The average body weight in the US general population has fluctuated over the past few decades, and many mattress brands have responded to the change with durable, structured mattresses support larger bodies. However, if you’re a lighter person, finding the best mattress for a small person may seem like a challenge.
According to research published in The Lancet, there are more people considered to be overweight or obese than there are individuals at a healthy weight or underweight. If you are someone who is looking for a new mattress and find yourself on the thin side, you may be feeling like all of your options are too firm. Fortunately, there are mattresses built to be just right for more petite individuals. Here’s what you should look for in order to find a bed that’s right for you.
- Temperature Control
- Easing Pressure Points
- What’s the Best Mattress Thickness?
- Best Mattresses for Petite People
- Have You Made Your Choice?
Temperature Control for Small Bodies
When we sleep, our body temperatures fall and our metabolisms slow. Staying in a relaxed state helps keep you asleep through the night. If you get too hot or too cold, it can wake you up and lead to disrupted sleep.
Mattresses often come with technology designed to help support the ideal sleeping body temperature, but those technologies may not be right for small or thin people. In fact, studies suggest people who are lean may not need any cooling technologies because they tend to emit less body heat when they sleep, meaning they’re less likely to wake up overheated on their bed.
For example, in a study in Obesity: A Research Journal, researchers worked with 10 obese participants and 10 lean participants and concluded lean people tend to move more when they were cold compared to the obese participants. These findings could indicate lean people, who are cold during the night, may experience restlessness from shivering or shifting positions; while obese people might not make such movements when they are cold.
In a second study, published in the Journal of Medical Engineering and Technology, researchers examined the impact body fat had on heat transfer. Researchers used thermometers both on and embedded in body tissue. Then, they used ice packs and cold water to cool off their subjects. When doing so, they found people with a large amount of body fat changed their body tissue temperature about twice as slowly as thinner participants, which suggests people with little body fat are more easily chilled.
Most modern mattresses designed for larger people use open-cell foams and gels to move heat away from the surface of the mattress. These technologies help prevent body heat from being trapped in the layers of the bed and warming the surface where we sleep. If you are thin, you may want to ditch additional cooling technologies because you may want some body heat to stay near the surface of the mattress, so you don’t wake up cold. To get a good idea of whether or not a specific mattress is prone to trapping heat, check out mattress reviews to read customer feedback.
Easing Pressure Points
When very thin people sleep on mattresses that do not offer the right kind of support, they may experience episodes of reduced circulation and joint pain.
In a study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, researchers studied 83 people and found a connection between shoulder pain and the person’s sleeping position. More than half of people with shoulder pain reported sleeping on the sore shoulder.
Without having excess body weight to cushion the shoulder blade, thin people may experience more severe pain. Excess body fat can work as a cushion over tender joints, which can help to prevent your bones from pressing painfully into the mattress as you sleep. People who are very thin may not have this cushion, putting them at a higher risk of experiencing joint pain as a result of sleep. If you’re a side sleeper who commonly experiences shoulder pain, read our article about the best mattress for side sleepers to find a comfy bed.
Changing mattress types can help relieve joint discomfort. In a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, researchers found giving people a new mattress reduced back pain by 57.21 percent and shoulder pain by 60.83 percent. Those shifts were more common in more petite individuals, researchers said.
What’s the Best Mattress Thickness?
While it is clear a little bit of cushion is important for the health of thin sleepers, too much cushion could be hard for people who are both thin and a little on the shorter side.
Mattresses with quite a bit of cushion tend to be very tall, as they have multiple layers of foam supported by springs. People who are on the short side may have a hard time clambering into a very tall bed and may feel as though they are falling when they try to get back out again.
In addition, tall mattresses are made to offer durability even when they are compressed by a great deal of weight each day. A thin body offers much less compression force, which could mean all of those layers are unnecessary. Very thin people who invest in a mattress designed to be ultra durable may be spending money on extra support they don’t need, all while making it harder to get in and out of bed.
Petite individuals who do not have a lot of body weight to bring to the mattress should stick to a slimmer bed.
Best Mattress for Petite People: Our Editors’ Three Choices
Though smaller people may have their heights or weights in common, everybody has different sleep needs and may require different features from a bed to get the most comfortable rest. Below, we’ve listed some of the best mattresses for petite sleepers to consider.
- Frugal Shoppers: Love and Sleep by Nest Bedding. As mentioned, people with smaller bodies may not need to invest in serious bedding technologies. The wear and tear a smaller person may put into their bed might pale in comparison to the impact a bigger body might have.
The Love and Sleep mattress is one of the least expensive mattresses we profile here. At 11 inches tall, this bed is designed with the bare minimum in mind. Every layer is made from foam, and this bed lacks entirely in springs or other innovative technologies larger individuals may need to sleep well.
There are two cooling layers within this mattress, each of which is four inches tall. These layers may help keep you from growing uncomfortably warm at night, but it is fair to expect a little heat from this bed, as it lacks in more enhanced cooling gels and beads. This mattress could be a great fit for smaller sleepers who frequently wake up cold during the night.
- Dual Shoppers: AS3 from Amerisleep. While you might have a lighter body, you may share your mattress with someone who is heavier or has a different sleep style. Alternatively, it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder how well your mattress will last if you gain weight due to pregnancy, illness, or aging. Due to it’s enhanced versatility, the AS3 is great for shoppers choosing the best mattress for couples or for those just looking to find a comfy bed for their present and future selves.
The AS3 is an all-foam mattress with three layers. The top layer is a plant-based foam, called Bio-Pur®. Amerisleep designs this foam to be five times more breathable than standard memory foam, so this layer helps keep you cool without the addition of any cooling technologies. The next layer of their beds is a layer of zoned support, called HIVE®, designed to relieve pressure points and promote a healthy spine. These two layers alone make the mattress both healthy for the environment and the sleeper.
- Comfort Shoppers: The Leesa Mattress. The Leesa mattress is 10 inches tall and is made from several layers of foam. Leesa also makes a complimentary foundation designed to give this bed the best support. Their foundation is wood and provides a hard, solid base for the foam components of this bed.
Some people with light bodies need a firmer bed that still offers a sense of sinking and plushness. Pairing a foam-based Leesa mattress with this dense
foundation can create a firm sleeping environment. Leesa designs their foam to contour to your body and offer zoned pressure relief, so it feels more supportive under pressure points and softer in the areas of your body you’re not as susceptive to aches and pains. For those who need a mix of hard and soft, this could be a good mattress choice.
How Should You Choose?
Some mattress companies offer a sleep-trial with their products. Sleep trials allow you to try out a mattress in your own home for a specified period of time while you decide if it is the right fit for you. These can be exceptional opportunities, but you will need to read the fine print. Some companies will require you to keep the mattress for a certain amount of days until you have the option to return. Other companies charge hidden restocking fees for mattress returns. While others make it nearly impossible to even return your bed. Before you buy, ask questions and have an understanding of the return process.
You might also find a mattress manufacturer with brick-and-mortar outlets near you. This allows you to visit the shop and try out the mattress in the store without making any kind of commitment to purchasing in the future. If the mattress you’re interested in is not found at any retailers or showrooms near you, try finding and testing a similar bed. Testing a similar bed gives you an idea of what to expect from the mattress of your choice. You may find a product you had been considering just isn’t the right product type for you.
We hope this guide has been helpful in understanding what to look for, and what to avoid, when choosing a mattress for skinner person. If you’re not certain one of the mattresses we discussed in this guide is good for you, read other online reviews to find the best mattress for yourself.
- Skinny Isn’t All That: Survey Finds Fewer American Women Are Dieting. (January 2013). National Public Radio.
- Trends in Adult Body-Mass Index in 200 Countries From 1975 to 2014: A Pooled Analysis of 1698 Population-Based Measurement Studies with 19.2 Million Participants. (April 2016). The Lancet.
- Cold-Induced Adaptive Thermogenesis in Lean and Obese. (September 2012). Obesity: A Research Journal.
- Heat Transfer to Deep Tissue: The Effect of Body Fat and Heating Modality. (June 2016). Journal of Medical Engineering and Technology.
- Body Mass Index and Pressure Ulcers: Improved Predictability of Pressure Ulcers in Intensive Care Patients. (November 2014). American Journal of Critical Care.
- Association Between the Side of Unilateral Shoulder Pain and Preferred Sleeping Position: A Cross-Sectional Study of 83 Danish Patients. (June 2012). Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
- Effectiveness of a Selected Bedding System on Quality of Sleep, Low Back Pain, Shoulder Pain, and Spine Stiffness. (February 2002). Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
- Mattress Guide for Large and Small People. (July 2018). Sleep Like the Dead.
- Love and Sleep. Nest Bedding.
- AS3. Amerisleep.
- The Leesa Mattress. Leesa.
- Mattresses. Tuft and Needle.