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The History of the Twin XL Mattress

woman and child asleep on bed

When purchasing a new bed or mattress, one of the most important factors to consider is mattress size. The most popular mattress sizes are king size and queen size, leaving full and twin size beds used primarily for children’s sleep spaces. A much less popular mattress size on the market is the twin XL mattress. As the name suggests, the twin XL mattress measures slightly longer than the length of a standard twin. A twin size mattress measures 38 inches wide and 75 inches long, while a twin XL mattress comes in at 38 inches wide and 80 inches long. Although the twin XL mattress is not as commercially popular as its counterparts, it is considered the standard size of a dorm bed at most, if not all, colleges and universities. This blog takes a look under the covers at the historical relationship between twin XL mattresses and colleges and how the twin XL is beneficial.

The Story Behind the Twin XL

As you might guess, the twin size mattress was developed before the twin XL. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, disease was rampant in the U.S. with several outbreaks of infectious disease. One of the reasons why disease spread so quickly is because families were sharing the same beds. Public health officials began suggesting that parents and children sleep in separate beds to minimize the spread of disease. As a result, twin beds soared in popularity. They were less expensive beds and smaller in size, so they used less floor space, allowing multiple twin beds in one room. Soon enough, twin beds became a staple in American households. Even on popular television shows such as I Love Lucy, couples were portrayed sleeping in separate twin beds. Eventually, the popularity of twin beds waned among most adults, with the exception of one demographic – college students.

The Standard Dorm Bed

The twin XL is the standard mattress size found in dorm rooms at most universities and colleges. In fact, twin XL mattresses are so specific to college living, that most people are not aware of the mattress size until someone is sent off to college. College residence halls have always used small beds because of the limited space found in the typical college dorm. For a long time, twin beds were used but eventually replaced by twin XL beds.

According to a 2002 Wall Street Journal article, research in the mid-1970s revealed to residence-life administrators that human height was gradually increasing. In order to accommodate this height increase, administrators started replacing the twin size beds with something a little longer. Similar to a twin mattress, a twin XL is 38 inches wide, but it boasts an additional 5 inches in length, measuring 80 inches long. These additional 5 inches do not seem like much, but considering that men, on average, reach about 69 inches by age 20, the standard 75-inch length of a twin bed is not a very practical option. So, that extra 5 inches that a twin XL provides is a subtle but critical improvement.

Benefits of a Twin XL

While a twin XL may not be at the forefront of a buyer’s mind, this mattress is valuable outside of college dorms. In fact, you may find that this size mattress perfectly fits your needs. The twin XL is:

  • Affordable: Compared to larger mattress sizes, the twin XL is a less expensive option. Prices for a BedInABox® twin XL mattress can range from $559 to $999.
  • Lightweight: The twin XL is lighter in weight than a full or queen size mattress, so it is very easy to set up or relocate.
  • Kid-friendly: In the same way a twin bed works for children, so does a twin XL memory foam mattress. It is suitable for children who use either standalone bed frames or bunk beds.
  • Compact: While the twin XL is the same length as a king or queen size mattress, it is not as wide, leaving extra floor space while providing extra legroom for tall individuals or single adult sleepers.
  • Two Twin XL mattresses make a King: Pushed together, two twin XL size mattresses measure the same length and width as a standard king size mattress! If you and your partner have different sleep preferences, two twin XL mattresses may be the perfect solution.

In addition to having an interesting history, the twin XL is a great transitional mattress size. Perfect for a growing child or a college student, the twin XL offers just enough space for comfort, but not quite enough space for long term use alone. However, if you pair a single twin XL mattress with a second twin XL, you now have a standard king size bed that can be paired with a split king adjustable base for longer term use. At BedInABox®, we understand the value of a twin XL mattress which is why you can find almost all of our CertiPUR-US® certified mattresses available in a size twin XL. Our buyers have the option to enjoy a single compact, multilayer memory foam mattress or purchase two twin XL memory foam mattresses to meet two different sleep needs. Regardless of your reason for needing a twin XL mattress, your BedInABox® promises comfort and support for any occasion.