As we get older, our needs change. It can get harder to do the things we love to do, like gardening, going to events, participating in sports, or even playing with our grandchildren. One of the things most affected by aging is sleep. Studies have found that sleep patterns in elderly adults and their needs to get a good night’s sleep are different than their younger counterparts. So what is the best kind of mattress of older people? Is it different from ideal mattress for young adults?
How Aging Affects Sleep
As we get older, a lot of things change about the way we sleep. The most significant change being that a lot of older people have trouble falling asleep. Over 50% of seniors have trouble falling asleep and experience symptoms of insomnia. This statistic can be attributed to a number of factors, including chronic pain, anxiety, side effects from medication, and just inability to get comfortable
Joint pain can keep a person up for hours if their mattress does not do anything to relieve that pain, and if it flares up in your sleep, it can wake you up several times a night. This will interrupt the sleep cycle and deprive you of a restful night’s sleep.
Speaking of the sleep cycle, elderly people tend to have shortened cycles compared to younger adults. The normal sleep cycle consists of five stages. Stage one, which is the beginning of the cycle, stage two which is a light and dreamless sleep, stage 3 and 4 which are the deep sleep stages and when the body repairs itself, and REM sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is when the mind dreams. Many older people do not experience stage 4 or REM sleep, cutting their cycle short and causing them to experience a less restful sleep. This is why many older people report taking naps more often, and experience fatigue much quicker over the course of the day.
The Best Kind of Mattress for Seniors
There are four major things that make up a good mattress for seniors. These four things are a must have in any mattress for seniors, to ensure the best night sleep possible for their needs.
Position- It's important you are aware of the best way to sleep for your back whether you are a side sleeper, back sleep or if you sleep on your stomach.
Support- A good mattress needs to promote proper spine alignment. This key feature relieves back pain, one of the most common ailments among older people. Having proper spine alignment while you sleep has many other benefits as well such as reducing facial wrinkles and acid reflux.
Contour- The mattress should contour to your body. This feature is mostly found in foam mattresses, and helps reduce pressure on sensitive areas of the body such as the ribs, knees, shoulders, and hips. Older people also commonly report pain in these areas, so a mattress that relieves the pain is a major concern when shopping.
Temperature- Seniors deal with too many disruptions to their sleep already, they don’t need to wake up sweaty too. People sleep best in cooler temperatures - around 18°C (65°F) - this means that a mattress that helps maintain a cooler temperature will allow you to fall asleep faster, and make you less likely to wake up before you’re done sleeping.
Edge- having a firm edge to the bed will make it easier for seniors with limited mobility to get in and out of bed. You should not have to worry about sitting on the edge of the bed and accidentally sliding off, especially when you’re at the age where falls become more serious.
If these points sound familiar, you may have read our article on the best mattress for back pain or you might just know your stuff. High density memory foam, like the kind we use in our OMG mattresses is great for both young and older people as it offers support for your spine, contours to your body to relieve pressure, and is good at regulating temperature.
Additional Sleep Accessories for Seniors
Besides a good mattress, a good pillow is paramount to a good night’s rest, especially for older people. A pillow made from high density memory foam helps align your spine and relieve pain in your neck and shoulders, just like a memory foam mattress, only more localized. It may help to double up on these pillows as well if you have a history of snoring, leg cramps, poor circulation or acid reflux, as doctors have found that sleeping with your upper body slightly above your lower body helps reduce these ailments. Just make sure to keep your body supported with extra pillows so you don’t undo the miracle of your memory foam mattress.
If you sleep on your back, placing a pillow behind your knees will reduce stress on your back. If you sleep on your stomach, place a pillow under your stomach and chest to help promote proper spine alignment, as laying prone can put pressure on your back. Placing a pillow in between your legs while laying on your side prevents your upper leg from pulling on the muscles in your back and causing them to become stressed. No matter what your sleep situation is, there’s a pillow situation to match it. If you need a pillow to try these tricks, we can recommend our microfiber pillow
The best mattress for seniors boils down to a mattress that follows all the tenets of a good mattress. It should be firm enough to support their back and promote proper spine alignment; flexible enough to contour to the body’s shape to relieve pressure on the hips, ribs, shoulders, and knees; Cool enough to keep them comfortable all night long; and it must have a firm edge to make it easy to get in and out of. Follow this online guide to buying a mattress for seniors and you will be well on your way to a wonderful night’s sleep.