Memory foam mattress topper?
March 31, 2012 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Is a memory foam mattress topper a good idea?

In looking for ways to improve my quality of life in small and cost-effective ways, I've been thinking about my sleep habitat and the fact that I have pretty relentless lower back and hip pain that's worse in the morning. In reading responses to other questions here, it seems like a fair number have found some relief by sleeping on either a memory foam mattress or topper. Since my current mattress is just a few years old and very firm, I'm looking at toppers -- but I have zero experience with memory foam. Is this a good idea at all?

A similar question was asked previously six years ago. Hopefully, there's more experience and new information since then.

I am tall, large and generally a side sleeper, but tend to shift around a lot. Could I ask your recommendations for a decent thickness and firmness? Is 4" thick with 5 pound density appropriate? Can I do better?

Where's the best buy as far as quality for the buck? Are there any specific eBay sellers that are highly regarded for memory foam? Other online stores? Our local Costco only has a 2.5" topper, so I am probably looking at buying online.

I have allergies to dust etc. Best way to handle this with a topper that is basically open-cell foam? A certain type of cover?

Any additional instructions regarding large dogs sleeping on memory foam (aside from the fact that they will likely love it beyond measure) -- special care tips?
posted by vers to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Memory foam is awesome, and 4 inches should be fine. If not, just buy another one and put it on top. Only downside is that it's warmer than a cotton mattress. Less blankets could resolve that issue. Also, if your sheets are not deep enough, they'll still fit, but will press down on the foam and you'll have less "inchage" of it.
posted by Neekee at 1:34 PM on March 31, 2012

Best answer: I bought an actually really wonderful topper at Walmart, of all places. It is a 3.5 inch top, though I've honestly forgotten the density, and it was just under 75$ when we bought it a few years ago. My husband and I both have hip problems and lower back pain, and it has been a huge help for both of us, along with a memory foam pillow for him.

We both have pretty nasty dust allergies, and we don't use any sort of cover other than a normal mattress cover under our fitted sheet. I've heard different explanations, but generally memory foam and dust mites are said not to get along.
posted by strixus at 1:35 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Caveat: my experience is with a memory foam mattress (a Tempur-pedic) and not a topper.

However- a little over one year ago, we purchased a king-size Tempur-pedic mattress. For ~5 years prior of sleeping on a good-quality traditional mattress, I would wake up with neck, shoulder, upper back pain, even though I was comfortable and pain-free when I went to bed. This was dramatic enough that it significantly impaired my function for the first 6-8 hours each day until I "worked the kinks out". Since buying the mattress, this has been virtually eliminated; in fact, when I do wake with discomfort it's usually because I slept with my neck in a weird position or because my two dogs tend to box me in and trap me in odd positions.

If I had to pay the money we spent on the mattress yearly, I'd do so gladly- the improvement in my quality of life is that dramatic. I think there's reason to hope that a memory foam mattress topper can help you, and I wish you good luck!
posted by EKStickland at 1:39 PM on March 31, 2012

Best answer: I have this memory foam thing on this mattress, on the floor. It's the most comfortable bed ever. My lower back, which used to hurt frequently, has improved so, so much since I got it - in fact sleeping on it seems to heal my back when sitting on a hard chair or something has strained it. Other people who lie on my bed refuse to get up.

I'm also allergic to dust and I've had no problems with the mattress related to that. I'm not particularly tall or large, but I also sleep on my side and move a lot, and again, no problems.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:47 PM on March 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: We have a 2 or 2.5" topper and it's been fantastic. It helps both my wife and I sleep better. I'm a big guy and a panoramic sleeper (spin around all night, which I understand is bad) and it's a lot nicer than the old mattress-only solution for me. My wife says she wouldn't go without it.
posted by circular at 1:48 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have the Costco 2.5" topper (I believe they sell a thicker one online?), and I am fairly tall and not particularly light. My mattress was starting to wear out, and putting one of these on made me go from morning back pain to none. Seriously, I put it on there, tried it out and was like "So THIS is what lumbar support feels like ..." And then when I got home from work the next day, it had expanded even MORE, and it was like a little bonus. It is maybe a bit warmer, and they claim that they've filled it with gel beads to help with that, but I don't know how accurate that is.

The Costco topper comes with its own cover. Costco also has a fairly generous return policy, so it might be worth trying out their topper to see if it works.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:55 PM on March 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

We have a 4 inch memory foam topper that we bought on amazon:
Sleep Studio 4-Inch ViscO2 Ventilated Memory Foam Mattress Topper

It works really nicely - I also sleep on my side, and this is a little softer on my hips than just our latex mattress alone. I like the latex mattress, and 90% of the time it's great, but I would occasionally wake up with some stiffness and pain on the side of my hip. This has pretty much eliminated that.
posted by lyra4 at 2:05 PM on March 31, 2012

We have two toppers layered on a very firm mattress, and it's worked out really well. My husband was having some hip pain, and the toppers have helped him a lot, while I appreciate the firmness of the traditional coil mattress.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:32 PM on March 31, 2012

I have this one from overstock, and have really been happy with it. They have a lot of others with many useful ratings, plus their shipping is always cheap ($1-3).
posted by bizzyb at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2012

My partner loves the foam topper, but it makes my lower back hurt like crazy if I sleep more than a few hours at a time — and it doesn't breathe, so I often wake up in a cold sweat. I'm putting up with it because that's love, but I would never get one on my own. As always, YMMV.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:45 PM on March 31, 2012

My issue with memory foam is the heat and the gummy feeling- I don't care for feeling like I'm trapped in a hole, even if it's one made by my own body. We opted for a natural latex and wool topper due to greater resilience/support (instead of viscosity) and better airflow. If I had a problem with pressure points causing pain I might feel differently.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:31 PM on March 31, 2012

I have a 2.5" memory foam topper from WalMart and, paired with my Christy sheets from Sam's, it has made al the difference in the world. It's hard to peel myself out of bed now because it's so comfy.
posted by JaneL at 3:32 PM on March 31, 2012

Meant to add: 5 pound density is probably the lowest you want.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:33 PM on March 31, 2012

My boyfriend got me a memory foam mattress topper from Penney's last year, and it ended up being like 4 inches too short for my bed (and crappy quality), so do check the length before you buy. They're not all standard-sized. We returned it, and looked around. We ended up ordering one from and I've been stupidly happy with it (sorry, I don't remember the brand). I was worried that the topper wouldn't be thick enough: I have arthritis in my back, shoulder, hips and feet and my regular mattress was killing me.

The topper I got was 4 inches thick and it's been amazing. You want a little firmness under the top layer anyway.

It will run hot, and the cover you get can make a difference in how "hot" it feels, depending on the fabric, so be aware of that. But since you have allergies, I'd just get whatever works for that.

Shop around, and get one from a place that guarantees that you can return it if it doesn't work for you. The peace of mind is worth it. If you have a costco membership, sometimes they have toppers and they have a liberal return policy. If you're shopping online there are other places. These are a few I have bookmarked:,, and you can check reviews here: This guy made his own mattress, and it's a cool read: Even though you're looking for a topper, he has some good information.

I'm happy with my overstock mattress, but I read reviews very, very carefully before buying. Personally it's been amazing for my hips. I've had one replaced, so I'm quite picky about my sleeping surfaces now.
posted by thelastcamel at 6:01 PM on March 31, 2012

We had one and I was miserable. Aside from waking up soaking wet with sweat, the topper was always traveling, probably from our tossing, and bunching up or pulling the sheet off.. But the worst was the heat- too cold without covers, too hot with, I hated having one half of my body at odds with the other side. I'm surprised how many people are in favor of it. I do use, and love, a memory foam pillow, but holy hell did I hate that topper.
posted by hypersloth at 7:03 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I never have noticed any heat retention from mine. It doesn't have its own cover, but it's under the quilted mattress cover I already had on the bed. Maybe that's the difference that it's not directly under the sheet nor is it in a thin cover.
posted by JaneL at 7:16 PM on March 31, 2012

My only sleeping surface is a memory foam topper over a slab of plywood, and I find it incredibly comfortable. I think it's 2.5 or 3 inches, and it came with a cover. I know it's not a typical way to use the topper, but I have heard that they work best on top of fairly firm surfaces. I sleep well on it, and most of my back pain has disappeared. I haven't spent a summer with it, but I haven't noticed any real heat problems so far. It did off-gass in an oppressive way though, seemingly filling the room with smelly toxic gasses, so I'd leave it outside for a day or two if you have the option.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:28 PM on March 31, 2012

Best answer: I have the CostCo 2.5" topper (like ComradeRobot above) on an high quality but worn out mattress. In one day it went from kind of uncomfy old mattress to holy hell awesome high end boutique hotel bed sweetness.
posted by zippy at 10:47 PM on March 31, 2012

My boyfriend had a 2.5" foam topper on his crappy old mattress, before the cat and baby destroyed it. It was amazingly comfortable, and I say this as one who had previously resisted such things pretty strongly for various dust collection/toxic fumes/unnecessary indulgence reasons... I would desperately like to buy another, but we are waiting on a few variables to see if we can afford to buy a new larger mattress soon, and I don't want to waste money on something that may need replacing in a month or two. So I wait and suffer in patience.
posted by celtalitha at 11:14 PM on March 31, 2012

I hate my memory foam. I feel like the parts of myself that need the most support sink right in, and the parts that need the most soft cushioning are too light/squishy to make a dent in the foam.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:37 PM on March 31, 2012

We got one from kohls that is a few inches of memory foam with a "pillow-top" on top. I was having nasty back/neck issues with our matress until we got it. We found it when they had a "early-bird" sale and got it for around 50% off. It's been phenomenal. The foam is just a piece of memory foam but the pillowtop fits over the matress like a fitted sheet so it stays in place.
posted by HMSSM at 12:42 AM on April 1, 2012

I just moved into new place a few weeks ago. The mattress is terrible and so I figured the most cost effective solution was a mattress topper and so far it's been pretty awesome. It cost me around £60 and it's like the mattress is brand new.

The only bad points are that it has a nasty chemical smell to begin with so you need to air it and it is a bit warm but those are both minor things in comparison to softness or lack thereof.
posted by neilb449 at 4:10 AM on April 1, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all for your input -- so very helpful! (and those with negative experiences might understand that I share some of the same concerns, but I woke up convinced that I need to do something more for my back). I've taken the plunge on this topper at Costco; a bit thicker and firmer than what the local store had at a better price. I also liked that a cotton cover is included, the 10-year warranty and Costco's return policy backing it up. Really hoping this helps me move easier in the mornings and counting the days until it's delivered.
posted by vers at 7:59 AM on April 1, 2012

Congrats! Be sure to let it air out for a few days before you use it on your bed. That lets it outgas and also let's it uncompress from where it was packed up.
posted by JaneL at 12:47 PM on April 1, 2012

Response by poster: A quick update -- I've been sleeping on the topper for a week, and OHGOD.SOVERYGOOD. Hip and shoulder pains almost gone, lower back will take longer but I knew that going in. The topper is firm enough that I don't come close to the "sinking in and can't move" feeling. One night was unseasonably warm, and I didn't resent the topper for being sticky -- note that I have the (nice) cotton cover it came with on it, then an all-cotton mattress pad, then cotton sheets -- and it was cool even with the heat.

Thank you all -- this has pretty much rescued my sleep. Mornings are much better!
posted by vers at 10:39 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Mobile credit card processing ideas, please!   |   Beantown Legends Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.