Adjustable Bases and Pain-Free Sleep in the Zero-Gravity Position
Close your eyes and pretend you’re lying in the world's most comfortable bed. In your imagination, what do you feel? If your answer is “absolutely nothing” or “total weightlessness,” then you’re in the right place.
Feeling 100 percent weightless while you sleep may not be physically possible, but an adjustable bed frame set to the zero-gravity position will bring you as close as it gets. Pair this sleep setup with an advanced pressure-relieving mattress, and you’ll feel stress and tension fall off your back as soon as you crawl into bed.
What is the zero-gravity position, and why does it feel so good? This guide will answer all your questions about zero-gravity (zero-G) and point you to the right base and mattress for pain-free sleep.
What Is Zero-Gravity?
Zero-gravity refers to a position that preserves your body’s neutral posture, creating the sensation of weightlessly floating on the top of your bed. The position distributes your weight evenly, preventing the pressure buildup around your neck, back, and hips that other sleep and sitting positions create.
In the zero-G position, your body doesn’t have to work against gravity to maintain proper spinal alignment. When you let yourself fully relax into the position, you’ll feel maximum comfort and pressure relief.
The History of Zero-G and NBP
NASA scientists first discovered the zero-gravity position while investigating ways to ease astronauts’ transition between Earth’s gravity and the weightlessness of space (a state called “microgravity”). They identified the position the human body naturally assumes in the absence of any physical forces, including gravity, and called it neutral body posture (NBP).
In other words, NASA pinpointed the position that doesn’t require any work or muscle tension to maintain for humans floating in space. Using data collected at the Skylab research space station, they later published the Man-System Integration Standard, documenting the average measurements for NBP. You can read more about these findings and NBP specifications here.
What Does Zero-Gravity Look Like?
You don’t need to understand the exact physics of spaceflight to copy the zero-gravity position. The exact body positioning required to achieve even weight distribution varies from person to person, but generally speaking, the zero-G position looks like this for a person laying on their back:
Your torso and thighs make an angle of about 128 degrees
Your hamstrings and calves make an angle of about 133 degrees
- Your head rests at about a 30 to 45-degree angle
Ergonomics and Zero-G Technology
Today, the applications of zero-gravity and NBP extend far beyond aerospace. Many industries now use NASA’s research to improve the health and comfort of everyday products. For example, engineers may have designed your office chair or the seats in your car with NBP angles and measurements in mind.
NASA’s discovery of the zero-gravity position has also changed the game for the sleep industry. Most adjustable bases now have a built-in setting for zero-G, making the scientifically-backed position easy to emulate and enjoy.
Zero-Gravity Bed Benefits
Sleeping on a bed that supports your body in a neutral position feels like lounging on a cloud. But it doesn’t just feel good; it does good.
For back sleepers, the position can improve your overall sleep health and wellness. Aside from preparing you for a career as an astronaut, sleeping in the zero-G position has the following benefits.
- Pain-Free Sleep– The zero-gravity position redistributes the weight that would otherwise aggregate around your neck, back, and various joints. Relieving pressure in these areas means waking up without stiffness, soreness, swelling, and pain.
- Breathing and Snoring– By elevating your head above your chest, the zero-G position opens your airways, letting you breathe easier. It also angles your head in a way that keeps the tongue from falling back and putting pressure on your throat, preventing the obstruction that causes snoring.
- Circulation– In the zero-G position, your head and legs are elevated above your heart. The heart has to work a bit harder to get blood to your extremities, increasing overall circulation.
- Digestion– When you lay flat on your back, your body has to work against gravity to push food down for processing. In the zero-gravity position, the slope of your torso aids digestion instead of working against it.
- Lounging and Relaxation– If you like to watch TV, read, or even work from bed, you’ll love the zero-gravity setting. With your body naturally aligned, you’ll feel comfortable in this position for hours on end.
What to Look for in an Adjustable Base
Fortunately, you don’t need a rocket ship to simulate zero-gravity. The NBP sleep position simply requires an adjustable base and a compatible mattress.
A high-quality adjustable base should last for at least 10 years, so take your time shopping to ensure you find the perfect fit for the next decade of weightless sleep. Many adjustable bases (also called adjustable bed frames) boast all the latest sleep technology, not just zero-gravity functionality. When shopping for an adjustable base, look out for these capabilities and bonus features:
- Pre-set positions and the ability to program your own custom settings
- Wireless remote and voice controls
- Head and foot massage motors for full-body massage
- Wall-glide design, which keeps you in arm’s reach of your nightstand in any position
- Independent adjustability for each side of the bed (with split king or split California king mattresses)
- USB ports for convenient device charging
- Under-bed lighting
- Compatibility with decorative bed frames (Some adjustable bases are built slightly smaller than standard bases, allowing you to fit them within your existing bed frame and maintain your bed’s aesthetic.)
The Right Mattress for Your Zero-G Adjustable Bed Frame
Whether you use the mattress you already own or plan to buy a new one with your base, you need to make sure it has enough flexibility for an adjustable frame.
In general, innerspring mattresses do not have the adaptability or durability for adjustable bases. Attempting to use a coil mattress will limit the bed’s adjustability range and shorten the lifespan of the mattress.
Meanwhile, the majority of all-foam and all-latex mattresses are compatible with adjustable bases. Unlike coil models, they have the flexibility and resilience to withstand frequent repositioning.
Many hybrid mattresses (both foam and latex hybrids) also work well with adjustable bases, though it depends on their construction and thickness. We recommend checking with the manufacturer before using a hybrid mattress with an adjustable bed frame. All Nolah mattresses, including our Nolah Evolution 15” hybrid mattress, work with adjustable bases.
Ideal Mattress Features for Adjustable Beds
If you decide to purchase a new mattress for your adjustable bed frame, you have the opportunity to maximize comfort with the perfect pairing. While not required for use with an adjustable base, these mattress characteristics will heighten the experience.
Superior Pressure Relief
The main benefit of sleeping in an adjustable bed is the redistribution of your weight, which reduces the load around high-pressure points and joints.
To take sleep comfort one step further, invest in a mattress with advanced pressure-relieving technology. For example, the microscopic air bubbles in Nolah AirFoam™ distribute weight across the surface of the mattress, relieving the pressure around the heaviest parts of the body. Meanwhile, the firm but flexible foam provides contouring, cushioning, and support.
Many modern mattresses, especially hybrids, feature support zones specifically designed for different areas of the body. For example, the mattress zone that sits beneath the lumbar region may have firmer foam or tightly-tensioned coils for additional support. Combining an adjustable base with a mattress that has distinct zones will maximize spinal support and comfort.
Lifting Off to Better Sleep
An adjustable base with a supportive, pressure-relieving mattress will take your sleep comfort to new heights. In the zero-gravity position, you’ll feel as close to weightless as you can get while lounging here on Earth. So lay back, relax, and let your adjustable bed lift you up.