Mattress Pads vs. Mattress Toppers: What’s the Difference?

Romeo Vitelli
Romeo Vitelli
Expert Writer
Received his doctorate in Psychology in 1987, spent fifteen years as a staff psychologist in Millbrook Correctional Centre. In 2003 went into full-time private practice. read more
Reviewed By
Medical Advisory Team
Medical Advisory Team
Includes well-known professionals, who together provide decades of sleep medicine experience that enables Talk About Sleep to fulfill its mission of creating access to high- read more
Last updated: August 17, 2023
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Over time, a mattress can lose its comfort and structure, which in turn can make it harder for you to get a decent night’s sleep. For the purpose of keeping yourself in tip-top shape, it is so essential to get the right amount of sleep your body needs. This helps you function correctly throughout the day.

With that being said, you’d be happy to know that you don’t have to go about buying a new fancy mattress. To add extra comfort and solve many of your sleeping problems, you can buy either a mattress pad or a mattress topper, depending on what you’re looking for.

They help to keep a good mattress shape, which plays a huge role in your physical health. If you have a weak mattress or zero support, you may feel restless at night and suffer severe back pains regularly. So, you see the importance of extra care for your mattress, right?

But you may be asking yourself, which one is better – mattress pad or mattress topper? Well, with all the information listed below, those are the questions you’ll be able to answer very soon!

What is a mattress pad?

mattress pad Trusted Source Mattress pad - Wikipedia mattress padmattress topper, or underpad is designed to lie atop a mattress. Made from a variety of materials, its function is to provide a layer of comfort especially when the existing mattress is worn or uncomfortable, and have been shown to improve a user’s quality of sleep.  is usually a thin layer of quilted material, sometimes padding, that is within a fitted sheet. It works in almost the same way a regular fitted sheet would with a few added benefits. However, it is rather thin, so it doesn’t change the comfort levels of your bed, but it can add an extra barrier between accidental stains and your actual mattress.

Common materials of mattress pads

There are a number of different mattress pads because there are so many different materials used in making them. Each pad can give you many benefits, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that works for you.


A cotton mattress pad is very similar to a standard fitted sheet, just with an extra quilted cover. It has elastic sides so it can fit your bed perfectly without shifting through the night. This mattress pad is also machine washable, making it easy to clean. If you are looking for a cotton mattress pad, consider one offered by Sleep Philosophy. It also acts as a protector and is breathable.


As with most wool products, a wool mattress pad is incredibly soft. It also helps guard your mattress against mold and dust mites, as well as being an allergen-resistant. Over time, however, the wool can harden. Nothing a steamer can’t fix, though. A wool mattress pad will also assist in keeping you warm during the colder months.


A feather mattress pad is exactly as it sounds. It’s a luxurious cover that can be filled with down or synthetic feathers. Like the wool pad, this pad can also keep you cool in hot climates while keeping you warm in colder climates.


Fiber fillers such as rayon and polyester are used in the making of these mattress pads, and although these synthetic fillers can provide strain resistance, they can make a little noise. Unlike most of the other mattress pads, these ones can’t be machine washed, which could make maintenance a little tricky.


The longevity of a latex pad is about 10 years, as long as it’s cared for properly. It will help protect your body from dust mites, and it will also never attract mold. They can be a little more comfortable compared to other mattress pads because these pads are made with a latex core and a cotton cover. It may be a bit expensive, but it can be worth it.

Memory foam

Memory foam mattress pads can add a little more comfort because they’re a bit thicker compared to other mattress pads. However, they will not provide any protection against stains, and if you need a lot of back support, they aren’t thick enough to help with that.

Advantages of mattress pads

If you’re looking for something that will completely change your mattress, a mattress pad will not be the way to go. However, it can give you a few benefits that you may not have thought about.

The main advantage of mattress pads is the fact that they all come with different purposes and levels of comfort. Some offer extra cooling, while others can be very warm, and some can just help keep your body at a regulated temperature due to the material they’re made with.

What about a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is almost considered to be a smaller version of a mattress due to the fact that it adds an actual layer of cushioning to your mattress. It can be layered on top of your mattress, and it will change your bed’s overall structure. If you’re struggling with the spring structure in your mattress, then a mattress topper would be what you’re looking for.

Types of mattress toppers

Just like with pads, the variety of materials used for mattress topers is wide, so finding your favorite one shouldn’t be a problem.

Memory foam

Memory foam, as well as gel memory foam, can help give you the back support you need if you find yourself waking up with body aches and pains. This type, like the ViscoSoft 4-Inch Dual Layer Mattress Topper with a 4” high density, conforms to the shape of your body and helps relieve pressure points. So, this type is an investment in your health.


Mattress Pads vs. Mattress Toppers: What's the Difference?

Besides adding additional comfort and support to your current mattress, a latex mattress topper is also hypoallergenic. This will help those who suffer from allergies as it will protect you from mold, dust mites, and mildew.


Wool toppers are incredibly soft and will help support your back. They not only offer you comfort and support, though, but the woolen fabric will also help keep your body at a consistent temperature no matter what the weather. This can be beneficial for those who need a more breathable mattress.


Maybe you’ve always wanted a feathertop mattress but couldn’t afford it. Do you think that over time the feathers would stick together, making the purchase a waste of money? Well, a feather mattress topper could be what you’re looking for as it will give you the same effect but can be fluffed up as well as restuffed.

Benefits of mattress toppers

The advantage of a topper, especially an egg crate model, is its thickness and comfort. It will add a layer of structure to your bed that you may be missing and more support to your body while you sleep.

A topper can increase a mattress’s longevity before eventually having to buy a new one. All while still maintaining excellent breathability.

What are the main differences?

The biggest difference between a mattress topper and mattress pads is the fact that they give different levels of comfort and benefits. However, just know that a mattress pad or topper can be used as a short-term solution only as you will still need to replace your mattress at some point.

If you’re on a budget, maybe you’re a student stuck with a bed that needs some extra comfort, and you’re confused between mattress pads vs. mattress toppers for college. Is a mattress pad or a mattress topper better for a college student? A mattress topper could be an alternative as it can help support your back without spending all your precious dollars on a mattress.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, with the information above, you were able to answer the questions about mattress pads vs. mattress topper, and now, you can make an informed decision.

With the busy lifestyles so many of us have, it’s vital to get the right amount of sleep. It is great to have information that can help you figure out exactly what you need for your comfort. With all the options available, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from sleeping comfortably from now on.


Mattress pad - Wikipedia
mattress padmattress topper, or underpad is designed to lie atop a mattress. Made from a variety of materials, its function is to provide a layer of comfort especially when the existing mattress is worn or uncomfortable, and have been shown to improve a user’s quality of sleep.
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