We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

If a person feels that their mattress is too soft or lacks support, using a firm mattress topper may help. A topper can be an easy and affordable way to add firmness to a mattress without replacing it.

Quick links

Using a mattress that offers a lack of support can cause poor spinal alignment. This can result in increased muscle tension, as the muscles will need to work harder to stabilize the spine. A mattress topper may help with this.

Pros of a firm mattress topper

  • They add greater support and spinal alignment.
  • They are often more affordable than replacing a mattress.
  • They allow a person to test a firmer sleeping surface without investing in a new mattress.
  • They are easy to transport if sleeping away from home.
  • They are useful for adapting a mattress to different sleepers or sleeping styles.

Cons of a firm mattress topper

  • Some polyurethane mattress toppers may contain harmful volatile organic compounds, which may cause health problems, such as respiratory issues, headaches, organ damage, and cancer.
  • Mattress toppers may contain toxic fire retardants, which may cause harmful health effects, such as hormone disruption, cancer, and neurological issues.
  • PVC or vinyl covers may contain harmful chemicals, which may damage developing reproductive systems.
  • A mattress topper may not be effective if a mattress is sagging or has large soft spots.
  • Some toppers can be expensive, so people may find it better to invest in a new mattress, depending on the results they want.

There are several factors a person may consider before buying a mattress topper. These include:

  • Cooling properties: If a person experiences overheating while sleeping, they may wish to look for breathability and cooling features, especially in foam mattress toppers, which can trap heat.
  • Support: If a person is looking for extra support, they may wish to look for a topper that supports spinal alignment and relieves pressure points.
  • Durability: It may be best to look for long lasting, durable materials, such as natural latex, which is more durable than petroleum-based foams.
  • Thickness: Mattress toppers come in a range of thicknesses — usually, the thicker the mattress topper, the plusher the feel.
  • Sleeping position: Side sleepers may be more comfortable with a medium thickness mattress topper, whereas back and front sleepers may prefer medium-firm feels. However, firmness is subjective, and people should purchase the mattress topper that offers the support they require.
  • Price: Investing in a high quality product may initially be more expensive, but this may maximize longevity.
  • Cleaning: Some mattress toppers may be spot clean only, so it may be best to consider a removable, washable cover.

Certifications

Some mattress toppers use more sustainable production methods and materials than others. Certifications can indicate a lower environmental impact of a product, as well as nontoxicity.

For example, people can look for the following certifications:

Products with a warranty and sleep trial allow people to test a product before committing.

Medical News Today chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria:

  • Certifications: MNT chooses products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that the products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
  • Size: MNT chooses products available in various sizes.
  • Materials and fill: MNT selects products made from different materials and fills, such as memory foam and latex, to suit a range of sleep and lifestyles.
  • Budget: MNT features products available in a wide range of budgets.
  • Firmness: MNT selects mattresses that are available in a range of firmness options to suit most sleeping styles. This criterion is only applicable to some products.
  • Sleep trials: MNT chooses companies that offer a sleep trial.
  • Shipping: MNT will include shipping information, such as where the company delivers to and whether shipping is free.
  • Warranties and return policies: MNT will include products that carry warranties and clear returns policies.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publishing.

PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper

The PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper uses 100% natural Talalay latex.

People can choose from four different firmness levels, including firm and extra firm. The company also offers two thickness options: 2 inches (in) and 3 in.

This mattress topper is:

  • designed to relieve pressure points
  • hypoallergenic
  • odor-free
  • antimicrobial
  • dust mite resistant
  • designed to allow airflow

It also has OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 and GREENGUARD Gold certification.

This product is available starting from $230.

Avocado Vegan Topper

The Avocado Vegan Topper uses organic latex and cotton, and people can choose a firm option.

This mattress topper:

  • uses GOLS-certified latex for gentle support
  • uses GOTS-certified cotton for cooling and wicking moisture
  • has certification from Vegan Action, Made Safe, and GREENGUARD Gold
  • has carbon negative production and shipping

This product is available starting from $349.

Sealy Essentials Mattress Topper

The Sealy Essentials is a 3-in firm foam mattress topper.

It contains gel-infused memory foam to help regulate temperature while sleeping.

This mattress topper is medium-soft and contours to the body.

It has generally received positive online reviews.

This product is available starting from $126.49.

ViscoSoft Mattress Topper

The ViscoSoft Mattress Topper is a 3-in, high density memory foam topper with a medium-firm feel. There are seven size options, and it has a removable, washable, and hypoallergenic cover.

The company claims that this mattress topper is durable and minimizes motion transfer, which is useful when multiple people share a bed. The topper is slip-resistant and comes with straps to secure it to the mattress.

The gel-infused memory foam can help regulate temperature during sleep.

This product is available starting from $129.95.

BedStory Mattress Topper

This CertiPUR-US-certified memory foam topper features natural lavender oil for a relaxing scent.

The memory foam also has ventilation for airflow, and it contours to the body. This helps relieve pressure points and evenly support body weight.

Customers can choose from five size options and 2-, 3-, or 4-in thickness.

The mattress topper is hypoallergenic.

This product is available starting from $92.63.

Molecule Triple Zone Pro Mattress Topper

The company has specifically designed this mattress topper to provide support and pressure relief. Three targeted zones support different areas of the body.

The company claims that this mattress topper helps regulate temperature, allows airflow, and controls moisture.

This CertiPUR-US-certified mattress topper is available in six size options.

This product is available starting from $199.

Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress Topper

This CertiPUR-US-certified mattress topper uses green tea and charcoal to eliminate odors and reduce moisture.

The topper comes in six sizes and various thickness options, ranging from 1.5 to 4 in.

Layers of memory foam and high density foam contour to the body, which may help ease physical aches and pains.

This product is available starting from $32.96.

A firm mattress topper may benefit various groups of people.

People who do not sleep well

Researchers in a 2015 review identified the following factors that can affect the quality of sleep:

The review had a particular emphasis on sleep quality in older adults, stating that aging itself can affect the sleep cycle and make people more likely to wake up.

Researchers found results that suggested a medium-firm mattress can improve sleep quality from the first week of use. However, they called for further studies to investigate longer-term effects.

People with musculoskeletal pain

The same 2015 review found that switching to a medium-firm mattress helped older adults experience less pain in their:

  • neck
  • mid back
  • lower back

These findings remained regardless of participants’ body mass index, age, and medication use.

Another 2015 review acknowledged the controversy in the scientific literature regarding the effects of mattress style on sleep quality, including musculoskeletal pain. However, they suggested that a medium-firm mattress was the best option for optimal spinal alignment.

A person looking to improve the firmness of their mattress can try the following tips:

  • Use a mattress topper: A firm mattress topper can make a softer mattress firmer. A person can choose whether they prefer the feel of a memory foam or latex topper.
  • Flip the mattress: If a person has purchased a double-sided mattress, flipping it and sleeping on the other side may give it a firmer feel.
  • Regularly check layers, box springs, and platforms: If a person finds that the layers, box springs, or platforms have worn out in their mattress, this may be affecting the firmness of the mattress. A person can replace these as needed.
  • Place the mattress on a hard surface: This may involve placing a plywood support between the mattress and the bed or moving the mattress to the floor.

Mattress pads are similar to mattress toppers, but they usually fit over a mattress in a similar way to a fitted sheet.

A mattress pad may have quilting and contain down. Many options on the market are hypoallergenic and breathable, and some reviews suggest that they provide a cooler, more supportive surface than some foam toppers.

Below are some frequently asked questions about mattress toppers.

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

A mattress topper and a mattress pad are both products that people may use to change the feel of their mattress.

A mattress topper is usually thicker than a pad and sits on top of the mattress.

A mattress pad is typically thinner and has an elastic skirt. People can secure the mattress pad to the mattress with the skirt the way they would a fitted sheet.

Does a mattress topper help?

A mattress topper can change the feel of an older mattress.

Mattress toppers come in different thicknesses and feels. Some toppers may offer extra pressure relief from memory foam, whereas others may give a plusher feel through down or down alternative.

While mattress toppers can increase the comfort of an older mattress, they will not fix sagging or large soft spots.

Is a thicker mattress topper better?

Usually, the thicker a mattress topper is, the plusher it feels. However, this may vary between manufacturers.

There is no best mattress topper thickness. A person should carefully read the product description to ensure they are buying a mattress topper that offers the thickness and firmness they require.

Adding a firm mattress topper to a mattress may help create a more supportive sleeping surface.

However, if a mattress is sagging or has large dips, a mattress topper may not be effective. In these cases, a person may benefit from buying a new mattress.