Update - Advice on a cheap short term mattress for college

I really need a mattress (been using a crappy shikibuton), but I’m a college student and low on cash. I’m only going to need this for 2-3 years. I followed the guides and tried out some mattresses. My favorites were this and this. I tend to like a firm mattress with a soft top. DreamFoam has been recommended here for cheap quality mattresses, so I’ve been looking through those. I need either an Twin-XL or a Queen. I’d prefer a queen. My price mid-point is $300.

These look promising. What do you think?

This looks the best. Firm with a memory foam top. Includes 2 pillows!

Really cheap. Might be too much so.

This might be too soft.


Might feel too firm since no cushion top.

Customizable, but (relatively) expensive.

I also need a frame for it, and was looking at this.


Cheaper than a wire, and probably works better.

Hi sceaduwe,

Neither one of your links worked so I couldn’t see which type of mattress you tend to prefer.

If you have room then a queen would give you more sleeping space than a twin XL of course but the tradeoff is that you would be looking at a higher price for a larger mattress so you would need to compromise the quality of the materials in the mattress to fit inside your budget range. Of course this would only really matter if you wanted to keep your mattress after your two or three years since all of these would probably be suitable for the shorter term use you are anticipating.

I doubt that anyone on the forum would have any experience on all of these to help you compare them in terms of comfort and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) and I don’t know which type of mattress you tend to prefer but when you can’t test a mattress in person then the most reliable source of guidance is always a more detailed conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced retailer or manufacturer that has your best interests at heart and who can help “talk you through” which of the different mattresses or options they have available would have the best odds of success based on the information you provide them, any local testing you have done, and the “averages” of other customers that are similar to you. They will know more about “matching” their specific mattress designs to different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences (or even to other mattresses that they are familiar with) than anyone else.

Outside of which mattress would be a good “match” for your body type, sleeping positions, and preferences … the type of mattresses you choose would be a preference choice because different people prefer different types of mattresses and materials so your preferences between an innerspring mattress, a memory foam mattress, and a polyfoam mattress would also be a big part of your choice.

This one is a firm memory foam mattress

This one is a firm innerspring mattress (with a polyfoam comfort layer).

This one and this one and this one are “finished” polyfoam mattresses (the support core is polyfoam instead of an innerspring) that all use the same material except they have different thicknesses and firmness levels.

The Dreamfoam 12 in 1 customizable uses the highest quality materials out of all of them so this would be a good choice if you wanted to keep your mattress after college. It also provides you with the option of customizing the support and comfort of the mattress in different ways after your purchase by rearranging the layers or using the firmer or softer side of the cover… Of course the tradeoff for the higher quality materials and better options to customize the mattress is that the cost is higher so you would need a twin XL to stay inside your budget.

So overall you will need to decide whether you would prefer a firm memory foam mattress with a relatively thin layer of memory foam, an innerspring mattress (more "bouncy), a polyfoam mattress in your choice of firmness and thickness, or a higher quality customizable polyfoam mattress that will last you longer than your college years and I would encourage to talk with them on the phone to help you decide which of them would likely be the best “match” for you.

[quote]I also need a frame for it, and was looking at this.


I’m not familiar with this frame and based on looking at it I’m not so sure how strong it would be (they say it will support 1200 lbs but the slats don’t appear to be that strong) and the slats also seem to have some flex which also isn’t ideal for the types of mattresses that you are looking at which would generally do better on a more rigid foundation that doesn’t have any flex but having said that it would probably make an “OK” choice for shorter term use and your lower budget range.

I would also consider that if you purchase any of these mattresses from the Dreamfoam site instead of Amazon then you would receive a 10% discount and you would also have the benefit of their 45 day comfort guarantee.

You are looking at some good quality/value choices for your budget range but the most important part of your choice will be deciding on which type of mattress you tend to prefer (innerspring, memory foam, or polyfoam), and talking to them about which of them would likely be the best “match” for you in terms of PPP because how well you sleep on a mattress is the most important part of its “value”



I’m a side sleeper, sometimes stomach. I don’t want a “bouncy” mattress, so I guess the innerspring is out. So that leaves the memory foam and the polyfoam.

Nice, didn’t know about the guarantee.

I’ll follow your suggestion and call them. Thanks for the help. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Hi sceaduwe,


I’m a side sleeper, sometimes stomach. I don’t want a “bouncy” mattress, so I guess the innerspring is out. So that leaves the memory foam and the polyfoam.[/quote]

Just for reference … both of the mattresses you linked are an innerspring mattress although they both use a pocket coil instead of the Bonnell coil in the Budget Saver. There is more about the different types of innersprings in this article.

I’m looking forward to finding out what you end up deciding once you’ve talked with them.


I talked with DreamFoam. They said that the polyfoam ‘Crazy Quilt’ mattresses weren’t really for long term sleeping, more for RV’s and guest beds. If I’d want one for the long term, i’d want to go with the 12-in-1 since, as you’ve said, it’s a higher quality polyfoam. It offers a lot of customization, but if I didn’t care about that, the memory foam would be the better value. He said, from what I described, I’d want a Medium-Firm, and for the memory foam that would be the 10". It’s $380, but I can deal with $80 over, so I think I’ll be going with it. I also asked about the frame and he said it’d be fine.

Hi sceaduwe,

As you mentioned they certainly provide good guidance to their customers on the phone and are very knowledgeable about the mattresses they sell.

I’m looking forward to finding out what you end up deciding once you pull the trigger and if you do decide to go with the 10" memory foam mattress … then congratulations on your new mattress :slight_smile:

I hope you have the chance to share your comments and feedback when you receive it and have had the chance to sleep on it.


Yep, they were very helpful.

I’ve decided to pull the trigger and buy the 10" memory foam. Should be here within the week!

Will do.

Now that I have been using my mattress for a while, here’s an update on my experience with it.

One of my concerns was the low response time of mattress, however it it broke in after about a week. The mattress feels ‘softer’ than I expected. The mattress firmness itself seems to be what I was looking for, but I didn’t account for it not having coils for support. It might have been a better idea to go a firmness level higher to compensate. Mattress off-gassing took about 3 weeks to completely dissipate.

Two free memory-foam pillows came with the mattress. As some of the reviews noted, they have far to much filling, even for side-sleepers. They also hold heat very well, warming up uncomfortably in minutes. They are however comfortable, and maintain their shape. I might try removing some of the filling to fix the issues.

Lastly the frame. It works great. Completely silent, sturdy, and cheap. I did have an issue with one of the screw holes, and needed a lot of force to get it in, but the rest were fine.

I would suggest this setup to others on a tight budget. While I obviously would like to have gotten a better mattress, this one does the job nicely. It’s inexpensive, but not poorly made. It’s a large improvement over what I had originally. Since getting it I haven’t had any issues with soreness, and have been sleeping much better.

Hi sceaduwe,

Thanks for taking the time to share your comments and feedback … I appreciate it :slight_smile:

It’s good to hear that your choice is working out well for you.


5 Year Update
This mattress has served me well over the years, but it’s now time to get a new one.
It’s no longer supportive, having a virtual impression, leading to poor sleep and a sore back.
I honestly should have replaced it last year, but I thought the soreness was from an injury I recieved.
I didn’t realize it was the bed until recently, when I remembered that I’ve been using it two years more than I expected to keep it! :pinch:
So it lasted almost four years, one more than I expected to use it.
It did what I bought it for, and don’t regret my purchase.
I’d advise anyone using a cheap mattress to make some sort of reminder of when to replace it.

As for the frame, it’s been fantastic.
It’s held up well and been easy to take apart and transport when needed.
Two small issues i’ve had with it.
First is the feet. They are plastic and can rough up the floor over time.
The second is that after a few years it started creaking. This was easily remedied by flipping the wooden slats over.

Hey sceaduwe,

Welcome back to the Mattress Underground :slight_smile: !

Thanks for the durability recap of your DreamFoam 10" memory foam mattress and congrats on your new mattress shopping journey! It’s been a fast five years since your purchase; happy to hear that for the budget price you paid for that the mattress seems to have served you well. When you come up with a mattress “useful life expiration date” reminder, let me know and we’ll celebrate your million $$$ innovation, lol .

Thanks too for the Sleepmaster wooden mattress foundation review, glad that worked out as well. So, what are your overall thoughts on memory foam? Are you planning on giving another memory foam mattress a go or leaning towards something different? Looking forward to more about your upcoming new mattress decision…:wink:


I’ve found memory foam can be really hit or miss depending on the bed.
Full memory foam like this one is nice, but I find it lacks support.
I don’t like polyfoam support.
With coils memory foam needs transition layers, which makes the bed vary widely.
I’ve found that it can work really well on latex.
I’m thinking of going latex for my next one, and maybe getting a memory foam topper. More about that here.

Let me correct that. My current one is memory on poly.
I still would have liked firmer support. However, my issue with polyfoam is that when it’s firm enough to give good support, I find it becomes uncomfortable.

Hey sceaduwe,

Thanks for your reply :slight_smile: .

[quote]I’ve found memory foam can be really hit or miss depending on the bed.
Full memory foam like this one is nice, but I find it lacks support.
I don’t like polyfoam support.
With coils memory foam needs transition layers, which makes the bed vary widely.
I’ve found that it can work really well on latex.
I’m thinking of going latex for my next one, and maybe getting a memory foam topper. More about that here .[/quote]

Just read Phoenix’s thoughts to the post you’ve linked back to, post #2 “Getting a New Mattress”, here’s a brief quote:

“I agree with you on leaning towards getting a full latex mattress, both in terms of durability and comfort/support experience. As you’ve already noticed many of our trusted members are set up to do custom comfort/support builds and layer exchanges so you may discuss your options with them. They are all very knowledgeable and experienced in mattress-sleeper matches. If you’re already thinking you may need a soft topper, I’d lean more towards options that allow for layer exchanges so you can find the comfort layer that best meets your needs without having to fix a mattress with adding a topper. Sometimes finding a suitable topper for a mattress/ topper combo can be as difficult as finding an appropriate comfort/support base mattress.”

Totally sound advice; well-said, @Phoenix! Looking forward to hearing about how your call with Sleep EZ went and which way you decide.