Bed Talk

November 1st, 2023

UK Bed Sizes : What Size Bed Should You Choose?

Bed and Mattress Size Guide

In the UK and Ireland mattress sizes are set out by the National Bed Federation which is the trade association for the majority of UK and Irish bed manufactures.  The actual bed frame sizes are not standardised so vary between manufactures and designs.

Typical UK Bed Sizes form the National Bed Federation (NBF)

Small Single 2’6″ x 6’3″ 75 x 190 cm
Single 3′ x 6’3″ 90 x 190 cm
Small Double 4′ x 6’3″ 120 x 190 cm
Double 4’6″ x 6’3″ 135 x 190 cm
King 5′ x 6’6″ 150 x 200 cm
Super King 6′ x 6′6” 180 x 200 cm

Note: There is a legal tolerance of up to +/- 2cm (0.8 in) between these quoted measurements and the actual size of the mattress.

In other countries standard bed sizes are different. So a king size bed may measure (width x length):

  • 152 cm × 198 cm (60 in × 78 in) in the UK
  • 165 cm × 203 cm (65 in × 80 in) in New Zealand
  • 183 cm × 203 cm (72 in × 80 in) in Australia
  • 183 cm × 216 cm (72 in × 85 in) in India
  • 193 cm × 202 cm (76 in × 80 in) in the US

What Size Bed Should You Choose?

Most people are affected by sleep problems to some extent at times during their lives. The size of the bed is an important factor in a good night’s sleep. Insomnia advice from the NHS lists uncomfortable beds as one of the causes for lost sleep and advises that you make sure your mattress is comfortable. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night so you are going to spend quite a bit of time in your bed – it is worth taking a little time to weigh up what is right for you.

There are a number of things that you need to consider, especially if the bed you are buying is for two adults.

What Length of Bed is Right for you?

When considering the length of bed to choose it is important to consider the maximum height of the people who will be sleeping in it. It is advisable to buy a mattress that is at least 10cm longer than the tallest person. No one wants to find their feet to be dangling over the end of the mattress or jammed up against the foot board. Having to constantly curl your legs up in bed is not comfortable and may cause back or posture problems in the long term.

A standard UK double bed is only 190cm (6ft 3”) long, so anyone taller than 5ft 11” (180cm) should really opt for one that is 200cm (6ft 6”) in length. A UK king size bed is 200cm in length, and so is a superking size, so either of these options would be a better choice.

If you’re a particularly tall person, some bed manufacturers make products that are 215cm (7ft 0”) in length. Alternatively, you could choose to purchase a ‘bed extender’ type product.

UK Bed Sizes : Bed and Mattress Size Guide

UK Bed Sizes : Bed and Mattress Size Guide

Width of bed

Most couples in the UK still sleep in a standard double bed which is only 135cm (4ft 6”) wide. This provides each user with just 67.5cm or about 2ft 3” of space each which is less than we give a baby in a cot! This gives limited wiggle room and you’re more likely to disturb your partner every time you change position, resulting in a poor night’s sleep. If you are coughing or unwell then such close proximity to your partner is likely to be less desirable. Some couples prefer to sleep in close proximity to each other, claiming that it improves intimacy compared to sleeping in a much bigger bed where you literally have to go searching for your partner!

While the diagrams above shows two people sharing a small double (120cm or 4ft wide) bed, we would only suggest this size as an occasional bed for two people. This size would be more suitable for a single user, especially with UK studies showing that we’re getting bigger and heavier due to our diet and lifestyle! Studies show that the Men’s average height ‘up 11cm since 1870s‘ and Average UK male weight up 16lb in 15 years.


So with partner disturbance a major cause of poor sleep, buying a bigger bed should result in a better night’s sleep. When trying out a bed for size, lie next to your partner on your backs and put your hands behind your head with your elbows sticking out. If your elbows don’t touch your partners’ then you have enough space to sleep comfortably.

Bed Sizes UK: Bed and Mattress Size Guide

The number of couples sleeping in separate beds is on the increase. In the Sleep Council’s Great British Bedtime Report from 2017, 12% said they slept apart compared to only 8% in 2013. Nearly a quarter of couples also reported sleeping apart at least some of the time. If you’re one of those who prefer to sleep in your own bed but still wish to be in the same room as your partner, the most popular option is the standard single bed which measures 90cm or 3ft wide, giving you plenty of room to get comfortable.

If you have a large bedroom, you could consider buying two single beds or even opt for a zip and link set where the two beds can be joined together to form a super king size. Having said that, many modern houses tend to have smaller bedrooms as the demand for 4 or 5 bedroomed properties results in a squeeze on room sizes upstairs. So, for many couples, a super king size bed is out of the question.

Top ten reasons why a bigger bed is better:

  1. A standard double bed (135cm/4ft 6in) gives each person just 2ft 3in of space – less than a baby in a cot.  Now how squeezed is that?
  2. Ergonomic studies show that couples sleep better in a bigger bed. Before the trials only 15% said they would buy a larger than standard bed.  Afterwards 50% said they would. (Ergonomic pilot study by the National Bed Federation, 1995.)
  3. Because you spend a third of your life in bed – by the time we are 50 we’ll each have spent some 16 years in bed. If you are going to spend all that time there, why take the trip to dreamland in tourist class when you can go first class?
  4. Because it doesn’t necessarily cost a whole heap more to move up a size.  Over seven years, every £100 spent on a new bed costs just 3.9p per night.
  5. Because 16 other countries can’t be wrong!  That’s how many boast bigger average bed sizes than Britain.  Top of the league are Belgium, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Finland and Switzerland where most people sleep in a roomy 160cm by 200cm bed.  By contrast we Brits still buy more 135cm by 190cm beds.
  6. Because you spend as much as you can afford on the best possible house, holiday, car, kitchen, TV and sound system.  So why so stingy when it comes to buying a bigger bed?
  7. Because you wouldn’t want to get left behind! Although two-thirds of us still opt for the standard size, larger beds are becoming ever more popular among those with the bedroom space to take one: 33% of double divan and bedstead sales are now 5ft (king-size) or larger.  (GfK NOP Consumer Scope Beds and Mattresses Market Monitor, December 2010).
  8. The average person moves about 13 times an hour during sleep (see study). – so you want to put as much space between you and your mate as possible to reduce the disturbance factor.
  9. Because you may not be as young as you were – or as slim! The Health Survey for England 2021 estimates that 25.9% of adults in England are obese and a further 37.9% are overweight but not obese.  In which case the ‘two in a 4 ft 6ins scenario’ could be putting a severe strain on your relationship.

  10. Because once you’ve slept in a king-size, you’ll never want to be a second-class sleeper again!

Choosing a bed is an important decision it can affect your health and also your relationship with your partner. At Kingsley Beds we are experts with a lifetime of experience in helping people choose the right bed. We are an independent family run business whose success depends on our reputation and the satisfaction of our customers. If you are considering a new bed please get in touch we are always happy to talk you through the options!

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