How to Choose a Mattress Topper？
Mattress toppers serve two essential functions: adjusting the feel of your mattress to make it softer or firmer, and protecting the surface from long-term wear and tear. In today’s mattress topper market, you can choose from a wide selection of models that vary by material, thickness, firmness, price-point, and overall performance. The best topper for you will depend entirely on your personal needs and preferences.
Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of different mattress materials, explore the various benefits of using a topper, and answer a few frequently asked questions about these products.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Mattress Topper
Think of a new topper as an additional comfort layer for your mattress. You should judge different topper materials and models the same way you might evaluate a new mattress. Important factors include temperature control, conforming ability, durability, and motion isolation for couples. Pricing is another key variable, as well.
Keep in mind that some manufacturers use misleading marketing jargon to discuss how well their toppers perform. Watch out for descriptions such as “universal comfort” and “endless support,” as well as labels like “green” or “natural” for materials that are mostly composed of synthetic components. When shopping for a new topper, here are the most important points to consider:
- Cooling Properties: As is the case with mattresses, some mattress toppers bottle in body heat and sleep somewhat warm as a result. Memory foam, polyfoam, and non-ventilated latex tend to trap more heat than other topper materials, such as down and feathers or wool. Topper softness can also play a role in temperature regulation. If you sink too deeply into a topper, this can restrict surface airflow and make you feel too warm.
- Price: A new topper may cost less than $100 or more than $500, but most high-quality models sold today are priced between $150 and $450. Factors that can drive up a topper’s sticker price include its material composition, thickness, and whether or not the product has received certifications for organic or other materials. Additionally, some brands have steeper price-points than others.
- Sleeping Position: Do you sleep on your side? If so, chances are you’ll feel most comfortable on a topper that cushions the shoulders and hips to align the spine and reduce pressure points. Back sleepers generally need a firmer, more balanced feel. This ensures comfortable conforming and even support with minimal sagging around the torso and waist. For stomach sleepers, a topper should offer extra reinforcement between the shoulders and hips to prevent too much sinkage.
- Quality Materials: Certain topper materials are associated with longer lifespans and stronger performance in different categories. These include high-density memory foam, ventilated latex, natural wool, and premium down. While these materials can drive up the sticker price by a significant margin, the topper will offer better long-term value compared to a model made from lesser components.
- Firmness Level: Firmness level is strongly tied to sleep position and body type. People who weigh less than 130 pounds and/or sleep on their side will likely prefer a softer topper feel. Those who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds, regardless of sleep position, may be more satisfied with a mid-level firmness. People who weigh more than 230 pounds and sleep on their back and/or stomach should consider a firmer topper with stronger overall support.
- Thickness: The average topper measures between 1 and 3 inches thick. Since toppers are placed directly on the mattress surface, you’re essentially adding 1 to 3 inches to your bed’s overall profile. If you sleep on a bed that is already thick, then a high-profile topper may make the mattress feel too tall. This can make getting in and out of bed more difficult. Thin toppers, on the other hand, may not adjust the firmness of your mattress as well as thicker models can.
- Pressure Relief: The best mattress toppers for pressure relief will conform to the body and support the spine without sinking excessively. Side sleepers may need a softer feel. Otherwise, their spines will not be aligned and added pressure is likely to occur. Back and stomach positions promote spinal alignment, so these sleepers usually need more support and less conforming for optimal pressure relief.
Which Type of Mattress Topper Should I Choose?
After reviewing the topper attributes listed above to determine which qualities are most important, you’ll be ready to choose a mattress topper based on its material composition. Every topper material carries different pros and cons related to pressure relief, durability, temperature neutrality, and other performance areas.
Memory Foam: Memory foam toppers are ideal if you like to sink into the surface of your bed. The material conforms closely to evenly distribute your weight and keep your shoulders, spine, and hips aligned. For this reason, many side sleepers prefer memory foam toppers. Memory foam also isolates motion transfer very well and does not produce any noise, making it a great option for couples and co-sleepers. Although memory foam can trap heat, toppers can be infused with gel, graphite, copper, and other cooling materials to help the surface maintain a comfortable temperature.
Polyfoam: Polyfoam conforms to the body, but not quite as closely as memory foam. This material also feels a bit more responsive. You may find a polyfoam topper comfortable if you want a balance of contouring and surface-level bounciness. Many polyfoam toppers are convoluted with a ridged surface; these models are also known as “egg-crate toppers.”
Latex: Like polyfoam, latex conforms to the body while maintaining a responsive feel. You’ll probably feel less pressure, but your body won’t sink too deeply. Back and stomach sleepers who need more support may find a latex topper more comfortable than a memory foam model. When ventilated with small holes to promote airflow, latex also sleeps very cool compared to foam.
Down alternative: Down alternative material has different choices, the lower D specification is softer, while the high D specification suitable for the people who like the hard touch feeling. Besides, down alternative is cost competitive.
Other Materials: Memory foam, polyfoam, and latex toppers are most common, but these are not your only options. A topper made from down and feathers, for example, might be your best choice if you prefer an ultra-plush surface that is also highly breathable. Wool toppers can be advantageous because they provide insulation during colder times of the year, but also provide cooling and moisture-wicking when the temperatures rise. Lastly, many toppers padded with polyester fibers offer adequate cushioning at a very affordable price-point.
It’s also important to distinguish between toppers and Euro-top or pillow-top covers. A pillow-top is a layer of padding sewn into the sleep surface of a mattress, leaving a small gap separating it from the bed’s comfort layer. A Euro-top is also sewn into the mattress surface, but its edges are flush with the comfort layer to create a more uniform appearance.
Pillow-tops and Euro-tops offer the same cushioning and comfort adjustment as a standard mattress topper, but these layers are typically offered as customization options for a new mattress, rather than an additional layer sold separately; otherwise you’d be responsible for sewing the pillow-top or Euro-top onto your mattress.
What Are the Benefits of a Mattress Topper?
Advantages of using a mattress topper include the following:
A topper can significantly change the surface feel of your mattress. Most toppers offer a softer feel and are designed to be used with a firm mattress, but some models are intended to make a soft mattress feel firmer. If you’re dissatisfied with how soft or firm your mattress feels but don’t want to pay for a new bed, a topper can be a cost-effective solution.
Toppers are different from mattress protectors, which are very thin and solely designed to safeguard your mattress against spills, stains, dust, and other contaminants. However, toppers can help preserve your bed’s surface and prevent the comfort layer material from wearing out. This can extend the overall lifespan of your mattress.
Over time, the comfort layer of your mattress will deteriorate. This can cause a loss of support that makes the surface feel uneven, and added aches and pains often follow. A sturdy topper adds an extra layer to keep your body on an even plane and prevent it from sagging in areas where you carry a lot of weight.
If the surface of your mattress tends to trap heat and sleep warm, then a breathable topper can provide better temperature regulation to help you sleep more comfortably. The best cooling mattress topper materials include ventilated latex, natural wool, and open-cell foam.
Does the surface of your mattress respond quickly to movement when you or your sleep partner move around? If so, both of you may experience sleep disruptions related to poor motion isolation; this issue is particularly common with hybrid and innerspring mattresses. A topper made from memory foam, polyfoam, or latex will absorb more movement and prevent most of this motion from transferring across the surface.
While prices vary, most mattress toppers cost much less than a new mattress in the same size. Toppers should be seen as a short-term solution because they are not as durable as mattresses, but using a topper instead of buying a new bed can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Mattress Topper FAQ
What is a mattress topper?
A mattress topper is a layer of cushioning material that rests on the top surface of your mattress, usually tucked beneath a fitted sheet. Unlike pillow-tops or Euro-tops, toppers are not attached to the mattress and can be removed at any time.
The purpose of a topper is to improve how your mattress feels. As cushioning materials deteriorate and soften over time, the surface of a mattress will become uneven from body impressions and indentations. This can decrease support and lead to aches and pains. Most toppers have soft to medium feels, and are intended to add cushioning to a firm mattress. However, some toppers are on the firmer side and meant for mattresses that feel overly soft.
Common fill materials for toppers include memory foam, polyfoam, latex, down and feathers, down alternative fibers, and wool. Most toppers measure 1.5 to 4 inches thick.
The terms “mattress pad” and “mattress topper” are often used interchangeably, but this is technically incorrect. Pads are thinner than toppers and designed to provide minor comfort adjustments. Some pads are also waterproof and can protect the mattress from liquid damage. Toppers provide a significant comfort adjustment, and are almost never waterproof.
What’s the best way to clean a mattress topper?
Many foam and latex toppers come with removable, machine-washable covers. Be sure to follow specific instructions listed on the cover’s care tag. The foam or latex core should only be spot-cleaned when necessary, as machine-washing can permanently damage these materials.
If the cover is not removable, dry cleaning will probably be the safest method of caring for your topper. Some toppers with down alternative or wool fill are technically machine-washable, but significant shrinkage and material deterioration can occur over time. Toppers with larger sizes may also be too big for household washing machines.
How much does a mattress topper typically cost?
A mattress topper’s cost depends on many factors. These include the fill and cover material, size, thickness, and brand. Memory foam, wool, and latex models tend to cost the most, while convoluted polyfoam – or “egg crate” – toppers are often the most affordable options.
How can you keep a mattress topper from sliding?
Unfortunately, sliding is an issue for many topper owners. Some toppers are equipped with elastic loops to fit around the corners of your mattress, or “anti-slip” bottoms that provide traction and prevent excessive shifting. If a topper does not include these features, it may slide across your mattress during the night – especially if it’s on the lighter side.
Tucking the topper beneath a fitted sheet can mitigate this issue, as can covering the topper with a flat sheet and tucking its edges beneath your mattress. Also make sure the topper and mattress share the same size.
What are the benefits of using a mattress topper?
If you’ve owned your mattress for a few years and already notice unevenness in the surface, a topper can help you squeeze a few more years out of the mattress before you purchase a new one. However, this should be considered a temporary fix. The topper – like your mattress – will develop impressions and indentations with continuous use.
Toppers can also be great additions for guest rooms, especially if your overnight visitors sleep on foldout couches, futons, and other surfaces that people tend to find uncomfortable. The same is true if you have guests who sleep on the floor. Guest room toppers typically last longer because they are used less frequently.