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We have an affiliate relationship with and receive compensation from companies whose products we review on this site. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

What is a Mattress Pad?

A mattress pad is a top of topper designed for use on top of an existing mattress. Using one can breathe new life into an old and tired mattress. Experts often recommend that you replace your mattress after a period of 10 years. Dead skin, dust mites and other debris can get inside the mattress and both add to its overall weight while reducing the amount of support it offers.

These pads come in different sizes to fit different beds, including California king and double sizes. Some companies even make extra long twin mattress pads that fit a standard dorm room bed. Manufacturers add features like elastic bands that wrap around the mattress to keep the pad from slipping off and textured areas across the top that support the body as you sleep. Some will even distribute your weight properly to help you sleep better.

Types of Pads

Though it may seem like all mattress pads are exactly the same, there are actually a few different types. The most expensive are the pads made from latex. Latex is much firmer than other materials and does a better job of supporting your body. Those made from memory foam are best for those who share a bed and those who experience back or muscle pain. The foam actually molds to the shape of your body as you sleep.

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Pads made from wool and cotton are also available, but those on a budget will prefer one made from polyester or a blend of polyester and cotton. There are also egg crate pads available that can add to the height of the bed. Companies now make pads that help you stay warmer or cooler at night too.

Keep in mind that a mattress pad is not a mattress topper. A mattress pad may measure one-inch thick or less, while a mattress topper can be six-inches tall and provide more support.

The Good

In the same way that a standard mattress has some pros and cons, so too does a mattress pad. The pros can vary between different types of pads. Latex pads are great for those with allergies because the material will not attract dust like other materials do. It’s also durable and can last longer than your actual mattress does. Those made from memory foam can help you sleep better and reduce some of the pain that you feel at night. Egg crate foam is not as thick as memory foam, but it can keep you from tossing and turning in the middle of the night.

Extending the life of a mattress is another of the pros associated with mattress pads. Even with proper support like a box spring, a mattress will sag and break down over time because of the weight of those sleeping on top of it. A mattress pad absorbs some of that weight and gives you more years of mattress use.

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The Bad

The downside to a mattress pad is that it will not replace your mattress. If your mattress shows significant wear and tear, you may not get relief from a pad or even a pad combined with a topper. Depending on the brand and type that you buy, you also risk the pad slipping and sliding off the bed every night or waking up in the morning to the pad bunched around your body. Some pads will only provide relief for a few weeks or months before falling apart too. As the pros outweigh the cons though, many shoppers will find that they enjoy sleeping on a bed with a pad between the mattress and box spring.