If your mattress isn’t conducive to a comfortable night’s sleep, a mattress topper may help you transform the texture of your bed on a budget. “Mattress toppers allow you to change the characteristics of your sleep surface (think: make a firm mattress softer or a soft mattress firmer) with a much lower financial outlay than buying a new mattress,” says Tom Oddo, Doctor of Chiropractic, ergonomics specialist and strength coach. However, mattress toppers, which are layered between your mattress and your sheets, come in a wide variety of materials, firmness levels and thicknesses, and the right option for you depends on your primary sleep position and your preferences, according to our experts.
To narrow down the best mattress toppers on the market, we interviewed two chiropractors, an orthopedic doctor and a spinal surgeon. Below, you’ll find their direct recommendations as well as general advice to keep in mind while shopping.
SKIP AHEAD The best mattress toppers | How to shop for mattress toppers
How we picked the best mattress toppers
We interviewed four spine experts who recommend keeping the following criteria in mind when shopping for the best mattress toppers:
- Sleep position: The right mattress topper for you will depend on your primary sleep position. You’ll want a topper that helps you keep your spine in as neutral a position as possible throughout the night, according to our experts. We further detail what kinds of mattress toppers each sleeping position should prioritize below.
- Material: Memory foam, latex and pillowtop (made from down, down-alternative or cotton) are the most common materials for mattress toppers, and each has its benefits and drawbacks, according to our experts.
- Firmness: A mattress topper’s material and density affect its firmness level, and the right firmness level for you depends on your preferred sleeping position, according to our experts.
- Thickness: Most mattress toppers measure between 1- and 3-inches thick; the thicker the topper, the more dramatically it will alter the feel of your mattress, say our experts.
- Breathability: If you tend to overheat at night, a thinner mattress topper made from cooling materials is best. Hot sleepers should stay away from memory foam unless it’s designed with ventilating elements, says Ken Hansraj, spinal and orthopedic surgeon and author of “Watch Your Back.”
- Price: Mattress toppers can cost hundreds of dollars — but experts say you don’t need to break the bank in order to get quality support. Our list has models at a variety of price points.
The best mattress toppers
Below are some of the best mattress toppers on the market, according to our experts. While the materials, thickness and firmness levels differ to support various sleeping positions, all of them are direct recommendations from our experts. (Firmness levels are not always disclosed, so unless otherwise specified, when a topper is labeled as “suitable for all sleeping positions,” we list the firmness level as medium.)
Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Adapt Topper
Tempur-Pedic comes recommended by three of our experts for its materials and pressure-relieving abilities. Available with or without the cooling layer, the Tempur-Adapt topper contains three inches of the brand’s supportive foam, which is more durable than standard memory foam, according to the Tempur-Pedic website. This topper, which comes with a 10-year warranty, also has built-in elastic straps to keep the topper in place, plus a removable, washable cover that resists allergens and stains, as detailed on the brand’s website.
Material: Tempur-Material-brand foam | Firmness: medium | Thickness: 3 inches | Available sizes: twin, twin long, full, queen, king, California king
Sleep On Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress Topper
Both Hansraj and Oddo recommend Sleep On Latex’s Pure Green mattress toppers due to their durability. “They come in different firmness options to suit various sleep preferences,” says Oddo, and you can choose the ideal size and thickness level for your needs. All of them are made from rubber-derived latex that’s certified GOLS Organic and Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which means the materials are tested for and exclude harmful substances, according to the brand’s website. As a result, it’s a great option for those with allergies or a tendency to overheat, according to our experts.
Material: latex | Firmness: soft, medium, and firm options | Thickness: 1 inches, 2 inches, 3 inches | Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
Saatva Graphite Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Matthew Cavanaugh, Doctor of Chiropractic, recommends this Saatva mattress topper because it’s infused with graphite for cooling purposes and its memory foam construction keeps you from disturbing your partner if you toss and turn. There is also a 180-night trial, which lets you ensure that the texture is right for you before you commit, says Cavanaugh. The breathable cotton cover is treated with an antimicrobial solution to prevent the growth of bacteria, plus it has four elastic corner bands to keep your mattress from shifting, according to the brand’s website.
Material: graphite-infused memory foam | Firmness: medium | Thickness: 3 inches | Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king, split king
Company Cotton Mattress Pad
A more affordable option, this bestselling pad is made from a sewn cotton quilted shell, meant to ensure a good night’s sleep, according to the brand. The shell is filled with 100% pure cotton, and can be machine-washed on a cold cycle, making it easy to clean in-between uses. The Company Cotton pad also includes a stretchy mattress skirt made from 100% jersey cotton to help preserve the life of your mattress and pad — the skirt is available in 11 and 18 inch sizes to accommodate different mattresses, and the pad itself is also top-rated, with a 4.5-star average rating from 384 review at The Company Store.
Material: cotton | Firmness: medium | Thickness: 2 inches | Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
Linenspa Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper
The Linenspa memory foam topper has earned an overall 4.5-star rating from over 100,000 Amazon reviewers. It costs well under $100 in most sizes and is a great value option that offers “a balance of comfort and support at a lower price point,” says Hansraj. It’s made from CertiPUR-US-certified memory foam (so it’s been tested to ensure that it’s free from known harmful chemicals) and infused with gel to help balance body temperature, according to the brand’s website.
Material: memory foam | Firmness: medium | Thickness: 2 inches, 3 inches | Available sizes: small single, twin, twin XL, full, full XL, queen, RV queen, king, California king
Parachute Down Alternative Mattress Topper
Oddo recommends this Parachute pillowtop mattress topper for its “added cushioning and comfort for softening a sleep surface,” which often helps boost comfort for side sleepers. Since this topper is made from hypoallergenic microfiber fill, it also comes recommended by Hansraj because it has “a sumptuous feel without the potential allergens of genuine down.” The cotton sateen shell works to improve breathability while the double-stitched seam and separately sewn squares prevent rips and shifting, according to the brand.
Material: microfiber fill | Firmness: soft | Thickness: 3 inches | Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
Avocado Mattress Organic Latex Mattress Topper
It’s more expensive than other options on this list, but the Avocado Mattress latex topper is worth the splurge, according to Cavanaugh. Available in plush or firm textures depending on your sleep position, this two-inch topper has a latex rubber core wrapped in a certified-organic wool and cotton cover, so it’s designed to wick away heat, absorb moisture and boost ventilation more effectively than memory foam, according to the brand.
Material: latex, wool, cotton | Firmness: plush or firm options | Thickness: 2 inches | Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
Nolah Mattress Topper
Nolah’s mattress topper is made from its temperature-neutral AirFoam material (the same as their mattresses), which is designed to have 4x better pressure relief and be 300% more durable than memory foam, according to the brand. It also dissipates heat 20% faster than memory foam, which, if you’re a hot sleeper like me, is great for keeping cool throughout the night. An organic cotton cover is also included with this topper, which carries a CertiPUR-US certification and has a 4.9-star average rating from 118 reviews on Nolah.
Material: polyurethane foam | Firmness: plush (soft) and luxury firm (firm) options | Thickness: 2 inches | Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
What’s the best mattress topper for your sleep position?
Keeping your spine neutral and parallel to the bed’s surface is key to quality sleep, says Hansraj. As a result, the right mattress topper for you will facilitate that neutral-spine position; the materials and firmness levels needed to achieve that will vary depending on your primary sleep position, according to our experts.
Sleeping face-up “maintains the natural curvature of the lumbar spine” and unloads “the tension on the nerve roots” in the lower back, says Troy Wood, MD at Atlantic Medical Group Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Back sleepers should look for medium-firm mattress toppers made from memory foam or latex, which will support your spine and limbs, according to our experts.
Also known as lateral sleepers, side sleepers prefer lying on their left or right sides, and as long as your knees are flexed, side-sleeping will also maintain your spine’s curvature and remove pressure from the lower back, says Troy. The best options for side sleepers are models that are soft, plush and body-conforming to accommodate the shoulders and hips, according to our experts.
Stomach sleeping (or prone sleeping) is not recommended, as it may exacerbate neck and lower back pain, according to our experts. “Generally, sleeping on your stomach is an unfavorable position as it forces the lumbar spine to extend,” which may aggravate arthritis or stenosis, says Wood. If you must sleep on your stomach, opt for an extra-firm foam or latex topper, which will prevent your hips and belly from sinking into the mattress, says Hansraj.
For those who switch positions often throughout the night, a medium to medium-firm mattress topper will provide a combination of plush cushioning and firm support, according to Hansraj.
How to shop for mattress toppers
Once you’ve pinpointed your primary sleeping position, our experts advise that you consider the following qualities before choosing a mattress topper:
Memory foam: Memory foam mattress toppers provide pressure-relieving qualities and, depending on their firmness levels, help align the spine in any sleeping position, according to our experts. However, memory foam also retains heat, so opt for cooling features (more on those below) when possible, says Hansraj.
Latex: Made from rubber, latex mattress toppers are supportive, responsive, durable and buoyant, according to our experts. They’re also more cooling than memory foam and naturally hypoallergenic if you’re concerned about allergy management (unless you have a latex allergy), says Hansraj. Latex mattress toppers, however, tend to be more expensive than synthetic alternatives.
Pillowtop: Pillowtop mattress toppers are softer than their foam or latex counterparts and are typically made from cotton, down or down-alternative. Their plush, comfortable texture makes them ideal for side sleepers, and they’re often machine-washable, according to our experts.
Determine your body’s ideal firmness level by observing the position of your hips, says Wood: If your hips sink into the bed, you need a firmer mattress topper, whereas if you feel too much pressure at the points of contact, your spine can’t properly decompress, so opt for something softer. Wood also recommends that those with lower back pain opt for firmer mattress toppers, which offer more support.
Most mattress toppers are sold in multiple thicknesses, usually between one to four inches. The thicker the mattress topper, the more support it will offer and the more effectively it will transform the texture of your existing mattress, according to our experts. In terms of drawbacks, however, thicker mattress toppers are typically heavier, more expensive and more likely to trap heat, says Cavanaugh.
Certain materials, like latex, are more breathable and temperature-regulating than others, according to our experts. “Memory foam is well known to retain heat,” but “gel-infused memory foam and open-cell technology provide a cooler interface,” says Hansraj.
“Toppers can range from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars,” says Cavanaugh, who recommends deciding on a budget before you start shopping so you don’t overspend. He also points out that price is not always reflective of quality, as an affordable mattress topper may perform just as well as an expensive one.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Tom Oddo, DC, CEAS, CSCS, is a Doctor of Chiropractic, ergonomics specialist and strength coach.
- Ken Hansraj, MD, is a spinal and orthopedic surgeon and the author of “Watch Your Back.”
- Matthew Cavanaugh, DC, is a Doctor of Chiropractic at the Cavanaugh Chiropractic Clinic.
- Troy Wood, MD is a doctor who specializes in pain medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation at Atlantic Health System in Morristown, New Jersey.
Why trust Select?
Maria Cassano is an e-commerce writer, editor and consultant. During her several years in the industry, she has covered sleep health and bedding content for publications such as Bustle, MyDomaine, Elite Daily, Allure, Lonny and Mattress Insider. For this article, she interviewed four experts who specialize in spinal health.
Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.