Mattress toppers explained

Welcome to all you need to know, and probably would rather not know, about mattress toppers. Mattress toppers serve many useful and valuable purposes when choosing the right bed. If you’re in a hurry read our top 5 tips or for more information covering everything please read on.

Coolblue Hybrid Mattress Topper

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is an additional comfort layer that is added to a core mattress to increase the longevity and also increase the comfort of the mattress. We recommend that all mattresses should have a topper and our dual construction method provides each of our foam beds with a built in removable mattress topper. When trying to buy a mattress topper in retail shops, this is where the confusion starts; as you try to find the elusive ‘perfect mattress topper’. Most of our foam mattresses use a dual construction method which includes a topper, with the exception of some latex models, but I’m sure it is still on your list of questions to find out what a mattress topper does.

The problem is the market is flooded with hundreds of different mattress toppers, some are brilliant and some way below par for the job. You can find toppers everywhere from bespoke bed shops to discount shops meaning that there is a huge variety of the offerings. Prices vary greatly and in some cases the only option you’re presented with is what size you want rather than the depth or firmness of the topper!

With mattress toppers one size does definitely not fit all.

The importance of a mattress topper

Firstly you need to make sure it complements the bed you have and is of the necessary depth to have any real benefit. At John Ryan By Design we have individually matched our mattress toppers to our range and also have a range of stand alone toppers that can be bought separately to fine tune your existing mattress. We offer hybrid foam and natural latex mattress toppers.

As a rule, of thumb, the correct mattress topper can make a great mattress into a fantastic one. On the other hand, a topper can make a bad or unsuitable bed, much more bearable.

Our site has received many comments from readers who questioned that if the mattress was expensive and had adequate comfort layers already, why was it deemed necessary to add further by way of a topper? This is an excellent question and the quick answer is that toppers increase the comfort and extend the longevity of your mattress.

There’s much more to toppers than meets the eye so read on for a more detailed look.

What are the benefits of a mattress topper?

The benefits of using a mattress topper can be split into two categories, increasing comfort and increasing the longevity of the mattress. They are an excellent way of increasing the life of your bed and providing you with flexibility. Let us go into a little more detail on the benefits of mattress toppers.

1. Providing additional comfort layers
If you choose to sleep on a core mattress without adding an additional topper, it will not be too long before the softer top component compresses under your bodyweight and the mattress will become discoloured through perspiration. Adding a topper gives another layer which will compress before the mattress; giving you more comfort but ultimately a layer that can be easily turned and rotated. We’ve spoken on mattress construction about the issues with one sided mattresses; a necessary construction method with foam beds. A topper helps to address this issue.

2. The longevity of the mattress
Moving on to the longevity of the mattress we need to tackle the uncomfortable subject matter of sleeping directly on your mattress. This means there is nothing there to combat the three main enemies to your mattress:

  •  Body Perspiration – On average the body releases up to two pints of moisture each night. This is through sweat, breathing and other fluids. The only place for this to go is into the covers, duvet and ultimately your mattress. A mattress topper allows you to stop sweat and perspiration from reaching your core mattress. So even though the topper and covers will still absorb perspiration, its far cheaper to remove, wash or even replace these than the entire mattress.
  •  Dead skin and bacteria – These will inevitably end up on the closest layers to the body and by using a topper again you can keep these away from your mattress.
  • Undue settlement and indentations – As we have discussed on sagging, eventually foams will compress somewhat as this is the nature of the foam structure. By using a topper, you ensure that the top layers take any sag and not the mattress. It also allows you to replace the topper should you need to, ie if your body weight increases significantly pushing the original suitable mattress towards its limits. Ultimately it will allow you to replace the top layer or tweak the mattress feel later on.

The additional benefits you get from utilising toppers will, in the long run, pay dividends, it allows your mattress to stay newer for longer and provides you with increased comfort. When the topper has taken all it can after the barrage of nightly activities, it is a small expenditure to replace as necessary rather than reaching the stage where the complete mattress requires replacement.

Can a latex or foam topper be used on a pocket sprung mattress?

The answer is yes. It will change and soften the top layer of the pocket sprung mattress, but any quality mattress topper should be suitable for a pocket sprung mattress. The type of topper you choose will determine the extra sink it provides. If you need more guidance on how a topper may affect the feel of one of our mattresses, then please get in touch for tailored advice.

Top 5 Mattress Topper Facts

1. A suitable mattress topper will protect your mattress from the three evils. Body perspiration, dead skin/ bacteria and indentations/ settlement issues.

2. A high-quality mattress topper will provide additional comfort layers, providing you with an even more comfortable and forgiving mattress.

3. A mattress topper will help extend the life of a mattress, especially a no turn Memory foam mattress as you can turn and rotate the topper to reduce compression or wear. It can also be replaced more easily and cost-effectively than the entire mattress.

4. Usually, the topper is made of the same or similar material as the mattress ie memory foam with a memory foam topper vs natural wool pocket sprung bed with a wool or cashmere topper. This is to keep consistency with the mattresses comfort and response levels. However, there is nothing to stop you experimenting with different topper materials.

5. A mattress topper can make a good bed fantastic, and make a bad bed much more bearable!


A mattress protector should be the very least of your efforts to help reduce the damaging effects of sweat and other fluids during your time spent in bed. A mattress topper is a great way to increase the comfort layers of your mattress. They also help to reduce the wear and tear put on your core mattress. A good rule of thumb is to match the materials of the topper to those within the core mattress though this is not mandatory. If you need more help why not have a look at our single and double mattress toppers in our shop for details of our range.

We’re here to help

Speak to our small friendly team between 9am – 5pm and we’ll be happy to guide you through any questions you may have.

Call today 0161 945 3757

  • Comment Submitted Via Email says:

    We have been sleeping in a firm bed and suffered it for 12 years, you can’t say we didn’t give it a go.
    We currently have a marks and spencer superking, latex over pocket spring with a firmness rating of 4.
    My husband is 14 1/2 stone and I am 12 stone, so a couple of hefty weights. My husband tends to run hot and insists on a 4 tog duvet for majority of the year so he would not be able to cope with a memory foam mattress.
    We did have some trouble lifting the 6ft to our bedroom but cannot remember if it was just its weight or height, and reluctant to downsize as my husband is like a furnace so I like a bit of distance between us….haha, that old chestnut!
    Now after trawling shops and testing for nano seconds before feeling like a fool I have found your web site and would love your advice.
    My friend has vi sprung elite in her guest bedroom which I have always slept well in but as my budget is 1000-1500 for mattress and base we are looking for the best we could afford. I would rather wait and save for longer if it would make a huge difference as we both sleep badly and wake with back pain.
    I look forward to your email and hope you can help cut through all the confusion.


    The fact that you like The Elite is a good enough indicator of what you are after. Personally, I don’t think the Elite would be suitable for you both as a long term permanent mattres as the upholstery is purely a wool and Cotton blend (BL-WC). This does not have any support elements just Comfort elements. BL-WC is the component we use on all of the Artisan mattreses as the final comfort layer in a 1200gsm weight plus the other supportive layers. The combined total weight in the Vi Spring Elite is 3150 gsm.

    It has to be said that for your budget of £1500 for the complete set there is only the Artisan 1500 in the John Ryan range – See Here – a fabulous mattress for the price, but is in no way a comparable mattress in terms of feeling to the Vi Spring Elite. However, having said that, it would be a suitable mattress (in Medium Spring tension) for you both. To get the feeling of the softness of The Elite you would need to add a topper (which should be a necessity to any mattress – see here for why:

    As you have had a latex mattress in the past I do think there is a good and viable solution to your requirements by adding a latex topper to The Artisan 1500. John Ryan contemporary fave a fantastic latex topper here. I realise this will be in excess of your available budget but absolutely well worth it in the long run.

    Obviously after 12 years it is unlikely that M&S will have the same model but I can hazzard a good guess that the latex used in those days would not be the same latex as is used now – and obviously the blend ratio would not have been published in order to determine the overall quality.

    We hope that helps. John and Lee

  • Amanda says:

    I have a mattress that is slightly too firm and have liked the sinking feeling of memory foam in hotel Toppers. However, I am not too keen on the chemicals. Would your latex range have a similar effect?

    Hi Amanda, A topper would help soften the top of your mattress but won’t fundamentally change the overall tension of the mattress. It will simply give you a softer top layer to the bed. I state this as some people end up buying really firm beds that they can’t tolerate and think a topper will completely change this. Unfortunately it won’t but if its just to soften the bed slightly then the topper is ideal for this!

    Memory foam gives a soft sinking feeling a bit like quick sand in some peoples words. Latex on the other hand reacts to pressure and allows a sink without the quick sand feel, its far faster at responding so springs back to its original position when you roll over unlike memory foam. It will give a soft progressive sink and some pressure relief as a topper.

    If you want any further advice please call us and we will assist.

  • Comment Submitted Via Email says:

    I have a question regarding the latex topper. The photograph on the website shows the left hand corner of the topper, which is a brown colour ? Is that how the topper arrives or is it covered as the rest of the photograph shows. Hope I have explained my question adequately.

    HI, The topper picture shown here is a cut away showing the latex centre (beige colour) and graphite latex top and bottom layer (grey colour). There shouldn’t be a brown layer, but it maybe that the screen colours are slightly off!

    font color=”maroon”>The reason we use graphite is that we have to provide a fire retardant layer to be compliant with UK legislation. We prefer to use graphite rather than spray the latex in chemicals like some retailers. We have more on the subject here.

    Hope that helps! – Lee

  • Lynn says:

    I have a harrison utopia super king just bought but it is very uncomfortable I have hip problems but can’t tolerate memory goam way to hot tried pure silk topper but still feel the ties and have impressions on skin in the morning could I get one of your latex toppers or will that be a problem thanks lynn

    Hi Lynn, Latex is a fantastic material and is less heat retentive than memory foam, its also much quicker to respond. I would need to know what kind of discomfort the harrison is giving you, whether it be too firm or soft and also your body weight to give an accurate tailored recommendation. If you can get in touch with us we can hopefully assist. Many thanks – Lee

  • Jane says:

    Hi there, I’ve just bought a medium firm (3000) pocket sprung mattress and every morning I wake with an achey lower back and shoulder joints. which latex topper would you suggest would soften the feel of the mattress? I read that a soft latex between 10-22 IDL might be best – do u agree and do you sell such an item? Best Jane

    Hi Jane,

    A latex topper would certainly take the edge of a firm mattress if its slightly too firm. We don’t use ILD as this is an american measurement we use density in KG and a medium (70kg) or firm (80kg) rating. We only sell medium density latex toppers as this is the best density for a softer and forgiving comfort layer. A firm latex would simply firm up the top layer which is not what toppers are there to do!

    I would therefore recommend you look at our latex toppers which are all medium and offer a softer comfort for your mattress. Hope that helps – Lee

  • Mary says:

    I’d like a mattress topper. Really impressed with your site and how much info you give. I have a wool & Merino topped Healthybeds double mattress (bought approx 3 years ago). I have chronic lower back pain, stiff in the mornings, and don’t feel I have enough wrap around support at night (I tuck rolled up pillow or duvet behind my lower back). I’m 9 stone, sleep alone on one side of the bed usually, and sleep on my side. I slept on a memory foam topper recently and slept well – I felt I was able to relax my back muscles. Can you recommend which of your toppers might suit me best? Thanks, Mary

    Hi Mary, I’m glad you have enjoyed the site and its information. We work to keep it unto date and relevant.

    Given your circumstance and particulars I’d recommend a lay gel or cool blue topper in 7.5cm depth. This will give you the wrap around and sink you will need to help with your back issue. The toppers can be found on this link here.

    Any further queries please give us a call.

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