Have you bought a traditional inner sprung mattress bed in the last couple of years, let alone suffer in misery on a sofa bed, and regretted your purchase because your back hurts, your ankles ache? Perhaps you have heard about the amazing properties of latex beds, but you choke at their price? All is not lost. Mattress toppers and pillow top pads soften, and do a makeover for an existing mattress at a semi-affordable price. While I love the feel of viscoelastic memory foam, it is a synthetic non-breathable product, which makes some people feel like they are in Dante’s Inferno they are so hot! The very heat sensitive properties, which make foam sensitive to your body heat and mold to your body, can make you overheat, while conversely in winter, the foam will be as hard as a rock when the temperature approaches 60ºF. Unfortunately, as I found out recently, if you have a memory foam mattress and you want to put on even a thin mattress pad on it to make it more breathable, you end up putting a barrier between your body heat and the foam, and the foam needs your body heat to soften it up. Memory foam mattress manufacturers specifically recommend against using mattress pads.
So let’s assume you have a regular mattress and you want to extend its life.
The top of the heap belongs to Royal Pedic with 3- and 5-inch flipable pillow top mattress pads. These pillow top pads weigh as much as some manufacturer’s entire mattresses, and latex core is encased in cotton and Belgium wool and then quilted. If you are retrofitting an existing bed go with the 5 inch, but if you want to add more softness to an existing latex bad and not interfere its body molding properties go with the 3 inch. Speaking as one who owns one of these little pieces of bed heaven, I cannot recommend them more highly. I have had one for two years with no signs of wear. The workmanship is superb and the resultant effect is just blissful! The Royal Pedic pillow top pads come in organic and non organic versions. (From $742.00)
Another excellent choice is the Euphoria rubber (latex) topper which has a 2 inch latex core and is nicely finished with all natural materials. The Euphoria mattress topper transformed a guest room bed in our house into a really comfortable bed. The difference in feel was quite amazing. It was softer and molded to my body. You cannot hope to get the same full therapeutic benefits with a latex topper as you can obtain from the full depth of latex found in a latex mattress, but you can obtain a dramatic improvement. (From $497.00)
For the latex averse, there is also the option of a wool topper by Euphoria. This is a thick surprisingly soft topper, which provides a breathable layer on top of your mattress. As a devotee of latex toppers, it would not be my first choice, and be mindful that wool does compress by about one third after a while, and it does not have a luxury “enveloping feel” to it but it is the softest and thickest wool topper that we carry and is a healthy choice. (From $370.00)
Mattress pads on the other hand, give a modest improvement (“takes off the edge”) in comfort while providing a hygienic barrier between you and the mattress. Some form of mattress pad is essential to prolong the life of your mattress. Mattress pads vary in thickness and as they get thicker, they usually get more expensive. Leading the pack, we have two encased wool mattress pads, one of which is mixed with alpaca (from $234.95) making it extra soft. These are not thick but in fact quite thin (about an inch after compression). However they are long lasting and wick away excess moisture from perspiration during the night while giving a little extra comfort level.
The Vista wool (from $299.95) and Snug Fleece mattress pads (from $139.95) are wool which are not encased (more like a sheepskin rug). I have both of these on various beds in the house. The Vista is absolutely worth the extra money since it is very thick and plush. Both of them provide an extra touch of softness on your bed with no fear of dust mites colonizing underneath your sheets. They do compress fairly fast after about a year, but can spring back to life with steam cleaning. Contrary to my expectations, the exposed wool underneath my sheets does not feel itchy but delightfully soft. I happen to be great fans of these wool mattress pads, and like the princess and the pea, I have even put them on top of my latex toppers.
For the budget conscious among you here is a really good tip. Haul out that elderly down comforter out of the closet and just put it on your mattress instead! Just shake it out to get the loft back again. It works like a charm and the price is right for a low cost feather bed!