The Select Comfort Sleep Number mattress is a popular brand that is different from its competitors in that it does not use an innerspring support system. Instead, the Sleep Number bed is supported by an air chamber that is controlled by the individual. Each side of a Sleep Number bed has a separate chamber and remote control that allows the person sleeping on that side to adjust the amount of air in the chamber for added softness or firmness, depending on preference. While a revolutionary product, the Sleep Number is not without some problems.
The Middle Strip
The two independent air chambers in a Sleep Number mattress are divided in the middle by a strip of foam, so that the mattress appears as one unit. According to the Sleep Like the Dead website, at least 20 percent of Sleep Number owners have complaints about this middle strip. Problems are most often reported when two people use the bed at very different firmness levels. Customers complain that the middle strip in the mattress is uncomfortable to lie on. Activities such as cuddling or having sex with a mate can be more difficult or uncomfortable as well, according to the website.
A major complaint about the Sleep Number mattress is its tendency to lose air from the chambers. Room temperature, atmospheric conditions and a person's weight can affect the firmness of the mattress as air is squeezed out during use. According to the Sleep Like the Dead website, fluctuations can be as high as 15 Sleep Number points, which changes the feel of the bed considerably. Mechanical or pump malfunctions may also cause this problem. Air loss can be gradual or sudden, depending on the underlying cause.
Back support is among the most important factors for mattress shoppers. Waking up with a sore back is often an indication that a mattress isn't right for a particular person. Some people experience support problems when using a Sleep Number bed because of the nature of the design. Since the heaviest portion of the body is in the middle third, the air chamber tends to compress the most in the center of the mattress. This results in a sleeping position in which the body is in a slight U-shape that can cause back pain for some sleepers. Innerspring mattresses compensate for this weight in many brands, using higher-gauge steel spring support in the middle third. The problem is not typically a concern for those who use the firmer settings on the bed, but can be an issue for those with soft settings.
Many people with allergies use hypoallergenic mattress covers that protect from dust mite allergies. People who rely on these products for healthy sleeping may not like a Sleep Number bed because mattress covers do not fit properly on them. The tubes on the mattress do not allow for the cover to fit. The same problem often occurs with waterbeds.