For those who like feeling as if they’re sleeping on a pile of feathers, or in a Ritz-Carlton penthouse suite, nothing will bring you there like a plush mattress topper. An extra (literal) layer of softness is even more necessary in this age of computer-generated comfort from bed-in-a-box brands like Casper and Tuft & Needle, which aim for a median level of comfort so that you don’t need to test out your mattress beforehand. You can feel relatively sure, based on their extensive research, that your mattress will feel “fine.” But what if you want to feel not just fine, but like you’re sleeping on a cloud?
If you’re looking for plush, there are two options: down and alternative down, which mostly feels the same, but has no allergy-causing potential and is often much more affordable. What makes one cushiony fabric really stand out is the way it distributes the fluff. While in some cases a down filler will shift or bunch up, the best toppers are able to maintain an even distribution throughout the night. Others run into problems when the outer shell has a synthetic feel, which can seep through and affect overall softness, even when it’s beneath sheets.
The happy medium here is Parachute, which is, of course, another sleep and home goods start-up. Parachute launched back in 2014 with a collection of sheets and duvets founder Ariel Kaye designed to mimic a hotel bed she first slept in during an Amalfi Coast getaway. I was turned on to the brand during an informal survey of interior-designer friends and bedding experts. Two of them, interior designer Danielle Arps and home-goods designer Aelfie Oudghiri, said that Parachute’s down-alternative fiber bed, filled with a hypoallergenic microfiber, was the most natural and luxurious-feeling, like a super-dense comforter from below. So I decided to try one out.
They were right. I sunk right into the Parachute and it shaped to the form of my body, following my every move throughout the night. While a memory-foam topper might act similarly, those can tend to feel thick — not light, airy, and cool like the Parachute. And there were no hot vibes like I get from foam. Kaye and her team developed this topper to solve the problem of down alternative often flattening quicker than real feather down. Parachute’s stands at three inches tall (they also offer a duck-feather option). And instead of bothersome synthetic coating, Parachute uses an Oeko-Tex certified cotton shell that’s both soft and free of synthetics and chemicals. Most important, the Parachute has a box construction with stitching throughout the topper to make sure that the fiber filling stays evenly distributed throughout any tossing and turning, so you’ll never have to shake it out. I felt myself gently melting and folding into the topper, while it enveloped me from beneath. I woke up feeling lightly sandwiched between layers of plushness.
More plush mattress toppers
As Nick Robinson, editor and publisher of sleep-product review aggregator Sleep Like the Dead, explains, memory foam mattress toppers are a popular alternative to down because “they add comfort and relieve pressure.” This Tempur-Pedic topper is a favorite of both experts and Amazon reviewers alike: Sarah Riccio, a senior writer at Sleepopolis, says it’s “exceptionally moldable and offers full-body pressure relief for sleepers of all styles,” and an enthusiastic reviewer raves that it’s like “sleeping on a cloud.”
It costs a lot less than Tempur-Pedic option above, but this mattress topper is also made from three inches of plush memory foam and comes highly recommended by experts. Keith Cushner, co-founder and general manager of sleep-products site Tuck, says, “It’s really solid in terms of durability, the quality of the foam, and the experience all of our testers have had with it.” Plus it has straps that attach to the mattress, so it won’t move around during the night.
In the under-$100 range, Lucid makes a memory foam topper that’s infused with lavender to keep it smelling fresh. “This topper has five body zones which provide extra pressure relief in certain areas to help level you out across the mattress and maximize comfort,” says Ben Trapskin, founder of the Sleep Sherpa.
Memory foam has a reputation for running hot, but that’s not the case with this topper, which is lined with a “NASA-inspired” fabric designed to let heat escape from the body. Heather Turgeon, a psychotherapist and co-author of The Happy Sleeper, often recommends it to her patients who have trouble with temperature regulation at night because it feels comfortably cool, even for those who sleep hot.
If you bought a memory-foam mattress from one of the new direct-to-consumer bedding brands but you’re missing the bounciness of your old innerspring mattress, Cushner recommends this topper that combines latex with a layer of tiny “nano springs.” It has the added bonus of feeling a little cooler than straight memory foam, too, because of the increased airflow between the coils.
If you’re looking for an all-natural topper, try one made from latex that’s free of synthetic chemicals. Bill Fish, a certified sleep-science coach and co-founder of Tuck recommends PlushBeds. “Latex can soften a firm mattress, but still give you some bounce, and the aerated feature allows for consistent airflow to keep the sleeper cool throughout the night,” he says.
When we asked college RAs about dorm-room essentials, many recommended a mattress topper to make school-issue twin beds more comfortable. We like this affordable down-alternative, pillow-top version that Amazon reviewers praise for its fluffy softness. If you’re not shopping for a college kid, the queen and king sizes are both well under $100.
Combining plush fiber-fill and supportive gel memory foam, this pillow-top topper is another reviewer-favorite. One happy shopper writes, “I slept perfectly for the first time in years. My body was perfectly cradled in comfort and bliss. I awoke feeling as though I was sleeping on a cloud, rejuvenated and almost pain free.” Another, who’s owned the Sleep Innovations topper for two years reports, it’s “just as awesome as day one.”
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