The Best Mattress For Seniors & Elderly Who Sleep On Their Backs

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Seniors who sleep on their backs should ensure that their spines are properly aligned and the body is supported to reduce age-related aches and pains. This guide will show you how to find the perfect mattress for aging back sleepers.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from links in this guide. Learn More.

A 1986 study of sleep posture shifts and positions indicated that the 8 participants (4 men and 4 women ages 65 and 75 years) slept on the back position for 19% of their sleeping time. While this study was by no means extensive, it showed that seniors spend some considerable amount of time sleeping on their back. Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests that many seniors prefer sleeping on their back explicitly for back pain relief.

As a senior, you must ensure that you align and support the body while sleeping on our backs. Equally, caregivers should endeavor to mitigate the emergence of neck pain, hip pain, back pain, and acid reflux, or any other issue due to the sleeping position our beloved seniors assume.

This article will delve into back sleepers and explore the various mattresses on the market. We’ll cover the different mattresses, their qualities, and how they affect back sleeping seniors.

Best Mattresses for Senior Back Sleepers

If you just want to see which mattresses are recommended for older adults who sleep on their backs, here is the quick list. Keep reading to learn more about buying mattresses for back sleepers and to read more detailed reviews of my recommendations.

nolah evolution mattress
1. Nolah Evolution Hybrid
Everything about this mattress is designed to support back sleepers (especially hot sleepers) with the perfect combination of support and comfort. Nolah even gives you a choice of firmness levels too.
Available at:
ghostbed flex mattress
2. GhostBed Flex Hybrid
This mattress provides firm edge support making it easier for older adults to get in and out the bed. It also provides quiet back support with excellent motion isolation too!
Available at:
layla hybrid mattress
3. Layla Copper Hybrid Mattress
With the Layla Hybrid, you get both a soft and firm mattress in one package by giving the mattress a quick flip. Edge support and anti-microbial copper are also part of the package.
Available at:

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How Does Sleeping on Your Back Affect A Senior’s Sleep?

Back sleeping has the advantage of aligning your spine to its natural alignments. When you sleep on your back, you allow your back to mimic a standing posture, whereby pressure is evenly distributed across your body. As such, this sleeping position is beneficial for individuals looking to negate pressure build-up. Importantly, lowering pressure build-up negates the risk of back pain and, in fact, it helps alleviate back pain.

Sleeping on your back while using the right cushion can reduce and alleviate neck pain. For instance, you can use a rounded pillow to contour your neck when you sleep on your back.

That said, sleeping on your back is not for everyone. For instance, seniors suffering from kyphosis (better known as rounded back) are unable to lie flat on their back. Consequently, this sleeping position will not allow your spine to rest in its natural alignment, owing to the condition.

Sleeping on your back is also known to worsen acid reflux. Lying flat on your back allows the acid to escape from the stomach and flow to the esophagus and your mouth more freely. Even worse is the fact lying flat enables the acid to stay in the esophagus and mouth. You can prevent such a situation by elevating your upper body.

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, sleeping on your back will exacerbate the condition as well. Lying on your back causes the airways to collapse as you sleep, making it difficult to breathe or even pausing breathing.

Additionally, sleeping on your back is sometimes not recommended when you have neck pains. When you lie on your back with the head supported by a thick stuck of pillows, you raise your head and tilt forward, adding pressure on the neck and, ultimately, making the pain worse.

Finally, you’re more likely to encounter sleep paralysis if you sleep on your back. However, the reason for this is still unknown.

What Types of Mattresses are Best for Older Back Sleepers?

The type of mattress that best suits an individual is a highly subjective matter and will vary significantly from one senior to the next. That said, the number one priority for most back-sleeping seniors is to get a mattress that will provide ample support to prevent sinking into the mattress while still yielding some give enough for the mattress to contour the body.

So, how do the various types of mattresses compare? Read below:

Hybrid

As the name suggests, a hybrid mattress is a combination of two types of mattresses. In most cases, hybrids combine foam or latex comfort layer with a sturdier support layer of pocketed springs. As such, hybrids provide seniors with the benefits of the two types of mattress materials – the pressure relief of a foam mattress and the solid, sturdy base of a coil layer.

Innerspring

This type of mattress is made using a coil base covered by a thin comfort layer. They perform well on the airflow and edge support fronts. However, they perform poorly in isolating motion and relieving pressure.

Latex

Latex mattresses are made using natural or synthetic latex. Depending on the processing and manufacturing methods used to make the mattress, it can yield a soft or firm feel. However, latex mattresses deliver contouring support and offer more resilience than memory foam.

Air

Air mattresses come with air chambers that can fill air up to your particular firmness needs. You can inflate the mattress to be either soft or firm. Depending on the which air mattress model you choose, inflating and deflating the bed can be done using a remote control, app, or manually.

Foam

Foam mattresses are made using one or more foam layers. In some products, the mattress is made using polyfoam, memory foam, or a combination of the two. The type of foam ranges between open-cell memory foam, viscoelastic foam, or gel-infused foam.

Additionally, foam can come in different firmness levels, typically soft and firm. However, foam mattresses generally conform to your body shape and type while being responsive and pressure-relieving.

Still Confused?

GhostBed offers a free, no-obligation Mattress Finder that helps you find the best mattress based on your sleeping temperature, preferred sleeping position, medical conditions, personal preferences, and more.

Which Mattress Type is Best for Back Sleepers With Back Pain?

If you’re suffering from back pain, the ideal mattress is one that can contour to your spine’s natural curvature. Additionally, you should take into account your body’s weight before choosing the firmness level. In a nutshell, consider choosing a hybrid mattress of appropriate firmness level.

Which Mattress Type is Best for Back Sleepers With Neck Pain?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that sleeping on your back will exacerbate neck pain . However, if you prefer sleeping in the back position, choosing a mattress with some give will and the ability to contour to your body will negate neck pain. With the above in mind, the best mattress for back sleepers with neck pain is a hybrid or latex mattress.

Which Mattress Type is Best for Back Sleepers With Shoulder Pain?

For the most part, back sleepers do not have to worry about shoulder pain as much as side sleepers do. Sleeping on your back does not create pressure points along your widest parts, such as hips and shoulders. In this regard, back sleepers with back pain can choose any type of mattress. However, to be most comfortable, a hybrid mattress is the best choice.

How Firm/Soft Should a Mattress Be for Seniors Who Sleep On Their Backs?

Unfortunately, there is no perfect firmness level for all back sleepers. The ideal firmness level is based on a combination of individual preferences and their weight. Nonetheless, seniors (or their caregivers) must ensure their mattress has the right firmness to support the hips, shoulders, lower back, and, crucially, the spine without building up the dreaded pressure points.

With this in mind, senior back sleepers should look for a mattress with an even sleeping surface. The mattress should have some give and conform to your body shape. It is important that the mattress does not sag, but retains its firmness throughout the night over the lifetime of the mattress.

With the above in mind, the firmness levels for an average-weight senior back sleep ranges from medium to medium-firm. At this firmness level, an average-weight senior (weighing between 130 and 230 pounds) will experience optimal support, and their spine will benefit from proper alignment.

On the other hand, a lightweight senior (below 130 pounds) will experience the best support levels and optimal alignment from a soft to medium-soft firmness level. Given that a light individual’s body does not have a lot of body mass to exert on the mattress, a mattress on the softer side offers plenty of support while having some give to conform to the senior’s natural contours.

Finally, for heavyweight back sleepers (more than 240 pounds), firmer mattresses are often the best option. Heavy or overweight seniors need a mattress that can support more mass. As such, a firmer mattress will provide better support to the hips, necks, and shoulders while keeping the spine aligned.

However, a firm mattress might turn out as the best option for seniors with lower back pain and, therefore, in need of enhanced support in the lumbar region.

Finally, you should note that firmness is highly subjected to personal preference. While the factors we’ve discussed above ring true to many seniors, they are not universally applicable. When choosing a mattress, be mindful of your preferences and the firmness levels that make you comfortable.

What Other Mattress Features Are Important for Senior or Elderly Back Sleepers?

Here are some general mattress options and features that older adults should consider as part of their decision-making process.

Effective Cooling Properties for Hot Sleepers

Some seniors love to sleep cool while others like to sleep warm. Depending on your preferences, pick a mattress that creates the right temperature conditions. For instance, if you prefer sleeping warm, a mattress with a thick layer of material that can trap heat will suit you better.

On the other hand, if you prefer sleeping cool, get a mattress with good cooling properties. For instance, there are foam mattresses with cooling gels that keep you cool throughout the night.

RELATED: Cooling Blankets for Sweaty Sleepers

Contoured Support Without Pressure Build-Up

The contouring capability of the mattress you buy has a great influence on pressure build-up. Ideally, senior back sleepers should invest in a mattress that conforms to their body’s form, thereby supporting and aligning their spins. Additionally, a mattress that contours your back negates pressure build-up, which causes stiffness, discomfort, and sometimes pain.

Edge Support Helps Older Adults Get In and Out Bed

While edge support is not strictly an issue of concern for back sleepers, it is crucial for the elderly. Many seniors use the edges of the bed for support while getting into and out of bed. As such, you need a mattress that has reinforced edges that can withstand sinkage and support you or your elderly loved one getting into bed.

Reduced Noise Levels

There is more to a good night’s sleep than a supportive mattress. You need to relax and be peaceful throughout the night. In this regard, a bed that squeaks and creaks make for a noisy sleeping experience. If a mattress makes noise on the slightest shift in sleeping posture, the noise might disrupt your sleep, and in a worst-case scenario, it might wake you up.

Innerspring and hybrid mattresses are prone to producing a lot of noise due to the metal spring or coils in the mattress. Foam and latex mattresses are the most silent.

Motion Isolation

Motion isolation is essential for senior couples. With some mattresses, when one person gets out of bed or imply alters their sleeping posture, the motion may transfer to the other person, thereby disturbing their sleep.

Senior couples should look for a mattress that will isolate and absorb motion, preventing it from spreading to other parts of the bed. Foam mattresses are the best in motion isolation. Additionally, thick layered innerspring mattresses also do well to isolate motion and negate transfer.

Odor Release

Off-gassing is common in all mattresses when they are new. A brand new mattress will release some odor that usually goes away within a week with proper bedroom ventilation.

However, some mattresses, especially foam mattresses, produce an off-putting smell well past the break-in period. In some cases, the odor might be too intense that it keeps you awake. If you are sensitive to smells, purchase a mattress renowned for as little off-gassing as possible.

Durability

Before deciding on a mattress, you should ask yourself how long will the mattress provide the support and comfort levels you want. On average, a mattress will perform well anywhere between 5 and 7 years. However, some mattresses, especially innerspring mattresses, begin to sag and provide diminished support in as little as 3 to 4 years.

As such, you should consider the number of warranties a mattress manufacturer offers for their products. Choose a mattress that provides a warranty period of at least ten years.

Price

Price is closely linked to the size of the mattress and the materials used in the manufacture of the mattress. Natural latex mattresses and high-end memory foam mattresses tend to be more expensive than hybrid mattresses. Many seniors live on a fixed income, so it’s important to budget accordingly for your mattress and buy the product for their specific needs (back sleeping).

Recommended Mattresses for Seniors / Elderly Who Sleep on Their Backs

1. Nolah Evolution 15″ Hybrid Mattress

nolah evolution mattress
  • 120-Night Home Trial
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping & Returns
  • Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King
  • Cost: Mid Level

Why I recommend it: Everything about this mattress is designed to support back sleepers (especially hot sleepers) with the perfect combination of support and comfort. Nolah even gives you a choice of firmness levels too.

Pros:

  • Excellent temperature control
  • Firm and soft for superior support and comfort
  • Easy shopping experience
  • Stiffened perimeter makes seating easy and safe for the elderly

Cons:

  • Some complaints of too much motion transfer

The Nolah Evolution 15″ Mattress is one of the most advanced hybrid mattresses on the market. It is packed with patented technologies optimized to protect your spine, hips, and shoulders. As such, it is the perfect mattress for back sleepers and combo sleepers.

For instance, it uses a combination of the 8″ HDMax™ Tri-Zone™ support coils designed to yield 25% more support than traditional coils. Additionally, it incorporates high-resilience foam, high-density transition foam, and a plant-based foundation layer to provide enhanced support, superior spine alignment, and unmatched comfort.

The Nolah Evolution 15″ Mattress also has advanced features for temperature control. For instance, every Evolution 15″ incorporates a 2″ layer of AirFoamICE™, quilted HTC™️ Euro topper, and an ArcticTex™️ cool-touch cover that work together to draw out excessive heat to keep your cool.

Additionally, its 2″ AirBreath™️ border gusset helps dissipate the heat instead of accumulating within the mattress, thereby keeping you exceptionally cool and comfortable as you sleep.

Finally, the mattress has Nolah’s E.D.G.E™️ Rails that give the mattress extra strong edges, perfect for seating on the edges without deforming or sagging.

In full disclosure, I personally sleep on a Nolah Evolution Mattress that they sent me for a personal trial, that was several months ago and I still sleep on it nightly. It is the first mattress I’ve ever had where I didn’t sweat all night long so I definitely recommend it for hot sleepers especially!


2. GhostBed Flex Hybrid Mattress

ghostbed flex mattress
  • 101-Night Home Trial
  • 25-Year Warranty
  • White Glove Delivery Available
  • Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King
  • Cost: Mid Level

Why I recommend it: This mattress provides firm edge support making it easier for older adults to get in and out the bed. It also provides quiet back support with excellent motion isolation too!

Pros:

  • Offers excellent support, perfect for back sleeping seniors
  • Perfect for hot sleepers
  • Excellent edge support owing to the use of Flex Proprietary Spirited Edge™
  • Responsive and contouring sleeping surface

Cons:

  • Some complaints that it takes a bit of time for new smell to dissipate

At 13″ thick and consisting of 7 layers of highly advanced components and materials, the GhostBed Flex is another top-of-the-line luxury mattress that suits back-sleeping seniors. GhostBed has engineered this particular product to produce exceptional support and comfort for sleepers, ensuring they wake well-rested and ready to enjoy their day.

The mattress has medium-level firmness, perfect for the average senior. The two upper layers of the mattress consist of temperature-regulating layers. The outermost layer is a cooling quilted cover. The second layer is a layer of cooling fiber designed to enhance airflow in the mattress and keep you cool.

It also comes with two different layers of gel memory foam that give maximum comfort for seniors. The generous layers of foam enhance its motion isolation properties.

Between the memory foams and the coils is the bounce layer. The reinforced 8 ½” coils yield exceptional support, negating the dreaded sinking. Finally, the mattress has a high-density support layer as its foundation.

Finally, the GhostBed comes with the Flex Proprietary Spirited Edge™ around its edge. This gives the mattress ample structure and support along the edges of the mattress, preventing sagging.


3. Layla Copper-Infused Hybrid Mattress

layla hybrid mattress
  • 120-Night Money Back Guarantee
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King
  • Cost: Mid-Level

Why I recommend it: With the Layla Hybrid, you get both a soft and firm mattress in one package by giving the mattress a quick flip. Edge support and anti-microbial copper are also part of the package.

Pros:

  • Exceptional versatility to cater to lightweight, average weight, and even heavyweight seniors
  • Has excellent heat control
  • Off-gassing doesn’t last long due to excellent airflow in the mattress
  • Super-breathable cover aids in temperature control
  • Cover zipper makes washing the cover a tad easy

Cons:

  • Motion isolation could be better

The Layla Hybrid mattress has one main thing going for it: the mattress is versatile. The 6-layered mattress comes with Layla’s Flippable Firmness™. As such, users can layer the mattress materials differently to suit their firmness needs. You can create two comfort levels (4 of 10 softness or 7 of 10 firmness) from one mattress, which is an excellent option for seniors looking to customize their sleeping surface based on need.

That said, the soft side of the mattress is the better option for seniors weighing less than 130 pounds, while the firm side will yield the best comfort-support balance for individuals who weigh between 130 and 300 pounds.

The cover is made of soft and breathable material consisting of 66% polyester, 30% viscose, and 4% poly lycra. Additionally, it comes with a zipper for easy cleaning and vinyl handles for easy handling. You can configure the comfort layer to suit your firmness level preference. For soft side sleepers, the layers are configured to have a 2.5″ copper-infused memory foam followed by a 2″ Tri-Zone Airflow polyfoam.

While these layers are designed to support back sleepers, they are also engineered to provide excellent cooling for seniors who get hot at night. The copper-infused memory foam takes heat away faster, keeping you cool as you sleep throughout the night. Additionally, the air channels help channel cool air into the mattress and take away heat.

Firm side sleepers will layer the 1″ copper-infused memory foam on top of a 1.5″ Tir-Zone Airflow polyfoam.

The support layer consists of 6″ individually wrapped coils. Additionally, the middle layer is reinforced in the middle, adding to the mattress’ durability and firm support.

RELATED: Best Bedding for Seniors & Elderly


4. Saatva Classic Mattress

saatva classic mattress
  • 180-Night Home Trial
  • 20-Year Warranty
  • Free in-Room Delivery & Setup
  • Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King
  • Cost: Mid-Level

Why I recommend it: This mattress provides both excellent support for back sleepers and pressure point relief at the same time. You also get to choose from 3 firmness levels to suit your personal preference.

Pros:

  • Ample cooling
  • Provides seniors with exceptional support
  • The reinforced edges provide adequate edge support
  • While the mattress is sturdy, it offers sufficient bounce
  • Generous warranty periods

Cons:

  • The mattress has a fair bit of motion transfer

The Saatva Class Mattress is a hybrid innerspring mattress designed to be comfortable, supportive, and breathable. This combination of qualities works together to yield pressure point relief and, importantly, healthy spinal alignment. Saatva pairs a sturdy coil-on-coil system with gentle memory foam to achieve this diverse set of qualities.

Saatva Classics are 5-layered 11.5″ thick mattresses. Its cover is a 3″ layer made of plush fibers, comfort foam, and organic cotton. The three materials work together to keep sleepers cool. After that, the mattress has a layer of Saatva’s patented CertiPUR-US®, a high-density memory foam designed to support your lower back and relieve pressure.

The third layer, aptly called the responsive coil layer, has 884 pocketed coils. These coils are designed for body support, and they contour to the sleeper’s body to negate pressure point build-up. Below that is a layer of 416 tempered steel coils. The outer edges of this layer have a perimeter of high-density memory foam for edge support.

The give from quilted cover and the strong support from pocketed springs help relieve back pain for back-sleeping seniors.

On the comfort front, Saatva Classic Mattresses come in three different firmness levels; the plush soft (rated 3 of 10), the luxury firm (rated 5-7 of 10), and the firm (rated 8 of 10). As you can imagine, you have the freedom to choose the firmness level that suits your weight class and support requirements.


5. Helix Dusk Luxe

helix dusk luxe matttess
  • 100-Night Sleep Trial
  • 10-15 Year Warranty
  • Free Shipping & Returns
  • Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King
  • Cost: Lower End

Why I recommend it: The Helix Dusk offers a quality, supportive sleep surface for back sleepers that is affordable. Cooling surface and zoned mattress coils complete the package.

Pros:

  • Relatively affordable
  • Sturdy edge support
  • Durable
  • The combination of the breathable cover and coils allow for plenty of airflow
  • Provides plenty of support and excellent spinal alignment

Cons:

  • Off-gassing is noticeable but only lasts a few days
  • Has a lot of motion transfer

The Helix Dusk Luxe is a custom-made hybrid mattress optimized for the medium firmness feel. The mattress has an Ultra-Breathable Tencel technology designed to increase airflow and keep you cool while sleeping. Its comfort layer is made of Helix Dynamic Foam and is responsible for the medium feel you’ll get when sleeping on this mattress.

The second is a Memory Plus Foam that’s designed to relieve pressure points and align your spine. A layer of high-grade polyfoam follows. This layer is designed to help the mattress contour to your body while also providing some support.

The core of the mattress is a layer of over 1,000 individually wrapped coils. Helix uses these coils to achieve zoned lumbar support, providing you with a soft feel on your upper body and firm support under your hips, which helps keep your spine aligned.

RELATED: Best Adjustable Beds for Seniors & Elderly


6. Zinus Pressure Relief Euro Top iCoil® Hybrid Mattress

zinus pressure relief mattress
  • 100-Night Home Trial
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Available in Full, Queen, King
  • Cost: Lower End

Why I recommend it: Seniors who want a cooling mattress with dependable edge support and independent support at a lower price should put this mattress on their short list.

Pros:

  • Excellent motion isolation
  • Pressure-relieving and comfortable for back sleepers
  • The use of olive oil reduces the use of fossil fuels
  • Affordable
  • Smart packaged

Cons:

  • Edges are not sturdy and support

The Pressure Relief Memory Foam iCoil® Hybrid Mattress is designed and manufactured to the best Italian craftsmanship. This mattress ticks all the boxes that a typical premium luxury mattress does; it comes with individually pocketed springs that yield excellent pressure relief and excellent back support.

Additionally, the mattress is crafted with layers of olive oil-infused memory foam. The different layers of memory foam provide ample support and contours to your back, thereby aligning your spine for a restful sleep experience.


Tips For Sleeping Better For Back Sleepers

  1. Elevate your head and shoulders slightly. Every back sleeper should make take steps to support their head. Sleeping on your back exposes you to neck strain. To avoid this, the best pillows for senior back sleepers should support your head with a contour that elevates and positions your head slightly above your stomach and esophagus. Aside from supporting your head, this sleeping position for seniors has the benefit of negating heartburn and acid reflux.
  2. Add a pillow beneath your knees. Sleeping on your back can put undue pressure on your lower back, causing or worsening back pain. You can prevent back pain with ease by simply adding a knee pillow to your sleeping gear. Place a knee pillow below your knees to relieve pressure from your lower back.
  3. Be mindful of what you eat before going to bed. A lighter meal will prevent acid reflux that’s common among back-sleeping seniors.

Summary And Final Recommendations:

Back-sleeping seniors needing a comfortable, supportive, temperature neutral, and durable mattress should look no further than a hybrid mattress. Hybrids are engineered to bring the best of different mattress materials, thereby ensuring seniors can enjoy a good night’s sleep. With your preferences and weight category in mind, pick a mattress that suits your individual needs.

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