What is the Best Bed Height?

Why bed height is important

Every day you climb in and out of bed at least once. If you’re like me and take refuge under your covers any time you have a chance to…. then that’s a lot more than once a day. (I know, it’s bad sleep hygiene. So sue me. Please don’t.) How often do you think about the correct bed height?

Not only does the height of your bed affect your bedroom style (for instance a bare mattress on the floor just screams broke student aesthetic), but it can also affect your health or exacerbate existing health issues. The height of your bed encompasses not just the height or depth of your mattress, but also the height of the frame on which your mattress sits. If you have a mattress topper or box spring, their heights need to be factored in as well.

Earlier this year my parents purchased a new bed frame to go with their new mattress but failed to take into account the height of the mattress and frame added together. Now they literally stumble out of bed every morning. Don’t be like them. Be like me – laugh at them and learn from their mistakes.

Factors to take into account

Your height, age and health needs

First and foremost, the most important consideration when it comes to your ideal bed height is your own height. If you’re a taller sleeper, chances are that your ideal bed height will be vastly different to that of a shorter person. You want your bed to be knee height, so measure from the floor to the top of your knee to find this out.

The easiest test for a bed is to see if you can sit comfortably on the edge of your bed with your feet flat on the ground. Your knees should be at an approximate 90-degree angle. Ergonomically, you want to use more of your legs to get out of bed – your hips, thighs and knees. Quads are your friend! The movement you use you get out of bed should be similar to that of you getting out of a chair.

If you’re young, fit, and have healthy joints and ligaments, getting the ideal height isn’t going to be such a big deal. But elderly sleepers or people with mobility issues will want to err on the slightly taller end of things. For these situations, you’ll really feel if your bed is the wrong height, so it’s definitely worth taking the extra time to find the sweet spot.

Let’s take my family and I for an example. My bed comes in at 62cm, which is a tad too high for short little me. However, my mattress sinks a little when I sit on the edge of my bed and I don’t have mobility issues or joint pain, so I’m quite happy with my bed. My aforementioned parents however have a bed height of 68cm, and they themselves are a similar height to me. (Genetics were not kind to our family.) They need to sit on the very very edge of their bed to get their feet on the floor. They’re not elderly people now, but when they get to a point where broken hips from falls is a serious concern, then they’ll need to make changes to get a comfortable height.

Mattress depth

Given that your bed height is the total of the height of the mattress as well as the bed frame height, these are the variables you are working with. Of course you will need to take into account the height of any box springs or mattress toppers you are using. Mattress heights tend to range between 25cm to 32cm (or 10-12 inches tall).

Your bed height doesn’t directly affect your comfort level in your sleep, unless your mattress is too thin to support you. Once you’re in bed, the height of the bed frame has no impact on you. Therefore, I would strongly recommend that you pick out your mattress carefully based on its characteristics and the quality of the layers inside, even if it means choosing the thicker mattress. Spring beds will often be a thicker mattress type than foam mattresses, but that’s not a reason to avoid a spring bed. Choose your bed frame with your perfect bed height in mind, and not the other way around.

Sleep partners

If you’re not sleeping alone, then of course you’ll need to take into account your partner’s needs. If you are vastly different in height, or if one of you have mobility difficulties, then you’ll need to compromise. Luckily, you don’t need to get your bed heights right to the exact cm, and most people will be quite comfortable within a fair range.

Typical Bed Heights

The standard bed height matches the average knee height, which is between 40-60cm (or 16-24 inches tall for the imperialists). If you and your sleep partner are of standard heights, then the average bed height should be a good guide for you. For an elderly sleeper or someone with mobility issues, medical professionals recommend the higher end of this spectrum, so around 50-60cm (20-23 inches). Your mattress will sink a little when you sit on the edge of the bed as well so that may help even things out too.

Choosing your bed frame will be the main way you affect the bed height. There are a number of types of bed frames so make your decision based on your situation.

The standard bed frame is the more traditional looking bed frame for the classically styled bedroom. It will usually need a box spring. This is a tall bed frame, especially beds with box springs, and have an average height of 63cm. It’s good for the average person, but if you’re shorter, this might not be a comfortable bed height. You’ll enjoy some extra space for storage under your bed though!

Platform beds are a type of bed frame that’s generally closer to the ground. This lower frame gives off a more contemporary aesthetic, as it’s sleek and more minimalistic. It’s designed to not use a box spring as there are wooden slats across the surface area for your mattress to rest on. Given that it’s lower, if this frame is paired with a thinner mattress, it’ll take more effort for tall people to get out of bed, but shorter friends will be comfortable. Naturally, given that it’s lower to the ground, you won’t have much storage space under a platform bed.

In Australia, we also have divan beds. This bed base is essentially a box, and your mattress sits on top of this box. It’s usually higher up than a platform as the base often has built in storage drawers.

The height for bunk beds get funny here. Top bunk sleepers aren’t as affected by bed height in the same way given that you’re usually climbing into the top bunk from a ladder, but you should watch your head and see if you have enough room to avoid a concussion from the ceiling. I hope you have a taller ceiling. Bottom bunk sleepers will find that the bed is generally lower to give the top bed a bit more room. If you have mobility difficulties, it’s unlikely you’ll want to sleep in the top bunk, but you should check to see if the bottom bunk is too low for you as well. Shorter sleepers will be more comfortable with bunk beds as a whole than taller people.

Adjustable bed frames can be helpful for elderly sleepers or those with mobility issues as being assisted in sitting up can make getting out of bed so much easier. You should still check the variety of heights though, as not all adjustable bases can be raised or lowered as a whole.

Getting your ideal bed height

So you have a bed base, you have a mattress, but added together it is not the correct bed height. You can achieve additional height using bed risers. By adding one or two inches in height, it can really make a difference in getting a suitable bed height. If your bed is too tall for you though, it’s much harder to take away height. You could place a step stool next to your bed to assist you in climbing in and out of bed, but this could be a trip hazard so I wouldn’t actually recommend doing this. Your choices therefore are either to replace your mattress with a thinner one, which I wouldn’t recommend as detailed above, or to replace your bed frame. Try out a few platform bed frames if you can to see if that solves your problem!

Related Articles