Mattress toppers aren't quite marmite, but they do seem to divide sleepers – some will swear by them, while others don't quite see the benefit. As with the mattress itself, everyone will have different preferences, and different needs while you sleep, so there's never really a yes or no answer.
But if you think you could be sleeping a little bit better, mattress toppers are worth considering – you might find it's just the solution for you.
A mattress topper is one of those things that does exactly what it says on the label, really – it's an extra layer that goes on top of your mattress to provide extra comfort (for you) and protection (for your mattress). They come in all sorts of thicknesses, are made of a range of different materials, and you'll be able to find one for a bed of more or less any size, from a child's twin bed to a king size double.
A mattress topper sits on top of your mattress and provides support that can prolong a mattress's life by reducing pressure on the springs, delaying any sagging or general wear. Combine a mattress topper with regularly flipping your mattress and you could see your mattress provide full support for longer.
Toppers are also much easier to wash than a full-size mattress, and may have replaceable covers, so they act as a useful barrier to stains as well as more general wear and tear. Mattress toppers can be transferred from bed to bed or rolled up and taken with you when you travel.
An extra layer of foam means an extra layer of comfort, too – soft, flexible fillings can make a massive difference. If your mattress gives firm back support but falls short in softness, the combination of the two could help you find the perfect balance for you.
Combining a memory foam mattress topper and an inexpensive mattress can also be cheaper than buying a full memory foam mattress, and will give you a longer break before you have to buy a new one again.
In short, mattress toppers will change the feel of an existing mattress, improve your level of comfort while you sleep, and may extend the life of your mattress. It's an extra expense that could see you having to spend much less on a new mattress further down the line, with the added benefit of improved comfort and support.
The most important factor in mattress protectors and toppers is the material, and there's a few common types to choose from.
Memory foam mattress toppers work in exactly the same way as memory foam mattresses, it's just a thinner layer that rests on top of your existing mattress. Memory foam gently moulds to your body, providing additional comfort and support.
Egg crate mattress toppers go by many names, so 'egg crate' is a good catch-all for a lot of different brands. They are made of a bumpy nodular foam surface that looks sort of like an egg box, often in a padded cover. They can be easily rolled up or stacked, so while they're not quite as luxurious as memory foam, they're a lot more flexible, and usually cheaper too.
Wool or fleece mattress toppers use natural materials that reduce the risk of allergies, and they're surprisingly soft – less itchy than you might expect. However, they are very much on the expensive side.
Although a mattress topper can extend the life of a mattress, and may make a slightly worn-out mattress feel a little bit more sturdy and comfortable for a while, reducing any pressure from out-of-place springs, they're ultimately just a topper, and your comfort will still rely on the mattress below.
The Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress at least every seven years – if you've regularly been using a mattress topper, then you may be able to put it off for a little bit longer, but it's still not recommended.
More often than not, mattress toppers are worth it – improved comfort and a better-protected mattress will provide restful sleep for years to come. If you're perfectly happy with your mattress then it's more of an added luxury than an essential purchase, but there are some cases where a topper can be a definite benefit.
If you suffer from back or joint pain, particularly arthritis or fibromyalgia, then the added support provided by a memory foam mattress topper could significantly improve your comfort while you sleep. Memory foam's sturdy, body-moulding structure also means that your partner's movements in a shared bed will not affect you quite so much.
Regularly flipping a mattress is highly recommended, but it's not always practical. If you live alone and don't have anyone to help, suffer from joint pain, or simply struggle to lift your big, heavy mattress to flip it over, a mattress topper provides a simple solution – it's much easier to turn over, and easier to clean, too.
Mattress toppers are also a great way to improve a fold-out sofa bed – while these are fantastic space saving items, the bars in their frames can be really uncomfortable. A topper adds an extra barrier, and can be folded away in a cupboard when your guests have gone home.
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