With many mattress options available, older adults may wonder which mattress is most suitable for them. While difficulty sleeping can result from a number of reasons, finding an appropriate mattress may help seniors get a restful sleep.
Sleep disturbances are common among seniors. This is likely due to physical and psychiatric illnesses, resulting pain from the conditions, and the medications taken to treat them.
Therefore, finding a comfortable and supportive mattress, which may help reduce pain, might allow older adults to sleep with less disturbances.
In this article, we will discuss what factors are important in a mattress for seniors, and provide a list of a few suggestions for people to try.
What to look for
Although manufacturers may claim their mattresses have health benefits, there is limited research to support these claims. For example, while many may use the term “orthopedic mattress,” this term has no medical meaning or defined standard and may not provide any benefits.
According to the International Chiropractors Association, the following are key factors a person should consider when choosing a suitable mattress:
Size: Individuals need to determine what mattress size will meet their needs.
Firmness: People get better sleep and have less morning stiffness when they sleep on a mattress that supports the shoulders, hips, and lower back while keeping the spine aligned.
Cushioning: Individuals need to determine how much softness they seek in a mattress, as well as what their temperature control needs are — that is, whether they tend to get hot or cold when they sleep.
Durability: This is how long a mattress will provide its basic level of comfort and support.
Warranty: A quality mattress should have at least a 10-year warranty.
Importance of a suitable mattress
Research suggests that one in three adults do not get enough sleep. Ideally, older adults should aim to get 7–9 hours sleep every night. However, more than half of older adults report experiencing frequent problems sleeping.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being, especially in older adults. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect a person’s mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety.
A common cause of sleep disturbance in older adults is pain. A 2015 study suggests that a medium-firm and self-adjusted mattress can promote sleep in those with back pain.
Finding an appropriate mattress can allow seniors to achieve optimal sleep comfort and quality, which is important for overall health.
Typically, a mattress has a life span of approximately 8 years. However, depending on the quality and type of mattress, a person may get more or less time from it.
A person should replace their mattress when it begins to deteriorate, as an uncomfortable mattress can interfere with a person’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, which can negatively affect their health.
Although it is common for seniors to have trouble sleeping, in addition to purchasing a suitable mattress, they can also adopt the following healthy sleep practices recommended by the National Institute on Aging:
establishing and following a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends
avoiding large meals and caffeine late in the day
keeping the bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature
creating soothing bedtime rituals, such as taking a warm bath
avoiding using tablets, phones, or computers with disturbing bright lights before bed
avoiding alcohol before bedtime, because even small amounts are likely to interfere with sleep
As with people of any age, sleep is extremely important for seniors. However, sleep can be hard to come by for older adults, particularly for those dealing with pain.
Finding a suitable mattress that will meet an older person’s particular needs may help them achieve a more restful sleep. They can also try adopting good sleeping habits to help them fall and stay asleep.