What is a mattress topper — everything you need to know

To make your bed as comfy as possible, you should know what is a mattress topper ASAP

Wondering what is a mattress topper? Here's one on a bed, sat atop the mattress. The image has a rainbow background.
(Image credit: Future / Amazon / Beth Mahoney)

If you're trying to figure out what is a mattress topper exactly, you're in the right place. Maybe you've not needed one before, or someone else always dealt with your bedding buys? 

Whatever the reason, we'll explain what is a mattress topper, what you need to know before buying one, and if indeed you need one or not in this no-nonsense guide.

We're on hand to advise which best mattress toppers are worth investing in, and how to figure out which one is right for you.

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is a padded layer that sits on top of your actual mattress. This adds comfort, and can extend the life of the mattress underneath, too.

Toppers come in a range of styles, thicknesses, and materials, from cooling gel toppers designed with hotter sleepers in mind, to ultra-soft feather, or hypoallergenic toppers that ooze coziness. 

These are usually held in place by elasticated straps that go around and under the corners of your mattress to stop it pinging up, and messing up your bed sheets.

What are the benefits of a mattress topper?

These are great for upgrading an older mattress that might have lost some of its firmness, or may be starting to sag. You’d be amazed at how much difference a good mattress topper can make to the comfort level of your bed

For renters, a mattress topper can be a great way to upgrade a rental bed without bothering a landlord to replace the entire mattress. While, for hotter sleepers, a cooling mattress topper can be a good way to make sleeping in warmer weather easier. 

Or, if you’ve accidentally purchased a mattress that’s too soft or too hard for you but you can’t return it, a mattress topper could help to fix the problem. 

Do I need a mattress topper?

When considering buying a mattress topper, consider how well you're currently sleeping. Is your current bed setup comfortable enough for you to get all the slumber you need? If so, then you probably don't need a mattress topper right now. 

If, however, you often find yourself struggling to sleep, tossing and turning, and unable to get comfortable, it might be time to think about treating yourself to a new topper. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.