Mattress Topper or New Mattress: How to Choose What’s Best for You

Last Updated On January 18th, 2024
Mattress Topper or New Mattress: How to Choose What’s Best for You

Key Takeaways

  • Budget and Longevity: When deciding between a mattress topper and a new mattress, consider your budget and the expected lifespan of each option. Mattress toppers are a cost-effective short-term solution, while a new mattress is a long-term investment in better sleep. Keep in mind that mattress toppers typically last around two to three years with regular use, while high-quality mattresses can last over a decade.
  • Mattress Condition: Assess the condition of your present mattress. If it’s over 7 years old, sagging, or causing discomfort, a topper may not solve the underlying issues. Meanwhile, a mattress that’s not so well-used may still benefit from a topper.
  • Sleep Issues: Determine the specific problems affecting your sleep, such as firmness, support, or temperature regulation. If you’re looking for a quick fix for minor comfort issues like a slightly too firm mattress or temperature regulation, a mattress topper can be a good choice. However, for significant problems like sagging, loss of support, or severe discomfort, a new mattress is the best long-term solution for improved sleep.

If you’re losing sleep tossing and turning on an uncomfortable mattress, you may be faced with a decision – should you buy a mattress topper or invest in a brand-new mattress? This question often pops up when your existing bed starts to show signs of wear after 5-7 years of use and you find you have trouble sleeping.

While a mattress topper can provide a quick fix for issues like sleeping too hot or needing a softer surface, it can’t compensate for structural problems like sagging coils or poor support. So how do you decide what will truly give you the rest you need?

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Factors to Consider for Mattress Topper vs. New Mattress

There are several key factors to weigh when choosing between these two options:

  • Your budget: Mattress toppers provide short-term relief at a fraction of the cost of a new mattress. But a mattress replacement may be the wiser long-term investment for your sleep.
  • Mattress age and condition: If your mattress is over 7 years old or shows signs of wear, it’s best to replace it rather than temporarily mask issues with a topper.
  • Sleep issues: Determine if a topper can adequately address any problems with comfort, support, or temperature regulation. Severe issues likely require a new mattress.
  • Expected lifespan: Mattress toppers last around 2-3 years with regular use. A new high-quality mattress will last 8-10 years or more.

Keeping these key factors in mind, let’s explore some common scenarios in the mattress topper vs. new mattress debate.

When a Mattress Topper May be the Right Choice

1. If your mattress is slightly too firm

Did you buy a firm mattress hoping for better back support, only to find it uncomfortably hard? Adding a soft memory foam or down alternative topper can help make it feel more plush and cozy. This quick fix costs a fraction of a new mattress.

2. To make your sleep surface cooler

Do you wake up hot and sweaty from a mattress that retains too much body heat? A cooling gel memory foam or breathable latex foam topper can help regulate temperature better so you sleep comfortably.

3. For a little extra cushioning

Even if your mattress is in good shape, a plush mattress topper can provide added contouring and pressure relief. Soft memory foam mattress toppers are especially beneficial for side sleepers or those with sharp pressure points.

4. To improve the feel of a mattress without replacing it

If your mattress is relatively new but not quite right in terms of softness or firmness, adding a new mattress topper lets you customize the feel at a reasonable price. This is especially true if your mattress is still relatively new but you need to switch sleep positions and require a different mattress firmness.

For example, if you’re switching to side sleeping you will want a topper that makes the bed softer. This can save you from having to purchase an entirely new soft mattress.

5. When budget constraints prevent buying a new mattress

For those unable to afford a brand-new mattress, a topper offers short-term relief on a tight budget. Down the road, you can invest in a quality mattress built to last.

6. For guest rooms and kids’ bedrooms

Use mattress toppers to enhance comfort and extend the life of mattresses that get only occasional use, like in spare rooms. When they’re not in use, you can store the mattress topper away.

7. To make a mattress last longer

Adding a topper can protect your mattress from wear, buying you a few more years before needing to replace it.

When to Buy a New Mattress

While mattress toppers serve a purpose, there are times when a new mattress is truly the best solution for improving your sleep.

1. If your existing mattress sags or has impressions

Over 5-7 years, mattresses naturally break down and sag. A topper won’t fix a mattress with uneven support or impressions. This can disrupt sleep and cause body aches. It’s better to replace the mattress instead.

2. When your mattress is over 7-10 years old

Even high-quality mattresses should be replaced after about a decade. At this point, materials have broken down, though those with a higher mattress thickness might last longer. A topper can’t compensate for lost support.

3. If you need significant improvements in comfort or support

Severe loss of support or uncomfortable pressure points requires a mattress tailored to your needs. A topper alone probably won’t cut it.

4. If you sleep very hot on your current mattress

If your mattress lacks breathability, adding a cooling topper may help a little. But if it still sleeps too hot, a new mattress designed for cooling may be your best bet.

5. To reduce motion transfer or ease pressure points

Excessive motion transfer or sharp pressure points often require a new mattress specifically engineered to address those issues.

6. For better support due to health conditions

Those with chronic pain or conditions like arthritis may need a very supportive mattress tailored to their needs. A topper alone probably won’t provide enough relief.

7. Due to body changes over time

Weight gain, injury, pregnancy—there are many reasons your support needs may change over time, meaning it’s time for a new supportive mattress.

As you can see, while toppers serve a purpose, there comes a time when a new mattress is the only long-term solution for improving sleep.

Making the Right Choice for You

When deciding between a mattress topper versus new mattress, first consider your budget constraints. Mattress toppers provide an affordable short-term fix. But investing in a high-quality mattress may pay off down the road in better sleep and long-lasting comfort.

Next, assess your current mattress honestly. Is it over 7 years old and showing signs of wear like sagging? Does it sleep uncomfortably hot or lack adequate support? If so, a topper probably won’t solve the underlying issues.

Carefully analyze what problems are interfering with your quality sleep. Decide whether a topper could reasonably address them based on the depth of the issues. Severe sagging, sinkage, heat retention and lack of support will require a tailored new mattress designed to solve those specific problems.

Finally, factor in the expected lifespan. Even the best mattress toppers last just a few years with regular use. Meanwhile, when it comes to how long a mattress can last, the high-quality models can surpass a decade. So while a topper provides temporary relief, a new mattress is a long-term investment in better sleep.

Choosing the Best Mattress for You

While all of our mattresses can be the best mattress for someone’s needs, easily our most popular model is the Amerisleep AS3, capable of suiting most sleeping styles.

Amerisleep AS3 Mattress Image
  • Price Range: $1049 to $2198
  • Mattress Type: Memory Foam
  • Firmness: 5 to 6 out of 10 (Medium)
  • Thickness: 12 Inches
  • Available In: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, Split King
20 Years
Sleep Trial
100 Nights
Mattress Highlights
  • Plant-based memory foam top
  • Transition foam with targeted support
  • Sturdy base foam for durable support
Recommended For
  • Most sleeping positions
  • Hot sleepers
  • Couples

The AS3 mattress is our most versatile model, a medium-feel option suited for any type of sleeper. We combine pressure-relieving Bio-Pur® material with sturdy support and a technological fabric cover for advanced comfort and cooling.

The AS3 features a 12″ profile with 3 layers of performance foam:

  • 3″ Bio-Pur® top layer: Molded for cushioning and cooling
  • 2″ Affinity transition foam: Provides zoned support and responsiveness
  • 7″ Bio-Core® support foam: Gives durable support and prevents sagging

This innovative construction provides exceptional pressure relief while keeping sleepers buoyantly supported throughout the night. The medium firmness appeals to most sleepers regardless of position or body type.

The AS3 is backed by a 20-year warranty so you can rest assured it’s built to last over a decade. And Amerisleep’s risk-free 100-night trial lets you experience the bed, giving you ample time to test the mattress. After all, investing in the right mattress truly pays dividends through better sleep, improved health and a higher quality of life.

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How much should you spend on a mattress topper?

The cost of a mattress topper can vary widely depending on its material, thickness, and brand. In general, you can find mattress toppers that range from around $20 to $300 or more. The price often reflects the quality and features of the topper. If you’re looking for a basic, budget-friendly option for added comfort, we’ve found that you can find affordable toppers that provide a decent level of support.

However, for higher-end options with advanced features like cooling gel or specialized foam, you may need to invest more. Consider your specific needs, budget, and the longevity you expect from the topper when deciding how much to spend. In our experience, it’s important to strike a balance between quality and affordability to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Is a mattress topper good for a bad back?

Yes, the right mattress topper can provide additional support and comfort, helping to ease back pain. However, while a mattress topper can offer relief, you can’t avoid addressing the root causes of your back pain. It’s also important to choose a topper that suits your specific needs. Memory foam or latex toppers, for example, can contour to your body’s shape and distribute pressure evenly, which can be particularly helpful for back pain sufferers.

Look for a topper with balanced medium to medium-firm firmness levels, as these generally provide the best balance of comfort and support. Lastly, consider your preferred sleeping position when selecting a topper, as different positions may require varying degrees of support.

What thickness is best for a mattress topper?

The ideal thickness for a mattress topper largely depends on your sleep preferences and the state of your existing mattress. A 2-inch topper offers a subtle layer of comfort and is budget-friendly. It’s suitable For relatively new mattresses that only need slight enhancement, we suggest a 2-inch topper. It’s budget-friendly and allows for subtle comfort shifts.

Meanwhile, a 3-inch topper provides noticeable comfort and ample pressure relief, making it a popular choice for most sleepers, especially if your mattress is somewhat firm. Toppers that are 4 inches or thicker offer substantial cushioning and support, ideal for aging mattresses or individuals with specific pain issues who need a bed that provides extra pressure relief.

Are memory foam toppers worth it?

Whether a memory foam topper is right depends on what you need from your mattress. For those who need tailor-made comfort, memory foam toppers excel at providing extra pressure relief by conforming to your body’s shape. They can also enhance mattress support, particularly for mattresses that are too soft or have lost firmness over time.

High-quality memory foam toppers can be cost-effective for extending mattress life and are a suitable option if you’re not ready to invest in a new mattress. However, consider cooling properties if you’re concerned about heat retention, as memory foam can trap heat.

Is it normal to have back pain with a new mattress?

Yes, back pain with a new mattress is relatively common. Your body needs time to adjust to a new mattress, especially if it has a different firmness or support level compared to your old one. During this adjustment period, which can last a few weeks, you might experience some discomfort, including temporary back pain.

To ease back pain with a new mattress, give your body time to adapt. But if the pain persists beyond the adjustment period, we suggest evaluating whether the mattress is suitable for your comfort and support needs. Consider its firmness, mattress type, and whether it provides the necessary support for your body. It may be worth exploring a different mattress or speaking with a healthcare professional.


When faced with the decision between purchasing a mattress topper or a new mattress, carefully weigh factors like your budget, mattress condition, and specific sleep issues. While toppers can provide temporary relief in some cases, a sagging or uncomfortable mattress over 5 to 7 years old will likely require replacement for improved long-term sleep.

Analyze your own circumstances and needs honestly to decide if you need quick relief or a long-lasting sleep investment. In our experience, it’s not worth it to try and save an old mattress if it’s not going to provide you with a good night’s rest.

Remember, quality materials that promote cooling, pressure relief, and support do make a significant difference in how well you sleep. So take your time and choose wisely to find your perfect sleep match.

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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