A great mattress topper will optimise any mattress to suit your personal preferences - and can make a bad mattress bearable. If you can't afford to buy a glorious new mattress, they can be a good temporary solution to improve the quality of your sleep (particularly handy if you're renting a furnished property). After all, sleep is important - and vital for your health.
But as well as providing added comfort (in the form of firm support or squashy cushioning), a mattress topper will protect your mattress from stains and dust mites.
Size is important: mattress toppers come in lots of different sizes - so make sure you buy a super king, king size, double or single mattress topper depending on the size of your bed. You might also find that your bed sheet becomes quite snug or no longer fits because of the extra height and depth created by your mattress topper - in which case you could opt for flat sheets, a deep or an extra deep sheet (to measure, take the depth of both mattress and topper into account, with a little room to spare).
Mattress toppers vary in thickness: a thicker option is a good idea if you're making the best of an old mattress, if you weigh a lot, or if you sleep on your side. It's worth noting at this point that there's a difference between mattress pads and mattress toppers. Mattress pads are generally thinner, and have slightly different functions - for example, you can buy water-proof, heated, cooling or anti-allergy mattress pads.
As well as thickness, consider the material: generally, you'll find you have latex, memory foam, polyester, wool and feathers to choose from. If you're looking for a topper to provide the firmness you need to tackle back pain, look for a durable memory foam or latex to support your body. Unless you're allergic to latex, it's antimicrobial and non-allergenic. However, it's worth remembering that latex and memory foam retain the most body heat (despite the addition of airflow and ventilation technology, cooling gel and gel-infused technology to some), which might not be so agreeable come summer - and in terms of budget, they can be expensive.
If you're looking for a softer (and more wallet-friendly) addition to your bedding, look for natural fibres like cotton or down, which has a luxurious, sumptuous feel. Natural materials such as wool, down and feathers are warm in winter but breathe well in the summer: wool is durable, and doesn't tend to attract bed bugs. But while goose and duck down is fabulous, it's probably not thick enough to shield you from a lumpy or hard mattress, or to bolster you if you experience back pain or have a bad back.
To help you choose the very best solution, here are the best mattress toppers you can buy now:
For simple luxury bedding solutions at a reasonable price, check out Eve. The addition of their clever mattress topper (they only have one, to relieve you of choice anxiety) will upgrade your bed immediately: 5cm thick, it's made of breathable foam manufactured in the UK. If you're not convinced, fear not - it comes with a 3-year guarantee. We also like the Eve memory foam pillow.
2. Sealy Select Balance Dual Layer Mattress Topper
This dual-layered mattress topper feels rather cloud-like in comfort, making it a great addition to mattresses that feel a little too firm. The cover is 100 per cent microfibre and acts as a smooth casing for the silk-like DuPont sfibres inside. As a great hygienic bonus, it is also machine-washable at tumble dry-friendly, with a two year warranty.
3. Heaven luxury supreme double mattress topper by Vispring
This is an uber-luxe mattress topper featuring a stylish trim. It's an indulgence for those who are willing to splash out on their boudoir. Handmade and filled only with natural fibres including certified British fleece wool, blended British wool and cotton, plus South American horse tail hair, it creates a dreamy, floating sensation as it envelopes you. It's made to order, and is usually delivered within 5-7 weeks. Heavenly.
This topper has all the firmness and support of a memory foam mattress, with a soft, quilted topper for comfort - ideal if you suffer from aches and pains. Thanks to the addition of a wool layer, it also regulate temperature throughout the night. A sumptuous and sturdy choice for any sleeper. John Lewis also do an excellent Duck Down mattress topper as part of their Natural Collection (£100 - 160).
5. Morpheus dust mite mattress topper
If you're one of many who suffer from house dust mite allergies or react sensitively to the natural environment, this mattress topper is a must-have. Its pure Egyptian cotton twill has been treated to ensure that mites and other micro-organisms are completely killed off, without adding bulk to the bed or changing a mattress you already love. Sorted.
6. Deep contour memory foam mattress topper
This 6cm memory foam mattress moulds to fit around you and then springs back into shape. Made in the UK, you can machine wash and tumble dry it, and it's made from 100% polyester. If you're after natural fibres, Marks and Spencers also do a great range of duck feather, down, wool and cotton mattress toppers.
With its layer of mulberry silk, this mattress topper has a luxurious feel to it - for a reasonable price. The silk helps to regulate your temperature (ideal for those with night sweats), while the springy hollowfibre fill is ideal for comfort (and the microfibre material is especially suited to those with allergies). Reviewers have said it is a comfortable mattress topper, although slightly on the bulky side.