Mattress Guide for People with Disabilities

By Elizabeth Valdez

We have probably all had back pain at one time or another and know how it disrupts one's sleep. But what if that pain was your everyday reality? For millions of people suffering from chronic back problems like sciatica or scoliosis, this is the case. A great mattress can really help improve sleep quality in these cases.

It isn't just back problems or painful conditions: Up to seventy percent of blind people suffer from disrupted sleeping patterns. And deafness also makes it hard to sleep, due to disorientation in the dark, balance problems and tinnitus. Sleep is vital to health and happiness. And a good mattress can help.

Mattress Tips for People with Disabilities

So, how do you choose a mattress that will best meet your needs as a disabled person? A mattress has lots of different properties. If these are optimised for your sleep as a person with a disability, your sleep quality will improve. Let's look at some mattress properties and how to choose a mattress that's best for you or your loved one.


If a mattress is too hard or too soft, it will disrupt the natural alignment of the bones and make any pain worse.

For persons with scoliosis, sprung mattresses may be better than foam, as foam dents over time and can reinforce patterns of misalignment in your back.

For conditions involving joint pain or fragile bones, a certain amount of softness is required, and so natural foam or memory foam may be a good option.

For conditions involving muscle spasms or cramps, a springy mattress might disrupt your sleep, so memory foam is better, offering a little more give.


Being too hot can be a major issue in sleeplessness. But being too cold can aggravate pain too, especially in joint pain or arthritis.

A foam mattress with gel-infused foam helps to conduct heat away from the body, keeping you cooler. In addition, latex foam mattresses are reported cooler than other mattress types. A mattress "topper" might help you keep cool.

If your pain is soothed by sleeping warm, then avoid waterbeds, which are famously cold. Sprung mattresses or memory foam are better, as they stay warmer. If being too cold at night causes disruption, you might consider a heated pad for your mattress.


Mattresses that "give"—they bend, flex or sag—are out if your condition involves being restless (e.g. having muscle cramps, or waking up frequently). Choose mattresses that have multiple foam layers, as they offer less motion transfer. Memory foam is also very stable. Waterbeds are totally out, as they shift worse than any other mattress. Sprung mattresses are a good option, provided they are "pocket sprung."


Anyone who suffers from muscle spasms or cramps will benefit from a mattress that doesn't make a noise. If you are sight-impaired, this also helps, since your sense of hearing may be particularly sensitive. Latex foam or memory foam mattresses are quietest. Sprung mattresses, waterbeds and airbeds are the noisiest.


A dented mattress reinforces misalignments of the spine and worsens pain. Sprung mattresses dent less quickly. If you use memory foam because it's softer, remember to have your mattress turned every few months to avoid a dent.

When choosing a mattress as a person with a disability, consider how hardness, temperature, shifting, noise and denting might affect sleep quality, and make a choice best for you. The table below offers a handy summary. Wishing you and yours a good night's sleep!

Mattress Tips

For more information on selecting the right mattress for your condition, read this comprehensive article.

About the Author:

Lizzy Valdez passion for sleep started at a young age and now she loves to share her knowledge that she has learned over the years.

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