The Best Beds & Mattresses for Wheelchair Users

6 min read

Last Modified 24 June 2021 First Added 17 June 2021

By Shannan Humphrey

Millions of individuals around the world live with disabilities, chronic back pain, or use wheelchairs. Some of us will experience sleep issues such as getting in and out of bed, turning over, or even just discomfort when trying to lie down. Therefore, finding the most comfortable yet supportive bed is vital.

With that in mind, we have created this guide to help you find the best bed and mattress for your individual needs.

We will explore…

  • How to choose the most appropriate mattress and bed
  • The most comfortable mattress firmness for people with disabilities
  • The best bed height for wheelchair users
  • How to improve your bedroom space and surroundings for maximum wheelchair accessibility
  • Bed support and bedroom aids to help you get in and out of bed.

How to Choose a Mattress and Bed

Finding the appropriate bed and mattress can have a massive impact on the quality of your sleep. In turn, it can help improve quality of life.

We can start to find a good mattress and bed by analysing its properties. Each type of mattress owns different qualities, firmness ratings, and innovative materials which may need to be considered to ensure a good night’s rest.

You will also find a range of different bed heights, as well as accessible bed aids that will support individuals getting in and out of bed, from mattress elevators to electric adjustable beds.

Finally, choosing the appropriate bed and mattress is going to depend on your weight and sleeping position, as well as any accessibility needs. It is important before you make a purchase to speak to a medical professional.

Finding the Most Comfortable Mattress Firmness

It is fundamental to choose the appropriate mattress firmness to assure a good night’s sleep. The wrong mattress firmness can result in the disruption of the natural alignment of bones, and could exacerbate conditions that may cause pain. While mattress firmness is largely down to personal preference, the following types of mattresses may be more comfortable.

Air Mattresses

In many UK hospitals, you will find specialised air mattresses to make sure patients are comfortable. They are designed to enhance blood circulation for individuals who suffer from poor blood flow and prevent conditions associated with prolonged bed rest such as bed sores. Air mattresses come with a host of benefits that would suit individuals who spend long periods resting in bed.

Soft Mattresses

Mattresses made of soft materials such as memory foam or latex mattresses support and contour the body, relieving pressure points. Memory foam is extremely stable and can help reduce motion transfer. This could be a great mattress firmness option for somebody who suffers from chronic back pain, muscle spasms, or cramps.

For conditions that involve fragile bones or joint pain, a soft firmness rating is also recommended as it will provide a soft cushioning layer to aid a pleasantly relaxed sleep.

Firm Mattresses

Firm mattresses provide exceptional support. Orthopaedic mattresses offer great stability, support, and firmness for heavier people. They have a reflex foam layer that reacts to body shapes. The bounce-back technology provides spinal alignment and reduced surface sagging.

Alternatively, innerspring and hybrid mattresses also offer fantastic support. They both combine a supportive spring coil with a top layer of soft cushioning such as memory foam. They own extra-strong qualities as the spring coil stabilises the mattress.

Finding the Right Bed Height for Wheelchair Users

To ensure you can easily get in and out of bed, you need to make sure your bed and mattress are at an appropriate height. Yes, that’s right, it’s not just the height of the bed frame you need to consider. But the combined height of both the bed and mattress. Finding the right overall bed height is incredibly vital for wheelchair users to ensure accessibility. So, what is the correct height?

Whilst this may be different for everyone, it is usually recommended that the combined height of the bed frame and mattress (from the floor) should measure between 20 and 23 inches high for maximum comfort and ease. Adjustable beds are perfect to help you find the most accessible bed height and can be lowered or raised to find the optimum position for you. If your bed is currently too close to the floor, an inexpensive solution would be to use furniture raisers or even a mattress topper to add some height.

How to Make a Bedroom Wheelchair Accessible

Once you have found the best bed and mattress, the next steps you can take to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep is to make your home and bedroom wheelchair accessible.

We want to make sure the whole bedtime experience is relaxing and restful. We all have a hard time falling asleep if we are feeling stressed. Therefore, it is important to make the transition from a wheelchair to a bed as smooth as possible. We have a few suggestions to help you.

Preparing Your Home and Bedroom

Always ensure there is enough floor space around the bed to enable wheelchair users to navigate themselves around each side. Also, make sure there is a clear pathway from the door to the bed, any obstacles in the way should be removed. This could mean removing any decorative rugs from the floor or any electricals that have a hazardous wire. The minimum wheelchair turning circle is 5×5’, remember this when planning the layout of a wheelchair accessible room.

To make your home as accessible as possible it is useful to have the option of a bedroom on the ground floor. Ideally, the bedroom will have a hard floor surface such as wood or vinyl. A hard floor is most suitable and accessible as it would allow somebody using a wheelchair to move the wheels freely.

Aids for Getting in and Out of Bed

To provide extra support when getting in and out of bed, it may be advantageous to add a hoist, grab bars and rails to a bedroom. To get into a bed or transfer into a wheelchair, grab bars and rests can be helpful as they allow the user to rest upon them.

If you or somebody you care for requires a lot of support getting into bed, you may consider installing a bed hoist. This will make sure any transition is as safe and comfortable as possible. Today you can even find portable electric hoists that are mobile around your home to provide lifting support wherever needed.

There are many optimisations you can consider when making a bedroom wheelchair accessible. Just like there are numerous mattresses and beds to choose from.

For more help and advice, always speak to a medical professional who can give you tailored personal advice on the best bed and mattress for your individual accessibility needs.

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