance, an American twin-size mattress is 4 inches wider but also 4 inches shorter than its European counterpart. Here’s a guide that can help you understand mattress sizing by outlining the differences between the standard sizes.

Twin/Single: US 38” x 75” EU 35” x 79”,  Full/Double: US 54” x 75” EU 55” x 79”,   Queen: US 60” x 80” EU 63” x 79”,  King: US 76” x 80” EU 71” x 79”, Cal King: US 72

So in the U.S., king-size mattress dimensions have 5 extra inches on the sides, and an additional inch on the end, compared to the same mattress in Europe.

A twin-size mattress is good for when children outgrow their cribs. They also make great guest beds since they’re easy to store, are the typical size for bunkbeds, or are a good alternative if you’re low on space.

Based on the name, a double bed might seem like it’s meant for two sleepers, but it’s really a tight fit for more than one. Many parents choose full-size mattresses over twin for their young children simply because it gives them more room to snuggle during story time, along with plenty of room for their kids to grow into in the coming years.

Queen-size mattresses can work for couples who like to cuddle or who just want to have more space in their bedroom — the 16-inch difference between queen and king sizes frees up more space than you might think.

Benefits of a King-Size Mattress

There’s no doubt that when shopping for a new bed, king-size is the ideal option. The entire point of most king-size mattresses is luxury and relaxation. You’d be surprised how much comfort can be derived from those extra inches of bed space.

The breadth of a king-size mattress is great for people with children, as it provides enough room for family snuggle sessions, and maximum comfort for those who co-sleep. Another advantage of the extra width is that it helps prevent sleepers from falling out of bed.

Even if you don’t have kids, king-size is ideal for starfish sleepers — you know, people who like to sprawl out when they sleep.

Or if you’re a pet parent, a king bed allows you to share the bed without fighting for space.

Health Benefits

The extra available space of a king-size mattress may also contribute to several health benefits. Insomnia, or wakefulness, can often develop because you just can’t get comfortable at night. This is often a result of an uncomfortable mattress and/or crowded sleeping space. Because of the increased surface area, some of the health benefits you may see with a king-size bed may include:

  • Lowered risk of waking up with pins and needles, thanks to the extra space to spread out.
  • Restless legs are given the space to stretch out and eases pressure on ankles and Achilles tendons.
  • Easier breathing — sleeping in close quarters can compress the respiratory system.
  • Lessens night wakings and tossing and turning. Whether caused by a partner or lack of space, a king-size mattress helps alleviate these issues.
  • More room to sleep means more room to sleep properly — you can focus on your sleeping positions to reduce joint tension, pain, and soreness, and relieve pressure points.

History of the King-Size Bed

As late as the 1940s, Americans were sleeping mainly on twin or full-size beds. Sometimes the mattress industry would advertise buying two twins and using them next to each other, but this was really just a way to ensure that people would have to buy twice as much bedding. The idea never stuck. It wasn’t until 1945 or so that mattress makers started introducing the bigger mattresses that we now know as “queen” and “king.”


Black and white photo of old-fashioned couple in separate beds, husband serving wife breakfast in bed.

Even then, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the larger beds really started hitting the market. A couple different factors were at play to make more spacious mattresses necessary. For one, Americans themselves were getting bigger. And then with the booming post-WWII economy, people were hungry to fill their big new houses with big new furniture.

“What this country needs is larger beds and smaller cars, and we already have the latter,” said J. Paul Fanning, secretary of the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers, in 1961. “But in bedding, width is now even more important than length. Too many people are still sleeping two in a ‘full-size’ bed that provides only 27 inches — or crib space — for each person.”

New marketing came into play to entice consumers to supersize their mattresses. September, which had previously been known as Better Sleep Month, was now dubbed “Measure Your Mattress Month” by NABM, with the slogan “Buy Bigger, Sleep Better!” The line comparing full-size beds to cribs was used frequently by the bedding industry, in the hopes that it would drive consumers away from full-size beds and into the spacious arms of the king-size.

And it worked. This public relations campaign was hugely successful — in 1953, king-size bedding was only 1% of all bedding sales in the U.S. But by 1962, it represented 10% of all bedding sales.

Why Bigger is “Bedder”

A larger mattress gives you and your bedfellow(s) — be they a partner, kids, or pets — more space. And more space means you are less likely to feel their motions. The average person tosses and turns 60 to 70 times a night, so distance is a good thing. Studies have shown that couples sleep better when they’re in a bigger bed.

Mom, dad, and daughter relaxing in bed with beagle dog.

Many are hesitant to take the plunge on a high-quality, king-size mattress. But when you consider that you’ll spend nearly a third of your life in bed, you might as well make it as comfortable as possible. And it doesn’t always cost as much as you think to upgrade your mattress — over a period of 7 years, approximately every $130 you spend on a new bed ends up costing only 5 cents a night. Now if that’s not affordable lodging, I don’t know what is.

Get the best king-size mattress today from Purple! And don’t forget the platform that helps your mattress give you support in all the right places.

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