Best Mattress Toppers for College


*Updated June 3, 2021

Being able to sleep comfortably is critical for getting through college without losing your energy or sanity. Unfortunately, dorm room mattresses don’t offer much in the way of comfort. However, you don’t need to completely replace your mattress in order to improve your sleep. A quality mattress topper can transform an old, unsupportive mattress into a plush, comfortable one for a fraction of the price of a brand new mattress.

What is a mattress topper?

Mattress toppers are an additional layer of bedding material that can be laid on top of a mattress to make a mattress more supportive or comfortable. They come in a variety of different materials, including latex, memory foam, and cotton, each of which has different qualities.

What is the difference between a mattress topper and a mattress pad?

The terms “mattress pad” and “mattress topper” are often used interchangeably, but there is a significant difference. Mattress pads are generally plush but thin layers of bedding that can be laid atop a mattress to provide a little bit of added comfort. Pillowtop mattress pads use pockets of cotton to add a fluffy cushion to the top of the mattress. You can also find cooling mattress pads, which use gel or heat-wicking materials to reduce the temperature of a particularly heat-retentive mattress. Generally speaking, mattress pads are relatively thin and won’t offer very much in the way of support.

Mattress toppers are generally thicker than mattress pads and provide both more support and comfort than your typical mattress pad. Toppers are typically made from a thick layer of polyfoam, memory foam, or latex, but there are also varieties made from down, wool, or cotton. People will often use mattress toppers to “resurrect” an old mattress that has been worn down over the years.

What thickness mattress topper should I get?

It depends on what you want to use it for. Mattress toppers can be anywhere from 1‒5 inches thick. If your mattress is already supportive and relatively comfortable, a thin mattress pad that is one or two inches thick should add a little bit of extra padding and support. If your mattress is old or has structural issues, however, you may want to get a thicker pad that is closer to three or four inches thick.

If you are moving into a dorm room and will be using a mattress provided by your school, you should aim to find a thick and supportive topper. Dorm room mattresses are notoriously thin and old, so you’ll want a topper capable of reviving an unsupportive mattress.

You should also consider your weight and your typical sleeping position. Heavier individuals will need a thicker and denser mattress topper. Side-sleepers will likewise need a thicker mattress topper to provide spinal support. Lighter people and back- and stomach-sleepers won’t need quite as thick of a mattress topper to feel comfortable and supported.

What material should I choose for my mattress topper?

Mattress toppers can be made from several materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Common materials include latex, memory foam, polyurethane foam, wool, cotton, and down. 

Latex is known for its durability and their support. It is great for supporting pressure points and relieving back or shoulder pain. Latex is also a natural material, so it is frequently used in organic and eco-friendly mattress toppers.

Memory foam is a popular mattress and mattress topper material known for its body-contouring capabilities. Memory foam mattress toppers are both soft and supportive, though they are also known for retaining heat. To counter this, some memory foam toppers are manufactured with cooling elements like graphite or gel.

Polyurethane foam is a cheaper type of foam that is supportive and comfortable, but doesn’t have quite the same responsive characteristics as memory foam or even latex. 

Wool mattress toppers are eco-friendly, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and fire-resistant. They are generally soft and pillow-like, but do not have the body-contouring capabilities that a memory foam or latex topper generally will.

Cotton toppers are typically very soft, cheap, and easy to clean. Both organic cotton toppers and synthetic cotton mixes are available. Synthetic cotton mixes might include a mixture of natural cotton and polyester. While very comfortable, they typically do not provide the level of support that a memory foam or latex topper will.

Down and feather toppers are materials often used in mattress pads, but they can be found in toppers as well. Down is incredibly soft and warm, but doesn’t offer much support.

How to keep a mattress topper from sliding

Even the best mattress toppers won’t be comfortable if they are sliding off of the bed constantly. Sliding mattress toppers are a common issue, especially on beds without headboards or footboards, but it is possible to reduce the sliding with modifications to your mattress or your sheets.

To keep your topper from sliding off, you can try to restrict its movement by using a tighter fitted sheet or sheet straps. Alternatively, you can try to fix your mattress topper to your mattress using velcro, carpet tape, or safety pins. If you have a latex or memory foam mattress, you can also try using a non-skid mat, similar to the kind you might see in a shower, to try to prevent the mattress from slipping.

How to clean a mattress topper

Different kinds of mattress toppers have different cleaning requirements. For example, cotton or polyester mattress toppers can generally be machine-washed, but foam mattresses cannot. For foam mattresses, it is important to regularly use a vacuum to clean the surface of any dust. You can also use baking soda to remove stains or a water and detergent mixture to get rid of any unwanted smells.

Which is the best mattress topper?

Leesa Mattress Topper

The Leesa Mattress Topper is a 2-inch thick mattress topper made of high-quality foam. The mattress topper is wrapped in a soft machine-washable cover that can be easily removed for cleaning.

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme

The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme is a memory foam mattress topper from the premier memory foam producer. The mattress topper is thick enough to provide support for all types of sleepers and is wrapped in a removable and machine-washable cover. Tempur-Pedic’s mattress topper is also more durable than typical memory foam and backed by a 10-year warranty.

Which mattress topper is best for back pain?

Linenspa 3” Convoluted Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper

This mattress topper from Linenspa is made of three inches of body-conforming memory foam, providing excellent support  and relief on pressure points. It also has an egg-crate design and is infused with gel to increase airflow and create a cooling effect.

PandaZzz Double-Quilted Topper

PandaZzz’s two-layered memory foam topper provides three inches of support at an affordable price. This topper is medium pressure, making it perfect for treating back pain by giving even support to different parts of the back. All purchases are backed by a 100-night sleep trial.

What is the best memory foam mattress topper?

Saatva Mattress Topper (Graphite)

Saatva’s memory foam mattress topper is infused with graphite to reduce body heat retention and provide a cooling effect. The high density memory foam is supportive for all types of sleepers and reduces motion transfer across the mattress.

Bear Mattress Pro Topper

The Bear Mattress Pro Topper is a 2-inch thick memory foam topper that is infused with copper. Copper helps wick away heat to keep your mattress topper cool while you sleep. It is also antimicrobial, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria in your mattress and bed sheets.

What is the best machine-washable mattress topper?

Helix Plush Mattress Topper

The Helix Plush Mattress Topper is made from soft bamboo blend fibers that are designed to be more durable and softer than cotton fibres. This topper is designed less to provide support than to add a plush, breathable layer to the top of your mattress.

Allmodern Trahan 3” Down Alternative and Polyester Mattress Topper

This plush mattress topper from Allmodern is composed of three inches of machine-washable down alternative and polyester. The down alternative provides all the softness of a traditional down topper with less odors and allergens and increased durability. 

What is the best eco-friendly mattress topper?

Saatva Mattress Topper (Latex)

Saatva’s latex mattress topper is made from 1.5 inches of all-natural Talalay latex. Derived from the sap of a rubber tree, Talalay latex is durable, non-toxic, and responsive material that provides both support and comfort.

Avocado Vegan Mattress Topper

Organic mattress company Avocado’s Vegan Mattress Topper is made from certified organic latex. Avocado’s non-toxic latex is harvested from a private sustainable tree farm and wrapped in an organic cotton batting. No wool or animal products are used in their vegan mattress toppers. However, Avocado also sells a topper with a certified organic wool cover.

What is the best value mattress topper?

Allswell 3” Memory Foam Mattress Topper Infused With Graphite

With prices starting at $79 for a twin, Allswell’s 3-inch memory foam mattress topper is a high-quality product available for a very reasonable price. The memory foam topper has excellent body-contouring capabilities and cooling properties due to the infusion of graphite into the foam. With three inches of thickness, it should provide more than enough support for most sleepers.

Lucid 2” Zoned Topper

Lucid’s 2-inch zoned mattress topper has five “zones” with different surface patterns. These zones contour to the shape of your body, reducing pressure at your contact points. The memory foam mattress is also infused with a cooling gel that helps regulate the temperature, and lavender oil, which emits a pleasant and comforting lavender scent.

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