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How do you know if you need a mattress topper? Experts reveal all – plus the benefits of using one

 Mattress topper on top of a white bed frame a in a grey bedroom, to illustrate article on 'how do you know if you need a mattress topper?'.
Mattress topper on top of a white bed frame a in a grey bedroom, to illustrate article on 'how do you know if you need a mattress topper?'.

Mattress toppers can be an invaluable accessory to buy for your bed, but given that they’re not something everyone has (you may not have ever had one yourself), it can be difficult to know whether buying one is actually essential for your sleep and health. So how do you know if you need one of the best mattress toppers?

A mattress topper, unlike one of the best mattress protectors, is essentially a thick layer of additional bedding materials – it tends to be between 2 and 4 inches – that sits (you guessed it) on top of your best mattress, providing an extra layer of cushioning as you sleep.

Mattress toppers provide an extra layer of support, and come in almost any typical bedding material, from memory foam to wool, and more.

So how do you know if you need a mattress topper? Are they really an essential addition to the bedroom, or are they just a nice way to plump up your mattress, and not necessary for most people? To find out, we spoke to sleep experts to gain their professional insight.

Do you really need a mattress topper?

It can be tricky to deduce whether a mattress topper is something that could be truly beneficial for your sleep, or whether it's simply something that might make your bed slightly comfier.

So how do you know if you need a mattress topper for bed? Most experts tend to agree that no, mattress toppers are not essential in the same way one of the best pillows or duvet is – but most also agree that a mattress topper can be a fantastic addition to your bedspread in many ways.

Danielle Mason, head of product development at The Fine Bedding Company explains, "While mattress toppers are not a necessity, they provide several benefits which mean they are worth investing in and adding to your everyday bedding."

Some of the benefits include:

  • A greater level of comfort as you sleep

  • Increased support if needed

  • Better temperature regulation

  • An extra layer of support for an older mattress, to prolong its lifespan

Theresa Schnorbach, sleep expert at Emma, explains that toppers can solve problems you thought could only be fixed by buying an entirely new mattress.

"Mattress toppers are a great option for providing a layer of support for mattresses that may have lost some of their comfort," she says. "For example, a good quality topper can noticeably change a mattress' feel and provide extra pressure relief. They can also help to increase the longevity of your mattress by acting as a layer of protection."

Woolroom Deluxe Wool Mattress Topper
Woolroom Deluxe Wool Mattress Topper

For combi sleepers

Woolroom Deluxe Wool Mattress Topper

Naturally cooling and antibacterial, the Woolroom Deluxe Wool Mattress Topper has an Allergy UK Seal of Approval and is affordable for such a high-quality option. This a is highly recommended option for those who overheat at night, for example, night sweats for menopausal women.

panda
panda

Best memory foam

Panda Memory Foam Bamboo Mattress Topper

Budget-friendly and sustainably made, the Panda Memory Foam Bamboo Mattress Topper offers support without being too bulky. It's a great added layer for those who want a more comfortable night's sleep.

simba
simba

Best overall

Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper

Suited to all sleep styles and with added cooling tech, similar to the best Simba mattresses, we think this will be the best mattress topper to suit most people who are purely looking for standard sleep support.

Do mattress toppers really make a difference?

Yes; it's largely agreed that mattress toppers can make a real difference to your sleeping experience, especially if you battle with certain issues with your current mattress that you’re unsure how to fix.

As mentioned, a mattress topper can make an impact in all sorts of different ways - from your overall comfort, to your temperature as you sleep (even if you already have one of the best cooling mattresses). Buying one can even help you to save money in the long run.

But to really explore the way in which they can impact your sleeping experience, how exactly do mattress toppers make a difference?

1. A mattress topper can make a difference to your comfort

If you bought your mattress a little while ago and feel like it doesn’t feel as comfortable as it once did – or perhaps you’ve grown to prefer a different type of mattress filling – a mattress topper could make a huge difference to how comfortable and cosy you feel whilst sleeping.

Danielle explains for example, "For firmer mattresses, a topper helps to make your bed feel softer if you prefer that 'sunk in' feeling – whereas for a thinner mattress, it can significantly boost the comfort for the sleeper."

Amanda Castle, marketing manager at Hypnos Beds agrees that most mattress toppers are a luxurious addition that can seriously elevate your night’s sleep.

"Mattress toppers are not essential; however, they can help you achieve a more restful sleep by providing a sumptuous layer of pillow-like comfort that cushions the body. They are typically designed to contour the shape of the body and distribute weight to reduce any discomfort."

So if your current mattress feels a little less plush than you prefer, a mattress topper could enhance your sleep without needing to pay hundreds of pounds for a new mattress.

2. A mattress topper helps prolong the life of your mattress

mattress topper on top of a mattress
mattress topper on top of a mattress

How long does a mattress last? Most experts agree that they should be replaced every eight years, but a mattress topper can provide a barrier between you and your mattress which can slow down the degradation of said mattress, prolonging its life.

"A topper helps to protect and prolong the life of your mattress by keeping it free of the sweat, spills and allergens which can cause your mattress to age faster," Danielle says. "This means that having a mattress topper is also a more sustainable option, as your need to replace your mattress will therefore be less."

If you’re keen to maintain the hygiene of your mattress, it's important to consider using a certain type of mattress topper, Theresa suggests. “My advice would be to look out for toppers with washable synthetic fills or naturally hypoallergenic fills.

"It’s also worth bearing in mind that memory foam and synthetic toppers are easy to keep clean and help keep bacteria away. Wool is also a great alternative, as it's naturally hypoallergenic and washable." Take note of how often you should wash a mattress protector to ensure it stays hygienic.

3. Toppers can improve the support of your mattress

If you've had your mattress for a fair few years, it has likely lost some of its support over that time through natural wear and tear. Or perhaps you’ve even changed your mind about the firmness level you prefer since buying it.

This is where a mattress topper can come into its own, to help you sleep better without buying a completely new mattress. Olivia Walton, Manager at Bedz4U explains, "A mattress topper can add extra comfort to a mattress that doesn’t provide as much support as you’d like. For example, a topper can add a couple of extra years to the life of an old mattress by covering any signs of sagging or uneven surfaces."

Mattress toppers can even be beneficial for those who suffer from pain whilst sleeping, be it in your back, neck or shoulders – because it can prove tricky to master how to sleep with back pain.

Emma Beck, Buying and merchandising manager for Benson for Beds, says, "Mattress toppers can alleviate pressure points, reducing the risk of waking up with aches and pains. So while not necessarily essential, they are highly recommended for those seeking to optimise their sleeping experience."

Adam Black, co-founder of Button & Sprung, explains that a topper can even provide the ideal combination for those who need support, but like a super cushioned bed. "A topper can help you get the best of both worlds when it comes to tensions – we find that they are a great solution for side or front sleepers who like, or need, to sleep with a firmer support but desire the soft top to sink into first," he says.

4. A topper can help with temperature control

If your current mattress leaves you feeling too hot and stuffy (or even too cold), a mattress topper can help with managing your temperature as you sleep – once again mitigating the need for an entirely new mattress. Similar to asking if cooling mattresses work, some mattress toppers can help to reduce your body's core temperature while you sleep.

"When made from the right material, mattress toppers can help to improve your sleep by keeping you fresh and cool throughout the night, by providing another breathable layer on top of your mattress which aids in regulating your body’s temperature," Theresa explains.

"This is especially helpful if your mattress retains heat,” Olivia adds.

But to ensure that your mattress topper helps to control your temperature, it’s vital to choose one made from the right materials. Amanda explains, "Natural materials, particularly those that offer better breathability, such as wool, are more desirable, as they not only provide enhanced comfort, but they also regulate your body temperature and wick away moisture.

"This is especially beneficial in winter and summer, as it ensures you don’t get too cold or too warm." It's also worth addressing your sleep hygiene to ensure you have the optimum environment conducive to better sleep.

Explaining that the wrong mattress topper will only make matters worse when it comes to temperature control, Adam says, "For most people there won’t be a physical downside to a mattress topper, but it will have an adverse effect on body temperature if it is made from memory foam or synthetic materials which aren’t breathable. These materials are a sure way to overheat in bed."

When would you use a mattress topper?

You can clearly use a mattress topper to solve just about any sleeping problem, such as an overly hot mattress or a mattress that doesn’t feel quite as comfortable as it used to.

Using a mattress topper on a brand new bed or mattress is a brilliant idea, as it’ll provide an extra layer of comfort and support instantaneously, as well as protect your mattress from any wear and tear from the get-go.

You can also use a topper to revive a slightly older mattress, as mentioned, providing a bolstered level of support, especially for those who might experience pain after sleeping. But you'll need to exercise some caution when it comes to using a topper on an older mattress.

woman lying on a Button & Sprung mattress topper on a bed
woman lying on a Button & Sprung mattress topper on a bed

In fact, you probably shouldn’t use a mattress topper if your mattress is experiencing significant sagging, or needs almost imminent replacement. Because while a topper can prolong the life of a mattress, it isn’t an adequate replacement for one that’s on the brink of needing to be thrown out.

Adam explains, "Frequently, toppers are used as a way to extend the life of an old mattress or disguise an uncomfortable mattress, and there is a place for this. But it’s not a lasting solution. Quite simply if your mattress is bad, you should invest in a new mattress.

Theresa agreed, saying, "The main thing to remember is that a topper won’t fix your mattress. If you have a worn-out old mattress that is sagging a lot or showing signs of erosion, then you should consider replacing this first."

A mattress topper also shouldn’t be used in place of a mattress protector. "It’s worth noting that a topper shouldn’t be confused with a mattress protector – a protector is mostly about function, protecting the lifespan of your mattress and keeping your bed protected from spills and stains,” Adam points out.

When it comes to the best time of year to use a mattress topper, Theresa reassures you that it's something that can be used to your benefit year-round. "As well as comfort, some toppers also offer better thermoregulation. Emma’s flip toppers, for instance, are designed with a breathable layer of Airgocell which can be particularly helpful in keeping you fresh during the heat of summer and warm on a cold winter’s night, so can be used year-round to help aid quality rest."