Welcome to Bedutopia’s consumer guide about adjustable beds. This guide is designed to help you, the consumer, understand the technology behind adjustable beds so to be able to make a more informed buying decision. Within, we explore topics including: brands, mattress types, bed comparisons, bedding accessories and potential health benefits. Please browse our site to learn more.
Table of Contents (Hyperlinks below for navigation)
- Introduction to Adjustable Beds
- Adjustable Bed Mattresses Overview:
- 1. Adjustable Coil Spring Mattresses
- 2. Adjustable Memory Foam Mattresses
- 3. Latex Foam Mattresses
- 4. Adjustable Air Beds
- Electric Adjustable Bed Frames
- Hospital Electric Beds
- Tempur-pedic adjustable beds
- Craftmatic Adjustable Beds
- Adjustable Bed Accessories
Actively marketed to provide “a comfortable night’s sleep,” the choice in adjustable beds has exploded over the last 30-years (although they’ve been in use in hospitals much longer than that). People looking for an alternative to the flat bed experience, or maybe just wanting a bit more luxury, find that laying in a bed that can recline, elevate, heat and massage doesn’t feel too shabby. Plus, more adjustable beds, a.k.a power foundations are being designed with high tech and lifestyle features designed to attract younger consumers. On the health side, many swear by the relief an adjustable bed provides for numerous health issues. For example, people suffering from acid reflux, (GERD), may benefit from using an adjustable bed, as elevating the upper body can assist in keeping acid down. Compared to a standard bed, these types of beds can provide comfort and support for individuals with back pain, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis.
If you’re considering the purchase of an adjustable bed and specialty mattress, and are looking for information and reviews online, consider this, it’s very confusing. At times it’s hard to differentiate the brands, who to buy from and who is trying to sell you the Brooklyn bridge. That’s why we’ve compiled a report on this topic, designed to provide you, the reader, with some clarity on the technology behind the adjustable bed. It is, after all, not adjustable because of the mattress but because of the electric bed frame, and most of these are made by manufacturer, Leggett and Platt. The comfort, however, is determined by the mattress and there are a number of mattress types to choose. What should you do to choose? Start by: 1. Reading our guide about Understanding Adjustable Beds. 2. Head to a sleep store in your area and test out the different mattress choices. There really is no substitute for physically testing out various sleep surfaces for accurate comparisons. It’s not a test with right or wrong answers, just decide based upon what feels most comfortable to you!
Are all mattresses compatable with an adjustable bed? The answer is no. However, the two mattress types coil springs and air adjustable mattresses which need specific construction to move flexiby on an adjustable bed frame ARE available to buy. (See specific mattresses below). Other mattress choices, latex and memory foam are flexible enough making them compatible with
an adjustable frame.
Still ranked as the most popular, coil spring mattresses command 80% of the market and for the majority of consumers without health or sleep issues, this used to be good enough. Currently, other sleep surfaces, (including adjustable air beds, latex, and memory foam) are growing in popularity with aging baby boomers and better educated consumers. After getting an overview on the technical differences between the various mattress choices, including the benefits pertaining to each one, it is recommended that an individual read some of the online adjustable bed reviews expressed about the various manufacturers and sellers.
1. Coil Spring
The coil spring mattress, first patented in 1865, continues to be the most popular mattress choice for an adjustable bed. However, an innerspring adjustable bed mattress differs from a traditional flat bed, in that it is able to bend into various positions. As for standardization, that is one thing you won’t find in the mattresses manufacturing industry. The only government standard in place is a flammability test, but after that it is buyer beware.
The basic inner workings of a coil spring mattress are, of course, the coils. Once coiled the metal is tempered to hold the firmness of the coil. A higher quality coil mattress will likely have a higher number of turns in the coil. Coils may be connected together or remain independent, the latter being less likely to transfer motion. The more luxurious models are covered with a layer of memory foam, latex and / or a pillow top.
This type of mattress is still the best value on the market offering a level of firmness that most people want. The drawback for some is that the coil springs can create pressure points, that when in contact with the body, can cause a poor or restless night’s sleep.
2. Memory Foam
Memory foam, made from a visco-elastic material, is completely pliable so it can be used on either a flat or an adjustable bed frame. This is an especially great option for anyone who has back issues as memory foam softens with heat (body temperature is enough) and conforms to the curves of the spine, thereby reducing pressure points.
Invented by NASA in the 1970’s, memory foam was revised and launched into the commercial market by the Swedish company, Tempur-Pedic. Although Tempur-Pedic is still the best known brand in this category and the reigning leader of the high-end market, there are now plenty of knock off brands to choose from. Consumers can also purchase memory foam pillows and foam mattress toppers.
The firmness of the foam,( between 2 – 6 lbs) is graded with the following criteria:
- 2. ILD Rating (Indentation Load Deflection)
- 3. Resiliance
- 4. Tensile
The first factor, Weight, refers to the actual density of the foam in pounds per square foot, determined by the number of chemicals used in the foam’s creation.
Next, the ILD Rating, the firmness of a mattress, determined by the indentation left when “x” amount of pounds of weight is applied to a 50 square inch area. The higher the ILD number, the firmer that particular mattress.
The third factor, the Resilience, or ‘H R’ factor shows how fast the foam rebounds when a ball is dropped onto the surface. The faster the rebound, the more resilient the material, and the more durable the mattress.
The fourth factor, tensile, shows the ability of the foam to be stretched. However, this does not offer very relevant information, since a memory foam mattress may be compressed by the weight of the sleeper, but it is never ‘stretched’.
Again, there can still be plenty of variance in these measurements, however, most consumers find that they are more comfortable in the middle, sleeping on densities between 3 – 4 lbs, although a 5 lb density is recommended for its longer lifespan.
Some common complaints about memory foam are that, initially, it takes the body some getting used to and also that new mattresses may give off an unpleasant odor for a short time. U.S.A. made foam mattresses and Tempurpedic mattresses do not contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and generally do not cause allergies.
3. Latex Foam
Latex foam, a naturally derived substance made from the milky sap of the Rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, is flexible enough to be used on both flat and adjustable beds. Latex is a desirable product since it not only acts similarly to memory foam, conforming to your body and reducing pressure points, but is also hypo-allergenic. Mold, mildew and bacteria cannot live in latex foam and it is also very resistant to dust mites. Good news for those who are very sensitive or allergic to these factors. Please note that 100% natural latex doesn’t have a chemical smell and off-gasing isn’t an issue. Some people (though few) are allergic to latex.
Besides 100% natural latex foam (plant based) and 100 % synthetic latex (petroleum based), there is blended latex (combines petroleum derived and plant derived latex). There are two processes to create a blended latex: the Talalay process and the Dunlop process. These processes use about 60% synthetic and 40% natural latex and make up the bulk of the type of latex sold in the US. There is however, pure plant based rubber latex using both of these processes. Latex International, based in Connecticut, now makes a 100% natural Talalay and a number of quality organic mattress manufacturers buy this product from them. Some of the synthetic latex mattresses, such as those manufactured in China, are inexpensive, but do not have as long a life span and may become uncomfortable after a short time due to their inferior construction.
Environmentally, 100% natural latex foam is far superior to any of the other mattresses on the market. This plant based product is used in organic mattresses. But, do diligence and make sure that it is 100% natural latex because weak labeling laws allow for misleading claims.
The process of making a 100% natural latex mattresses does not involve the use of toxic chemicals. Since latex is derived naturally, it is biodegradable (once it reaches the end of its lifespan which can be up to 30 years). But besides being a product that doesn’t clog landfills, the rubber trees themselves, once they stop producing sap, are used to manufacture furniture.
4. Adjustable Air Beds
These mattresses are designed to be adjustable in that you can adjust the actual firmness. However, not all models of this type of mattress are compatible with an adjustable beds frame. Learn more…
Electric Adjustable Bed Frames
When talking about electric adjustable beds you’re really talking about the electrically operated metal frames or bases over which a mattress resides. With this option, you do not need to buy a box spring or a metal bed frame. Bed sizes include: Twin, Twin XL, Queen, Split Queen, Full, Full XL, King and California King.
If exploring your options online, or at a sleep store, you will find that just about all electric adjustable bed frames are manufactured by a company called Leggett and Platt. Or they used to be. Though Leggett and Platt still makes the bulk of Quality adjustable bed frames, this US company, (around since 1883; and making adjustable bed frames for more than 30 years) seems to be facing a bit more competition with other bedding manufacturers getting into the scene.
If you decide to buy a frame only, definitely don’t be enticed by a “too good deal.” Know the company you’re buying from, its’ reputation, and where the parts and bed are manufactured. In addition, here are some questions to consider:
- (1) Warranty information?
- (2) How is the customer service when it comes to the warranty?
- (3) Is it easy to get spare parts?
- (4) Does the company that makes your adjustable bed frame have service technicians in North America? In short, if your bed breaks down, how easy is it for you to get it repaired?
Here is an example of what might come in the box with your adjustable bed frame:
- Bed Base Frame
- Locking Leg Casters – (4)
- Leg Pieces – These add height to your bed base – (4)
- Foot Mattress Retainer
- Hand Control – Wireless or Hard Wired
- Headboard Bracket Hardware Kit
What’s the Difference Between an AC and DC Motor?
– AC systems are designed to lift more weight…
– DC systems tend to have Whisper Quiet Technology (typically they are quieter than AC)
Adjustable beds will have either an AC or DC motor. The reason for buying a bed powered by one over the other is primarily based on weight lifting capacities: (AC motors have stronger lifting capacity). So, what’s your weight, and if applicable, what’s your partner’s weight?
If you’re buying a split king frame; which are actually 2 twin XL mattresses side by side, then the weight lifting capacity of the twin beds is what matters in relation to you and or partner. Generally speaking though, these are not questions that you need to worry too much about if you are heading to your local mattress or bed furniture store. A good sales rep should serve up the necessary questions for you.
The advantage of DC is that these motors are designed to be “Whisper Quiet,” and are quieter, compared to most of the AC models not designed with this technology. Keep in mind that there are a number of variables concerning the frame… For one, if you’re looking to buy a queen or king size bed, you have the option of buying a split king or split queen frame that allows for independent adjusting.
Most popular is the split king over the split queen. The reason has to do with comfort and possibly price. For comfort, a queen size bed is 60” wide, a good width for two people, but when you cut it in half you have 2 individual beds only 30” wide. Compare this with a king size bed, which is 78” wide, and when cut in half is 39” wide; the extra width gives more space and comfort. Another consideration is price, which tends to be about 10% more for a split queen over a split king. You also have the option to buy a king or queen power frame (not as popular with couples… because who wants to share one remote?)
For couples, a split frame means that you each control your positioning: (head and foot sections) as well as other features of your bed like: massage, heat, snooze, alarm. To understand more completely what a split bed king or queen is, imagine two extra long twin beds placed side by side. To get the most for your money consider which features are most important. Features important in an adjustable bed include quiet operation and you should look for “Whisper Quiet.” Another feature to look for to keep the bedside table within easy reach, and take up less space is the “Wall Hugger” feature. “Massage” options often come included in the price of the frame; however, it is best to inquire before purchasing.
And finally, know that if you are interested in buying an adjustable bed, and most people buy the frame and mattress all at once, mattresses suitable to the adjustable frame will include latex and memory foam. Air adjustable mattresses and innerspring mattresses must be designed specifically for use on an adjustable bed frame.
Hospital Electric Beds
Hospital and home care electric beds are designed with features to provide safety, comfort and assistance to individuals who are ill or disabled. If a patient is being cared for at home, instead of a hospital, it is possible to either buy or rent a hospital bed. These beds are available to buy as: fully electric, semi-electric or manual. Considerations for choosing one over the other include primarily price as an electric hospital bed will cost more than a manually operated one. Learn more about hospital beds by reading our review
Adjustable Bed Brands
Tempur-Pedic Adjustable Beds
Tempur-pedic, based in Lexington, KY, is responsible for bringing memory foam mattresses to the market. The material, originally created by NASA to pad the seats for astronauts, was revised by the Swedes to make it more optimal as a sleep surface. Today, memory foam aficionados may be purchasing Tempur-pedic more so because of the huge advertising dollars this company has spent to gain brand name recognition, than because it is a superior memory foam mattress.
At this time Tempurpedic sells a number of mattresses in three different collections:
- (1) The Tempur Collection – noted for firmness with support
- (2) The Tempur HD Collection – noted for precision in distributing body weight, and for highly conforming support
- (3) The Temper Cloud Collection – noted for pillowy comfort combined with responsive support
The mattresses listed above are all compatible with an adjustable bed frame. Tempur-pedic makes its own base called the TEMPER Advanced Ergo System adjustable base a.k.a. Ergo. In a recent 2011 press release the company announced that it would further promote their adjustable bedding system after a recent Tempur-pedic owner survey found a 96% satisfaction rate with the Ergo.
- Mattress prices range from $1499 to $5999
- Mattress depth from 8″ to 14″
- Mattresses can be used with an adjustable bed or flat bed base
- Ergo Adjustable bed frames include wireless remote plus massage features
- Tempur-pedic pillows
Craftmatic has been around since 1973 and is a familiar brand to anyone who knows about adjustable beds. If you are familiar with this company, then you might be glad to know that over the last few years several changes have been made to benefit their customer, or perhaps, gain more customers. The new approach voids the old one, which was to send a sales rep to your house. Now you will talk on the phone with a knowledgeable sales rep for 15 minutes (at least), and they will help you figure out which Craftmatic bed and model is the best fit.
Questions they will serve up are: Is this bed for you, and ask questions of height and weight. With Craftmatic you are typically buying a package, meaning a complete bed with an adjustable frame and mattress. There are no showrooms or stores for you to see or test before buying. (According to a sales rep I spoke with this is because lying on a bed for 10 minutes doesn’t give you enough information.) What’s nice is that they have a 30 day in home trial and if you aren’t completely satisfied, they will refund your money, less shipping. Of course, they strive for satisfaction and offer to send you another mattress, perhaps one that is softer or firmer, latex or memory foam, depending upon your preference.
Buying a bed from Craftmatic will take about 2 weeks until delivery. The price you pay for the bed will include delivery, set up/installation and they will take away your mattress if you want. Also, they don’t charge you until the day your bed is delivered. Other details: Craftmatic frames are made by Leggett and Platt. Currently, there are two bed models to choose from: (1) Monico – features include massage, wireless remote, choice of latex or memory foam mattress; and (2) Model 1- features include wave massage, wireless remote, orthopedic mattress. Heat option is available for both models.
Sleep Comfort Beds
Not to be confused with Select Comfort which promotes the ‘sleep number’ bed, this manufacturer offers a variety of mattresses choices, such as coil spring, memory foam and latex foam (but no adjustable air). Manufactured in San Diego, this company offers maintenance on their beds in all 50 states.
Select Comfort Beds
This brand is the originators of the ‘Sleep Number’ bed; the one that allows users to adjust each side of the bed to their own level of firmness. Not all models come with an adjustable frame as the focus is more on the adjustable firmness of the mattress itself, but adjustable bed frames can be purchased. The mattress has an inner core that is an inflatable air bed. It is surrounded by thick foam rails (for support), covered over with memory foam and enclosed in a mattress cover for added comfort.
GoldenRest Adjustable Beds
Sold at very reasonable prices, GoldenRest manufactures a line of both home and hospital adjustable beds. Like many of the other companies listed above, they offer a complete range of sizes from twin to king and have several models to choose from.
Additional adjustable bed brands include: Niagra, Serta, Sealy, Spring Air and Simmons.
Sealy launched adjustable bed, Embody Line, May 2010.
Adjustable Bed Sheets and Accessories
With the exception of a queen split mattress, standard size sheets will fit accordingly, but they may not stay on. Click here to learn more about adjustable bed sheets.. As with a standard bed you will want to accessorize an adjustable bed with pillows, comforter and a mattress pad. Choice will depend upon desired style and comfort and can be bought at any bedding store online or locally.