Congratulations! You just graduated high school and are about to venture into the next phase of your education — college. As fun as it is to move into your dorm room and kick off your college experience, you typically won’t have the most glamorous furniture set-up. That especially goes for your mattress.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get a full night’s sleep on your not-so-comfy dorm room mattress. Sleeping soundly through the night is important for knowledge and memory retention, with some studies stating a good night’s rest before an exam can lead to better grades and a higher GPA.
Ideally, your bed should accommodate your sleeping position and fit your specific preferences. For example, hot sleepers may not be too comfy on a memory foam dorm room bed that’s notorious for retaining heat. However, as you can imagine, your college won’t be sending you a questionnaire with the checkboxes you’re looking for in a new mattress.
In fact, dorm room mattresses tend to be firm and are made with either low-quality foam or innersprings. They typically aren’t switched out every year with the new freshman class, making a lot of them worn out or near the end of their lifespan. Not to mention the dust mites and allergens that may have collected inside the bed over the years.
Below, we list the best ways to upgrade your set-up yourself and make your college bed feel more comfortable for sleep.
1. Invest in a mattress topper
A mattress topper is a great way to make your bed feel firmer or softer, depending on what you’re looking for. It can also change up the feel of your mattress, whether you like memory foam or a latex foam feel that’s more responsive. You can even consider a cooling mattress topper that’s breathable and/or offers cooling relief. There are also budget mattress toppers that cozy-up your mattress for less than $70.
2. Consider comfy sheets and bedding
Your college might provide you with a catalog of college dorm bundle sets you can purchase at a low cost. The problem with this bedding is that it’s cheaply made and will match anyone else who purchases from the catalog.
I made the mistake of doing this when I moved into my college dorm for convenience sake, and I ended up having the same matching, uncomfortable starchy bedding as my roommate. Consider looking for sheets with a thread count of at least 200 and a quality comforter to upgrade your dorm bedding set-up.
3. Bring good pillows — it matters
Not only should your pillow be comfortable, but it should also accommodate your sleeping position. Side sleepers usually sleep best on a tall pillow that keeps their head propped up, in line with the neck and spine.
On the flip side, stomach sleepers should consider a thin pillow that doesn’t keep the neck kinked like you’re watching a movie in the front row of the theater.
Back sleepers should look for a pillow somewhere in the middle. The goal is to have a nice, neutral “C” shape in the neck. If you have a pillow that props your head up so much you’re looking at the wall in front of you rather than the ceiling, your pillow is too tall.
4. Consider a mattress protector
Protect your mattress from bed bugs, household allergens and nasty spills by getting a mattress protector. Your dorm room has limited space and the odds that you’ll have at least a few meals in your bed while binge-watching Netflix is pretty high. A spilled drink on your mattress can cause stains and your foam to wear down. With a protector, you make sure you keep your bed nice, clean and good-as-new.
They go on your bed like a fitted sheet in between your sheets and the bed (or topper). They’re water-resistant, comfy — and depending on the material — breathable. Typically, mattress protectors are made from cotton, polyester, polyurethane, latex, spandex or vinyl.
5. Keep a fan blowing near your bed
One of the biggest buzzkills for sleep is a hot temperature. If you’re going to an older college, you may not have air conditioning in your room. Newer dorms have central air conditioning, but you may not be able to control the temperature. Survive a hot dorm room by opening a window and blowing a fan next to your mattress. You can even make-shift an AC by putting a bowl of cold ice water in front of your fan, forcing it to blow cool icy air towards you.
6. Ask your college if you can bring your own mattress
Your college might not let you bring your own mattress, but it’s worth asking. Call your university’s student services and see what their policy is on bringing in your own twin XL bed. If they do, even ais usually more comfortable than an old dorm room mattress. This way, you can choose a comfy bed that’s clean, fits your specific preferences and sleeping position.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.