Mattress toppers offer an inexpensive option to upgrade your mattress. They are available in various sizes, materials, and price points. The best mattress topper will not only help you get a better night’s rest, but it will also help protect your mattress from moisture, debris, and general wear and tear. When shopping for a mattress topper, there are a few things to be aware of, including available materials, firmness, and densities. This guide discusses the various options—and points out some of the best of each type.
- BEST OVERALL: Pure Green 100% Natural Latex Mattress Topper
- FIRM PICK: ViscoSoft 3 Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: LINENSPA Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper
- UPGRADE PICK: Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR Supreme 3-Inch Mattress Topper
- ALSO CONSIDER: LUCID Lavender Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper
- ALSO CONSIDER: DreamFoam 2″ Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper
What Is the Difference Between Toppers, Pads, and Protectors?
A mattress protector is a thin layer of bedding used to cover the mattress. Mattress protectors go beneath the fitted sheet to safeguard the bed from dust and moisture. Higher-quality mattress protection, like that provided by mattress pads and mattress toppers, increases the life of the mattress by reducing wear and tear. At the same time, they make the bed more comfortable.
Mattress pads and mattress toppers add a layer of protective comfort to your mattress. Mattress pads add a little plushness while protecting the cushion from stains and wear, prolonging the life of the mattress. Mattress toppers are thicker than mattress pads and offer excellent protection for mattress longevity. Use a mattress topper to change the bed’s comfort level, to add firmness to a soft bed, or to make a firm bed softer.
Types of Mattress Toppers
If you’re looking to add high-level mattress protection and improved sleeping comfort, then a mattress topper is the way to go. There are several material options from which to choose.
Latex is a natural material derived from the rubber tree. The natural rubber is processed into a durable, open cell-foam. It is considered a renewable resource, and it does not produce harmful fumes.
Latex mattress toppers offer similar properties to memory foam, but with more bounce, and better air circulation for a more refreshing sleep. They come in numerous varieties and thicknesses. Latex is highly durable and the most expensive kind of mattress topper. Those with latex sensitivities should not use this material.
Memory foam is made of polyurethane, a petrochemical product. An open-cell foam with a relatively low degree of air circulation, it conforms to body shape when you lie down and quickly returns to its original form when you get up.
The best memory foam mattress toppers feature high-density foam. They conform closely to body weight for better support, offering high strength and durability. However, these mattress toppers can become quite warm, in fact, too warm for some. Hot sleepers should look for gel-infused memory foam for better cooling. Finally, it’s important to note that memory foam mattress toppers emit gasses, including benzene and naphthalene, for up to three days after installation.
Fiber-filled mattress toppers incorporate synthetic filling made of polyester fiber or down alternative puffball. Fiber-filled mattress toppers are inexpensive and offer excellent air circulation while providing an added layer of softness.
Fiber-filled mattress toppers do not trap air and moisture. However, they do provide significant loft, so they are relatively hot to sleep on. They require regular maintenance in the form of shaking and fluffing the filler material to fluff it. Some may find that fiber-filled toppers feel thin or lumpy. Fiber-filled mattresses do not provide support but can make the bed feel cozy.
Wool is a durable, breathable, and natural material that is resistant to moisture and stains. It stays cool in summer and warm in winter. Yarn is also naturally wear- and tear-resistant.
Wool mattress toppers feel soft and luxurious—an excellent choice if you are looking for a natural bedding material to protect your mattress while adding some softness. However, side sleepers may find wool toppers lacking in cushioning, and wool is a relatively expensive material.
Natural feather-filled mattress toppers, also called featherbeds, add plush softness to all mattress surfaces. They are thick and soft and absorb very little body heat. A feather mattress topper is an excellent choice for a hot sleeper who wants deep cushioning.
Feather mattress toppers cost less than many other mattress toppers. However, they do lose some of their loft over time. Many feather mattress toppers end up with quills poking through, so look for models that address this issue with better fabric covering, or that have filler feathers with quills removed.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Mattress Topper
Mattress toppers can help prolong the life of your mattress. They are also an inexpensive option to upgrade an older mattress. It’s important to find the best material for your comfort level and the ideal firmness for your needs. Here are a few things to think about before purchasing a mattress topper.
Type of Mattress
Your mattress plays a huge role in the choice of topper. The job of the mattress topper is to protect the mattress and supplement the support and comfort it provides. Your mattress topper need not match the mattress, but it should complement it.
If your mattress is firm, you may wish to soften it by selecting a plush topper. If the bed is soft, you may want to add support with a topper that is more firm. An old mattress can gain a new life by adding a thick mattress topper that will smooth out the lumps and bumps.
Choose the material that will best improve your sleep. Side sleepers often need deeper cushioning and spinal support than latex or memory foam offers. Hot sleepers benefit from the improved air circulation of wool or the cooling effect of gel-infused memory foam. Fiber-fill and feather mattress toppers are excellent choices when you only need to add a bit of softness.
The two ends of the firmness spectrum are “firm” and “plush.” The two most significant factors determining a sleeper’s firmness preference are their sleep position and weight. Back sleepers and side sleepers tend to feel most comfortable on plush or medium-firm sleep surfaces. Stomach sleepers benefit from firm to medium surfaces. Heavier individuals benefit from increased firmness and support.
Density & Thickness
Foam density, measured in pounds per cubic foot, is a measure of firmness, support, and durability.
- Anything over six pounds per cubic foot is high-density.
- Medium-density is four to five pounds per cubic foot.
- If it is three pounds per cubic foot or less, it is considered low-density.
Higher-density foams are long-lasting, supportive, and firmer. Lower-density foams provide softness. Foam mattress toppers often feature different layers, with a deeper high-density layer that offers more structure, and a lower-density surface layer for more softness.
Thickness determines how well the mattress topper buffers the sleeper from the mattress below. A thicker mattress topper affects the feel of the sleep surface more than a thin one. Use a thick topper to improve the feel of a lumpy mattress, or to soften a too-firm mattress significantly. A thinner mattress topper is adequate to add protection and support for an otherwise comfy bed.
Back and side sleepers often prefer thick, low to medium density foam mattress toppers. Stomach sleepers may find higher density or thinner toppers more comfortable.
The mattress topper you choose should match your mattress size. The thickness of the topper will affect the fitted sheet’s depth you can use to dress your bed.
Comfort & Body Support
Memory foam material cushions pressure points and contours the body to support the spine and neck, giving the feeling of being enveloped in the bed. Latex does the same, with added springiness. Fiber, feather, and wool toppers simply cushion the body and add a cozier feel. They provide less spinal support than foam.
Moisture-wicking and air circulation are the keys to temperature regulation. Wool is the best-rated mattress topper material for temperature regulation, followed by feather and fiber-fill.
Standard memory foam allows heat to build up to the point that sleepers may become clammy and overheated. Gel-infused memory foam, especially when supplemented by air channels and other cooling technologies, significantly improves on this. Latex provides better temperature regulation than standard memory foam because of its natural lift.
Our Top Picks
We reviewed the most popular mattress toppers by the top brands in the industry. After weighing them against our criteria, and considering other optional features, we narrowed it down to the some of the best mattress toppers available.
Pure latex is breathable, durable, and offers the right blend of comfort and firmness. This mattress topper by Pure Green is made from 100 percent natural latex farmed on a sustainable plantation in Sri Lanka. Latex toppers are a good choice for those who prefer mattresses on the firm side with breathability.
Latex is more responsive than memory foam, and it lets air flow through for cooling. The topper takes advantage of the natural bubbles in latex, and the added pinholes on the topper allow air to travel freely through the material without getting trapped next to your body while you sleep. The topper can also help to cool your existing mattress or to neutralize the temperature.
Denser memory foam will outperform and outlast the lighter variety, but it also means it has less breathability. That’s not the case with the ViscoSoft memory foam topper. It is dense and durable and engineered to optimize airflow, while reducing trapped body heat.
ViscoSoft’s high-density memory foam formula aligns with your spine to relieve common pressure points and to prevent you from sinking into foam. It supports your neck and back by contouring to your body’s curves while eliminating motion transfer from your partner or pets. The topper comes with a machine-washable bamboo-rayon cover.
Memory foam tends to retain heat and is not a great choice for a hot sleeper. However, this gel memory foam topper features polyurethane gel beads that help to distribute heat to maintain a cool and comfortable sleep temperature. If you’ve been looking to give gel memory foam a shot, this one by LINENSPA is affordable and will allow you to get a few more years out of your old mattress.
Made from 100 percent super soft, conforming memory foam, this topper aligns your spine and evenly disperses your body weight to relieve pressure points. The topper is available in 2- and 3-inch profile options.
Tempur-Pedic is one of the top brands when it comes to memory foam mattresses. If a full memory foam mattress is out of your budget, consider getting a 3-inch topper made from the same pressure-relieving TEMPUR material found in their mattresses. This memory foam topper conforms to your body to deliver more restful sleep.
Tempur is one of the highest-quality foams available. It’s higher in density and very durable. However, more mass means more heat retention, which can be a problem for some warm sleepers. The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR Supreme 3-Inch Mattress Topper isn’t cheap. However, it’s a good pick for someone that needs extra back support and is looking for a cost-effective alternative to buying a high-end mattress.
Most memory foam mattresses have an unpleasant chemical smell that dissipates after a month or so. For those who are sensitive to the odor, it can be hard to wait that long. But, LUCID has a solution. Their 3-inch mattress topper is infused with lavender for calming comfort, and it doesn’t have that awful chemical smell.
Lavender is known for its naturally relaxing abilities. Combined with LUCID’s three inches of pressure-relieving memory foam, this topper offers softness and scent that work together to give a restful sleep. It also features a ventilated design that provides a more breathable and cooler feel than traditional memory foam toppers.
Memory foam mattresses have come a long way since being introduced to the market in the early 90s. Once synonymous with heat retention, new technology has allowed this wonder material to provide support while keeping you cool at the same time.
The mattress topper by DreamFoam is infused with an advanced cooling gel that helps improve air circulation to draw heat out and away from the body. The two inches provides ample support for side, back, and belly sleepers. This is an affordable choice for a foam topper. Even better, it is CertiPUR-US certified (not made with any harmful chemicals or materials).
The Advantages of Owning a Mattress Topper
Mattress toppers add a layer of comfort and protection for a better night’s sleep and a longer-lasting mattress. There are many options available, but the best mattress topper will offer the following advantages:
- Mattress toppers improve the comfort of the sleep surface
- They protect the mattress from dust, dirt, and moisture
- Adding a mattress topper to a slightly worn bed is a cost-effective way to add years to its life
FAQs About Mattress Toppers
Mattress toppers are cost-effective alternatives to full-sized mattresses. Are they worth getting versus a full mattress? Here are some frequently asked questions about mattress toppers.
Q. Do mattress toppers really work?
Mattress toppers offer added comfort, protection, and longevity to both old and new mattresses.
Q. What is the best thickness for a mattress topper?
Thick mattress toppers, three inches or greater, are best for improving the comfort of a bed that is too firm or too soft. The choice of material also helps to determine the mattress topper’s effectiveness.
Q. How long does a mattress topper last?
With proper care, a good mattress topper will last up to 10 years.