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How to Buy a Viscoelastic Memory Foam Mattress Topper Pad
Why a Visco Elastic Memory Foam Mattress Topper?
Several years ago my wife and I needed a new mattress and decided to try a foam mattress, without the memory foam topper. Our budget was very limited (and these mattresses are not cheap!) but we found a damaged one on eBay for $100 and purchased it. The damage was to the plastic shipping cover which was torn, but the mattress itself was undamaged so it turned out to be a good purchase. Until we slept on it - while my wife was pleased, I found it to be far too firm for my taste. Nevertheless we used it for about a year with no problems.
Then I broke two ribs in an on-the-job accident. I was in constant pain and nights were the worst; out of 8 hours in bed I slept 2 hours if I was lucky. After several weeks my ribs were healing just a bit and I began to sleep better but then, reaching and twisting for a sheet of paper, I re-broke the ribs.
It was at this point that I decided something had to be done and we decided to try one of the visco elastic mattress toppers to see if it would help. I immediately began to sleep most of the night, waking only occasionally from the pain, and my wife decided she liked the mattress topper as well.
In addition to my own experience with the topper when injured, many people with arthritis, fibromyalgia or other back pain while sleeping have found relief when using these mattress toppers. While the percentage of people reporting such relief is only around 50% the cost of these mattress toppers is usually under $200; it can be a small price to pay for a good nights sleep and might be worth the cost to try one if you have back pain at night.
Another good use for a mattress topper is in an RV. Many of the beds in RV's are about as comfortable as a layer of brick, and a topper can make all the difference in the world. We liked the result in the house so much that we purchased one for our RV as well - the topper shown in the photos below is in a motorhome, and it turned the bed from an instrument of torture into a bed as comfortable as that in the house. Many times an RV bed is shorter than a normal bed, but toppers are easily cut with a sharp knife, and can be made to fit such shorter beds.
General Considerations When Buying Memory Foam Toppers
A visco elastic (commonly termed "memory foam") mattress topper is a piece of foam rubber intended to lay over a mattress. The foam is different than most foams in that it is an open cell design and is relatively firm until heated. When first lying on these toppers there is little movement, but body heat will "soften" it and you will slowly sink into the foam. In this manner the mattress topper conforms perfectly to body contours while retaining the ability to provide support at all points.
With the unusual characteristics come a few different considerations that must be made when buying a topper. Density of the foam must be considered, as well as thickness. Size is probably the simplest thing to pick; it needs to fit your current bed.
While some manufactures seem extremely concerned that their mattress toppers exactly match a set bed size, I have not found it to be of concern. The topper I purchased for my California King sized bed is just a little small all the way around (sheet manufacturers also have the same problem, so I wasn't surprised) but I don't sleep on each and every inch around the bed anyway. Simply buy the size that fits your bed and don't worry if it is an inch too short. You'll never tell the difference while asleep anyway.
The thickness of the topper (discussed below) should also be mentioned when considering size as the extra thickness might be a problem with fitted sheets. A very thick mattress coupled with a thick topper could well be a greater size than a fitted sheet can accommodate. Be aware of this possibility when buying a topper.
Check the Density
Memory foam mattresses have a property termed "density" which is a measurement of the weight of a cubic foot of memory foam. It is not a measurement of the firmness of the topper as some people mistakenly believe, although it does have some small effect on it. One of the primary effects if varying density is longevity and that is the property probably most important.
Mattress toppers with a density property of less than 3 are probably of poor quality and even a rating of 3 should be considered marginal. A rating of 4 is far preferable and will last considerably longer while ratings of 5 or more are probably of superior construction. In general, the extra cost for a better topper is minor - if at all possible buy the better topper.
Thickness of the Mattress Topper
The thickness of a mattress topper has more to do with the feeling and appearance of softness than anything else. A thicker topper will allow the sleeper to sink further into it and may feel "softer" than a thinner one. Remember, you will sink into the topper, and the depression does not "move" as easily as regular foam. When moving or rolling over in bed the sleeper must move up and out of that depression, whereupon a new depression will form under you. A thicker topper will make a deeper depression to move out of.
Most people are happy with a 2" memory foam mattress topper. While heavier people might appreciate a thicker topper as they might "bottom out" on a thinner one, I weigh over 200 pounds myself and find the 2" just right. I would also recommend the 2" size for campers of all types - it is thick enough to help an extra firm bed while still being reasonably lightweight. A note of caution for campers; some beds are hinged to raise up, allowing storage underneath. These toppers are rather heavy for a piece of foam, and will make the bed somewhat more difficult to raise. Our bed won't remain up now - the cylinders aren't strong enough to hold it - and I had to cut a piece of closet pole to hold it up when working under it.
Most people won't find much value in a topper under 2", but toppers of 3" and 4" are available. These should only be purchased if a very soft feel is desired but for those people enjoying a soft mattress they make a viable option.
If you are not sure which one you would like best I would suggest the 2" thickness. In addition, some manufactures recognize that this is a new idea for many people and offer a money back guarantee; is one such brand, available through Amazon, and I've been very pleased with their product. Soft Sleeper
© 2010 Dan Harmon