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For many people, California King mattresses represent the final step into adulthood. You’ve gotten your home in order, you probably have a partner, and now your bed reflects your accomplishments.

If you know you’re all about that California King life, but you aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you. This is our definitive guide to getting the California King of your dreams. Let’s take a look.

How Do I Choose a California King?

Sometimes we get so focused on the size that we forget about other more important factors. Size is no good if you’re tossing and turning all night long or there’s such a dip in the mattress that you wake up on top of each other anyway.

History of the California King

California king mattresses are relatively new in the mattress world. In the 1960s, a few companies began offering large mattresses for celebrity mansions, beds reminiscent of historically large beds made for kings and queens. The first of these was King sized mattresses, but manufacturers soon began adding length and shaving off width. The California King was born.

In the 1980s and 1990s, mass production of mattresses took off. The eighties was a time of increased luxury for the middle class, so big beds became a status symbol previously available only to those celebrities and upper-crust members of society. Larger beds became more popular, and the California King was finally a viable (albeit expensive) option for most households.

King Versus California King

Popular perception is that a California King is bigger than a king. How couldn’t it be, right? It’s not just a regular king, but California.

Sorry to burst your bubble but a King Size mattress actually has more surface area. California kings are slightly longer but narrower at 72 by 84 inches. A king measures 76 inches by 80 inches. It’s closer to being square, so if the total surface area is what you need, a regular (or Eastern) king is your choice.

Who Should Choose A California King?

If you or your partner are tall, the extra length on the end may be a welcome change from having your feet hanging off the bed. You lose a few inches on either side, but you might not need them if you don’t have to curl up to keep your feet on the bed’s surface.

Another consideration is the size and shape of the room. You want to have at least two feet on all the exposed sides for safety and comfort moving around. Not all rooms are perfect squares, so a rectangular California King may fit the dimensions of the room more comfortable.

Benefits of a California King

Even if you sleep alone, the length of the California king is one of the few sizes that accommodates sleepers who are over six feet in height. Most tall sleepers have to shift their sleeping position to the corners to prevent feet from falling off, or they’re always slightly hunched up. Not so with a California king

If you are a single sleeper, the California king makes more sense than a standard king. You don’t need the width because there’s only so much space you can occupy from side to side. California kings shave off inches from the sides for a more intuitive option for single sleepers.

Many bedrooms have longer and shorter sides anyway. The California king mirrors those dimensions, so you leave more space along the sides of your bed for moving around.

Downsides of a California King

Despite getting more popular, accessories for California kings are harder to find and usually more expensive. You can’t just pop down to your local big box store to replace the sheets any time you like. Chances are the styles will be limited, and that’s if they have California king options at all. Same goes for bed frames, box springs, and any other accessory.

If you’re one of a couple, the narrower sides of the California king may defeat the purpose of upgrading to a larger bed. Couples of average heights would probably prefer to have the extra length from side to side rather than down at the bottom.

The cost of King and California king mattresses are pretty comparable, but accessories add cost over time. If you’re trying to save money in the long run, or you want ease of use, a regular King is going to be much more manageable.

A Note About Size

Size isn’t the only thing responsible for quality sleep. Before you jump up a mattress size, consider why you’re choosing it in the first place.

If you find yourself rolling into each other in the middle of the night, think about the real reason. Your mattress might be too soft for you and creating a dip in the middle. It may be unsupported. It might be that your bed has poor motion isolation and you need something “deader” like memory foam.

If tossing and turning causes you to wake each other up, you may need a mattress that is better supportive, so you won’t toss so much. Some mattresses can help you get into a comfortable position and stay there.

Whatever the reason, size alone won’t give you a good night’s sleep. You have to consider other factors such as sleep position, back support, and motion isolation in addition to sheer size. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bigger, but just as disappointing, mattress.

Recommended California King Mattresses

You’ve decided that size is indeed the key to your sleep. Let’s take a look at our favorite California King mattresses. We’ve divided them by budget requirements, plus recommended a few for some common sleep issues.

DreamCloud

If size and luxury are what you’re after, the Dreamcloud is a beautifully made, eight-layer bed that aims to take care of common sleep issues such as back and pressure point pain. It’s a hybrid style mattress, using both memory foam and coils.

The first two layers are memory foam, one gel infused and one quilted. They both help wick heat and moisture away from the body and contour, so your curves are supported and not squished into a flat line.

The next two are denser memory foam layers that transition your body to the micro-coils. The micro coil layer offers support and pushback, so your spine stays aligned, and you avoid the dead feeling of the mattress.

The final layer is another memory foam that gives the mattress structural and edge support. The cover materials are a cooling cashmere blend that stretches with the contouring layers.

DreamCloud is only available online, but it has a 365-day trial period and a lifetime warranty done in two parts. For the first ten years, they’ll replace a defective mattress, and after ten years they’ll repair or replace a defective mattress at their discretion.

The California King is only going to set you back about $1500, but if you don’t want to pay all of that today, they have an easy finance option.

Our Top Pick

DreamCloud has only one mattress offering. They’ve made it their mission to make it the best one available, and they’ve done an outstanding job. The mattress has a luxury feel for a budget price, and with the trial period and warranty, you’re covered.

We like hybrid mattresses because you get the same contouring benefits of traditional memory foam but with a little more bounce. Couples are the biggest audience for a California King, so responsiveness is usually high on the list. However, once all your fun couple activities are through, the bed helps reduce motion transfer, so you don’t wake each other up tossing and turning.

The bed also stays pretty cool. Two people sleeping in the same space can run into trouble temperature-wise, but DreamCloud’s layers help keep the core of the mattress from retaining heat, and the surface materials return the mattress to ambient room temperature.

Honestly, this is one of our favorite California Kings because it feels like a full-on luxury hybrid mattress. We think if you asked your friends to guess how much the mattress cost, they’d never get anywhere near the actual price. If you’re upgrading to a California King, upgrade to a luxury mattress, but leave your wallet out of it.

Solay

Solay is a luxury brand with a budget price. It uses cooling layers of gel foam to regulate temperature while the contouring relieves pressure. It uses combination support for a wide range of sleep requirements and gives you 101 nights to try it out.

There are two mattresses, the original Solay and the Source. The Sources uses nano coils and is good for someone who likes the original spring of innerspring mattresses.

Best California King Mattress Under $2,000

Our favorite is the original Solay. It’s a hybrid style mattress with full-sized coils, so you get a lot of bounce and response, but you don’t lose contouring.

It has a top layer of cooling gel foam that wicks heat away from the body and contours to curves. The next foam layer continues contouring and helps reduce motion transfer. The following three layers are full sized coils sandwiched between two layers of one-inch foam. The coils provide solid support while the foam further cushions and isolates motion. The cover is Tencel, a durable cooling material that stretches with the contouring layers.

It’s a super luxe hybrid mattress that’s a steal for about $1600. It’s a medium firmness, so it offers excellent all-around support.

Nectar

Nectar makes a single all-memory foam mattress designed to relieve back pain and offer combination support. It started as part of the mattress revolution, so it’s only available online. It provides a 365-day sleep trial, so you have time to decide if it’s right for you.

Nectar’s layers are cooling and contouring with dense support foam that keeps your spine aligned. It also has a ten-year-plus warranty that replaces a defective mattress up to year ten, and then repairs or replaces after that.

Best California King Mattress Under $1,000

Nectar has only one mattress, and this is a good one. The California King costs you about $950, so your wallet should rejoice along with your extra legroom. The conforming layers give you contouring and help you find a position and stay there.

Many memory foam mattresses sleep hot in return for that “hug,” but Nectar has put a lot of effort into cooling the layers with two kinds of gel memory foam and a Tencel cover. These layers help prevent heat from building up in the core of the mattress.

The result is that you find a comfortable position and you don’t toss and turn looking for a better, more cooling position.

Zinus

Zinus first started in a quest to relieve snoring sufferers and their partners of the conditions that produced blocked airways and allergies. They’ve expanded their mattresses into both a hybrid and memory foam types. They wanted to cover a spectrum of other issues, so they have beds that deal with cooling, contouring, and other sleep problems.

The best part is they’re all in the budget category, even the California King. If you didn’t think you could get a California King for around $500, you’re in luck. Theirs can match that.

The company has mattresses in showrooms and big box stores as well, so if you want to try it out before buying, you can. Personally, we love their cooling mattresses.

Best California King Mattress Under $500

The Cooling Hybrid Gel Foam Mattress is the perfect blend of cooling foams and dense support foam. It’s comfortable and encourages you to stay put, which is better for your back. To get the California King, you have to choose the 12-inch mattress, but all the better. It has enough contouring layers that your back and pressure points should decompress while the support layers keep your spine aligned.

Ghostbed

Ghostbed is an innovative style of mattress that uses ultra-cooling layers for a better night’s sleep. The company uses something called “ice layers” that provide some of the most cooling feelings to a mattress with a deeper hug than some hybrid or memory foam mattresses. And good thing, too. Classic memory foam slept really hot, and that’s the price you paid for better contouring.

They have two different mattresses. The original is a three-layer memory foam mattress with open cell foams that help reduce temperatures while your sleeping. The other uses more layers of “ice” foam to provide an even more cooling night’s sleep.

Best California King Mattress for Side Sleepers

The Ghostbed Luxe is a medium on the firmness spectrum and offers side sleepers a slight bit more hug than the original. Even with that hug, you should experience a lot more temperature regulation because of the style of foam.

The edge support on these mattresses is excellent even for heavier sleepers, so you should be able to use the side of the bed to get comfortable and keep from having to toss and turn looking for a comfortable spot.

Nuvanna

Nuvanna’s mission is to improve the community through some of our most foundational paths to wellness, our sleep quality. Nuvanna is built with three layers of foam that gently cushion your pressure points and curves but doesn’t give in the way traditional memory foam mattresses do. The foam is open cell and breathable, and the mattress is Centri-Pur certified.

It has a 100-night trial period, and if you don’t love it, they’ll pick it up for free and donate it.

Best California King Mattress for Stomach Sleepers

If your face is going to be in a mattress, it should be one with low odor and no off-gassing. The Nuvanna solves both of those with its single mattress. You get a clean,

It doesn’t have as much give as many memory foam mattresses do. Instead, it supports and aligns your spine to keep you from overextending while in the Superman position. It also has pretty good edge support, so you won’t feel like your compressing the sides as you spread out, especially if you’re sleeping as part of a couple.

DreamCloud

We’re going to go with DreamCloud again in this case. As a reminder, DreamCloud has eight different layers that work together to reduce motion transfer, offer suitable combination support, and be supportive for lower back pain.

Best California King Mattress for Back Sleepers

DreamCloud blends different types of layers to satisfy a range of sleep positions and issues. If you or your partner has back pain, the four layers of foam that contour and transition the body to the supportive coil layer helps your spine decompress. You wake up with less pain, and your partner doesn’t have a bed that’s too firm.

Winkbeds

Winkbeds is a hybrid mattress that uses coils for the support layer and contouring foams to help relieve pressure and pain. You can choose between three different firmness options depending on your sleep preferences.

One thing the company does well is consider how different types of sleepers have different firmness needs. Not everyone will like or benefit from a general, combination-support mattress, so it’s nice to be able to choose for ourselves.

Best California King Mattress for Heavy People

Winkbeds is one of the few mattresses on the market with a bed specially designed for heavier people. It will feel too firm for average weights, but for those who are much heavier than average, the denser foams help relieve back tension, provide more cooling relief, and ease your body into the full support layer without feeling like you’ve lost all your contouring.

Conclusion:

DreamCloud has our vote for the best California King because of the pure luxury feeling. If you’re upgrading your size, upgrading to a plush feeling mattress to go along with it is an excellent choice in the name of your wellbeing. You’re going to love sleeping like you’re in a hotel (and probably even better because you can prove the sheets are clean!) Happy sleeping.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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