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A memory foam mattress topper is an additional layer of memory foam that a person can add on top of their mattress. This product can be a less expensive alternative to buying a memory foam mattress. Memory foam may help a person get better sleep.

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This article discusses memory foam mattress toppers in more detail and provides a list of products for consideration.

Originally, engineers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) developed memory foam, or viscoelastic polyurethane foam, for astronauts in the 1960s. In the 1990s, manufacturers began to use memory foam in bedding.

According to the Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA), memory foam is a popular bedding option due to its body-conforming capabilities, comfort, and supportiveness.

The PFA also notes that memory foam may provide benefits for certain people. For example, people with reduced mobility may benefit from the foam’s ability to redistribute weight and surface pressure, which may help prevent bedsores.

Learn about 7 memory foam mattresses here.

How to use

Instead of buying a memory foam mattress, people can purchase a memory foam mattress topper. This is a layer of memory foam that individuals can secure to the top of their mattresses. Some are also available for just one-half of the bed, which may suit couples with different bedding preferences.

Memory foam mattress toppers can make the existing bed feel more comfortable and last longer. However, while memory foam mattress toppers can be an affordable alternative to a memory foam mattress, even the best ones will not last as long as a full memory foam mattress or provide all of the same benefits.

Learn how to clean memory foam mattresses and toppers here.

The potential health benefits associated with memory foam mattress toppers include:

  • Motion isolation can allow a person to toss and turn without disturbing anyone else in the bed.
  • The antimicrobial ability of memory foam can help repel dust mites, bacteria, and fungi.
  • A memory foam mattress topper may benefit people with pressure ulcers. A 2017 study found that adding a memory foam layer to hospital mattresses reduced pressure injuries in patients with severe illness.
  • A memory foam mattress topper may also suit people who feel the cold or sleep in cooler climates. Memory foam is able to retain heat well.

Learn more about the best mattress toppers for hospital beds here.

Memory foam can release strong-smelling gases. A 2019 study found that memory foam can release gases called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause adverse health effects. However, the researchers did not investigate whether the levels of VOCs in memory foam harmed health.

Prospective purchasers can reduce their risk of exposure to toxic chemicals by opting for products made with eco-friendly materials. The CertiPUR-US program tests products to determine whether they meet standards for emissions and were made with or contain toxic chemicals.

It is also worth noting that memory foam is a flammable material and, therefore, a known potential fire risk. People should keep cigarettes, heaters, and any other potential ignition sources away from the mattress topper. Additional measures to take include making an escape plan in case of fire and installing smoke alarms.

Learn about some of the best non-toxic mattresses for 2022 here.

MNT chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria:

  • Certifications: MNT will choose products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that the products contain few pollutants and are free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
  • Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
  • Materials and fill: Where applicable, 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 that are available in a wide range of budgets.
  • Shipping: MNT will research shipping information, such as where the company delivers to and whether shipping is free.
  • Warranties and return policies: MNT chooses products that carry warranties and clear returns policies.

There are many memory foam mattress toppers on the market. Below, we list five products that people may wish to try.

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

ViscoSoft 3-Inch Select High Density Mattress Topper

Best durable option

This memory foam mattress topper consists of a heavier grade memory foam, which the manufacturers claim will last longer. They also state that it has a temperature-controlled surface, promoting the even distribution of heat.

It also comes with straps to keep it in place on the mattress and a bamboo rayon cover that is hypoallergenic and machine-washable.

At the time of publication, this mattress topper is available to purchase online for around $130.

Slumber Solutions 1-Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Best high density memory foam

This 2-pound density memory foam mattress topper offers medium support. The manufacturers say that it can reduce joint discomfort by improving the body’s alignment.

A 2020 study suggests that a soft mattress topper that is 30 millimeters (mm), or about 1 inch (in), thick may provide the most benefit.

At the time of publication, this Slumber Solutions mattress topper is available to purchase online for around $75.

RECCI 3-Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Best for a cooling sleep

This mattress topper consists of pure memory foam and uses a weaving method, which the manufacturers claim helps relieve pressure points and keep people cool while they sleep. It comes with a bamboo viscose cover, which provides a soft and machine-washable surface.

At the time of publication, the RCCI Memory Foam Mattress Topper is available to purchase online for around $110.

SleepInnovations 4-Inch Dual Layer Gel Memory Foam Topper

Best for multiple sleep positions

This mattress topper comprises a 2-in base of memory foam with gel and a 2-in upper layer of quilted fiberfill. The manufacturers claim that this topper is suitable for side, back, or stomach sleepers. They also suggest that the gel memory foam may help keep people cool all night.

This mattress topper is available to purchase online for around $100.

Zinus 2-inch Copper Cooling Wave Dynamics Memory Foam Topper

Best antibacterial option

The “secret ingredient” in this mattress topper is copper, which the manufacturers say can promote sleep and repel bacteria, germs, and odors. The mattress topper also features curves, which allow it to be both cradling and cooling. A 1.5-in version is available for people who want a slightly thinner mattress topper.

At the time of publication, this product is available to purchase online for around $70.

Below, we look at some common questions about memory foam mattress toppers.

How do I choose a memory foam mattress topper?

Individuals looking to purchase a mattress topper should consider points such as:

  • Size: Some mattress toppers may only come in specific sizes, so it is vital to measure the exisiting bed correctly to ensure they fit.
  • Thickness: Think about desired comfort, effect, and sleeping position when considering the thickness.
  • Cost: Mattress toppers come in varying price ranges, so a person should consider their available budget.

Learn what to look for when choosing a mattress here.

Is a mattress topper better than buying a new mattress?

Mattress toppers are often more affordable than a new mattress. However, they will generally not last as long, and a person may not notice the full benefits that some people experience with a memory foam mattress.

Learn more about other types of mattress toppers here.

How long does a memory foam mattress topper last?

Depending on the thickness and quality of a memory foam mattress topper, a person can typically expect it to last around 3–4 years.

Memory foam mattress toppers may help extend a mattress’s life span or provide a cheaper alternative to a new memory foam mattress. They may benefit people with back pain or reduced mobility.

The thickness and firmness of the topper are a personal choice. A person should choose what they feel is most comfortable for them. While a memory foam mattress topper can provide many benefits, even the best ones cannot meet the standards of a memory foam mattress.