I'm a sleep writer – 5 reasons why I’d choose a pillow-top mattress for my next bed

A woman lies on a luxury mattress with her arms spread, looking relaxed and happy
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Pillow-top mattresses sound inviting – who doesn't want to curl up on a soft and sumptuous pillow from time to time? But pillow-top mattresses offer more than just an enticing name. As a sleep writer, the cushioned pressure relief and luxury feel of a pillow-top is why I want one for my next mattress.

Acting as an extra layer of cushioning that sits on top of the main bulk of the mattress, pillow-tops are known for their contouring softness and supportive core. Some of the best mattresses feature a pillow-top, and while they can be made from a variety of materials, they should always provide a hit of comfort.

The best pillow-top mattresses can be expensive, but I'm here to explain why they're worth the investment. And with the Memorial Day mattress sales getting started, now is a great time to save on a luxury feeling bed. I've even picked out my favorites (which you can find below). 

5 reasons to buy a pillow-top mattress

1. They provide sumptuous cushioning

A pillow-top is designed to add an extra layer of cushioned comfort to your mattress. They can be made to a variety of firmness levels, but they should always have a sumptuous feel that softly contours to the pressure points.

Pillow-tops rarely have the sink of a super-soft mattress. The upper pillow layer will cradle the body, but underneath sits a supportive mattress (pillow-tops are often used with hybrid beds). So if you want the responsive support of a hybrid but you also crave some cushioning, a pillow-top mattress could be the solution.

2. Pillow-tops have a hotel-like luxury feel

Many of the mattresses used by hotels feature a pillow-top, and this luxurious feature is an easy way to recreate a weekend in a 5-star hotel from the comfort of your own home.

With this in mind, pillow-top mattresses are typically more expensive than mattresses without this layer – quite a few of our best luxury mattresses feature a pillow-top. But if it's hotel quality comfort you crave, it's worth remembering a pillow-top mattress will work out more cost-effective in the long run than booking a stay in a Westin Heavenly Bed every weekend.

A suitcase in front of a mattress in a hotel room

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3. They can help limit aches and pains

A cushioned pillow-top helps distribute pressure across the body, limiting aches and pains at the joints. Sleepers who wake up with sore shoulders or throbbing knees can often benefit from the marshmallow comfort of a pillow-top.

But it isn't all about softness. A good mattress for sore joints should balance cushioning with support, which is just what you get from a quality pillow-top bed. The plush top will provide pressure relief, while the supportive bed underneath helps hold the spine in neutral alignment.

4. Pillow-tops are comfortable from the first night

A pillow-top mattress is comfortable from the very first moment you lie on it. You should be dozing peacefully from the first night, without that awkward adjustment period that can accompany other types of beds.

I still recommend looking for a bed with a sleep trial when buying a pillow-top. This gives you a set amount of time to test the mattress without the financial commitment – if you don't like it, you can return the bed for a small fee (and often for free). Although a pillow-top might be comfortable immediately, give it a few weeks to make sure the mattress is really what you want. 

A man wakes up in bed and stretches after a good night's sleep

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5. They're great for combination sleepers

Combination sleepers switch positions during the night, and it can be hard to find a mattress that keeps up with that movement. Pillow-tops mattresses often benefit combination sleepers because the soft cushioning relieves pressure when you're on your side, while the supportive core keeps you comfortable when lying on your back or stomach.

In addition, pillow-top mattresses provide cushioning but without the sink-in feel of softer foams. That means the bed won't cling to you, so it's easier to move around. And when you settle into your new position, the bed will quickly adjust to your new shape. (Both our best mattress for side sleepers and best mattress for stomach sleepers top picks have a pillow-top.) 

3 of the best pillow-top mattresses

1. Stearns & Foster Estate mattress: $2,499

1. Stearns & Foster Estate mattress: from $2,499 $2,299 + $300 VISA gift card or bedding bundle at Stearns & Foster
You can choose between a firm pillow-top or a soft pillow-top at Stearns & Foster (they both cost the same) or upgrade to the Luxe Estate for increased pressure relief and a medium pillow-top option. There's currently $200 off the standard Estate mattress and $400 off the Luxe Estate. You'll also get a free luxury bedding bundle with your purchase, or you can switch this for a $300 Visa gift card with code 300VISA.

2. Helix Midnight Luxe mattress: $1,373.80

2. Helix Midnight Luxe mattress: from $1,373.80 $1,030.30
The Helix Midnight Luxe is our favorite mattress for side sleepers, and a big part of that is the plush pressure relief of the pillow-top. There's 30% off the Helix Midnight Luxe with code MEMDAY30, bringing a queen down to $1,780.40. And you'll get two free pillows with your purchase.

3. Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid mattress: $865

3. Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid mattress: from $865 $648.80 (with pillow-top) at Brooklyn Bedding
The Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid is a more affordable pillow-top mattress, although be aware you need to add the pillow-top as an extra (you can also choose a firmness level). In the spring sale, there's 25% off all sizes of the Signature Hybrid, so you can get a queen with a pillow-top for just $1,299 (was $1,732).

Ruth Jones
Sleep staff Writer

Ruth Jones has recently joined the Tom's Guide team as a sleep staff writer, covering all things mattresses and sleep. Ruth previously worked as a sleep and mattress writer for our sister website TechRadar, and has a deep interest in sleep and how it affects our day to day wellbeing. Ruth is a self-confessed stomach sleeper with a penchant for medium-firm mattresses, and also loves a good eye mask for helping her to fall asleep easier at night.