Hospital Bed Sheets: One Size Does Not Fit All

Hospital beds may not typically be as varied in size as residential beds, but they still don’t all come in the exact same dimensions. Like with a typical bed you may have at home, it’s important that a hospital bed is fitted with correctly sized sheets. Otherwise, the patient may experience uncomfortable clumping of the material, or the sheet may slip off, exposing the mattress beneath. 

Standard Hospital Bed Sizing

A hospital bed is usually 36" in width with a length of 88". The sleeping area is slightly shorter at 80" in length. The standard thickness of a hospital mattress is 6 ". 

There are a few basic reasons this has become the standard. For one, it isn’t especially large, which helps keep costs down and ensures that a bed can typically be rolled to different areas of a facility without major issues. It’s also still big enough that the bed can fit most people, allowing them to sleep in relative comfort.

A standard hospital bed is comparable in size to a twin XL bed. Fitted sheets designed for a standard twin XL may fit a standard hospital mattress, but keep in mind that the depth will likely be different. 

Alternative Sizing

Not all hospital beds sheets are standard size. For taller patients, a longer bed may be necessary, with hospital beds often allowing for the installation of extensions to add to the length of a bedframe and mattress. Experts also recommend beds as wide as 39" or more for patients with a BMI greater than 45 because the standard size may feel cramped. Wider configurations are available, including beds at 42", 48" and 54" in width. 

Why You Need Sheets That Fit

For most hospitals, it isn’t realistic to deliver a luxurious experience to patients. Hospitals have many costs and their focus is on patient treatment and aiding recovery. However, providing basic comfort is important. Beyond the fact that a hospital wants to have a reputation for being an accommodating and comfortable place to stay, patients need to rest. Sleep is an important part of recovery.

Cleanliness is also essential in medical settings. Mattresses aren’t typically designed to be exposed (although hospital mattresses may be better able to handle that than a home mattress). If a sheet isn’t large enough, the mattress may become dirty when it’s exposed to a patient’s skin and potentially other bodily fluids. If the mattress gets dirty enough, it may need to be replaced, which can be expensive.

What Does a Good Fit Look Like?

Well-fitted sheets should hug tightly to the mattress, showing little (if any) wrinkling. On the underside, the sheets need to wrap under the mattress enough that, even if a person lying on the bed accidentally pulls at their sheets, the sheets are unlikely to slip off. 

Important Considerations

Ideally, a hospital bed will be comfortable for the patient. It isn’t enough that they physically fit on the bed. They should be able to comfortably rest and turn over without feeling cramped. By extension, this means a hospital must have at least some beds of varying sizes and thus will want sheets that can adjust to different-sized beds or that are sized differently to match the differing bed sizes.

With adjustable sheets, straps can be moved to keep the sheet tightly fitted to the mattress. Hospital mattresses tend not to have the depth of a standard home mattress, so features like straps may allow a company to source sheets that are originally designed for home use. Still, it’s better to have sheets that are designed to fit the specific hospital mattresses in question.

If you’re interested, you can read more about the importance of where you source your hospital’s linens. You can find the article here and see some of the advantages Alsco might be able to offer you with our services.


Both comfort and hygiene are important in a hospital setting. If sheets are too large, they can bunch up and may unnecessarily add to what is likely already a challenging experience for the patient. If the sheets are too small, it can expose the mattress beneath, which allows bodily fluids like sweat to absorb into it. Neither of these scenarios is ideal and both are avoidable with appropriately sized sheets.

If you’d like help sourcing sheets and other linens of any size, Alsco can help. For many decades our linen rental services have helped companies of all sizes (including hospitals and other medical facilities) equip rooms of all kinds with the right linens. Whatever the scale of your operation, we’d love to talk to you about how we can help meet your needs. Call today.


What Are the Dimensions of Home Hospital Bed. Help Mobility.

What Sizes Do Hospital Beds Come In? SonderCare.

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