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Key Takeaways
  • The best mattress topper for a college dorm bed should cushion pressure points without sacrificing support. When choosing a mattress topper, consider your body type, preferred sleep position, and attributes you value, such as firmness and temperature regulation. Other factors that may be particularly important to students include ease of cleaning, portability, and price.

College dorm beds aren’t known for their comfort, but it’s hard to justify spending money on a mattress that might only see a couple of years of use. Another solution is a mattress topper. A mattress topper can go a long way toward improving the performance of a college dorm bed without the need to invest in a whole new mattress.

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing a mattress topper. Toppers come in various types of materials, which can affect their ability to cushion and support the body, regulate temperature, and provide an inviting sleep surface. The topper also interacts with the mattress below, which is something to keep in mind when evaluating the firmness level.

We’ve rounded up a list of our top picks for mattress toppers for dorm beds in order to help students get the all-important rest they need for success in college.

Product Details

Sleepyhead Copper Topper

Best Overall

Sleepyhead Copper Topper

Brand Logo


2-3″ memory foam (copper-infused)


Medium Soft (4)
  • Who it’s best for

    1. Any dorm-dweller regardless of their bed’s size
    2. Those who are prone to back pain and pressure points along the spine
    3. Hot sleepers
  • Highlights

    1. Solid, copper-infused memory foam feels plush and resists overheating
    2. Available in five sizes and two profiles
    3. Cover is removable and machine-washable

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Get 10% off with code: SF10

Bottom Line

The Sleepyhead Copper Topper is a quintessential accessory for any dorm resident. Composed of adaptive memory foam, the topper is available in two profiles and cushioning levels to accommodate any dorm mattress — even models with considerable wear and tear.

Why It’s Best Overall

Many mattress toppers are perfectly suitable for dorm beds, but the Sleepyhead Copper Topper was designed specifically for this purpose. You can choose from five sizes, four of which correspond with common dorm mattress dimensions, as well as 2-inch and 3-inch profiles depending on how much cushioning you need to sleep soundly.

How It Performed

During our hands-on tests, most of our team members enjoyed the Copper Topper but differed in their opinion about which profile was most comfortable. Our side sleepers preferred the deep contouring and extra padding of the 3-inch model, which is slightly softer and more adaptive than the 2-inch. Back and stomach sleepers received a bit more support from the lower profile.

Temperature control tests revealed above-average cooling compared to other memory foam toppers we’ve evaluated. This can be attributed to the copper infusion, which helps the core resist heat buildup. We also found the topper effective at distributing weight and promoting even alignment, which in turn can reduce soreness and pressure points along the spine for sleepers who frequently experience upper or lower back pain.

What It’s Made of

The Copper Topper’s core contains solid memory foam measuring 2 or 3 inches thick, depending on which profile you choose. A knit polyester cover encases the foam. You may remove and machine wash the cover whenever it needs to be cleaned. Each corner features a thick elastic strap for securing the topper to your mattress, so there shouldn’t be too much shifting when you toss and turn or change sleep positions. Twin, twin XL, full, and full XL sizes are available, as is a queen option for dorm residents with private rooms or people who live off-campus.

All current students receive a 10% discount with their purchase. Standard ground shipping is free of charge, and all orders include a sleep trial that runs for 60 nights. Sleepyhead’s “Good Till Graduation Warranty” covers structural and material defects in the Copper Topper for up to 5 years after the purchase date.

Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper

Best Value

Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper (2.5 PCF)

Brand Logo


2-3″ gel-infused memory foam


Medium Soft (4)
  • Who it’s best for

    1. Side sleepers under 230 pounds and back sleepers under 130 pounds
    2. Those who like a softer sleep surface
    3. Students on a tight budget
  • Highlights

    1. Contouring foam cushions the hips and shoulders
    2. Competitive price-point
    3. Gel swirl in the foam engineered to reduce heat retention

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Parachute mattress toppers

Bottom Line

With a straightforward, no-frills design, the Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper offers plush comfort and significant pressure relief at a highly attractive price-point.

The Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper (2.5 PCF) is sold in 2-inch or 3-inch models, each made with gel-infused memory foam designed to cushion pressure points without overheating.

How It Performed

Our pressure mapping tests showed minimal stress at pressure points for side and back sleepers weighing up to 230 pounds. The memory foam contoured to typical problem areas like the hips, shoulders, and midsection, providing targeted relief that can facilitate better spinal alignment during sleep.

Compared to traditional memory foam, our testers also found that this topper retained less heat. The gel infusions and the structure of the memory foam itself are designed to resist heat collection and facilitate cooling airflow. 

What It’s Made Of

Shoppers can select a topper thickness of either 2 or 3 inches. Both models of the Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper are made entirely with memory foam and do not have a cover. 

The 3-inch topper is medium soft (4) and the 2-inch topper is medium (5), both of which are relatively plush. A soft sleep surface is often ideal for side sleepers who typically have more pronounced pressure points. However, people over 230 pounds and many back and stomach sleepers may find this topper to be too plush. 

This topper is a good match for students who want a topper with a simple design and affordable price that can hug the body to relieve pressure. Shipping is free to the contiguous U.S., and Brooklyn Bedding offers a 30-night sleep trial and a three-year limited warranty.

ViscoSoft Select High Density Topper

Most Comfortable

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

Brand Logo


Gel-Infused memory foam


Medium Firm (6)
  • Who it’s best for:

    1. Side sleepers over 130 pounds
    2. Back sleepers under 230 pounds
    3. Students wanting the contouring of memory foam without excess sink
  • Highlights:

    1. Medium firm (6) feel appeals to a broad range of sleepers
    2. Gel infusions are engineered to help limit heat buildup
    3. Removable cover enables easy cleaning

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

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

Bottom Line

This memory foam topper is designed to cushion pressure points for side and back sleepers. The Viscosoft Select High Density Mattress Topper also stands out for its superior temperature regulation compared to most other memory foam models.

Available in 3-inch or 4-inch models, the Viscosoft Select High Density Mattress Topper consists entirely of memory foam and has a medium firm (6) firmness level. The breathable cover and gel-infused foam are designed to mitigate heat retention.

How It Performed

Side and back sleepers on our testing team found that this memory foam topper contoured to the hips and shoulders, reducing pressure and supporting spinal alignment. Its performance was especially well-suited to side sleepers who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds and back sleepers under 230 pounds.

Testers on our team also found the topper outperformed the average memory foam topper in terms of temperature regulation. The topper’s gel-infused foam is intended to prevent heat from collecting in the foam, and tiny holes in the foam are designed to provide ventilation so that heat can escape out and away from the sleeping surface. 

Memory foam makes virtually no noise when bearing weight. Additionally, with its medium firm (6) feel, sleepers didn’t perceive that they were sinking too deeply into the topper. 

What It’s Made Of

The Viscosoft Select High Density Mattress Topper is made with gel-infused memory foam. Viscosoft offers the option of a 3-inch or 4-inch profile, both of which have a medium firm (6) feel. Given its thicker foam layer, the 4-inch model may be a better fit for people who have sharp pressure points. 

The topper has a breathable cover made with rayon derived from bamboo. To make cleaning easier, the cover is removable and machine-washable. It’s also equipped with adjustable straps as well as an anti-slip mesh bottom. Viscosoft offers upgraded topper options infused with lavender or charcoal intended to enhance other aspects of the topper’s performance. 

Our testing showed that the Viscosoft Select High Density Mattress Topper can meet the needs of most students who are looking for a truly comfortable topper that can also offer solid support. The topper is backed by a 90-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty. Toppers ship free to the contiguous U.S.

Saatva Latex Topper

Best Luxury

Saatva Mattress Topper

Brand Logo


Graphite-infused memory foam, ventilated Talalay latex, or high-density polyfoam


Medium Soft (4) or Medium (5)
  • Who it’s best for:

    1. Side and back sleepers
    2. People looking for a choice of topper materials
    3. Students who struggle to stay cool at night
  • Highlights:

    1. Offered in three different materials
    2. Elastic anchor bands built to prevent unintentional shifting
    3. Organic cotton cover

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

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

Bottom Line

With three options to choose from, the Saatva Mattress Topper is designed to entice a wide variety of sleepers. All three models offer above-average support and noise-free performance.

Saatva offers three different versions of its mattress topper, including one made with graphite-infused memory foam, another made with high-density polyfoam, and a third option made with durable Talalay latex.

How It Performed

Each version of the Saatva Mattress Topper appealed to different types of sleepers on our testing team. Side sleepers found that the polyfoam and graphite models provided solid cushioning to soften pressure points in the hips and shoulders. For our back sleepers, the latex model helped maintain spinal alignment. With the exception of those weighing less than 130 pounds, our stomach sleepers found all of the Saatva models a little too soft.

Temperature tests revealed that the Talalay latex did very well at deflecting heat buildup on the surface of the bed. Although not quite as cool, the foam models were found to be about average at temperature regulation. 

What It’s Made Of

The Saatva Mattress Topper comes in three options. Each model is wrapped in a breathable organic cotton cover and equipped with elastic bands to help secure the topper to the mattress.

The firmest and most economical topper, rating a medium (5) for firmness, is made with 1.5 inches of high-density polyfoam. Back sleepers under 230 pounds on our testing team found that the polyfoam in this topper provided the right level of contouring and support. 

The medium soft (4) graphite model is constructed with 1 inch of graphite-infused memory foam over 2 inches of transitional polyfoam. The memory foam adds a boost of contouring and pressure relief for side and back sleepers under 230 pounds, and the graphite infusions are engineered to limit heat buildup. The polyfoam base helps reduce the feeling of sinking too far into the bed.

Back sleepers and side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds may prefer the latex option, consisting of 1.5 inches of ventilated Talalay latex. With its medium soft (4) firmness, the latex topper has a springier feel that facilitates movement for people who frequently change their sleeping position over the course of the night. Its temperature neutrality makes this option the best fit for hot sleepers.

All of the Saatva Mattress Toppers show attention-to-detail in their construction, and the choice of options allows virtually any student to find a good fit for their needs. The Saatva Mattress Topper ships free to the lower 48 states, and it’s backed by a 180-night sleep trial and a one-year limited warranty.

Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper

Best Cooling

Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper

Brand Logo


Talalay Latex


Medium (5)
  • Who it’s best for

    1. Shoppers who value natural materials
    2. Combination sleepers
    3. Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Highlights

    1. Made with naturally breathable, durable, and environmentally friendly materials
    2. Provides supportive pressure relief in all sleep positions
    3. Springiness of latex enables sleepers to switch positions with ease

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this link for the most current Birch discounts

Bottom Line

Priced attractively considering its all-natural materials, the Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper offers breathability, support, and bounce for eco-conscious shoppers.

The Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper is made with a combination of organic cotton, organic wool, and natural Talalay latex. Its 2-inch profile and medium (5) firmness make it suitable for sleepers of most weights and sleeping positions.

How It Performed

Side, back, and stomach sleepers on our team all rated the Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper highly. With a medium (5) firmness, the topper relieves pressure points without sinking or sagging. The topper performed best for those under 230 pounds. However, since latex does not compress as much as memory foam, stomach sleepers and those over 230 pounds still received a modest amount of support despite the topper’s firmness level.

Unsurprisingly, the topper excelled at resisting heat buildup thanks to its airy cotton cover and layers of breathable wool and ventilated Talalay latex. Latex also has a natural bounce that facilitates movement on top of the bed. This is helpful for those who frequently change sleeping positions, and it is also a desirable trait for sex.

What It’s Made Of

The Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper is crafted with an organic cotton cover lined with organic wool fibers that add softness and double as a fire retardant, eliminating the need for fire-repellent chemicals. Cotton and wool are highly breathable, and wool has a naturally resilient structure that adds a subtle springiness.

The bulk of the topper is made with natural Talalay latex, a material that can accommodate pressure points while maintaining bounce and responsiveness. Altogether, the topper measures approximately 2 inches thick and has a medium (5) firmness level.

This topper is most compelling for people who want a topper with eco-friendly materials, including materials with certifications from the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Greenguard Gold. It is also a top choice for people who want a topper made with latex instead of foam. For each topper, Birch Living offers free shipping, a 100-night sleep trial, and a 10-year warranty.

Product page photo of the Coop Sleep Goods Essentials Dorm Bundle

Best Bundle Option

Coop Sleep Goods Essentials Dorm Bundle

Brand Logo




Cross-cut memory foam and down alternative fibers


Medium Soft (4)
  • Who it’s best for

    1. Students who sleep on twin XL mattresses
    2. Those who need plush surfaces to sleep comfortably
    3. Sleepers who frequently change positions or toss and turn
  • Highlights

    1. Discounted bundle includes a mattress topper and waterproof pad
    2. Quilted topper packed with plush fill consisting of shredded memory foam and down alternative fibers
    3. Thick corner straps secure the topper and prevent it from shifting

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this link for the most current Coop Sleep discounts

Bottom Line

The Essentials Dorm Bundle includes a mattress topper and waterproof pad, allowing you to optimize your sleep surface at a discounted price. Coop Sleep Goods’ proprietary fill blend ensures a plush and adaptive feel for the topper, and the pad is composed of moisture-wicking fabric to help you stay dry at night.

If you’re shopping for a mattress topper and pad, Coop Sleep Goods lets you save some money with the Essentials Dorm Bundle. Both items are thoughtfully constructed and — as our testing shows — can significantly improve the comfort level of your room’s sleep space. 

How It Performed

During our hands-on test, most team members found the Retreat Mattress Topper comfortable. Side sleepers appreciated the shredded foam’s contouring properties, while back sleepers enjoyed the gusseted design and mid-range 2-inch profile — both of these traits ensure the topper doesn’t sink excessively despite the plush feel. The corner straps are another notable feature. When testing the topper for stability, we noticed minimal shifting with all four straps secured to the mattress.

Our team tested the Ultra Luxe Waterproof Mattress Protector, as well. Many protectors we’ve tested sleep warm because their waterproof membranes trap heat, but the Ultra Luxe is made from a moisture-wicking blend of bamboo-derived viscose and polyester. This fabrication allowed the protector to perform well during temperature control tests.

What It’s Made of

The Retreat Mattress Topper contains the same fill blend that has made Coop Sleep Goods pillows so popular. Shredded memory foam combined with down alternative fibers creates a feel that’s both plush and adaptive, and quilting with thick baffle boxes makes the topper feel exceptionally soft. A shell composed of smooth microfiber encases the fill. Each corner is equipped with a sturdy elastic strap designed to snugly secure the topper to your mattress.

The Ultra Luxe Waterproof Mattress Protector’s fabric blend is 60% polyester and 40% viscose derived from bamboo. Polyurethane backing forms the waterproof membrane. The pad has an elasticated perimeter, and the pocket depth is 15 inches. The protector is fully machine-washable. Please note the topper and pad are both intended for use with twin XL mattresses.

If you are interested in the Retreat Mattress Topper but not the Ultra Luxe Waterproof Mattress Protector, or vice versa, Coop Sleep Goods offers a 10% student discount on all individual product orders. This discount is not valid for bundles. Standard shipping is free of charge within the contiguous U.S. Each order comes with a 100-night trial period, and you’ll also receive a 5-year warranty for both items.

Best for Spinal Alignment

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper

Brand Logo


TEMPUR Memory Foam


Medium (5)
  • Who it’s best for:

    1. Side and back sleepers
    2. Students who want the feel of contouring memory foam
    3. Shoppers looking to invest in a durable mattress topper
  • Highlights:

    1. High-quality memory foam provides cushioning and support
    2. Generates virtually no noise
    3. Cooling features available for an extra fee

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Get 40% off with code TOPPERS40

Bottom Line

Tempur-Pedic is known for the quality of its memory foam, and the TEMPUR-Adapt Topper does not disappoint. Side and back sleepers receive targeted support from this topper to keep the spine on an even plane.

The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper contains 3 inches of TEMPUR memory foam with a medium (5) firmness. For an extra fee, Tempur-Pedic offers an upgraded cover with cooling technology.

How It Performed

This topper formed a snug cradle for side sleepers on our testing team, allowing the hips and shoulders to sink in just enough so the spine could rest in a neutral position. Likewise, back sleepers found that the topper cushioned the lumbar area and supported the hips. Although stomach sleepers generally require a firmer sleep surface, the TEMPUR-Adapt Topper provided decent spinal support for testers under 230 pounds.

Our heat mapping did reveal that the topper retains some warmth, which is to be expected with a memory foam topper. Hot sleepers may want to consider the additional features offered by the TEMPUR-Adapt+ Cooling Topper.

What It’s Made Of

The TEMPUR-Adapt Topper is built with 3 inches of proprietary TEMPUR memory foam. With a medium (5) firmness, the topper contours closely to the sleeper to alleviate pressure points.

Elastic straps help secure the topper to the bed, so it doesn’t move when you switch sleeping positions. Removable and washable, the cover is made with a stretchy knit material designed to increase airflow. For an extra fee, shoppers can upgrade to a topper cover with supplemental cooling features.

Overall, the TEMPUR-Adapt Topper offers a high level of spinal support and comfort from a well-known name in the mattress industry. For this topper, Tempur-Pedic offers free shipping to the contiguous U.S. and a 10-year limited warranty.

Puffy Mattress Topper - Soft

Best Pressure Relief

Puffy Mattress Topper

Brand Logo


2.5″ memory foam


Soft (3), Firm (7)
  • Who it’s best for

    1. Stomach and back sleepers who can select the firm topper
    2. People who want a notably plush bed who can pick the soft model
    3. Sleepers with pronounced pressure points
  • Highlights

    1. Competitive price-point
    2. Choice of two firmness options
    3. Free shipping to all 50 states

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Puffy mattress toppers

Bottom Line

Available in soft or firm versions, the Puffy Mattress Topper is ideal for budget-conscious students. Its pressure-relieving memory foam can help a dorm bed provide essential comfort and support.

The Puffy Mattress Topper is a memory foam model sold in two options: soft (3) or firm (7). The cover has deep, elastic pockets designed for a snug fit and is removable for easy washing.

How It Performed

In our sleep lab, the Puffy Mattress Topper showed a clear ability to provide pressure relief. That said, there were marked differences between the soft (3) and firm (7) models of the Puffy Mattress Topper. Side sleepers and people under 130 pounds on our testing team preferred the soft (3) mattress topper, which cradled the hips and shoulders to minimize pressure points. 

Back and stomach sleepers leaned toward the firm (7) model, which more effectively supported the midsection to keep the spine from dipping into an uncomfortable U-shape. People over 230 pounds said the firmer topper provided more meaningful support. Testers found it easier to switch sleeping positions on this model, and heat mapping tests revealed the firm topper retained less heat than the soft topper.

What It’s Made Of

Built with 2.5 inches of memory foam, the Puffy Mattress Topper comes in two firmness options that shoppers can select at the time of purchase. The soft (3) version conforms closely to the body, delivering pressure relief that is well suited to most side sleepers. The firm (7) model is designed for those who prefer less sink, such as back and stomach sleepers.

The Puffy Topper attaches to the bed with an elastic extension that wraps around the bottom of the bed, in a manner similar to a fitted sheet. This design is intended to keep the topper firmly in place throughout the night, and it can fit mattresses up to 15 inches tall. The cover, which is made from a blend of polyester and rayon from bamboo, can be removed for washing.

With an affordable price-point, the Puffy Mattress Topper offers a choice of firmness options without breaking the bank. In addition, Puffy provides a 101-night sleep trial, a lifetime warranty, and free shipping to all 50 states.

Layla Memory Foam Topper

Best for Side Sleepers

Layla Memory Foam Topper

Brand Logo


2″ Copper Gel-Infused Memory Foam


Soft (3)
  • Who it’s best for

    1. Those who like a very plush sleep surface
    2. Side sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds
    3. People who want a mattress with deep contouring
  • Highlights

    1. Copper gel infusions engineered to reduce heat retention
    2. All-foam design promotes quiet performance
    3. Lightweight build makes it easy to transport

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this link for the most current Layla discounts

Bottom Line

The Layla Memory Foam Topper provides significant conforming and a plush feel that’s ideal for side sleepers under 130 pounds. Features like copper gel infusions and a lightweight, breathable cover are engineered to help keep the topper cool through the night.

Made with plush memory foam, the Layla Memory Foam Topper helps cradle the body and cushion pressure points. Design elements like copper gel-infused foam and a ThermoGEL agent in the cover are included to promote temperature neutrality.

How It Performed

In our testing, the Layla Memory Foam Topper stood out for pressure relief, particularly when our testers were sleeping on their side. Side sleepers often experience bothersome impact near the hips and shoulders, which bear most of the weight in this position. The plush memory foam helped hug and cushion these areas, especially for people who weigh under 130 pounds. While some people over 130 pounds also liked this topper in our testing, others found it to be too soft.

Back sleepers on our team who weigh under 130 pounds also rated the Layla Memory Foam Topper well, noting that it provided even conforming with just the right touch of support to prevent lower back pain. Back sleepers over 130 pounds and most stomach sleepers found the memory foam to have too much sink. 

Like most memory foam toppers, the Layla effectively absorbed motion and noise. In our tests, the cooling features also did their job, helping attenuate the heat buildup that is common with traditional memory foam. 

What It’s Made Of

The Layla Memory Foam Topper is built with 2 inches of memory foam with a soft (3) firmness level. Copper gel is infused into the memory foam with the goal of keeping heat from building up around the sleeper. At just 11 pounds for a twin size, the Layla Mattress Topper is practical and easy to move when changing dorm rooms.

The cover is made with polyester, viscose, and lycra, and it contains a ThermoGEL agent engineered to cool things down when body temperature rises.

For students who want a plush feel to their bed but want to avoid overheating, the Layla Memory Foam topper can deliver impressive results. Layla offers free shipping to the contiguous U.S., and the topper comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our selection of the best mattress toppers for college dorm beds is carefully curated based on extensive testing and research. For this list, we paid particular attention to features that would be desirable in a college dorm setup, such as portability and ease of cleaning.

All of the toppers on this list have been personally tested by our experienced team. Because body weight and sleeping style can influence the performance of a mattress topper, our testing team includes sleepers with different body types and preferred sleeping positions. We also use pressure mapping and motion sensors to compare the attributes of each topper. These objective tests help us draw a fair comparison between different models.

How to Choose a Mattress Topper for a Dorm Bed

College dorm beds are notoriously uncomfortable. Poor sleep can lead to poor mental health, making an already disruptive life transition even more challenging. One of the best ways to combat this discomfort is with a mattress topper. 

A mattress topper is a layer of material placed on top of a mattress but below the fitted sheet. They usually run about 1 to 3 inches thick and can do wonders in changing the feel of a bed. There are many toppers on the market and a host of factors to think about when looking for the right mattress topper to bring to college. We’ll walk you through common considerations. 

What to Consider When Purchasing a Mattress Topper for a Dorm

Between different materials, budgets, and sleep preferences, choosing the right mattress topper for a dorm bed can be difficult. While no two sleepers have the same needs, all shoppers should consider certain factors when buying a mattress topper for a dorm bed.


When purchasing a mattress topper, it is important to look for an option that matches the size of your dorm bed. Most college dorm mattresses are twin XL size, but this can vary by school. Make sure you know your mattress size before making a purchase.


Mattress toppers can cost anywhere from under $100 to over $400 depending on factors like materials and size. Since most college beds use twin XL mattresses, a dorm mattress topper may fall on the lower end of the average price range. 

Sleeping Position

The ideal mattress topper for your dorm bed depends on your sleeping position. Back and stomach sleepers traditionally need more support, whereas side sleepers tend to prefer extra contouring.


The thicker the mattress topper, the more it can affect the feel of the sleep surface. However, many college dorm beds are lofted, meaning a thicker mattress topper might present safety issues. The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires that the top of a bunk bed guardrail be at least 5 inches above the sleep surface. Keep in mind that adding a topper raises the sleep surface, so you may need higher guardrails. Also, factor in the ceiling height to ensure the sleeper won’t bump their head when they sit up. 

Firmness Level

One of the chief benefits of a mattress topper is that it can alter the feel of your bed, helping to make a firm bed softer and vice versa. The best firmness for you depends on many factors, particularly sleeping position and body type. For example, if you’re over 230 pounds, a firmer mattress topper can add support to promote better posture. On the other hand, if you’re under 130 pounds, softer options should allow you to sink in more for greater pressure relief.

Quality Materials

High-quality topper materials tend to offer better support, comfort, and durability. However, as with many products, premium materials typically cost more. The level of quality necessary for a dorm mattress topper may vary based on your intended usage. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, temporary fix, quality might not be a high priority. However, if you hope to use the topper for several years, it may be more affordable to purchase a well-made model upfront rather than replacing it every year or two. 

Pressure Relief

If a mattress topper provides good pressure relief, that means it redistributes body weight to minimize sore spots. Pressure relief is generally critical for side sleepers since their hips and shoulders often dig into the mattress. Dorm mattresses are usually relatively firm, so many shoppers look for a mattress topper with notable contouring to prevent pressure buildup. 

Cooling Properties

A cooling mattress topper is designed to regulate temperature, preventing sleepers from overheating. Temperature control varies between materials. Latex, wool, and open-cell polyfoam are popular for their ability to dissipate heat. While memory foam’s density and close hug tend to trap heat, many manufacturers include specially engineered materials intended to counteract this effect. 

Which Type of Mattress Topper Should I Choose?

The best mattress topper for you depends on a variety of factors, including sleep position, body type, and budget. Different materials are better suited to different needs, so shoppers should understand the basics of each type of mattress topper. 

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattress toppers are known for their close-conforming pressure relief. Side sleepers with an overly firm dorm mattress may prefer a memory foam topper to spread their weight more evenly across the surface and promote neutral spinal alignment. The material’s ability to absorb motion may also help reduce mattress and bedframe noises. 


Polyfoam mattress toppers offer responsive conforming without as much hug as memory foam. They also tend to be more affordable, so they’re well suited to college students looking for a boost in comfort without breaking the bank.


Latex mattress toppers are popular for their buoyancy, durability, and temperature control. Two formulations are available: Talalay latex and Dunlop latex. Talalay latex toppers tend to be light and airy. Side sleepers with a dorm bed that’s too firm may prefer this formulation. Dunlop latex toppers are typically firmer, making them especially well suited to back and stomach sleepers.

Feather and Down

Feather and down mattress toppers are generally soft and plush, making them ideal for people looking to add cushioning to a firm dorm mattress. Feather fill typically offers a bit more support than down, but neither of these materials is known for its support. Therefore, they’re usually not a top choice for back or stomach sleepers.

What Are the Benefits of a Mattress Topper in a College Dorm? 

A mattress topper allows a college student to customize their sleep experience by altering the feel, support, and breathability of their assigned mattress. In the process, it can take a generic dorm bed and make it better suited to an individual’s needs and preferences. A topper can do this in a few ways:

  • Extra comfort: One of the chief benefits of adding a mattress topper to a dorm bed is added comfort. A mattress topper can enhance softness, support, contouring, or temperature regulation depending on its design.
  • Mattress protection: Colleges often charge fees if a dorm mattress is damaged. Toppers provide a layer of protection against wear and tear, which might make it easier to return the mattress in acceptable condition. 
  • Stronger support: Many dorm beds are thin and rigid, offering minimal support and contouring. A mattress topper can improve pressure relief and promote better spinal alignment to reduce aches and pains.
  • Better cooling: Certain mattress toppers can improve air circulation around your body, allowing heat to escape. If a dorm lacks air conditioning, a breathable topper may be critical to overall comfort.

Mattress Topper vs. Mattress Pad

The biggest difference between a mattress topper and a mattress pad is the thickness. Mattress toppers typically run between 1 and 3 inches, whereas mattress pads are much thinner. Both rest on top of the mattress underneath the fitted sheet, but they vary in what they accomplish. 

A mattress topper can significantly alter the softness or firmness of a bed. In contrast, a mattress pad adds a bit of cushioning without changing the overall firmness of the sleep surface. While a topper can extend the life expectancy of the mattress by shielding it from general wear and tear, a pad protects against accidents and contaminants. 

Because of their different purposes, a mattress topper and a mattress pad pair well together. You can put the topper on the mattress and the pad over the topper. This combination can simultaneously protect the mattress itself and the topper. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mattress Toppers

Where can I buy a mattress topper?

You can buy a mattress topper from a variety of online and brick-and-mortar stores that sell mattresses. Many mattress manufacturers also sell other sleep products, so you may be able to purchase toppers directly through their websites.

What size mattress topper is best for a college dorm bed?

Most dorm beds are twin XL size, making that the most common size for dorm bed mattress toppers. However, mattress size varies between dorms, so check your bed size before buying a topper. Your college’s housing department should be able to tell you what mattress size you’ll have.

How thick should a mattress topper be for a college dorm bed?

The ideal mattress topper thickness for a college dorm bed varies based on individual needs and preferences. Mattress toppers usually run between 1 and 3 inches in thickness. The thicker the mattress topper, the more it can adjust the firmness and support of your mattress. 

If you’re using a lofted bed, you should also take safety into account. The guardrails should be at least 5 inches higher than the combined thickness of the mattress and topper. Also, measure to make sure the sleeper can sit up comfortably without bumping their head on the ceiling.

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

A mattress topper is significantly thicker than a mattress pad, meaning it can have a greater impact on comfort and support. A mattress pad is better suited to protecting a mattress against damage from liquids or dirt.

How much does a mattress topper cost?

The cost of a mattress topper varies depending on its size and materials, but most models run from $150 to $450. Like many products, mattress toppers made from higher-quality materials usually cost more. This means that toppers made from materials like wool, latex, down, or memory foam might be at the higher end of that price range. That said, higher-quality materials also frequently last longer.

Do you need a bigger sheet if you have a mattress topper?

If the combined height of your mattress and mattress topper is over 14 inches, you may need deep pocket sheets. In these sets, the fitted sheet has a deeper pocket to accommodate a thicker mattress. However, most dorm mattresses are relatively thin, so it’s unlikely that adding a topper will increase the profile to over 14 inches.

How do I clean a mattress topper?

Mattress topper care guidelines vary depending on the materials and construction. Most can be vacuumed, sprinkled with baking soda, and then vacuumed again. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to prevent damage.

Still have questions?

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