The 6 Best Mattress Toppers in 2021: Best Bed Toppers


Mattress topper FAQs

Why should I buy a mattress topper?

The most common reason people buy a mattress topper is to make their bed more comfortable. It’s also great to use in an RV; as a pad under your sleeping bag when camping; or, in a pinch, it can serve as a guest bed.

Rebecca Robbins, PhD, associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, recommends a topper when you want to extend the life of your mattress by a year or two or if you got a second-hand mattress that doesn’t match your sleep style.

Randall Laurich, DC, a chiropractor in South Florida, agreed. “I would say the main benefit of a topper is if a mattress is too firm, a mattress topper will make it softer and more contouring to the spine,” he said.

However, Laurich said some mattress toppers could be too soft and unsupportive. “Not having enough firmness can cause the spine to reduce its curvature,” Laurich said. “So a softer, thicker topper can sometimes have adverse effects, while a smaller, thinner topper could have more positive benefits overall.”

Should you buy a new mattress or a mattress topper?

Generally, a mattress should last you 8 to 10 years. If you’ve had an uncomfortable bed for less than that, a mattress topper can help reintroduce comfort to your sleep. If your bed is older than 10 years, it’s time to look for a replacement.

Sure signs you need a new mattress are when it starts to sag and provide less support. First, check your mattress’s warranty. Most warranties cover your bed for at least 10 years, and some last for a lifetime. If your mattress is still covered under warranty, you may be able to get a replacement or repair for free or for a nominal fee.

If your mattress has reached the end of its life and you can’t afford to replace it yet, a mattress topper is a good stopgap that can help you squeeze an extra year or two out of your mattress while you scrape together the funds for a replacement.

Sometimes, our bodies or sleeping styles change, and this can cause our mattress to become less comfortable. A change in your preferences isn’t covered by warranty, and you probably don’t want to throw out a perfectly good mattress that still has plenty of years left in it. In this situation, a topper can help.

Lastly, mattress toppers can help couples with different sleep preferences. “If you want to sleep together though, you might put a topper under the fitted sheet on one side of the bed for somebody who prefers a plusher experience,” Robbins said.

If you go this route, a twin XL is your best bet. It’s the same length as king- and queen-size mattresses and half the width of a king.

How do you clean a mattress topper?

Most mattress toppers are not machine washable. This includes latex and memory foam since they’re hard to dry. In most cases, you will spot clean messes with a mild detergent and damp towel. Then, let it dry completely before covering it.

Consult the topper’s user manual or tags or the manufacturer’s website for the most accurate directions. 

Whether you have a mattress topper or not, we strongly recommend using a mattress protector on your bed. The best ones are waterproof and machine-washable and cost as little as $20. Check out our guide to the best mattress protectors for more info.

Which mattress topper is right for your sleeping style?

Generally, back sleepers benefit from firmer mattress toppers. Side sleepers prefer softer toppers. Stomach sleepers should choose a topper that doesn’t sink in too much. Your goal is to keep your spine aligned.

Laurich recommends starting your mattress topper search with the best firmness for your style. “A stomach sleeper should have something a little less firm because if you have a belly or abdominal distension, it’s uncomfortable to be on something that’s extremely firm,” Laurich said.

He recommended something firmer for back sleepers to ensure the spine remains supported.

Side sleepers benefit from softer mattress toppers. However, Laurich warned these generalizations are meant as a starting point for finding the right topper. Preferences can vary significantly within each sleeping style.

If you’re unsure about your comfort preferences, we strongly recommend choosing a mattress topper that comes with an extended trial period so you can return it if it’s not right for you.

Is down ethical?

Down does not come from the feathers of birds. Instead, it comes from the soft underbelly of a goose or duck raised for food. Because of this, down is a sustainable byproduct. 

Many factories, processing plants, and farms undergo independent auditing to ensure humane practices. The Global Traceable Down Standard (GTDS) is the strictest certification. However, it primarily certifies clothing.

The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) is a common certification in the bedding industry. It evaluates the process from the farm to the final product, prohibits force-feeding and live-plucking, and makes sure the Five Freedoms of animal welfare are followed. These include freedom of movement, comfortable shelter, and fresh water and food access.

Our top pick, the Parachute Down Mattress Pad, is made with RDS-certified down.

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