It is no secret that the elderly have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), approximately 50% of adults 60 years and above are insomniacs. Your sleep patterns and cycles change as you get older. Newborns need the most sleep, followed by adolescents and adults. Contrary to popular belief, the elderly also need the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. The only difference is that seniors get lighter sleep and for shorter spans.
Seniors are usually at a greater risk of insomnia. Sleep deprivation causes heightened sensitivity to pain and increased chances of developing diabetes.
For this reason, a mattress and bed are very important for a senior. Here is what you look for when choosing the best bed for retirement:
1. Firm Edges
Edge support refers to the encasement that is surrounding the mattress. For most people, edge support is not as important. They are more concerned with sagging in the middle of the mattress. As you get older, edge support should be a big factor in selecting your mattress. Aging affects your ability to balance. This can be a problem when getting in or getting up from the bed. You will notice you spend more time on the edge of your bed.
To make sure you don’t lose your balance you should be able to sit comfortably at the edge before getting up. A mattress with no edge support will sink right away. The absence of support makes it even more difficult to support yourself.
Although it a common feature in all innerspring mattresses, not all mattresses come with edge support. Latex and memory foam mattresses don’t usually have edge support. If you want the benefits of a foam mattress and edge support then consider getting a hybrid. Insist on firm edge support when you upgrade.
2. Spacious Beds
Whether you are moving into a retirement home or simply looking to upgrade there is no real need to reduce the size of your bed. It is assumed that just because you lost your spouse you automatically need a smaller bed. If you were used to a king-sized bed stick to that.
If you are a restless sleeper, you might roll out of a smaller bed and injure yourself. However, if you are moving to a smaller space, it might be necessary to go smaller. Your bed might not fit. The other advantage of a spacious bed is that there is plenty of room to stretch and get comfortable.
3. Level of Comfort
While you were younger, investing in a mattress may seem like a luxury. Most people get by with whatever they have. However, as you get older you can’t continue making this mistake. The tendons that hold your muscles become stiffer and leathery. The cartilages in the joints also wear away. These changes are felt in the form of soreness, pain, and aches. Choosing the right mattress minimizes the pains while the wrong one could worsen things.
A mattress that conforms to the body helps align the spine, thereby reducing pain. The mattress should also absorb minimal body heat allowing you to sleep under fairly cool temperatures. The other factor for a mattress for seniors is minimal motion transfer. This feature will allow sleeping even if you are a restless sleeper. For even better comfort, an adjustable bed with recliners is the way to go. This allows you to sit when listening to the radio. The customizable firmness is great for back pains and soreness.
4. Mattress Composition
There are various types of mattresses on the market. Each type of construction offers different levels of comfort. Memory foam mattresses conform to the body of the sleeper offering total support. They can get a little firmer and may take time to get used to it. Some foam mattresses can also retain the heat and get hot.
Latex mattress works under the same principle as a foam mattress but is more breathable. This allows more air circulation, resulting in cooler night sleep. Mattresses can also be made of a combination of spring and foam or spring and latex. These hybrid mattresses offer more support, better breathability, zero moisture retention, and less motion transfer.
5. Test before Buying
No amount of reading or researching compares to testing the bed before buying. Just like getting a luxury car that you need to take it for a spin before committing to it, testing a mattress also goes beyond lying on a mattress for a few minutes.
Every person has specific requirements. Some people like foam, others prefer spring mattress. You might be reluctant to switch from one to the other but most stores now offer a trial period for buyers. This gives you an ample opportunity to mix it up without pressure. So do hesitate to ask if there is a trial period.
6. Height of the Mattress and Bed
Height is an important parameter when choosing a bed. You might not have noticed but getting in and out of bed in a fairly physically demanding task. During your youth, you can jump right out without a problem. However, as you get older, you lose some of your mobility and energy. The recommended height of a mattress plus bed is 18-23 inches off the ground. The total height is a combination of the base and the mattress itself.
If your mattress is too high then you’ll struggle to get on the bed every night. Getting off will also require that you slide off the bed. This increases the chances of slipping and falling. Conversely, a very low bed is easy to get on but is very difficult to get up from. Try to aim for the sweet spot. It roughly is the height of a chair or the knee height of the individual.
7. Document Your Sleeping Patterns
Sometimes what you want is not what you need. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest mattress trends. Consider doing a little research beforehand.
The best way to do this is by keeping a sleeping diary. It is a useful tool that helps discover your sleeping patterns. Here a few other things to include in a sleep diary:
- What time you went to sleep
- Whether or not you wake up in the middle of the night
- Any medications you were on
- Anything you ate or drank
8. Ask for Professional Advice
Like all other health complications, it probably a good idea to consult a professional. A doctor, chiropractor or a physiotherapist are just some of the people you talk to before shopping for a mattress.
It will even be easier if you show them your sleep diary. These professionals are better equipped to make sense of the contents of your diary and point you towards the best mattress for you.
Leave Nothing to Chance
Hopefully, this article simplifies things for you. The next step is to make the purchase. Before you proceed, you have one more decision to make. Where to buy?
You can either decide to order online or go to a physical shop. It is better to physically visit the shop. This gives you the chance to see and test before buying. Visit a local mattress shop in your area and take advantage of discounts and other offers. Enjoy your shopping.