5 signs you'd sleep better on a pillow-top mattress — plus our top 3 picks

Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid mattress with Cloud Pillow Top, photographed for Tom's Guide with sleep editor lying on it
(Image credit: 3Z Brands for Tom's Guide)

A pillow-top is a plush layer of cushioning that sits on top of your mattress, giving a soft feel on the surface of the bed. Many of this year's best mattresses for all sleepers have a plush pillow-top, and they are the ideal choice for anyway looking to recreate a luxury hotel bedroom at home. 

Surprisingly, a luxury pillow-top mattress doesn't always equal a luxury price tag. In fact, leading sleep brands such as Saatva, Brooklyn Bedding, and Stearns & Foster are running mattress sales on this pillow-top beds this weekend with prices from $1,030.  

If you spot any of the following signs, it could be time to switch to a pillow-top mattress, rather than a standard bed, for deeper, more restorative sleep.

What is a pillow-top mattress?

The best pillow-top mattresses provide a luxury sleep experience at home, which is similar to hotel beds (read our guide on what mattresses do hotels use for more). In a nutshell, pillow-top beds are regular mattress with an extra layer of padding on the surface. This layer is sewn onto the top and permanently attached to the bed.  

Stearns & Foster Estate Mattress with a pillow-top shown on a luxury bedframe against a blue floral bedroom wall

(Image credit: Stearns & Foster)

This extra layer creates a softer sleeping surface which can contour to your body and help to relieve pressure in the areas you need it the most. Pillow-top mattresses are suitable for all sleepers, but side sleepers will find them super comfortable and supportive.

They also help absorb some of the motion if you’re sharing your bed with a restless sleeper. Whilst some of this year's best memory foam mattresses have pillow-tops, you’re more likely to find this sewn-in topper on hybrid and innerspring mattresses.

5 signs you should be sleeping on a pillow-top mattress

1. You want a hotel mattress for less

Many mattresses that are used in high-end hotels feature a pillow-top. So if you want to feel like your sleeping in a luxury hotel night after night, ditch your standard bed and buy a new one with an additional pillow top. 

Although, it is worth bearing in mind that pillow-tops do tend to be a little more expensive that a standard bed because luxury doesn’t come cheap. However, you’re worth it and quite a few of our best luxury mattresses feature a pillow top if you want to find the best one of your sleeping style to make sure that all your sleep needs are taken care of.  

2. You want sink-in comfort

Even the best memory foam and hybrid beds are not comfortable from the first night. That’s why mattress manufacturers ask for you to wait at least 30 days before you request a return. Getting used to a new bed can take time but a pillow-top mattress will offer you instant comfort and leave you sleeping peacefully from the very first night. 

Of course, we still recommend choosing a mattress with a good trial period like the 365-nights that Saatva offers because it’s always good to be able to have time to test the mattress without the pressure of being stuck with it if you don’t like it. And although you may feel immediately comfortable on your pillow-top, it is still worth giving it a few weeks to make sure that it suits the rest of your sleeping style requirements. 

A man sits up in bed holding his painful back

(Image credit: Getty)

3. You’re waking up with aches and pains

If you’re waking up in the morning feeling stiff or achey then your mattress is most likely playing a huge part in that. Over time standard mattresses can start to dip, sag and just stop being so supportive.

A pillow-top mattress won’t just feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud but it will also give you the right amount of pressure relief whilst the supportive bed that it sits on will keep your spine in alignment leaving you waking up feeling refreshed and pain free. 

4. You’re a combination sleeper

Pillow-top mattresses do tend to suit any sleeping style which is what makes them so great for combination sleepers who find themselves shifting from position to position overnight. 

Pillow-top mattresses have soft cushioning that relieves pressure making them the best for side sleepers, but also have a supportive core for back and stomach sleepers. Even though pillow-top mattresses feel soft, they don’t have that uncomfortable sink-in feeling that you get with many soft or memory foam beds meaning that it’s easy to move around whilst still feeling supported. 

5. You share a bed

If you share a bed with a restless partner or pet then you’ll know how irritating it is if they move and disturb your sleep. But a pillow-top can help to isolate some of the motion by absorbing the initial impact of movement and slowing down the vibrations that might travel across the mattress and cause you to wake. 

Also, the pillow-tops plush feel will conform to your and your partner’s body separately meaning if they move, your side of the bed doesn’t move with them. How well your pillow-top isolates movement will come down to what the rest of your mattress is made from but whilst it won’t solve the problem alone, it will help. 

The top 3 pillow-top mattress sales we recommend

Saatva Classic mattress:was from $1,395 $1,195 at Saatva

Saatva Classic mattress: was from $1,395 $1,195 at Saatva The Saatva Classic is the best hybrid mattress we've tested. With a choice of two heights, either 11.5” or 14.5” it also has three different comfort levels including Plush Soft, Luxury Firm and Firm. It comes with a 3” pillow-top designed for cushioned comfort and pressure relief. Our Saatva Classic mattress review rates it as a great choice for sleepers with joint pain. Right now, Saatva is offering up to $300 off the Classic with a queen size reduced to $1,795. It also comes with a 365-night sleep trial, lifetime warranty, and free old mattress and bed removal. 

Stearns & Foster Estate mattress:was from $2,499$2,299 at Stearns & Foster

Stearns & Foster Estate mattress: was from $2,499 $2,299 at Stearns & Foster
This mattress has three standard luxury firmness options or two pillow-top options with firm and soft. It’s handcrafted in the US with Tempur-Indulgence foam for pressure relief. During our Stearns & Foster Estate review our lead tester rated it highly for motion isolation. A Stearns & Foster Estate queen mattress is down to $2,399 at present, and it comes  with a 90-night home sleep trial, 10-year warranty and free mattress installation and old bed removal. 

Helix Dusk Luxe: was from $1,373.80$1,099 at Helix Sleep 

Helix Dusk Luxe: was from $1,373.80 $1,099 at Helix Sleep 
We rate the Dusk Luxe as the best mattress for stomach sleepers, but it's comfortable for back sleepers as it has zoned support to tackle back pain. It sits in the middle of Helix's Core Collection and uses a blend of memory foam and individually wrapped coils for comfort. It also has a thick pillow-top for sink-in softness. When creating our Helix Dusk Luxe mattress review, our lead tester rated it highly for motion isolation, edge support and temperature control. The current Helix mattress sale will save you 25% on the Dusk Luxe, reducing a queen size $1,899 ($2,373) and you'll get two free pillows too.

Rachael Penn

Rachael is a freelance journalist based in South Wales who writes about lifestyle, travel, home and technology. She also reviews a variety of products for various publications including Tom’s Guide, CreativeBloq, IdealHome and Woman&Home. When she’s not writing and reviewing products she can be found walking her Sealyham and West Highland terrier dogs or catching up on some cringe-worthy reality tv.