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Based on 1,664 Owner Experiences Gathered From 609 Sources
THE GOOD. Sleep Number beds offer adjustable firmness / comfort with each side having its own setting. Pain-relief potential and sleep quality are above average. Lifespan is 30% better than the typical mattress.
THE BAD. Main owner complaints include excessive firmness, an uncomfortable middle area, air loss, breakdowns / malfunctions, price, difficulty of use (at least initially) and below-average warranty coverage.
THE COMPANY: Sleep Number / Select Comfort makes permanent-use air beds ranging in price from $700-$4600 (queen, no foundation). The company – in business since 1987 and headquartered in Minneapolis, MN – dominates the permanent-use airbed market.
THE COMPETITION. Sleep Number competes against other airbeds and other specialty mattresses such as Tempur-Pedic (see Sleep Number vs Tempur-Pedic). Also see the mattress comparison to learn how other brands compare to Sleep Number based on thousands of consumer experiences.
Sleep Number Bed Ratings – Overview
Longevity / Durability Ratings
Complaints / Problems
- middle area
- price and value
- air loss (gain)
- pain / discomfort
- compression / flattening of top
Advantages / Benefits
- adjustable firmness
- sleep quality
- pain reduction
- pregnant friendly
Love Making Suitability
Ease of Use
Weight & Ease of Transport
Stays Put / Together
Trial Offer / Return Policy Ratings
Company Reputation Including BBB Rating
Adjustable Bed Bases – FlexFit
Model Prices, Specifications and Comments
The research findings are based on 1,650+ Sleep Number (Select Comfort) bed owner reviews and comments collected from hundreds of online message boards and other credible sources. Sleep Like the Dead receives NO COMPENSATION in any form from any company, organization or individual to affect in any way or degree the content or findings of our mattress research. Learn more about our unbiased and accurate research methodology.
The ratings below are based on 1,650+ consumer reviews for various Sleep Number models including Classic (c2, c4), Performance (p5, p6), Memory Foam (m6, m7), and Innovation series (i8, i10) as well as similar discontinued models.
|Side sleep friendly||D||C||b-||b+|
|Back sleep friendly||b+||A-||b+||b+|
|Front sleep friendly||C||b-||b||b|
|No initial odor||b||b-||c-||C|
|No sleeping hot||C+||c||d+||D+|
|Good for sex||C-||c||c+||c+|
|Ease of use||D||D||D||D|
|Ease of transport||B+||B||B-||c+|
* The Memory Foam series models currently have a small, statistically insignificant sample size due mainly to being somewhat new to the market. Ratings are based on this limited sample as well as the estimate of Sleep Like The Dead.
Sleep Number beds as a group have 78% owner satisfaction ( ). The Innovation series models tend to rate slightly higher than the Classic, Performance and Memory Foam series models.
By comparison, all mattresses overall as a group (innerspring, air, memory foam, latex, water, futon) have 72% owner satisfaction.
* partial estimate
With most mattresses, durability and longevity mean basically the same thing. But with the Sleep Number bed (and airbeds in general), durability and longevity can and should be evaluated separately.
Mattress durability refers to how well a bed will hold up to regular use without something breaking or deteriorating. On this issue, the Sleep Number bed performs about average or worse compared to all mattresses overall. This is largely because the bed, unlike other mattress types, is mechanical in some ways and, as a result, more can conceivably go wrong with it.
At least 20% of Sleep Number bed owners report having over the span of ownership at least one durability problem of some kind – such as a leaking air chamber, broken pump, malfunctioning controller, or deteriorating comfort layer.
Longevity refers to the lifespan of a mattress. Sleep Number beds have better longevity than most mattresses in part because any problem that the beds develop can be repaired with a replacement part sent to the owner from Sleep Number / Select Comfort. Replacement parts can be not only mechanical parts, such as pumps and controllers, but also non-mechanical parts such as support foam and comfort layers.
By contrast, with other types of beds, such as innerspring mattresses, if something stops working properly or deteriorates, such as the spring system or comfort layer, the bed usually needs to be entirely replaced.
Another reason Sleep Number beds have above average longevity is due to the fact that they use air to support the sleeper. Air, unlike springs or foam, cannot compress and breakdown with age and wear.
As the chart below shows, owners on average report keeping their Sleep Number bed for about ten years, considerably longer than the typical mattress.
* partial estimate
Below are the main disadvantages and problems of Sleep Number beds as reported by actual owners.
About 20% of Sleep Number bed owners report a problem with the middle of the bed where the two air chambers meet.
Some owners say there is a "valley" or "trench" in the middle, while others report a "hump." There also can be a problem with one or both sides of the bed sloping toward the middle which can cause a sleeper to roll or slide in that direction.
The middle area may be uncomfortable to lie on, and it can be less than friendly for intimate activities, including cuddling, spooning and sex.
Sleep Number customer service may have solutions to problems with the middle, such as a "lift" which is a piece of foam that is placed under the air chambers to raise the middle.
Problems with the middle of the Sleep Number bed tend to be reported mainly by owners who use very different firmness settings for each side of the bed, such as 80-20. By contrast, owners who use more similar settings for each side tend to not report the middle as a significant problem.
It must be noted that the Sleep Number c4 model uses a design that likely reduces or even eliminates any problem with the middle of the bed. Also, based on limited owner experience data, the m6 and m7 models do not have a significant number of complaints regarding their middle.
At least 18% of owners, especially owners of more expensive models, complain about the price they paid. Indeed, prices for the top-of-the-line Sleep Number models are about twice that of the average mattress.
Most mattresses priced similar to Sleep Number are heavy in weight and are made with at least somewhat exotic materials. Sleep Number beds, by contrast, are fairly lightweight and are made mostly with relatively simple materials.
This causes a significant number of owners to question the high price and overall value of their bed; the term "glorified air mattress" is often used by these owners to describe the bed. In fact, Sleep Number bed owners question the value of their bed more often than owners of any other mattress.
In addition, long-term cost can be substantial mainly because non-prorated warranty coverage ends after just the second year of ownership.
At least 12% of Sleep Number bed owners report that their bed loses air, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. Faulty air pumps, loose connections, malfunctioning controllers and air bladder leaks are the most common causes of significant air loss. Air loss can result in reduced comfort and support and may even cause pain, including back pain. It can also result in less than restful sleep due to the owner needing to readjust the firmness throughout the night.
In addition, firmness settings can automatically fluctuate significantly in either direction, depending on temperature, barometric pressure, weight and sleeping position.
At least 10% of Sleep Number bed owners say that the bed causes discomfort or pain or makes preexisting pain worse, particularly back, shoulder, hip and joint pain. The chart below shows the top reasons owners give for experiencing pain on a Sleep Number bed.
Top Reasons For Experiencing Pain
As the chart above shows, the main cause of discomfort and pain is excessive firmness as Sleep Number beds in general are considered to be more firm than soft. The Classic Series models and even Performance Series models are too firm for some people, especially side sleepers.
To deal with this problem, about 15% of owners, especially owners of the Classic Series models, add a mattress topper to their bed to improve comfort.
Other main causes of discomfort / pain are related to an uneven sleep surface, a problem which appears to be mostly caused by the middle problem as well as a sagging comfort layer (see complaint #5).
Around 15% of Sleep Number bed owners report that the foam around the edges of the bed and or the comfort layer sags, compresses or develops body impressions. This can cause discomfort and undermine sleep quality, say owners. (Edge foam problems are not an issue with the c4 model as it uses a design which eliminates such foam.)
Edge foam and the comfort layer can be replaced. Some owners purchase a new top from Sleep Number, while others replace their top with a mattress topper purchased from an independent retailer, often at a lower price.
The Innovation Series models with their thick comfort layers have the most complaints regarding compression / body impression development; the Performance series models with their moderately thick tops have fewer complaints; and the no-comfort-layer Classic Series models have few if any complaints.
While conventional mattresses are often mostly if not totally silent, air beds in general, including Sleep Number beds, can make some noise due mainly to the fact they use electric air pumps to adjust their firmness level.
While air pumps have become quieter in recent years, some owners (about 6%) still report that the pumps are loud enough that they cannot be used during the night without the risk of waking a sleeping partner. Pumps that are defective in some way may be especially loud.
Below are the top advantages and benefits of Sleep Number beds according to owners.
Airbeds, including Sleep Number beds, are the only type of bed that provide instant firmness adjustment. At least 40% of Sleep Number bed owners praise their bed for this feature. However, finding one's ideal adjustment setting or "Sleep Number" can take considerable time and patience.
Adjustable firmness is well-liked by owners primarily for these reasons:
It should be noted that at least 15% of owners do not agree that a Sleep Number bed truly has adjustable firmness, that is, the ability to change from soft to firm or firm to soft. Instead, they say the bed has adjustable support, meaning that adjustment affects spinal alignment, not firmness levels. In other words, these owners say that a lower number does not feel softer, just flatter, and a higher number does not feel firmer, just more bulging.
At least 30% of owners say their Sleep Number bed allows them to sleep better with less tossing, turning and restlessness. They often say that a lack of significant pressure points is the main reason for their improved sleep. Some owners also say they sleep more efficiently on the bed, that is, they sleep more soundly and can spend less time in bed as a result.
For at least 20% of owners, a Sleep Number bed relieves or even eliminates pain that one may feel both in and out of bed. Relief of back pain especially is commonly noted.
As the charts below show, Sleep Number beds perform better than the average mattress in regard to pain relief. Other mattresses, namely competing airbed brands and Tempur-Pedic, may equal Sleep Number's ability to reduce pain, but none exceed it.
Chart 1. Portion of Sleep Number bed owners reporting pain decrease, pain increase or no significant difference either way.
Chart 2. Portion of owners of the average mattress reporting pain decrease, pain increase or no significant difference either way.
Pregnant women as a group rate Sleep Number beds high. They say the beds' adjustable firmness and good supportiveness generally help to relieve some of the difficulties that come with pregnancy.
About half of the owners included in our research who commented on the issue say their Sleep Number bed is suitable for sex, or at least no less suitable than other beds. The other half say the Sleep Number bed is generally not good for sex because most models have a trench or intrusion in the bed's middle where the two air chambers meet.
This, they say, makes being in the middle of the bed uncomfortable and causes them to have sex on one side of the bed or the other which does not leave enough room. However, owner experience data suggests that the trench / intrusion in the middle can be minimized by having each side of the bed set with the same firmness level.
Owners also report that the trench / intrusion in the middle may not allow them to spoon or cuddle with their partner comfortably.
Other airbed brands tend to not have this degree of middle problem.
For more general information see the mattress & sex comparison.
Conventional mattresses are easy to use in that you simply lay on them and no adjustment is involved. By contrast, airbeds in general, including Sleep Number, involve a learning curve in that you must find which setting is right for you personally. Also, your preferred setting may vary depending on your sleeping position. Significant time and effort may be required to find one's optimal setting or "sleep number."
About 6% of owners overall report significant and bothersome heat retention, especially in summer months. Heat retention potential can vary by model.
By contrast, about 5% of owners report that their bed sleeps cold, especially in winter months.
Sleep Number offers DualTemp – a layer designed to heat or cool each side of the bed – as well as a variety of temperature-regulating toppers and pads. Owner experience data on the effectiveness of these product is mixed. Learn about other temperature-control products.
For most owners, especially those who previously owned an innerspring mattress, the Sleep Number bed does a fair to good job in localizing motion. In other words, movement made by a person on one side of the bed does not fully transfer across the bed to disturb another person on the bed.
About 5% of owners, however, say their Sleep Number bed has poor motion isolation. These owners often previously owned memory foam mattresses – beds which have good to excellent motion isolation.
In addition, Sleep Number has made the following statement about motion isolation.
"Under certain circumstances, there might be motion detected (up/down) on one side of the bed if someone gets out. There is some lateral pressure exerted on the air chambers against each other where they meet. If someone gets out of bed, the occupied chamber now has more 'room' and will slightly expand to the center and cause a 'drop' for the sleeper. When the other person gets back in bed, it may cause that chamber to expand and press back against the other, causing a 'rise'."
No more than 3% of owners report finding mold in their Sleep Number bed, usually between the foam and air chambers. A small number of these owners report feeling ill because of the mold. Mold / mildew problems in a Sleep Number bed is a well publicized and discussed issue. However, the number of owners who have a mold problem, or at least are aware of having such a problem, is small based on our collected data involving over 1,650 owners.
Sleep Number beds, like airbeds in general, require assembly. Most owners, but not all, say that assembly is easy and takes about 40-90 minutes depending on whether one or two people are involved.
Care should be taken with assembly as owner experience data suggests that poor assembly can cause the bed to not function properly and / or be uncomfortable. In fact, improper assembly may be a significant cause of owner dissatisfaction.
Upon delivery, for an additional fee, the bed can be assembled by professionals.
Sleep Number mattresses weigh 37-120 pounds depending on model and size making them less heavy than many conventional mattresses. Their relatively low weight is due mostly to the fact that they consist of air to a significant extent.
Their below-average weight, however, causes some people – namely those who associate low weight with low cost – to question Sleep Number's mostly above-average price.
Their low weight combined with the fact that they can be disassembled and broken down into individual components make them relatively easy to handle, lift, move, or transport.
The fact that Sleep Number beds are modular (can be broken down into individual components) and relatively lightweight means they are not as stable as heavier, fully integrated mattresses. In other words, compared to many conventional mattresses, Sleep Number beds are more likely to move somewhat on their base and may need occasional adjustment of their components, especially the comfort layer.
Sleep Number beds have a 25-year limited warranty.
Sleep Number bed owners overall give the warranty a below-average rating mainly because non-prorated coverage ends after just the second year of ownership. (Non-prorated coverage means that the customer pays nothing for repairs / replacement, while prorated means the customer pays partial cost.) Owners also tend to be disappointed that the warranty does not cover comfort layer deterioration and flattening – a somewhat common problem.
By comparison, other air bed brands often provide at least a slightly longer non-prorated period. And the brands of most other mattress types, such as innerspring and memory foam, often provide non-prorated warranty coverage for 10 years.
For more general information, see mattress warranties: what you should know.
|0-2 years after purchase||No cost to owner for repair|
|3-20 years after purchase||Owner pays 20% of repair costs plus 4% of repair cost for each year from original purchase date|
|21-25 years after purchase||Owner pays 96% of repair cost.|
For the 3-20 year portion of the warranty, here is an example. You have a problem that costs $200 to repair and you've had the Sleep Number Bed for 10 years. You will pay 20% of the cost ($200 x 20% = $40) plus 4% of the cost times 10 years (4% x $200 x 10 = $80). So you will owe $120 ($40+$80) of the $200 repair cost and Sleep Number will pay the rest.
In addition, after the first two years you are responsible for all shipping costs related to any repaired or replaced product.
Sleep Number's return policy consists of a 100-day trial period which allows the customer to send the bed back for an exchange or a 100% refund minus initial shipping and any setup fees. The customer is also responsible for return shipping fees as well as preparing the bed components for shipping. The cost to the consumer to return / exchange a Sleep Number bed often adds up to several hundred dollars.
There are no returns or exchanges for adjustable bases, closeout or demo bed models.
Competitor airbed brands often have somewhat superior return policies overall.
Sleep Number / Select Comfort customer service overall is considered by consumers to be better than average.
This rating refers to what extent Sleep Number discloses the specifications of its mattresses. The disclosing of specifications allows consumers to know what they are paying for and helps in comparison shopping. Sleep Number performs somewhat above average on this issue.
SLTD (Sleep Like The Dead) company rating for Select Comfort / Sleep Number is a "B." The rating is based on a combination of factors including product ratings by consumers, years in business, customer service, return policy, accuracy of marketing claims, transparency of specifications, warranty, Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and rating stability, number of BBB complaints / business size ratio.
Select Comfort Corp., the manufacturer of Sleep Number beds, currently has an "A+" rating which it has maintained for several years. About 434 complaints against Select Comfort Corp. have been filed in the past three years. Learn more about BBB ratings and what they mean.
Sleep Number sells (non-returnable) FlexFit adjustable bed bases priced $1000-$4800 depending on model and size. These bases can raise a person's lower and / or upper body making them generally effective at providing various health, comfort and convenience benefits.
Sleep Number beds can be placed on most brands of adjustable bed bases, not only FlexFit. Learn how FlexFit models compare to the competition: adjustable bed base ratings.
The following table provides the basic differences and similarities and pros & cons of the various models. Keep in mind:
|Prices||Thickness||firmness*||Surface||Comfort / Foam Layer(s)**|
|COMMENT: 1) Differences in firmness setting are clearly noticeable due to lack of comfort layer. 2) Comes with older / less advanced remote than other models. 3) Not ideally suited for side or stomach sleep due to high firmness. 4) Some consumers buy this model and then add their own comfort layer / topper. This often saves money because a main difference between this model and the others is comfort layer thickness.
|9"||medium- firm||polyester / rayon blend||2" regular foam|
|COMMENT: 1) The c4 has a newer design than that of other Sleep Number models as no foam borders are used and the air chamber(s) extends to bed's edges. This design likely reduces or eliminates the middle problem as well as any need to rotate foam borders to maintain support. 2) A top complaint is that the bed is too firm which means it is not ideally suited for side or even stomach sleepers.
|11"||medium- firm||polyester / rayon blend||3" pillow top
2" regular foam
|COMMENT: Popular model. A top complaint is that it is too firm which means it is not ideally suited for side sleepers.|
|12"||medium||rayon / polyester w/ temper- ature balancing fabric||3" pillow top
3" regular foam
|COMMENT: P6 has one inch more regular foam and a somewhat better cover then p5 yet is considerably more expensive.|
|10"||medium- firm||quilted knit rayon/ polyester||2" memory foam (4 lbs/ft)
1" regular foam
|COMMENT: Moderately conforming. Has above-average heat retention potential. Competes with Tempur-Pedic Choice Supreme.|
|12"||medium- firm||quilted knit rayon/ polyester||3" gel memory foam (4 lbs/ft)
1" regular foam
|COMMENT: Moderately conforming. Has above-average heat retention potential. Competes with Tempur-Pedic Choice Supreme.|
|13"||medium soft||woven polyester/ rayon w/ temper- ature balancing fabric||2" pillow top
3" regular foam
|COMMENT: Generally well-suited for all sleeping positions.|
|15"||mostly soft||knit polyester/ rayon, w/ temper- ature balancing fabric||3" pillow top
reversible 2" memory foam (4 lbs/ft) and 2" regular foam
|COMMENT: 1) Only model that comes with two remotes. 2) Best suited for those seeking a tall profile and softness.|
* Firmness. While firmness / comfort can be adjusted by adding or removing air, the general firmness of the bed is largely determined by the thickness and composition of the comfort layer which varies by model. Medium to firm tends to be suitable for back sleepers; medium for stomach sleepers; medium to soft for side sleepers. The firmness descriptions above indicate what tends to be true for most owners; your individual evaluation may differ.
Ratings are based on 1,650+ Sleep Number (Select Comfort) bed owner experiences, including reviews for Classic, Performance, Memory Foam and Innovation series.
Learn about our research methodology and sources.
We receive NO compensation of any kind from any company, organization or individual to affect in any way or degree the content of our mattress research.
IN THE NEWS: Sleep Like The Dead's research findings have appeared in such news publications as Barron's • Toronto Star • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Edmonton Journal • Woman's World • The Consumerist • The Gazette • Ottawa Citizen
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