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There are many types of mattresses available for purchase, and finding the right one could get overwhelming at times. One of these is the pillow top mattress: a comfort-boosting option that is growing in popularity.
So, what is a pillow top mattress? A pillow top mattress is an extra layer of bed padding averaging 2 inches in thickness. They are sewn to ensure added comfort and feathery support like a pillow would. The average mattress is between 6-9 inches in thickness, while a pillow top’s range is between 16-18 inches.
This article will discuss key points about the Pillow-Top Mattress, including:
- How is a Pillow-Top Mattress constructed?
- Types of Pillow-Top Mattresses
- Average prices and Pillow-Top alternatives
- Which Pillow-Top Mattress is Best for You?
- Benefits of Pillow-Top Mattresses/ Why & When Thickness Matters
- Things to Consider Before Getting a Pillow-Top Mattress
How is a Pillow-Top Mattress constructed?
A Pillow-Top Mattress is similar to regular beds, except for the single layer of foam/ fiber padding that is sewn to the top side of the mattress. The term “pillow-top” is usually interchangeable with a “Euro-top,” which is the same thing, except that Euro-tops are generally denser and made with higher quality material.
Pillow-tops are thinner than Euro-tops, which makes it softer and less “cushiony,” depending on the material. That being said, some pillow-top mattresses are built using more expensive materials similar to those of Euro-tops. All of the various materials and their subsequent differences will be discussed in this article.
Types of Pillow-Top Mattresses
Pillow-Top Mattresses generally come in the same sizes as regular mattresses: Twin, Full Sized, Queen, and King.
Other than the extra padding, the structure of a pillow-top mattress is also most similar to the average innerspring or coil mattresses. However, the extra layer of padding (or “pillow-top”) is made with various materials such as cotton, latex, or memory foam, to name a few.
Each material has unique properties and is suitable for various needs. For example, cotton is breathable and light and is suitable for those living in warmer climates. It does not need extra contour support.
Latex foam is designed to react instantly to any bodily movements, which makes movement during sleep easy. It does not “sink in” or warm-up upon bodily contact throughout the night like memory foam padding would.
When it comes to mattresses, you should choose your preferred materials, depending on your needs. But no matter which material you pick, the boosted thickness of a pillow-top mattress will boost that comfort.
Average Prices of Pillow-Top Mattresses & Alternatives
Pillow-Top Mattresses can be more affordable than other luxury beds. However, they are, on average, 30% more expensive than regular non-pillow-top beds.
A twin-sized pillow-top mattress is available starting from $150, while larger sizes such as Queen would range between $450 to $600. As expected, the size of the mattress heavily impacts the price.
While these prices may seem intimidating at first, it’s important to remember that mattresses last several years. It’s also worth noting that some mattresses could cost more or less depending on what material is used to build the mattress.
A more affordable option would be simply purchasing a separate pillow-top topper and putting it over your existing mattress. Depending on the pad, this “DIY alternative” should feel identical with a ready-made pillow-top mattress.
A Queen size cotton pillow-top topper can be purchased for less than $40, while memory foam toppers of the same size could cost up to $170.
However, higher prices don’t necessarily mean better sleep, since everybody’s sleeping needs are different (and this will be discussed further later). Memory foam, for example, is good for those with muscle aches, but perhaps too warm for those who prefer cooling beds.
Purchasing a separate pillow-topper is a more economical alternative and produces less waste if you already own a mattress. Many pillow-top toppers are washing-machine and dryer-friendly, which makes transportation and overall maintenance less complicated than it needs to be.
Which Pillow-Top Mattress Is Best for You?
The extra layer of padding sewn onto a pillow-top mattress is made with different materials. Since this is the layer your body will have initial contact with, each mattress is unique in its feel. “So, what’s best? Cotton? Foam? Latex? Why are some so expensive? Argh!”.
The short answer is: No one type of material is universally “the best.” Each person has different sleeping needs that require different beds. But while the plethora of options may be overwhelming, it’s possible to ask yourselves a few questions to help determine the best pillow-top mattress fit for you.
How do you sleep at night?
How you position yourself at night matters.
Think about it like this: when you sleep, you spend hours either curling up or staying straight in the same position. Having a mattress with the correct material would make these positions more “natural” and can seriously affect the quality of your snooze.
If you’re a side sleeper, for example, having soft and malleable support is important for your shoulders and hips. A cotton-based pillow-top mattress could help prevent those morning’ sore arm’ aches.
At the same time, the softness of the cotton means they don’t deliver much support and rely heavily on pressure points— making them uncomfortable for back-sleepers.
Firmer options such as latex provide solid support since it is made out of rubber and are better for back-sleepers as they straighten the spine. However, it may be too tough and simply too expensive for side-sleepers.
Overall, the best mattress material for you is the one that makes you feel most comfortable. If you find a particular material that suits you, go ahead and invest in it. Don’t get too caught up in online recommendations – the only way to truly learn which material is best for you is to head to a mattress store and try them all out.
What’s the weather like?
While this may sound strange, the climate is an important factor when it comes to choosing your mattress— both for comfort and maintenance purposes.
The best temperature for a good night’s sleep is somewhere between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15- 19°C), and a good mattress should help regulate your temperature to that range.
If you live in colder climates, memory foam-based pillow-top mattress would be ideal, since memory foams are viscoelastic and molds into your body in response to pressure and heat.
The structure of memory foam traps your body heat and maintains that heat throughout the cold night. If you live in warmer climates, this would be far from ideal, and cotton-based pillow-top mattresses would be your best bet.
Cotton is breathable and allows free air circulation between your skin and the surrounding. In fact, Cotton mattresses are commonly used in households across Southeast Asia where it’s summer all year round. This means if you’re one to sweat throughout the night, you may benefit from the cooling effect cotton provides.
Cotton mattresses also need a lot of sunlight since they are more susceptible to germ infestation and dust mites. If you live in a place that doesn’t receive much sunlight, maintaining a cotton mattress might prove harder than it needs to be.
How important is muscle-ache relief for you?
Not all mattresses are designed to provide the most comfort for your body.
The good thing about having a pillow-top mattress is that it delivers muscle-ache relief no matter what material it’s made out of simply because of that extra boost of thickness.
High-quality mattresses are not only comfortable, but they also move in accordance to your body to prevent muscle sores. That being said, another way to choose a mattress is by considering your age, physical activity, and medical needs.
Memory foam beds create that comforting “sinking in” sensation and bounce back to their original shape once the weight is removed.
Hence, they may be a beneficial investment for older adults or those who suffer from painful conditions that require even better relief. However, they might not be suitable for people who move a lot while sleeping.
Gel beds provide the same relief without heating up excessively like a memory foam bed would, but are way more expensive.
In fact, most of the beds that provide muscle-ache relief prices higher than regular beds. So if you don’t consider ache-relief to be a big deal, you can consider cheaper pillow-top mattress options that cater to your needs.
How Long Are You Planning To Keep This Mattress For?
If your answer is “as long as possible,” then maybe you could consider splurging for a pricier option such as latex.
Mattresses vary in durability, so knowing your expectations helps in narrowing down your search. If you’re someone who’s just looking for a bed to furnish your college apartment for the next four or so years, it may be wise to compromise durability for affordability.
Once you’ve identified your sleeping preferences and needs, you can narrow down your search to a specific type of mattress. Hybrid mattresses made from two or more different materials are also getting popular, which means you can further personalize your bed to your needs.
Benefits of Pillow-Top Mattresses/Why & When Thickness Matters:
Ever wonder why those hotel beds are much more inviting than the twin-sized mattress you spent your college years on, even if they are of the same size? This is because the thicker your bed is, the better it is at providing comfort, supporting the motion, and even regulating temperature.
To put it in numbers, smaller beds meant for kids or smaller adults are about 5-8 inches thick, while pricier hybrid mattresses can range anywhere between 12-20 inches. Average mattresses are in between these two categories.
Bed support is much more important than you’d think. The average person spends one-third of their lifetime sleeping, so that’s just about how much time their bodies spend lying on a bed. Good quality beds that have even surface that isn’t saggy, and firm in their construct help to establish healthy spinal alignment and overall better posture.
While thinner beds are cheaper and may be appropriate for people of smaller stature, it tends to sag in the middle, which jeopardizes support and good alignment. Thinner beds less than 10 inches thick are also the least suitable for sleeping on the hard floor surface and may cause muscle-ache problems in the long run.
But, as mentioned before, everybody’s sleeping needs are different. While the non-saggy, even-surface rule for determining good beds still applies, very thick beds are usually recommended, especially for heavier set individuals.
Since the pressure applied to the bed would be greater, having a thicker-than-average bed of at least 12 inches would mean greater durability and uncompromised support. However, lighter set individuals may not need this much support. They could benefit by simply adding a few inches of bed padding.
Pressure-wise, another thing to consider is how many people are sleeping on your bed? If you’ve got a cuddle buddy to accompany your sleep, that extra weight must be accounted for because it will eventually wear out your mattress.
Pillow-top mattresses are generally better for two or more people sleeping on the same bed, thanks to its motion isolation capacity. In other words, pillow-top mattresses are designed to absorb motion so that when you move, your partner will not be disturbed by that movement.
Things to Consider Before Getting A Pillow-Top Mattress
So, we’ve discussed everything regarding Pillow-Top Mattresses, including its benefits, material variations, and how they differ from each other.
But like many other things, pillow-top mattresses come with its own set of shortcomings, which you may want to consider. Some of the common complain pillow-top mattress users express are discussed below:
Pillow-Top Mattresses Aren’t as Durable
Pillow-top mattresses are comfortable, unfortunately short-lived. According to this data, almost one-third of pillow top mattress users report significant sagging or compression during three years of ownership.
Keep in mind that good quality mattresses usually last between 7 to 10 years before needing replacement. While sagging and compression don’t mean that the bed is completely unusable, they do jeopardize comfort. Since pillow-top beds are also pricier compared to regular beds, this durability issue may be one you have to think mostly about.
Pillow-Top Mattresses Tend to Get Warm
As previously mentioned, temperature is an important factor for a good night’s sleep. Pillow-top mattresses are more comfortable due to its thickness and extra layers. Still, these extra layers also act as heat insulators that trap your body heat as you sleep.
This heat retention capacity may be exaggerated, especially if you’re overweight or are using pillow-top mattresses made out of memory foam or other warming materials. This may result in an uneasy sleep due to excessive sweating and restlessness.
That being said, there are ways to enjoy the pillow-top mattress while minimizing its heating effect by opting for toppers made out of gel or foam. Another solution is by purchasing additional padding for cooling, such as a wool topper.
Keep in mind that good-quality cooling mattress pads are expensive. If your local mattress store has a pillow-top mattress that already has some built-in cooling mechanism, that would be your best bet.
Pillow-Top Mattresses May Be “Too” Comfortable
A sad reality about beds is that you eventually have to get off them.
Pillow-top mattresses are designed to mimic the softness of a pillow, which means comfort but also difficult to move/ get up off. While this may sound funny, pillow-top users with memory foam beds report difficulty in moving, changing positions, and getting off the bed since it’s more resistant to movements.
Heavier individuals benefit from having thicker beds in general. However, the pillow-like quality of pillow-top mattresses means that it could prove unsuitable.
This data also shows that people over 230 pounds (104 kg) find that they sink in too deep into thick pillow tops. However, if you are on the lighter side and prefer that “sucked in” feeling, you may find yourself trying out pillow-top mattresses the next time you go furniture shopping.
Here are the key points you should take away from this post:
- Pillow-Top Mattresses are basically regular mattresses with an additional layer of padding. These paddings are at least two inches thick, which makes a notable difference in comfort. They are made with various materials and behave differently.
- Everyone’s sleeping needs are different. Depending on one’s age, physical location, or medical needs, different materials provide different reliefs. No bed is universally the best bed.
- The added thickness of Pillow-Top Mattresses Provides Comfort. The extra thickness is great for muscle-ache relief. This sensation can be recreated by purchasing a separate pillow-top pad and laying it on your existing bed.
- Pillow-Top Mattresses are great for Certain People. Couples sleeping on the same bed may benefit from owning a pillow-top mattress, or anyone who prioritizes comfort over durability. The heat of a pillow-top mattress may also be preferred for those in colder climates.
- Pillow Top Mattresses are unsuitable for some people. Heavier individuals and those living in hotter climates may find these beds uncomfortable.