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The topper is a fairly recent product: a padded mattress a few centimeters thick that is placed on top of the mattress to soften its surface. In Italy it became known mainly due to the chef and popular TV presenter Bruno Barbieri, who in the program 4 hotels check under the mattress topper in each room he has to review: when he doesn’t find a topper, things don’t go well for the competing hoteliers. Barbieri has stated on several occasions that he considers the topper an indispensable requirement of any hotel bed and has become the testimonial of a brand that produces them.
This may have led some viewers of the show – and non-viewers intrigued by audience acquaintances – to wonder what a topper will ever do that is so amazing. To answer, we tried three toppers and interviewed Sonia Piccoli, president of the Consortium of Italian Quality Mattresses Producers.
The topper is an accessory that has spread and has been developed in recent years: it can happen to find it sold together with the mattress, but many manufacturers offer it as a separate accessory. The thickness ranges from about 3 to 7 centimeters: if you have very tight sheets, therefore, they will need to be replaced with sheets of a larger size to make it fit. The materials it is made of can be different: wool, cotton, feathers (more breathable) or memory foam, latex and polyurethane (less breathable).
The first thing Sonia Piccoli said was that “we don’t all need a topper, because a quality mattress supports the body and guarantees the right ergonomic comfort even on its own”. That said, it is true that a topper can make sleeping more comfortable. Testing them we have mainly noticed two advantages: the first is the overall appearance of the bed, which is higher and “softer”, and the second is the enveloping sensation you get when you lie down, which usually a mattress alone does not give.
Who can use a topper?
“The topper can be useful especially if the mattress is particularly hard and when you turn on your side you feel discomfort, as if you feel the edges of our body” explains Piccoli: “and it is pleasant: when you lie down you feel a good feeling of muscular relaxation ». The opposite is not true: if you have a very soft mattress, a topper will hardly make it harder.
In addition, some particularly snug and covered with materials such as polyester can be used to make the bed warmer, for example in mountain homes or which are particularly cold for some reason. Another case in which it can be useful to have a topper is when a couple decides to use two single mattresses for their double bed: it can be a good solution to give uniformity to the surface of the bed.
More generally, it can be an interesting purchase for those who love high, very soft and enveloping beds (as is probably the case with Bruno Barbieri) and love to slip under the covers and feel themselves sinking.
In the event that you have a mattress that is no longer new, which after a few years of use has stopped being perfectly uniform, a topper can be a temporary solution to sleep more comfortably while waiting to buy another one: but since the mattress will go anyway replaced sooner or later and that a topper has a non-negligible cost, perhaps it is not so convenient.
Topper marketing often uses adjectives like “orthopedic”, references to back pain and musculature, and makes promises related to better sleep quality. Some people who use the topper – including one who tried them for our tests – say they actually have less back pain when they get up in the morning. The fact that they are effective for some, however, does not mean that they are effective for everyone, so the advice for those who want to solve back pain problems or sleep disorders is to consult a specialist first.
Is it recommended for allergy sufferers?
«The mattress in general is a receptacle for mites on which we spend many hours every day, so it is a good idea to choose mattresses made of materials that counteract the proliferation of mites and keep it below a certain threshold; but the problem is not eliminated “, explained Piccoli:” even the topper can perform this function if it is made of synthetic materials and, in addition, it has the advantage that it can be washed more often than a mattress, even if you don’t have to overdo it because it risks becoming empty and losing its softness ».
We tried three 160cm by 200cm double toppers that are for sale on Amazon: one in latex from Geemma (287 dolars on Amazon and at a discount of 240 dolars on the manufacturer’s website) and the other two in memory foam, i.e. made of an elastic viscous foam of which many mattresses are also made, which adapt to the shape of the body. One is from EvergreenWeb with “padding effect” (160 dolars on Amazon) and the other is from Recci (90 dolars). We chose latex and memory foam because they are the most rigid materials, which create more thickness between the mattress and the body, but if you want less consistent supports, you can choose toppers padded with wool, cotton or down, which are also more breathable. Even the outer liners of the toppers we tested are all synthetic fabrics, as recommended for allergy sufferers. All these models are available for single, large single and double beds in various standard sizes.
As for prices, there are more expensive and much cheaper ones, up to 50 dolars. “Those that are so cheap are usually made of polyurethane and covered with a cotton cover and do not have great quality: toppers, to be such, must be more elaborate products, almost as much as mattresses are” explained Piccoli.
Of the ones we’ve tried, the most enveloping is probably that of EvergreenWeb: it is the softest of the three because it is filled with polyurethane foam flakes of different densities that make it similar to a very dense duvet. The outer lining is polyester and, even if there is always a mattress cover between the body and the topper, this could make you feel warmer than other fabrics. We have tried it in winter and we have not suffered particularly: when it is cold, indeed, some may want to use it for this very reason, but it will probably be removed with the arrival of spring, making sure you have a place to put it, since it is quite bulky.
This topper is also sold as a mattress to use alone and therefore does not have the rubber bands that keep it anchored to the mattress like most models: it can become a bit uncomfortable for those who fidget a lot in their sleep, even if it must be said that it is very heavy and it is not easy for it to move. It cannot be unlined so it can only be dry cleaned. It costs 160 dolars on Amazon.
The topper that we thought overall was the best is the latex one by Geemma. It is covered with a tencel lining, which compared to polyester is a little more breathable and absorbs moisture better: in the cold season in which we tried it, however, we did not notice much difference with that of EvergreenWeb and on Amazon there are users who wrote that they suffered from the heat in the summer. Latex is similar to memory foam but is more elastic and in fact this topper supports the body better than the other two: the EvergeeenWeb in particular, not being uniform in thickness, sometimes makes it sink until it touches the mattress underneath. Geemma’s topper can be tied to the mattress with the four rubber bands at the corners, so it is difficult for it to move. The cover can be removed and machine washed. On Amazon costs 287 dolars – quite a bit more than the other two – but these days on the manufacturer’s site it is discounted at 240 dolars.
The Recci topper it is what we have evaluated as qualitatively poorer. The interior is entirely in memory foam, while the cover is in bamboo viscose, a synthetic fabric. The two flaws of this topper are that the lining is a little larger than the mattress it contains, which risks causing annoying creases, and that after opening the topper has never returned to its original shape.
Most of the toppers are sold under vacuum and when they are opened and spread it takes a while to air and resume their original shape: this however seems not to have been completely recomposed and the same problem is also reported in some reviews on Amazon. The edges have remained lower than the central part of the mattress and when you sleep on it you feel that there are higher areas and others that are lower: as you can easily imagine, it is not comfortable. At the moment costs 90 dolarsa price low enough to raise some suspicion (although it must be said that at the time of our purchase it cost about 130).
The main utility of the topper is to make the surface of the bed softer and more enveloping. In case you are looking for a solution for a mattress that is too firm or you prefer puffy looking beds to sink into when you lie down, a topper is probably what you are looking for. Among the products we have tried, theEvergreenWeb in memory foam e the Geemma of latex have convinced us, while the Recci it turned out to be a little less comfortable, especially since it remained deformed after being unrolled. As for back pain and sleep disorders, it is not recommended to rely on a topper to solve them, because the effects on each could be different and in any case these are products with a non-negligible cost (between 150 and 300 dolars for a double bed. ) and that it is not easy to return them, given that being very bulky and arriving vacuum-packed, once opened you need a larger box to return them.
Among the materials, latex and memory foam are the ones that support the body’s weight the most and make the mattress thicker, but they are also less breathable than wool, cotton or feather toppers. There are “gel memory foam” toppers, which promise to be cooler and absorb sweat, but according to the tests of Wirecutterthe authoritative review site of the New York Times, the difference is not so perceptible. For the lining, on the other hand, synthetic fabrics are preferable for those suffering from dust allergy, but there are some that are more breathable than others, although with synthetic fabrics a bit of heat has to be taken into account. To choose, you have to decide if heat conservation is one of the things you look for in a topper, perhaps to make the bed warmer in winter and then take it off in the hot season. It should also be said that if you use a terry topper, the effect of the synthetic cover will probably be muted.
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