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Bed Height | Picking the Right Size in 2022

Bed Height | Picking the Right Size in 2022

Many people make the mistake of not considering their bed height. They often think it makes little difference and won’t affect their health. But picking the wrong height can cause big problems down the road.

Get the Bed Height You Need

Man on the edge of a standard bed height mattress sitting freely and relaxed as he checks his phone in a denim suit

Southworks/Shutterstock

To determine the optimum bed height, use this simple test:

  1. Sit on the edge of the bed and see if your hips are even with your knees.
  2. If your knees or hips stick up, the bed is too high or too low.
  3. Alternatively, to know the ideal bed height for you, measure the distance from the base of your foot to your knee.

For example, if it’s 20 inches, then a 20-inch tall bed is the ideal height. This misconception is responsible for poor sleep quality, back problems, and worsening of underlying health problems. Optimal bed height is vital because repetitive body strain results without it.

Bed height is an essential consideration for the elderly. Orthopedic and other health conditions can suffer aggravation from beds that are too high or too low. Therefore, you should always prioritize bed height over aesthetics.

Consider Your Comfort

For most people, comfort is the first reason for considering bed height. On average, beds range between 16 and 25 inches in height. A bed within this range provides most sleepers enough height to recline and rise out of bed without strain.

Choosing a Comfortable Bed Height for Couples

Choosing the ideal bed height is far easier for those who sleep alone. However, if you sleep with a partner, who is likely not the same height as you, how do the two of you decide on an ideal size?

Luckily, beds typically correspond with the average range of knee height. So, in most cases, a bed within the above range will be comfortable for both partners.

Bed Height Based on Age

Attractive older woman getting out of bed and holding her back in pain because she picked the wrong bed height

Fizkes/Shutterstock

How high our beds should be changes with age. For most adults, a bed close to 25 inches tall works well. However, older people might need to make adjustments based on their mobility. In addition, the elderly suffer from cartilage deterioration that results in aches and pains. Straining to get in and out of bed can make these far worse.

Older people can struggle to get out of beds that are too low. Pulling the body upward requires core and lower body strength they might lack. Therefore, having a bed high enough for them to rise from a comfortable sitting position is essential.

Getting on a bed that is too high can also present a challenge because it requires muscular strength, flexibility, and balance. If getting into bed is a challenge and lowering it is not an option, older adults might need a step stool to assist with getting in and out of bed.

On the other hand, children are flexible and agile, so bed height is much less important. However, because they mature rapidly, it’s essential to change their bed height as they grow. The same rule applies: Their knees and hips should align when sitting on the mattress. When their knees begin to stick up when they sit, it’s a sign they are too tall for their current bed. 

Mattress Height Considerations

Mattress height is also a key consideration. Some mattresses are thin with a single layer, while others are thick with up to eight layers. The most important thing is your level of comfort. If your bed and mattress are a little on the short side, a mattress topper or pillow top adds additional support and a few inches of height.

Bedroom Aesthetics and Bed Height

Bed height also affects your bedroom’s aesthetics, and the type of room the bed is in is something else to consider. If the bedroom has high ceilings, a more elevated bed helps create a balanced aesthetic. However, a high bed might look out of place in a small room with low ceilings.

But what if you have high ceilings and need a low bed for comfort and health? In that case, consider a canopy or headboard. These accouterments add style to the room while also creating the illusion of a taller bed.

Chronic Pain and Bed Height

Do you suffer from chronic pain from disorders such as sciatica or fibromyalgia? If so, paying attention to the height of your bed is essential. These types of conditions make getting a restful night’s sleep a challenge.

The last thing sufferers need is the added stress of struggling to get in and out of bed, aggravating these problems. So those with chronic pain should test the height of their bed and make changes if it is set too high or too low.

In addition, choosing a mattress designed specifically to aid chronic pain can make a big difference. For example, people diagnosed with fibromyalgia should consider a mattress made to help. Quality sleep reduces pain and stiffness, a big help for those with orthopedic conditions.

Different Bed Types

Various types of beds illustrated into a single image

Leremy/Shutterstock

There are three main bed types: standard, platform, and antique. Each has its own aesthetic, but they also differ in height. So consider the height difference for each when making a selection.

1. The Standard Bed

Standard bed frames include a box spring that fits underneath the mattress, elevating it to a typically comfortable height for the average person. In addition, these beds usually offer enough height, allowing you to use the underneath space for storage.

2. The Platform Bed

With the mattress, platform beds are about 18 inches tall. They are an excellent choice for contemporary aesthetics. These beds have slats in place of a box spring, resulting in little or no storage space beneath. 

Though they are sleek looking and comfortable for many people, platform beds are not the best for tall people, those with knee issues, or anyone who needs under-bed storage space.

3. The Antique Bed

Antique beds offer more height than standard and platform beds. As a result, they provide more storage space in addition to an elegant look. However, they are not suitable for those with mobility difficulties. The additional height causes repeated stresses from climbing in and out, aggravating conditions for people with health problems or the elderly.

Things to Consider

It might not be possible to choose the exact optimal bed height because it does not fit your aesthetic choice, or your partner’s height is much different. In that case, consider the following:

  • Is the bed height within an acceptable range for both partners?
  • Does the bed height avoid aggravating health conditions, such as fibromyalgia or arthritis?
  • Is the bed height comfortable when reclining and rising?
  • Is the mattress the right height?
  • Would a pillow top or mattress cover increase comfort and utility?
  • Should a different bed type be considered?

Frequently Asked Questions

Does bed height affect comfort?

Bed height affects comfort when getting in and out of bed. However, while asleep, bed height does not impact comfort.

Why are antique beds so high?

Before modern heating systems, people wanted to do whatever they could to stay warm during winter nights. Higher beds facilitated this because heat rises. The higher you sleep, the warmer you stay.

What is the standard bed height?

Most beds range between 16 and 25 inches. Beds within this range allow most people to recline and rise comfortably.

The Bottom Line

Cartoon with a ridiculously high bed featuring about 10 mattresses

Maciej Es/Shutterstock

Bed height is a key consideration in terms of comfort, health, and style. Generally speaking, those who are elderly or have physical limitations should avoid very high or very low beds, which can exacerbate the symptoms of conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. 

Younger people with few health conditions can focus more on aesthetics, but they should ensure that their knees and hips align when sitting on the bed. Whatever type of bed you choose, make sure the height is comfortable for you and your partner.

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