A Shopper’s Manual for Adjustable Beds

An adjustable bed moves with you. 

Whether you want to elevate your head to reduce snoring or want to sit up and read a book in bed, you can reposition your mattress to the most comfortable angle. Designed to improve sleep quality and promote relaxation, adjustable bases give you the freedom and flexibility to rest your head however you want. 

Adjustable mattress bases can have a wide range of features, meaning they also run the gamut in terms of pricing. Entry-level models can start as low as $400 for a queen, while some premium options can cost upwards of $4,000. Most brands meet somewhere in the middle, balancing affordability with luxury.

When shopping for an adjustable bed, you'll want to decide which features are most important to you. You'll also have to consider what type of mattress and other bed accessories you plan to use with your new adjustable base. So before clicking "add to cart" after the first sale you see, read our comprehensive guide to adjustable bed frames and the entire shopping process. 

7 Advantages of an Adjustable Bed

If you aren't entirely sold on the premise of an adjustable bed or aren't sure if you need one, it may help to know exactly how they benefit your sleep and add more comfort to your morning and nighttime routines. An adjustable mattress base can offer the following: 

1. Versatility

Beds aren't just for sleep; they're also a place for comfort and relaxation. If you like to read, watch TV, check your email, or eat breakfast in bed, you'll enjoy the various settings designed for lounging around. 

2. Customization 

Not everyone finds comfort lying on a perfectly flat mattress. Many people have a go-to sleep position and unique preferences for head and leg elevation.  

With an adjustable bed frame, you can choose the exact configuration that suits your needs, which may vary from night to night. Plus, adjustable beds with a split base allow you to adjust just each side of the bed separately, allowing you and your partner to choose your own settings. 

3. Help with Snoring and Sleep Apnea 

Snoring occurs when your tongue, throat, or airways relax during sleep and prevent air from flowing freely as you breathe. When the air meets an obstacle, like relaxed soft tissue at the back of your throat, the vibration creates the unpleasant sound we call snoring. 

Whether you have sleep apnea or only snore occasionally, elevating your head while you sleep may help open up your airways. Studies show that head-of-bed elevation can significantly improve obstructive sleep apnea symptoms without comprising sleep architecture. 

4. Pressure and Back Pain Relief

Many people with back pain complain about the lack of spinal support or pressure relief from their mattress. While finding the right mattress for your body type and sleep position is crucial for addressing back pain, your mattress base should also be a part of the equation. 

An ergonomic adjustable bed frame can help you find the mattress position and angle that best supports and aligns your spine while redistributing your weight to avoid certain pressure points. Many people with adjustable beds favor the "zero-gravity" position, which encourages neutral body posture. 

5. It Makes Getting In and Out of Bed Easier 

Especially for people with advanced arthritis, getting in and out of bed can aggravate stiff or sore joints. Gradually elevating the head of your bed until you reach a sitting position allows you to swing your legs over the side of the bed and stand up in as few motions as possible. 

6. Better Circulation 

If you wake up to tingly limbs or numbness often, you may have poor circulation or tend to sleep in a position that prevents healthy blood flow to all parts of the body. One way to support regular blood circulation throughout the night is to sleep with your legs elevated. 

7. Digestive Benefits  

Anyone with acid reflux can attest to the difficulty of sleeping through heartburn. Fortunately, there is a way to help relieve symptoms while you sleep. 

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends sleeping with the head of your bed raised about 6 to 8 inches, which you can easily accomplish with an adjustable bed frame. 

Disadvantages

Of course, all products come with a few disadvantages. Compared to standard bed frames, adjustable bases tend to weigh more, making them more difficult to set up and move. They also cost more and don't last quite as long as non-adjustable metal models.

Choosing Your Adjustable Bed Frame

With so many options on the market, finding the best adjustable bed base for your needs can be difficult. Hopefully, this guide will help you see through the weeds and choose the right product for you. To get started, you first have to choose what size bed frame you want. 

Size

The bed frame you purchase has to match the size of your mattress. So, if you have a queen mattress you plan to use on the adjustable base, buy a medium bed frame. But remember—not all mattresses work well with adjustable bases. We'll explore this topic further in the following section. 

If you plan to buy a new mattress for the adjustable base, you'll have to decide on the mattress size first. Typically, mattresses made for adjustable beds come in twin XL, full, queen, king, split king, California king, and split California king, though it varies by manufacturer. 

A "split" mattress refers to two smaller mattresses set up side by side on the same bed frame or foundation. If you want an adjustable base that allows you to position one side of the mattress independently from the other, you'll need a split mattress. 

Presets and Programmable Positions 

While most adjustable frames have a similar range in motion, they differ in ease of use. For your convenience, you'll want an adjustable bed that has presets for common positions such as zero-gravity and anti-snoring modes. 

The "zero-G" position, originally developed by NASA, creates a sense of weightlessness by elevating your legs and head higher than your heart.

In the zero-gravity position, you maintain a neutral body posture, relieving stress on bones and joints. 

The anti-snoring preset elevates the head to help clear your airways and prevent obstructions that lead to snoring. 

In addition to pre-made modes, you may want the freedom to program and save your own position settings. Look for adjustable base models that allow you to adjust the bed freely and add your own presets.

Additional Design Features 

Most modern adjustable beds allow you to change the angle of both the head and foot of the bed. But, if you want more freedom and features than entry-level models, shop around for these added capabilities.

  • Height Adjustment– This feature allows you to lift and lower the entire bed, adding or subtracting height. 
  • Wall Glide– Some adjustable bases, like the Nolah Adjustable Base w/ Wall Glide, slide forward and back as you adjust the bed. This wall-hugging feature ensures you're always in arm's reach of your nightstand. 
  • Head Tilt– For even more flexibility, you can opt for a bed frame that can adjust your upper body and head separately. 
  • Massagers– Many adjustable bases now include massagers at the head or foot of the bed or both. 

Tech Features 

On top of premium design features, you may want a few technology bells and whistles with your adjustable base. Under-bed lights and USB ports are now fairly standard for adaptable platforms, but more advanced models may have the following: 

  • Voice Activation– If you're prone to losing remotes or simply don't want to move to make adjustments, you'll love a voice-activated bed frame. Adjustable beds with this technology typically pair with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. 
  • Time or Automated Adjustments– Some premium adjustable beds automatically shift throughout the night or revert to specific positions on a timer. The most technologically advanced models can even detect snoring and move in and out of the anti-snoring position as needed. 
  • Sleep Tracking– Sleep tracking or "smart" adjustable beds have sensors that measure and record sleep quality metrics like sleep latency, nighttime movement, heart rate, and breathing. Very few beds have this feature, and it certainly comes at a premium. 

Delivery, Setup, Returns, and Warranties 

Whenever you make a big purchase, you want to know you'll receive excellent customer service every step of the way, even if you don't end up liking the product. 

Before deciding on a new bed, be sure to compare costs and policies for delivery, assembly, sleep trials, returns, exchanges, and warranties. This goes for your new mattress as well. 

How to Find the Best Mattress for an Adjustable Bed

Once you've decided to order an adjustable bed base, you need to purchase the right mattress to go with it. Beware—not all mattress types are suitable for adjustable beds. 

Adjustable bed mattresses require flexibility. They have to conform to the angle of the base without damaging its internal support systems. Without the right construction and materials, an adjustable bed can damage a mattress. 

Chart showing mattress materials compatible with adjustable bases

Innerspring 

Generally speaking, innerspring mattresses don't fit the bill for use with an adjustable bed. Compared to foam, memory foam, and latex models, innerspring mattresses don't reposition as easily and tend to degrade faster. 

Some innerspring mattresses with pocketed coils may have enough flexibility to withstand frequent adjustments, but still, they don't hold up as long as the other mattress types. 

Hybrid

Many hybrid mattresses have the elasticity to accommodate an adjustable base. But, if you do opt for a hybrid, make sure it has independently wrapped coils and zoned support. 

These features can help maintain the integrity of the mattress internally while the foam or latex top layer flexes with the movement of the bed frame. You'll also want a hybrid with a foam bottom layer that absorbs the noise of shifting springs. 

Latex

Known for their durability, latex mattresses are well compatible with adjustable bases. Latex is strong yet pliable, and the natural bounce of the material adds to its adaptability. Latex mattresses are heavy, though, so take caution when installing or moving the mattress. 

Memory Foam

Memory foam, designed to contour to your body as you move, has both the flexibility and durability required for an adjustable base. However, memory foam is known for trapping heat, and concave mattress positions only make the buildup worse. If you tend to sleep hot, you'll likely prefer a more breathable option. 

Nolah AirFoam 

All mattresses designed by Nolah are compatible with adjustable bases. Our AirFoam is similar to memory foam in terms of comfort and flexibility, but its temperature-neutral design allows body heat to dissipate quickly. Plus, AirFoam is more resilient than memory foam, making it an ideal fit for adjustable beds. 

Thickness

Aside from the material of the mattress, you should also consider its thickness. In general, adjustable beds work better with slightly thicker mattresses. We recommend mattresses at least 10 inches high.

Buying Bedding for Adjustable Mattresses

With your new mattress selected, all that's left is to deck out your bed with pillows, sheets, and a comforter. 

Because the bedding has to move along with the contour of the mattress, the best sheets for adjustable beds have some extra give to them. However, they need to stay in place no matter how often you change bed settings. We recommend fitted sheets with deep pockets and slightly oversized flat sheets. You can also use bands or fasteners to keep the top sheet in place. 

What if you choose a split king adjustable bed? To accommodate the two separate mattresses, you'll need a fitted sheet for each mattress but only one flat sheet to lay on top. 

Conclusion

An adjustable bed is an investment in better rest. An adjustable bed frame paired with the right mattress can add comfort, pain relief, and ease to the time you spend in bed. With this guide, you have everything you need to know about the shopping process. Soon, you'll be lounging like an astronaut in zero-gravity position as you doze off to sleep.