How to choose a comfy mattress topper for sleeper sofa use

A woman relaxes under a blue blanket on an extended sleeper sofa
(Image credit: Getty)

Sleeper sofas provide a space-efficient way to put guests up for the night, while also giving you a comfy place to sit and relax in the day. But the mattresses that accompany some sleeper sofas aren’t always the most luxurious place to rest your head, unless you have a luxury model, and few rival the comfort of the very best mattresses for sleeping.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of the best mattress toppers. These mini slabs of memory foam, latex or other material can be placed on top of an existing sleeper sofa mattress for a more comfortable night’s sleep. They're almost always much more affordable than buying a new mattress, but if you're on a really tight budget, you can pick up a cheap mattress topper under $50.

Here’s how to choose a mattress topper for sleeper sofa use, plus some extra tips on how to boost sleep comfort on a guest bed…

Can you use any size mattress topper on a sleeper sofa?

It’s important to get the right size topper for your sleeper sofa or you’re unlikely to give your guests a restful night. There are mattress toppers made specifically for these pull-out beds, which can be useful if you’ve got a tricky size to track down. Some people often wonder  if you can use mattress toppers as a mattress but we advise no, unless it's short-term.

However, it’s perfectly possible to use a standard mattress topper designed for a normal bed as long as you know the measurements of your sleeper sofa’s integrated mattress.

To do this, simply measure the length and width of the sofa mattress and select a topper with measurements as close as possible. If your sofa bed is older, it’s likely that the mattress will have shrunk slightly over the years. In this instance, take measurements from the inside of the frame that supports the sofa mattress.

A person lifts the corner of a thick white mattress topper off a bed dressed in a blue fitted sheet

(Image credit: Amazon)

How to choose a mattress topper for sleeper sofas

  • Make sure the topper is the right size for your sofa bed
  • Look for one that’s thick enough to provide extra comfort
  • Choose the right materials for your sleep comfort

Like mattresses, bed toppers come in a range of materials designed to offer different qualities. Choosing the right materials for your requirements is crucial. The vast majority of people will be looking to add more comfort to their sleeper sofa, and pillow-top and feather mattress toppers will deliver here. However, they’re unlikely to offer much support. 

Memory foam, as used in the best memory foam mattresses, offers sink-in comfort and cradling but can run hot. Fortunately, many all-foam toppers also contain cooling elements such as gel or graphite, or have small holes cut into the foam (perforated foam) to promote airflow. 

You could also consider a latex topper for added bounce and cooling; latex is one of the most popular materials used in organic mattresses and is ideal for eco-friendly shoppers.

There are a huge range of price-points for mattress toppers, starting from around $40 for a budget pick to over $400 for a premium topper. Let’s take a closer look at prices now…

How much do mattress toppers for sleeper sofas cost?

Your budget will no doubt be guided by a few factors. For instance, if you have just purchased a new sleeper sofa or have invested in a well-made pullout version, you’re unlikely to need as much padding as you would for an older or flimsier sofa. In this example you’d probably be fine buying a more affordable 2” topper.

But if your sleeper sofa gets a lot of use or is likely to be used by couples or individuals with a higher body weight, the mattress will need additional support. A firmer, thicker 4” topper is your friend in this scenario. 

Don’t forget to check the width of the sofa mattress as well. The thinner it is, the more support and thickness you’ll need from a topper.

Image shows the Linenspa 3 Inch Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper on a wooden bed frame in a sunny bedroom

Linenspa's range of mattress toppers are lightweight, affordable, and can add decent comfort to a sleeper sofa  (Image credit: Linenspa)

Our favorite is still the 3” Tempur Topper Supreme by Tempur-Pedic, but it comes with a higher price tag, starting at $299 for a twin XL size at Amazon. However it could be too heavy for your sleep sofa - check the weight capacity first as you don't want to damage your sofa's folding mechanism.

The Sleep Innovations 4” Dual Layer Gel Memory Foam Topper is a more budget friendly option for those looking for thicker support, with prices from $99.99 at Amazon. This is thick but lighter than the Tempur-Pedic option.

If you’re on a tight budget or have a flimsier sleeper sofa, you can’t go wrong with the 2” Linenspa Gel Memory Foam Topper, starting at $57.99. We also love Viscosoft toppers, and its Reflex Gel Topper is currently on sale from just $54.99 at Viscosoft.

Other ways to make a sleeper sofa extra comfy

Don’t despair if you have unexpected guests, a sub-par sleeper sofa and no mattress topper in sight - there are other ways to make a difference to comfort levels. Squishy pillows, such as those recommended in our best pillows guide, and cozy bedding go a long way towards helping your guests have a restful night. Here’s what you could do…

1. Plug gaps with pillows Sleeper sofas are often encased by a metal frame and, as we previously mentioned, the integrated mattress can shrink with time. Plug any gaps with decent pillows to offer more support and cushioning to your guests. We’d recommend an adjustable pillow that your guests can make as shallow or as deep as needed for their favorite sleep position.

A person positions two white bed pillows on a bed

(Image credit: Getty)

2. Invest in breathable yet cozy bedding – Sleeper sofas are generally smaller than your standard bed and there isn’t as much room to spread out in them. As with a normal bed, as two people crammed onto a small sleep surface can cause excess heat to build up.

Look for comfy yet cooling bedding to help dissipate this. Natural fibers such as cotton and wool, or synthetic fibers specifically designed for cooling are your best bet here.

3. Sleep on a comforter If you have invested in one of the best comforters for your sleep temperature, you could use this as a temporary alternative to a topper. Whilst a comforter won’t provide anywhere near the support levels of a mattress topper, it will provide a softer layer of comfort to sink into.

Should you buy a new mattress or topper?

Most sofa beds come with a thin innerspring coil mattress as standard, but these won’t be as supportive over time. You will need to check with the mattress built into your sleeper sofa can be removed and replaced, as not all of them can. 

If it can be removed, there are a few thinner mattresses in a box that could be used on a sleeper sofa and they come in a range of materials, with cushioning memory foam being the most popular.

We wouldn’t advise putting a heavy mattress on a sleeper sofa as you risk breaking the sofa bed’s frame and damaging the mechanisms. But if you are curious about buying a new lightweight mattresses for your sleeper sofa, then take a look at the Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress, available in a 6” model from just $177 at Zinus

It’s slightly thicker yet cheaper than some premium 4” toppers, but read the manufacturer’s guidelines for your sleeper sofa’s total weight capacity (so the people sleeping on it plus the mattress or topper) before buying.

Whether you buy a new mattress or a topper for your sleeper sofa, keeping it in good condition from the start will help it last longer. The first step is covering it with a waterproof mattress protector to safeguard against accidental spills, plus allergens, stains and dirt. We'd recommend cleaning it regularly throughout the year too, and can guide you through process in our feature on how to clean a mattress.

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Jo Plumridge
Mattress tester and sleep writer

Jo Plumridge is an experienced mattress reviewer with several years' experience covering all things mattresses and sleep, and who tests memory foam, hybrid and organic mattresses. What Jo doesn't know about a boxed mattress isn't worth knowing, so naturally we tasked her with producing a series of features for Tom's Guide looking at all aspects of mattresses, from how to pick between latex and memory foam (it's a tricky one), to the seven mistakes people make when buying a mattress for the first time. When testing the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid for Tom's Guide, Jo said: "I loved the back support and pressure relief it offered. Plus, it looks far more expensive than it is." When she isn’t writing about sleep, Jo also writes extensively on interior design, home products and photography.