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All About Adjustable Beds

The mattress and frame market has seemingly exploded in the last decade. Within the last few years, there seem to be more options for foam mattresses, home delivery, 100-day trials, and everything in between. One of the most exciting innovations is the rising prominence of “adjustable beds.” Today, let’s dive into what exactly that means, and how one of these may help you sleep better than ever before.

Types of Adjustable Beds

When first beginning to research and understand what “adjustable beds” are, exactly, it can be confusing, to say the least. Broadly, adjustable beds can be broken down into two main categories: mattress adjustment and frame adjustment.

MATTRESS ADJUSTMENT

Mattress adjustments attempt to correct for two separate problems: temperature and firmness. Here, we’ll discuss options to address each of these problems, organized from cheapest to most expensive.

TEMPERATURE

This is a common problem that most sleepers will likely encounter at some point in their lives. Whether you sleep too cold or too hot, feeling the wrong temperature is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

  • $ – External (non-mattress) options: Yes, this is obviously not a solution that involves mattresses, but for some people, the easiest (and cheapest) way to fix a thermal regulation problem is to utilize several different non-mattress options. First, if your sleep experience is too cold many options exist: more blankets, electric blankets, more clothes, or turning the heat up. When the temperature is too hot, the opposite applies: fewer blankets, less clothing, more AC, or a fan. For both hot and cold issues, a localized window unit or space heater can help to solve the problem without wasting money changing the temperature of your entire home or apartment.
  • $$ – Mattress adjuncts: Also available on the market are a variety of mattress additions that claim to give more adjustment capabilities over your sleep temperature. These typically employ mattress covers with circulating water or fans that blow air under the covers. While these two systems differ, the end goal is the same: selectivity of sleep temperature. These options typically run from $250-$750.
  • $$$ – Cooling and heating mattresses: And, finally, the most expensive option: mattresses with technology built directly into them. Many major mattress manufacturers carry a model that claims to have either heating or cooling elements. Some of these are static, meaning they only claim to be made of “cooling” materials. Others are dynamic, and allow you to adjust your temperature preference in either direction. More expensive options will also allow for dual-sided control if sleeping with another person. These options vary widely in their prices, but generally can be found within $750-$3000.
FIRMNESS

Another important adjustable option for many people is firmness. Whether you are a person who, depending on the day, like a variable level of firmness, or two people with different preferences are sharing a bed, this adjustment option can be invaluable.

  • $ – Mattress topper/pad: This can be a great, cheap option for individuals looking to have an adjustable firmness but who are unwilling to shell out a lot of cash. Toppers can make your bed more or less firm, and they come in both full-size and half-size options. These will typically range from $50-$300.
  • $$$ – Truly adjustable mattress: This style of adjustable mattress hit the market with the popular Sleep Number brand in the late 1980s. Generally, all adjustable firmness beds work on the same common principle: air. The firmer that an individual wants their mattress to be, the more air is put into the mattress. These can be great options for couples who can’t agree on a specific firmness, but they’re pretty pricey: introductory models start around $1,000 and can reach $3,000.

FRAME ADJUSTMENT

Fortunately, the market for frame adjustable mattresses is much simpler than that for mattress adjustments. Generally speaking, frame adjustments allow the sleeper to change the position of their feet, head, or both. Let’s take a look at the major things to consider with an adjustable frame.

  • Type of adjustment: Most frames on the market will have two basic adjustments: foot and head. These work in a similar fashion to a hospital bed in that the top ~⅓ and bottom ~⅓ will pivot up and down for a more relaxed (or less stressful) sleeping position. These can also be fantastic for individuals who watch TV or read books in bed. On the more expensive side of options, the middle third may also be adjustable to raise and support the knees.
  • Single vs. dual: Depending on your specific needs, frames can adjust the entire mattress or just one single side. The dual adjustment is useful for couples sleeping in the same bed but requiring different frame adjustments. Dual-adjustment setups can get very expensive, very quickly. This is mostly due to the need to pair a mattress that can split, along with a frame.
  • Mechanism of control: There is a wide variety of means to control frame adjustments. Some companies offer an app, others a remote, and others, still, utilize voice control.
  • Bells and whistles: Some useful, some gimmicky, but many frame/mattress combos offer a wide variety of add-ons. These can include sleep tracking, heating/cooling options, massage capabilities, and built-in mechanical alarms.

Which Is Right for Me?

This is the toughest question of all! Which “fix” will work best for each person is very personal. A good place to start is with the cheapest and easiest option in each category. Not sure about a softer mattress? Buy a topper for $100 before committing to a new, expensive mattress. Not sure if you’ll like having raised feet? Buy a triangle foot raiser for $50 first, before investing in a new bed frame. All in all, we spend ⅓ of our lives sleeping, so take some time to figure out what will work best for you!

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