The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Twin XL Mattress Pad for Dorm Beds

Posted by Steven Van Alen on

Did you know that poor sleep can have a bigger impact on your college GPA than drinking or drugs? Experts estimate that for each night of the week that a student has problems sleeping, their GPA drops by about 0.02 points. They also become about 10 percent more likely to drop a course, meaning it will take them longer to finish their degree.

Given that sleep has such a big impact on your grades, it’s important to get the best sleep you can at college. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a twin XL mattress pad for a dorm and what you should look for when shopping for one. 

Why Get a Mattress Pad?

Before we dive into what you should look for in a mattress pad, let’s talk some about why you should get one in the first place. Dorm beds are less than comfortable, to say the least, and you’re going to want something between you and those springs. A mattress pad can make your bed more comfortable and help you to get the sleep you need. 

Mattress pads can also help to absorb some of your movements if you toss and turn at night. This can eliminate creaky springs that may keep you or your roommate awake. Not only will you both sleep better, but this can head off some conflict between you and your roomie, making your dorm life better!

Memory Foam

There are a few different types of mattress pads you’ll need to choose between for your dorm. Memory foam pads use a polyurethane material that was first developed by NASA. This foam has an open-cell structure that helps it to conform to your body without squishing down into a flat mass under you. 

The best thing about memory foam is that it provides the support you need for quality sleep without putting pressure on you. It gives way under your pressure points while staying firm enough to support the rest of your body. You can find memory foam mattress pad options in both egg crate and flat formats.


The other common material for mattress pads is gel, a new arrival on the comfort bedding scene. Gel is perfect for hot sleepers since it can transfer heat well and cool you down at night. Like memory foam, gel mattress pads use an open cell structure, but these cells are impregnated with a cooling gel.

Gel mattress pads tend to be a little more affordable than memory foam mattress toppers, which makes them a popular choice among college students. Their density – which we’ll discuss more later – will depend on the thickness of the gel inside them. It’s important to buy from a reputable brand when getting a gel mattress pad since lower-quality pads can still trap heat.


As you might guess from the name, combination mattress pads use both memory foam and gel. In general, these mattress pads use two layers – a thick memory foam layer on the bottom and a gel base on top. The memory foam cushions and supports you, while the gel draws heat away from your body and keeps you cool.

Thanks to the combination of memory foam and gel, these mattress pads provide plenty of support for your spine, hips, and shoulders – all common pressure points. You can find them in a variety of thicknesses and densities. And, as you might expect, these mattress pads tend to be on the more expensive end of the spectrum.


In addition to the material, one of the biggest factors you need to think about for your mattress pad is density. The density of your mattress pad basically deals with how much it will give way when you lay down. Denser mattress pads will feel firmer, while less dense pads will provide a softer sleep experience.

There are pros and cons to each level of mattress pad density. Denser pads will keep you more separated from your dorm bed, but it won’t feel as soft and squishy as less dense mattress pads. A less dense mattress pad will feel softer, but over time, you may wind up sleeping on a thin layer of foam that isn’t doing much to pad you.


You’re also going to want to take a look at how thick the mattress pad you select is. Thickness looks at the physical depth of the mattress pad, and most experts recommend getting a mattress pad that’s at least two inches thick. It’s important to note that thickness and density are not the same things, and even thicker mattress pads may not be as dense. 

As a general rule, thicker is better when it comes to picking a pad for your twin XL mattress. Thicker pads will provide more cushioning no matter how dense they are and will take longer to break down. The main drawback is that the thicker you go, the more your mattress pad is going to cost.

Find the Perfect Twin XL Mattress Pad for a Dorm

Buying a mattress pad for your dorm bed is a great way to ensure you get the best sleep possible during your college experience. You’ll want to start by deciding on the right material for you and then turn your attention to the density of the pad. Get as thick a mattress pad as you can afford and you’ll sleep like a baby right up until finals week.

If you’d like to find the perfect twin XL mattress pad for a dorm, check out the rest of our site at Sleepyhead. We deliver comfort through our premium mattress toppers that are tailored to fit a college student’s needs. Shop our gel toppers today and discover sleep vibes only.

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