#1 in Sleep Product Research
Unbiased and Independent
Millions Served Since 2008
Based on 1,735 Owner Experiences Gathered From 592 Sources
THE GOOD. Widely available in (Sleep Number) stores • adjustable comfort on both sides • conforming ability • back-pain relief potential • longer lifespan than average mattress.
THE BAD. Difficulty of (initial) use • high maintenance • troublesome middle area possible • breakdowns / malfunctions • price / value • warranty • some noise.
THE BEDS. Sleep Number beds are priced $500-$5700 and use air for support. Comfort can be adjusted by adding or removing air from the bed using an electric pump. Aside from the air chambers, bed components are made in USA.
THE COMPANY: In business since 1987 and based in Minneapolis, MN. It dominates the regular-use airbed market and has a "C+" SLTD company rating.
THE COMPETITION. Other airbeds and specialty beds such as Tempur-Pedic. (See Sleep Number vs Tempur-Pedic). Also see the mattress comparison to learn how other brands and models compare to Sleep Number.
Sleep Number Bed Ratings – Overview
Longevity / Durability
Ease / Difficulty of Use
Flat and Level Surface (Middle Area)
Price and value
Firmness Stability (Air Loss / Gain)
Pain Reduction / Increase
Weight and Ease of Transport
Adjustable Bed Bases – FlexFit
Model Ratings, Prices, Specs, Comments
Person Size & Sleep Position Suitability
Ratings and finding are based on 1,700+ Sleep Number bed owner experiences gathered using an unbiased, accurate research methodology.
The table below shows how Sleep Number models rate compared to the average mattress.
(c2, c4, CSE)
(i8, i10, iLE)
|Less (back) pain||B+||B||b||b-|
|No initial odor||C||C||c-||C-|
|No sleeping hot||B||c+||d+||C-|
|Adjustable firmness range||A-||B+||B||B|
|Ease of (initial) use||D||D||D||D|
|Back sleep friendly||B+||B+||B-||B|
|Side sleep friendly||C||C+||B-||b|
|Stomach sleep friendly||B-||B-||B-||B-|
|Heavy person friendly||D+||C||B-||B|
|Good for sex||C-||c-||c-||c-|
|Fast break in||B||C+||D+||C|
|No topper needed||D||C||B-||B+|
|Easy to lift, move||B+||B||B-||c+|
The ratings below – based on consumer experiences and the evaluation of Sleep Like The Dead – show how Sleep Number compares to the average mattress manufacturer.
|Warranty coverage||D+||Sleep Number beds have a 25-year limited warranty, but owners overall give the warranty a below-average rating mainly because non-prorated coverage ends after the second year of ownership. See Sleep Number warranty details. Also see mattress warranties: what to know.|
|Return policy||D+||Sleep Number's policy consists of a 100-day trial period which allows the customer to – after 30 days – return the bed 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. As is often true for other brands, there are NO returns or exchanges for adjustable bases, closeout or demo bed models. (See returning a mattress: what to know.)|
|Customer service||C+||Sleep Number / Select Comfort customer service overall is considered by consumers to be similar to that of other major mattress makers.|
|Marketing accuracy||C-||Sleep Like The Dead has identified several possible issues.|
|Specs and policies disclosed||C||The disclosing of specifications allows consumers to know what they are paying for and helps them to comparison shop. On their website, only the most basic mattress specs are provided. And warranty terms for the FlexFit bases are not available on the site.|
|Access to customer reviews||A||At its website, Sleep Number allows sortable and easy access to all customer reviews posted there, including those that are negative.|
|Integrity of customer reviews||A||This refers to how closely customer ratings appearing on Sleep Number's website correspond to customer ratings at independent sources.|
|Time in business||A||In business since 1987.|
|BBB rating||A+||Select Comfort Corp., the manufacturer of Sleep Number beds, has maintained an "A+" Better Business Bureau rating for many years.|
|Number of BBB complaints||D+||Over 840 BBB complaints against Select Comfort Corp. have been filed in the past three years. This number is more than triple that of other major mattress manufacturers. Many complaints are due to delayed delivery and poor customer service caused by a late-2015 company computer conversion. The high number is also due in part to the fact that Select Comfort – unlike other major mattress manufacturers – is the exclusive retailer of their mattress and therefore all complaints go to Select Comfort as opposed to being dispersed among independent retailers to some extent.|
|SLTD rating||C+||SLTD (Sleep Like The Dead) company rating of "C+" for Sleep Number / Select Comfort is determined by averaging the above company ratings.|
Sleep Like The Dead has identified six questionable Sleep Number marketing claims.
1. Sleep Number claims that "Only the Sleep Number bed gives you the individualized comfort you both need." If this is referring to the fact that each half of the bed provides adjustable comfort, then the claim is not true as competing airbeds also provide this feature.
2. The company says that the Sleep Number bed lasts twice as long as an innerspring mattress but costs about the same. Based on our research, the bed lasts on average about 70% longer than the typical innerspring mattress, not twice as long. And the price comparison appears to be an exaggeration as the average Sleep Number model is about $2,300 while the average innerspring mattress is about $1,000 according to our research.
3. Sleep Number cites a self-conducted study showing that 91% of Sleep Number bed owners would recommend the mattress. This rate is well higher than aggregate owner satisfaction rate on Sleep Number's website (78%) as well as the owner satisfaction rate determined by Sleep Like The Dead (77%).
4. Sleep Number describes their models as having up to five zones of contouring support. This may cause shoppers to wrongly interpret this to mean that the mattress has more than two air chambers because "zones" is sometimes used interchangeably with "air chambers" in airbed terminology. But in this case, "zones" appears to only refer to the fact that the convoluted foam in the comfort layer has alternating surface patterns.
5. At least 15% of owners feel misled by the 25-year warranty because non-prorated coverage ends after just the second year of ownership.
6. Some claims regarding the softness and temperature coolness of their beds are not consistent with a significant number of owner experiences.
Sleep Number beds overall have 77% owner satisfaction with satisfaction among the individual models varying somewhat. By comparison, all mattresses overall as a group (innerspring, air, memory foam, latex, water, futon) have 73% owner satisfaction.
The above price does not include maintenance costs that are often required to keep the mattress comfortable and functioning properly. These costs can be substantial as non-prorated warranty coverage ends after just the second year of ownership. Also, the air pumps use electricity to operate and thus contribute to an owner's electricity bill – albeit probably slightly.
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 the bed. The term "glorified camping mattress" is often used by these owners to describe the bed.
Value is also reduced somewhat by the fact that at least 15% of owners report the need to add / buy a mattress topper – often priced $35 to $500 – to improve comfort.
About 20% of Sleep Number owners regard their mattress to be a good value. But the majority of owners regard it to be no better than a fair value. And about 25% regard it to be a poor value. In fact, Sleep Number bed owners question the value of their bed more than owners of any other major mattress brand including Tempur-Pedic.
Airbeds, including Sleep Number beds, are the only type of bed that provide instant firmness adjustment. At least 45% 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 must 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 12% of Sleep Number bed owners report that their bed loses air, either slowly or 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.
With most mattresses, durability and longevity mean basically the same thing. But with the Sleep Number bed (and airbeds in general), these issues can be evaluated separately.
Mattress durability refers to how well a mattress holds up to regular use without something breaking or deteriorating. On this issue, the Sleep Number bed performs average or worse compared to mattresses overall. This is largely because the bed, unlike other mattress types, is mechanical in some ways with many different parts 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 – such as a leaky air chamber, broken air pump, malfunctioning controller, deteriorating comfort layer, bulging sides, compressed foam borders and failing edge support. Such problems can cause discomfort and undermine sleep quality.
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 and electronic parts, such as pumps and controllers, but also 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.
At some point, however, during Sleep Number bed ownership, parts may no longer be available, or it will become cheaper to buy a new bed than to continue replacing parts.
As the chart below shows, owners overall report keeping their Sleep Number bed for at least 8.5 years, considerably longer than the average mattress.
* partial estimate
Conventional mattresses are easy to use in that you simply lie 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. At least 30% of owners say that significant time and effort was required to find their optimal setting or "sleep number."
Also, your preferred setting may vary depending on your sleep position requiring you to change the setting each time you change position.
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 bed tend to be reported mainly by owners who use very different firmness settings for each side of the bed, such as 90-20. It may also be a problem when both sides use a very low or very high firmness setting.
Low maintenance is not a strength of airbeds in general, including Sleep Number, for the following reasons.
For about 25% 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.
The less expensive models, namely c2 and c4, appear to have somewhat higher pain relief potential – especially for back pain – than the more expensive Sleep Number models. This is likely due their having a thin or non-existent comfort layer which allows the sleeper to benefit fully from the conforming-to-the-body ability and supportiveness of the air chamber.
As the charts below show, Sleep Number beds perform better than the average mattress in regard to pain relief. Among Sleep Number bed owners, back sleepers are most likely to report pain decrease.
Chart 1. Portion of SLEEP NUMBER BED OWNERS reporting back pain decrease, back pain increase or no significant difference either way.
Chart 2. Portion of OWNERS OF THE AVERAGE MATTRESS reporting back pain decrease, back pain increase or no significant difference either way.
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 models and even Performance models are too firm for some people, especially side sleepers.
To deal with this problem, at least 15% of owners, especially owners of the Classic Series models, buy / add a mattress topper to their bed to improve comfort.
Air loss and the corresponding loss of support can also cause discomfort or pain. In addition, an improper setting can cause the sleep area to bow in or bow out which can put one's spine in an unnatural and uncomfortable position especially for side and stomach sleepers.
Other main causes of discomfort / pain appear to be mostly the result of the middle problem as well as a sagging comfort layer.
While conventional mattresses are often mostly if not totally silent, airbeds in general, including Sleep Number beds, can make some noise due mainly to the fact they use electric air pumps to adjust their firmness / support level.
While air pumps have become quieter in recent years, some owners (about 5%) 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.
In addition, Sleep Number beds may also produce a rustling, crunching, or squeaking noise when moved on, say about 7% of owners.
The number of owners needing to add a mattress topper to their Sleep Number bed to improve comfort varies considerably by model. Topper needs increase as the price of the Sleep Number model decreases due to the fact that the cheaper models have less of a comfort layer than the pricier models. This means that the cheapest model – the c2 – has the highest number of owners needing to add a topper. In fact, the c2 likely has the highest percentage of owners adding a topper than any other mattress included in our research.
* partial estimate
Airbeds often have a shorter break-in period than other mattress types. Thinner, less expensive Sleep Number models tend to break in faster than thicker, more expensive models. (Break-in does not apply to ease of initial use.)
At least 30% of owners say their Sleep Number bed allows them to sleep better with less tossing, turning and restlessness. 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.
At least 8% of owners say their Sleep Number bed has a significant odor when new. It is often described as a rubber-like or chemical-like smell. The problem tends to diminish within two weeks for most owners but can last longer – even indefinitely – in some cases.
The Sleep Number bed is for most owners at least moderately effective at 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.
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'."
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. The c4's design, however, may reduce this problem.
This trench or intrusion, 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 both sides of the bed set at a moderate firmness level such as 50.
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.
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 their bed sleeping cold, especially in winter months.
Also see: Temperature-control products for mattresses.
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 1,700 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 cheapness – to question Sleep Number's mostly above-average price.
The relatively low weight of the beds 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.
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 sells (non-returnable) FlexFit adjustable bed bases priced $1000-$4800. 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.
The value of the FlexFit models are questionable given that less expensive adjustable beds with similar or better features are available. Learn how FlexFit models compare to the competition: adjustable bed base ratings.
|Owner Satis- faction (sample)||Prices||Firmness**||Thickness||Comfort / Foam Layer(s)**||Surface|
|med-firm to firm||8"||none||rayon / polypropylene|
1) As many as 25% of c2 owners – especially side sleepers – report the need to use / buy a topper to soften the mattress. C2 owner satisfaction is below average mainly for this reason as Sleep Like The Dead considers the need to add a topper to be a negative overall evaluation of a mattress. However, the majority of c2 owners who add a topper are satisfied with the mattress once the topper is added.
2) Differences in firmness setting are clearly noticeable due to lack of comfort layer.
3) Not ideal for large people or anyone using a low setting as bottoming out can occur due to only 8" thickness.
4) Comes with older / less advanced remote than other models.
|med to firm||10"||1.5" regular foam||polyester / polypropylene|
1) The c4 has a different design than that of other Sleep Number models as no foam borders are used and the air chambers extend to bed's edges. This design eliminates need to rotate foam borders and appears to reduce but not eliminate the middle problem.
2) Often not ideally suited for side sleep due to fairly thin comfort layer, and as a result 12%+ of owners use a mattress topper to soften the bed.
|med-soft to firm*||10"||2" regular foam||polyester / polypropylene|
|COMMENT: The softest Classic Series model.
|med-soft to firm||11"||2" regular foam||rayon / polypropylene|
|COMMENT: Popular model.|
|med-soft to med-firm||12"||3" regular foam||polyester / rayon|
|med to firm*||12"||3" gel memory foam (4 lbs/ft)||rayon / polyester|
|COMMENT: Memory foam / air hybrid. Lowest rated Sleep Number model.|
|med-soft to med-firm||13"||3" regular foam||polyester / polypropylene|
|COMMENT: Questionable value especially at regular price.|
|soft to med-firm||15"||reversible 2" memory foam (4 lbs/ft) and 2" regular foam||polyester / polypropylene|
1) Only model that comes with two remotes standard.
2) Differences in firmness settings are often not clearly noticeable due to thick comfort layer.
3) Questionable value especially at regular price.
|med-soft to med-firm*||14"||3" regular foam||polyester / polypropylene|
|COMMENT: Limited edition model.
* Partial estimate.
** 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. A model with a thicker comfort layer tends to be softer, while a model with a thinner one tends to be firmer.
The table below evaluates Sleep Number models for person size and sleep position. It shows what tends to be true for owners; your personal evaluation may differ. See the mattress firmness guide for details based on your body type. And people of below- and above-average weight, see the mattress guide for large and small people.
(under 130 lbs)
|c2||Back Sleep Friendly||B||C+||B-|
|Side Sleep Friendly||C-||C||D+|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||B-||C+||C|
|c4||Back Sleep Friendly||B+||B||B|
|Side Sleep Friendly||C||C+||C-|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||B-||B-||B-|
|CSE||Back Sleep Friendly||B+||B||B|
|Side Sleep Friendly||C+||B-||C|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||B-||b-||B-|
|P5||Back Sleep Friendly||B+||B+||B|
|Side Sleep Friendly||C+||B-||C|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||B-||b-||B-|
|P6||Back Sleep Friendly||B+||B+||B|
|Side Sleep Friendly||B-||B-||B-|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||B-||B-||B-|
|M7||Back Sleep Friendly||B-||B-||B-|
|Side Sleep Friendly||C+||B-||C|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||C+||C||C+|
|I8||Back Sleep Friendly||B+||B+||B|
|Side Sleep Friendly||B||B-||B|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||B-||C+||B-|
|I10||Back Sleep Friendly||B+||B+||B|
|Side Sleep Friendly||B||B-||B|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||C+||C||B-|
|ILE||Back Sleep Friendly||B+||B+||B|
|Side Sleep Friendly||B||B-||B|
|Stomach Sleep Friendly||B-||C+||B-|
Ratings are based on 1,700+ Sleep Number (Select Comfort) bed owner experiences, including reviews for Classic, Performance, Memory Foam and Innovation series.
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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