Essential Aids - The UK's online shop for daily living aids | Click here to return home

Quality Night, Quality Day

Quality Night, Quality Day

During the Night

Age brings with it less activity and a more sedentary lifestyle, when all of the rushing around has become a thing of the past.

Lack of sleep can lead to more accidents and clumsiness, as well as making social and family situations less enjoyable / manageable.

Not enough sleep during the night can then lead to nodding off during the day, disrupting any plans laid out.

The Elderly and Sleep Patterns

According to research, 10 to 30 percent of adults live without adequate sleep.

As with all ages, the recommended sleep allowance is seven to nine hours per night though, for different reasons, elderly people don't always achieve that.

When it becomes dark, our bodies produce melatonin, which allows us to become ready for sleep. The older we get, and a drop in production of melatonin, means we tend to struggle with falling asleep quickly and go in and out of sleep during the night.

Broken sleep may lead to medication being seen as a route to solve such sleeplessness.

Insufficient sleep can cause:-

  • a slowed down ability to learn new things and to remember information
  • poor balance
  • craving unhealthy foods, packed with ingredients to boost energy levels e.g. sugar-packed foods
  • a negative change in mood, leading to a depressive state and also to dementia
  • heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
  • Studies into REM (rapid eye movement) and memory loss have shown that such deprivation can lead to Alzheimer's and dementia.

    Sufficient sleep can lead to:-

  • an improvement in cardiovascular health i.e. the health of the heart and blood vessels
  • being more alert and 'with it' during the day
  • a better appetite
  • being less reliant on some medications
  • enjoying a better quality of day
  • a lower chance of feeling depressed
  • a better memory
  • better balance and fewer chances of falls and/or injuries.
  • Tips for Sleeping Well

    Once the busy lifestyle has gone, elderly people can achieve a better night's sleep by following a few pointers:-

  • if you nap during the day, try to limit it to only twenty minutes and don't nap too late in the day (nap before 4 o'clock)
  • stick to a regular bedtime hour, so that your body can adjust itself to your needs
  • try to keep away from screens (e.g. television, computers and mobile phones) for at least one hour before going to bed, as the 'blue' light emitted can affect your body's natural sleep pattern
  • regular exercise can help you feel more ready for bed, thus enhancing the quality of sleep
  • avoid tobacco and caffeine in the hours just before bedtime
  • keep the temperature below 75 F / 23.9 C and consider using air conditioning or a fan, to keep you cool (if you can tolerate the resulting noise).
  • Different Types of Bed Bases

    There are different types of bed bases, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

    Box Spring Base

    A box spring bed is a wooden bed base filled with spring coils which are covered with a layer of fabric.

    The sprung area promotes a flow of air and promotes cooler sleep.

    This type of bed base is not compatible with heavy mattresses (e.g. memory foam and latex).

    Wear and tear of this type of bed base might present itself as a sagging mattress.

    Foundation Bed Base

    A foundation bed base is covered in wooden slats which are usually about two or three inches apart.

    The lack of springs in this bed base will make the mattress feel firmer.

    A foundation base will last longer than a box spring design.

    This stronger bed base is compatible with most mattresses.

    Adjustable Bed Base

    An adjustable bed base allows for the top or bottom to be raised or lowered, to hone in on where the most support is needed.

    This bed base design is more sophisticated and may also include voice control options and massage settings.

    Is Your Mattress Keeping You Awake at Night?

    There are so many designs of mattresses, that it's difficult to find the right one for you, or you and your partner. Certain mattresses can go that extra mile for elderly people and people with arthritis, aching joints and bad backs.

    A hybrid inner spring mattress is made up of individually wrapped coils, which contour to your body and don't wake your partner, should you need to get up during the night.

    Mattresses boasting an upper layer of memory foam or latex help reduce the pressure on aching joints. Latex may be the better choice of the two, because it is naturally cool and so aids restful sleep.

    A latex mattress adjusts to the curves of the sleeper, whereas memory foam sometimes just sinks under the weight.

    A latex mattress with lumbar support gives protection to one's back during sleep, with an added comfort of feeling hugged during the night.

    Natural latex is breathable, helping to keep the body heat down whilst sleeping.

    A good / therapeutic mattress should allow the user to disperse his or her weight evenly, thus reducing any unwanted pressure on joints, as well as on the whole body frame.

    Mattress Toppers - a Simpler Option

    An easier approach to making sleep more blissful is to cover the mattress with a mattress topper.

    Whilst mattress toppers feel thick enough to be mattresses in their own right, they are for the purpose of topping a mattress, so as to increase the firmness and softness experienced during sleep.

    Memory foam mattress toppers make the bed firmer, whilst a topper made of down will make it softer.

    A memory foam topper supports your needs and movements during the night and doesn't disturb your partner in the same bed.

    Mattress toppers tend to be between two and four inches thick, the thicker options giving better back support.

    Memory foam toppers adjust with your body and weight but can warm up quickly. They are still an excellent choice for neck, back and hip pain.

    The dense material of mattress toppers can affect air flow, leaving you feeling damp and uncomfortable, also interrupting your sleep.

    Doctors may recommend a firm mattress, as it supports your spine and relieves pain and pressure points, whereas a soft mattress will allow you to move into a difficult sleeping position, thus exacerbating pain already felt.

    During the Day

    Sitting comfortably during the day is important, as sleeping well at night and a regular day can be full of 'ups and downs' in different chairs in the house.

    Depending on a person's general strength, their back and their legs, some run-of-the-mill seats can prove too hard to tackle e.g. the seat pad is too low to get down to, or too hard to give comfort.

    Arm weakness and unsteady grip can make standing up from a chair quite a challenge.

    Chairs which have the ability to help the user to gently lower oneself into a sitting position, and to also stand safely, take the stress out of these moments and reduce mishaps and injury.

    Riser Recliner Chairs do the Work for You

    As well as a bad back and arthritis, there are many health conditions which may arrive with age that can make getting in and out of a chair an uncomfortable experience.

    A riser recliner chair gives you support while you sit and helps you stand more easily.

    At the press of a button, a riser recliner chair can adjust its position to suit your needs, adjusting your posture to meet the activity in hand.

    Sitting still over long periods of time can hamper blood circulation and can also cause pressure sores.

    A riser recliner allows different sitting positions, which can't be enjoyed in an ordinary chair.

    In a powered riser recliner chair, different chair positions simply at the press of a button can relieve unwanted pressures and give peace of mind.

    Some superior powered riser recliner chairs can offer motor massage, keeping the body a little more agile and safe from back pain and pressure sores.

    Riser recliner chairs can be made to measure, guaranteeing even more comfort when lounging.

    Fabric and colour can also be tailored to match your preferences.

    Points to Address When Choosing a Riser Recliner Chair

    The height of the backrest must also support the user's head, so measure the chair from the top of the seat cushion to the top of the backrest, to check that it is equal or more than the prospective user's needs when seated.

    The width and depth of the seat cushion should support the user's frame and be neither too wide nor too narrow.

    A dual motor design means that the user has separate control of the backrest and the footrest, allowing you to choose the right support for back and legs, independently.

    A single motor design means that there is only fixed action available to the user.

    If a powered riser recliner chair is in constant use, it will add a noticeable rise to the price showing on the electricity bill.

    A powered chair will last longer than a manual one but is subject to breakdowns, which wouldn't occur with a manual model.

    Depending on frequency of use, a powered chair can last between ten and twenty years.


    Develop a bedtime routine which allows you to improve your quality of sleep.

    Avoid taking sleeping tablets, as they suppress sleep ability over time.

    Take time out to check the suitability of your bed base and mattress and how / if they match your health, as well as mobility, needs.

    A mattress topper may prove to be a simpler solution to getting a better night's sleep.

    Riser recliner chairs take the toughness out of sitting and standing and also reduce aches, pains and falls.

    Using the power buttons to alter your sitting position and move pressure from one place to another will greatly improve blood circulation and also reduce the frequency of pressure sores.

    Quality of life means looking after oneself and a good night's sleep will lead to a better day.

    Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

    Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

    Sally qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1996 and is a well-respected professional in the field of rehabilitation equipment and living aids. She has worked in private practice and within the NHS, developing a broad experience with adults and children. Click here for Sally's registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. The HCPC regulates health, psychological and social work professionals in the UK.

    © 2023 Essential Aids ( Limited. Registered in the UK, Company No 05294779.