Skip to content

Staying comfortable in bed advice

We all have our own preferences for bed comfort. If you are spending a lot of time in bed due to an illness or long term condition then it is important that the bed supports you in a good position with even weight distribution and you can change your position as much as possible. Give us a call or visit our Occupational Therapists to discuss ways to improve your comfort in bed.

Mattresses may be pocket sprung, sprung, foam, visco foam or a combination of fillings. The best place to try the whole selection is a local bed shop, but our Occupational Therapists can talk to you about getting a comfortable position with even weight distribution when laying in bed and talk to you about mattress comfort and how different mattresses could make moving in bed more difficult.

Overlays can be used over your mattress to give you a more comfortable sleeping surface. You can have a lie down and see how you feel on the natural fleece heel protector from BES or the Coolmax sheets or the high spec Treat-Eezi overlay design from Dan Medica south. Come and try these overlay solutions, but if your mattress is lumpy or saggy, an overlay won’t improve your comfort, a new mattress may be the only solution.

Bedding for sensitive skin and for maintaining an even temperature is available and we can advise you on makes and suppliers of comfortable sheets and covers.

Positioning cushions can be used to improve your comfort in bed and we have a range of specialist cushions that we can use to help find the best way to support good posture in bed like this cosy roll from Medoriscare .

Medoris log roll


Powered pillow lifts, mattress variators and profiling beds can be used to support you comfortably in bed and enable you to change your position frequently. The Mattress base on a profiling bed can be adjusted with a handset to raise the head end and give support to raise the legs, some can tilt the whole bed to create a chair shape or to raise the legs for better fluid drainage. You can try our beds and variator to see what works for you.

Slide sheets can be useful to reduce friction and make it easier to change your position in bed. If someone is helping you to move in bed, slide sheets can make this easier for them too as well as more comfortable for you. You can try out our selection of slide sheets and choose which works best for you.

Pillows come in all shapes, sizes and density and we all have our preferences. It can be a bewildering selection and we try and keep a range of the non standard pillows for you to try , to support your neck or to use when wearing an oxygen mask or to offload weight from your ears or the back of head like this pillow from Putnams.  Our occupational Therapists can guide you through the options so that you can make an informed choice about which pillow is right for you.

putnams pillow

Maintaining skin health when lying down is important, especially if you spend a long time in bed and are unable to change position easily; here is some guidance about how to avoid skin breakdown:

  • pressure damage is caused by unrelieved pressure and/or moisture
  • common sites for pressure risk when lying down are the bony prominences; head, spine, shoulders elbows, hip, knee, ankle, heel
  • look at the person in their chosen lying position and check that the full length of their body is in contact with the mattress, with all bony prominences supported. Pillows or sleep systems may be used to achieve this
  • when using a profiling bed or mattress variator, always raise the knees lift section as well as the head section, to reduce the risk sliding pressure damage
  • make sure the bedding and night clothes are smooth; avoid objects, creases or seams in the bed that might cause direct pressure when lying down
  • check that heavy bed covers are not putting unrelieved pressure on toes; consider bed cradle
  • make sure the skin, clothing and bedding is dry and unsoiled
  • if the person can move, ensure they can turn and change position regularly in bed to avoid unrelieved pressure on the same area
  • if independent movement in bed is not possible, consider equipment to facilitate this and ensure carers have a regular turning schedule
  • ensure position changes in bed do not cause dragging movements as this may damage skin
  • in situ slide sheets can help reduce the risk of friction when moving in bed
  • if using powered bed or powered bed equipment, check the person or their carer can manage the controls to adjust their position safely for even weight distribution
  • transfers out of bed should be encouraged and facilitated with advice on moving and handling techniques and equipment if needed
  • if moving and handling techniques or equipment do not meet the need, liaise with the Multi-disciplinary team or the expert moving and handling advisor
  • if broken skin and lack of mobility indicates a need for a dynamic pressure relieving mattress remember that this unstable surface will make movement more difficult and could increase risk
  • contact the Independent Living Centre OT team for advice about skin health in bed

To print PDF version, please click here.