Pressure-relieving mattress toppers can make the person more comfortable in bed and may help prevent and treat pressure sores. Although many types of mattress overlay materials are available, no single type is effective in all situations.
Three major problems can occur, depending on the type of material.
- Some materials or their plastic covers can make people hot and sweaty.
- The topper can also make the bed higher, which can make transfers more difficult if your care receiver is still walking and doesn’t have a height-adjustable bed.
- Some overlays have a more unstable transfer surface.
A standard hospital bed mattress may be uncomfortable for the person, especially if he or she spends a lot of time in bed. For example, he or she may find the mattress too firm and uncomfortable. Or the vinyl mattress cover may make the individual hot and sweaty. Both pressure and moisture contribute to the development of pressure sores, especially with high-risk individuals.
Many caregivers place a special pressure relieving mattress topper or overlay on top of the existing mattress as pictured here. Or the person’s health care provider may prescribe one to treat a pressure sore. Although many types of mattress overlay materials are available, no single type is effective in all situations.
4 Main types of Pressure Relief Mattress Toppers
Below are four of the main types of toppers or overlays, each with their pros and cons. It’s vital that you talk to your healthcare professional before making a purchase, especially if the person you care for is frail, spends a lot of time in bed, or has a pressure sore.
Medicare may pay for all or part of the cost of a specialty mattress or overlay if the person meets certain coverage guidelines. Check with your healthcare provider for more information.
1.Pressure Relieving Foam
Some of the pressure-relieving foam toppers you can find here.
How it Works
- Special “open-cell” construction disperses person’s weight, reducing areas of high pressure.
- Two main types are latex foam and visco-elastic foam (also called Memory Foam).
- Can be effective in preventing and treating certain types of pressure sores.
- Some, but not others, find visco-elastic foam hot.
- Some, but not others, find visco-elastic foam hard to turn over on.
- Check bed height for transfer safety due to the change in bed height.
• Effective pressure relief depends on the thickness and density of the overlay. A 3-inch height with a density of 4 to 5 lbs (pounds) is generally recommended, though factors like “response time” complicate how soft or hard a mattress feels.
Please note: We’re not including information on the “egg crate” foam mattress topper as the foam used is not a pressure relief material.
2. Australian Medical Genuine Sheepskin Wool (NOT SYNTHETIC)
How it Works
• Thick, soft, springy wool fibers distribute body weight and pressure points over a large area.
• Wicks away moisture from the skin.
• Sheepskin absorbs over 30% of fiber weight in moisture.
• Smooth pile reduces friction & skin tearing.
• Good for people who complain of heat; remains cool in summer and warm in winter.
• Sheepskin is placed on top of the bottom fitted sheet (person sleeps on the sheepskin).
• Safety-Wise! Not all sheepskin is the same. Choose sheepskin with an optimum therapeutic wool pile that meets the Australian Standard 4480.1 for Australian Medical Sheepskins.
• Buy a single size for localized relief from pressure sores.
• Buy a double size for full-body relief.
• Green sheepskin is specially tanned to be urine resistant.
• Machine washable and dryable but may take two drying cycles. Although pricey, consider buying two so you can wash one.
3. Alternating Air Pressure with Pump
How it Works
• Rows of air cells inflate/deflate alternately so the pressure on any given point changes continually.
• Plastic air tubes deliver air from the electric motor to the mattress.
• The mattress is covered by a sheet.
• Person may become agitated at the motor noise and constantly changing pressure and movement of the mattress.
• Person may find the plastic cover too hot or too comfortable (our testers did)
• Person must be able to tolerate pressure in certain areas.
• Talk to a health care provider before purchasing – there may be better alternatives.
How it Works
There are many hundreds of different types of gel and foam mattress toppers you can browse here.
• Gel sections sandwiched in-between top and a bottom foam layer, distribute a person’s weight more evenly to relieve pressure around bony prominences.
• May have a convoluted, high-density polyurethane foam topper.
• Has non-shear/low friction surface
• Some may find it hot; look for a breathable cover.
• Check bed height for safety due to change in bed height.
Best Memory Foam Mattress Toppers
1.LANGRIA 3-Inch Full Mattress Topper
We love this topper. We tested it out on an old pillow top mattress which had some significant hollows. The topper perfectly filled in the hollows and made the bed comfortable again! We tested it out for three nights, and are confident in saying that topper is an excellent choice for providing an excellent night’s sleep.
If you are considering this mattress topper for yourself or a loved one there are a few things you should know:
- The density is as listed. It’s firm in the way that memory foam should be, and molds perfectly to the body while providing excellent support without allowing significant sinking. This topper is far more supportive than the egg crate type which we have tried in the past but were not satisfied with.
- There is no off-gassing odor.
- It took the topper a little longer than specified to fully expand.
- The bamboo fiber cover it comes with is lovely. It is slightly stretchy and very soft. It also has gripping beads on the bottom to keep it from sliding around.
- The old pillow top mattress is hollowed out from heavy use where its owner has sat up in bed reading and watching TV. As the pillow top mattress deteriorated we began looking for solutions other than replacing it and found that all reputable memory foam experts say the same thing- that a mattress topper will not be able solve the problem of hollows in a bed. This has not been our experience. We were pleasantly surprised when this topper fully filled in the hollows of the bed; the hollows are completely undetectable now. Problem solved.
This topper will renew your mattress and is sure to give you the best night’s sleep, every night!
However, if you like to be seriously swallowed up, we can’t recommend this mattress topper as it is on the firm side, but it is highly supportive and comfortable.
2.Best Price 4-Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper
We decided to go with this memory foam mattress topper after much research and consideration. We tested this mattress with an individual on the heavy side to test how well it would support a heavier weight, we had concerns that the individual in question would just sink right through, but we were pleasantly surprised when it adequately supported the weight and provided a comfortable night’s sleep.
We were able to test out the mattress the same day it was delivered and are highly satisfied with the durability and high-quality materials.
This mattress topper works well for individuals with back pain. The supportive, yet soft quality provides a sleeping surface that will help alleviate back pain by eliminating pressure points. As this topper is fairly thick, it is sufficient to eliminate pressure point in heavier users while still being soft enough to sleep comfortably. If you are concerned with pressure points, you should definitely consider using this topper.
This topper is an excellent value and is of high quality.
It is easy to set up and does require some time to allow it to fully expand after being removed from the packaging. For us, it only took about one day to fully expand after removing it from the packaging.
Standard size sheets will work with this topper.
The only negatives we found with this topper is that it had a slight odor for about two days, which dissipated quickly, and that the topper
is fairly warm, which may be a slight problem in the summer, but will be beneficial in the winter.
Best Gel Memory Foam Mattress Toppers
1.LUCID 3″ Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper
We are quite satisfied with this mattress topper. It has an excellent density which provides the support needed to help alliterative and eliminate pains associated with sleep. We tested this mattress topper out and found that it is excellent for eliminating back pain associated with sleep. It molds exactly to the spine and the whole body to maintain the natural alignment of the body while lying down. This ability to mold exactly to the body allows this mattress topper to cradle and support pressure point areas where the pain originates to eliminate that pain.
The pain management aspect of this mattress topper makes it an excellent choice for persons with sleep-associated pain.
A few important things:
- This topper was easy to set up.
- It had a faint odor for a few hours but became undetectable quickly.
- We did not wait the recommended length of time after opening the package to try it out, but this did not seem to cause any damage.
- The density is perfect. It is sufficiently supportive without being too firm.
- It fits a king-size bed frame perfectly, and standard sheets still work even with the added thickness.
- It seems to be extremely durable and of high quality.
- The gel infusion helps eliminate heat retention.
- It does retain heat a little bit. Certainly more than a mattress alone does, but not so much as other mattress toppers. It is not too hot to sleep in comfortably in the summer.
We are quite impressed with this mattress topper. It is comfortable and supportive and made from high-quality materials.
2. Linenspa 2 Inch Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper
This mattress topper works well on firm mattresses meant to provide spine support. Since mattresses that provide good spine support are generally too firm to sleep comfortably on, we recommend this mattress topper. It is thin enough to reflect the supportive nature of a firm mattress and maintain proper spinal support while also making the mattress more comfortable and even providing additional support to the spine as it molds to the body.
We tested this product with an individual complaining of chronic back pain for years, who had never been able to find a solution that would allow them to sleep comfortably for an entire night. After only sleeping on this mattress topper for three nights, the individual stated that their back pain has improved significantly and that they have not been waking up from aches and pains in their back at all while using this mattress topper.
Even though it is a fairly thin mattress topper it is extremely dense while still being comfortable and soft.
This mattress topper is a good choice for individuals that are concerned that a thicker mattress topper will be too soft, or allow too much sinking.
Since this mattress topper is fairly thin, we have not had a problem with the heat retention common with thicker mattress toppers, making this topper a viable option for both summer and winter use.
It did have a strong chemical smell when we took it out of its packaging, but it dissipated within a few hours. No smell is noticeable while sleeping on it.
Best Luxury Mattress Toppers
1.Hypoallergenic Quilted Fitted Down Luxury Mattress
We absolutely love this mattress pad cover! It easily fit over our thick mattress and is very comfortable to sleep on. It has the perfect density and plushness. As promised it is extremely cool to sleep on. We have had huge problems with other mattress pad covers being too hot to comfortably sleep on in the summer. We are very satisfied with this product.
We are especially satisfied with the cooling aspect of this mattress cover. Finding a mattress pad cover that is both cool to sleep on and provides enough plushness is hard to find. The combination of comfortable density and supportiveness with the cooling quality of this mattress pad cover make it an excellent choice for both summer and winter.
The quilting really helps the cover keep its shape and stay in place; it does not move around at all, even if you toss and turn a bit in the night. It has even helped with back pain, and being hypoallergenic is a definite plus.
It was compressed for shipping, so it took a little time to fully fluff up. We put it in my dryer on the air fluff setting to speed the process along, and that made it even fluffier.
- The quilting ensures that the mattress pad cover keeps its shape.
- It has impressive capacity to dissipate sleep for cool summer sleeping.
- It only took a few hours after removing the mattress pad cover from its packaging for it to be ready to use.
- This mattress pad cover is dense enough to be supportive while also being soft and comfortable to sleep on.
- Even immediately after removing it from the packaging there was no noticeable odor.
- This mattress pad cover is washable, which makes it more likely to last a long time as the ability to keep it clean will extend its life.
2. D&G The Duck & Goose CO Premium Mattress Topper
We bought this mattress topper because our old mattress topper was getting old and worn out. The mattress itself is not very old, we have only had it for about eight years, but it has been moved around a lot and just is not comfortable without a topper anymore.
When our new Duck & Goose mattress topper arrived we were quite surprised at how large and heavy the box was. After we managed to lug it upstairs and open it, we realized why it was so big and heavy- it was not just a fluffy blanket to put under the sheets to add a little extra softness to the bed as we thought it would be. No, this mattress topper is thick and lush, and definitely luxurious.
After sleeping on it for one night we noticed a huge difference in our quality of sleep as well as our collective pains and aches associated with sleep, as in less sleep-related pain than we have had in years! We are satisfied with the pain-free sleep this mattress topper provides through its support and comfort.
This is a high-quality memory foam mattress topper at a fantastic price. We have found it to be quite well made. The materials for the cover are soft and flexible, the stitching on the topper ensures that the inside materials will not be able to move out of place, assuring that the topper will keep its original shape, and remain even so you will not ever have to worry about it getting lumpy. It is soft, yet dense enough to support weight comfortably and help ease the nighttime hip pain.
The cons are that the elastic bands intended to hold the topper in place do not really work, but we do not think that it will be real a problem because the fitted sheet we used with it seems to hold the mattress topper in place just fine. It is also a little on the warm side, but nowhere near as warm as other mattress toppers we have tried have been. This mattress topper definitely provides comfortable sleep in all seasons, even in especially warm climates.
If you are looking for a mattress topper that will totally swallow you up, this is not the right topper for you. It is firm enough to fully support the weight but still very soft and comfortable.
Some important things to note are that it will take some time to fully expand once the packaging is removed; we recommend allowing the mattress topper to expand on an even, flat surface for best results. It also had a slight odor for a few days after unpacking it and allowing it to expand. The smell went away completely after three days.
All in all, we are pleased with this mattress topper. It is high quality, and relatively inexpensive. It cushions and supports the whole body so you will never feel pressure points while you sleep. It is dense and supportive while still being breathable and cool. If your mattress needs rejuvenation, this mattress topper will be an excellent choice.
Best Pressure Relief Pads
Drive Medical Med Aire Alternating Pressure Pump and Pad System
If you or your loved one have some serious issues with mobility and have already developed bedsores, or at greater risk of getting them, then this pressure relief pad is the option for you.
It contains 130 individual bubble cells and comes with a pressure pump that will either inflate or deflate the pressure. The pump is a little bit noisy (sounds like an aquarium), but it produces a consistent airflow of 4 liters per minute and it runs in 5-minute cycles. It is super easy to fit on your bed as it comes with a built-in bracket and it can support up to 300 lbs weight.
The system is delivered in 12″ x 19″ x 8 tight package and the full dimensions are 78″ by 36″. I would say the size is like a longer twin (not queen or king-size). However, it does come with everything you may need with this product (motor, hoses, tubes, etc).
Even though we did not try it, it seems that some other users have been able to resize the pad (if you glue to seal the opened cells).
If you are not happy with the purchase you can return it in 90 days, but it is easily one of the most positively reviewed products on the market today.
The pump works with 220 V supply, but if you have 110V supply you need to buy a separate transformer.
Unlike some other pump systems, this pad system does not vibrate and the inflation/deflation is slow and comfortable.