When to buy a mattress topper – and are they worth it?

Are mattress toppers worth it or are they a waste of money? We explore the pros and cons and the best time to buy

When to buy a mattress topper. Colorful bedroom with bed with tempur-pedic mattress topper, artwork on walls
(Image credit: Tempur-Pedic)

If you considering when to buy a mattress topper, it's likely you've decided you want one, but are looking to snag a great deal. Before you buy, though, it's worth knowing whether they are worth the cost or whether you would be better investing in a new mattress? 

So, why buy a mattress topper? If you want to improve the quality and longevity of a perfectly adequate mattress, then investing in a mattress topper could be the best investment you make for your sleep. After all, a better night's sleep will improve your mood, health, and wellness, so it is a worthwhile consideration. 

The best mattress toppers make an instant difference to the comfort levels of your existing bed, but there are a wide range of differences, and depending on the age and quality of your mattress, you may not need even need to buy one at all.

When is the best time to buy a mattress topper?

Mattress sales do happen year-round, though there is a peak around Presidents Day at the end of February. So, while there is no 'best time' due to the year-round sales that different manufacturers put on, this is a good time to buy.

Best places to buy mattress toppers

Should I buy a mattress topper?

Here we look at the pros and cons, plus some specific sleep situations, to help you decide whether a mattress topper is worth your money or whether you need to think about investing in one of our picks of the best mattresses instead.

Are mattress toppers worth it? The pros

The right mattress topper can improve your sleep quality, offering increased pressure relief, cooling benefits, and making your bed firmer or softer, according to your preference. 

One of their most useful qualities is the ability to transform a mattress in an instant. There are countless options that can add extra support, and stability, and even relieve pressure points and cool you down. 

They are also a great way to revitalize an older bed, break in a brand-new mattress or provide comfort in a new mattress that is perhaps too firm. They can also protect your mattress from spills, stains and will lengthen its lifespan, too. 

Here are some of the reasons why we think you should invest in a mattress topper. 

1. If your mattress still has a few years left

The best mattresses are made to last for many years, in fact, seven to 25 years, is the expected lifespan of your average mattress. But in truth, a lot of mattresses tend to wear out and sag over the years. Even with regular rotation, flipping and cleaning, your mattress will be a little more worn down with each night it has been used. 

However, if your mattress is only a few years old, or has a few years of life left, you may want to consider investing in a mattress topper to prolong this lifespan. The mattress topper will not only add an extra layer of comfort, but it can also smooth out lumps and bumps for a more pristine look. 

2. If you wish to soften your mattress 

Do not underestimate the importance of buying a good-quality mattress for optimum sleep. 'We spend roughly a third of our lives asleep, so investing in one that is suitable for you is of great importance,' says Alison Jones, a sleep expert at Sealy. 'No matter your sleep position, having a comfortable and supportive mattress that is tailored to your specific needs, isn’t something that should be compromised on. 

However, even with the proper research, a new mattress can take some getting used to, especially if you've been sleeping on an older, worn-out or softer bed. If this case, a mattress topper may be worth it while you wait for your body to adjust to the new mattress. 

Sleep Innovations 4" Enhanced Support Dual Layer Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper | From $109.99 at Sleep Innovations

Sleep Innovations 4" Enhanced Support Dual Layer Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper | From $109.99 at Sleep Innovations

If you want to soften your mattress, then the Sleep Innovations 4" Enhanced Support Dual Layer Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper is for you.

Voted our best plush mattress topper by our reviewers, the design creates an ultra-soft surface that doesn't sacrifice on support.

Created from gel-memory foam with a quilted-plush cover, this topper can make your bed feel like a comforting cloud.

3. You want to make a sofa bed feel comfortable 

Even the best sleeper sofas are not known for their comfort and softness. In order to fit a mattress on one of those sofa beds, manufacturers have to be incredibly precise, which is why they are not usually very thick or comfortable. This is where a mattress topper truly proves its worth. 

Not only will one add thickness, but also softness and comfort – wonderful if you regularly have friends and family over to stay. Many are thin enough to leave on your sleep sofa once folded away, too. 

Viscosoft Active Cooling mattress topper

(Image credit: ViscoSoft)

Are mattress toppers worth it? The cons

While we often extol the virtues of a new mattress topper, there are also many reasons why buying a new one could be a waste of money. 

These popular bedroom accessories are not always the magical fix we hope for, especially if the problem isn't just a mattress that is simply too firm. If your mattress is heavily sagging, in desperate need of replacement, or any other serious issues, a mattress topper will not mask these problems. 

It is also worth noting the different materials before you make a purchase. Latex toppers can be too firm for some sleepers, and whilst polyester blends might be cheaper, they often become lumpy quite quickly. Memory foam does often get hot and is not the best option for those of us who turn a lot at night, and feather toppers can be noisy and may aggravate those with allergies. 

Here are some of the reasons why a mattress topper may be a waste of money.

1. You plan to replace your mattress soon

If you have every intention to replace your mattress imminently, hold off on buying a topper. 

If your mattress is on its last legs, a mattress topper will do very little to prolong its already-expired lifespan. Instead, purchase a new mattress first and then invest in a topper to suit. You may even decide you don't actually need one. 

2. Your bed is worn-out or sagging 

A topper is a great purchase for a mattress that is a few years old or only slightly worn, however, if your mattress has more than just a few gentle depressions, a topper will not fix this problem. If your mattress has passed its best-before date, then the only option is to replace it. 

How can you tell if you need a new mattress? If you've noticed that it has started sagging, you can feel the springs digging into your back, or is it just no longer providing you with a comfortable night's sleep, then it is time to wave goodbye to your current mattress. 

3. You are happy with your mattress as it is 

This may seem obvious but sometimes the need to overconsume or invest in the latest product of gadget can become overwhelming. 

If you are truly happy with your mattress as it is, and even after reading this guide, haven't been convinced to invest in a mattress topper, then the chances are that you don't need one. 

When should you put a mattress topper on?

Many of us pair a mattress topper with a new mattress straight away, adding an enhanced layer of protection, comfort, softness and support – this can also help to prolong your mattress life right from the start.

As we have explored in this piece, a new mattress topper is also a great way to revive an older mattress before purchasing a new one, so if your mattress is starting to sag or is no longer as soft or as firm as when you first purchased, it is definitely worth trying a mattress topper to see if that makes a difference.

Overall, it is all about subjective comfort, and what you want out of both your mattress and mattress topper.

Can a mattress topper make a mattress last longer?

Yes, a mattress topper can make a mattress last longer, and they are definitely an option worth pursuing before you purchase a brand new mattress.

A topper can help reduce the pressure on a mattress, therefore, extending a mattresses longevity.

A topper can transform your sleep surface, with Rise Science co-founder Jeff Kahn saying they will, 'directly impact your sleeping comfort and the quality of your sleep.'

How often should you get a new mattress topper?

The mattress experts at one of our favorite bed brands, Saatva, have said that the average lifespan of a mattress topper is three to five years. 

However, there are many factors to take into consideration that can affect the lifespan of your topper, such as: what material the topper is made out of (toppers made from materials such as wool and feathers tend to last longer than ones crafted from synthetic materials), frequency of use (a topper in a guest-bedroom may last much longer than one in a main bedroom for example), and how well you care for the topper (regular deep cleans and washes).

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.