The best mattress toppers 2024: affordable ways to upgrade your bed

best mattress toppers: Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Mattress Topper
(Image credit: Tempur-Pedic)

Buying one of the best mattress toppers can be the perfect solution if your bed isn't meeting your sleep needs, but you don't want to have to go to the trouble and expense of shopping for one of the best mattresses.

A quality mattress topper can make the world of difference to a bed that doesn't feel quite right to you. It can provide a firmer top layer for a mattress that's a bit too soft for your liking, or deliver a little sink-in comfort for when a firm bed isn't giving your joints the cushioning they need. And if your current mattress is past its prime but still in generally good condition, a good mattress topper can extend its life for a few more years.

Don't confuse mattress toppers with mattress protectors, which are much thinner and all about protecting your bed from stains and spills, or mattress pads; our mattress pad vs mattress topper guide can explain the differences on that front.

Below, we've gathered together a selection of the best mattress toppers available in both the US and UK, for a range of different budgets and needs. Read on to discover the best options available now.

The best mattress toppers 2024: as chosen by experts

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Best mattress toppers: US

Best mattress toppers: UK

Why buy a mattress topper?

They may not look like much at first glance, but a good mattress topper can make an instant difference to your sleep comfort. They are often much, much cheaper than buying a new mattress, plus they couldn’t be easier to use. In most cases, you simply need to unseal them from their vacuum packed plastic covering, then pop them on top of your mattress to let them fully inflate. Some do so within minutes while others take hours – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Other benefits of a mattress topper include:

  • Increased comfort or softness for firmer beds
  • Increased firmness and support for softer beds
  • They help extend the lifespan of a middle-age mattress
  • They help you break in a new mattress
  • They quickly boost the comfort of a guest bed
  • Most toppers can also be used on sleeper sofas

There are plenty of reasons to buy a mattress topper, especially if the comfort and support of your existing bed isn’t quite right for your body or sleeping position. Tell-tale signs include pressure point pain (hips, shoulders, back), or if you’re waking up feeling stiff, sore and bent out of shape. Let’s discuss this further in our next Q&A…

Are mattress toppers worth it?

The answer to this question depends on the age and state of your current mattress. If it’s more than six years old, then a good mattress topper could boost its comfort or support in the final year or two of its life until you have the budget to buy a new bed. But if it’s older, and providing you don’t have a luxury natural mattress with a longer lifespan, then it’s unlikely to be giving you the spinal support and pressure relief you need. Therefore, a mattress topper won’t cut it – you need a new mattress. 

Not even the best mattress topper can save a sagging bed either. However, there are definitely instances where mattress toppers are worth it and then some. For example, if you have a new mattress that’s still too firm for your body and sleep style, then the right mattress topper can add lashings of extra comfort while you break in your new bed. 

If you enjoy the feeling of being hugged during sleep, a memory foam topper is your best bet. These contour the body and dish out maximum pressure relief, easing sore joints that are otherwise aggravated when you lie down. Tempur-Pedic has its own NASA-developed material called Tempur, and this is widely recognized as one of the best for easing sore joints and reducing pressure on impact points (hips, back, etc).

Mattress toppers are also worth it if you want to make a soft mattress firmer. You’ll need a thicker bed topper for this job, and ideally one made from latex or an equally firmer material. But remember, if your bed is sagging, a topper won’t save it. 

A good mattress topper can also make a world of difference to the comfort of your sleeper sofa, especially if yours is flimsy. Just check the weight  capacity of your sleeper sofa and the dimensions of the mattress area before you buy a new topper for it.

What is the best type of mattress topper?

Bed toppers are a surprisingly diverse product, with different materials and feels coming into play depending on the type of topper you buy. To help you figure out the best solution for your sleep, here we look at the four main types of mattress toppers and the benefits and drawbacks of each. 

The four main different types of mattress topper are:

  • Memory foam mattress toppers
  • Feather and down mattress toppers
  • Microfibre mattress toppers
  • Latex mattress toppers

Each type of bed topper feels different when you lie down on it. Down toppers, for example, feel luxuriously plush and cosy; we’re talking proper hotel levels of comfort and luxury here. Memory foam mattress toppers, on the other hand, contour to your body for deep pressure relief. Here’s what you need to know about each type…

Memory foam mattress toppers

Memory foam is designed to react to your body heat, then contour to your unique curves. Many sleepers find that this helps relieve sore joints, and that has certainly been our experience. 

Memory foam toppers absorb the motion of you and your partner moving about in bed, so you won’t disturb each other so much if either one of you is restless. 

The downsides of all-foam mattress toppers is that they can trap heat and some people, especially hot sleepers, find them too warm to sleep on. However you can buy mattress toppers with cooling gels infused into them to help dissipate heat so that it doesn’t build up.

Feather and down mattress toppers

Depending on the fill power and quality, natural mattress toppers can be more expensive than memory foam pads. These are a much more traditional design of mattress topper so they were very popular several years ago, but there are some big drawbacks to these…

Firstly, they need regular fluffing to retain their original shape as they tend to flatten out over time. It’s the same situation with down or feather-filled pillows. Also, not all down toppers state where the down or feathers have come from, so we strongly suggest that you only consider those made with ethically sourced materials. 

It isn’t all bad news though – feather and down mattress toppers don’t retain as much heat as other types of topper, making them a good choice for hot sleepers. They also won’t create a sinking-in feeling like memory foam, so you’ll be able to get in and out of bed more easily. 

Microfibre mattress toppers

These are by far the cheapest type of mattress topper you’ll come across. They are usually odor-less and are mostly hypoallergenic, making them suitable for people with common allergies. Anti-allergy toppers are treated with chemicals to ward off allergens like dust mites and pollen.

Microfibre is a synthetic material widely used in budget pillows and duvets, so a microfibre mattress topper should be on your list if you have a very small budget. 

The downside is that they can develop lumps over time, regardless of how often you shake them out. This is especially true if you machine wash and dry them. Microfibre mattress toppers have a very short shelf life too, so they aren’t good for the planet. But if you’re just looking to boost the comfort of a guest bedroom that gets occasional use, you should be fine with one of these. 

Latex mattress toppers

Latex is a natural material used in organic mattresses and other natural sleep products, so latex mattress toppers are very popular among people who want to create a non-toxic sleeping environment. 

Latex is also naturally antimicrobial and non-allergenic to most people except those with a latex allergy. They can be a little smelly at first though, much like memory foam bed toppers.

And also like foam, latex has a body contouring property but it can be much firmer, meaning it’s the best choice for making a soft mattress firmer.

A white quilted mattress topper with a white pillow placed on top of it

(Image credit: Getty)

Mattress topper vs new mattress: which do you need?

How do you decide if a mattress topper will be enough to help you or if you need to bite the bullet and buy a new mattress? Here we cover some common scenarios to help you decide...

My mattress is too firm: If you’re finding your mattress too firm and unyielding, a mattress topper could be a great choice with just enough cushioning to help you sink into your bed a little better.

My mattress is too hot: A mattress topper infused with gel or other cooling materials should be enough to cool all those except the hottest sleepers down.

My mattress is sagging: In this situation there really is no option but to go out and replace your mattress. Even the thickest mattress topper will still sink into the saggy parts of your mattress and you’ll be no better off sleep-wise. 

My mattress is over eight years old and uncomfortable: Again, no mattress topper can revitalize an old mattress that’s lost its spring and shape. If this is your situation, it’s time for a new mattress.

Toppers aren't to be confused with thinner pads or protectors either. For more guidance, see our mattress protector vs mattress pad comparison. A mattress pad is essentially much thinner and sits somewhere between a topper and a protector, and offers a little extra comfort (but not as much as a bed topper) and a degree of protection (though not as much as a proper mattress protector).

How to choose the best mattress topper

Like choosing a new mattress, finding the best mattress topper for your needs can be daunting. Let’s break things down to help you choose. Firstly, think about the material the topper is made from. 

Memory foam mattress toppers are an ideal choice for those looking to reduce pressure on joints or motion transfer, but it can run very hot and make it difficult to shift in bed. Feather and down toppers don’t retain heat and promote movement but compress over time and aren’t hypoallergenic. 

Microfiber and hollowfiber mattress toppers are the cheapest options, providing good softness but can become lumpy and flattened over time. Lastly Latex mattress toppers are incredibly durable and bouncy but can be too firm for some sleepers. 

As well as the materials used, you should consider the depth of the bed topper and whether it will provide enough support for your needs. Check how easy it is to clean – if it’s going to be directly under your sheets it will get dirty, so consider covering it with one of the best mattress protectors too. 

Finally, look for a mattress topper that attaches securely to your mattress so that you don’t slide about during the night – either with straps and a slip resistant mesh, or as a fitted sheet style topper. 

Jo Plumridge

Jo Plumridge is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of magazines, books and websites. She writes, perhaps unsurprisingly, about photography but also extensively on all things sleep and interior design related, alongside home and tech product reviews