older woman sitting on soft mattress
Sleep Health

What’s The Best Mattress For Older Adults?

    Last Updated
    September 16, 2022
    min read

    As you get older, you may be more frequently waking up in the middle of the night because of back pain, restlessness, or other sleep issues. 

    Sometimes, it’s because of health problems. But more often than not, your mattress is the culprit behind your poor sleep. Which mattress is good for older adults? Do you need a softer bed as you get older? Read on to find out and see if your mattress needs replacing.

    Looking for a new mattress? Purple offers a variety of mattresses from more firm to more soft. Purples Gelflex Grid is firm enough to support you. While providing the comfort you need. 

    Do You Need A Softer Mattress As You Get Older?

    No, you don’t need a softer mattress as you get older. While a softer mattress is recommended for people who sleep on their stomach or side, older people actually need a firmer mattress.

    Softer mattresses are also harder for older adults to get up from, so it’s recommended that older sleepers get at least a medium-firm mattress.

    Why Do Older Adults Need A Firmer Mattress?

    Older adults need a firmer mattress for improved sleep quality. 

    The wear and tear of the years also give older people more joint problems. Arthritis, restless leg syndrome, and back aches become more common ailments as we age. Because older adults are more vulnerable to joint pain, they need extra support for their bodies during sleep.

    It’s also harder for older people to sleep because, as we age, our bodies produce less of the sleep hormone melatonin. This makes it difficult to sleep at night for long, uninterrupted periods. To compensate, many older adults sleep during the day, which only disrupts their night sleeping cycle even more. 

    A more firm mattress can help older adults sleep soundly and get support for their resting bodies at night. Firm mattresses keep your spine aligned and maintain its natural curvature. They also help alleviate pressure all over your body by supporting pressure points evenly. 

    What To Consider When Choosing Mattresses For Older Adults

    Firmness is just one of the factors that older adults should consider in selecting a mattress – material, breathability, and temperature are also important. Here’s a breakdown of the biggest considerations.


    Mattresses can be made from various organic and synthetic materials, such as wool, latex, and fiberfilm. Check the materials that your chosen mattress may be made of – they may vary in terms of:

    • Shape retention
    • Density
    • Firmness or softness
    • Ease of maintenance
    • Durability
    • Motion transfer
    • Cost

    Ask your preferred mattress provider what your chosen mattress is made of and how they perform in terms of the above factors. 

    If you want an organic mattress, check if it’s certified and up to global standards, such as the Global Organic Textile Standard or the Global Organic Latex Standard. If you have allergies, other standards such as OEKO-TEX limit the amount of certain harmful chemicals and materials in a mattress. Mattresses that pass these standards reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.


    Some mattresses are made of materials that are more likely to trap heat, such as memory foam. Others are more breathable, preventing moisture from being trapped and allowing air to circulate more freely as you sleep. Older adults should look for high breathability and even temperature regulation so they can wick night sweats or get through hot flashes.


    Mattresses firmness comes in soft, medium, medium-firm, and firm. Most people prefer medium-firm mattresses because they address a wide range of sleeping problems. When picking a mattress, factor in your typical sleeping position and your sleeping frame.

    Side sleepers reap the most benefits from soft or medium mattresses because they reduce shoulder pressure and align your spine. Stomach sleepers shouldn’t let their body’s pressure points sag, so they should consider firmer mattresses. If you shift sleeping positions throughout the night, a medium mattress will give you the best support for your body.

    Many medium-firm to firm mattresses provide strong orthopedic support, so these firmness levels are recommended for older sleepers.


    There’s a wide variety of mattress materials on the market today. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common types and their advantages:

    • Innerspring: Made of metal coils, these mattresses are firm and help with spine alignment issues.
    • Memory foam: These are made with several layers of memory foam, with softer layers on top for comfort and firmer layers at the bottom for support. Memory foam adapts to your body’s contours and reduces the stress on your shoulders, spine, and hips.
    • Hybrid: These combine metal coils with latex or memory foam. The coils provide firm support, while the foam or latex layers on top relieve body pressure.
    • Latex: These mattresses are made from natural rubber. They’re more durable and feel bouncier to sleep on.
    • Adjustable: These mattresses have built-in air chambers so you can adjust mattress firmness. They’re less common and more expensive, but they’re best for those who want to customize firmness to cater to varying sleeping positions.


    Mattress sizes typically come in single, double, queen, or king. Single is the smallest, measuring 39”x75”. At the other end of the spectrum, king-size beds measure a roomy 76”x80”.

    Adults who are shorter or sleep alone typically don’t need a huge mattress. Meanwhile, restless sleepers or those who need more room for pillows may prefer a larger size.

    Naturally, the larger a mattress is, the more expensive it will be. A good rule of thumb for picking a comfortable size is to consider your room’s measurements and your height.


    Mattresses need regular airing and cleaning to prevent dust mites and debris from accumulating. Many manufacturers also recommend flipping your mattress to distribute pressure more evenly over the years. However, it can be difficult for older people to lift a heavy mattress and do extra cleaning.

    As you get older, consider getting a mattress that needs less maintenance. Durable, mite-resistant materials that are easier to clean may cost a little more, but they’ll save you a lot of time and energy.

    Motion Isolation

    For older adults who share a bed, you’ll need a mattress with good motion isolation. This will keep your occasional shifting from moving the rest of the mattress, reducing the chance that your sleep movements will wake up your partner. 

    Innerspring mattresses have poor, limited motion isolation. If this is a problem for you, a memory foam mattress may be the best choice.


    High mattresses with multiple layers can feel very luxurious, improving your nightly rest. However, they’re not a good fit for sleepers with limited mobility, and they may increase the risk of trips or falls. If you’re having trouble getting in and out of bed, your mattress may be too high.

    A lower mattress is easier to set up, find bedding for, and costs less. However, avoid getting a mattress that is too low, as getting in and out of it can put increased pressure on your body. 

    Should You Replace Your Mattress?

    You should replace your mattress when you notice these signs:

    • Your mattress is flattened, sagging, or has permanent dips in it.
    • You wake up with aching muscles or a tired back.
    • Your sleep is often interrupted or restless.
    • You have a hard time getting up from your bed because it’s too soft.

    Mattresses play a key role in supporting your body and keeping you comfy as you sleep. If you’re using a mattress with the wrong firmness level, this can negatively affect your sleep. High-quality sleep for at least seven to nine hours is important for physical and mental health, so it may be time to replace your mattress if it isn’t helping you through sleepless nights.

    The Bottom Line

    As you get older, you’ll need better support from your mattress to sleep comfortably at night. If you’re suffering from persistent sleeping problems, switching to a new mattress may improve your sleep quality and keep you from feeling fatigued in the morning.

    A softer mattress doesn't help older folks sleep better because they don’t provide enough support to reduce body pain. Choose a firmer mattress to keep your spine aligned, but make sure it has foam layers on top to distribute weight evenly and relieve pain. 


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.