Adjustable beds: Are They Worth It?

When adjustable beds first appeared on the market, the commercials and infomercials often showed elderly couples wearing matching pale blue pajamas. They would use the controller attached to their bed to sit up and lay down with huge smiles on their face. Unfortunately, these commercials, in addition to the steep price tags, didn’t make them a household item.


Adjustable beds: Are They Worth It? - PineTales


Though adjustable beds aren’t something you see a lot of, they have remained a staple on the furniture showroom floors and at many mattress retailers. In 2015 only 9% of Americans owned an adjustable bed, a 200% increase from 2011. Today, these numbers continue to climb, making many wonder if they are worth the hype (and the price).  To shed more light on these technologically enhanced bedframes, we’ve scoured consumer reports, expert opinions, and the various claims to determine once and for all if adjustable beds are worth it.


First, if you haven’t seen one recently, it is a bed frame that is motorized so you can raise the head or foot of the bed. Imagine sitting up in your bed like a sun lounger or lifting your feet with the push of a button. Nowadays, this is controlled with a small remote, similar to the one you’d use for your television. Many modern adjustable beds have plenty of other features as well, like a zero-gravity option, massage, or smart-home technology like USB ports, lighting, built-in speakers, and even voice assistance.


At one point, specialized mattresses were needed, but today many mattresses are now compatible, with hybrid and flexible foam mattresses most often used.  These beds are available in all different sizes, including California king. You can have a frame that runs on one control that moves the entire mattress, or you can have one frame with two separate controls that would each command a two separate mattress, side-by-side. This is ideal for those who sleep with a partner with different comfort needs.


According to Consumer Reports, whether an adjustable bed is right for you will depend on your lifestyle. Think of it just like a pillow. For example, if you sleep on your stomach, you need a stomach sleeper pillow, and if you sleep on your side, you need one with a higher profile like a millet hulls pillow or extra firm buckwheat pillow.


man sitting up straight in his adjustable bed


Do you like to sit up in bed and read before falling asleep? If so, you may enjoy the incline position an adjustable bed can receive.  Alternatively, if you have neck or back pain, an adjustable bed could be beneficial. Jay Khanna, a vice-chair and professor of orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in back surgery, told Consumer Reports, “Adjustable beds may have some benefit for patients with back, neck, and other spin problems but are certainly not necessary.  The vast majority of patients with conditions of the spine will do well and have optimal support from a typical flat mattress. They tend to prefer and benefit most from mattresses that are a bit more firm and supportive than average”. Again, this is similar to what we know about pillows. A firmer, supportive pillow like a millet hulls pillow is best for shoulder, neck, and back pain.


Some people like the added comfort features of these beds, like massage. Though it doesn’t compare to a massage from a registered massage therapist, the vibrations can be soothing.  Being more comfortable is why most people opt for an adjustable bed. When you have the option to raise your feet or sit up, it can take pressure off certain parts of your back. 


adjustable beds originated in hospitals


Adjustable beds originated in hospitals, often used for those who were bedridden. When you lay on a traditional mattress for a prolonged period, it can cause several issues, including pressure ulcers, back pain, acid reflux, and swelling in the legs and feet. With an adjustable bed, this can be avoided by adjusting the position. Additionally, you can increase circulation and modify oxygen intake.


As mentioned previously, there is a zero-gravity feature on many adjustable beds. This is believed to improve breathing and help with healing after surgery. A zero gravity position is when your head is slightly elevated, and your feet are raised higher than your heart. In this position, back pain can be reduced, and blood flow is increased.



Should you get an adjustable bed?


You won’t find many studies listing the health benefits of an adjustable bed, but the added comforts could sway you. Before deciding, there are a few things you should consider.  


Your budget


your budget


Adjustable beds don’t run cheap, and with added technology and equipment comes the risk of issues down the road. For example, a traditional bed frame could last you forever, where an adjustable bed may need repairs.  They are significantly more expensive too. On average, an adjustable bed costs between $1000 and $4000, which doesn’t include the mattress or a headboard. So if you need to get a new mattress and headboard to go along with your adjustable bed, you could be looking at well over $3000 - $5000. This isn’t in most people’s budget for a new bed, so if it’s not in yours, it is best to save yourself time and look for a quality mattress instead.


Your mattress


your mattress


Although many new mattresses are compatible with adjustable beds – they aren’t all. 

If you were to buy a new mattress that cannot be used with an adjustable bed, your warranty would be void. Alternatively, if you were to try an old spring mattress, it wouldn’t work and could cause you trouble. The manufacturer must state that it is compatible; otherwise, you are at risk for damage and even more expenses.


Your bedroom


your bedroom


These frames can take up a bit more space and may not be compatible with your existing headboard. You will also need a power outlet to connect your bed. Depending on the layout of your room and the location of electrical outlets, you could need to move furniture around or have an extension cord running across your bedroom floor.


As you can see, an adjustable bed isn’t for everyone, and though it may provide a sense of luxury, a regular bed can work just fine. However, no matter what type of bed you choose, the mattress is the most critical piece. Ranging from soft to firm, your mattress will determine whether you have a restful sleep or not. To determine which type of mattress is best for you, check out our blog on Mattresses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.



The Best Adjustable Beds


If you decide on an adjustable bed, you want to know you are getting the best. In addition, you want to ensure you are getting a quality product that will last and for a reasonable price. The Sleep Foundation had a group of testers from various weight groups, and sleep types try different adjustable beds to determine which was the best. In addition to product testing, they did their own research, evaluating the features and warranty.  


According to their study, the best overall bed was the Saatva lineal adjustable bed base. At about $1400 for a queen, this is a reasonably priced option. It is also available in twin, full, queen, split king, California king, and split California king. They stated that it was best for people with lower back pain who wanted the massage feature, with the best feature being its zero-gravity setting and a 25-year warranty.


The best value bed is Nectar’s adjustable bed frame. This queen is $1000 and is best for heavy snorers or those with sleep apnea. Like the best overall bed, it also has a massage and zero-gravity feature for added comfort, and for convenience, it has two USB ports on the side of the bed to charge your phone.


To complete your sleeping situation, you will also need a quality pillow. All the benefits received from an adjustable bed would be lost with a lumpy pillow. A millet hulls pillow can be adjusted to your body size and sleep position so that your head, neck, and shoulders are adequately supported. The firm yet flexible millet hulls are also comfortable and breathable, creating an ideal sleep situation. And if you sleep on your stomach, you should use a pillow designed for this sleeping position. A stomach sleeper pillow will prevent you from waking up with a strained neck.


Whether an adjustable bed is worth it will depend on your needs. If you have to prop yourself up with tons of pillows or have pillows under your legs at night to keep them raised, then you may find it's worth the hype. Many showrooms will allow you to test out the mattresses and get a feel for their features like massage and zero gravity first hand. Just remember, it is not necessary for a good night’s sleep. With a good, supportive mattress and pillow, you can have an incredibly restful sleep and feel refreshed and pain-free in the morning.


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