Are Mattress Toppers Worth It?

by Véronique Raymond
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If you find yourself sleeping on a mattress that is exceptionally uncomfortable, whether it is your own that has aged, one in a dorm room, or any other scenario, a mattress topper may be exactly the thing to help you achieve deep, restful sleep.

New mattress toppers will vary in price, but they can suit every sleeper type and can be found in a few different firmness levels and materials.

Whether a bed is too firm or too soft, too old or lacking in support, a mattress topper can provide the extra layer that lets you sleep comfortably.


Mattress Topper Vs Mattress Protector Vs Mattress Pad

Mattress toppers are often confused with mattress pads and mattress protectors, but these three products are in fact quite different from each other.

Mattress toppers are essentially mini mattresses, and they can range in thickness from one inch to as many as four inches. They are most commonly quite soft and comfortable, but you can find firmer models if you’re looking for some additional support or just a different feel than what is standard. Foam and down are the most common materials for a mattress topper.

A mattress protector is very different from a mattress topper. Rather than adding comfort, a mattress protector is designed to keep your mattress clean. They are usually designed like a fitted sheet to keep the entire mattress protected from things like sweat, pathogens, dead skin cells, and more. They are most often used on children’s beds, especially the waterproof models, but many clumsy adults find they are very helpful for protecting against adult sized spills as well.

A mattress pad is essentially the middle ground between a mattress topper and a mattress protector. They will also be styled like a fitted sheet, but they have a layer of cushioning built in at the sleeping surface, usually around an inch thick. As a result, a mattress pad can add some cushioning and also protect your mattress and extend its life.


Benefits Of A Mattress Topper

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A mattress topper can do a lot to improve your sleep. They are adaptable to every sleeping position, come in a variety of materials and firmness levels, and can dramatically change the way a bed feels. A good night’s sleep is one of the best things we can give ourselves, and a mattress topper may be the way for you to achieve that. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits these excellent products can bring to your life.

Extra Cushioning and Pressure Relief

A good mattress topper will make your mattress more comfy and enhance the contouring around your pressure points. If you suffer from joint or back pain and your current mattress isn’t quite cutting it, a mattress topper can increase your comfort level and relieve that pain.

Extra Support

Mattress toppers can also help improve the support your feel during the night. Many mattresses, no matter their firmness level, can lack support. A high-quality mattress topper can fix that problem and ensure your spine is aligned properly whether you are a side sleeper or back/stomach sleeper. It can also improve your mobility in bed.

Change the Firmness Level of Your Mattress

One of the main reasons someone would choose to buy a mattress topper is for their ability to change the way a mattress feels. If you sleep on a firm mattress and find that you are getting a deep rest, choosing a soft mattress topper can balance out the feel. Likewise, if you sleep on a soft pillow top mattress and have difficulty switching positions or getting comfortable, a medium-firm mattress topper can offer the additional support you need.

Temperature Regulation

Mattress toppers can also help with temperature regulation. While most of them are not suited to hot sleepers due to their tendency to trap body heat, this can be an excellent benefit for cold sleepers. There are a few types of mattress toppers on the market (latex foam, gel infused foam) that can actually help you stay cool at night.

Extend the Life of Your Mattress

Mattress toppers are a really effective way to extend the life of an old mattress. The best mattress toppers will come with a warranty of their own to ensure you get maximum use out of it. Using a mattress topper with a newer mattress is also a good idea to extend the lifespan from the first night.

Improve Mattress Cleanliness

While mattress toppers aren’t really designed to protect a mattress, they do have some passive effects on the cleanliness of your mattress. A mattress topper provides an additional layer between you and your mattress, which will help keep the levels of pathogens, allergens, dead skin cells, sweat, and dust mites lower in the actual mattress. Some mattress toppers will also come with a machine washable cover to help keep your bed even more hygienic.

Easy to Add/Remove From A Mattress

Mattress toppers just sit on top of a mattress, and as a result, they are incredibly easy to add or remove depending on your need. If summer comes and you find that your body temperature is more elevated at night, simply remove the mattress topper to make your bed more breathable. When winter approaches and you start to get cold again, it will only take a minute or two to put the mattress topper back on.

Can Save You Money

Purchasing a mattress topper, even a more expensive one, can do a lot to save you money in the long run. Using a mattress topper can extend the life of your mattress, lessening the frequency with which you need to replace it, and you’ll be able to spend less time and money on cleaning your existing mattress since your topper can help keep it clean as well. Don’t forget about the temperature regulation effects of your mattress topper: you won’t have to spend as much money on heat or A/C if your bed can help you regulate your sleeping temperature.


Things To Watch Out For

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Mattress toppers do have their benefits, but there are a few things to watch out for as well, things that may deter you from purchasing one entirely. Most people find that a mattress topper is absolutely worth the expense and the few disadvantages, but it is always a very personal choice. Let’s investigate.

Can Be Difficult To Clean

Mattress toppers are notoriously difficult to clean unless they come with a washable cover. if they don’t, they will accumulate all of the things that a normal mattress would accumulate: skin cells, sweat and spilled liquids, allergens, dust, and more. While a mattress topper will keep your mattress clean, you’ll still be sleeping on a less-than-hygienic surface unless you get a model that comes with a cover.

Can Trap Body Heat

Since mattress toppers are commonly made out of memory foam or down/down alternatives, they tend to trap heat just like a memory foam mattress or down jacket. This is certainly not ideal for people who are hot sleepers as it will make your situation worse. While there are models meant to act as a cooling mattress topper and people who would benefit from the heat trapping, it is something to consider before you purchase.

Movement of the Mattress Topper During Use

The main problem that people encounter using a mattress topper is the fact that it can move during the night. Since it is not fixed to the mattress in any way, it isn’t uncommon for the topper to shift on top of your mattress and end up hanging off in one area while leaving the mattress exposed somewhere else. There are ways to fix a mattress topper in place, but this inconvenience is really the main drawback.


Types Of Mattress Toppers

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Mattress toppers can be made from both natural and synthetic materials. Each type of mattress topper will have its own benefits and downsides; let’s get right into it.

Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Memory foam mattress toppers are one of the most comfortable and pressure relieving toppers you can find on today’s market. They are made of a special kind of polyurethane foam that has a higher density than normal, so they are very cushy and contour perfectly around pressure points.

Their softness does mean that it can be difficult to move around or get out of bed thanks to the sinkage they allow, but most people find them incredibly comfortable. This foam type does have a tendency to trap heat, so they are more ideal for cool sleepers. They come in a variety of thicknesses and firmness levels, so everyone should be able to find a memory foam topper that suits their sleeping habits.

Gel Foam Mattress Topper

A gel foam topper is a wonderful addition to the bed of a hot sleeper. The gel naturally absorbs heat much slower than standard foam types, so you will be able to enjoy a cool sleeping surface all night long. The gel can be infused into memory foam, polyfoam, or latex foam, so there will be quite a lot of variety on the market if you’re looking for some additional characteristics.

Due to the breathability of a gel foam topper, your topper won’t acquire moisture or bacteria/mold as quickly as other foam types; you’ll be able to enjoy it for longer as a result. They feel softer and have even better contouring than standard memory foam; the pressure relief and joint comfort will be noticeable.

Latex Mattress Topper

Latex toppers can come in both natural and synthetic forms. The natural variety will be more expensive than the synthetic, but it will also be much more durable. Latex is anti-microbial and naturally breathes while you sleep, so it is a good choice for people with allergies or who tend to overheat while they sleep. One note to make is that people with an allergy to latex obviously cannot make use of this topper type.

Latex toppers will be excellent at motion isolation, so they are a great choice for couples. They are a firmer topper type though, and tend to be bouncy; they won’t suit everyone’s preferences. If you’re looking for a mattress topper that is supportive, great on painful joints, and long lasting, a latex mattress topper is the way to go.

Feather/Down Mattress Topper

Feather toppers, commonly referred to as featherbeds, are another completely natural option for adding comfort to your bed. Feathers are incredibly soft and luxurious, but they will flatten over time; a quick shake will fluff things up again. The feather shafts do have the possibility of poking through the topper though, so you may want to check it each night before you sleep to ensure you don’t poke yourself accidentally.

Some people will have an allergy to this topper top, so if you aren’t sure about your allergy status, a hypoallergenic topper may be a better option. Two of the most notable benefits of a feather mattress topper are the ease of movement they provide and their inability to retain heat. However, the feathers do come from birds, so you may wish to choose a different fill material if you are vegan.

Wool Mattress Topper

Wool mattress toppers are an antimicrobial and hypoallergenic alternative to other fill materials. They are a great choice if you prioritise natural over synthetic materials but have allergies to down or latex. These mattress toppers are durable and can last more than 10 years.

Wool mattress toppers offer essentially zero support for your spine or joints, but they are incredibly soft and do offer some cushioning for a more comfortable sleep. They can help regulate body heat as well. They are one of the more expensive types of toppers and your options will be limited since they are a fairly uncommon selection.

Polyester Blend Mattress Topper

Polyester toppers are one of the least desirable types due to their poor durability, but they are also one of the cheapest materials out there. If you need a quick fix for a temporary sleeping arrangement, a polyester blend topper is the right way to go. They are the most common choice for people who like the feel of allergies but allergic to the natural variety.

Polyester toppers are very soft and cushy at the beginning, but they will become quite flat with consistent use. They may also even become lumpy with uneven distribution of the fill material, so in addition to losing the plushness of the topper, you’ll be contending with an uneven sleeping surface as well.


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