How to Choose the Best Mattress for Your Aging Body
As we get older, we learn to put up with life’s little aches and pains. Even if we have avoided major injuries and chronic health conditions, we probably feel a little stiff from time to time. “It’s ok…” we think to ourselves. “That’s just a part of aging.”
The problem with this perspective is that it often prevents us from taking the necessary steps that could help us to improve our well-being after 60. This is especially true when it comes to our sleep.
For example, because of the way that the aging process is portrayed in movies and on TV, many of us have the false belief that disturbed sleep is “normal” for older adults. We may even think that we don’t need as much sleep as we used to. After all, if we still needed 7-8 hours sleep, why would we wake up at 4:30am?
The truth is that poor sleep is not an inevitable part of getting older. In my other sleep articles, I have discussed the dietary and environmental changes that you can make to sleep better. Now, I’d like to talk about the single most important piece of furniture in your house – your mattress.
Is a Good Mattress a “Luxury” or a “Necessity?”
There is no doubt that managing your budget is difficult after 60. This is especially true for those of us who are living on a pension or working part-time. As a result, our purchasing patterns tend to shift away from “luxuries” and towards “necessities.”
This approach is perfectly rational. The only challenge comes when we mix up the two categories. For example, I know people my age who insist on having a car, even though they rarely use it. Many of these people insist that they don’t have money for a new mattress, even though they are suffering from lower back pain and wake up feeling miserable.
I’m not saying that you should sell your car and buy a new mattress. I’m simply saying that good sleep is not a luxury. As a result, you may want to reprioritize the most important item of furniture in your house – your mattress.
That said, how do you know if you even need a new mattress? The best answer to this question is that you need to listen to your body. Do you wake up stiff and sore? Does your lower back feel worse in the morning than in the evening? Is your mattress 10+ years old? If so, it may be worth considering a new mattress.
5 Mattress Types to Consider After 60
Memory foam mattresses have become increasingly popular in recent years. They have many features that appeal to those of us in our 60s. For starters, they tend to do a good job of evenly distributing your weight. This helps to reduce pressure points and may prevent you from disturbing your partner – and vise-versa. On the other hand, memory foam mattresses, can be a bit on the warm side. So, if like many women in our community, you still suffer from night sweats, they may not be the best option.
Innerspring mattresses are one of the most popular types of mattress. They’ve been around for ages and there are tons of options to choose from. Getting an extremely high-end innerspring mattress, with an abundance of coils, won’t necessarily give you a better night’s sleep than a mid-range mattress. That said, if you are sleeping on an old innerspring mattress, it may not have enough coils to support your weight evenly.
If your health professional has told you to try a firmer mattress, a latex mattress may be a good option. These mattresses have many of the properties of memory foam mattresses, but, they tend to be a bit firmer. If you suffer from back pain and are worried about overheating at night, a latex mattress may be the best way to go.
Do you and your partner have very different mattress needs? Then, you may want to consider an air mattress. These mattresses use inflatable chambers and can provide very different conditions for each partner. If you choose an air mattress, make sure that make it firm enough. Otherwise, you may inadvertently make your back pain worse!
Adjustable beds are a good option if you can’t get comfortable lying flat. Most of the women in our community don’t have trouble getting out of bed yet, but, this is something that may happen as we get a little older. If you suffer from sleep apnea or acid reflux, talk to your doctor about whether an adjustable bed might help.
Getting the Most from Your Trip to the Mattress Store
At the end of the day, there is no “best” mattress for older adults. Each of our bodies is different. Once you have an idea of the types of mattress that may be good for you, it’s time to venture out to your local mattress store. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your visit.
First, spend a few minutes thinking about how you sleep. If you haven’t already, start a sleep diary. This can help you to get in touch with your sleep patterns. Are there specific parts of your body that hurt in the morning? Are you suffering from any specific medical conditions? Have you talked to your doctor about what kind of bed might work best for you? Write down the answers to these questions to make your shopping experience easier.
Next, decide how much you can spend on a new mattress. While it is important to get a high-quality mattress, spending more will not always guarantee better results. As WebMD points out, “Salespeople may try to sell you on the idea that more coils mean more comfort, but that’s not necessarily true.”
Finally, take your time. If you can, avoid shopping for a mattress on the weekend. Go during a quiet time, when you can try out each bed without too much pressure. When you lie down on a bed, get into multiple sleeping positions. Don’t feel like you need to hop up after a few minutes. This may be the most important purchasing decision that you will make all year.
Don’t Leave Your Sleep to Chance
Broken sleep is not “normal” after 60. At the same time, as we get a little older, sleeping peacefully requires a proactive approach. We may need to deal with the medical complaints that are keeping us up at night. We may also need to make small adjustments to our diet or sleep environment. If you sleep on an old mattress, or wake up stiff and sore, it may be time for a change!
Have you recently purchased a new mattress? How did you make your decision? Have you found that your new mattress has helped you to sleep better at night? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the conversation going!