What Is A Pillow Top Mattress? Could It Be Right For Your Needs?


Pillow top mattresses have been around for a few decades now with manufacturers advertising their extra comfort and luxury softness. But what is a pillow top mattress and is it right for you?

A Pillow Top Mattress: A Regular Mattress With Added Comfort

Pillow top mattresses can be several kinds of mattresses. Examples include an innerspring (open coil) mattress or sometimes an air mattress. The pillow top part of the mattress comes into play because they then have a layer of extra thick, luxurious material sewn onto them for comfort.

This material, which is usually several inches thick, can be a range of different things from foam through to latex or even natural fibres like wool.

Pillow top mattresses are also sometimes referred to as euro top mattresses. Euro top mattresses are slightly different though.

Euro top mattresses are where, instead of having the extra layer of padding sewn on top of the mattress, the padding is actually under the top cover of the mattress and so isn’t visible from the outside.

The following video gives a nice side-by-side look at the difference:

Advantages of Pillow Top Mattresses

Extra Comfort Compared to Other Innerspring Mattresses

The extra layers of padding provided in pillow top mattresses can help to make firmer innerspring mattresses more comfortable and may help a relatively inexpensive bed feel more luxurious.

No Need to Break in the Mattress

Newer mattresses can be a little too firm when we first buy them and might require several nights to soften up. This is not so with pillow top mattresses whose extra comfort layers can give a  restful experience from the very first moment you lie on them.

Pillow Tops May Help Reduce Pressure Point Pain

Pressure points can occur when we sleep because certain areas of our body like our hips and shoulders are in constant or frequent contact with our mattress and are taking our weight. This can also occur because of poor sleep posture.

Pressure points can lead to pain for anyone, but it can be a particular problem for people with underlying health issues like arthritis.

Pillow tops with memory foam or supportive gel layers may help to cushion joints and therefore reduce or even eliminate this problem.

Pillow Top Mattresses Can Reduce Motion Transfer

When a sleep partner turns over it is often the case with innerspring mattresses that you will feel every movement, potentially disturbing your sleep or even keeping you awake.

The extra layers of padding on a pillow top mattress could help to reduce the transfer of movement, solving one of the innerspring mattress's main drawbacks.

Drawbacks of Pillow Top Mattresses

Shorter Overall Lifespan

The pillow top mattress is only as good as the mattress on which the extra comfort layers sit. Unfortunately, if this is an innerspring mattress it is unlikely the mattress will have a long life because innerspring systems tend to wear out faster than, say, pocket sprung mattresses.

May Be More Prone to Sagging

Some experts note that, while pillow tops can be extra comfortable at first, pillow tops may not last and could be prone to losing their softness relatively quickly. Unfortunately, because most pillow tops are one-sided, they cannot be flipped to extend their lifespan either.

The life and durability of your pillow top will depend on the quality and material it is made from, so some will perform better than others.

May Retain A Little More Heat

Innerspring beds can get a bad name but the mattresses do offer one big plus in that they are often cooler to sleep on than those mattresses that are denser, like memory foam mattresses.

Unfortunately, when pillow tops add extra layers of comfort on top of an innerspring mattress, they can make the mattress retain more heat. This might be a problem for some sleepers, particularly if they struggle to keep cool at night.

The Pillow Top Can’t Be Replaced on Most Innerspring Models

If we have a mattress topper and, as it ages, it loses its added comfort there’s a simple solution: we can get a new topper. Unfortunately, with a pillow top, we cannot easily replace the pillow top component.

While it may be possible to add a mattress topper on top of the pillow top, it’s worth keeping in mind this would add another layer to the bed, potentially trapping more heat. It could also make it more difficult to find fitted sheets that will fit your bed.

Final Thoughts

Pillow top mattresses offer a comfort boost to the more standard range of innerspring mattresses and can give extra features like the contouring power of a memory foam layer.

While pillow top mattresses do have some plus points, it’s worth keeping an eye on the price of the mattress just to make sure you are not overpaying for your mattress when it is unlikely to last beyond a handful of years.

Do you have experience with a pillow top mattress? Let us know your thoughts on pillow tops in the comments below.

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