As we age, our health deteriorates, and our bodies weaken. Even the fittest of individuals start to feel aches and pains in different parts of the body that make daily life a little more challenging. The best way to cope with these changes is to adopt a lifestyle better suited to the requirements of the aging body. A mattress change is probably the easiest change you can incorporate into your lifestyle to help the body feel a little more rejuvenated and relaxed.
A good night’s rest is absolutely essential for people of all ages. It gives the body and brain a much-needed break, allowing them to recuperate, so you wake with renewed energy and vigor to take on the tasks of the day. Seniors need a little more rest than young adults, and thus, they may even have to take a nap in the middle of the day.
However, their bodies are a little more sensitive to pressure and their bones and joints a little more tired and weary. Falling asleep or being able to get high-quality rest can be difficult, especially if the mattress isn’t right for them. But how do you find the right mattress?
The first step to finding the right mattress is identifying your sleeping position. Side sleepers, stomach sleepers and back sleepers all have different mattress thickness, firmness and material requirements. Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position, followed by back sleeping.
Seniors with back, neck and shoulder pain prefer to sleep on their backs as it keeps the weight off the pressure sores. It also helps keep the spine aligned and improves blood circulation, which is beneficial for a senior’s health.
We bring you a complete guide on finding the best mattress for back sleepers, senior edition, to help them find the perfect mattress which will allow them to get a quality night’s rest.
Factors to Consider
Sleeping on your back is the most beneficial sleeping position for the spine and hips. It helps fix spine alignment and keep the stress off painful hip and lower back pressure sores, but only if you have found the right mattress. You will have to take into account the mattress type, mattress firmness and a few other features to ensure the senior get optimal rest.
Optimal Firmness for Elderly Back Sleepers
Choosing the optimal firmness for elderly back sleepers can be tricky. A mattress too firm may end up placing too much pressure on the back, muscles and bones, resulting in the development of new pressure sores. Most elderly back sleepers require a mattress that is firm enough to provide substantial support to the back but soft enough to conform to the body’s natural contours.
If the mattress is too firm, it gives the feeling of sleeping on the floor or on a wooden plank, and while that is good for some people, most elderly individuals find that extremely uncomfortable. Their muscles are weak and often lose their elasticity, failing to provide their back with the cushioning it needs when sleeping on extra firm surfaces.
However, a mattress too soft does no good for them either. It fails to offer the back the support it needs to keep the spine aligned. A senior sleeping on their back on a soft mattress may find their pressure sores aggravated.
The majority of pressure sores for seniors are located in their lumbar or lower back area. That is the area that is often the heaviest for here is where the weight of the hips is concentrated, especially when lying flat on the back. A soft mattress will not be able to support the weight, and the mattress will sag, especially at the lumbar area, causing it to fall out of alignment with the rest of the spine. The misalignment places an undue amount of pressure on the lower back, which can aggravate existing aches and pains or give birth to new ones.
When choosing the firmness level for seniors, you will have to find a middle ground between conformity and firmness. Ideally, you should have the senior lie on it for around 15 minutes to give them a feel of the mattress.
Recommended Firmness for Seniors
Anything between the firmness levels 6-7 is ideal for seniors. You should be looking at mattresses under the classification of a medium-firm to firm. As mentioned earlier, one should always test out a mattress before purchasing one. Often the real feel of the mattress is quite different from our assumption based on its firmness level because of mattress materials, composition and other factors discussed below.
Best Mattress Type for Back Sleepers
There are multiple types of mattresses available in the market, and not all of them are ideal for elderly back sleepers. In fact, some materials can be extremely uncomfortable for the elderly. Here, we discuss different mattress types and whether or not they are ideal for back sleepers.
Innerspring mattresses are ideal for all young back, side and stomach sleepers. The mattress uses coils for weight distribution, and the quality of the mattress depends upon the number, type and shape of coils. Here the conformity of the mattress depends on the layers of foam in the mattress.
They are not-so-ideal for elderly back sleepers as the coils can be uncomfortable, especially if not accompanied by a substantially thick comfort layer. The support offered by the coils can break down over time. The coils also have the tendency to be very noisy, and if not made well, the mattress offers poor motion isolation.
Memory foam is one of the most popular mattress types because of the feel it provides and how beautifully it conforms to the body. It comes in various firmness levels and, with the right combination of support and comfort layers, has the potential to be the best available option for elderly back sleepers.
High-density memory foam is ideal for elderly back sleepers. It offers ample support to the back, sleeps cool, and can be engineered to offer optimal motion isolation. You can also opt for different comfort and support layers to ensure optimal spine alignment and excellent pressure point relief.
Latex foam might very well be the perfect option for seniors. It offers the ideal medium-firm to firm support that elderly back sleepers need for spine alignments and pressure point relief. It is made from the milky fluid sourced from trees and plants and has a unique feel to it. It offers optimal elasticity, durability, support and conformity to the user.
It is also free from allergens, making it ideal for seniors with latex allergies. It also offers excellent motion control, allowing the user to get a restful night’s sleep.
Gel mattresses, air mattresses, and water beds are all for people who crave a unique sleeping experience. The feel of a gel mattress is quite different, but it does have its benefits. The mattress definitely sleeps coolers than most other mattresses. It also offers substantial support to the back and a decent amount of conformity and motion isolation.
However, as we all know, adapting to change becomes challenging with age, and for seniors switching from a memory foam mattress to a gel mattress may be extremely difficult.
A hybrid mattress combines two or more different mattress types into one. Some mattresses incorporate latex, memory foam and gel all in one to provide the user with the best of all three. There are other hybrid mattresses that combine two to three different types of mattresses in an attempt to offer the best value to the client.
A hybrid mattress is also an excellent option for seniors who sleep on their backs. Good hybrid mattresses are also a lot more durable and long-lasting than regular memory or latex foam mattresses.
What Features Should Elderly Back Sleepers Look for When Buying a Mattress
The mattress type and firmness are of the utmost importance when choosing the ideal mattress for elderly back sleepers. However, there are a few other features that are crucial to the decision making progress.
Getting a good night’s rest is difficult enough for an aged individual, and they don’t need excessive motion transfer to further add to their agony. If the senior share a bed with their partner, who happens to be a restless sleeper, the senior may spend a restless night themselves. Thus, the level of motion isolation a mattress offers defines the level of comfort it offers to the senior.
There are some people who sleep on the warmer side and tend to break out in a sweat in the middle of the night, especially if their mattress material stores heat. High-density memory foam mattresses that have not been engineered with temperature control in mind can get really hot in the middle of the night.
For seniors, temperature control is important as waking up in the middle of the night, disturbs their sleep and ruins the body’s resting period. Make sure you find a mattress that offers optimal air ventilation and stays cool throughout the night.
Hybrid mattresses with a gel layer are ideal for those who sleep really warm. The gel layer does not retain heat and helps maintain a comfortable mattress temperature throughout the night.
Mattress thickness often dictates the level of firmness a mattress offers. A thicker mattress offers multiple layers of cushioning and is ideal for seniors who need a little extra support and cushioning to keep them comfortable all night long.
Make sure you also focus on the thickness of the comfort layers as they are what the sleeper is in contact with. The rest of the supportive layers are more for durability and resilience.
Mattress life is another essential factor to consider when purchasing a mattress, especially for bedridden seniors. It is what will give you an idea of when the mattress will begin to sag and need replacement. It is also what defines the value for money you will get with the mattress.
Some mattresses offer a lifetime warranty and free replacement but not all do. However, the warranty period a company offers can be an indication of mattress quality. Companies that have faith in their mattress quality offer better warranty periods. A ten to fifteen-year warranty is pretty common.
You might want to stay away from companies offering just a two to three years warranty as that is a clear-cut indication that the mattress is not built to last.
5 Best Mattress for Elderly Back Sleepers
The Saatva is a hybrid mattress featuring a combination of innerspring, with a layer of Euro pillow top foam and another layer of memory foam with pocketed coils for optimal support and relief from pressure points. The coils allow for ideal air transfer and ventilation in the mattress, keeping the user cool and comfortable throughout the night.
The Saatva Hybrid Mattress is ideal for seniors with lower back pain or for seniors who have trouble getting in and out of bed. The coils add a bounce to the bed, making it easier to get in and out of bed.
The Wink Bed is a hybrid mattress featuring a double layer of coils, a gel-infused memory foam layer and reinforced edge support to provide stability when getting in and out of bed. It also comes with an additional lumbar support pad, making it one of the best available options for elderly back sleepers. The company also offers a wider range of firmness options, allowing the user to find one that best suits their requirements.
The Wink Bed is ideal for sleepers of all sleeping positions. It offers ideal edge support and stays really cool throughout the night, making it ideal for elderly back sleepers.
The Nectar Mattress is an all-foam mattress perfect for those who love the feel of memory foam. It features multiple layers, including the Tencel cove layer, 1” thick gel-infused memory foam layer (quilted cover, 3” gel-infused memory foam, 1.75” transition layer and a 5.25” polyfoam layer. The last two layers are high-density layers ensuring the mattress offers sturdy support to the back and also ensure mattress durability.
The Nectar is perfect for back sleepers who sleep cool and are looking for optimal lumbar support and motion isolation.
The Layla flippable mattress is ideal for people who cannot decide between a firm and medium-firm mattress. The user can easily flip the mattress to try out the firm side if they require substantial back support or flip it over for the medium soft that provides a soft cushiony and conforming feel to the user.
It offers optimal pressure point relief, is designed to ensure optimal ventilation and substantial edge support as well, making it ideal for elderly back sleepers. It is designed to provide pain relief to people suffering from chronic pain.
It is ideal for back sleepers who need conforming support for pain relief. It also stays cool, providing maximum possible comfort to back sleepers. It is also an ideal option for couples as it offers substantial motion control.
The pocketed coil and Dunlop Latex Hybrid Mattress might very well be the best option for elderly back sleepers. The AWARA mattress features a 4 out of 5 ratings in all the categories we have used to review mattress functionality. It offers superb motion control, sleeps cool and provides substantial edge support. It is durable and comes with a lifetime warranty and a 365-night sleep trial.
The mattress rates a six on the firmness scale, indicating it offers substantial pressure relief by conforming to the natural contours of the body. It is ideal for elderly back sleeper couples who are looking for comfort and functionality all in one.
The mattress is by far the best out of all our recommendations and is ideal for elderly back sleepers who want an all-rounder mattress. It offers pressure point relief, motion isolation, sleeps cool, is durable and comes with a lifelong warranty + 365 night trial period, offering the best value for money.
Best Mattress for Back Sleepers with Back Pain
We’ve mentioned it before, and we’ll say it again, there is no one perfect mattress for all. Your choice will vary by personal preference and use case. Even two people suffering from the same kind of back pain may not find the same kind of mattress comfortable.
Back sleepers with back pain should look for the following features in a mattress.
We suggest you try the wink bed of the AWARA mattress if you are an elderly back sleeper suffering from back pain. Both mattresses sleep cool and can get you through the night comfortably. They also offer substantial support but also conform to the natural contours of the body to provide optimal pressure point relief.
In short, they tick all the right boxes on the list of the must-have features for the best mattress for back sleepers with back pain.
Best Mattress Topper for Back Sleepers
If you are already quite happy with your existing mattress and want to modify the feel a little bit, a mattress topper might be perfect for you. It is also ideal for seniors who share a bed with their partner, who is perfectly happy with the current mattress.
A mattress topper adds an extra layer of material that can adjust the firmness of the mattress as well as enhance the conformity and cushioning of the mattress. It comes in different materials allowing you to choose one that best suits your requirements and sleeping habits.
We already know the Wink bed comes with an additional lumbar support pad to help back sleepers with back pain. Here are some other options that might be worth a look.
ViscoSoft Memory Foam Mattress Topper
This is a 3-inch thick gel-infused memory foam mattress topper with a firmness level of 5. It offers a solid amount of support but also has enough give to naturally hug the contours of the body for optimal pressure point relief. The gel-infused memory foam also stays cool throughout the night, making it an ideal option for seniors who sleep warm and are looking for a mattress topper to add an extra layer of comforting cushioning to their firm mattress.
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme
This is another excellent option for elderly back sleepers with back pain. The mattress topper features a 3-inch thick TEMPUR material layer that is designed for people under 230lbs. It offers optimal pressure point relief and can help keep your spine perfectly aligned in its natural position throughout the night. It has a firmness level of 5 and is ideal for seniors looking for a warm, full-body hug. It also offers optimal motion isolation, ensuring the user sleeps undisturbed all night long.
What Kind of Pillow Should Back Sleepers Use?
Besides the mattress, the pillow is also an important consideration when putting together a setup for comfortable and high-quality sleep. The pillow shape, size, material and height also affect spinal alignment. When searching for the right pillow, make sure you look out for these features.
Opt for a medium-firm mattress with a rounded head and indented middle to fill in the space between the neck and the back. The pillow shouldn’t be too thick so that it doesn’t elevate your head at an angle but should instead keep it flat in line with the spine.
You may also need to get a pillow for the knees. Placing one under the knees or your thighs can also help maintain the natural curvature of the spine, allowing the user to sleep naturally. Here, too, you need to ensure the pillow isn’t too thick, or it may end up placing too much pressure or weight on the lumbar area aggravating pressure sores.
There is no right or wrong mattress. There are only good quality and poor quality mattresses. However, there are mattresses right for you and those not right for you. If you are an elderly back sleeper, a soft mattress is not good for your back and can leave you waking up with cramps and aches and pains. Young back sleepers, on the other hand, may enjoy the soft and conforming feel of a softer mattress.
In this article, we have tried to list down the features you should look for when searching for the best mattress for elderly back sleepers. We have also given a few suggestions and included a section on the kind of pillow elderly back sleepers should use as well. We hope the guide can help you find the right mattress to suit your requirements.