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A topper is an extra layer that rests on top of your mattress and is intended to make the surface feel softer or firmer than it normally does. Most toppers are constructed with foam, latex, feathers, or other materials that cushion and contour to the body. Toppers can be particularly useful for people with older, sagging mattresses who experience back pain or pressure buildup while they sleep. These layers can help to evenly distribute weight and remove strain from sensitive areas along the spine like the shoulders, lumbar region, and hips.

Our team’s expertise isn’t limited to just mattresses. We’ve also personally tested more than a dozen toppers. Although toppers sold today vary by thickness, firmness, and material composition, we conduct the same rigorous tests on each one to determine its strengths and weaknesses. To choose the toppers below, we primarily relied on body-mapping sensors that detect pressure points while the body is at rest.

Our Verdict – What’s the Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain?
A good topper for back pain should cushion your body without allowing too much sinkage. The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper offers just the right amount of support and contouring to ensure healthy sleep posture and minimize back pain.

Check out the product profiles below to learn about our top picks. We’ve awarded each mattress topper an accolade that highlights one of its key strengths. For more information about finding a topper that can reduce back pain, scroll down to our detailed buyer’s guide. We’ll cover different topper types, important considerations for sleepers with back pain, average price-points, and what you can expect from a new topper in terms of shipping options and sleep trials. If you’re looking for something more substantial than a topper, you can also check out our guide to best mattresses for back pain.

Presidents’ Day Sales Are Here!
Presidents’ Day is a great time to buy a mattress topper, with many bedding brands offering steep savings. Sales are going strong right now, so check our product reviews below for information on discounts. You can also head to our complete list of Presidents’ Day deals and discounts.

Product Details

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme

Best Overall

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper

Brand Logo
Price: $419
Firmness: Medium (5)

Who it’s best for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • People who weigh up to 230 pounds
  • Those who experience painful pressure buildup at night

Highlights:

  • All-foam construction provides excellent pressure relief
  • Thick foam layer reduces motion transfer
  • 10-year warranty

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Tempur-Pedic products

Bottom Line

The TEMPUR-Adapt Topper offers deep, even contouring and exceptional pressure relief. Our testing shows the high-density TEMPUR foam promotes even alignment for people who experience stiffness or soreness in sensitive areas along their spine.

Tempur-Pedic’s reputation for high-quality sleep products extends beyond the brand’s mattress line. Take the TEMPUR-Adapt Topper, which is constructed from TEMPUR memory foam. This proprietary, high-density material delivers even contouring from head to toe, helps align the spine, and alleviates pressure in the shoulders, lower back, and hips.

How It Performed

Due to its 3-inch profile and medium (5) feel, the TEMPUR-Adapt Topper earned stellar ratings from our team’s side sleepers — particularly those weighing up to 230 pounds. Back and stomach sleepers under 130 pounds also felt comfortable on the topper. The TEMPUR foam hugs the body closely to evenly distribute your weight and provide the “cloud-like” sensation many people associate with memory foam.

As expected, the topper performed exceptionally well during our motion isolation tests. None of us noticed any motion transfer when lying side by side with someone else, and the thick elastic corner straps held the topper in place to prevent shifting. Pressure relief is another key strength. For most of our testers, pressure buildup was a non-issue, and the foam conformed closely enough to cradle the spine and align the spine properly.

What It’s Made of

The TEMPUR-Adapt Topper contains 3 inches of TEMPUR memory foam, the same material that has made Tempur-Pedic mattresses so popular among people with back pain. This foam is quite dense and responds slowly to movement, so you’ll notice some initial plushness when you get into bed and a cradling effect as your body settles. A removable, machine-washable polyester cover encases the mattress. Thick elastic straps at each corner are intended to secure the topper to your mattress.

Tempur-Pedic offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. The company does not accept returns for the TEMPUR-Adapt Topper, so all sales are final, but you’ll receive a 10-year warranty with your purchase.

Read our Full Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper Review to learn more
Puffy Mattress Topper - Soft

Best Value

Puffy Mattress Topper – Firm

Brand Logo
Price: $229
Firmness: Firm (7)

Who it’s best for:

  • Side and back sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds
  • Anyone whose mattress has moderate wear and tear
  • Those who tend to toss and turn or frequently change sleep positions

Highlights:

  • Memory foam contours evenly without sinking or sagging too much
  • Breathable rayon-polyester cover is removable and machine-washable
  • Anti-slip bottom helps prevent shifting during the night

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

SleepFoundation.org readers can get 15% off toppers at Puffy

Bottom Line

The firm Puffy Mattress Topper is one of the most supportive all-foam models our team has tested. We recommend this topper to anyone with back pain that worsens when they sleep on a soft surface.

High-quality toppers can be somewhat expensive, especially those constructed with memory foam. The Puffy Mattress Topper is a noticeable exception to this trend. Available in two firmness levels, we’re focusing on the firm (7) model because it performed exceptionally well during our pressure relief tests. If you think a softer feel is better suited to your needs, the topper is also available in a soft (3) design.

How It Performed

The topper earned favorable ratings from most of our side and back sleepers. Side sleepers weighing more than 230 pounds and back sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds were particularly impressed with the supportive foam layer. A few of our team’s stomach sleepers also felt comfortable on the topper, most of whom weigh less than 130 pounds.

Our tests showed the Puffy Mattress Topper – Firm excels at motion isolation. Since the foam absorbs movement so well, we recommend the topper if you and your partner share an overly responsive mattress and experience sleep disruptions when the other person moves in bed. Pressure relief was another testing highlight. Most of our testers either felt minimal pressure buildup along the spine or no buildup whatsoever.

What It’s Made of

The topper contains a single layer of memory foam and measures 2.5 inches thick. This mid-range profile should provide an adequate comfort adjustment if your mattress has moderate wear, but isn’t quite on its last leg. The cover is a blend of polyester and rayon derived from bamboo, and includes an elastic skirt to fit around the sides of your mattress for extra stability. The skirt has a depth of 15 inches.

In addition to the approachable pricing, you’ll receive free ground shipping with your Puffy Mattress Topper purchase. Each order includes a sleep trial that runs for 101 nights. The topper is also backed by a lifetime warranty if you decide to keep it.

05- Saatva Foam Mattress Topper

Best Luxury

Saatva Mattress Topper

Brand Logo
Price: $330
Firmness: Medium Soft (4) or Medium (5)

Who it’s best for:

  • Sleepers whose topper firmness preferences fall between medium soft and medium
  • People who find their current mattress too firm
  • Those who toss and turn or frequently change positions while sleeping

Highlights:

  • Choose from three distinct designs that cater to different sleeper types and preferences
  • Each topper is encased in a breathable, GOTS-certified organic cotton cover
  • 180-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Buy more, save more. Get up to $450 off!

Bottom Line

The Saatva Mattress Topper is available in three designs, allowing you to choose the model that best suits your weight and sleep position. Our team found that the Graphite and Foam Toppers provide deep cushioning, while the Latex Topper feels more responsive and contours to a lesser extent.

If you frequently experience upper or lower back pain, we recommend a topper that feels soft enough to cushion your sore spots without sinking too much. With the Saatva Mattress Topper, you can choose from three different designs that vary by material and thickness. Our team tested all three, and found that each one has unique strengths.

How They Performed

Our team’s side sleepers awarded the highest ratings to the Graphite Topper, which is the thickest of the three. They enjoyed the close conforming and medium soft (4) feel, and our body-mapping tools indicate little to no pressure buildup. Although the Latex Topper is also medium soft (4), the responsive feel and light contouring made this model most popular among our back and stomach sleepers. The Foam Topper, which has a medium (5) feel, felt most comfortable to side sleepers up to 230 pounds and back sleepers weighing less than 230 pounds.

We found that the Latex Topper outperformed its two foam counterparts during temperature control and ease of movement tests. Alternatively, the Foam and Graphite Toppers earned higher marks for pressure relief and motion isolation.

What They’re Made of

The Graphite Topper measures 3 inches thick and contains a top layer of adaptive, graphite-infused memory foam over high-density polyfoam. We recommend this model if your mattress has heavy wear and tear that exacerbates your back pain. The Foam Topper consists of one high-density polyfoam layer. Since this model measures 1.5 inches thick, it’s best suited to sleep surfaces with minor to moderate wear. The same is true of the 1.5-inch Latex Topper, which contains a single piece of ventilated Talalay latex.

All three toppers are encased in organic cotton covers. Each corner is designed with an elastic strap intended to stabilize the topper and prevent it from slipping across your mattress while you sleep. Seven sizes are available, including a split king with two twin XL toppers for couples who share adjustable beds.

Prices vary by design, with the Foam being most affordable and the Latex most expensive. Saatva offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S. and a 180-night trial period with each topper. If you choose to keep the topper beyond the trial period, you’ll receive a 1-year warranty against structural defects.

Read our Full Saatva Mattress Topper Review to learn more
Product page image of the Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper

Most Comfortable

Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper

Brand Logo
Price: $270
Firmness: Medium (5), Firm (7)

Who it’s best for:

  • Hot sleepers
  • People who have mattresses with minor wear
  • Eco-conscious shoppers

Highlights:

  • Breathable organic cotton cover helps regulate temperature
  • Dunlop latex offers moderate contouring for pressure points
  • Two firmness levels

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Silk & Snow products

Bottom Line

The Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper is composed of solid Dunlop latex that contours gently without the deep “hug” of foam. Since two firmness levels are available, most of our testers found at least one design that felt comfortable and sufficiently supportive.

The most comfortable topper for any given sleeper with back pain should cushion sensitive areas and reduce discomfort while maintaining even support. The Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper is available in medium (5) and firm (7) designs. Between the two options, our tests show the topper can accommodate sleepers across a wide range of body types and sleep positions.

How It Performed

Our side sleepers weighing up to 130 pounds and back sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds preferred the balanced cushioning of the medium feel. While the latex won’t contour as closely as foam, you’ll notice some moderate conforming as the topper adapts to your body. Most of our testers weighing more than 230 pounds preferred the extra support of the firm feel. The same was true for our back and stomach sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds.

Since Dunlop latex is naturally dense and responsive, the topper fared well during our ease of movement tests. Most of us encountered minimal resistance moving across the toppers, and no one sank excessively — even when testing the medium feel. Temperature control is another strong point. The latex retains little heat and the breathable cotton cover promotes airflow, so you shouldn’t sleep too hot.

What It’s Made of

The topper’s core consists of Dunlop latex measuring 2 inches thick. Dunlop lacks the strong bounce of Talalay latex, but is still fairly responsive compared to foam and other topper materials. A cotton cover encases the latex. The cotton has earned certification from the Global Organic Textile Standard, and the latex is certified by the Global Organic Latex Standard, so this topper is a good option if you prefer to purchase sustainably made products.

Silk & Snow offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. and Canada. The trial period runs for 100 nights, during which you can return the Organic Mattress Topper for a full refund if it doesn’t meet your needs. Should you decide to keep the topper, you’ll receive a 3-year warranty for the latex and a 1-year warranty for the cover.

ViscoSoft Select High Density Topper

Best for Spinal Alignment

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

Brand Logo
Price: $230
Firmness: Medium (5)

Who it’s best for:

  • Those who want to invest in a long-lasting memory foam topper
  • Side sleepers
  • People who toss and turn or frequently change sleep positions

Highlights:

  • Composed of dense memory foam that's resistant to wear and tear
  • Corner straps and anti-slip bottom prevent shifting during the night
  • Optional cooling charcoal or relaxing lavender infusions

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

SF customers receive 25% off + free shipping

Bottom Line

The ViscoSoft Select High Density Topper contours closely and evenly, resulting in good alignment and less pressure for most people with back pain. We found the medium feel is particularly well suited to side sleepers who experience discomfort in their shoulders and hips.

When it comes to improving your spinal alignment, few materials can match the effectiveness of high-density memory foam. The ViscoSoft Select High Density Topper has a medium (5) feel, which is ideal for people who enjoy the deep “hug” and cradling of memory foam. Available in profiles of 3 or 4 inches, this topper is a good option if your mattress is on its last leg.

How It Performed

The Select High Density Topper was particularly popular among our side sleepers. Those weighing less than 130 pounds preferred the 4-inch model, whereas our side sleepers of 130 pounds or more felt more comfortable on the 3-inch topper. The 3-inch model also earned favorable ratings from our back sleepers up to 230 pounds, and stomach sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds.

The dense memory foam absorbs movement exceptionally well, so both toppers received high marks during our motion isolation tests. Pressure relief is another major strength. Body-mapping technology indicated little to no pressure buildup along the spine for the majority of our testing team.

What It’s Made of

The 3-inch and 4-inch toppers both contain a single layer of high-density memory foam. This material responds slowly to compression, resulting in a cloud-like feel as your body settles onto your sleep surface. Memory foam tends to absorb heat, so ViscoSoft used a cover made of rayon derived from bamboo. The fabric offers excellent cooling and also has moisture-wicking properties. That said, some people may still experience excessive heat retention. Thick, elastic straps at each corner help the topper stay in place.

The ViscoSoft Select High Density Topper carries an approachable price-point, and shipping is free of charge throughout the contiguous U.S. Your purchase includes a 90-night sleep trial. If you decide to keep the topper, you’ll also receive a 5-year warranty.

Read our Full ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper Review to learn more
Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper

Best Pressure Relief

Birch Organic Mattress Topper

Brand Logo
Price: $400
Firmness: Medium (5)

Who it’s best for:

  • Sleepers who like a plusher feel
  • Side sleepers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Highlights:

  • Uses natural materials, including wool, cotton, and latex
  • Breathable cotton, wool, and latex enhance cooling
  • Wool and latex layers balance plushness and support

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Birch products

Bottom Line

Eco-friendly and luxuriously crafted, the Birch Organic Mattress Topper provides gentle cushioning while providing enough bounce to help you move across your mattress with ease. We were also impressed with the topper’s cooling and moisture-wicking abilities.

The Birch Organic Mattress Topper is constructed with high-end materials that give the topper above-average durability. If you’re in the market for a luxury topper and dislike the deep hug of foam, this model may be right up your alley. A handful of green certifications also make the topper an appealing option for eco-conscious shoppers.

How It Performed

The topper earned favorable ratings from our team’s back and stomach sleepers across all weight groups, but those weighing 130 to 230 pounds were particularly impressed. Some of our side sleepers also felt comfortable, but the latex may not conform closely enough to alleviate pressure in the shoulders and hips. This is especially true if you sleep on your side and weigh less than 130 pounds.

The Organic Mattress Topper excelled throughout our temperature control tests. We’ve attributed this strong performance to its breathable cover, moisture-wicking wool layers, and ventilated latex core. The topper may also be a good investment if your mattress has softened with age and become difficult to move on because the latex offers noticeable springiness.

What It’s Made of

The topper’s core contains 2 inches of Talalay latex. This material is exceptionally responsive, even compared to other types of latex, so you shouldn’t experience too much sinkage when getting in and out of bed or changing sleep positions. Organic cotton and organic wool batting rest atop the latex for extra cushioning. The wool also has moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry on humid nights.

Measuring slightly more than 2 inches thick, the topper should provide a good comfort adjustment for any mattress with light to moderate wear and tear. An organic cotton cover completes the eco-friendly design. The topper has earned green certifications from well-respected organizations such as the Global Organic Textile Standard, eco-INSTITUT, and Wool Integrity NZ.

Birch offers free ground shipping to all 50 states. The company’s sleep trial allows you to test out the Organic Mattress Topper for 100 nights. If it meets your needs, you’ll also receive a warranty covering structural defects for up to 10 years.

PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper

Best Firm

PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper – Extra Firm

Brand Logo
Price: $511
Firmness: Extra Firm (8)

Who it’s best for:

  • Hot sleepers
  • Anyone whose mattress has experienced moderate to severe wear and tear
  • People who dislike the hug of memory foam

Highlights:

  • Choose from two profiles
  • Ventilated Talalay latex provides excellent breathability
  • Optional organic cotton cover available

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on PlushBeds products

Bottom Line

The PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper – Extra Firm is an exceptionally firm model, falling at an 8 on our 10-point firmness scale. Our tests show the topper excels at temperature control and ease of movement, and latex’s natural durability helps ensure a longer-than-average lifespan.

The PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper has a firm (8) feel, making it one of the firmest toppers in our testing lab. The firm and responsive feel ensure robust support to keep your body on an even plane, while the latex adds a bit of surface cushioning for sore spots along the spine.

How It Performed

Our team tested each of the topper’s firmness levels, and the firmest model was most popular among our back and stomach sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds. If you sleep on your side or weigh less than 130 pounds, you may prefer one of the softer models. Most of our side sleepers preferred the medium soft (4) and medium (5) models, though some weighing less than 130 pounds enjoyed the deep cushioning of the soft (3) model.

The firm topper performed well during our temperature control tests. Our heat guns detected very little heat buildup thanks to the firm feel and breathable construction. We also awarded positive ratings for ease of movement. Latex is naturally responsive, so it won’t sink beneath your weight and shouldn’t sink excessively when you get in and out of bed.

What It’s Made of

The topper contains a single layer of organic Talalay latex certified by the Global Organic Latex Standard. The latex is ventilated to promote airflow and cooling. You can choose between 2- or 3- inch profiles. We recommend the latter for mattresses with more pronounced wear and tear, and the former for mattresses with minor to moderate sinkage. An organic cotton cover is available for an extra fee.

PlushBeds offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. Returns are not accepted once the Natural Latex Topper has been unboxed, but your order is backed by a 5-year warranty against material defects.

Best For Side Sleepers

Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper

Brand Logo
Price: $224
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium (5), Firm (7)

Who it’s best for:

  • Anyone who owns a mattress with moderate to severe wear and tear
  • People with sharp pressure points along their spines
  • Those who normally find foam surfaces excessively warm

Highlights:

  • TitanFlex polyfoam is both adaptive and responsive
  • Multiple firmness and cover material options
  • Thick profile ensures a significant comfort adjustment

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Brooklyn Bedding products

Bottom Line

The TitanFlex Topper from Brooklyn Bedding is a foam model that comes in three firmness levels. This versatility ensures a comfortable option for most side sleepers.

The Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper is a mixed-foam model that offers great cushioning for pressure points. This makes the topper a great choice for side sleepers and people with sharp pressure points who want a bit of extra cushioning on their mattress’ surface.

How It Performed

The topper is available in three firmness levels. Our tests show the soft (3) design is best suited to side sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds. Side sleepers weighing 130 to 230 pounds preferred the balanced feel of the medium (5) design, and the same was true for our back and stomach sleepers under 130 pounds. Lastly, the firm (7) feel should provide sufficient support if you weigh more than 230 pounds. We recommend this design to anyone whose mattress has become uncomfortably soft over time.

During our temperature control tests, the topper outperformed most of the all-foam models we’ve tested firsthand. TitanFlex is an open-cell foam, so it promotes air circulation and won’t absorb much heat. You can also choose from two cover materials, both of which provide excellent cooling. We also found the TitanFlex foam fairly responsive and easy to move on compared to traditional memory foam.

What It’s Made of

TitanFlex is a proprietary material that combines the even contouring of memory foam with the responsiveness of latex. This topper contains a single piece of TitanFlex measuring 3 inches thick, making it suitable for mattresses with moderate to heavy wear and tear. Two covers are available. One is made from breathable organic cotton, while the other is a circular-knit polyester that feels cool to the touch.

The TitanFlex Topper is reasonably priced and Brooklyn Bedding offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. Your purchase includes a 30-night trial, and you’ll receive a 3-year warranty if you decide to keep the topper.

Turmerry Organic Latex Topper

Best Firmness Options

Turmerry Latex Mattress Topper

Brand Logo
Price: $249
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7)

Who it’s best for:

  • Hot sleepers
  • Those who prefer a responsive sleep surface
  • Shoppers who want to invest in a long-lasting topper

Highlights:

  • Solid Dunlop latex offers gentle cushioning and considerable bounce
  • Wide range of profile and firmness options
  • Ventilated core ensures minimal heat retention and excellent breathability

Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Turmerry products

If you’re a side sleeper, chances are you’ll experience added pressure in the shoulders and hips after sleeping on a surface that doesn’t provide adequate cushioning. The Turmerry Latex Mattress Topper might be a worthwhile investment if your mattress feels too firm. You can choose from four firmness levels — soft (3), medium (5), medium firm (6), and firm (7) — depending on how much you weigh and the amount of support you need to sleep comfortably.

How It Performed

During our tests, the soft topper was popular among our side sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds but did not provide enough support for most of our other team members. The balanced feel of the medium topper earned favorable ratings from testers weighing 130 to 230 pounds across all sleep positions. If you’re a side sleeper who weighs more than 230 pounds, our tests indicate the medium firm and firm feels provide enough support. Our back and stomach sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds also preferred the firmer designs.

Temperature control was a highlight of our hands-on testing. The latex is ventilated to promote airflow, so you shouldn’t experience too much heat retention regardless of which firmness level you choose. Another area where the topper performed well was ease of movement. Even on the soft model, we were able to get on and off the mattress without excessive resistance.

What It’s Made of

The topper consists of ventilated Dunlop latex and is available in 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch thickness options. The 4-inch option has a dual-sided design with a soft feel on one surface and medium firm feel on the other. If your mattress has heavy wear, you should consider the 3-inch or 4-inch designs, while the 2-inch topper should provide an adequate comfort adjustment for mattresses with minor indentations.

All thickness options are available with organic certification from the Global Organic Latex Standard, but you may also purchase non-organic versions for a slightly lower price. You can buy an organic cotton cover for an additional fee. Note that the cover is included for free with the purchase of the 4-inch topper.

The topper’s sticker price depends on which profile and type of latex you choose. Turmerry offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. Your order comes with a 120-night sleep trial, and the topper is further backed by a 5-year warranty.

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Why You Can Trust Us

Our team of industry experts has personally tested dozens of mattress toppers, and during that time we've noticed a direct link between the surface you sleep on at night and the amount of back pain you wake up with in the morning. Our testers represent a wide spectrum of sleepers in terms of body type and preferred position to ensure our results are inclusive of everyone.

How We Evaluated These Mattress Toppers

To create our list of the best toppers for back pain, we evaluated each topper based on factors like pain and pressure relief, support, contouring level, and ease of movement. We also took cost into account to best serve shoppers on a budget. To learn more about how a mattress topper can reduce back pain, check out our detailed buyer's guide below.

How to Choose a Mattress Topper for Back Pain

As mattress toppers adjust the feel of the sleep surface, many of the same factors that you should take into account when choosing a mattress will also play a role in your decision on a mattress topper.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Mattress Topper for Back Pain

There is a wide variety of different mattress toppers on the market that claim to do a number of different things. Rather than getting caught up in jargon and marketing claims, we encourage shoppers to look at the specific factors that contribute to whether or not a mattress topper will feel comfortable for them. Below, we’ll share some of the most important things to take into consideration as you select a mattress topper.

    • Conforming Ability: Most mattress toppers are built to provide some added conforming. A mattress topper that conforms to the sleeper's shape allows wider, heavier body parts to sink in more, which can help relieve pressure buildup on these areas while supporting the spine's natural alignment. Thinner and firmer mattress toppers may conform less, while thicker and softer options are likely to conform more.
    • Price: Mattress toppers vary in price based on their materials and construction. Low-priced options frequently use materials that may break down more quickly, but they can provide a budget-friendly, short-term fix for an uncomfortable mattress. More expensive models typically use more durable materials that resist sagging and deterioration.
    • Sleeping Position: A sleeper's preferred position influences which body parts put force on the mattress, where pressure may build up, and how well-aligned their spine is. Because sleep position is so impactful, shoppers should take how they prefer to sleep into account when selecting a mattress topper. We'll discuss sleep position in more detail in the section below.
    • Quality Materials: A topper's materials contribute to its performance and durability. High-end materials may have special characteristics, like temperature regulation or bounce, that could support a more comfortable night's sleep. Many quality materials also last longer, extending the topper's usable lifespan. Lower-quality topper components can also be comfortable, though they may not have the same potential benefits as higher-quality options.
    • Firmness Level: The firmness of the mattress topper can affect the level of conforming and support that you experience. As mattress toppers are a quick and easy way to adjust the feel of your bed, people who find their existing mattress too soft may like a firmer topper, while those who feel their mattress is too firm may prefer a softer topper. Body weight is also a significant factor when it comes to what firmness feels right. Sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds may sink too deeply into a soft mattress topper and feel the underlying mattress more, so they may prefer a firmer option. Those who weigh under 130 pounds may not put enough pressure on a firm topper to sink in and feel comfortably cradled, so they’d likely want to go for a softer topper.
    • Thickness: Mattress toppers usually range from 1 to 4 inches thick. The mattress topper’s thickness impacts how significantly it alters the sleep surface. A thin topper may add a bit of cushioning, while a thicker topper is likely to give more significant contouring and pressure relief.
    • Pressure Relief: A mattress topper can help alleviate pressure points by redistributing the sleeper’s weight more evenly over the surface. This can reduce pressure buildup near heavier body parts, like the hips and shoulders. Thicker toppers with more conforming are also likely to have more pressure relief.

How Does Sleeping Position Affect Back Pain?

Back pain can occur as a result of an underlying condition or sleep-related factors. The right mattress topper can help relieve pressure points and support natural spinal alignment, which could also help contribute to reduced back pain. However, each sleep position can affect the spine differently, so those suffering from back pain may want to consider the role of their preferred sleep position.

Side sleepers: People who sleep on their side frequently prefer a slightly softer sleep surface that balances conforming and support. Too firm of a topper may not allow their hips and shoulders to sink in enough, while too soft of a mattress topper may let their hips and shoulders sink in too much. Either of these situations could put a strain on their spines and contribute to back pain. A thicker topper could be ideal for a bed that is too firm, as it can provide ample room for a side sleeper’s hips and shoulders to sink in. A firmer topper that helps prevent sinkage will be better for a bed that is too soft.

Back sleepers: This sleep position typically requires a slightly firmer sleep surface that gives them the support they need to maintain their natural spinal alignment, so they may prefer firmer and/or thinner mattress toppers. A topper that is too soft could allow their hips to sink in excessively and make it difficult to keep their spine well-aligned. Too firm of a topper could also be problematic, leaving a gap between the bed and the sleeper’s lumbar region.

Stomach sleepers: Sleepers who use this position are often prone to sinking into their beds near their hips and stomachs, since most people carry more weight near their midsections. This frequently puts a strain on the sleeper’s spine, which could contribute to back pain. A firmer, thinner mattress topper may be more supportive for stomach sleepers and reduce the likelihood of excessive sinkage.

Combination sleepers can experience the potential benefits and drawbacks of multiple sleep positions. Those who tend to change positions during the night should consider which position they sleep in most often as they select a mattress topper. If they divide their time relatively evenly between positions, a mattress topper with a mid-range thickness may be the best bet for a combination sleeper.

Which Type of Mattress Topper is Best for Back Pain?

Any type of mattress topper may have potential pros and cons. Depending on their personal preferences, back pain sufferers may enjoy different toppers.

Memory foam: As memory foam toppers conform closely to the sleeper’s body, many people who experience back pain find they give a good balance of pressure relief and support. These toppers also usually isolate motion well, so sleepers might not notice when their partner changes position. One potential drawback is that memory foam tends to retain heat, but some models are made with special features for added breathability and cooling. Memory foam is also usually slow to respond to changes in pressure, which can make it harder for sleepers to move around and change position.

Polyfoam: Polyfoam toppers conform to the sleeper’s body without the close hug of memory foam. Additionally, this material tends to be more breathable and regain its shape more quickly than memory foam. Polyfoam toppers are also frequently budget-friendly options. While many sleepers find polyfoam mattress toppers comfortable, they’re often less durable than other types of toppers on the market. This is particularly true of toppers that make use of low-density polyfoam.

Latex: Latex is prized for its pressure relief, breathability, and durability. Latex mattress toppers usually cradle the sleeper’s body without much sinkage. Instead, its low point elasticity leads to the compression spreading over a wider area, creating more of a floating sensation. Natural latex also tends to be breathable and highly durable, so it can be a good option for people who sleep hot or want to enjoy their mattress topper for years to come. However, latex mattress toppers are often more expensive than other types of toppers.

Feathers: Feather mattress toppers typically provide a plush sleep surface. However, since they do not usually provide much in the way of support or pressure relief, they may not be ideal for sleepers who experience back pain.

Cooling: Since some individuals are prone to sleeping hot, many mattress toppers have special features designed for cooling. Memory foam can be infused with gel and/or copper to help wick away heat. Many polyfoam toppers use breathable open-cell foam. Memory foam, polyfoam, and latex mattress toppers can also be ventilated using hole punches to allow more air circulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which type of mattress topper is best for lower back pain?

Memory foam, polyfoam, and latex toppers tend to be most popular with those who experience lower back pain. These types of topper mold to the sleeper's body, relieving pressure while also supporting spinal alignment. Those with lower back pain should select the firmness and thickness of their topper carefully to ensure it has the right feel for their weight and preferred way of sleeping.

Can mattress toppers help with back pain?

In some circumstances, a mattress topper could help with back pain. A topper won't make up for a sagging or unsupportive mattress, in which case a new bed may be the better option. That being said, if the firmness of your current mattress isn't a good match, a mattress topper can adjust the feeling of the bed enough to help relieve back pain.

What's the difference between a mattress pad and a mattress topper?

Mattress toppers and mattress pads are not the same thing. Mattress pads are thin layers designed to help protect the mattress, though some models provide a little cushioning. Pads can provide some added features like waterproofing or cooling. Mattress toppers are much more substantial. Rather than protecting the mattress, toppers are meant to modify the feel and firmness of the mattress.

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