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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, and 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.
Check out the product profiles below to learn about our top picks. We’ve awarded each mattress an accolade that highlights one of its key strengths. For more information about finding a mattress that can reduce back pain, scroll down to our detailed buyer’s guide. We’ll cover different mattress types, important considerations for sleepers with back pain, average price-points, and what you can expect from a new mattress in terms of shipping options and sleep trials.
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Every person with back pain has different needs from their sleep surface based on factors like body type and preferred sleep position. The Saatva Mattress Topper caters to a wide range of sleepers because it is available in three distinct designs.
The Foam topper is the least expensive of three. The feel is considered medium (5), which also makes this topper the firmest option. The topper consists of a single layer of high-density polyfoam measuring 1.5 inches thick. Stomach sleepers may feel comfortable thanks to the low profile, but the foam contours evenly to promote even alignment and reduce pressure points for side and back sleepers – especially those who weigh 230 pounds or less.
The Graphite topper is the thickest model with a 3-inch profile, and its feel is medium soft (4). The top layer is composed of memory foam infused with graphite, which has cooling properties to help regulate the surface temperature, while the base layer is a high-density polyfoam. Side sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds should feel comfortable on the topper, and the same is true for back and stomach sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds.
Lastly, the Latex topper has a 1.5-inch profile and a medium soft (4) feel. Latex conforms to the body without hugging too closely, so this topper may be a good fit for sleepers who find the contouring of memory foam too intrusive. The material is also perforated with small holes to circulate air, so hot sleepers will likely prefer this topper over the other two – though it is the most expensive option.
All three toppers include covers made of breathable organic cotton. The fabric has earned certification from the Global Organic Textile Standard, a leading global authority for this type of material. Each topper is also equipped with thick corner straps to prevent shifting and bunching during the night. This ensures the topper will stay in place for people who toss and turn or change positions while they sleep.
Saatva provides free ground shipping for all customers in the contiguous U.S. Each purchase comes with a 45-night sleep trial for testing out the topper, along with a one-year warranty against structural defects that kicks in once the trial period ends.
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PandaZzz’s Double Quilted Topper has a medium firm (6) feel and a layer of dense memory foam to support a variety of sleepers. The topper also offers excellent pressure relief at a reasonable price compared to competing toppers.
The cover is made from a breathable jacquard-knit fabric that helps maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the night. A Cool & Flex memory foam layer adds a plushness to the topper and closely contours the hips and shoulders. Next is a layer of AirCell memory foam, which is ventilated for enhanced cooling and is also denser to provide further support. The PandaZzz topper’s breathable design ranks it higher than most other foam toppers when it comes to temperature regulation. Anti-slip nubs cover the bottom of the topper to reduce shifting.
Side and back sleepers should appreciate the balance of contour and support from the topper. The adaptive foam top layer and supportive AirCell foam layer allow sleepers to sink in comfortably while lifting the hips in line with the spine. The plush foam design also absorbs most movement. People who awaken from the noise or feel of a partner’s movement should notice very few disturbances.
PandaZzz has free ground shipping on all orders and a 100-night sleep trial. Purchasing the Double Quilted Topper comes with a 1-year warranty.
Best Firmness Options
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The key to alleviating back pain is to sleep on a surface that provides the right balance of cushioning and support for your body. The PlushBeds Latex Mattress Topper can accommodate most people thanks to its versatile design. Customers choose from five different firmness levels: soft (3), medium soft (4), medium (5), medium firm (6), and extra firm (8). This selection should suit a wide range of sleepers regardless of their body type or sleep position.
The topper is also available in profiles of 2 or 3 inches. The latter significantly alters the feel of your sleep surface, making it the best option if your mattress has become very uneven or indented over time. The 2-inch profile changes the surface to a lesser extent and should provide an adequate comfort adjustment for any mattress with moderate wear and tear.
All versions of the topper are composed of natural Talalay latex, a material renowned for its durability and temperature regulation. The latex cushions and conforms to the body without the tight “hug” many people dislike about memory foam. Latex is also responsive, so you can expect a light bounce when you get in and out of bed as opposed to the sinking sensation of foam.
The latex is ventilated with holes to ensure plenty of airflow. PlushBeds offers an optional cover made of breathable, moisture-wicking organic cotton if you’d like to protect the topper without sacrificing breathability. This cover can be washed and dried in household machines for quick and easy care.
PlushBeds provides free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Although the company does not allow returns for the topper, your purchase will be backed by a 5-year warranty against structural defects.
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The GhostBed Memory Foam Topper has cooling features and a contouring design that should appeal to shoppers who value a soft, comfortable sleep surface.
The 3-inch topper is made of memory foam that conforms closely to your body, creating a hugging sensation that fans of memory foam find comfortable. The topper is designed with different zones that vary in firmness and support. This means that the surface provides more cushioning for common pressure areas, such as the shoulders, while delivering more support to areas of the body that need it, such as the back and hips.
Though memory foam is known for trapping body heat, this topper is specifically designed to reduce heat retention. The foam is infused with a cooling gel that helps regulate temperature and the cover is made with a proprietary Ghost Ice fabric that feels cool to the touch. Channels in the topper also enable air to flow more freely than conventional memory foam.
The cover is waterproof and designed to fit entirely over both the mattress and topper. A 2-inch elastic band helps keep the cover in place over the bed. The band has a pocket depth of 18 inches. Shoppers can pick from seven standard sizes for the topper, including split king.
GhostBed ships free within the contiguous U.S. While the topper comes with a 5-year warranty, it is not returnable.
Best Pressure Relief
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A mattress that feels too stiff can not only exacerbate back pain but also lead to new aches and pressure points. If you own a mattress that you now find excessively firm or rigid, then the Brooklyn Bedding Cooling Talalay Latex Topper might be a temporary fix before you purchase a new bed. The topper’s 3-inch profile and medium feel can make any mattress feel considerably softer and gentler on your body.
Since the core is composed of latex, most side and back sleepers receive the cushioning they need without the deep hug or bothersome heat retention some people experience with memory foam. The mid-range firmness is particularly well suited to those who primarily sleep in these positions and weigh between 130 and 230 pounds.
The cover is another component that contributes to the topper’s above-average temperature regulation. Composed of proprietary fabric that feels cool to the touch, the cover is designed to capture and release body heat. Owners can remove and machine wash the cover whenever it needs to be cleaned.
The Cooling Talalay Latex Topper is available in six different sizes, each of which corresponds to standard mattress dimensions. Brooklyn Bedding offers free ground delivery for all orders in the contiguous U.S. You’ll receive a 30-night sleep trial for testing out the topper, as well as a 3-year warranty against structural defects.
Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Puffy mattress toppers
A soft mattress topper can be useful for sleepers with back pain who sleep on their sides or backs – especially if they weigh 230 pounds or less. The Puffy Mattress Topper is constructed from pure memory foam that cushions the spine and reduces discomfort in the shoulders, lumbar region, and hips. Available in two feels, the soft (3) option contours very closely for side and back sleepers in the aforementioned weight group. The firm (7) feel will likely be more comfortable for people who weigh more than 230 pounds.
One notable feature of this topper is its cover, which is composed of polyester blended with bamboo-derived fabric. The latter offers exceptional breathability to help the topper retain less body heat and sleep reasonably cool. The cover is designed like a fitted sheet with elasticated corners. Thanks to a pocket depth of 15 inches, the cover should fit on most mattresses sold today. The cover is completely machine-washable. Small grooves on the bottom of the topper help keep it in place, so it shouldn’t shift too much during the night.
The Puffy Mattress Topper is available in six sizes that correspond to standard mattress dimensions. It is priced competitively and ground shipping is free of charge for all customers in the contiguous U.S. Each order includes a sleep trial that spans 101 nights in length, as well as a lifetime warranty for those who keep the topper.
Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Birch mattress toppers
Constructed of natural materials, the Birch Mattress Topper adds softness and contouring without skimping on the support. This may give back pain sufferers a nice balance of pressure relief and support.
The cover of the Birch Mattress Topper uses organic cotton. This material is soft-to-the-touch, breathable, and slightly stretchy. A layer of organic wool serves as a fire retardant. Wool also has strong temperature-regulating properties, pulling away heat and moisture to help keep the sleeper cool and dry. Finally, a layer of natural Talalay latex gives plushness and pressure relief with a bouncy, responsive feel. Talalay latex is also very breathable to help the topper maintain a more neutral temperature. In total, the Birch Mattress Topper measures 3 inches thick.
Due to its medium firmness, the Birch Mattress Topper feels a bit plush. This may make it especially well-suited for sleepers who weigh under 230 pounds or who are looking for a softer sleep surface.
Latex has low point elasticity, which means that it compresses over a wider area rather than directly under the sleeper’s body. This lends to pressure relief without as much sinkage or hug as most synthetic foams, so the Birch Mattress Topper may also be a good choice for individuals who want pressure relief but prefer the sensation of sleeping “on” the bed to sleeping “in” the bed.
The Birch Mattress Topper comes with a 100-night trial period to try the topper at home. It also has a 10-year limited warranty.
In order to bring our readers the most useful recommendations for mattresses and other sleep products, we’ve gathered a team of industry experts. Each member brings years of experience to our hands-on tests, and our team represents a wide spectrum of sleepers in terms of body type and preferred position to ensure our results are inclusive of everyone. We’ve personally tested hundreds of mattresses, 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 team is also well versed with mattress toppers. The top picks we’ve chosen for this guide should be considered temporary fixes for back pain, rather than a permanent solution to a saggy, uneven mattress. To create our list of the best toppers for back pain, we evaluated each one 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.
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.
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 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 usually like 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 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.
Any type of mattress topper may have potential pros and cons. Depending on their personal preferences, back pain sufferers may enjoy different toppers.
As memory foam toppers conform closely to the sleeper’s body, many back pain sufferers 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 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 is prized for its pressure relief, breathability, and durability. Mattress toppers constructed of latex 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 back pain sufferers 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.
Pillow top mattress toppers often use feather and/or fiber fill. These 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 back pain sufferers.
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.
Memory foam, polyfoam, and latex toppers tend to be most popular with those who suffer from 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.
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.
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.
Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market. Send an email to [email protected] with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
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