As an incoming college freshman, I had so many questions about what my dorm room would actually look like. After tour after tour of shining new buildings and massive common areas, I still wondered—what would my actual living space be like? More pressingly…what size would my bed be?! I tossed and turned enough at home without worrying about my feet hanging off the end all night!
Luckily, there’s a method to the madness of dorm room bed sizes. Here’s a breakdown of exactly what you can expect when you show up with your bedding bundles and storage bins.
The Twin XL College Bed
The vast majority—we’re talking around 80%—of dormitory beds across the United States are a standard size known as Twin XL. These beds are 39 inches wide (the standard twin size) but, importantly, they are also 85 inches long. That’s about 5 inches longer than a regular twin bed.
This Twin XL specification has been adopted by colleges and universities to specifically fit the needs of students in dorm settings. The idea is that the extended length, compared to a normal twin, helps accommodate tall students so their feet don’t hang off the end of the bed. Makes sense to me!
The Dorm Mattress Size
Now, when it comes to the actual mattress size, there is occasional variation in dorm rooms. The standard provided dorm mattress is also 39 inches wide but usually only 80 inches long. That means there is a little bit of room between the end of the mattress and foot of the Twin XL bed frame.
I suppose the idea here is that the slightly shorter mattress protects the bed frame from sweat and spills?! Either way, it’s important to know both measurements to get the full picture.
Do All Dorm Beds Conform to This Size?
The Twin XL dorm bed is an industry standard, but there are always exceptions. From my housing research, I’d estimate that about 20% of college housing situations offer something slightly different.
For example, some honors dorms, apartment-style housing, and premium upgrades might include full size beds or other variations. The focus is on providing enough room to study and socialize. But the baseline dorm setup across the country will be the trusty 39” x 85” Twin XL bed.
Can I Request A Different Size Bed?
Given that Twin XL beds are specially designed for dorm life, changing sizes can actually cause problems in shared spaces. If you were to squeeze a larger bed into a small double room, it would limit floor space and make it difficult for your roommate to rearrange furniture.
However, in some cases there are options:
Medical Exceptions: If a student has a doctor-verified need for specific bed dimensions due to a health condition or mobility challenges, exceptions can sometimes be made. Proper documentation is required from a physician.
Tall Students: Particularly tall students may be able to request longer custom beds from housing staff. This helps ensure their legs and feet don’t hang off the end.
What About Bringing Your Own Bed?
Personally, I considered just bringing my beloved bed from home. And I’m clearly not alone since this is a FAQ for many college housing offices! Unfortunately, outside beds are typically not allowed due to space constraints and furniture regulations. Dorms are meticulously planned to make the most of small spaces, so there isn’t room for wildcards.
The only case where bringing your own bed is an option is if you’ve been granted a medical accommodation. Those situations require thorough pre-approval and documentation.
Finding The Right Dorm Bedding Size
Armed with the knowledge that standard dorm beds are 39 inches wide by 85 inches long, it seems simple enough to shop for sheets…until you actually try it! I scoured store after store, but twin XL bedding was surprisingly difficult to track down. I began to understand why so many dorm dwellers resort to using flat sheets or queen sets and tucking in the excess.
Luckily, I did eventually discover some specialty options:
- Dorm Bedding Sets: Some bed and bath stores (especially college-focused ones) carry complete sheet sets made specifically for Twin XL dorm mattresses. These include a fitted sheet, top sheet, and pillowcases that fit the 39” x 80” size.
- Twin XL Sheets: While less common, you can find fitted and flat sheets that match the length and width of college beds. They can be mixed and matched with standard twin XL pillowcases.
- Extra Long Twin Sheets: These sheets are the same width as a dorm bed (39”) but even longer, ranging from 90 to 95 inches depending on the brand. This gives enough excess material to comfortably tuck under the mattress.
I ultimately opted for a basic Twin XL sheet set and haven’t looked back since! When it comes to comfort and a good night’s rest, having properly sized bedding makes all the difference.
As you prepare for move-in day, keep the Twin XL dorm bed and its trusty 80-inch mattress in mind for all your bedding needs! Focus on sheets and bedding made specifically for extra long twin beds or size up to taller lengths. Finding the right bedding fit will ensure sweet dreams in your college home.
And if you have any issues with the length or width of your bed upon arrival, don’t hesitate to approach housing staff. There may be away to tweak the setup or file an exception if needed. When it comes to getting quality rest, comfort is key!