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Do mattress toppers work?

Updated February 21, 2017

Toppers are often purchased as a way to make mattresses more comfortable or to add some kind of health benefit. They come in many different forms, ranging from goose down pads to memory foam and convoluted "egg crate" foam toppers. Each has its advantages, but deciding whether a mattress topper actually works depends on what you want it to accomplish. In a way, these products work because they can provide a specific benefit. You shouldn't expect them to completely transform the quality of your mattress.

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Claimed Benefits

Mattress toppers of various types come with claims of near miraculous benefits. According to the My Foam Mattress website, toppers made of memory foam or egg crate-style foam claim to help everything from sleep apnoea and fibromyalgia to back pain. Still, doctors are not lining up to endorse mattress toppers as medical treatments. This is because most of the claims are biased, made by the producers of the toppers themselves. While there are certainly benefits to reap from adding a mattress topper to your bed, it is unlikely that it will always cure what ails you.

Support Issues

A mattress topper is not the answer for poor support from a mattress. The mattress itself must provide the support. The topper is not going to make it much better than it already is. If your mattress is worn out and unable to support the weight of your body, the topper is probably going to make your night's sleep a little less uncomfortable, at best. Adding a topper to a firm, supportive mattress, however, could make an otherwise hard feeling surface a bit more likable.


Comfort is an important part of sleep. If you feel good, you often sleep well. A mattress topper can certainly help with that. As mentioned above, a hard mattress that offers good support can be softened by the addition of a memory foam or down topper. Heat is also a part of the overall comfort of a bed. If you own a foam mattress that tends to "sleep hot," then adding a convoluted egg crate topper to the mattress may help with airflow around your body, allowing body heat to be released into the air instead of being trapped under you. This could make a significant difference in the quality of your sleep.

Selecting the Best Topper

When you shop for a mattress topper, you'll undoubtedly find many different options with varying prices. The toppers most likely to work best are ones that are dense, heavy and hold up under the weight of your body. Memory foam toppers are most effective if they have at least a 4- to 5-pound density and are 3 to 4 inches thick. Lighter weight or thinner toppers are less effective. Down or other foam toppers will be softer and more durable if they have 100 per cent cotton covers with a high thread count.

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About the Author

Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.

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