General Question

Fly's avatar

What's better- a mattress pad or a featherbed?

Asked by Fly (8726points) July 21st, 2012

I’m getting ready to head off to college and I have a bad back, so I’m looking for something that will improve the comfort of my mattress. Unfortunately, I’m totally clueless as to what I should buy.

First off, I don’t really understand the different benefits of a mattress pad vs. a featherbed, so any opinions in that area would be greatly appreciated!

Secondly, I’m not sure what material would be best for me. Here’s a little background information:
-I have bad allergies, so if I go the featherbed route, down is out. It would have to be down alternative or a “fiberbed.”
-Memory foam isn’t my favorite, but I read that it’s great for bad backs, so I am (reluctantly) open to it if there isn’t a better option.
-I’m very particular about the temperature of my bed, so something that wouldn’t make my bed feel warmer would be ideal.

If any jellies out there have a favorite mattress pad/featherbed out there that they can suggest, feel free to link me to it! I don’t have an unlimited budget, but I’m willing to spend up to $80 or so on a good, quality mattress pad or featherbed since my back is such an issue. Thanks for any help!

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14 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Are you asking about a feather bed or a feather mattress topper? Feather beds provide little support and quickly end up shaped like a soup bowl. It’s not like a feather pillow that can be fluffed up easily. Plus, feathers retain heat. Feather products also tend to run on the more expensive side.

augustlan's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer She’s asking about mattress toppers, one that will fit a twin XL mattress for her dorm room.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for the clarification @augustlan.

@Fly In reality, you may need to try different mattress toppers. There isn’t a ‘one fits all needs’ when ti comes to bedding for anyone, especially someone with a bad back. It also usually takes several nights before a person becomes accustomed to a different type of sleeping surface, if ever.

Since you have allergies, a mattress topper that can be washed sounds like a better option than memory foam. In my experience, sleeping on foam warms up quickly, and unless the dorm room has an independent thermostat (mine didn’t), then it might make the sleeping situation worse.

Fly's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Yes, a mattress topper. I’m hoping to go to a store this week to try a couple out to get an idea of what I want, but I’m thinking that I might get this fiberbed. We have individually controlled air-conditioning in the dorms, but not heating.

jerv's avatar

Personally, i am a big fan of the 3-inch memory foam topper. Cool in the summer, warm in the winter, decent support when placed on a firm mattress, and all-around comfortable. Firm mattresses suck, soft mattresses make you wake up sore, but a little softness on a firm mattress provides good balance and allows for good sleep without hating life in the morning.

creative1's avatar

I was going to recommend exactly what @jerv suggested… The memory foam I find is the better way to go, you just put it on top of your mattress under the sheet.

DaphneT's avatar

You might consider an air mattress to replace the dormitory mattress altogether. You’ll just have to protect it from punctures. The air mattress will be least likely to inflame your allergies and easy to adjust for support needs.

marinelife's avatar

I would wait and see what the dorm room mattress is like so you know what needs correcting. Is it too soft? Too firm? Sagging in the middle? Those problems would be best corrected differently.

Supacase's avatar

Like @jerv, I use a memory foam topper. Mine is 2” and I’m actually thinking of going down to 1½” for a little firmer, yet still comfortable, support. Also, thicker pads may make you warmer since you sink down into them more.

The egg carton looking stuff does not work as well at all, IMO. I can barely feel it on my daughter’s bed.

gailcalled's avatar

If you, as I do, need a very firm mattress, I would suggest a folding bed board.


Or do as I do and buy a piece of plywood from the lumber yard that would extend under the mattress from the top of the mattress to the area where your knees would be.

I use a standard firm box spring, a serious bed board and an extra firm foam mattress. My daughter says that it is like lying on concrete. It suits my back just fine. (And MIlo says he sleeps better on it, also.)

Fly's avatar

Thanks for the suggestions, @all.

@marinelife I’ve actually slept on these mattresses before, and they’re just problematic all over. The mattress is very thin to begin with, and firm in some places while weirdly soft and squishy in others. Overall, though, I would say that it is on the firm side. I do not need such a firm mattress as @gailcalled (in fact, a too-firm mattress is one of the things that originally set off my back pain). Ideally, I would sleep on a somewhat firm mattress with a soft top (I currently sleep on a pillow-top mattress).

marinelife's avatar

@Fly OK, I get it. Then I would go for one of these.

filmfann's avatar

If you like a featherbed, but don’t want to deal with allergies, you can always get a zippered mattress cover. I use one on a bed I have, and it works wonderfully.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Heh!I have the best bed in the world! We have a king sized water bed with a feather mattress (from WalMart) on top of it. It’s incredible…but will your school allow waterbeds? Probably not.

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