Between cheap dorm room mattresses and questionable hand-me-down beds in shared apartments, college students often sleep on less-than-ideal mattresses. A mattress topper can make these mediocre beds much more comfortable for better rest.
This guide will walk you through how to pick the ideal mattress topper for your college sleeping needs. We’ll outline the benefits of mattress toppers, key buying considerations, and review the top-rated mattress toppers for boosting your college bed. With the right topper, you can sleep comfortably even on a rock-hard dorm room bed.
Why Should College Students Use Mattress Toppers?
Adding a mattress topper provides college students these key benefits:
Improves comfort – Makes a too firm, lumpy, or worn-out mattress feel more cushioned and luxurious. Essential for cheap dorm beds.
Evens out surfaces – Smooths over bumps, ridges, and craters on old mattresses for consistent coziness. Great for hand-me-down beds.
Isolates allergens – Protects you from dust mites, mold, and decade’s worth of grossness inside used mattresses.
Absorbs stains – Saves you from mystery mattress stains from previous students or tenants.
Adjusts firmness – Lets you customize the feel of a too-soft or too-firm mattress to meet your preferences.
Refreshes quickly – Easy to remove and clean to clear out smells, dirt and debris between college semesters or roommates.
Adds warmth – Extra layer helps retain heat in cold dorms. Some toppers have cooling properties for stuffy apartments.
Portable – Roll up thinner toppers and take them with you to recreate your sleeping environment at home, a significant other’s place or wherever you crash.
Mattress toppers give you ultimate versatility to personalize and improve worn dorm beds, old apartment beds, or any less-than-perfect bed to get better rest for academic success.
Top 5 Mattress Toppers for College Students
Based on extensive research into quality, value, and college-friendly features, here are the top 5 mattress toppers ideal for students:
1. Linenspa Gel Infused Memory Foam Topper
- Material: Gel memory foam
- Height: 2 or 3 inches
- Firmness: Medium
- Key features: Gel beads pull heat away from your body while conforming closely to relieve pressure points. The ventilation keeps you cool in hot dorms. The 3-inch version works well for adding cushioning and comfort to ultra-firm beds. At under $100 for a Queen, this gel memory foam topper will make even the rock-hard dorm bed feel lush.
2. DreamFoam Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper
- Material: Gel swirl memory foam
- Height: 2 or 3 inches
- Firmness: Medium
- Key features: This memory foam topper features cooling gel swirls that absorb and distribute body heat so you don’t get overheated while benefiting from contouring pressure relief. The open cell construction further allows airflow. Made in the USA, it comes in several thickness options to customize your firmness. Conforms closely to alleviate tension while keeping hot sleepers cool. An excellent balance of comfort and cooling for college living environments. Queen size costs just under $150.
3. ViscoSoft 3 Inch Serene Latex Mattress Topper
- Material: 100% natural latex
- Height: 3 inches
- Firmness: Medium
- Key features: 100% natural latex derived from renewable resources provides conforming cushioning and buoyancy. It hugs curves to relieve pressure while resisting body impressions. Latex also sleeps temperature neutral for comfort in changing environments. Provides amazing relief from cheap dorm or old mattresses. Priced under $200 for a Queen, it’s a worthwhile splurge that should last through college and beyond.
4. Oaskys Plush Mattress Pad Cover
- Material: Hypoallergenic polyester fill
- Height: 1 inch
- Firmness: Soft
- Key features: This budget-friendly, Amazon #1 best-selling mattress pad adds a layer of plush comfort to worn-out beds. The lofty down alternative poly fill provides a lavish feel without compressing quickly. Fitted skirt and anchor bands keep it secure all night. Easy to remove and machine washable. Adds pillowy softness and moisture protection for under $50 in any size. Great for instantly upgrading cheap dorm mattresses.
5. TEMPUR-Adapt + Cooling Topper Supreme
- Material: TEMPUR memory foam and phase change material
- Height: 2.5 inches
- Firmness: Medium soft
- Key features: For those looking to splurge, this premium Tempur-Pedic topper transforms your dorm or apartment bed into a luxurious sleep experience. The 2.5” of conforming TEMPUR material cushions pressure points while a phase change cover absorbs and releases heat to keep your topper cool all night, even in hot apartments. The removable cover is machine washable. While an investment at around $350, it’s backed by a 10-year warranty and makes even the cheapest mattress comfortable.
With any of these toppers, you’ll sleep comfortably anywhere while avoiding unsanitary used mattresses.
Mattress Topper Buying Guide for College Students
Beyond our top recommendations, here are factors to consider when selecting the best mattress topper for your needs as a college student:
Thinner 1 to 3 inch mattress toppers modify surface feel without raising mattress height considerably. 2 to 3 inches adequately cushions without making dorm loft beds too tall. Still portable to transport.
Thicker 3 to 5 inch mattress toppers substantially reinvent mattresses by adding ample padding and allowing you to sink in deeply. May make lofted beds uncomfortably tall. Difficult to transport.
Measure your bed height and room to see what thickness will work for your setup.
Memory foam contours closely to sore joints for pressure relief. Cooling gels and airflow prevent overheating. Latex provides similar contouring and rapidly rebounds from body impressions. Feathertop polyester and down-alternative fiber fill offer plush softness.
Choose soft to add plushness, medium for balance, or firm to add support. Firmer typically lasts longer than soft for durability.
Look for antimicrobial properties to prevent odors and germs in dorms. Allergy-resistance makes sense for used mattresses. Waterproof barriers protect against spills and accidents.
Inexpensive mattress toppers under $100 can instantly refresh beds. For enduring comfort invest in $150 to $300+ options using quality materials like latex, advanced memory foam, and wool.
Find the sweet spot between benefits, budget and how long you plan to use it. A mattress topper should last through multiple living situations.
Shopping Tips for Finding Your Perfect College Mattress Topper
Follow these savvy tips when evaluating mattress topper options for your college bed:
- Read reviews and look for durability complaints before buying. College use can be hard on toppers.
- Test foam toppers first in store by pressing down and lying on them rather than ordering sight unseen. Feel is personal.
- For allergies or germ phobias, look for removable, washable covers to keep your topper fresh between semesters and roommates.
- Don’t assume a thick topper is best. Too lofty can restrict sheets fitting tightly. Around 2-3 inches is often ideal.
- For studio apartments, thinner, portable toppers are convenient to roll up and transport over school breaks and summer.
- Look closely at retailer return policies in case you don’t like a topper once sleeping on it. Some accept used returns.
Taking the time to find the right mattress topper for your specific college situation pays off with years of improved comfort and rest.
Will a Mattress Topper Change the Firmness of My Bed?
Yes, adding a mattress topper will modify the overall firmness and feel of your mattress.
- To soften a too firm mattress, choose a thicker plush topper like 3” of memory foam.
- To add support to a sagging bed, opt for a 2” latex or firm foam topper.
- If your mattress feels uneven, a contouring memory foam layer can help even out the surface.
- To refine a lumpy dorm bed, lofty fiberfill or down-alternative adds buffered cushioning.
Assess if your current mattress is too hard or too soft, then select a topper designed to change the feel to your liking.
How Long Can You Keep Using a Mattress Topper?
With care, a quality mattress topper should last:
- Down-alternative toppers – 1 to 2 years of frequent use before compressing
- Memory foam toppers – 3 to 5 years if rotating and caring for foam properly
- Latex foam toppers – 4 to 6 years before indentations form
- Wool or featherbed toppers – 4+ years with occasional re-fluffing
Replace the topper when you feel it’s no longer improving your sleep comfort after trying rotating or airing it out. Adding a mattress protector extends a topper’s lifespan.
Is a Mattress Topper Worth It for College?
Absolutely – a mattress topper is one of the most affordable ways to drastically improve an old, cheap or uncomfortable mattress at college. Depending on materials, expect to pay:
- Down-alternative or fiber: $50 to $150 for immediate softness
- Memory foam: $100 to $300 for contouring cushion
- Latex: $150 to $400 for responsive support
- Featherbeds: $250+ for luxurious plushness
Added comfort, insulation, and allergen protection make mattress toppers a wise investment to survive college sleeping situations comfortably. They allow customizing the bed to your preferences for better rest compared to thin dorm mattresses or questionable hand-me-downs.
The Bottom Line
As a college student, don’t settle for rough dorm room beds or smelly old apartment mattresses. A mattress topper lets you reinvent affordable but shabby beds for a customized sleep experience. Look for the ideal thickness, materials and features to meet your needs and budget. With the right topper pick, you can sleep soundly even on the cheapest mattress. Follow our tips to find your perfect match and transform any bed into dreamy comfort for better rest. You’ll wake up each morning feeling ready to take on college classes and adventures.