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Can You Use a Mattress Topper as a Mattress?

Can you use a mattress topper as a mattress - featured. Close up photo of the edge of a mattress with a mattress topper on top of it

Considering investing in a mattress topper? This feature explains the reasons you might, and if it can replace a mattress

Mattress toppers bring plenty of advantages, from helping to regulate your bed’s temperature, to offering a short-term solution for a sagging mattress. Many well-known mattress brands offer a mattress topper – or two – alongside their range of mattress options, and just like mattresses, there are several different types of topper available, from foam and latex to wool and feather.

While there are certainly benefits to using a mattress topper, they’re not intended to replace a mattress. As well as speaking to sleep specialist and sleep counsellor, Thomas Høegh Reisenhus, at Tempur, we also received advice from mattress brand Casper on the reasons you shouldn’t use a mattress topper as a mattress, the benefits of a mattress topper and in what circumstances you should use one.

Can you use a mattress topper as a mattress?

The simple answer to this is, no. As Tempur’s sleep specialist and sleep counsellor, Thomas Høegh Reisenhus, explains: “A mattress topper shouldn’t be used in place of a mattress. A mattress topper, by name and design, is intended to be used in addition to a mattress to provide an extra layer of comfort.”

Casper reiterates this message, also describing a mattress topper as an “extra layer”, rather than a replacement for a mattress. It says: “A mattress topper is a two- to four-inch layer of memory foam, latex or other material, added on top of your mattress. Its purpose is to improve the feel of your bed by covering it with an extra layer of your choosing.

“A mattress topper can be a quick, cost-effective solution for an older, sagging mattress. However, if you’ve had your current bed for longer than a mattress should last (an average of 7 to 10 years), a mattress topper can only do so much”, Casper adds.

Why shouldn’t you use a mattress topper as a mattress?

The main reason for not using a mattress topper as a mattress is that while it can provide additional cushioning and protection, it doesn’t deliver the same level of support that you get from a mattress. It’s this support that’s essential to achieving a good night’s sleep “in terms of quantity and quality”, Reisenhus says.

“In short, a mattress topper alone simply won’t be able to provide your body with the support and comfort it needs to ensure a restorative and high-quality night’s sleep”, Tempur’s Reisenhus explains.

He adds: “When choosing what you sleep on, one of the most important things to consider is sleep ergonomics – so, in other words, your posture and position during sleep. A good-quality mattress will adapt and react to your body, supporting your spine’s natural alignment, distributing weight evenly, and providing the ultimate pressure relief – requirements that a mattress topper alone simply can’t deliver.”

When you might want to sleep on a mattress topper

That’s not to say there aren’t scenarios where you might want to use a mattress topper.

“When travelling away from home, a mattress topper is a great way to ensure that an uncomfortable and/or unfamiliar mattress (whether staying in a hotel, campervan or perhaps even on a bare tent floor) does not get in the way of a good night’s sleep”, Reisenhus explains.

Can you use a mattress topper as a mattress. Close up of hands laying mattress topper on a mattress

A mattress topper can also bring many benefits. According to Casper, these include the ability to adjust the firmness of a mattress and regulate your bed’s temperature, to helping lift a dipping mattress and keeping your mattress clean.

Casper explains that “a mattress topper can be a smart investment for those who experience back pain”, adding that “a mattress topper can help provide the plush support you need”.

The mattress brand also says: “A mattress topper is used to change the feel of your bed. Depending on your preferences, you can find a mattress topper that makes your bed cooler, warmer, firmer or softer. No matter what you choose, a mattress topper helps protect your bed from stains and makes it last longer.”

What should a mattress topper be used for?

While a mattress topper shouldn’t be used to replace a mattress, or instead of a mattress, it can be used as a temporary solution when camping, for example, as Reisenhus from Tempur suggests.

A mattress topper can also be used to adapt the feel of your current mattress, or as a temporary replacement if you don’t want to – or can’t afford to – invest in a new mattress just yet. As Casper explains, a mattress topper could also be used if you suffer from back pain and need some additional support. This may be if “your mattress is sagging” and you aren’t in a position to replace it; if “you want a warmer or cooler mattress”, or if “you want a firmer or softer mattress”.

So while a mattress topper isn’t a replacement for your mattress, as Casper explains: ”If you don’t love the feel of your current mattress, a mattress topper can definitely be worth it. You’ll be able to adjust the temperature and firmness of your bed while protecting it from stains and extending its lifespan.”

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