Many people are unsure how to choose the right thickness of a mattress topper. However, before explaining how to make your choice, let’s first agree on exactly what a mattress topper is and what it is used for. They have several uses, and your mattress topper thickness will depend on why you need it.
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To Change the Level of Softness or Hardness
Some people find their mattress to be a bit too soft or too hard for them. This may be right after purchase or after a period of use. Sure, you could change your mattress but that’s an expensive option, and the same could happen again. It’s far more economical simply to change the feel of your bed by adding a topper. In many cases, a 2-inch topper will be sufficient although 3 inches provides a more lasting change.
To Renovate an Old Mattress
As they age, and the more they are used, mattresses can develop lumps, become saggy or develop depressions in the sleeping areas. If the lumps or depressions are significant it may be time to buy a new mattress, but if not then you can add a few years by using a mattress topper. This rejuvenates your sleeping surface and can transform an old baggy mattress into almost new if you choose the correct type and correct thickness.
If your mattress shows signs of unevenness or wears due to constant turning or indentations then you will need a topper of more than 3-inches. Generally, that will be a 4-inch mattress topper, though some companies also offer 5 inches.
To Change the Nature of a Mattress
Perhaps you have learned about memory foam mattresses and want to try one out before actually purchasing one. Or maybe you simply want the experience of memory foam without having to purchase a complete mattress. Maybe you already have memory foam and don’t like it.
In each of these cases, you can change the nature of your mattress by using an appropriate mattress topper. Use a memory foam topper to get that experience, or a latex topper to move away from memory foam. A minimum of 3 inches is generally needed to make a significant change.
For Medical Reasons
Perhaps you have developed a condition requiring good orthopedic support. In such cases, a viscoelastic sleeping surface may be most suitable. If your mattress is plain latex foam or an innerspring with a foam topping, then a viscoelastic or memory foam mattress topper might be your best initial alternative – again less expensive than a new memory foam mattress.
A 3-inch memory foam topper might be enough, though 4 inches is even better. If you prefer latex, then we recommend the Ultimate Dreams King 3″ Talalay Latex Firm Mattress Topper. For memory foam try the Best Price Mattress 4-Inch Memory Foam mattress topper.
To Increase the Height of a Mattress
Some people find their bed is too low for them, and that an extra 2 or 3 inches would suit them better. A mattress topper can be used to achieve this. It’s much less expensive than purchasing a new mattress.
Irrespective of your reason for buying one, it is important that you know how to choose the right thickness of a mattress topper. How thick does the mattress topper have to be to meet your needs? Here is how to make that decision.
You can generally find mattress toppers in standard thicknesses of from 2″ to 4″. Some can go up to 5 inches, but we are getting into mattress thickness here. In addition to thickness, the toppers may also be available in different foam densities. For now, let’s focus on the thickness.
2-Inch Mattress Toppers
2 Inches is roughly the distance from the top of the average little finger to the middle knuckle. You may find toppers thinner than this, but they won’t do much for you. A 2-inch mattress topper will provide you with a slightly more comfortable mattress by increasing its plushness. This thickness is good if you have a new mattress and want it slightly softer. A harder version of this will not provide extra support, and it will not cover over any sagging or other deficiencies in an older mattress. It is too thin for that.
3-Inch Mattress Topper
The extra inch makes a big difference. This can provide extra comfort or more support, depending on whether you purchase a soft or hard topper. It can make up for certain deficiencies in an older mattress, but not them all. If you have a latex mattress and want to add some memory foam properties to it, then a 3-inch memory foam topper can do that. You can use this topper thickness to make an existing mattress plusher or slightly firmer.
Our preferred 3-inch memory foam mattress topper is the Linenspa 3-inch Gel Swirl although if you prefer natural latex rather than the Ultimate Dreams Talalay latex topper mentioned earlier, then we recommend the superb Pure Green 100% Natural Latex 3-Inch Mattress Topper which is available at 30 ILD – slightly harder than the Ultimate Dreams topper.
4-Inch Mattress Toppers
Anything thicker than 4 inches would be classed as a mattress rather than a topper. So take 4 inches as a maximum. This is the ideal mattress topper thickness to cover over deficiencies in an old well-used mattress. Once placed over the mattress, this thickness of topper will provide you with a smooth, supportive layer. It is the ideal thickness if you have an orthopedic condition that needs good support.
It is also a good thickness if you want to feel the full benefits of a memory foam mattress. You can get this with a 3-inch mattress topper to an extent, but 4-inches of memory foam topper are ideal. In effect, you can get a new mattress for just half the price by purchasing a mattress topper rather than a new mattress.
Importance of Foam Density
When purchasing a foam mattress topper, it is important to consider its density in addition to its thickness. A dense 2-inch topper might offer more support than a softer 3-inch mattress topper. If you tend to toss and turn at night when trying to sleep, a firmer mattress topper with a higher density foam (latex or memory foam) would suit you more than a softer less dense foam.
Which is Best Value?
So which is the best value for money: a 2-inch, 3-inch or 4-inch mattress topper? Most people think the 3-inch is good enough for most uses. The 2-inch is good to make a slightly hard mattress softer, and the 4-inch to completely change its nature: make it softer, harder or convert a latex or innerspring mattress into a memory foam mattress. Only consider a 5-inch thick mattress topper if your existing mattress is suffering significant defects and you are not in a position to buy a new one. Or – if you want to test how a new type of foam would suit you.
NOTE: The mattress topper you select should match the dimensions of your existing mattress. If you have a King size bed then buy a King size mattress topper.
Keep Reading: Best Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers Reviews »
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