Enhancing the Comfort of Seniors in Bed

Posted by Aline Martin O'Brien on 19th Oct 2020

Enhancing the Comfort of Seniors in Bed

Sleep plays a vital role in our health, and even more so when we are older. It soothes the mind and allows you to recover after a busy day, even boosting your immune system. With advancing age, however, sleep is not as comfortable or easy as it was. Typical changes include sleeping and waking earlier, experiencing less deep sleep, producing less melatonin, and having a lighter and more easily interrupted sleep. These changes can be even more burdensome if your bedding is not suitable.

Below are some ideas for improving the sleep environment and your readiness for sleep. In many cases, you can improve your sleep by enhancing your sleep environment and modifying your daytime habits. Comfortable and soft bedding, along with diet and exercise, are key elements.

Make sure your room is comfortable, dark, quiet, and cool, and that your bedtime rituals encourage sleep. Consider technological advances such as split mechanical beds, cooling pillows or hotel pillows, extra plush mattress pad, cool and comfortable cotton sheets, etc.

Do seniors need a softer bed?

The most important thing in sleep posture is to keep the natural curvature of the back, because when the body is stretched out, it exerts a force that the mattress must be able to counter and cushion.

When a mattress is too soft, a heavier person will sag in the middle; when too firm, a lighter person might not feel a comfortable embrace from the bed. Traditional thinking has been that a firm mattress protects the back, but today the ideas are more nuanced; especially for seniors whose backs and joints are more sensitive.

Indeed, when the mattress is too hard, the spine is not supported and micro-awakenings occur. These small but disturbing interruptions are all the more detrimental to the sleep of seniors.

Thus, it is necessary that a mattress have a more flexible top layer to embrace the body and make bedtime a truly pleasant experience. These mood-changing few inches of softness can be provided by a mattress topper. DOWNLITE has a new 'cloud top feather bed' that feels amazing but do note that is large and heavy which might be hard to properly care for if you have back issues.

Likewise, it is advised that seniors opt for good quality pillows, soft and fine, so as not to create too great an angle between the head and the spine.

Senior adjustable beds

Like other equipment modified to assist older people, the bed has also benefited from technology to provide a more comfortable night for all types of sleepers. First developed for hospitals, the adjustable bed is now a luxury bedroom furnishing. For couples, the “split king” is the most popular. There are two separate twin XL mattresses side-by-side, each separately controlled, allowing a variety of adjustments, independent of your partner’s, and can also ease getting in or out of bed.

The bedding for these beds can usually be two twin XL size, which generally are combined. The most popular arrangement is mattress pads and fitted sheets in twin XL size and sheets and comforter in king size.

Positioning pillows for seniors

Wedge pillows can aid with acid reflux, snoring, GERD and breathing issues. The wedge also offers support for your back, neck, and shoulders. DOWNLITE had a wedge pillow that is being re-designed and not available for sale now - but we make covers that fit some styles found on other sites. The Wedge Pillow should be used with a breathable and washable cover, which makes it soft and more comfortable while helping to moderate the temperature. The wedge can also be used in other ways, such as a sitting aid or when reading or watching television.


The daily diet can have a real impact on an older person’s sleep. To limit the negative sleep effects of your diet, consider the following: limit caffeine late in the day; avoid alcohol before bedtime; satisfy your hunger prior to bed with a light, low-sugar snack; cut down on sugary foods in general; avoid big meals before bedtime (a smaller dinner three hours before bedtime is best); and drink less liquid before sleep so you don’t have to get up in the night as often.


Aerobic exercise releases chemicals that promote a more restful sleep. Even if you cannot move the way you used to, there are many activities you can do to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep, such as swimming/water exercises, dancing, lawn bowling, golf, cycling, walking or jogging.

Remember - sleep is just as important to your physical and emotional health now as it was when you were younger.

If you would like any help or professional advice before ordering your bedding, you may contact our customer service representatives by phone or email, and they will assist you in your decision-making.

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Photo Credit: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels