Remember the tale of the princess and the pea? We may have thought the princess was off-the-scale sensitive, but can you relate just a little bit?

There’s no denying that what we lie upon makes all the difference to the quality of our sleep.

So let’s get acquainted with the mattress topper. This often overlooked and under-rated item in the bedding department can do wonders for your sleeping experience.

A topper can transform a lumpy, bumpy mattress into the comfiest nest of dreams – giving extra support to reduce aches and pains, or cosy under-body padding.

It will also warm up your bed or cool it down, and protect your mattress from bacteria and stains.

The things to consider before you buy include thickness, fill and budget. Toppers can range from a discrete slither of soft fabric to a 10cm wedge – almost a mini-mattress.

Memory foam will offer firm support or if you’re looking to add a soft layer or cosiness, then a natural feather or squishy synthetic-fill is the way to go.

These are the ones we found added “aahh” to the bed and improved our sleep.

We mostly tested double toppers so the prices below reflect this size, although many of them can be bought bigger or smaller too.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. 

Soak and Sleep ultimate soft as down with silk mattress topper: £115, Soak and Sleep

We were really impressed by the firm but springy sensation of this hollowfibre-filled topper and rate it as an ultra-comfortable choice for all sleepers – front, back and side. A layer of mulberry silk in the inners also helps to wick away moisture and reduces sweatiness in the night.

The fill is held in place by the topper’s quilting, and we were happy to discover it didn’t shift around in the night. A quick plump in the morning soon revives the topper’s bounciness.

This one can be machine washed, but unless you’ve got a large drum washer and dryer, your best bet is taking it to be professionally cleaned.

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Panda memory foam bamboo topper: £99.95, Panda

If eco-credentials are as important to you as comfort, the Panda topper will appeal.

The naturally hypoallergenic bamboo outer of this topper is not only super-soft to lie on, but needs only a third of the amount of water to produce it, compared to cotton and requires no harmful pesticides or chemicals. We like that Panda also uses packaging made from 100 per cent recycled materials and pledges to be completely plastic-free in 2020.

At 5cm deep, the topper is made from gel-capsule infused hydro-foam that prevents overheating, and we rated the sink-in feel that was supportive on the pressure points of hips and shoulders.

Along with straps to secure it to the mattress, silicone dots on the underside stop the topper from sliding around – useful for fidgeting sleepers. We also liked that the cover comes off to throw into the washing machine.

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Naturalmat the tremendous topper: £610, Naturalmat

There’s a reason this pick sits on the mattresses in some of the UK’s swankiest hotels – check into Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, or Scotland’s Skibo Castle and it’s likely you’ll be bedding down on this.

Although the tremendous topper certainly won’t suit everyone’s budget, you could argue it’s cheaper than splashing out on a top-end mattress. And we discovered that for the big price tag, the deep 7cm of padding does offer the ultimate in squishy comfort.

It’s filled with layers of natural latex, heat regulating cashmere and luxurious lambswool. The hypoallergenic treatment of the topper’s cotton cover will protect from moths, dust mites and bed bugs – so it’s an ideal choice for allergy sufferers. It’s also available in eight dimensions from a small single up to emperor sized.

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Dunelm teddy bear cream quilted mattress topper: £25, Dunelm

If you’re happy with the overall feel of your mattress but want to add an extra cosy layer, we found this topper does the job.

Don’t expect much in terms of thickness – there’s little support, but for the very pleasing price you get a functional topper that works all year round. Lie it fleecy side up in the chilly months and then flip it over to the microfibre cover to keep your bed cooler when the temperature rises.

The topper fixes easily to your mattress with elasticated straps and can be bought in single and king size too.

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Simba hybrid topper: From £239.20, Simba

Fans of Simba rave about the brand’s hybrid foam/spring technology and this topper is a shortcut to the benefits without forking out for a new mattress.

The layers of latex, conical springs and high-density foam create a bouncy but supportive topper that will boost a flagging bed. Thanks to the open cell foam that gives a cooling airflow, we didn’t wake feeling clammy and uncomfortable, which can sometimes be the case with memory foam mattresses and toppers.

If you have regular house guests, the hybrid topper will improve a night’s sleep on a sofa bed or blow-up mattress, and despite its generous 7cm depth, is easy to roll-up and store away when not in use.

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Loaf duck feather topper: £75, Loaf

If you’ve got a too-firm mattress that could benefit from the soft touch, then you really can’t go wrong with a feather topper. Especially if the orthopaedic support of memory foam isn’t a must-have.

Duck feathers are naturally warming as well as having excellent breathability. We loved sink-in feeling you get with this cloud-like layer from Loaf, although cosiness wins here. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to mask an overly lumpy mattress.

A square pocket design prevents the moving and bunching of the feathers within the topper and the soft cotton cover is strokeably smooth. This reasonably priced topper is also available up to super king size, and even with the bigger sizes, you’ll still have change from £100.

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Silentnight memory foam topper: £75, Silentnight

Silentnight’s topper range includes a goose down and hollowfibre-fill, but if you prefer the reactive feel of memory foam, we found this one to be a good mid-price buy. A hypoallergenic cover defends against bed bugs and dust mites, and it can be whipped off and washed in the machine.

We tested the 2.5cm topper and it moulded gently to the shape of our body as we slept. If you suffer from achy limbs and are looking for maximum support, the thicker topper at 5cm might be a better option.

Despite this topper not having elastic securing straps unlike most of the others we tested, once tucked in with a tight fitted sheet, it stayed in place perfectly perched on top of the mattress.

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The Wool Room deluxe wool mattress topper, £169.99, The Wool Room

There are many benefits to choosing wool bedding over synthetic fabrics, and we were totally won over by them when trying this 5cm topper.

Crammed inside the organic cotton cover is 1,000gsm of premium British Downs wool, and this all-natural material works to disperse body heat and reduce moisture for a cooler, comfier sleep. It felt premium and utterly snuggly under the body.

What’s more, this topper has the stamp of approval from Allergy UK for being hypoallergenic and naturally resistant to dust mites and mould that aggravate allergies. You can sleep assured that you’ll wake snuffle free.

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The verdict: Mattress toppers

For being a good-value all-rounder that’s comfy for every sleeping position, Soak and Sleep’s ultimate topper gets our IndyBest best buy accolade. The hybrid topper from Simba was our favourite foam option, and if you’re willing to splash the cash, we can confirm that Naturalmat’s tremendous topper, is in fact, tremendous.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.