A mattress pad is an elasticized cover that is fitted on top of your bedding mattress. It is primarily made of foam and is designed to provide an added layer of comfort for you and protection for your mattress.
Since the dawn of time, people have been searching for comfortable sleeping materials. The very fist mattresses were basically a few pillows thrown on the floor. Palm bows, sticks stuffed with reeds, wool, hay or even feathers were used later during the glory days of the Roman Empire. Pea and corn shucks as well as straw covered in a rope frame were used later on. Today, many choices in bed mattress and mattress pads exist, from feathers to advanced memory foam and straw; however, the most common materials in use today are latex, polyutherane foam, blends of cotton and polyester.
Mattress pads are yet another option to improve our sleep. In addition to improved comfort, they add protection to your mattress. A mattress pad is less expensive to replace than a bedding mattress and is usually easier to clean. Some mattress pads like the waterproof type, will keep your mattress clean and dry while your kids are in the bed-wetting phase. Other mattress pads like the heated type, can keep you warm throughout each freezing cold winter.
Choosing the right mattress pad can be a little tricky considering the wide variety of types and materials available. Following is a brief explanation for some of the most common types of mattress pads.
Crib mattress pad
The crib pad is waterproof and usually made with non-flammable and non-allergenic materials. Most are machine washable and durable. Crib pads will add 2-3 inches of thickness to basic crib mattresses, thus improving your baby’s sleep comfort. Safety, comfort and durability are key features to look for.
Heated mattress pad
A heated mattress pad can not only provide extra comfort, but it can also save you tons of money on heating during the winter. Instead of keeping your entire home heated, you can essentially bring down your thermostat a few degrees and let your heated mattress pad cover the difference. This will save fuel or electricity and ultimately money. Heated mattress pads are often referred to as electric mattress pad. They range from a simple low-medium-high knob to advanced individually zoned automated temperature sensing thermostats.
Waterproof mattress pad
A waterproof pad can be used on full-size beds to protect the mattress from children, the elderly or anyone with urinary incontinence. This type of mattress pad offers a protective waterproof barrier often made of vinyl or absorbent breathable cotton.
Foam mattress pad
These are often referred to as memory foam mattress pads. Developed by NASA in 1966, it had become one of the favorite materials in mattress pads. Its high density makes it capable of shaping around your body while remaining firm and cool. Normally, polyutherane or polyfoam are used which are hypoallergenic materials and do not promote growth of harmful bacteria or mold.
Polyfoam is used on most anything that requires padding like mattresses and mattress pads, furniture and pillows. Foam mattress pads are available in grades rated by density, but usually categorized as soft, medium and firm.
Pillow top mattress pad
Pillow top mattress pads come in a variety of materials such as latex, feather and wool. Latex mattress pads are less expensive than memory foam and provide similar benefits. Latex is naturally hypoallergenic and resists bacteria. These mattress pads are offered in various thicknesses from two to four inches. Natural and synthetic latex mattress pads are available.
Feather mattress pads or down-style are soft and will not keep their shape, but they do provide and extra level of “coziness” thanks to additional padding. Down-style mattress pads can be considered the next best thing after memory foam.
Wool pillow top mattress pads are made from well, wool which comes from lamb. Of course, the less expensive synthetic wool version exists too. These mattress pads will absorb moisture and maintain body temperature which makes them ideal for any climate. The downside to these pads is their tendency to flatten out over time.
Egg crate mattress pads
The egg crate mattress pad is built into an egg carton like shape using closed or open cell foam. It has bumps and dips distributed evenly across its surface and are usually less expensive than most other types of pads. They are excellent for back support and can be placed over just about any type of mattress.
Magnetic mattress pad
Magnetic mattress pads are designed to radiate a magnetic field which provides a soothing sleep and helps with circulation. It may also help increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. The high strength magnets are usually positioned to face north, towards the body. These pads are best suited for people with arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, fibromyalgia and basic aches & pains among other conditions.
Magnetic mattress pads offer other health benefits including:
1. Reduced cellular stress level, which reduces oxidation (aging)
2. Magnetic therapy increases the alkaline levels which in turn reduces our natural acidic nature and improves health overral.
3. Prevents calcium build-up on bones and joints by changing the structure of calcium molecules. Calcium build-up causes most forms of arthritis.
Tempur-Pedic mattress pads
Tempur-Pedic is not another type of mattress pad; it is a registered trademark name for a memory foam mattress pad. It is often confused as another type of mattress pad due to the name recognition created by advertising similar to Coke in the soda industry.
Besides the different types of mattress pads which vary mainly by the materials used, mattress pads come in a variety of sizes to fit most beds:
- Crib or toddler
- Mini single
- Twin single
- Twin single extra large
- Double full
- Double full extra large
- Olympic or expanded queen
- California queen
- California king
- Super king
- Grand king
A mattress topper and mattress pad are usually considered the same thing, but they are quite different. A mattress topper is usually thicker and will just lie on top of the bed mattress, while a mattress pad is fitted like a sheet.
Aside from the added benefits of comfort and bed mattress protection, mattress pads are a breeze to clean. They can be easily removed and in some cases thrown into the washing machine. Check the label as some may require a trip to the dry cleaners. In either case, they clean easier than a bed mattress which may need a call to your local steam cleaners.
Recapping, mattress pads are classified by types which is usually based on the materials used or the purposes they serve. The most common types of mattress pads include:
- Pillow top (latex, wool or down-style)
- Egg crate
Yet another type of mattress pad available is the cotton mattress pad. Its soft texture and reduced bulkiness compared to foam will give your bed a different feel. Some are 100% cotton, while others may use layers of cotton and polyester fillers. Cotton mattress pads are graded by thread count, much like cotton sheets.
Choosing the right mattress pad among all the options may be difficult. An easy rule you can follow is that thicker is better and price will usually follow quality. Mattress pads can range in price from twenty bucks to well over one thousand dollars. Your budget for a mattress pad will narrow down the options for you. Like buying a car, it is best to test the different mattress pads at your local bedding store before making your final decision.