Pros & Cons of Sleep Number Beds

Sleep Number bed in loft.
credit: Sleep Number
The Sleep Number bed looks like any other bed. Because it comes in small, lightweight pieces, it is easy to move into loft spaces or up many flights of stairs.

Should you invest in a Sleep Number bed? Is it the magical sleeping experience that the ads portray? Let's look at the pros and cons of the beds made by the Sleep Number Corporation.

All models in the Select Comfort line of products are air beds that consist of an air-filled chamber contained within other mattress materials. The benefit of this air chamber mattress design is that it can be inflated or deflated to varying degrees at will.

The Models

Sleep Number beds are available in twin, twin long, full, double, queen, king, and California king sizes. The twin beds have single air chambers; the other beds have dual chambers that allow each side to be controlled separately. A variety of models are available, allowing you to choose more cushioning gel-foam, or temperature-moderating foam in the mattress topper. One bed, the I10, actually monitors your sleep. Various platforms are available to support the bed, including adjustable bases to raise the head of the bed.

Sleep Number is currently touting their SleepIQ system which comes with the Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed. This bed contains biometric sensors that track breathing, heart rate, and movement and can link to various fitness tracking devices.

Comparative Costs

Sleep Number bed costs put them solidly in the luxury mattress market. The prices advertised on their website run from $900 to $1900 for queen mattresses—prices that do not include the base, which start at $300. Legs cost an additional $119. The FlexFit adjustable bases, which raise the head of the bed, range from $1200 to $2200. Delivery and set-up charges also apply.

The top-of-the-line king-size 360 Smart Bed i10 with FlexFit 3 base comes with biometric sensors, foot warmer, underbed nightlight, and individually adjustable head and foot positions, and sells for around $10,000. A similar bed from Tempur-Pedic, without the biometrics, costs about $7,000.

The Setup

Unlike standard mattresses, the Select Comfort system does not include or need a box spring. This feature makes it perfect for a platform bed frame. In the basic setup, the mattress sits atop a molded plastic platform that has an upholstered cover to make it look like a box spring. The FlexFit mechanized lifting system is available in three different configurations to raise the head of the bed, head and foot of the bed, or just the head or feet on either side.

The air-filled chambers are enclosed in a zippered cover that looks exactly like a standard mattress. The cover can come with the same pillow-top style features found in standard mattresses, ranging from 2 to 7 inches in thickness.

An air pump sits under the bed and a remote control is used to set the firmness of the mattress air chambers by either releasing or pumping in air. The firmness scale is from 0 to 100 in increments of 5, with 100 being fully inflated.

Exploded view dual chamber Sleep Number bed.
credit: Sleep Number
The Sleep Number bed shown with legs, base, dual air chambers and foam topper. The base and legs are optional and not included in the mattress price.

The Positives of the Sleep Number System

There are several advantages to the Sleep Number system reported by users:

  • Some users report a therapeutic benefit to sleeping on this bed. Back sleepers report higher satisfaction than side or stomach sleepers.
  • The number one positive of the dual-chamber sleep number system is that two people can sleep on the same bed and have very different firmness settings.
  • Since the settings can be changed at will, visiting guests could sleep comfortably by adjusting the bed to their firmness preferences.
  • The system is also very lightweight and comes in small, easy to move pieces. This is a huge plus for people who want a king-size bed on the second floor of an older, smaller home or in a loft space. There is no wrestling of a heavy mattress or rigid box springs.
  • Because an air chamber supplies the support, the lifespan of the mattress is not impacted by the compression of fiber fillers or springs. The chambers are guaranteed fully for two years and then at a prorated rate for the next twenty-five years. Various parts, like foam sides and mattress toppers, are available for replacement. In general, the system lasts longer than conventional mattresses.
  • The SleepIQ system monitors your sleep, connects with your fitness devices, and adjusts the bed during to the night to
  • promote deeper sleep.
sleep number bed
credit: Sleep Number

The Negatives of the Sleep Number System

No bed system is perfect, and the Sleep Number system has some reported drawbacks you should know about:

  • Couples who like to spoon or cuddle while sleeping might find this bed problematic because it is really two separate beds. The dual air chambers are separated by a foam insert. Two people lying in the middle of the bed are lying on the edges of the individual air chambers and on this foam strip, which may feel either like a divot or a hump, depending on the firmness of the air chambers. This is not as noticeable in the beds with thicker toppers.
  • The less expensive models have very thin foam toppers. This can make firmer settings uncomfortably hard, especially for side sleepers, although it can be beneficial for back sleepers.
  • Some customers report excessive trapped heat, which may be due to a thin foam layer on top of a rubber air chamber.
  • Foam pieces also surround the air chambers in most models. At softer bed settings, say a 50, these pieces can become saggy and the bed can look a little sloppy. Sitting on the edge of the bed can contribute to this sagginess. The foam pieces can be rotated to slow this process and replacements are available. For those who prefer a very soft bed, which would be settings under 50, the air chamber becomes more like a hammock and support is not uniform over the length of the body.
  • Some people find the light weight of the bed to be problematic—they feel that it is insubstantial. The bed does not shift around, however, as the feet have non-skid pads and the surface of the platform has a non-skid surface.
  • Other common customer complaints include air leakage, pump malfunctions, and squeaking.
Sleep Number Store display
credit: Sleep Number
Sleep Number beds can be purchased at 550 stores in the U.S. or online. A full line of bedding products like pillows, mattress covers, bed warmers, and sheets is also available.