The Best Mattresses For Older Adults and Seniors: Signs That You Need A New Bed, And Where To Buy Beds for Senior Citizens

Being a senior citizen, and in our mind, that’s anyone over 45, is the great equalizer. We all have to get there and if we’re very lucky, we sleep like babies. Unfortunately, not the case for three out of five individuals, a pretty common problem. If you’ve led an active life, you’ve likely torn yourself up in the process, slowly. If you have led a rather sedentary life, you likely have other problems, like weight issues, respiratory complaints, maybe diabetes. Regardless, we all end up with a strong likelihood of having issues with sleep.

Studies show that up to 50% of older people have difficulty falling asleep (sleep induction) and or staying asleep, with women experiencing insomnia considerably more than men. While some older people experience insomnia as part of normal aging processes, many seniors have underlying medical conditions or take medications that can disrupt normal sleep patterns. Some common causes of sleep issues with seniors include:

  • Depression and/or Anxiety

  • Arthritis, Connective Tissue Issues

  • Poor Circulation, Numbness, Leg And Foot Pain

  • Sleep Apnea And COPD

  • Acid Reflux Or GERD

  • Frequent Urination

  • Snoring- Either Yourself Or Your Partner

  • Restless Leg Syndrome

  • Sleep-Walking (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep-Behavior Disorder)

  • Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Parkinson’s Disease

  • Side effects From Medications such as beta-blockers, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, decongestants, diuretics, as well as medications for cardiovascular, neurologic, psychiatric and gastrointestinal conditions

Changes in sleep hygiene due to aging

The mechanism of sleep, and the activities that affect it, is known collectively as sleep hygiene or sleep architecture, and refers to the cyclic pattern of four sleep phases that repeats through the night. A normal sleep cycle consists of:

  1. Stage 1: Introduction to sleep when muscles begin to relax and brain activity slows, also called Sleep Induction

  2. Stage 2: Light, Drifting Sleep Phase

  3. Stages 3 and 4: Deep Sleep

  4. REM sleep: Lucid Dreaming And High Brain Activity

For people who experience healthy sleep patterns, this sleep cycle repeats four or five times each night. But as people age, they tend to spend less time in deep sleep stages, often skipping them altogether. This change in their sleep hygiene can make them feel sleepy during the day and lead to excessive daytime napping. In addition, frequent sleep disturbances like those listed above disrupt seniors’ sleep cycles, leading to daytime sleepiness.

In addition, poor sleep hygiene includes disruptive mechanisms such as bright light from TV’s, computer monitors, and cell phone activity. Bright light and flickering light is well known for disrupting sleep and tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime, and that you should be up and about.

About 1 out of 100 seniors also experience a circadian rhythm disorder called Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder (ASPD) that signals an earlier bedtime (between 7 and 9:00 pm) and an earlier rising time (about 3 or 5:00 am) than the rest of society. Now there’s nothing wrong with following an “early to bed, early to rise” schedule, but it can be isolating from family and friends, and sleep hygiene issues can be worsened by tampering with natural circadian rhythms that mammals are accustomed to using as cues for sleep schedules, like sunlight.

How seniors can get a good night’s sleep

Certain lifestyle changes can help seniors overcome some of these sleep challenges. These improvements to sleep hygiene include:

  • Cutting Down On Caffeine, Especially After Noon

  • Increasing Exposure To Natural Light During The Day

  • Exercising Regularly- Walking One Mile Every Evening

  • Hitting The Hay At The Same Time Every Night, Waking At The Same Time

  • Creating A Comforting And Relaxing Routine 30 Minutes Prior To Bedtime

  • Owning A Quality Mattress Designed To Provide Support And Sumptuous Comfort

Is it true that a mattress really make much of a difference in sleep quality? Without question. As a bedding designer and CEO of many mattress companies, I was a very active individual and after 30 years in the business, and now at age 63, I personally have evolved my own mattress options to accommodate my own aging process. I’m going to give you six outstanding options for reasonably priced and high quality mattress that we recommend, right now. Read below the list if you want to learn more about seniors and choosing the correct mattress.

TEN great mattress options for seniors

signs and symptoms telling you that you need a new bed designed for aging bodies- not a teenager

A good mattress is crucial for healthy, restorative, and rejuvenating sleep. A study conducted at a major university found that newer, more comfortable mattresses reduced back pain and stress and improved sleep performance among participants with chronic aches and pains that compromised their sleep. Generally, the best mattress options will be made with varying densities of high quality foam, usually with memory foam or latex, and often with a coil layer.

Older people can easily convince themselves that they don’t need a new mattress. Nobody likes to shop for beds, period. Difficulty with mobility can make shopping at a brick and mortar store too taxing. Others may think a new mattress will cost too much money and may be reluctant to spend money on something they’re not sure they need.

But buying a new mattress doesn’t have to be difficult or costly and could be the best investment a senior can make. Literally, you can add years to your lifespan by improving your sleep patterns. Researching mattresses online before you shop will reduce the time spent trying mattresses in stores. Alternatively, online mattress companies offer some of the best mattresses for seniors, delivered right to your front door or set up in your home, at prices that are often drastically lower than brick and mortar stores, and often of much higher quality.

How do you know if you need a new mattress? Your body will give you lots of cues and signs and symptoms. Even if you think your current mattress is fine, the Better Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every seven years especially if:

How do you know if you need a new mattress? Even if you think a mattress is fine, the Better Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every seven years especially if:

  • You wake up with aches and pains

  • You sleep better away from home than you do in your own bed

  • You are usually tired even though you had a full night’s sleep

These are all signs that a mattress should be replaced.

Finally, since a new mattress will improve sleep performance, seniors can reap significant health benefits from the investment. Consistently sleeping well on a comfortable mattress results in:

  • Improved memory

  • Lower stress

  • Improved mood

  • Better weight control

  • Greater creativity

  • Less inflammation

  • Longer life span

On the other hand, according to WebMD, people who sleep poorly put themselves at risk for:

  • Heart disease

  • Heart attack

  • Heart failure

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • High blood pressure

  • Stroke

  • Diabetes

With so much at stake, the cost of a mattress that will increase the quality of sleep is a sound investment in your life, and the lives of your children and grandchildren. I know this, as I have two grandchildren and understand that sleep quality will impact the 20-25 years I have left. In fact, a mattress that costs $1,000 and lasts seven years will cost about 40 cents per night — a small price to pay for good health and well-being.

And while new mattresses will not overcome all sleep challenges seniors face, they can help alleviate some common issues that keep older people from getting the sleep they need.

What to look for in a mattress for seniors

In general, the best mattresses for seniors have sufficient support to maintain neutral spine alignment, enough contouring to relieve pressure points (think heels, hips, shoulders), and some means for regulating body temperature. Mattresses with firm edge support will not only prevent sagging and last longer but also make it easier to get in and out of bed. In fact, the ability to transfer properly from the edge of your bed to either upright positions or to a chair is often the single most important factor in selecting a good mattress that the overall comfort of the mattress itself.

For many seniors, the best mattress will address their individual sleep challenges. Polyurethane high density memory and natural latex foam mattresses that are medium or medium firm are especially good choices for seniors who suffer from:

  • Arthritis

  • Joint pain

  • Back pain

High-density foam mattresses contour the body, gently supporting joints and the spine, and relieve pressure on compression points like heels, hips, and shoulders. Natural latex is completely free of petroleum compounds and allergen free, too. (scroll back up to our list and you’ll find a latex mattress option in our 9 choices)

Another excellent choice to consider is scrapping what you have and investing in an adjustable base and mattresses. And don’t think that you’re buying a hospital bed…most of the adjustable beds I sold for years were to younger folks in their 30’s with kids, who liked to use their bed as a media center, family activity center, and much more. Adjustable beds are especially good choices for seniors who struggle with:

  • Poor circulation

  • Leg cramps

  • Acid reflux

  • Sleep apnea and snoring

  • Back pain

Lying flat can be uncomfortable for many seniors, especially back sleepers. Raising the top portion of the bed and elevating the feet can take pressure off the back, and improve circulation. An elevated upper body helps to open airways, relieving sleep apnea and minimizing snoring, finally giving older people the solid night’s sleep they need and deserve. Take a look at our Adjustable Base Page and we’ll even show you some fantastic Amazon deals on the most reliable and popular brands.

HYBRID Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses, or mattresses made of a combination of coil layers and foam, may be the best of all worlds for many seniors. They combine the firmness and “push-back” of an innerspring, making it easy to move around and get out of bed, with the “hug” of a foam mattress to relieve pressure points, which are important to people with aching joints. You experience a sumptuous and cloud like feel, and they are great for pressure points. Virtually all of the nine options we present above are essentially “hybrid mattresses”. Coil support layers allow for significant airflow keeping sleepers cool and comfortable naturally.

LATEX FOAM Mattresses

Natural latex foam mattresses provide seniors the benefits of memory foam without some of the drawbacks. Latex provides the “hug” and contouring of memory foam without sleeping hot. It offers superior pressure point relief for those aching muscles and joints and virtually eliminates motion transfer. That means you won’t wake up every time your partner rolls over or goes to the bathroom. You can check out our Latex Mattress Page and learn why natural latex is such an amazing material to sleep on. I sold a line of natural latex mattresses for over 15 years, many to active seniors who swore by them.

I hope you have enjoyed our page dedicated to the most fantastic group of men and women in our society, the elders!!- Marc Anderson