Pillow top mattresses provide the perfect balance of support and cushion. For many sleepers, pillow top mattresses offer that full-body-hug feel that they crave, while still offering ample pressure point relief and firm support. The best pillow top mattress will have an extra layer of padding sewn on to the top, providing an extra layer of softness for the ultimate soft sleep experience. The pillow top layer can include anything from wool, cotton, foam, latex, or even a combination of these materials.
“Pillow top mattresses are a unique design, that is often very helpful for my patients with aches and pains, as well as those that just want a little more luxury in their sleep surface,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., board-certified sleep specialist also known as The Sleep Doctor.
Dr. Breus teamed up with Mattress Advisor who conducted testing at their lab in Raleigh, NC to find the best of the best. By using a 14-point methodology, mattresses were evaluated on motion transfer, pressure relief, spine alignment, and more. Read on to find out about the 6 best pillow top mattress options.
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It’s important to find the bed that’s best suited for your body type and sleep position, as well as to accommodate any joint pain needs or comfort preferences. It’s also important to understand how pillow tops differ from other types of mattresses, and how different pillow top mattresses perform compared to one another.
For example, some pillow top mattresses perform better than others when it comes to edge support. But what is the role of edge support in a pillow top mattress? Edge support can indicate how durable a mattress is. However, because there is much more cushion with pillow tops, the cushion is usually centrally located and doesn’t extend to the outer edges. In other words, a pillow top mattress isn’t really designed to have edge support the way other mattresses do. Instead, when we talk about edge support for pillow top mattresses, we’re actually evaluating how well the mattress distributes weight across its surface.
A pillow top will not perform as well as a Euro top, hybrid, or traditional mattress when it comes to weight distribution. Euro tops employ the same cushioning concept as a pillow top but are directly attached to the top of the mattress. Pillow tops aren’t adhered the same way, so there are some gaps around the edges and underneath the padding. Euro tops won’t move, because the outer perimeter is fused with the mattress helping its edge support perform better. Given that not all pillow top mattresses are created equal, and it’s important to find the bed that’s best suited for your body type and sleep position, as well as to accommodate any joint pain needs or comfort preferences.
If you’re looking for a luxurious pillow top experience that will also help alleviate back pain, the Saatva Classic is your best bet. The Saatva earned this title thanks to its special lumbar support layer, excellent spine alignment scores during testing (near-perfect 9.5/10), and two layers of supportive coils. Known also for its luxurious touches, the Saatva comes with a euro pillow top layer made of soft organic cotton. A euro pillow top is an extra layer that is stitched into the mattress, providing cushioning that won’t budge. Traditional pillow tops often omit this extra bolstering, but Saatva creates a euro top mattress that stays supportive for the long run (scoring a perfect 10/10 for durability). This pillow top mattress is available in three different firmness levels: Plush, luxury-firm, and firm. It comes with free white-glove delivery where a Saatva team will deliver and handle setup.
Buy It, Saatva Classic, $1,399 for a Queen, saatva.com
Learn more in this Saatva mattress review.
The DreamCloud Premier is a medium-firm innerspring mattress made of six layers of memory foam and coils, topped with a quilted cashmere cover. It features a Euro top layer that conforms to the body, while the coil system prevents sensitive pressure points from sinking down into the bed. In testing, the DreamCloud Premier also proves itself to have first-rate motion isolation (9/10), outstanding responsiveness (9/10), and adept pressure point relief (9/10)—all factors that make this innerspring pillow top mattress really shine. The DreamCloud Premier offers a lot for its price, truly making it one of the best affordable mattresses.
Buy it, DreamCloud Premier, $1,399 for a Queen, dreamcloudsleep.com
For hot sleepers, finding a quality pillow top mattress means paying close attention to temperature regulation and the general cooling properties of different materials. In testing, the Helix Midnight Luxe proves itself to be one of the best cooling mattresses that the Mattress Advisor team has tested, thanks to its pillow top, which scored a nearly perfect 9.5 out of 10 for cooling. A polyfoam transition layer helps to cradle the body and while evenly distributing body weight, which removes some of the strain from sensitive joints and pressure points. An excellent mattress all-around, and especially for anyone who’s kept awake by night sweats.
Buy It, Helix Midnight Luxe, $1,799 for a Queen, helixsleep.com
The Awara is a high-quality mattress made from organic and naturally sourced materials, including organic cotton and wool from New Zealand. It has a euro pillow top made of organic cotton and wool, which both help to promote cooling and absorb any extra moisture. The euro top works with the latex foam layer beneath it to quickly rebound once pressure is applied, responding to the sleeper getting adjusted (8.25/10 in responsiveness). Meanwhile, a coil system helps with lumbar support by aligning the spine, earning the Awara an 8.5/10 for spinal alignment. The Awara scored near perfect for motion isolation (9/10), making it one of the best mattresses for couples who want to sleep green.
Buy It, Awara, $1,499 for a Queen, awarasleep.com
When it comes to all-natural pillow top options, the Avocado mattress stands out as one of the best latex mattresses thanks to materials like natural latex, sustainably sourced steel coils, and organic cotton. This green mattress is toward the higher end of the firmness scale, which makes it especially recommendable to back sleepers and stomach sleepers who seek a pillow top experience. The natural latex ensures that the Avocado sleeps cool (scoring an 8/10 in testing), while its innate, responsive bounce (8/10) makes it pitch-perfect for multi-positional or combination sleepers. This mattress is hand-made with a lot of love and care, and the workmanship is backed with a generous 25-year warranty offering some peace of mind as you shop.
Buy It, Avocado, $1,799 for a Queen, avocadogreenmattress.com
The Alexander Signature Hybrid is one of Mattress Advisor’s highest-rated mattresses for responsiveness (9.5/10), which means it excels at adapting to your movements while you sleep. This mattress uses a thick, cushioned top layer as well as three other layers of polyfoam, plus a robust innerspring coil layer. It also utilizes a cooling cover that absorbs heat while air can move throughout the coil interior, helping this bed achieve an 8/10 in tests for cooling. And, while responsiveness is probably the best feature of this pillow top, the Alexander Signature also has high test scores in durability (8.5/10) and spine alignment (8/10). If you tend to toss and turn as you try to get comfortable each night, this is a pillow top mattress worthy of consideration.
Buy It, Alexander Signature Hybrid, $1,299 for a Queen, nestbedding.com
It’s worth emphasizing a few specific categories that may prove important as you seek a pillow top mattress.
Sleep position can have a direct impact on your rest, on your dreams, and on the overall state of your health.
Pillow top mattresses are especially well-suited for those who sleep on their side. That’s because a pillow top mattress provides the contouring feel that many side sleepers crave, yet it provides the requisite firmness level for pressure relief and spinal and hip alignment.
Back sleepers should seek a medium-firm to firm mattress to go with a pillow top to truly get the spinal support they need. If you find yourself dropping down too deep into the mattress, that may mean you’re not getting the lumbar or joint support you need for full comfort. A firmer pillow top ensures you will enjoy a softer sleep surface without compromising support.
As with back sleepers, stomach sleepers are encouraged to look for a firmer pillow top mattress that still offers them a sense of sturdiness and support. Small indentations in the mattress are fine but sinking too deep lets the spine sink into awkward angles that can cause back pain. A firmer mattress with a pillow top lets you have a great balance of softness and support.
Multi-positional or combination sleepers are those who change positions in the night. For these sleepers, the critical factor to look for is responsiveness. A good pillow top mattress should have a little give to it, meaning it will adjust, and spring back as you move around.
Did you know there are two types of pillow top mattresses? Here’s the difference:
A traditional pillow top has an additional mattress topper stitched onto the top, allowing the bed to feel a little softer than it would otherwise.
Euro top mattresses are similar in many ways, but they are often made with more premium, high-quality materials. They tend to feel a little more plush, thanks to the extra paneling that allows it to be flush with the mattress beneath. In other words, there are no “flaps” or indentations like regular pillow tops have.
In addition to thinking about sleeping position and overall comfort level, it’s important to know the difference between different mattress materials. This will help you pick the perfect pillow top mattress to meet your needs.
Memory foam mattresses are known for being supple, supportive, and pressure-relieving. For decades, this has been a highly popular mattress material, known for its superior motion isolation and general sense of comfort. Pillow top mattresses that utilize memory foam can offer great cushioning and responsiveness thanks to the nature of this material. However, it’s important to note that some memory foam mattresses tend to trap heat, which means this isn’t always the best bet for hot sleepers.
A hybrid mattress is any bed that’s made from a combination of two or more materials, including comfort foam, innerspring coils, latex, and beyond. Ideally a hybrid mattress offers the best two or more mattress types, and hybrid pillow top mattresses combine the best supportive and soft elements of these different materials.
Innerspring mattresses are made with coil systems that support the weight of the body. These “springs” naturally create space that air and body heat can pass through, which means most innerspring mattresses run cool during the night. Innersprings with pillow tops rely on this resolute support while still offering a plush sleep surface.
Latex mattresses can be a great option for sleepers who want something clean, eco-friendly, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and cool. Latex is also naturally buoyant, which is especially welcome among multi-positional sleepers, or those who use more than one sleep style. Latex pillow top mattresses are particularly great for combining pressure-relief with softness.
Pillow top mattresses come in a lot of different styles, and also different price points. Make sure to do your homework with the help of this guide and find the one that’s best-suited for you.
Staehler, R, MD. 2017. “Considerations When Choosing A Mattress.” Spine-Health, Veritas. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/considerations-when-choosing-mattress
Mayo Clinic Staff. 2020. “Symptoms: Night Sweats.” Mayo Clinic.
McIntosh, C. 2018. “Sleep Solutions From A to Zzzs.” AARP.
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