In an earlier article, we introduced you to the different types of mattress topper materials and highlighted some of their positive and negative qualities. We also discussed some of the major reasons why you might purchase a mattress topper, which include but are not limited to: making a firm mattress softer, making a soft mattress more supportive, extending the lifespan of an old but still functional mattress, and protecting your mattress from dirt or stains.


Today, we will take a more in-depth look at exactly which type of mattress topper best fulfills which purpose. We'll also give you a rundown of the best qualities to look out for when choosing a mattress topper, as well as certain "red flags" which you should avoid at all costs. With this guide in hand, hopefully, purchasing your next mattress topper will be a pain-free, hassle-free process that's easier than ever before!

​The Qualities of a Good Mattress Topper

As we'll discuss later, exactly what you're looking for in a mattress topper might change depending on what functions you need it to fulfill in creating your ideal bedroom environment. However, there are a few "universal positives" that you can keep an eye out for while you are shopping around for your perfect topper.


Keep in mind, while some of these qualities can be observed simply by looking at the topper or reading its product information, others, such as comfort, are significantly more subjective and can only really be determined by taking the topper out for a spin. We highly recommend that you sleep on any topper you wish to purchase for at least one full night before deciding if it is right for you!

​Density & Indentation Load Deflection (ILD)

A mattress topper's density is a measure of exactly how much "stuff" it contains - how much material is contained within the mattress topper's dimensions. Feathers, down, cotton and "foamed" materials such as natural latex and polyurethane or polyester are typically lower in density, while wool, memory foam and synthetic latex are usually denser. On average, a denser material will be firmer and more supportive than one which is less dense, but density is overall not a particularly accurate measurement of how firm or soft a mattress topper will be.


A much more accurate measurement is "indentation load deflection," commonly shortened to "ILD". ILD is a measurement of how much force is required to compress a mattress or mattress topper (typically by 25% of its original thickness). While you can read more about indentation load deflection in our in-depth guide here, for the purposes of this article it is important to understand that higher ILDs mean firmer mattresses while lower ILD values indicate softer ones. Firmer mattress toppers tend to be more supportive and better for those who experience sleep issues such as chronic pain, while softer ones are generally more comfortable and often recommended for insomniacs or otherwise restless sleepers.



Because a mattress topper is meant to go on top of an existing mattress, you usually want to look for something on the higher end of common ILD values in order to get the most use out of your topper and avoid sinking into the mattress below. Our Brand Name staff's personal recommendation would be to seek out a "medium firm" mattress topper with an ILD between 24 and 26. These ILDs tend to indicate toppers which provide an ideal balance between comfort and support.


However, if you are purchasing a mattress topper in order to make a too-hard mattress feel softer, you should instead look for something with a lower ILD. A typical "soft" mattress topper will have an indentation load deflection of between 19 and 21. This topper will be soft enough to be comfortable but not so soft as to cause you to "sink" into the material during the night.

​Durability

As mattress toppers are often used to extend the lifespan of existing mattresses, it is extremely important for any high-quality topper to also be durable in nature. Although they are smaller and thinner and thus do not usually have quite as lengthy of a lifespan as mattresses themselves, an ideal mattress topper can easily last several years without needing to be replaced.


Another reason to choose a durable mattress topper is an economic one - it is significantly more cost-efficient to purchase a mattress topper which will last you several years rather than going for something less durable and having to buy a new one every year or even every few months. While less durable mattress toppers may initially seem to be cheaper, ultimately, they represent the less secure economic investment as they will begin to fail after only a short period of regular use. Here at Brand Name, we fully believe that a durable, high quality mattress topper is worth every penny!


A mattress topper's durability can be determined by a combination of its physical properties and the material from which it is made. In general, natural latex, memory foam and wool will be more durable than cotton, down or synthetic "egg crate" foams such as polyurethane or polyester. Natural latex is probably the overall most durable mattress topper material, while down and feathers are the least durable as their sharp ends or "quills" will soon begin to poke out of the topper's fabric, causing extreme discomfort to sleepers.


A material is considered most durable if it not only possesses a long lifespan, but also retains its original shape or form (and function) throughout this period of time. For example, a natural latex mattress topper will look, feel and behave relatively the same even after years of use. However, a cotton or down mattress topper is highly likely to gradually develop "lumps" as the material clumps together over time or when exposed to frequent movement or pressure.


Additionally, thicker and denser mattress toppers have often been found to be more durable than their thinner and less dense counterparts. Why is this?  you might ask. Thinner mattress toppers are more likely to rip or tear if they are regularly used, especially when adorning the beds of restless sleepers such as infants or young children. Less dense toppers may also move and shift around if they are not properly secured by a sturdy fitted sheet.

​Noise Level

Both mattress toppers and mattresses themselves can occasionally be noisy, as their stuffing rattles or shifts during the night. This is something which should be avoided if you are intending to purchase a high quality mattress topper. A good topper will be quiet, and will not make the slightest bit of noise even if you are someone who frequently tosses and turns in their sleep. A quiet mattress topper is the best way to get frequent, uninterrupted nights of deep rest which will leave you feeling refreshed and eager the following morning.


Keep in mind that, because mattress toppers are placed over the base mattress but are usually not fastened or adhered to them in any way, a mattress topper may initially seem to be noisy as it shifts and rubs against the lower mattress. However, in many cases, this problem can be solved with a simple fix - placing a sturdy, tight fitted sheet over the mattress-and-topper setup. If your mattress topper continues to make noise even after being secured underneath a fitted sheet, then it is highly likely that it is not a high-quality, quiet topper.


Another property which should be avoided is something commonly referred to as "telegraphing motion". "Telegraphing motion" is a phenomenon which sometimes occurs if you are sharing a bed with one or more other people. If your partner tosses and turns in their sleep, and you feel their every movement even from all the way over on the other side of the bed, then you are experiencing telegraphed motion. Telegraphed motion can frequently disturb your sleep, so we highly recommend seeking out a mattress topper which will stay still and solid even if you are sharing the bed with someone who fidgets and moves all night long.

​Breathability & Temperature Regulation

We all know it. There's pretty much nothing worse than being too hot in your bed. Tossing and turning. Desperately trying to get to sleep. Feeling like you can't even breathe, the heat's so bad. Finally giving up and getting out of bed at two or three AM because you just can't seem to cool down.


If you ever wondered if perhaps you were the only one who felt like they could never get cool enough in their bed, take our word for it - you're not! This is in fact a commonly recognized phenomenon, technically called "temperature regulation" but more commonly referred to as "sleep hot". Your mattress or topper is in fact absorbing and trapping warm air from the surrounding atmosphere and refusing to release it, causing the temperature of its surface - and, subsequently, your body - to dramatically rise over the course of the night. Of course you can't get to sleep in such a situation! Who could?


To combat the dreaded "sleep hot," make sure to look for mattress topper materials which are breathable in nature. A breathable topper will allow air to pass through it rather than trapping and emitting unnecessary amounts of heat. They will feel cool in the summer, warm and the winter and will never restrict your ability to fall asleep due to unnatural temperatures. Breathable materials tend to include cotton, feathers, down and natural latex, while polyurethane, polyester, memory foam and even metal springs are the usual culprits when it comes to "sleep hot".

​Safety & Beneficial Properties

Of course, it's also extremely important to make sure that any mattress topper you choose does not present any major health or safety risk as you use it. This may seem like a fairly obvious and self-evident statement - but, unfortunately, the truth is that many unscrupulous manufacturers have for years attempted to market mattress toppers which in fact negatively impact the health of their users or, perhaps even worse, contribute to the rapid decline of Earth's air quality.


First things first, you should make sure any topper you purchase is not flammable. Several natural materials, such as cotton, and even some synthetic foams in fact present no protection against fire hazards and can incinerate quite quickly. Some manufacturers attempt to account for this issue by treating their mattress toppers with chemical flame retardants - however, if not properly regulated, these can contain dangerous substances which destroy Earth's atmospheric ozone layer, attack the lungs, liver, or central nervous system of sleepers, or even cause cancer.


In general, you should avoid any mattress topper which contains large amounts of harsh or hazardous chemicals. In addition to the flame retardants mentioned above, some commonly encountered chemicals include insect repellents and treatments meant to prevent the growth of fungus or mold. In addition, some toppers use chemicals during their manufacturing process in order to better create a lightweight, "foamy" texture in the final product. Lastly, of course there are also materials, such as polyurethane or memory foam, which are entirely synthetic and therefore made entirely from chemicals.


When it comes to guaranteeing your safety, your best option is to choose a material such as natural latex, which possesses a high number of inherent resistances to fire, mold and other dangers. In addition, you can seek out products which have been certified by organizations such as the GreenGuard Institute, which test for the presence or absence of harmful chemicals including but not limited to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, and formaldehyde. (Learn more here!)



​Lack of Allergens (Hypoallergenic Properties)



On the subject of safety, you should be extra careful when purchasing a mattress topper if you have any allergies. Some of the materials used to craft mattress toppers and other bedroom accessories contain common allergies including but not limited to: wool, goose and duck feathers, and latex. As you spend several hours per night with your face and body pressed up against your mattress topper, allergens can easily enter your system by being breathed in or absorbed by your skin. This is why you should take extra care to ensure that your topper is fully hypoallergenic.


Of course, the best option is to consult with your doctor or an allergy specialist to determine the ideal mattress topper for you. A medical professional's educated, accurate opinion can be very useful in this situation. However, you can also stick to hypoallergenic materials such as cotton, most synthetic foams and - yes, Brand Name's one of a kind latex.


Wait, what? you're probably asking right about now. You just listed latex as one of the common allergens, then turned around and called it a hypoallergenic. How on earth does that work? Well, Brand Name mattresses, pillows and toppers are made from natural latex specifically manufactured so as to remove the proteins which cause the "latex allergy" reaction. So even if latex has left you itchy and red-faced your entire life, there's absolutely no need to fear! Natural latex mattress toppers are now one hundred percent hypoallergenic and safe - even for you!

​Comfort

We've saved the best and most important for last. After all, what's the purpose of using a mattress topper at all if it isn't comfortable? Whether you're using it to make your mattress firmer or softer or even simply to prevent stains, the absolute number one factor to consider is whether it contributes to providing YOU with a good night's sleep.


Unfortunately, unlike most of the above qualities, comfort is extremely subjective and much harder to determine simply by looking at or reading about a particular topper. However, there are general trends which you can keep in mind while shopping. For example, down, cotton and natural latex mattress toppers tend to be softer, while memory foam and wool can be thicker, denser and occasionally firmer. An awareness of your personal preferences can help narrow down what you are looking for.


You can also read up on toppers and browse through product reviews to see what other customers are saying. However, our personal belief is that the number one way to determine whether or not a mattress topper is comfortable is simply to give it a try. Sleep on it for a night - or several! - and you'll come away with a much better and more accurate idea of whether or not a given topper is just right for you.

​Things to Avoid

Of course, it's not just the good properties that you have to keep in mind when shopping around for your brand new mattress topper. There are in fact a few obvious "red flags" which can indicate from day one that a mattress topper is not of good quality. When looking at mattress toppers, our staff here at Brand Name recommend that you avoid:


  • Toppers which are too thin. In general, mattress toppers should be thicker than your average blanket - even the least dense will be at least similar in thickness to a futon or duvet. Thinner items may in fact be mattress pads, which ​are a similar but not identical product intended for temporary use during travel or camping. To learn more about the difference between mattress pads and mattress toppers, head over here.

  • Toppers which are "hard'. We are not talking about simply "firm". Firm mattress toppers are of course extremely popular and are often paired with a too-soft or worn down mattress. However, if a topper truly becomes "hard," to the point that it does not compress at all while you are placing your full body weight on it, this can be a sign that it is of low quality. Such toppers, rather than granting you restful sleep, will cause pain and discomfort at night and leave restful sleep feeling further away than ever before.

  • Obviously unpolished or incomplete finish. When you are shopping for a mattress topper, take a look at the corners and edges. Are the seams tight and the stitching durable and firm? The edges can be the "weakest" points of a mattress topper, so if they are already starting to show wear, tear or damage, this can be a sign that your topper will experience an unfortunately short lifespan.

We know it seems complicated, but we promise, the right mattress topper for you is DEFINITELY out there! If you avoid these three "bad signs" and focus on the positive qualities listed in the preceding sections, you will be sure to find the perfect topper in no time. However, if you still feel like you need a little more help, we've also included a few more suggestions, including purpose-focused statements you can use during the shopping and purchasing process to narrow down exactly what you're looking for:

​Statements of Purpose


The other important thing to keep in mind, besides the beneficial properties of a given mattress topper, is in fact a question:
"Why am I buying this in the first place?" Mattress toppers can fulfill a number of different but equally important purposes in the bedroom. The purpose which you need fulfilled can affect your choice of mattress topper, as different materials will work better while others might prove hopelessly ineffective.

We've included a list of some of the most common mattress topper purposes below to help you narrow down the type of topper which you might be looking for:


"My mattress is too firm, and I want to make it softer." Stick to a low-density, lightweight, breathable natural material. We recommend down, cotton or natural latex.


"My mattress is too soft, and I want to make it firmer and/or more supportive." Go for denser memory foam or natural latex, which features the perfect balance of comfort and support. You can also look for mattress toppers which are advertised as preventing or relieving discomfort and pain encountered while sleeping.


"My mattress is worn down and getting old, and I want to extend its lifespan." You can't go wrong with one of the most durable materials available on the market - natural latex! Latex toppers have been proven to last up to 10 or even 20 years without needing to be replaced. You could also take a look at "blended" toppers, which mix natural materials (such as cotton) with synthetic ones (such as polyester or polyurethane foam) in order to eliminate the low durability problem which many natural materials suffer.


"I want to prevent my mattress from becoming dirty or stained." Most toppers will fulfill this purpose admirably. However, you might want to focus on those which are particularly easy to clean and stain-resistant, such as natural latex or foam. You could also invest in a cover for your mattress topper, particularly one made from a natural material such as bamboo.


"I'm buying a mattress topper for a different reason than the ones listed above." Don't worry! The right answer is still out there somewhere. Feel free to contact our staff here at Brand Name with any questions you might have or advice you might need. We'll help point you in the right direction!


We hope that with this guide in hand, purchasing your next mattress topper will be easier than ever. We believe that not only does everyone deserve the perfect night's sleep, but they deserve to be able to shop for that sleep with as little stress and headache as possible. That's why the Brand Name staff is fully committed to making shopping with us and purchasing from us  a simple, hassle-free experience - and we believe we've succeeded in that regard. Our extensive catalog, stuffed to the brim with unique, high quality bedroom goods, is always just a click away!

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