Best Mattress Topper for College

Last Updated On October 10th, 2023
Best Mattress Topper for College

Selecting dorm room decor is always exciting, but what’s one section of the room college students often neglect? Their bed.

Most dorm rooms come with a mattress, but let’s be honest, it’s probably not nearly as comfortable as your bed back home. Rather than accepting your newly uncomfortable mattress as an inevitable part of college, you can get better sleep by simply investing in a mattress topper.

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In this article, we discuss what a mattress topper is, how it can elevate your dorm room bed, and review the best mattress toppers for college.

What is a Mattress Topper?

Mattress toppers are 2 to 4-inch thick comfort layers that are often paired with mattresses that feel too firm or too soft to increase cushion or support. If your mattress is not as responsive as it once was, or it’s feeling a little too firm against your body, a mattress topper can improve your comfort to enable a better night’s rest.

Mattress toppers come in a variety of materials, the most common being memory and latex foam. Polyester blend, wool, and feather toppers are not as common but comfortable options as well.

Mattress toppers are not to be confused with mattress protectors and mattress pads. These terms are often used interchangeably. However, each type of bedding serves a separate purpose. To ensure you purchase the correct product, allow us to clarify the difference between mattress toppers, protectors, and pads.

Mattress Topper vs. Mattress Protector vs. Mattress Pad

As we already know, mattress toppers act as an extension of your mattress and are used to offer custom comfort and support.

Mattress protectors do not increase the softness or support of your mattress in any way, but instead, are specifically designed to protect it. They create a healthier sleeping environment by shielding your mattress from bacteria, dust mites, mold, spills, dirt, body oil, dead skin, and (if waterproof) liquid.

Mattress pads are a cross between mattress toppers and mattress protectors. Mattress pads are usually less than 1-inch thick, making them much thinner than a mattress topper, and typically crafted using cotton, polyester, wool, or synthetic fiber. Some pads are used to protect the bed from stains, moisture, and other wear and tear while others are used to lightly cushion a mattress. That said, mattress pads cannot drastically change a mattress’s feel.

When you don’t have a say in the feel of your dorm room bed, drastically changing it may be exactly what you are trying to achieve, and that’s why we suggest college students choose mattress toppers when looking for the best option to enhance their comfort.

Now that we’ve discussed the definition of a true mattress topper and how they differentiate from other bedding accessories, let’s talk about best mattress toppers to pair with your mattress.

The Amerisleep Mattress Topper

Quick Guide: A 30-Second Summary

Best Mattress Topper for College Amerisleep Lift™ Mattress Topper

Our recommendation for a mattress topper for a college dorm is the Lift™ Mattress Topper. The price for a twin XL size topper is $249, perfect for most dorm room mattresses.

Mattress Topper Highlights
  • Plant-based memory foam relieves pressure
  • Affinity eases tension points while supporting the back
  • MicroGrip® technology keeps the topper in place
Recommended For
  • College students of different sleep styles
  • Budget shoppers seeking to revive a mattress
  • Hot sleepers

When you lie down on your brand new dorm room bed you may find yourself deprived of comfort or maybe yearning for some support. Luckily, we design our Lift™ Mattress Topper to adjust the firmness of any mattress.

So, how is one mattress topper capable of modifying any mattress to improve comfort? We offer two variations of our topper: the Comfort Lift™ and the Support Lift™. On the Lift™ by Amerisleep product page, you can simply select Comfort or Support before adding your topper to the cart to ensure you’re receiving the right product.

Let’s discuss how our Lift™ can provide better sleep than other top-rated mattress toppers available.

Comfort Lift™ by Amerisleep

Our Comfort Lift™ topper is best fit for side sleepers, combo sleepers, or anyone who desires a softer mattress.The Comfort Lift™ mattress topper is constructed from 3 inches of Bio-Pur®, a partially-plant based material designed to cushion and soften, offering superior comfort.

Bio-Pur® is more breathable than traditional memory foam as well making it a good choice for hot sleepers. The material’s open-cell structure creates space between the foam’s particles, allowing air to flow freely through. Constant airflow reduces retention of body heat and maintains a comfortably cool sleeping environment. The additional space also makes for a less dense and more responsive foam. Meaning, you won’t ever feel stuck inside your mattress or have difficulty moving, proving especially useful to anyone with consistently sore muscles.

Although the Comfort Lift™  is meant to soften a bed, it does so without sacrificing support. Complete with HIVE® technology, the mattress topper provides a calculated combination of both comfort and support. Amerisleep’s HIVE® technology consists of hundreds of hexagon-shaped cutouts strategically placed into five areas: the head, shoulders, back, hips, and feet.

The hexagon-shaped cutouts are closer together near the head, back, and feet. When you lie down on the topper, these areas do not easily expand, providing enough support to neutralize your spine and prevent back pain.

On the contrary, HIVE’s® hexagons are spread farther apart near the shoulders and hips. When pressure is applied, the cut-outs spread to cushion and relieve tension. These hexagons create a zoned comfort layer—a feature usually only available in mattresses. This careful balance of relief and support makes the mattress topper an ideal choice for sleepers experiencing pain in their back, hips, or shoulders.

Support Lift™ by Amerisleep

The Support Lift™ mattress topper uses 3 inches of Affinity material rather than Bio-Pur®. The Affinity foam is more firm, offering increased support. Still, it carries many of the same advantages as Bio-Pur®.

Affinity foam is created using an open-cell design, meaning it is fit for those who sleep hot or tend to move frequently while asleep. As mentioned above, the open-cell design leaves additional space between foam particles which makes it much more breathable and responsive than traditional memory foam.

The Support Lift™ topper also includes HIVE® technology, so while it is slightly firmer than the comfort topper it still provides sufficient pressure relief. The Support Lift™ mattress topper is a good option for back sleepers, stomach sleepers, or anyone with a mattress lacking support.

In addition to an open-cell design and HIVE® technology, both toppers contain a soft, ultra-breathable cover guaranteeing them a fit for warm climates or high-temperature sleepers.

The removable cover on both the Comfort and Support Lift™ makes these toppers extremely easy to care for. Rather than continually spot cleaning, simply remove the cover and machine wash it in cold water then hang to dry.

Plus, on the bottom of the cover of these toppers is MicroGrip® technology. This feature utilizes light friction to keep the topper from sliding, without damaging the mattress—an additional benefit for anyone that tends to toss and turn.

The Lift by Amerisleep™ Mattress Toppers also includes a 5-year warranty to ensure the benefits of your preferred topper will last long enough to get you through college.

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Benefits of a Mattress Topper

Aside from an entirely new mattress, mattress toppers seem to be the only sleeping accessory capable of significantly changing the feel of your bed. They are commonly used to increase or decrease the firmness of a mattress, offering additional comfort or support.

And with a college’s dorm mattress, you likely cannot replace it even if you wish to. So when it comes to the question of a mattress topper or new mattress, a topper may be the only viable option.

A mattress topper’s ability to supply an individualized feel can reduce major areas of pain. This is especially useful to people who have experienced a recent injury, have no say over the feel of their bed, or perhaps made a lifestyle change resulting in changes in body weight.

Important Factors to Consider Before Buying a Mattress Topper

Much like your mattress, mattress topper selection should be individualized. When considering a mattress topper, we encourage you to contemplate your sleeping position and preference of material because both will have a significant impact on its ability to change your mattress.

Sleeping Position

  • Back sleepers should opt for a firmer mattress topper designed to provide support. Back sleepers put the most pressure on their back and head. The topper will need to be firm enough to push back against these areas, ensuring they do not sink into the bed and potentially misalign the spine, causing the pain we constantly attempt to evade.
  • If you are a stomach sleeper, we suggest training yourself to sleep in a different position. Stomach sleepers lie heavily on their chest, hips, and knees causing them to sink into the mattress, sacrificing the natural arch of their spine and straining their neck or back. If you cannot help but sleep on your stomach, we recommend using a firm topper to prevent excessive sinking.
  • Side sleepers will want a soft mattress topper built to supply pressure relief. Side sleepers tend to put the most pressure on heavy body parts like the hips and shoulders. A mattress topper should be soft enough to cushion and relieve these areas. A topper too firm may elevate the hips and shoulders, only placing excess pressure on the lower back and resulting in morning pain.


Mattress toppers are available in multiple materials, the most common being memory foam, latex foam, and feathers. We will discuss the benefits and downsides of each.

Memory Foam Mattress Toppers

Memory foam mattress toppers are the most common. Memory foam is a versatile material and is fit to meet the needs of varying sleepers whether they require more comfort, support, pain-relief, or all three. They are also simple to care for because they are easy to move, making laundry day or moving dorm rooms less of a hassle. Most importantly, memory foam products are durable, proving themselves to be an investment in prolonged comfort.

Latex Foam Mattress Toppers

Best Mattress Topper for College

Latex foam toppers are made from natural or synthetic latex. Natural latex foam is refined from the sap of a rubber tree, making for an eco-friendly manufacturing process. Latex foam is much heavier than memory foam and rather difficult to move. Most latex toppers are used for additional support rather than softness. Like memory foam, these types of mattress toppers are durable but usually the most expensive option.

Polyester Blend Mattress Toppers

Polyester blend mattress toppers are better known as fiberfills, and are essentially an alternative to down. Fiberfill toppers increase softness but not support and are usually less thick than memory foam or latex foam toppers. They are also less expensive and extremely lightweight, but not nearly as durable.

Wool Mattress Toppers

Wool mattress toppers are made from the natural coat of a sheep or goat. This type of mattress topper is a natural insulator, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wool mattress toppers are typically soft, making them a good fit for anyone seeking a cushioned mattress or pressure point relief. They may not be ideal for sleepers looking to increase the support of their bed. Although durable, wool mattress toppers have a higher price-point and are difficult to find.

Feather Mattress Toppers

Feather mattress toppers are made from goose or duck feathers and often referred to as featherbeds. Featherbeds are comfortable but cannot offer as much support as a memory or latex foam topper. Rather, they are used to increase the softness of a bed. Feather mattress toppers provide a cool sleeping environment and are lightweight and easy to move. However, they may require frequent fluffing and shaking to prevent the material from lumping. Featherbeds are less expensive than memory or latex foam mattress toppers but more expensive than polyester blend toppers.

Other Dorm Mattress Accessories

Bed Sheets

Sometimes you can’t control the room temperature in your dorm room. Depending on the climate your college is in, bed sheets are an easy way to either keep you cool or warm.

If you attend school in a warmer climate, we suggest using cotton, Tencel®, or linen sheets. These materials are notably breathable and lightweight.

If you will be studying in a colder climate, try wool or silk bed sheets. Both are known to regulate body temperature and may be better at retaining body heat.

Mattress Protector

Balancing class, work, homework, the gym, and social life makes college stressful. We understand if maintaining your bed is the least of your worries. That’s why we recommend equipping it with a mattress protector. You might not have control over the condition of your dorm room bed, but you certainly have control over the quality of your mattress topper. A mattress protector will protect your topper from bacteria, mold, dust mites, dead skin, sweat, and stains,  ensuring you can use it year after year and dorm after dorm.


The ability of a high-quality pillow is constantly underestimated. This is unfortunate considering the right pillow can deeply enhance sleep quality by providing full-body comfort. Finding the right pillow requires contemplating the type of sleeper you are then choosing an appropriate pillow loft, or height. When shopping for a new pillow for your dorm room bed, remember the following:

  • Medium to high loft pillows are best for side sleepers. In most cases, latex or memory foam pillows work well for side sleepers.
  • Back sleepers should use a medium loft pillow.
  • If you are a stomach sleeper opt for a low loft pillow or use no pillow at all.

Why College Students Should Care About Quality Sleep

Maintaining your overall health will make college life much easier, and receiving adequate sleep is a great place to start. Here’s why.

  • Sleep is a mood booster, making it easier to cope with feelings of stress.
  • Sleep deprivation compromises your immune system. Verified Source Mayo Clinic Ranked #1 hospital by U.S. News & World Report and one of the most trusted medical institutions in the world. The staff is committed to integrated patient care, education, and research. View source More often than not, being sick is extremely inconvenient to our responsibilities.
  • Sleep regenerates your muscles, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source so healthy sleeping routines will make it easier to maintain your physical health as well.
  • Sleep significantly impacts cognitive function. Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source When sleep is compromised, so is your memorization, attentiveness, judgment, motivation, and perception.


Do I need a mattress topper for college?

There is no rule against opting out of a mattress topper for college, but we highly encourage purchasing one. Dorm room beds are notoriously worn and more often than not, uncomfortable. An uncomfortable mattress can interfere with the quality of your sleep also affecting the quality of your day. To ensure you are well-rested and prepared to take on the many stresses of college life, consider finding a mattress topper fit to meet your needs.

How can I make my college bed more comfortable?

There are many ways to make your college bed more comfortable. We suggest starting with a mattress topper to supplement any depleted comfort or support. To further enhance your college bed, choose bedsheets fit for the climate as well as a high-quality pillow.

Do I put a fitted sheet over a mattress topper?

You should use a fitted sheet over your mattress topper. Toppers are essentially an extension of your mattress, so it is best to care for it the same way you care for a mattress. Toppers do not increase the width of your mattress, but the height. Therefore, finding a sheet to fit will not be difficult.

How long should you keep a memory foam mattress topper?

Most memory foam mattress toppers last anywhere from 3 to 4 years. When constructed from high-quality materials, they can last longer. Completing your mattress topper with a mattress protector will also extend its life.

How thick of a mattress topper do I need for college?

Mattress toppers range from 2 to 4 inches thick. If you are looking to remarkably change the feel of your mattress, find a topper at least 3 inches thick. Anything less is okay for a mattress in fairly good condition. However, keep in mind, toppers less than 3 inches thick tend to be less soft and less supportive. More likely than not, the feel of your mattress will still be present with only a slight increase in comfort or support.


Although college is an exciting and momentous part of life, it can also be stressful and overwhelming. A good night’s sleep is crucial to managing such feelings. While it may seem like the least of your worries, creating a comfortable sleeping environment should be your number one priority.

The easiest place to start is your mattress. Dorm beds are constructed in a one size fits all manner, but they do not have to stay that way. In fact, we encourage you to alter your dorm room mattress to meet your sleeping preferences because the quality of our sleep sets the tone for our day. A mattress topper is the quickest and most effective way to create your optimal sleeping environment. Knowing which one to choose is as simple as analyzing the type of sleeper you are as well as the current feel of your dorm room mattress.

About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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