Rumor Has It: The Truth About Mattress Pads, Mattress Enhancers & Featherbeds

Getting a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be complicated. But if your mattress is mediocre or you want to protect one that’s brand new, it can be challenging trying to figure out whether you need a mattress pad, enhancer or featherbed. Here’s the truth about what you really need on top of your mattress:

Mattress Pads

  • What are they? Mattress pads fit over your mattress like a fitted sheet, but they have a thin, padded layer that goes over the area where you sleep. Mattress pads are typically used to protect a mattress from stains and wear. They also can help keep sheets in place.

  • Who needs one? If you’re the owner of a new mattress, you’ll probably want to buy a mattress pad since it’ll help keep the mattress in good shape. Parents with small children who may wet the bed should consider a mattress pad with a waterproof feature. It’ll protect the mattress from getting wet and make cleanup easier. College kids living in dorm rooms are also good candidates for mattress pads since they provide an extra barrier between them and a used mattress.

  • What are the pros and cons? Mattress pads can protect against wetness, allergens, and even bed bugs! Plus, they’re usually machine-washable. However, don’t expect them to provide much comfort. Mattress pad cushions are usually too thin to provide noticeable support. However, some do have down or memory foam in them.

  • How much do they cost? Baseline cotton mattress pads usually cost between $30-$40, depending on your mattress size.

Mattress Toppers/Enhancers

  • What are they? A mattress topper, or mattress enhancer, is a thick cushioned layer that covers the sleeping surface of the mattress and goes under the fitted sheet. They’re usually made from memory foam or filled with down or down alternative. Mattress toppers are designed to make your mattress more comfortable for youwhether that means making the bed surface firmer or softer. Memory foam toppers usually make the sleeping surface firmer while down/down alternative toppers make it softer.

  • Who needs one? Mattress enhancers are a less expensive option than replacing an entire mattress when it starts to become uncomfortable. If you have aches and pains during the night, a mattress enhancer can help cushion pressure points or give your body extra support. Memory foam mattress toppers reduce mattress movement if your sleep is often disturbed by your partner shifting sleep positions or getting out of bed during the night. They’re also great if you just want to make your bed more comfortable.

  • What are the pros and cons? Mattress toppers are usually less expensive than replacing an entire mattress, but they’re more expensive than a mattress pad. They also provide more comfort and support than a mattress pad. However, home experts warn memory foam toppers have a tendency to make you feel hotter during the night. Also, most toppers and enhancers are not machine-washable.

  • How much do they cost? Prices vary depending on size and material.


  • What are they? Featherbeds are similar to mattress toppers, but they’re made of goose feathers instead of down or memory foam. Featherbeds usually can go on top of the fitted sheet, so you’re lying directly on it.

  • Who needs one? Featherbeds are more of a luxury item than an essential one. However, if your mattress is too firm, they can help make it softer. Featherbeds also add warmth if you live in a cold climate.

  • What are the pros and cons? Featherbeds are easier to take on and off the bed because you’re not having to put a fitted sheet over them. If you have allergies, make sure to buy a hypoallergenic one or try a hypoallergenic mattress enhancer instead. If you live in a warmer climate or get hot at night, feather beds are probably not for you!

  • How much do they cost? Featherbeds are usually less expensive than a mattress topper, but more expensive than a mattress pad.

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