Equipment for getting in and out of bed

If you find getting in and out of bed difficult, there is a range of equipment available to help you and your carer, if you have one.

Satin sheets

The shiny material of satin sheets can help you to turn over in bed. You can buy specially designed sheets with satin panels or off-the-shelf satin sheets. Some people prefer to just have a panel of satin going across the middle of the bed where their hips would rest. Single, double and king-size bed versions are available.

Wearing satin pyjamas may also help, but try not to use satin sheets and satin pyjamas at the same time. Together, they can increase the risk of sliding out of bed too quickly.

If you use satin sheets or panels, make sure there is an area of friction either at the end or sides of the bed, so you can get some grip. Your Parkinson’s nurse or occupational therapist should be able to give you advice.

Bedside grab rails

You can use these specially developed rails to adjust your position when in bed, to help yourself out of bed and to lower yourself into bed independently. A grab rail on a wall along one side of a narrow bed may help you to roll yourself over at night.

You will need moderate upper body strength to be able to use bedside grab rails and an occupational therapist or physiotherapist will be able to show you the easiest ways to use them.

Bed raisers

Bed raisers are used to raise the whole bed a few inches, making it easier to get in and out of bed. Bed raisers come in various heights, usually between 3 and 6 inches, and different materials, such as wood, plastic and metal, to match the existing bed legs.

Make sure your bed raisers are stable and well supported. Also make sure that the legs of your bed sit deep within the bed raisers and do not just rest on top of them where they may slip off.

Mattress raisers

A mattress raiser can help lift you up into a seated position, helping you to get out of bed.

Types of mattress raiser

Mechanical – these can be set to a certain degree of elevation but can’t be repositioned easily.

Electric – these allow you to raise and lower the bed using a handheld control.

Pneumatic – these use air to inflate a pillow-like device under the mattress to raise and lower it. This can also be set to inflate only on one side, turning you at the same time.

Choosing your mattress raiser

Raisers are more effective if the mattress is fairly thin. Thicker mattresses are difficult to bend and can scrunch up in the middle, which can be uncomfortable and make it more difficult to get out of bed.

Check that the controls are simple – single button controls might be easier. Also check whether the mattress raiser is likely to be noisy.

Comfort and safety tips

  • Make sure electric cords, feeding lines or bedding won’t get caught up when the raiser is in motion.
  • If your bed has a bedside rail or bed lever, it should be positioned so that it goes up and down with the mattress.
  • Be aware that in the raised position, a mattress raiser can cause you to slide down and out of the bed!

Electric profiling or hospital beds

An electric profiling or hospital bed is a piece of equipment that can be used to help you sit up from lying down. Some people find it reduces dizziness caused by lying too flat and that it reduces ankle swelling.

Hospital beds are usually height-adjustable and may have side rails. They may have casters or wheels, which allow the bed to be moved from room to room. Electric profiling beds tend to look more like an ordinary bed. Both types of bed usually allow you to raise and lower the mattress at the head and knees.

If you have a partner and they want the bed in a different position, some styles are available that split the mattress. This means each person can adjust the mattress to the position they want.

As these beds can be quite expensive, speak to an occupational therapist before you buy anything.

Comfort and safety tips

  • Make sure there are no electric cords, feeding lines or bedding that will get caught up when the mattress is being raised.
  • Take extra care if the bed has heavy sides that go up and down as it may be easy for your fingers and hands to get caught, especially if the rail comes down suddenly.
  • Make sure the controls can be reached easily when you are lying down.

Mobile hoists

A mobile hoist can be used to lift you between your bed and wheelchair, or your bed and a commode. It is usually a piece of equipment that social services will provide or recommend.

There are several different types available. You can discuss with an occupational therapist whether this equipment is suitable for you.

Over-bed trapezes and rope ladders

There are bars (over-bed trapezes) and ropes that can be hung over the bed where your head lies. These allow a person to pull themselves up from a lying to a sitting position.

You need a lot of upper body strength to use these devices so they don’t suit most people with Parkinson’s. An occupational therapist will be able to advise you about whether this piece of equipment is suitable for you.

Find out more about sleep and night-time problems in Parkinson’s.

Last updated May 2017. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at publications@parkinsons.org.uk.