Planning for life in a college dormitory can be daunting, with countless articles on must-haves and seemingly endless shopping and to-do lists. When it comes to the sleeping area of a dorm, beds tend to be more durable and utilitarian than comfortable. Many students try mitigating the lack of comfort with cozy bedding and, in some cases, a mattress topper.
Some colleges sell toppers that are approved for students to use in the dorms, and some prohibit them altogether. Before going shopping, check with your school to make sure toppers are allowed in campus housing.
Types of Mattress Toppers
Mattress toppers are available in various materials and sizes. Often the composition of a topper will determine the type of comfort and support it will offer.
Foam Mattress Toppers
Often a more affordable option, foam toppers come in a variety of sizes and depths. Memory foam tends to hold in body heat, so look for a topper made with cooling gel foam if you’re a hot sleeper. Foam toppers are best for those on a budget and want a warmer topper with the feeling of sinking into a soft surface.
Foam mattress toppers are probably the most common type on the market today. This is unfortunate because memory foam is made from petrochemicals, which are not biodegradable. Foam toppers also don’t last as long as toppers made from other materials, so they tend to end up in landfills sooner.
Latex Mattress Toppers
When it comes to comfort and support, latex mattress toppers offer the best of both worlds. Harvested from rubber tree sap, latex gives a feeling of comfortable softness along with supple support. A latex topper is a good option for beds that are either too hard or too soft. If you need a softer topper, choose one that’s less firm with greater depth. If you need a firmer sleeping surface, go with a firmer, thinner topper.
Latex mattress toppers are sold as organic, 100% natural, or blended latex products. Certified organic and 100% natural toppers contain no fillers that can decrease the life of a topper.
Feather Down or Down Alternative Mattress Toppers
Feather down and down alternative toppers are a luxurious addition to a bed. Down toppers are very warm, but they don’t offer much support and they tend to compress over time, losing their softness. If you sleep cold and your dorm mattress is sufficiently comfortable and supportive, a down topper may work for you.
Wool Mattress Toppers
Like their down counterparts, wool toppers are a good option for people who prioritize warmth and softness over support. If your dorm bed is too soft and needs more support or you’re a hot sleeper, this may not be your best option. If an environmentally friendly topper is a priority for you, look for toppers made from certified organic wool.
Hybrid Mattress Toppers
Some mattress toppers are made from a combination of materials, such as latex and foam or wool and cotton. These are commonly known as hybrid mattress toppers. When deciding which type of mattress topper is right for your situation, be sure to check the labeling on the product and consult the manufacturer’s website. Look for a list of materials and for any organic or natural certifications that guarantee the quality and sustainability of a topper.
How to Choose the Best Mattress Topper for a Dorm Room
Use these tips to help you decide on the best mattress topper for a bed in a dorm:
- Bed size – Most dorm room beds are a size “twin XL,” which is five inches longer than a standard twin bed, according to The Sleep Foundation. Therefore, look for a topper in a twin XL size.
- Ease of cleaning – College students aren’t exactly known for their fastidiousness. Choose a topper that is easy to clean in case of spills, stains, or other mishaps and that is less prone to attracting dust, mold, or mildew. (Latex mattress toppers fit the bill in both cases.)
- Bulk and weight – Not all toppers are easy to bring along when traveling, but it is possible to bring a topper along for camping, travel, and to college. Adding compression straps makes a mattress topper easier to bring to a dorm.