Mattress toppers aren’t quite as divisive as dogs versus cats, but they definitely elicit some strong responses in people. Some swear that every mattress needs a topper, while others don’t really see the benefit in them and consider them a waste of money. Just like with mattresses, everyone has a different preference with that they prefer and they will stand firmly by that choice. However, if a mattress topper has a chance of giving you a better night’s sleep—which we’re all hunting for—then there may be less harm in trying one than in going without. You might find that it’s just the solution you needed.

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is a removable type of bedding that sits on top of your mattress and under your fitted sheet. A mattress topper’s sole purpose is to increase the comfort of your mattress or address any limitations your mattress may have. Whether this is increase softness, firmness, thickness, or to even increase airflow and act a temperature regulator, you will find a mattress topper that can do the job.

While some people use the term “mattress topper” and “mattress pad” interchangeably, they actually refer to different items. Mattress pads are thinner and more closely resemble thickened fitted sheets. They are often used as mattress protectors and are actually a requirement on many mattress warranties so as to protect the mattress from sweat stains, spills, or any other bodily fluids.

What is a mattress topper made out of?

One of the most important things about your mattress topper is the material it’s made of. What your mattress topper is constructed of will decide what kind of support it provides, its quality and how long it will last and help you decide which mattress pad you should ultimately buy.

Here are a few of the most common mattress topper materials:

Memory foam: Memory foam is a polyurethane based material that is sensitive to pressure and temperature. Memory foam molds to the shape of a person’s body, which can help relieve

tension on the back and lessen pain in pressure points. This makes the comfort memory foam can provide hard to duplicate in any other material.

Cotton: cotton is known for it’s great breathability and can be conveniently washed in the washing machine; however, it doesn’t have the same longevity of other materials. Cotton mattress toppers have a tendency to wear down quickly, especially with daily use.

Cotton can be a great option for someone who is sensitive to feathers but wants the soft, luxuriousness of a featherdown.

Latex: this extremely durable material is great for people with allergies since it’s an inhospitable environment for dust and parasites. Many latex mattress toppers can last over 20 years and the material is quite firm and supportive. However, the natural material can start to look aesthetically worn over the years and it is a more expensive option, with some toppers costing well over $500, depending on thickness.

Featherbed: If you’re looking to sink into absolute luxury, a featherbed is a classic mattress topper alternative. They are made up of plushy down feathers and are extremely lightweight and soft. Down feathers provide natural temperature regulation, which means they will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Unfortunately, featherbed’s are far from cruelty free. If you are uncomfortable with this, there are alternative featherbeds that are synthetic and made without any cruelty against animals. They feel and function almost exactly like a real featherbed.

Wool: While many people consider wool a winter material, this natural textile actually absorbs the latent heat of the body. This means that it can serve as a great natural heat regulator for warm summer evenings and not just as a cozy option for the winter. Wool is also resistant to mites and mold and has incredible durability. The downside to wool mattress toppers is that they are incredible pricey.

What are the benefits of a mattress topper?

Mattress toppers provide a variety of benefits that many people are unaware of. For one, they protect the mattress. Mattresses unfortunately can harbor a lot of germs, something that is downright unsavory to consider sleeping on. If you’ve ever had the flu while lying in bed or had night sweats, the bacteria from your sweat will go right through your sheets and settle right into your mattress. However, if you have a topper down, it will protect your mattress. Your mattress topper can also do double duty since many of them come in materials that are moisture-resistant, antibacterial, and hypoallergenic. This helps protect your mattress from harmful bacteria and reduce allergens that can exacerbate symptoms or asthma or hay fever.

Mattress toppers can also help moderate your body temperature, preventing you from becoming overheated at night in the summer and then warming you up in the winter. The best mattress toppers will wick away moisture, keep air flowing around your body, and prevent you from becoming too hot in the night.

One of the main benefits of mattress toppers that most people gravitate towards is the comfort they add to a bed. A good quality mattress topper can take a cheaper mattress and turn it into a plush, dreamy place to lay your head. Because of this, you can extend the life of your mattress by a few years by increasing your mattress’ comfort level back to where it was when you first purchased it.

Can mattress toppers help your spine?

Many people complain of back issues from low-quality mattresses. If you wake up with an aching back, people may have recommended that you invest in a mattress topper to offset, but will it truly help? According to the experts, a mattress topper can help you with your back pain and help you get a better night’s sleep. A good quality mattress topper can address issues with your mattress, such as it being too firm and putting unnecessary pressure on your spine, or too soft and not providing enough support. If you’re looking to resolve back pain, it’s important to choose a mattress topper that provides a certain thickness and support, which is why latex or memory foam mattress toppers are often the most recommended by doctors or chiropractors.

The thickness or firmness of the mattress topper depends on the mattress itself. If your bed is too soft, you will want more support, if it’s too firm, you will probably want something that makes your bed plushier and relieves the pressure on your aching back. Contrary to popular belief, bad backs aren’t resolved by sleeping on firm surfaces. Instead, sleeping on supportive surfaces solves them.

Can a mattress topper extend the life of my mattress?

If your mattress is getting on in years, the idea of spending a couple hundred dollars on a mattress topper to extend the life of your bed is probably very appealing. However, is that actually the case? Unfortunately, most experts agree that when a mattress has reached its golden years; a mattress topper won’t be the thing that brings it back. While mattress toppers are exceptionally comfortably, a mattress that’s breaking down is suffering from a variety of issues the topper

won’t fix. Often, mattresses internal joints will have started to wear down and squeak aggressively. Your mattress will also be suffering the effects of your sleeping habits and probably sagging in the middle, which is not something a mattress topper can remedy. While a topper can add a bit more comfort to your bed, the simple fact is that mattresses do eventually wear and need to be replaced so that they stay sanitary and support your joints.

Is a mattress topper worth it?

More often than not a mattress topper is worth the money. They can add comfort to your new mattress, protect the mattress from spills and sweat, and increase the overall soft, plushy feel of crawling into bed. Depending on the material, they can provide more support, regulate your temperature, and give you a better sleep overall, which is really what we’re all looking for. If you have fibromyalgia or arthritis, you may also find that your mattress topper provides relief from the pain when you sleep, since it can provide you with more specialized support.

Mattress toppers can also be helpful if you have a partner that moves a lot in their sleep and disturbs you. A mattress topper made of latex or memory foam can help minimize your partners’ movements and help you achieve a more restful sleep.

However, your mattress topper won’t save you from having to throw out a ten-year-old mattress, bite the bullet, and buy a new one. Like everything, mattresses run their course and eventually have to be replaced and putting a mattress topper on it isn’t going to fix the squeaky, broken mess that is your old mattress. Keep track of your mattress’ age and pay attention to your body’s needs to make sure that you aren’t hanging onto a mattress that’s doing more damage than good.

Topping it Off: Is a Mattress Topper the Right Choice for Your Needs?

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2 thoughts on “Topping it Off: Is a Mattress Topper the Right Choice for Your Needs?

  1. Thanks for a wonderfully thorough article! My husband and I were considering adding a topper to our mattress instead of buying a new one; now we will reconsider!

  2. Thank you for explaining what a mattress pad is! I will look for a memory foam topper for my back.

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