The bed sizes available in the United States are the twin or single, double or full, queen, standard King or Eastern King, and California king or Western King.
How in the world is anyone supposed to know the difference between all the mattress sizes on the market today? Even the sales person in your local department store bed department might not have all the facts. It can be a very overwhelming decision. So, what exactly is the difference between the different sizes of beds available?
Custom Size Bed
Some manufacturers will custom-cut beds larger or smaller than standard sizes, but beware of these custom made beds. While it may seem appealing to have a custom size bed, you may have trouble finding bedding to fit.
Twin, Single, and Extra-Long Twin Beds
- Twin beds are also known as single beds. They're the most common choice for children's rooms or multi-use guest bedrooms. These beds are narrow and fit easily into the smallest bedroom. Often twin beds have a "trundle" underneath to accommodate a sleep-over or second guest. Twin beds are used for bunk beds too.
Overall dimensions: 39" wide x 75" long"
- Width per person: 39"
- Pros: Because of its small size it will fit easily into smaller bedrooms. Twin sheets are the least costly of all sheet sizes and are available in lots of patterns. It's easy to make a twin bed.
- Cons: A standard size is too short for many adults.
- Twin Extra Long beds are 5" longer than a standard twin. They're often used in college dorm rooms to accommodate tall teens.
Overall dimensions: 39" wide x 80" long
- Width per person: 39"
- Pros: The longer length is good for taller teens and adults. It's easy to make since it's narrow. If you need flexibility in a guest room, two extra-long twins are a good choice. They can be used as singles or pushed together to form a king-size bed.
- Cons: Bedding is difficult to find and not available in every pattern.
Note: What is considered "standard" may vary slightly amongst manufacturers. Before you go shopping for bedding, be sure to know the exact measurements of the bed you have purchased. Some standard fitted sheets may not fit.
Double/Full or Queen-Size Beds
Any of these sizes fit in a normal room, but many couples feel that a full or double bed (they're essentially the same thing) is definitely too narrow for anything more than an occasional night's sleep. A queen-size bed gives each one a bit more room without taking up too much more floor space.
Here's the main difference between full and queen beds:
- Double/Full beds are 15" wider than a twin, but if two share the bed, each has only 27" of personal space—much less than a twin!
A Queen bed is 6" wider than a double bed, allowing more room for each person, but still 9" less than a twin bed.
Double beds (also known as full) were the most common for two to sleep in until the 1960s. They're only 15" wider than a single bed, leaving only 27" of sleep space for each of two adults. At 75" long, a full-size bed may be too short for some taller adults.
Overall dimensions: 54" wide x 75" long
- Width per person: 27"
- Pros: Fits into smaller rooms. Might be just right for a single sleeper who is under 5'5" tall. Sheets are less expensive than a queen or king size.
- Cons: Many people find a double bed too narrow for 2 adults and too short as well.
- Queen-size beds are 21" wider and 5" longer than a twin bed and 6" wider and 5" longer than a double size bed. Though this extra width and length can make all the difference in getting a good night's sleep, each adult still has 9" less of width than if they each slept in a twin bed. A queen bed works well for guest rooms and small primary bedrooms and is a good choice for couples who like to snuggle.
Overall dimensions: 60" wide x 80" long
- Width per person: 30"
- Pros: Gives 2 adults more space than a double. The extra length (5") works well for most adults. Sheets and blankets are easy to find and cost less than king bedding.
- Cons: With only 30" of personal space for each person (only 3" more than a double), a queen may be too narrow for everyday sleeping for a couple. Some bedding is sold as "full/queen" and doesn't really fit either full or queen perfectly. Check bedding dimensions to be sure that it will fit comfortably. Standard-size pillows or queen pillows work well.
Note: You might find a slightly larger queen-size bed called an "Olympic Queen". Beware before you buy bedding: standard queen sizes may not fit correctly and you might need to cut down king-size bedding, adding a considerable cost to your purchase.
With two sizes of king beds and four names, it can get confusing when you go shopping for a king-size bed. A standard king is also called an Eastern king and a California king is also called a Western king. A standard king is about 4" wider and a California king is 4" longer.
Two people sleeping in a king-size bed will get the same amount of personal sleeping space as in a twin bed. In fact, if you pushed two extra-long twin beds together they'd be about the same size as an Eastern king. For great versatility in a guest room, if you have the floor space, use 2 extra long twin beds separately for singles or push them together to make a king bed for couples.
When buying sheets, you have to be careful to purchase the right size. Flat sheets will fit both sizes of king beds, but fitted sheets are cut to fit one or the other. Before you go shopping for sheets, be sure to measure your bed exactly to be sure to buy the linens that will fit exactly.
- Standard King or Eastern King beds are about 16" wider than a queen bed and the same length. A king-size bed is sold with two box springs or frames and one mattress. This makes it easier to move.
Overall dimensions: 76" wide x 80" long
- Width per person: 38"
- Pros: As the widest bed commonly available in stores, the standard king is the most comfortable for two adults. The 80" length is sufficient for most people. Sheets labeled "king-size" fit a standard king bed.
- Cons: Because of its size, a king bed may not be practical for a single person who has to do the moving by himself. They're hard to get upstairs, through narrow, winding hallways, and small rooms. A king bed may not be long enough for very tall people. Bedding is most expensive in the king sizes. The wide bed requires at least 3 standard or 2 queen or king pillows, adding to the cost.
- California King or Western King beds are 12" wider than a queen and 4" longer. This is the longest bed commonly available in stores and is the best choice for tall people. Like the Eastern king, the California king bed set comes with one mattress and two half-width box springs to be more manageable when moving. Very tall single people can sleep from corner to corner and still be comfortable.
Overall dimensions: 72" wide x 84" long
- Width per person: 36"
- Pros: A California king-size mattress is wide enough for two to sleep comfortably and is the longest bed commonly available. Its extra length is good for tall people.
- Cons: This very large mattress may be cumbersome to move and may not fit up stairs, through narrow hallways, or in small bedrooms. Like the Eastern king, the California king bed set comes with one mattress and two half-width box springs to be more manageable when moving. Very tall single people can sleep from corner to corner and still be comfortable.
Note: Some bed manufacturers differ slightly in their definition of "standard" sizing. Before you go shopping for bedding, be sure to get the exact measurements of your bed so you are able to purchase the correct size sheets.