College dorms and off-campus housing aren’t usually known for their quality bedding. Unlike your nice mattress back home, when you’re away at school you’re probably sleeping on something old, flimsy, and hard. Not to mention well-used! If you want to make the most out of your time in bed, and make sure you’re ready to take on whatever classes throw at you, it’s time for some upgrades. These tips for your bed-away-from-bed will make sure you’re comfortable – whether you’re sleeping, studying, or anything else!
Mattress Pad/Topper and Cover
The bed you're given is probably not going to be the best. Usually, you can’t swap out the bed or mattress in your dorm, so you’re stuck it. If you’re living in a furnished place, you may want to save money and just keep what’s provided. So how to improve what’s already there? Enter the mattress pad.
A mattress pad is a helpful, yet often-overlooked bedding item. Mattress pads are multifunctional. They can protect your mattress, provide extra support and softness, and keep sheets from coming undone. They come in a lot of different styles and materials, but it’s the memory foam and gel foam toppers that you’re looking for to add comfort and support. They add a supportive layer that contours to your body to relieve aches and pain. Other materials include cotton, wool, and even polyurethane. These can be cheaper – but they break down quickly and might make your bed even more uncomfortable after they get worn in.
As for the mattress cover, this is a simple covering that goes between you & your bedding - and whoever and whatever got into your mattress before you.
TIP: Go for a cover that is bed bug resistant.
Having the right set of sheets can make a major difference to your in-bed experience. Sheets can be specifically designed to help you stay cool during the blistering summer months, or retain heat in the cold of winter. It’s a good idea to have a couple of sets, so you have can maximize your comfort in each season (campus and college town housing options aren’t known for their excellent climate control either). Just like with the mattress topper, the cheapest options will end up threadbare and scratchy in no time, so you may want to opt for something that will stay comfortable for longer. Thread count isn’t always the answer – a higher thread count on your sheets does not always mean a higher quality sheet.
TIP: Before you buy, verify the size of your bed. Many dorms use Twin XL bunks, which are great to give you a little extra room, but you’ll need to make sure your bedding will fit.
Blankets & Comforter
Sometimes you just need a little comforting, and there’s nothing better than curling up under a cozy pile of blankets. Just like the rest of your bed, you’ve got a lot of options here. First, choose something you like, You want your bedroom to be your sanctuary, a place where you can feel good, and the focus of the bedroom is the bed. That means what you see on your bed should make you happy! Whether that’s a new comforter with Darth Vader on it, or the quilt your grandma made – bring something that makes you smile (just remember your roommates and guests may not be as careful with your stuff as you are).
Just like sheets, you should be prepared for both cold and warm sleeping. Go for maximum warmth in the winter with a comforter, blanket, and throw; and take layers away as the weather heats up. And also just like sheets, if you go for the cheapest choice, you’ll end up with something stiff that falls apart before the cold season is through, so check those reviews before you click the buy button.
TIP: Down comforters are both lightweight and well-insulated, so they can be used year-round for keeping a constant temperature. Combing a down comforter with a duvet, or a covering that goes over the comforter, can add more cushioning and create better insulation.
Just pick up any old pillow, right? Not so. Pillows provide important support to your neck and upper back, which helps to maintain the proper alignment of your spine. The best pillow for you depends on 2 things: your sleeping position and what type of filling you prefer.
- If you’re a back sleeper, look for a pillow that’s in the Goldilocks zone – too soft and you’ll sink, to hard and your head will get pushed around. Wedge pillows are good for back sleepers.
- Side sleepers need a pillow that’s both thick and firm to help support the neck.
- Stomach sleepers need a soft, flat layer to help align the spine without covering your mouth and nose.
- Down – Choose down, not feathers, because feathers can poke through! These retain warmth and can be adjusted by moving the filling around. However, it can shift very quickly to providing no support at all – and those with allergies may react to them.
- Memory foam – This will mold to your head, providing a cradle for you as you sleep. It will distribute weight, and offers good support. This might be more expensive than other options.
- Polyester – Less expensive, and has decent support – at least at first. It will break down faster than other options.
- Specialty – There are even more options! Latex, gel – even water and wool! Each one has positives and negatives, and because they’re specialty they can be even more expensive.
TIP: Look for an indicator called “fill power” which tells you how much filling the pillow has – the more filling, the longer it will stay nice and plump.
Customize Your Bed
Even in a dorm you have some options for creating a space of your own. A lot of people add extra room by lofting their bed, or at least adding lifts. This creates room underneath for storage – or even a desk!
In addition to picking a new comforter and throw, consider adding a few throw pillows. Beyond adding more style to your space, you can also use them for support while you’re up studying (or binge-watching) in bed.
If you have a few inches, you could add a headboard too. These really add style and can also be used as a backrest (especially the upholstered versions).
If you have the option, you may want to go ahead and get an entirely new bed, from mattress to comforter to bed frame. Getting everything just the way you like it will help you get better sleep and enjoy your space. To cut down on cost and hassle, try something like our premium platform bed bases. They offer great support, are easy to transport if you move, but don’t need a box spring (one less thing to buy) - and leave 13” of room for under-bed storage.
You’ll have plenty of reasons to spend time in bed, so make sure your bed is ready for all of them!