A mattress topper is a separate layer of cushioning placed on top of the mattress’ sleep surface. Typically used to provide additional support for beds that sag or soften overly firm mattresses, toppers may also be used to help alleviate persistent discomfort, pressure point stress or backache. This recommends them not only to people who experience these issues, but also any individual in need of a slightly different mattress than the one they own and who doesn’t want to or can’t afford to buy an entirely new bed.
Various materials are used in the manufacturing of these layers to achieve different results, but the ones most suitable for people with bad backs or necks are generally made from latex and memory foam. The different types of toppers, their use, and our favorite models for pain relief out of this year’s selection will be covered in this article. But before that, let’s take a look back pain, and what causes it in the first place.
Most types of back pain, unless caused by osteoporosis, arthritis, or another condition, result from improper posture or strenuous activities. Tiring physical work or overdoing it in the gym can stress out your entire organism but often with an accent on your shoulders, back or legs. You may feel that you’ve avoided similar issues by opting for office work, but this doesn’t automatically eliminate the possibility of their occurrence. If your job requires you to sulk in front of the computer for hours on end, or you sit the entire day, your lower back and neck probably take all the slack.
However, it’s not only during daytime activities that your posture may become deformed. Depending on your sleep position, as well as the type of the pillow and bed you use, your spine alignment may well be compromised during the night. If this sounds like a single issue, it isn’t. Improper posture may cause stress in pressure points like your ankles, wrists, shoulders, as well as your entire organism if you are overweight or sleep on your stomach. Chronic neck pain may extend to a headache. If you are familiar with some of these and wake up stiff or in pain more than occasionally, you probably understand the value of high-quality mattresses, and, by extension, mattress toppers. Read along to get introduced to this separate category of products and then on to detailed reviews of our favorite picks, should you decide to get one for your bedroom.
A mattress topper is generally a thicker, more expensive, and more comfortable version of the typical mattress pad. While pads have more of a “carpet” function, protecting your mattress from tear and moisture, toppers work more like extensions, aiming to close the gap between the bed you own and the one you would find ideal. This means they also come with various attributes in terms of durability, motion isolation, temperature regulation, and more. Some of these properties can make a noticeable difference for individuals who suffer from chronic pain:
Durability. Though this factor is important to everyone, the bed’s ability to last long is especially significant for those with bad posture. As the surface sags, it becomes uneven and makes it all the more difficult to keep your spine straight.
Firmness. Many people initially think they would prefer a fluffy, soft surface to make them feel like they’re floating in bed. At second thought, however, you may realize that softness often does more harm than good. A mattress that doesn’t enable enough support won’t be sufficient in keeping one’s spine neutral, particularly for heavier sleepers, and will feel more like a trap instead. Overly firm surfaces, in contrast, won’t feel much different than sleeping on the floor – pushing your pressure points out and distributing weight unevenly. To avoid numbness, pain, and stiffness in either scenario, you may want to consider a topper with a firmness level on the opposite side from that of your mattress to reach a balance, or use a topper as a magnifier if your original sleeping surface wasn’t firm or soft enough. Keep in mind that medium firm is usually recommended for backache.
Conformity. The closer the compliance, the better for your back. Materials that shape around your body have been proven to alleviate some of the discomforts you may experience while sleeping on flat surfaces. Conforming toppers will fill out the spaces left empty under your neck or back in some positions, allowing you to sink in enough to even out your spine but not too deep. This will keep your weight evenly distributed and provide relief for the pressure points. Of course, you may prefer less conforming, particularly if you also have issues with sleeping hot, but don’t go for completely flat toppers. Otherwise, even if you don’t already have posture issues, you may well develop them soon.
Density and Indentation Load Deflection (ILD). Density generally refers to the firmness of a foam product, assessed in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). The denser the foam, the firmer your topper will be; comfortable for heavier people, high-density foam is usually marked between 4 and 6 PFC, while medium density ranges from 3 to 5 PFC and suits individuals in the average weight group. Any less than 3 PFC and the cushion will likely be too soft unless the sleeper is very light-weight, making it appropriate for a child’s bedroom. Similar to density, ILD also measures firmness but refers to latex rather than foam. It assesses how much weight a surface should bear in order to be compressed by 25%. Medium firm latex ranges between 24 and 30. Over that and the mattress is considered firm; under 24 signifies a soft surface.
Thickness and Size. Thicker toppers are usually on the softer side and would best be avoided if you have back pain. Between 2 and 3 inches thick is the perceived optimum in this case. When it comes to sizing, individuals who sleep alone should generally aim to match the topper with their bed. However, if you sleep with a partner, putting a topper over only your side of the bed may not be a bad idea, especially if their preferences differ from yours. This way, you can both enjoy having your needs met while still sleeping in the same bed.
Besides these, there is a couple of more obvious things to consider when picking a topper, and one of them is the pricing. Typically, the prices will range from under $100 to several hundreds of dollars, with many of the quality foam and latex models on the market sold for $150 or less. The wide range of price points and distinct features of different models are sure to meet the unique needs of many customers.
Types of Mattress Toppers
Memory Foam is very durable and provides excellent support. It also makes almost no noise when bearing weight and usually provides optimal motion isolation. Because of these qualities, memory foam is often sought after by couples, as well as people whose mattresses aren’t comfortable or supportive enough.
The smell that occurs with the initial unpacking of the foam may be a drawback if you have a sensitive nose, although it usually dissipates within a day or two. Apart from that, memory foam doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to temperature regulation; its density often traps excess body heat. If these issues sound like they would bother you, this might not be the right material for your bedroom.
This type of topper is less expensive and thicker, but generally less firm than some competing products. If you want to try a mattress topper and see how it fits you, a pillow top could be a good choice since it costs less.
Latex models are considered green products, so if you desire an earth-friendly solution, then you should look into something like this. They often offer greater support due to their firmer nature. Quality latex toppers quality can be found at a broad spectrum of prices – whether you seek luxury or have a tight budget, you may end up with a top-notch latex model. One drawback of this material is the unpleasant odor that occurs once you unpack it and lasts a few days.
The toppers made from goose feathers do a great job of softening very firm mattresses. The prices of feather toppers vary as much as the support they provide. They are also not recommended for people with allergies.
Fiber mimics the feel of feathers but uses a modern material, and more importantly – it’s hypoallergenic. These models are quite resilient and affordable.
Wool is extremely durable. Its key strength is the ability to cool you down during summer and keep you warm in the winter months. The price is average and therefore affordable to most buyers. However, getting this type of material to stay in place on top of the bed is not an easy task, unless it comes with attached straps.
Best Mattress Toppers of 2019
Avocado Green Natural Latex Topper
Made of finest materials, including eco-INSTITUT certified, 100% natural Dunlop latex, organic cotton and wool, Avocado Green Natural Latex Topper is ranked high on our list. Besides being eco-friendly, this topper is known for its supportive and even surface, making it perfect for back and stomach sleepers. The Avocado comes in both soft and firm options, providing a comfortable, cradled feel without sagging too much.
This topper also features admirable temperature regulation. The wool layer, in particular, provides exceptional airflow and keeps the heat at bay, but also keeps you warm during the colder months, allowing sound sleep.
An unusually long 10-year warranty backs the Avocado Green Natural Latex Topper. The Queen Plush size comes at $349, which is definitely on the luxurious side, but well worth it if you are willing to spring a bit. The company covers the shipping and return costs.
PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper
With four firmness options, two thickness profiles, and even a “no cover” option, this topper is by far the most customizable pick you can make. The design aims to match almost everybody’s needs: whether you require a soft, three-inch-thick sleep surface or the exact opposite, extra firm one, the PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper provides just that. Keep in mind that back pain calls for balance, though, so try to steer clear of extreme choices.
Besides that key strength of the PlushBeds, this topper is excellent for hot sleepers. Due to the aerated Talalay latex it’s manufactured from, keeping the temperature neutrality is no problem when sleeping on this model. Add the motion isolation and the near silence while weight-bearing provided by this topper and you have a virtually fool-proof design.
The many benefits come at a steep price. Although the broad range of possibilities without a doubt fits almost everybody’s needs, the $429 for a Queen size topper doesn’t fit just any budget. At least the shipping doesn’t cost anything extra.
Sleep on Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Topper
If the previous model sounded very appealing until you stumbled upon its price, worry not; the Sleep on Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Topper has a lot of similar qualities but at a far more affordable cost. Three thickness (one, two and three inches) and three firmness options (ILD 20, 30 and 44) are offered by the company so you can “design” your own topper, much like with the PlushBeds one.
This model also keeps you fairly fresh due to Dunlop latex. Motion isolation and close conforming are two other strengths of the Sleep on Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Topper, earning it the spot on this list. Last but not least, the Pure Green is an eco-friendly choice, as suggested by the name.
All of this comes in Queen size for no more than a $129 including the free shipping in the US (although customers from other countries may be charged). On top of the five-year warranty, you get a sleep trial lasting 30 days.
Latex for Less Topper
Another well-rounded, high-value pick, the Latex for Less Topper suits individuals regardless of their sleep position and supports almost all weight groups. You may choose between two or three inches of thickness profile, as well as your preferred firmness: soft, medium, or firm.
Other noteworthy qualities of the Latex for Less are remarkable temperature regulation, motion isolation, and next to zero sounds emitted when bearing weight. Couples may find great value in this design, too, as it comes in all standard sizes, which isn’t always the case with toppers.
Due to its affordable price, the Latex for Less may find its way into most homes, especially in the contiguous US due to the free shipping. Its warranty lasts five years.
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Cooling Topper
What makes the Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Cooling Topper stand out from the crowd is the gel-infused memory foam that keeps sleepers fresh all night no matter how much they struggle with it on other surfaces. This is especially noteworthy given that such a feature comes in a memory foam product, as this material is known to fall short when it comes to maintaining temperature neutrality. People who would otherwise pick foam but tend to sleep hot may have finally found their match!
The cooling feature doesn’t compromise the foam’s signature body conformity. The Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Cooling Topper shapes around you to fill out the empty spaces and provides pressure point relief. It also comes with elastic straps on every corner to maximize stability and ensure the topper won’t slip off from your bed – this is a frequent issue with competing products and particularly annoying for people who often switch positions during the night.
The price of this topper meets the average at $249 for Queen size. If you live in the US and shop directly from Nest Bedding, shipping is covered by the company, and you get an attached 2-year warranty.
PangeaBed Ultimate Copper Topper
Another Talalay latex model, the PangeaBed Ultimate Copper Topper is a hypoallergenic product made to keep you as comfortable as possible during sleep. An optimum support level for people weighing over 130 pounds, the Ultimate Copper comes with a two-inch thick profile. It is a slightly better choice for back and stomach sleepers compared to side sleepers, but this isn’t a rule – a lot depends on your weight and preferences.
Not only this model provides excellent airflow and keeps the temperature balanced, but it also improves the sleeper’s circulation. It also stays almost silent through all the tossing and turning while isolating all movements to the area of their origin, thus limiting sleep disturbances over the night.
PangeaBed offers free shipping to customers across the US apart from Alaska and Hawaii, and a year-long warranty along with their products. A 30-night trial is included.