The proper amount of support from your mattress is important to getting a good night sleep, avoiding back and neck problems, and providing appropriate spinal support. When you sleep, your spine should be in the same position as if you were standing up. If your mattress is too firm or too soft, you will not be able to maintain the appropriate sleep posture causing your muscles to over work while you sleep in order to keep your spine in proper alignment. Over time, a poor mattress will result in numerous back and neck problems for the user. While there are some excellent mattresses available today such as the Temperpedic memory foam mattress, often these options are too expensive for many people to consider. This is where the memory foam mattress topper comes in. These mattress toppers - not the equivalent of a mattress pad - cover the original mattress with a layer of memory foam which allows for the proper give required to sleep with your spine in alignment.

While mattress toppers can be made of a variety of materials, the best quality are the memory foam mattress toppers. Memory foam is made of either viscoelastic or latex materials. The polyurethane type may feel comfortable at first, but is subject to degrading very rapidly and won't hold its spring for long. Occasionally mattress toppers are also referred to as mattress enhancers. Memory foam - the viscoelastic type - was originally designed for the space program in order to enhance the astronaut's seat's ability to absorb g-forces during takeoff and landing. As such, it is the ideal material to mold to your body and provide the appropriate level of support to the spine and neck while sleeping.

Memory foam mattress toppers have the benefit of not being as hot as a full memory foam mattress if you are a "hot" sleeper. The memory foam works by relieving pressure off of the spine and allowing the shoulders and hips to sink in to the mattress some to maintain appropriate spinal alignment. They are most effective with a firm, newer mattress. The mattress toppers come in sizes corresponding to regular mattress sizes such as twin, full size, queen size, and king size. Currently a memory foam mattress topper runs anywhere from $60 - $150 with a variety of brands to choose from. If possible, it is always best to try out a mattress topper first in the store even if you are planning on purchasing it online.

In addition to considering the size of a mattress topper, there are several other features to keep in mind. Memory foam mattress toppers are rated by their thickness and density. The density of a mattress topper is measured in pounds per cubic feet and top of the line models will have a foam density at least four pounds per cubic foot or greater. Some people find the higher density to be less comfortable and you will have to decide for yourself by testing them out. The higher density foam toppers have the benefit of lasting longer than the lower rated models - 5 years or more compared to 3-5 years on average. The thickness of the mattress topper is the other measurement to keep in mind. Most memory foam mattress toppers are available with a thickness between one to four inches and sometimes more. Most chiropractors recommend a two inch topper for people of average size and a three to four inch mattress topper for those who are overweight.

A memory foam mattress topper is an excellent choice if you are trying to stay within a budget while helping to reduce neck and back pain associated with bad sleeping posture. Many people suffering from numerous conditions such as arthritis and chronic pain have found that by adding a simple mattress topper to their bed that they are able to achieve significant pain relief. If you are bed-ridden after surgery or during a pregnancy, a memory foam mattress topper will greatly increase your level of comfort during confinement.